*sigh* where do i start...
Well, when I was in junior high and high school, it started out with my desire to associate with the kids at school. As is seen at so many conventions, it's DIFFICULT to not want to fit in with fellow peers at school, and although I was on convention platforms as a youth stating how I didn't associate w/ kids at school, well...I really was friends with these kids and didn't really see anything wrong with it. Looking back on it as an adult, true I would've gotten caught up in a few situations that could've been disastrous, however I now feel that that is something that kids need to experience, because it wisens them up for adulthood. As a result, when I left at 24 years of age, I was in essence a "late bloomer" and had to learn what the real world was REALLY like. (And, as most youth, I'm fine - I've had a couple of experiences that taught me lessons, but they've helped mold me into a very well-rounded, stable man).
As I got older though, I began to challenge the doctrinal teachings and the organizational structure. I never understood all the rules and regulations for elders, servants, women and publishers. I had and still do have respect for the Bible, but I could never come to terms with how out-dated so many things seem to be. The bible clearly shows how THINGS CHANGE as the years go by, so to take everything that was written thousands of years ago and apply it literally today...just doesn't make sense. It doesn't seem appropriate at all. Women have to wear head coverings to pray, Servants can get removed for watching a rated R movie, an elder can get removed if a child in his family does something wrong, oral sex is wrong...the list goes on and on. All of these things I felt were up to an individuals mind, yet there were strict rules against them that were NOT outrightly stated in the Bible. I figure there's much more important things to focus our minds on than trivial rules like these. Who claims to have the authority to implement rules such as these when they are not clearly stated in the Bible???!!! When I got to Bethel, these rules increased. Ugh. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it was to get called into a Home Overseers office during work hours (I had an important job as well) for him to question me on why my room (I shared a room with 3 other bethelites, mind you) had things left out - why there were 4 items on a surface rather than 3 - who freakin cares?!?! I know the rules had a purpose - yes, it was easier for the sisters to clean w/ less items on a surface, but...it really wasn't that bad - if the housekeeper thought it was too much she could simply dust around it - problem solved. And why was I responsible for the actions of everyone there just because I'd lived in the room the longest??? To some this structured, institutionalized way of living evidently had some kind of correlation with spiritiuality and their relationship with God, but I didn't see any benefits in it whatsoever. Imagine now if your boss at your job pulled you into his office to talk about how your home is organized.
The thing that really made me leave though was the hypocrisy in the religion. I have 0 tolerance for hypocrites and I witnessed so much of it that I finally said "I'm done." I, for one, was being a hypocrite by leading a double life, and that bothered me deeply because it wasn't right. So many people looked up to me because I was this righteous young man (so they thought), whereas, according to their standards, I was anything but. But if you talk to any of the people I've befriended since I left the organization, they will attest to the fact that I am a very very trustworthy, righteous person that believes in doing good for others - I treat others the way I want to be treated, and I live by that standard in everything I do. But...back to the hypocrisy, where to start...so many Witnesses are quick to point out the flaws of others. Too much back stabbing, slander and gossip to suit my tastes. (all of which is spoken against in the Bible) I can't and refuse to tolerate any such behavior, and no matter what congregation you go to, you find it. The abuse of alcohol, which I witnessed and partook in as well, is so widespread - criticized in comments at the Watchtower, and done in the privacy of their home on Sunday night. The line "well, Jason...we're all accountable to Jehovah in the end" just doesn't hold water after awhile. If that's the case 50% of all Bethelites ages 19 - 30 will be destroyed at Armegeddon. Realistically though, geez...they're kids having fun...all of the drinking I did was harmless fun that any normal kid goes through. I never became an alcoholic, I just enjoyed partying w/ the fellas every now and then - we know how to control our drinking, but still...according to "scriptural principles" it was wrong. Another hypocrital thing i observed was the way materialism and riches are warned against, yet that organization has and spends MILLIONS of dollars each year. I worked in the Warehouse and handled all kinds of inventory - from construction supplies to food supplies - the amounts of money spent is INCREDIBLE. And the thing about it is that Watchtower doesn't use generic brand stuff - they get REALLY NICE stuff. If you've ever had the opportunity to spend the night in a guest room at Bethel, or visit the room of a member who has been there for a long time, you will notice firsthand the luxury these people live in. In Charlotte, NC there is an infamous 33 million dollar pink church on Hwy 51 which we would look at in disgust for being so luxurious, yet...how much money do you think it took to build 90 Sands? Patterson? The Norco Assembly Hall in California? The branches around the world...?? These places are just as elaborate and luxurious. I just always felt that there was something about the financial aspect of the Society that the general public wasn't aware of, and my gut instincts are usually correct. My father was quick to say that everything is "supported by voluntary donations, son" but....something is definitely awry - I've read a few articles on different sites that have proved it too, but I don't have the time to reference it all or recall the info at this moment.
There's much I could say, but I'll have to save it for later for the sake of time.