What was it about Bethel that woke you up?

by cognisonance 95 Replies latest jw friends

  • cognisonance

    One the How many exBethelites thread it was mentioned that some think one either leaves down the path towards apostasy or as a 100% true believer. I'm curious what experiences did you face at Bethel that woke you up (or started to at least)?

  • Cagefighter

    I took a tour of Bethel when I was 14. Up until then I was determined to be accepted as soon as I turned 18. I even knew some Bethelites from my home Congo, so we got to eat and see the living quarters. It was depressing to the 14 year old Cage Fighter. I realized very quickly it was going to be a boring life of binding and boxing books and listening to old men drone on about the daily text while I tried to eat the barely edible fare they called "breakfast".

    To think all of that would happen to me in the shadow of a cool place like NYC was too make to take. I started drinking and chasing girls very shortly after that trip.

  • leavingwt

    I could write page after page.

    Rather than doing that, I'll put forth one of the most compelling facts.

    There is absolutely no procedure to have your legitimate greivances aknowledged and dealt with by the powers at Bethel. The authority structure is that of slaves working for a dictator. Since your livelihood literally hangs in the balance (food, shelter, clothing), individuals have close to zero wiggle room. You don't like something? You were legimately wronged? Fine, hit the door. Even better, you're DF'd, now hit the door. Good luck.

    That bottom line threat is always present.

    Sounds like a spiritual paradise.

    I recall, early on, thinking to myself: "If the New System is anything like this, most of the JWs that I know are going to hate it."

    The Bethel Family was constantly presented with information that we were asked not to share with the outside. Why? Because this information would put Bethel in an extremely negative light, and for good reasons. When speaking with my family back home, I had to censor myself, so as not to "stumble" them.

    So, if it's the House of God, why was it run no differently than a cut-throat corporation or dictatorship?

    The answer is simple, but it took me a few years to connect the dots.

  • Phizzy

    "The Truth is not something you should have to lie about" .

    The number of times all of us had to be "economical" with the truth about "The Truth" should have woken us up right away. It took me decades to move and walk away, and I am a lover of truth, in the end the pain of Cognitive Dissonance, so so LOUD ! got too much, and finally I went.

    I was never in Bethel, but found a visit in my late teens as disturbing as CF's, I sensed the lack of Holy Spirit, it was just a factory full of horny young men and a few young women of the prick teaser class.

  • cognisonance

    LeavingWT, that is interesting. So if one has a legitimate concern, notices that something is being done wrong, or that someone is wronging you, one has no recourse? After, trying to address the problem with the specific individual (supposing someone wronged you), couldn't you "go to the elders" in your local congreation like Jehovah's Witnesses are encuragaged to do?

    I knew a few ex-bethelites, including a special pioneer couple that I was friends with. They are 100% ture believers, however. But he did tell me some of the things he went thru and he mentioned to me that people need to be spiritually strong to go to bethel because many get there and think, "how can this be God's organization."

    The husband had to endure debilitating work routines that he physically was having a hard time with. He wasn't a small guy, but thought the work he was doing should require two men due to the heavy lifting nature, not one. I believe he was granted some time off to recover and get medical treatment but was almost kicked out the door for not being able to do his assignment. The whole time he was "off" he was constantly under pressure to get back to work ASAP and feared getting the axe. I hope I'm not miss-remembering what he told me as the exact details are foggy. Nonetheless, this example and others he told me painted a very different picture of Bethel to me than I had previously.

    I also remember hearing about some bethelites visiting Alcatraz on Vacation and noticed a sign stating the rules of the prision and remarking, hey that's like Bethel...

  • cognisonance
    The Bethel Family was constantly presented with information that we were asked not to share with the outside. Why? Because this information would put Bethel in an extremely negative light, and for good reasons. When speaking with my family back home, I had to censor myself, so as not to "stumble" them.


  • deep-blue-sea

    Their behavior, their way to deal with people when they answer to a letter! They tend to minimize the problems, they tend to let you feel uncomfortable, to make you feel guilty, they do not have any real charitable thought, the best suggestions they could give is 'leave the things in Jehovah's hand' and they do not move the little finger...

    My husband has a 130 file with letters to and from the Bethel, for the case which led to his resignation as elder, he and I felt so devastated in reading them and still feel that way if it happen to read them again...

    One sentence is unforgettable and show their spirit: 'You better look at yourself as others see you'...!!!!! Should'nt they DO THE SAME????? Such people do not deserve respect, that is one of the reasons why we left the organisation!!!

