My dear son, C---n:
I am writing you to express my love for you and the pride that I feel for the man you have become. You need to know that I accept you and love you dearly just for who you are and I am immensely proud of the wise choices you made with regard to your education and your career.
As I write you this heartfelt letter, I pray that you will read it entirely and give it your careful consideration. You are now a grown man with a mind of your own to decide what you wish to do with the rest of your life regardless of what any one else may think or has to say. You hold within your hands complete control over the choices you make from this point forward, and no one has the right to exercise any authority over you unless you willingly give them that right. If it is truly your decision to give others such authority over you, I will respect your decision. But I need to be satisfied that such is really your decision.
My dear son, if I were to ask you what evidence you have seen with your own eyes that the religion which was chosen for you and which you embraced under coercion is really the truth, as you have been told, you could not show me one bit of evidence. I know that, and I know that you know that. However, I can show you solid and irrefutable evidence that it is not the truth. You have been misled, just as I was misled for the greater part of my life. The difference is, I allowed myself to be misled, as I will explain later. Is your faith in what you have been coerced to believe strong enough, unshakable enough to risk considering the evidence I want to show you?
The evidence of which I speak is not from apostate sources, but is from Watchtower publications and from the Bible. You see, we were carefully taught a false good news. The good news we learned and preached as JWs is not the good news which Jesus and the first century Christians preached. Watchtower’s interpretation of the scriptures has been completely exposed and discredited by its own published writings, by its documented actions, and by its organizational policies. Jesus told the false religious teachers of his day, “By your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37) Those words of Jesus have been fulfilled in the case of the Watchtower Society. Light has exposed the darkness of the religion in which I was raised and in which I raised you.
JWs are taught that it is their God-given responsibility to expose religious error and hypocrisy wherever it is found. In fact, one’s eternal salvation depends on one’s doing so, according to Watchtower’s interpretation of Ezekiel 3:17-21. Yet, any JW who points out erroneous Watchtower teachings is ostracized, disfellowshiped as an apostate, and shunned. Watchtower has a long history of disfellowshiping sincere Christians who point out faulty Watchtower teachings, then turning around and embracing the viewpoint of the one who was disfellowshiped. For example, in 1980, Edward Dunlap, Watchtower’s Gilead School registrar and teacher, suggested in a private conversation with two governing body members that it appeared to him that the governing body was the faithful and discreet slave. For privately expressing that viewpoint which contradicted Watchtower teaching at that time, Dunlap was disfellowshiped as an apostate. As you well know, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has declared itself to be the faithful and discreet slave, which is exactly what Ed Dunlap was disfellowshiped for suggesting in a private conversation.
My first realization that the Watchtower Society was not teaching Bible truth was in 1982, and it was an emotionally traumatic experience for me, the degree of which would be revealed to me by a therapist some 20 years later. Knowing what would result from questioning Watchtower teachings, I made a conscious decision to simply become inactive as a JW, or to stick my head in the sand, so to speak. At that time, I had no way of knowing the detrimental psychological effects that such a decision would have on the rest of my life. However, now that I have learned the detrimental psychological effects of choosing to believe and to proclaim as true something which I knew was not true, I cannot live with myself if I do not warn you about that which I learned the hard way. I can help you to avoid the mistakes I discovered only after I had wasted the best years of my life. If, after considering this letter, you decide to make the same decision I made to remain in a false religion, I will forever respect your decision, and, if you wish, I will never contact you again. Let me begin by sharing an overview of failed Watchtower prophecies.
Beginning in 1879, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society began preaching that Christ’s second coming had occurred invisibly in 1874; that Christ had begun ruling in heaven in 1878; and that God’s kingdom would destroy all human governments and all religions in 1914, resulting in the reestablishment of paradise conditions on earth. Watchtower’s founder and first president, Charles Taze Russell, died in 1916 knowing that his 1914 prophecy had failed miserably.
In 1918, Watchtower’s second president, Joseph F. Rutherford, began preaching, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” According to Rutherford, the end which had not occurred in 1914 would occur in 1925, and faithful men of old, including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be resurrected and begin ruling as princes of God’s kingdom on earth. Rutherford’s 1925 prophecy failed as miserably as had Russell’s 1914 prophecy.
Undeterred by reality, Rutherford ordered the construction of a sprawling mansion in San Diego--ostensibly to house Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other resurrected ones--and named it Beth Sarim, meaning “house of princes.” Rutherford made full use of the mansion as well as of two 16-cylinder automobiles throughout the Great Depression and until his death in 1942.
