Born Ins, How Did Your Parents Get "The Truth™"?
Born ins are in a unique position in that we never knew any other way of life. No birthdays, Christmas and overly superstitious family just seemed normal. When my parents talked about their pre-JW life it seemed like they were talking about completely different people (actually, that's true, the cult had taken their real selves).
So I'd be interested in hearing how your parents were indoctrinated.
My dad was, in the 1960s, into motorbikes. Try to imagine it, it's 1964 and you and your best mate hop on your motorbike and travel around Europe for a few months. My dad spoke very fondly of those times, he also told me "in Denmark i've seen things you would never imagine. People think Amsterdam is a sex obsessed place? 1960s Denmark was worse". Despite my pressing further he wouldn't go into detail. But, a quick google search when i was older filled me in.
Anyway, back in Britain, dad got run over by a lorry. He very nearly died. His pelvis was snapped in half, broken ribs, punctured bladder and some other things. He was saved thanks to... blood transfusions... he was in hospital for a few years recovering. He had to learn to walk again. While in hospital, as he was almost fully recovered he helped out the nurses and doctors by dishing out food and drinks to the patients. He befriended a deaf man the same age as him (remember, my dad is still in his 20s). While in hospital he, again to relieve the boredom, he took sign language lessons from the mans family and by the time he left hospital a year or so later he was proficient.
My dads family were racists. They were very strong Protestants and hated Catholics, non whites and homosexuals. My dad and grandad were members of The Orange Lodge, which is a Protestant fraternal organization in Britain and Ireland with links to Northern Irish pro-union loyalism. Now, im not suggesting that they were racist because of being in the Orange Lodge but it didn't help. My grandad played bagpipes on the marches and my dad and his friends would go out "queer bashing" as they called it. Basically beating up homosexuals for no reason.
So yeah, not a very nice man so far.
Fast forward to 1976.
Remember the guy my dad toured Europe with on their motorbikes? He ended up dating my dads sister. One day this guy went clay pigeon shooting with another friend. The friend passed him a shotgun and it went off in the guys chest, killing him instantly.
This is where Jehovahs Witnesses come in. The story goes, that a JW knocked on my dads families door and my dad was very rude and aggressive to him. The JW was a kind old man who was shaken up and left quite afraid. My dad felt bad prayed to God to reveal himself to him. THE NEXT DAY (we've all heard this kind of story) another JW knocked and my dad accepted a bible study.
So my dad has had a near death experience (being knocked over by a lorry), his best friend has just died, he feels bad for being mean to a JW, then a JW knocks on his door. The study tells him how bad "the world" is, the resurrection hope (he can see his friend again), and he already feels bad for being mean to a JW. What do you think would happen next?
Dad gives up smoking, sells his motorbikes, buys a car and jumps into the door to door ministry. He's baptized within months. The 1975 fiasco was, fortunately for my dads JW study conductor, already 1 year ago so my dad missed out on that. My dad manages to convince two of his brothers and his dad into studying and they eventually get baptized too.
He eventually meets my mother, they marry and here starts my family, my cousins and my grandfather all being in the same congregation. We had very little to do with our non JW family so JWism just seemed normal to me growing up.
My mum was born into a sorry excuse for a family. Her father, a jobless, lazy, chain smoking, filthy, idiot somehow managed to marry and conceive children with a selfish, lazy, filthy, idiot woman. Together they'd pop out 6 children. All of which were left to fend for themselves. My mum and her sister being the eldest were essentially the surrogate parents to their brothers and sisters at the tender age of 8yo and 9yo. This is in the late 1950s/early 1960s. My mum told me that it was often that her parents would be in The Red Brick pub until they'd spent all their money in one evening, while her and her brothers/sisters were outside in nothing but an oversized shirt to keep them warm. Why spend money on food and clothes for your kids when you can get drunk and smoke yourself stupid?
