Thank you all again.
Welcome to the board and thank you for your observations and for taking the time and effort to reply to this post. To a person who was never baptized into ‘the truth’ I suppose that a lot of what goes on here may seem strange. It may even appear as if we have a chip on our shoulder and are unduly bitter about what is after all, just a religion. But…that is only to a person who has never talked the talk and walked the walk.
What makes ex-JW’s so bitter when other people leave their religion and move on with no apparent ill feelings toward it at all? The answers to that question could very well fill a book. I would ask that you consider just one of those reasons, one that waiting explained very well in her post.
When I was a young man, virtually all of the adult witnesses were converts from other religions. I’m very well known in my area and, in turn, I know a great many people, yet, I do not know of a single individual who, after leaving his/her religion, became embittered about it. I find that very significant and so I have pondered over this for a long time. The following is a very common example of what oftentimes happens to persons who are drawn into ‘the organization’.
Imagine being approached by a kindly old man or lady with Bible in hand and being told that God has a marvelous purpose and that this purpose includes you. After being ‘shown’ all the errors of your religion and being told how you have been maliciously lied to and purposefully deceived by the satanic clergy which are your church’s leadership you are left hollow, confused, hurt, scared, and without purpose in life. Long before you can become bitter you are given a marvelous hope, a hope of everlasting life in a beautiful paradise where all your troubles will be gone, where you will see your dead loved ones again…your father, mother, or perhaps that child of yours who’s untimely death still tears at your heart.
At this point you’re told that you will meet some resistance from your family for your new found faith. You are told to expect persecutions and ridicule from ‘those that do not understand’. The truth of the matter (although you cannot recognize this) is that it’s your attitude (your new feeling of superiority at ‘knowing’ things that your family does not) that is doing most of the alienating in the first place, that along with your family’s gut feeling that there is something wrong here. And they are right. Soon you will be taken from them in ways that neither you nor they can full appreciate at the time.
You are pulled into the group and you begin making new friends and gradually you are weaned away from any and all who do not subscribe to your new religious ideals. You are warned that ‘bad associations spoil useful habits’ and then the term ‘bad associations’ is given a new definition, one that replaces any and all others. You are told that ‘bad associations’ are anyone who ‘does not serve Jehovah’. That means your mother and father, your brother and sisters, well the list goes on to include every human on earth that is not a witness.
You are encouraged to ‘witness’ to everyone you come in contact with. This serves two purposes. One is the possibility of converting yet someone else (slim chance but possible) and the other is to alienate your friends and family. The latter is what happens for the most part. After all, your family does not like being told that their priest or minister is an agent of the devil and that their religion is viewed by God as a drunken, disgusting, murdering whore that is sitting atop the governments of the world and using them for her own, devilish desires. They don’t like being told that they will die at Armageddon because they don’t have the ‘truth’. They don’t like your not putting your head down at the table when your father is saying grace. They don’t like your not letting your children accept birthday presents from their grandparents. You mother doesn’t like not getting a mother’s day card from you anymore. Your family misses you around Christmas time. They worry that if you’re in an accident that you will refuse blood and die. They worry that this could happen to your children. They have to be careful what they say around you now because you’re likely to get on your soap box and start preaching to them.
Now you have virtually no friends and your family is very uneasy around you. You are reminded of how you were told at the beginning that once people saw that you were a worshipper of the true God that they would have nothing to do with you. You see them as right and you turn to the only source of human companionship now available to you…the brotherhood.
One day after having been told for decades not to plan for the future because ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ has said that the end is imminent, you realize that you are at an age where you brothers and sisters, cousins, past acquaintances are all retiring and you find yourself with nothing and still there is no end in sight. You begin to question that after which you are promptly told that it’s not proper to question the Society. You wake up one day and realize that some of the things you were taught from the beginning have been changed. You are told that this is all proper and as it should be and that you are not to question that either. Now you’re getting a little nervous, you cautiously start looking around and you begin to see many, many things that are not right and not as they were represented to you. You question again and again you are told that questioning the Society is tantamount to questioning God. You are warned about independent thinking.
Soon your conscience kicks in and you can no longer accept what you are being taught. You approach one of the elders and you tell your spiritual brother, your shepherd, that while you love him and all the members of the congregation, you can no longer participate in what you no longer believe in. He calls another elder over and he asks you: “Are you telling us that you no longer want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” And you frankly and openly tell him yes. You have just disassociated yourself and will now and forevermore (unless you repent and ask forgiveness for this vile act) be shunned by every witness on the face of the earth, including your grown children and aging parents, your brothers and sisters, and all your friends who are witnesses. They will also keep your grandchildren away from you as well. You will be treated the same way a fornicator, murderer, or thief would be treated. All because now that things you were once told were ‘the truth from God’ have now been discarded and you cannot accept this.
I hope you can see how this can and does embitter people. And this is just ONE aspect and ONE example of how easily, how quickly a person’s world can come tumbling down around him.
If you take careful note you will come to realize that most posters do not have bitter feelings toward those individuals that are still ‘in’. Their anger is at the organization’s leadership’s tactics, antics, and deceptions. I have several friends and many acquaintances that are still in. I harbor no ill will toward them for they are victims as I am. Yes, I’m still suffering from my association and like Waiting, my friend on this board, I have to swallow a lot of anger and resentment and smile when I want to scream out so that I can be with those that I love. I have to stoop to hypocrisy to be with family and friends. And what is my crime? Only one. I do not agree with all of the Society’s teachings. Note, please, that I said: “not all” for I do agree with much of what is taught. But for my not accepting those things of which I am convinced are not right, I would be disfellowshipped or disassociated (same thing, just different words for public relations reasons) and summarily ignored and viewed as unfit for association and no witness would even be allowed to conduct funeral services when I die. My wife would be punished as well. While not shunned outright, she would be ignored for the most part and no one would ever visit her at home for fear I might be there and it would be too awkward.
I know this is long but I felt that I should present this to you in an effort to give you a small glimpse of what it is that ex-witnesses face and are forced to endure. Allow some of them to tell you their stories and your heart will go out to some of them for the injustices they have suffered.