A young woman is raised in a Catholic family. She spends her whole life as a Catholic, she even contemplates becoming a nun at one point in her life because her devotion is so great. She lives in fear of the fires of hell and comports herself accordingly; saving her virginity for marriage, confessing when she has impure thoughts or swears or takes the Lord's name in vain. She is in regular attendance at Mass and her rare absenses due to illness are noticed.
One day, she begins to study with Jehovah's Witnesses. Before long the JWs are inviting her to challenge portions of the Catechism to see whether the Bible supports the doctrines she has always believed. As they begin to convince her she has been misled they encourage her to begin speaking with her friends and neighbors about what she is learning. Most of her friends are Catholic, but feeling the pressure to save them from everlasting destruction she begins speaking to them.
Her friends cut her off completely, refusing to have anything to do with her. They explain that it is dangerous, for their spirituality, to talk with her. They explain that they are afraid she might lead them away from the truth. She is soon excommunicated from the Church, which isn't the same as disfellowshipping except in the sense of cutting off the Church sanction of a valid relationship with God. Her family finds out. They tell her that if she does not turn back from this wicked course they will disown her.
She bares her heart to the JWs who are studying with her. Do they encourage her to stay with the religion she has always known? Do they Scripturally encourage her to see that her church, family, and friends only have her best interests at heart—that they are actually demonstrating love for her? Do they explain to her that she is becoming an apostate and warn her from that course?
Consider: According to what JWs teach about apostasy every single person who converts to Jehovah's Witnesses from some other religion is an apostate. Is that really something to be ashamed of, or do the JWs simply make too much of a trifle?
I do not view them calling me an apostate as a badge of honor. Whatever their opinion of me is, it is based on the teachings of a negligible religious book publishing company, not on their personal knowledge of me nor on whether or not I believe anything that is factually or Scripturally in error. I consider their viewing me as an apostate as an insult because that is how they intend the term. I consider it a defamation of my character because that is how they intend the term. I accept the label in the wicked and abusive spirit they intend by its use.
I am not angered by their calling me an apostate except to the extent that their label interferes with my capacity to maintain normal relationships with those for whom I have cared a great deal for many years.
Thank you for posting this. I don't think I have set this out anywhere else and considering it to verbalize my opinion has helped to solidify my own perspective and has calmed down a part of me that was still unsettled.
Oh, and a warm welcome to the forum.