Let me just start off by saying WOW. Never thought the day would come I'd see myself write THAT kind of title.
So, you may or may not remember me from my post a few weeks ago about my ex-JW g/f from Europe wanting to see what a meeting was like in the States. Well, obviously, she finally got me to go yesterday. Mind you, I grew up Catholic, in the neighboring town to WT Farms, always listening to my father bash the Witnesses who would come to our neighborhood, which I think in turn sparked a very open mind on my part (I always felt so bad for the people at the door who he'd yell at for just trying to talk to him for a few moments..) It wasn't until I learned of the abuse my girlfriend suffered that I developed a real distain for the "religion". I digress... getting off-topic here. My point is, I tried to approach this meeting in the same way I would have in the past: with an open mind. Let me see what REALLY goes on here, first-hand.
I just about had a coronary when we pulled into the parking lot. Everyone was dressed up, and there I was in a polo shirt and jeans. First awkward moment of the day. She managed to drag me inside though, where we were met with 4 or 5 smiling faces. I braced for the "love bombing" you all warned me about, but no one said a word to my surprise. They opened the door for us, and we quickly found a seat. The guy was already talking at the podium.. about what? Making everyone feel welcome. Even those who come for the first time to KH and stand out. About how they all are made to feel "so welcome" that they keep coming back.
Anywho, I take a look around, and let me say this... The men in there all look like wife beaters I couldn't get over the stone cold, stern looks, which even some of the younger boys already had. There was a young boy who kept crying, still so young and innocent, and it broke my heart to think of him growing up in the same kind of damaging environment as my girlfriend. My train of thought was broken however by Mr. Smiley again, who brought us a bible, song book, and two Watchtower mags. There were a few more bible passages (all of which my g/f was able to find INSTANTLY...), a song I think, and then the speakers changed. Everyone flipped to a section in the Watchtower mag, so again I tried to calm myself and really give this thing an honest & open shot.
The more I listened & watched, the more I felt like I was back in my grade school English class. We'd get a textbook and a workbook. We'd be instructed to read a section, and then there would be one or two questions we were to answer relating to what we just read. Then we'd move on to the next section, and the next, and so on. This really was studying. Every other line, there's a bible reference to what's being said. I also noticed that with every response, they were basically saying "this is God's, sorry, Jehovah's word, we preach Jehovah's word, look at all these bad things people have done to us, isn't that horrible? it just proves we are right, see how great we are." Also, every answer, whether given by adult or child, was always "absolutely right". I know if I got that kind of praise for everything I said, right or wrong, I'd probably be that much stronger & certain of myself and whatever belief it was. Another aspect I can see being appealing is how everyone is treated as an equal. Again, whether child or adult, they are referred to as "Brother" or "Sister". The 16 year old reading the sections was just as confident and seemed to hold just as much "authority" as the main guy speaking. You could really feel the camaraderie, and I could definitely see why some people are so taken with it & attracted to it.
Another observation I noted was that all of the answers given were so thought-out, so detailed. Not just simple responses, but full blown explanations, some even siting OTHER bible passages to support their answer. These people are clearly very, very smart, and very, very intelligent. So WHY do they not see that it's just one big group of "club members" reading bible passages and saying "aren't we wonderful?" If the brainwashing tactic is "tooting their own horn" then I was definitely able to see it. But these people are intelligent. Why don't they? I know, I know... because they're brainwashed. But how do they get that way in the first place, being so smart?
To round out my experience, I will say this... Speaking of this experience ONLY, do I think they are horrible people? No. Just misled & misguided (and OH so stubborn ). The ones who hurt my girlfriend are another story, and for them I will always have bad feelings. I can definitely see the appeal of this "religion" for many people. The invitation to "come into our close circle of friends" when it's really "come into my web" gets easily hidden or lost when one is welcomed in the way they claimed (which I didn't see... even after, only one woman said hello and asked our names, and Mr. Smiley just waved as we walked out.) And hey, I'll be the first to admit that if Religion class was taught in my Catholic school the way it was at KH, I'd have been much more interested. Magazines with pictures & bible passages "translated" into easier to read sentences? I probably would have been a scholar. All in all, it was definitely a unique experience, one that I wouldn't be against happening again. I think I scared my g/f when I said that Am I interested in being one of them? No, but it was certainly an intriguing opportunity to "watch them work" so to speak. I'd be interested to hear what else they have to say on many other topics. Just for learning purposes only. There is absolutely nothing that would make me give up the freedom of walking out of that KH to my worldly Hummer, going back to my worldly home, my worldly hobbies, with my worldly friends & family, under the worldly Florida sunlight
So there you have it. I thought you all might be interested in what actually happened. Besides, I need someone to share all my insights with, aside from my g/f or my mother she would flip if she knew where I REALLY was yesterday afternoon!
Thanks for listening!