So anyway, eventually people in the pub and in the street get concerned about this going on all the time and social services step in. My mum and her siblings are raised in various foster homes throughout their childhood. I dont know why, but they split them up and tended to move them around a lot. Sometimes they'd be lucky enough to be in the same home as one of their kin, other times not. My mum told me she was overjoyed one time when she was given her very own toothbrush and hairbrush by one couple. This couple, unable to have their own children, were very nice and kind and wanted to adopt her, unfortunately due to some legal red tape it wasn't possible.
Then one day... knock, knock.
A JW calls on the door. My mum is 15. The JW tells her how "the world" is so bad, people are uncaring, only Jehovah can make us happy etc. My mum had a study for a few weeks until her foster parents (the kind ones) stopped it. Apparently the Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained book shocked them to the core.
When my mum turned 16 she was returned to her parents. Where her life consisted of working in a chemists, then grocery shopping, then cleaning/cooking for her parents, then finding that they've spent her wages in the pub. She eventually left and got a flat with one of her sisters. This just meant that her brothers/sisters would come knocking on their door in rags for food.
JWs called again. My mum continued to study. Her sister studied too. She was eventually baptized and managed to indoctrinate her sister and two brothers. She met my dad in her Kingdom Hall and her sister started dating my dads brother. They were married and thus started my family being JWs along with my cousins family. As i said earlier, we had very little to do with non JW family.
Looking at it now, it's clear to me that JW doctrine appealed to two people who'd been though difficult times and were made to look at "the world" with JW spectacles on. Cults do this, they reframe experiences and memories.
In the case of my mum, she really did have a rubbish childhood. The appeal of instant friends, a worldwide family, a purpose, being told what to do with your spare time etc was a breath of fresh air. This is why she'll never leave the JWs. To my mum, Watchtower is her parent. She's the kind of person that would not only drink the Kool-Aid but brew it up and hand out the cups.
In the case of my dad, he was actually a very talented carpenter. He came from a long line of carpenters (im actually the first male in my family for 200 years not to be a carpenter). Of course the borg used him for free refurbishments, elders would call on him for repairs or work (which he'd do for free), his sign language skills were used in the conventions. I remember watching him in Manchester City Football Stadium signing for a section of deaf people. I never seen him use sign language apart from conventions. He became a Ministerial Servant but didn't go any higher. For one thing, he never thought himself worthy of that, Watchtower had convinced him that he wasnt good enough. And also he was honest to a fault, which didnt do him any favors. There was an elder in our hall that was beating up his wife. The wife reported it but the body didnt believe her. My dad saw this elder punch his wife in the face, my dad reported him and again the body didnt believe it. As if by coincidence my dad was marked as spiritually weak after that. For the rest of his life he'd say that the org is ran by imperfect men, and it's "the closest thing to the truth there is". Something i would later say myself when i got older before i left.
Anyway, i'd be interested in reading yours.
the old man had a group of mates in which one was called on and started a study this would have been in the mid 1960's just before I was born , two others followed suit, my mum followed shortly after with a study with the wife of the original jw who contacted my dads mate, the jw died some years back whose own son ended up as the PO of my old cong and a real tosser he was to, he had three other daughters one my age who fell away about the time of my fade in the early 1990's the other younger daughter fell away also, my old man died in 2005 (an elder) as far as I know the other two stayed faithful one became an elder for many years. When I look back over the years at the guys who were about my old mans age who became elders its surprising to think how many of them fell away, old school hard nosed elders who one would have never expected.
My parents were both contacted in their teens. Both of them came from poor families. My dad had lost his father and my mum had an alcoholic father and a mother with severe OCD. Both were at an impressionable age with dysfunctional families and few friends. The desire to find comfort and a greater meaning in life got them sucked into "the truth". My dad ultimately rose to great prominence in the organization and eventually even ended up on the branch committee. My mum pioneered for many years and brought quite a number into "the truth". I guess they fall into the category of people who actually found fulfilment in "the truth". Being well-known and successful with many JW friends, they are quite happy and contented with life... apart from the fact that I - the son who they had spent all these years training to be a good JW - went rogue and left "the truth" in pursuit of a "worldly" girl
These are so interesting.
I'll slightly 'doctor' mine so no one knows it's me.
