Well, here it is, the kiss off letter (with my reply in red).
First my apologies for how long my reply has taken. I've been thinking of how to respond to your comments. When I feel strongly about something I am loath to 'shoot from the hip' as I never manage to hit the target. I've pondered and prayed and here's what I have to say.
I appreciate your caring enough to reflect and answer from the heart. Knowing you, as I do, I expected no less. You've not disappointed me.
During this past 30 years I'm sure you've had plenty of opportunities to discuss the pros and cons of your feelings and conclusions. No doubt some of those conversations were with people as well qualified, or more, as I am. So I'm not going to get into such an exchange with you. If Jehovah wants you among his people he will 'call' you and a suitable teacher will appear. If he isn't calling you, after all this time, it would be a waste of time for us to debate, and I have too many worthwhile things to do to be wasting time. I will reply to your question of 'why can't we just be friends'.
I have actually not been given any opportunities to discuss the pros and cons of my feelings by any of Jehovah's Witnesses. For one thing, they aren't allowed free and open exchanges of that sort. Ray Franz, you'll recall, was disfellowshipped specifically for having lunch with an old friend who happened to be disfellowshipped himself.
There is fear of open exchanges. Non-members are allowed to ask any questions they like because, in my opinion, they don't know anything specifically about the true details of Jehovah's Witnesses as an ever mutating collection of beliefs.
Non-members, "interested persons" or "sheep-like ones" might have naive doctrinal objections which can be easily refuted. But, former members know where the bodies are buried :)
I never ask of anybody still going to the Kingdom Hall, "Can't we just be friends?" Why would I? They aren't allowed to offer me help as a "stray sheep", they aren't allowed to go to Jehovah in prayer on my behalf, and they are required to view me as dead meat only fit for extermination. On what basis could I view that mindset as proper foundation for companionship? :) No, I know how it is from long experience. I don't court friendship, even with Johnny. He is the one who always contacts me in any lunch situation or discussion. It doesn't make me angry so much as feeling how empty of humanity such an extreme position is. Jesus didn't treat people that way. Not ever Peter, who denied him three times. Jesus was like a great physician out to heal. He spent time with despised persons. Jesus' anger was directed toward religious members who thought they were secure and right. Just my view. Your mileage may vary :)
If you knew my husband well enough and or long enough to have collected knowledge of his weaknesses and past failings, and you spoke with contempt of him to me and others while advertising his weaknesses and failings, you and I could not be friends. Period. Your opinion of me would be irrelevant because of the actions taken toward someone I love and respect, and whom I want others to love and respect. And he's just a man, my friend and husband.
How much more this applies when you are actively engaged in spreading slander against an entire organization of people that I believe is headed by well-intentioned men and is being using by Jehovah to help people from around the world. (I'm confident you recognize that 'slander' can be correctly used to refer to spreading around facts as well as to spreading lies.)
I couldn't agree with you more! But, Pam, slander involves LIES. If I told one untruth about Jehovah or those who purport to be his Witnesses, I'd have to say you are completely correct in that view. You can't know what the actual facts are about your religion because you aren't allowed to. Your view has been conditioned to respond to any possible criticism as disloyalty, defamation and Satanic attack rather than fact. There is, as you say, no Q&A permissable.
Since Jehovah's Witnesses don't know about the Organization having an NGO status with the United Nations for many years (until busted for it), the Pedophilia lawsuits (in the thousands) and the inner workings of the Governing Body in doctrinal flip-flops---there is NOW WAY on Earth they'd ever give a fair hearing.
There is no mechanism for whistle-blowing. The parallels with suppressive political regimes is chilling. But, you can't even allow such possibilities because the analytical truth-engine is kept "off". Only what you are told to think are you permitted to think. I'm not insulting you--I'm remembering my own situation for many years when I went door to door telling people that 1975 was a marked year. Well it was a "marked" year. Marked for revealing False Prophecy.
The test of a false prophet is that what they FORETELL doesn't happen! I'll leave you to contemplate that for now.
While I was disfellowshipped, way back before Internet Explorer was released and we only had Navigator, I looked up Jehovah's Witnesses on the internet and found the pedophile sexual scandal info back then. Every few years I check around and find more of the same. I've been to FreeMinds.com occasionally. It is absolutely nothing new that some among us are seriously weak, hypocritical, even malicious. ANY group of people large enough is going to have such ones in it. The issues you have raised I have already addressed to my own satisfaction.
That's what the Catholic Church said about those claiming their priests were pedophiles! The average Catholic passed it off as malicious lies and a few bad guys pretending to be priests who slipped through the cracks. No person who has invested their life in BELIEVING something is absolute TRUTH can be neutral about criticism. The impulse is to defend and make excuses. That is a natural self-protection mechanism.