Regarding this ostentatious mansion (built and paid for with donated Watchtower funds), page 76 of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom says: "At the time it was believed that faithful men of old times...would be resurrected." It fails to mention that it was believed because it had been proclaimed as a certainty by Rutherford in Watchtower publications. Rather than holding Rutherford accountable for such a failed prophecy, the Nov. 15, 1955, Watchtower (page 698) stated that "Jehovah caused to be preached from 1918 the startling public message, 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die.'" Can you imagine Watchtower blaming God for Rutherford’s failed prophecy?
The adage that those who forget the past are bound to repeat it seems apropos in view of the hopes regarding the end coming in 1975 which were built up in the hearts of Jehovah’s Witnesses who sincerely viewed the Watchtower Society as Christ's handpicked representatives on earth. Failed Watchtower prophecies regarding 1914 and 1925 had been proclaimed with the same certainty as the following statements published in 1969 when I was 17 years old:
*"*If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. Of the generation that observed the beginning of the 'last days' in 1914, Jesus foretold: 'This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' (Matt. 24:34.)
“Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way toward its finish, if not actually gone!
“That is why parents who base their lives on God’s prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling. And trades such as carpentry, plumbing and others, will be useful not only now, but perhaps even more so in the reconstruction work that will take place in God’s new order." (Awake, May 22, 1969, p.15)
I was 17 years old when that Watchtower prophecy was published. As I write this, I am 67 years old. I was promised that I would never grow old in this system of things, but I have.
Moving closer to 1975, the April 1, 1972 Watchtower featured an article titled, “They Shall Know That a Prophet Was Among Them,” which said: “So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?…This prophet was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.” Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot point to one Watchtower prophecy which has ever come true.
What does the Bible say about prophets whose prophecies fail to come true?
“A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say...must be put to death. If what a prophet claims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true...that prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18: 20-22.)
Rather than admit that such prophecies failed, JWs say that the light simply got brighter. But the record shows that JWs are always the last to get the so-called “new light.”
Example #1: Watchtower founder, Charles Taze Russell despised organized religion, and preached that all one needed to serve God was the Bible and Jesus Christ. After Russell’s death, so-called “new light” caused Joseph Rutherford to realize the financial benefits religions enjoyed, and he began placing greater emphasis on the organization, claiming that it was the only true religion.
Example #2: The January 8, 1947 Awake featured the article, “Are You Also Excommunicated?” It denounced the Catholic hierarchy’s doctrine of excommunication, saying that “it finds no support in these scriptures,” that “it is altogether foreign to Bible teachings,” and that is was of pagan origin. It stated that “as the pretensions of the Hierarchy increased, the weapon of excommunication became the instrument by which the clergy attained a combination of ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny that finds no parallel in history.”
Yet, just five years later, “new light” caused Watchtower to embrace a more severe form of excommunication called disfellowshiping. Excommunication merely limited spiritual fellowship with family members and others, whereas disfellowshiping actually severs family ties, since Watchtower mandates the shunning of family members who leave the religion for conscientious reasons, such as unscriptural Watchtower teachings and practices.
Example #3: The study article, “Their Refuge–A Lie!” in the June 1, 1991, Watchtower, paragraphs 1, 10, & 11, denounced as apostate religions which were accredited to the United Nations as non-governmental organizations (NGO). Yet, before the end of 1991, the Watchtower had also become accredited to the UN as an NGO. NGOs were obliged to serve as publicity agents for the UN, publishing articles each year outlining UN goals and achievements. Watchtower volunteered to serve in this capacity and, over the next 10 years, published articles each year which appeared to many readers to be favorable to the UN. Watchtower reapplied each year to serve as an NGO in spite of the fact that it had denounced as apostate other religions which had done so. This is what is called a double standard. (When the Guardian newspaper exposed the hypocritical alliance in October of 2001, Watchtower immediately withdrew its membership at the UN and tried to cover it up. See the Facebook page, “Jehovah’s Witnesses & the United Nations.”)
Example #4: Watchtower has always boasted that there is no clergy class among JWs. My father regularly witnessed to prisoners in Fort Worth’s Tarrant County Jail. On one occasion, a new inmate approached my father and asked if he was a clergyman. Knowing what the man meant, my father answered yes. The ministerial servant accompanying my father reported that exchange to the local elders, and my father received a written reproof from Watchtower headquarters saying that by identifying himself as a clergyman, he was making himself a part of Christendom. Just last year, in a court case involving Watchtower’s handling of reported child sexual abuse within its congregations, Watchtower attempted to plead clergy privilege while maintaining that JW elders are not clergymen. When it became clear its lawyers had not convinced the court, Watchtower stated publicly that JW elders are, in fact, a clergy class. The legal tactic failed, however, because there had been no confidentiality, since the JW elders had made the facts of the sexual abuse allegations known to many other people.