My mum was the eldest in a large family and they were dirt poor. Her mother died when she was a little girl and life was really tough. No food. No clothes. Considering she didn't have a proper mum for guidance most of her life, she was a really good girl. She resisted all the charms of the G.I's with their gifts of nylons and chocolate! She went to church, she was a Sunday school teacher. Very pious.
One day she went to a party and met my dad. My dad fell for her. My dad came from a fairly wealthy family (they had businesses) so I guess my mum, with her impoverished background, thought wow, this man is going to take care of me (and to be fair, financially he really did take care of her)
Within a matter of weeks they were married. But oh, it was not a match made in heaven. My dad was fiery, my mum stubborn. She had a baby pretty soon though and my dad gave her all she needed materially, which during the war was something. Then she gets called on and with her love for the bible already established, she starts a study.
War ends, dad decides he's sick of Britain so they move abroad.
Mum gets contacted again and she gets baptised. Dad is super opposed. SUPER OPPOSED! He does everything to stop her. They had been married quite awhile when I came along, suffice to say my much older brother was not pleased to see me.
Dad decides he's had enough of these witnesses and decides to have it out with them. Long story short, he ends up getting baptised himself!
One day, I'm left in the care of my brother when they go off on a study (I had a baby sister at the time) my brother sees fit to take me from my bed and sexually assault me on at least two occasions. He hated me. He'd say terrible things to me. Tell me no one in the family loved me. I was about 5 or 6. I was scared stiff of him.
Growing up with these parents, life was also fraught with constant rows. I mean they tore into each other regularly. Physically, too. Then off we'd trot to the Kingdom Hall as if nothing was wrong!
We came back to Britain. Dad got made a servant under the old arrangement. He was a good speaker. He was very involved in assemblies..everything. But he was outspoken and that made him unpopular. They never would make him an elder, a bone of contention until he died. He spoke his mind. They didn't like it.
But the whole time, life at home was terrifying. The violent rows were almost daily. I was a scared, timid child and constantly ill. I begged and begged God to make them stop fighting.They never did. My dad was also super strict. Absolutely no mixing with anyone outside the truth. I'd get in big trouble if I didn't answer up at meetings. He kept on and on at me about baptism and practically terrified me into it at just 13. Mum was never there for me. I have no recollection of ever being hugged by her. She was a cold person. She never had to go to work, dad always provided but she had no time for me. Too busy, go away.
I was a pioneer at 14 and regular at 16. The kingdom hall was an escape from my home life and I really enjoyed it all.
But my past kept haunting me. I was so damaged. At 19 I was off pioneering and on Valium. I left home. I tried hard to get away from 'the truth' but I'd been indoctrinated so much, I couldn't get mentally free. I thought I was the worst person on earth. Abuse does that to you. I thought God hated me. I thought everyone hated me. My family certainly did. My brother and I haven't spoken for years. My sister too. She said I wasn't good enough to be a JW.
I did nothing wrong to any of them. I was good to my parents. Kind and generous to my siblings (even my brother) and to this day have no clue why they don't like me.
As for dad...well, he gave up the truth eventually. Called them a bunch of hypocrites.
Mum continued on until she died. Faithful until the end.
As for me, I kept going, kept battling, kept fighting...until last year when a health scare led me to a psychologist and she set me free. You have no idea how good it feels to be free! The scars are still there but they don't hurt me anymore.
My parents were in their late 20’s – my mother was a schoolteacher who had given up work to start a family and was at home alone with a 6 month old baby girl ( my older sister ) . My father was a clerk of works / building inspector with the local council who took up a similar position with a large UK housebuilder. So a fairly typical lower middle class happy conventional family – the type that hardly ever becomes JWs nowadays.
It was the mid 1950’s - a time post war when there were many large scale housing projects- and the firm my father worked for won a big contract to build a large housing development in the West Midlands so they moved away from their very close knit family and community in ( what was then ) a traditional coal mining in Derbyshire where they had lived since birth.
