Thanks lwt, felt good to put it out there. I enjoy reading your past experiences as well. Us exbethelites are like some weird fraternity sometimes it feels like. Tough for anyone, especially in the org, that has never been to fully understand. Glad I have this place to vent and hear others situations as well.
What was it about Bethel that woke you up?
Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone. Going to bethel was never a goal of mine, but I had some friends who went. Now that I think about it, one of them didn't last long and he would never talk about his experience afterwards. It would have been around 1970. He was a bit of a joker, fun-loving, so I'm sure it was torture for him. He managed to write a hello message on my awake subscription one day - I got a good laugh when it arrived in the mail. My brother and his wife (the evil b**ch) went for a while. I know they got in trouble for certain music. But when they returned they were super holier than thou.
Etude - I can't help but wonder: who presses their jeans? :)
I’ve been lurking for a while but I wanted to chip in on this thread. Bethel service was held up as a worthwhile goal for me when I was getting started as a Witness. Everyone told me I would be a great fit and should do all the right things so that I would eventually get “invited” to work there.
Even though I was quite young, only twenty years old, I knew this was a very big decision. So before committing myself to anything I attended the Bethel meeting at the district convention the summer after I got baptized. Am I ever glad I did! The Bethelite who gave the presentation lacked the kind of warmth and enthusiasm I was looking for. He stated things in a matter-of-fact voice and made it sound as though you had to be an über-Witness to even be considered for a posting there. I decided right then that it wasn’t the kind of place I would like.
As the years went by, I met others who were either ex-Bethelites or were working there. I’m sorry to say that many of the ones I knew were not the kind of people I would ever have wanted as a friend. There were exceptions, of course, but most of my encounters with men who had Bethel experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Reading this thread has helped me to understand why many were that way. An environment as oppressive and joyless as exists in these Bethel homes will have a negative impact on those steeped in it.
"Eventually I got to describe Bethel as a combination of being in the Army, college and prison all rolled up in one."
No truer words were ever spoken.
My experience was a little different in some respects than some posters. While I was At Bethel some resentfully said "how does a newboy get privileges?" I had been in the "worldly" workforce for five years, been to a few years of "trade school" so I got accepted to Bethel almost instantly for my job skills when my application was submitted.
I had been given a "heads up" about the "darkside" by a family member who had served on and off at Bethel in the 40s and 50s. Even so I was shocked...and still am.
"Privileges" at Bethel consisted of the worst treatment I have EVER recieved in the work place my entire life. There was nothing Christian about Bethel. What was funny...was not only was the place not "christian" it was illogical in the way they do particular jobs. No "worldly" business could make a penny doing things the way they did in my department. Many assignments were based on your "JW status" pre-bethel. Top jobs were held by Bethel Elders and former Special Pioneers with NO education or formal job training...I had been a lowly PIONEER and MS, so my training went to waste as I was assigned mind numbing unskilled tasks for LONG days and entire weekends ( I missed meetings and field service) for my entire stay.
When I turned in my 30 day notice - Suddenly I was called into multiple meetings to discourage me from leaving "and going to where the greed was greater" and "turning my back on my brothers" because of my training. - When I replied "I never used any of my training", they said -well, we were teaching you submission...thats the Bethel way!!! ??? WTF ??
Never been so glad to leave a job.
To this day when I recount some of the things I overheard or saw (GB doing) to JWs I have been accused of lying....such is the power of cults.
I learned to shut up about what I experienced at Bethel and change the subject around family and JWs.
Before I went to Bethel, one of the elders on the local Service Committee told me the following:
"When you get to Bethel, you're going to meet people there that make you ask yourself, "How are these people even in The Truth, much less Bethel."
He was a former Bethelite.
He was right.
There is a major bias (and jealousy as far as I am concerned) towards anybody with higher secular education or professional training. I had heard it said that brothers with a college education have a hard time accepting counsel. So, this must be the backlash.
All I can say is that one or more of the "heavies" in the org. has serious issues about this!! Maybe somebody with an education tried to lord it over him or maybe it is an inferiority complex because they never went to college so they want to make anybody who does have an education pay the price by hardship.
There is no other way to describe this petty spitefulness. Sounds almost like Cinderella and the wicked step-sisters.
What you mention about them "teaching you submission" is something I have heard before. I am certainly no bethelite but I always got the distinct impression that certain people in my kingdom hall begrudged me my dignity and independence.
This religion has some seriously jealous individuals. Thank God they have no real power.
Oops! I should have said "bias AGAINST". But, you get my point.
All in all, it sounds like an emotionally unhealthy place and an experience I would NOT want but I am glad you survived it and are here to open everybody's eyes as to what really goes on!
Usually it was hearing the elevator ring twice as it was being loaded up at about 6:50 in the morning...I lived on the 10th floor of 107 right across from the elevator. Then it was, "oh shit!" and a mad scramble to get dressed, pick up my room and run down to the 30 building to slide into my seat right beside the table head. Then his look of disdain in my direction as I poured me a cup of coffee....but it probably was the coffee that woke me up.
Seriously though...It was the politics of Bethel that really made me start thinking. The rules too! Rules for everything!
My three years in the british army was a doddle compared to Bethel service less rules, less Homo's & the Snt majors were pussycats by comparison to the GB .
I visited Bethel when I was 16 a couple of times, I had a cousin there so I got to see it and feel it. It so turned me off that I opted for serving where the need was great in the frozen north after high school. Had a ball compared to Bethel, held important positions, gave public talks all over the circuit, attended parties and best of all met my wife. I had peace of mind, my own schedule and total independence. If anything became difficult I just reminded myself I could have been at Bethel. I did my four years then my wife and I left the cult.
I remember thinking that if the new world was going to be like bethel there was no point in being a JW.