Am I here to shut the door of everlasting life on the unwary? No. That's an assumption, based on another assumption. The first assumption here is that Jehovah's Witnesses have the monopoly on who gets everlasting life. The second is that everlasting life will actually result from obedience to what the Bible says. The Bible itself requires an assumption that what we read in it is true. Because we have no absolute way of knowing how all of that went down.
It's not my desire that anyone make a decision as serious as altering or even destroying their personal belief system, be they Jehovah's Witnesses or anyone else, without a cautious, balanced consideration of as many verifiable facts as can be gathered. It is no minor matter to even go down the path to questioning one's beliefs.
Even though I believe I made the right choice in rejecting my former beliefs as a JW, I can't say that's for everyone to do. It's hard to live like this. I grew up in that religion. It was my entire world, that which enabled me to stand, that which made me believe I was good, maybe even a cut above the rest. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I had some things that deeply hurt me, things that happened to me as a young adult. I fought hard not to be bitter, to let it go, to keep trying to focus and move on. But I reached a point where it became clear to me that there was something wrong with this religion. And it wasn't just that people were imperfect; I observed policies and ideas that were sanctioned by the organization that had no basis at all in scripture. I can say this because I read the entire Bible 4 times and was very familiar with its contents, though not entirely with verses in their context.
It was with grief and a sincere desire for answers that I started my search for truth. I already tried the route of talking to the elders, doing research in Watchtower publications, and simply ignoring the problems and the pains. When I saw that I already knew what the elders would say before they said it, when I saw that the Watchtower Society's articles demonstrated a coldness, devoid of compassion or of the realities of human life, I knew that I needed answers that the elders couldn't give me. The experience given at the outset of this thread demonstrates that to me. Elders are generally incapable of thinking beyond the company line.
I knew that the Watchtower Society had repeatedly warned against talking to apostates, because it might destroy one's faith. I asked myself a simple question, in the end, why? Why would the Watchtower Society repeatedly issue such warnings? What was it that the true religion had to fear from people who blatantly promote lies? Cannot lies be easily disproven? Even the more complex lies can be exposed with enough effort, especially in this day and age.
I started my own research and even now I choose not to agree with every ex-JW's ideas or beliefs. Because my examination of evidence convinces me otherwise. Regardless, I don't care if someone reads this and believes me or not. I've made my share of mistakes but my mistakes shouldn't define me any more than a JW's sins should define them. The only reason the elders and the Society wish to put labels on people that way is because it makes it easier for JWs to trust only them and distrust anyone they've labeled "disfellowshipped" or "apostate" or whatever. That way, you don't have to think beyond those labels.
Well, I've had my share of cold milk that was sour long before the 'Sell By' date. So I know labels aren't always accurate. I knew that the Society wanted me to be afraid. But their tone of voice when they spoke of certain things said to me that they were afraid, too. "All creatures feel fear." "Even the scary ones." "Especially the scary ones."
My motives in being here are simple. First, to tell my story, as fairly and accurately as I can, including my own frailties. But more importantly, to promote facts as much as possible. To encourage thoughtful research that isn't restricted by any boundaries but your own. You have to be willing to face the consequences of looking for answers outside of the ones in the paragraph. It's one of the scariest things you can do, but it's worth it. For me, it answered all the questions I had and even some I never knew I had.
If a person then chooses not to live as a Christian, that is their decision, a decision they must make based on their own findings and their own faith (or lack thereof). I do not feel bloodguilty for trying to show people legitimate facts about the history of Jehovah's Witnesses and about what the Bible itself says (and by no means do I claim my understanding of it is without flaw, of course, as nobody can). I would feel guilty, as I often did as a JW, for not having researched an issue thoroughly on my own, yet attempting to discuss it with total strangers using argumentation that isn't really my own. Worse yet is the guilt I would feel for using information that I know is academically dishonest and deceptive. I wouldn't say that if I hadn't personally confirmed at the library the Society's misuse of outside literature--theological literature from sources that the average JW shouldn't even be reading, at that. It's my responsibility, once I know something isn't true, to avoid presenting it as true to other people. If I ignored that, I would be guilty of lying and spreading someone else's lies.
As I understand it, liars go to the lake of fire. So if I know a lie is going on and that I'll get in trouble for uncovering it, then I have to assume that everyone around me is a party to that lie whether intentional or not. If I can prove beyond all doubt that lies are being covered up, is that shutting someone out from eternal life? Or is it bringing them closer to truth?
I never felt that people of other beliefs should necessarily die. I thought the moral wrongness of that would be obvious to everyone. I don't wish death on anyone, save in the darkest parts of my soul and in the weakest moments of my life. An elder, who is tasked with teaching and guiding others, and yet isn't conscious of the wrongness of that reasoning, well, something's wrong with him. It's unstable thinking to have that kind of animosity on the basis of things you don't even know. I hate the wrong things the Watchtower Society has taught and done, but it is an informed hatred. A hatred of evil in the abstract form, more than a hatred of people. Uninformed hatred of people, and ideas that you yourself have never even studied, well, that's ignorance. And ignorance is fertile soil for intolerance. "Whenever a group of people starts thinking they're better than everyone else, the results are always the same."
I'm not ashamed of the course I've chosen. I'm ashamed that it took me so long to realize what needed to be done. I'm ashamed that I helped people to shut their minds and do as they were told without even a second thought. If anything, I'm bloodguilty for that reason.
I'm not perfect, not honorable, nobody special, not better than anyone else. I'm here because I still need to be. There are still things that need to be said. A great injustice is happening to innocent people and I can't pretend that it doesn't matter. Nobody needs to change their beliefs because of me. I'm not here to trick anyone. And I refuse to allow anonymous individuals to assert that because I disagree with their beliefs, I therefore "do not have your best interests at heart." I want anyone who is still a JW and who reads this to know that if it was in your best interest, I'd rather you STAY a JW. If that makes you happy, if that fills you with a satisfying life, then that's your choice. But if you are looking for something more, I'd rather that no one tells you to close your eyes. I'd rather you fight for your freedom and win. And live honorably and well for the rest of your days.