They never had any religious convictions other than being typically nominal members of the Church of England. My mother was home alone all day with a challenging first baby , in an area she didn’t know , without any friends and then ( inevitably ) a JW called at the door. This was a very enthusiastic , genuinely nice “sister” who eventually became a Gilead missionary. She very much befriended my mother and she made rapid progress in JW terms.
My father was a bit more cynical – he had never heard of JWs and did some research on them but what little information available back then was very limited and mainly a couple of very aggressive tracts from the local “Christian” bookstore which were easily dismissed. A couple of elders befriended him and he studied , though he didn't get baptised till a few years later. I guess they were basically “love bombed”. My mother admits that a couple of times she wanted to stop the study but the woman studying with her was very persistent.
My parents have admitted that had they stayed in their own community they would never have become JWs – it would very quickly have been squashed by social & family pressure. So just a succession of fairly random circumstances coupled with the fact that in the mid / late 50’s / early 60’s there was something of a boom in people looking for alternatives – whether religious / lifestyle etc - meant they joined up.
My parents were both born-ins, so nearly my entire family are JWs (mom, dad, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews). One uncle on either side is out but I don't have really have contact with them so haven't discussed their stance. Not even sure if they were baptized or not while living at home.
Thanks for relating all your stories!
My parents both have similar stories. Both had fathers that weren't around too much (my paternal grandfather was a travelling salesman, my maternal grandfather in the military) and mothers that were lonely housewives that were contacted in the run-up to 1975 and indoctrinated, and later dragged my parents into the cult in their late teens. On my mother's side it was compounded by lots of family travel due to the military father, so she was a constant fish out of water and found the instant friendship and community of the cult.
My father was raised in a small town in Texas that had (and still has) absurdly religious demographics. He claimed not to be fond of the hypocrisy and open collections taken in church and that was one of the main reasons he liked the cult. I'm sure my grandmother quitting smoking had an influence too. He's also a very emotional and humble man and I think the way the cult plays on emotion and exploits humility got him. He's a very good public speaker, but refuses to believe that this came from natural talent or decades of frequent practice but instead is explained only by holy spirit.
I've never met my maternal grandfather as he and my grandmother were separated well before my birth. I don't really know the full story, but something tells me that he didn't much enjoy being married to a cultist...at least the timing works out on that. Otherwise it's possible that the marriage was in trouble and that helped push my grandmother and mother into the cult.
My paternal grandfather seemed to regard the cult's doctrine (particularly the pandas and paradise) as ridiculous for most of his life. It wasn't until about 5 years prior to his death that he finally got sucked in - he really liked the man who married his granddaughter (my cousin) and went to his first meeting to see his first public talk. At this point he was an old man with no one in his life but his wife and my cousin and her husband, all three cultists, so all three would leave him frequently. I think he finally succumbed to his loneliness, and possibly the pseudo logic of pascall's wager (which, at his age, is almost reasonable).
So, to sum up, loneliness seems to be a particular theme here, and for my parents and grandmothers the 1975 scare definitely played a role (though they'd dispute that it ever happened if you asked them...).
My parents, in their mid 20's came to the U.S. from Europe for better opportunities for themselves and us kids. They left all of their family and friends behind.
Some nice JW' ladies came to call on my lonely mother. They offered her friendship, family and everlasting life. The door to all of the opportunities in terms of higher education, jobs, holidays, sports, life experiences for themselves and us kids, was slammed shut from that point on.
My Father never got baptized but studied for years and died from not taking a blood transfusion during a surgery. Everything he knew about the topic of blood transfusion, was learned from JW's during his Bible study with them. A short time after he died (horribly) the JW's decided that blood fractions were acceptable. In his case, the use of blood fractions would have surely saved him. The decision to allow the use of blood fractions because they weren't considered blood, would have tipped him off that these ordinary men, don't know what they are talking about and that maybe he should take medical direction from highly trained medical professionals instead.
My parents got it from their parents.
there is one thing all of us have in common with our parents/grandparents/great grandparents converting, being duped and lied to with this con is that not one single thing these charlatans promised came true, everlasting life, the paradise,resurrection, Armageddon, it would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.