I could never be an athiest. Even though I was never brought up with any type of spirituality, as early as the age of 4, I believed in God. I don't know where I got it from. I'd talk to my mother about it, and she never discouraged it, but never did anything to help with it either. I remember watching the pope come off a plane on TV and asked my mother if that was God and she said no. I said why are all those people flocking to him, she said they were nuts. My mother was raised a Catholic and told me plenty of stories, including sexual abuse, when I was older. She let it be known, that wasn't the correct religion. I figured that was why she didn't push a religion. She studied with the witnesses and like me thought they were correct. But she never went to the meetings much, just keeps them at the periphery. They used to drop by with literature, but I guess they thought she wasn't worth the effort.
I find that the one good thing the JW's did was point me to a bible and help me understand. Unfortunately they helped me understand it so good, that I saw that their tree bore some pretty rotten fruit.
I was told the diamond story, the closer you look, the more blemishes you will find.
And honestly, I have to say, the meetings were so boring, the music was tedious, I think God would want something a little more uplifting. Can;t they come up with anything as pretty as Amazing Grace. It was like singing durges. I felt like everything was gray They'd read the paragraph, and a person would raise their hand and just read verbatem the sentence in the paragraph they were looking for. I'd answer what I thought it meant, without word for word, and no matter what, everyone got the same response from the elder. And when I went to those 3 day events, it was always the same old stuff. They would say, there's something new and big, and then there wasn't. But we all acted like it was manna from heaven. I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt this.
We are all human and all make mistakes, that I know. Some of the stuff going on with one of the women I studied with, probably would have caused her to be disfellowshipped if they ever found out. And from what I knew, the JW's are a heck of a lot less forgiving to women than they are to men.
I saw a big change in the JW's when I moved from one state to another. The ones who studied with me at first were kind, patient, never pushy. They wanted me to get baptized, I didn't think I was ready. Then when I moved to another state, they were clickish, cold. After studying for a while I told them I'd like to be baptized, now they said I couldn't, yet I could go out in service.
That wasn't what drove me away from them, but I was amazed at the difference. I remember one study person that was brought to my house by my pioneer came to the hall. The pioneer wasn't there. The poor woman stood in the doorway like a deer caught in the headlights, looking for the pioneer, which was known to not let the study know when she wasn't going to be there, so they would still show up. I could see she was getting ready to take off. I watched as no one stood up and greeted her. I, who had only been there a short time, and felt it wasn't my place yet, got up and walked her to a seat and sat next to her. I watched as they all stared at the poor woman as she walked to her seat. They came up and talked afterword, but really, what was that?
I wonder if it was just the area, or if in the couple years I was away from JW's they changed, maybe something from the higher ups.
When I went to the first hall, you couldn't get in without being mobbed, by polite and friendly people.
I think most of you are right. I think it's a path we all need to find for ourselves. Maybe there is some sort of need that draws us to this type of cultish religion to make us feel like we are belonging or doing something for the good of God. We turn a blind eye to the mistakes and mistreatment of others within the congregation. You don't dare speak up. You follow like good little sheep. And by all means, don't get sick, if you don't show up, you are weak in the faith. I saw people with pneumonia coming to the hall, just so they wouldn't be badgered.
They start out so nice, and then like a frog in water, they slowly turn up the heat, they want more of your time, telling you who you should hang with and who not. What activities you can have. I was told not to garden because it took away from witnessing. I wasn't even baptized. I started feeling like a machine. I was no longer working for God, but for a number in their book so they could publish it in a book or magazine somewhere. I have to wonder how many other religions do that to you, hold out the promise of God and then suck the life out of you.
I was watching a special on Jim Jones in Jonestown a while back. All those people who willingly, drank the Kool-aid. Many didn't and were shot or held and poisoned. Some held their babies to be poisoned. It's amazing how far a human will go to follow a man or an organization, and lose all common sense. They instill a fear that God will hate you if you don't cross your T's and dot your I's as they see fit.
I still remember the threat, that one day, just like the ark, the witnesses will close their doors and not let anyone in, come the time of the end. No matter how much you beg.
I wonder if most religions use that tactic.
I did read late into the night, last night, about the guy who leaked out info on the elders. He went into how, like tec said, follow Jesus, his teachings are kind and loving. It's hard to give up that whole "faith without works is dead" thing they imprint on your brain. I will always believe in right and wrong, there are sins, we are all sinners, and we shouldn't break the commandments willingly. Place the bar high. I also believe we will all fall short. But I have to start looking a lot more into the unconditional love that Jesus offers. That was barely touched on, and I think that is what needs to be taught the most. That is what gives a person heart and soul, not just to be duty bound like an SS officer or something. I saw one of the elders wives witnessing, and she was harsh and pushy. The people would just slam the door or most were polite, but would say no. I thought, where was her heart, these people didn't know all she knew, it took time. Then I wondered if maybe she liked the congregation small and this was a way to insure it. I'll never know, but if her heart was in it, it wasn't in the right place. Probably, she too, was feeling pressured and under the gun. So much is put on the women, since a lot of them didn't work and were expected to do nothing else.
I was wondering if there was an organized religion that worked on that premise, of teaching with the carrot, and not so much with the stick. But one that still upheld biblical values, not an anything goes approach.