    Regards, Claudia

  • leavingwt

    cognisonance: I'm sorry that I wasn't more specific. When I speak of grievances, I mean when something at Bethel is not right. There is no way to address a Bethel rule/procedure/action that is wrong/wasteful/inconsiderate, etc. It can take years and multiple Zone Visits just to make a simple adjustment in a rule or procedure. The rules and procedures are treated as being from God, when in reality they are often complete hogwash, making little sense. To question or legitimately criticize something is seen as having a bad attitude, it brings your spirituality into question.

    Another example would be if your Bethel overseer (boss) was a jerk or was treating you in an unfair manner. You essentially have no options. It's a top-down authority structure. That one person controls your fate. I've seen good people sent home, simply because the overseer didn't "like" them.

    One could argue that this environment is exactly what is needed in the military. I simply couldn't see why God's House was run this way. Simple fairness and equal treatment that individual citizens get are something foreign to Bethel. There is absolutely no equality. It's who you know, what you know and what you can get away with.

  • Christ Alone
    Christ Alone


    There were many. We commonly heard about many negative things about the organization at bethel. For example DF'ing is VERY regular at bethel. They announce the df'ings to everyone, and they happen almost weekly. Monday - Wednesday Brooklyn, Walkill, and Patterson were tied in to listen to the GB do morning worship. So if you are df'd, then it is announced to around 3000 people. Sort of like your df'ing being announced at a Circuit Assembly!

    We were also told about many problems at bethel. I recall Bro Couch speaking about homosexuality at bethel once. This would've been around 2000. He said that many of the young brothers were getting involved with it. He said, "First you decide to wrestle around with your roomate in your underwear and then...WAM BAM you're a homo!!!" Everyone thought it was cute. But I was disgusted. Anything negative at bethel is NOT to be shared. If we heard about suicides or others sins at bethel, we were not to talk about it. The IMAGE of Bethel is very important. Actually Bethel is ALL about image. When we gave our tours we were to keep that "fantasy" strong in the brothers mind. This was God's organization. It should look, smell, taste, and feel like it. When the brothers came to lunch, they should taste Jehovah.

    I recall one morning worship where we were told about the rampant problem of pornography. The speaker said that men at the top were the worst offenders. CO's and DO's were commonly removed because of it. They were the number one offenders. Then elders. Then MS's. Interestingly publishers were at the bottom. Although that makes sense since they would not commonly go to the elders about this problem. I remember that we were specifically told not to share the info.

    Confidentiality is very important at bethel. Nothing is to be shared. Your 'Dwelling' book was destroyed when you left. You had to turn it in and sign that you turned all confidential info into them. BTW, did anyone keep theirs? Can it be downloaded anywhere? I think that many of you guys would be fascinated by the thousands of rules and structure that one must follow at bethel. There are even rules for how many items you may place on a surface. I believe it was 3 items per surface. So if you had an end table, you could place a lamp, a clock, and one other item on it. No more!

    What got me to wake up was seeing that it was all a big illusion. It was a total fantasy. Some loved the fantasy and fell for it. Hence LWT's statement that some leave bethel 100% in for good. But those that saw that the reality was that it was a fantasy left very disheartened. I think most leave thinking that THEY were the problem, not God's organization. For me it took another 8 years before I officially left. But my heart was out the moment I left. I remember crying all the way to the airport when I left. I wasn't good enough for God's organization.

    Once you see the man behind the curtain, the magic of bethel is gone. Some of the GB were rude. I personally didn't care for Losche specifically. I tried talking to him a few times, and his response felt like it was a chore to talk to me. I had only been there for 2 years. I must not have "earned" the priviledge.

    Another eye opener was the near constant tongue lashings I got from the older members. I remember cleaning a locker room once and I got ripped to shreds by a brother for using hot water. His near exact words were, "You new boys make me sick. You waste Bethel's water. You waste money that belongs to God. And you don't even care!" I tried to explain to him that hot water helps to kill dangerous bacteria. But he would have none of it. So I finally told him, "Go to your computer and look up the necessity of hot water while cleaning and then talk to me tomorrow." With what looked like murderous venom in his eyes he said, "See? You new boys have a BA!!!" (Bad Attitude in bethel speak).

    So to make a long story short, what caused me to wake up was seeing that image not reality was most important at bethel. It doesn't matter what you do or don't do as long as the image of bethel is not stained. It's all about the outside. All about what you look like. All about what you say. All about who you hang with. There is no faith. It's not about what you believe, but what you look like. When I went back to the congregation I saw that this was the same. They look at the exterior person, and couldn't care less about the interior. Bethel was the same, just worse.

  • leavingwt


    The basic lack of kindness and decency from the GB an other "heavies" at Bethel.

    The prevailing attitude at Bethel -- from the leadership -- that those not in the full-time service were 2nd class Christians.

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