I won't insult your intelligence by saying you are not informed about the thousands of problems which mark Jehovah's Witnesses as no better (or worse) than any other religious group. That is probably true. But, that's quite a damning point!
Since I am absolutely convinced both logically and scientifically that there is a Creator and that he is still involved in what goes on here on this planet and that the Bible is his communication to us, I have looked at various religions and philosophies to see which most matches up with what the Bible actually teaches. It is Jehovah's Witnesses. I was not happy about that, so I prayed for several years for confirmation of whether Jehovah wanted me to associate with them or was it OK to just be who I am and worship him by myself. He has demonstrated to me repeatedly that he wants me as a part of the congregation. Not with blinders on. Not with a Pollyanna 'all is well' attitude. But with eyes wide open, looking for opportunities to help those who need help and healing from Jehovah but who maybe are not understood by the local brothers. I work to help them see past the men to the God, to get their help and strength from Jehovah instead of trying to get it from any man.
Members of every Christian denomination pray and receive "answers". But, they view each other as dead wrong. The charge of False prophets ends the pretense of being Jehovah's channel of communication. End of story. All the rest is social, emotional and doctrinal games-man-ship. Think of all the Watchtowers with MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE on them. Think of all the public talks with "Jesus didn't have a beard". They are always contrarian in their orthodoxy and always wrong. But, none of that matters beyond being False prophets. That is the deal breaker. They spoke in Jehovah's name and they were wrong about every date they ever insisted was true.
Name one reference book anywhere that gives 607 B.C.E., for example for the destruction of Jerusalem. If they are wrong about when the Gentiles times began they are certainly wrong about when they ended! In other words, it is all a lie about them being chosen because Jesus returned invisibly. What has Jesus been doing since 1914 besides giving "new light" that has to be changed, reversed and explained away? Oh well....you know all this. I won't kid myself.
It appears this concept is totally the opposite to what you practice through FreeMinds.com. Focusing on the weaknesses of the people is a sure path to leaving. Been there. Done that. It stinks just as much when the smell of death and decay is coming from someone else. It's like the stench of cigarettes on someone who has smoked so long that they can't smell it on their own breath. It's depressing. I spent enough time in depression, trying to keep myself amused and distracted while waiting to die. Ain't going back there.
I think of it as a hospital situation. All those stinking "sick" people! Who wants to hear them moan and complain about their cancers and twisted limbs and deformities? Certainly not the brothers and sisters at the local KINGDOM HALL.
Be honest (as I know you are), what kind of help does anybody get from their brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall when they have a real problem? All they get is "marked" as spiritually sick. They get lectured with scriptures and they get picked up and taken out in field service to jump start their holy spirit motor!! They don't really care about you as a real, live, hurting person. As soon as you stumble and fall or stray off like that lost sheep---instead of leaving the 99 healthy ones and going after you and carrying you back in their arms to the fold---they disfellowship you, stop praying for you and actually long for your destruction! That's my view of the "love between themselves". Am I delusional?
In time we all will know without a doubt what is true regarding Jehovah and the Bible. Meanwhile I'm not worried about being disfellowshipped for communicating with an active "apostate". I'm not worried about what the brothers will think. I keep my own counsel between me and Jehovah. For now I am certain of this, that I cannot enjoy or respect a person who looks for opportunities to slander those I respect and hold to be precious because of their motives regarding Jehovah.
You keep your own counsel and don't care what the brothers will think because YOU STILL HAVE A MIND! Don't kid yourself that you are ALLOWED to do this. If somebody wanted to call you out--you'd be in deep doo-doo, Pamela. You know it is true. Like the Nazis who turned in members of their own family for having secret thoughts and objections--your own family, friends and loved ones will snitch you out to the committee and you're head is suddenly on the block for "not being worried about communicating with an active "apostate". You aren't permitted to have your own mind and you know it.
At least now when I am reminded of you all I won't be wondering how you're doing. You are happy. Enjoy your kids, the fruits of your labors.
Thank you very much for writing me and being up front about your feelings, beliefs and convictions. You aren't a cowardly person. I'm sure that has not served you in good stead at the local hall where conformity, lock-step compliance and being the colorless drone is the objective.
In the quiet moments of your life your intelligence is active. It isn't silent. You'll ask yourself the gnawing question that makes every thing else moot, "How can these people speak for Jehovah and be wrong again and again in His name?"
It is the most important question you'll ever ask.
Have a wonderful life and pass my sincere greeting on to Scooter when you talk to him next.
Tell Paddy not to shave that beard! He sounds like he is holding on to his identity and intelligence too. :)
All the best,