Do you see what I mean about Watchtower being the last to receive the so-called “new light?” Watchtower has a long history of criticizing other religions for doing certain things, then turning around and doing the very same thing while claiming “new light.”
Another glaring example of a double standard can be seen in the June 2013 Awake. The following quote is from the article, “How To End the Silent Treatment”:
“WHY IT HAPPENS
Manipulation. Some use the silent treatment as a means to get what they want. For example, imagine that a husband and wife plan a trip and the wife would like to take her parents along. The husband objects. “You’re married to me, not to your parents,” he says. He then gives his wife the silent treatment, shunning her in the hope that she will break down and concede to his wishes.”
Compare that with this quote from the article “Let Jehovah’s Discipline Mold You” in the same magazine:
“Robert was disfellowshiped for nearly 16 years, during which time his parents and siblings firmly and loyally applied the direction in God’s Word to quit mixing in company with wrongdoers, not even greeting such ones. Robert has been reinstated for some years now and is progressing well spiritually. When asked what moved him to return to Jehovah and His people after such a long time, he replied that the stand that his family took affected him. ‘Had my family associated with me even a little, say to check up on me, that small dose of association would have satisfied me and likely not allowed my desire for association to be a motivating factor to return to God.’ ”
Are you able to discern the double standard presented in those two articles? In the first article, shunning is presented as manipulation. In the second article, shunning is presented as a
loving thing. Shunning based on a gross misinterpretation of scripture is never a loving thing! Any organization which mandates the shunning of loved ones who have done nothing more than leave a high control religion for conscientious reasons is despicable and evil! Watchtower is particularly evil because it poses as a benevolent religion while hiding its evil side from outsiders. Read on.
The article, “Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?” in the July 2009 Awake made the following statement: “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds objectionable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.” Any non-JW who read that excellent article would think it was very reasonable. But non-Jws don’t know the whole story.
When I first read that article, I felt that a change in Watchtower policy regarding the treatment of disassociated ones was imminent, and I encouraged your mother to read it. You see, I can remember when, prior to 1981, JWs could socialize with ones who had simply resigned as JWs for conscientious reasons. My father had several friends who had previously been JWs but who had left the Watchtower over doctrinal differences. In 1981, Watchtower mandated that disassociated ones be treated the same as those disfellowshiped for wrongdoing. After reading the July 2009 article, your mother told me that the aforementioned quote applied to those changing religions to become a JW, but not the other way around. I was shocked that she would say such a thing, and I told her it had to apply both ways or else it would be a double standard. And so it is to this day. The Watchtower doesn’t tell its readers that the above statement doesn’t apply when a JW leaves the Watchtower religion. Watchtower’s lawyer even told the Canadian Supreme Court that disfellowshiping only restricts spiritual fellowship but does not limit social interactions. Any JW watching that on the internet knows that it is a lie!
Watchtower is notorious for printing and publishing certain predictions, and when those predictions fail, Watchtower takes steps to cover over its failed predictions. For example, paragraph #10 on page 20 of the first study article in the January 1, 1989, Watchtower stated: “[The apostle Paul] was also laying the foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century.” However, when it became obvious that the 20th century would end before Armageddon occurred, Watchtower revised that 1989 Watchtower article to read: “[The apostle Paul] was also laying the foundation for a work that would be completed in our day.” How despicable that Watchtower would attempt the alter the record of what it had printed and published worldwide as truth coming from God himself!
Did you know that the Watchtower admitted in print that Jehovah is not really God’s name? Page 23 of the foreword to The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures made the following statement: “While inclining to view the pronunciation Yahweh as the more correct way, we have retained the form Jehovah because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.” (New World Bible Translation Committee, February 9, 1950, New York, N.Y., 1969 edition.)
If Yahweh really is “the more correct way,” it follows that Jehovah is not really God’s name. I have shared this quote with many JWs over the years, and they are always shocked to see it. But, here is the real shocker: Later editions of this book changed the original quote to read: “While many are inclined to view the form Yahweh as the more correct way…” Changing a quote to conceal what had originally been printed and published by the New World Bible Translation Committee is a level of dishonesty which should shock and outrage all lovers of truth!
Incidentally, people were familiar with the form Jehovah since the 14th century because that is when that form was created by Catholic monk, Raymundus Martini. (Look up that name on the Watchtower CD-ROM or do a Google search.) So, the name Jehovah did not even exist before the 14th century.
So, why does Watchtower place so much emphasis on that name? Could it be because its followers were named Jehovah’s Witnesses by Joseph Rutherford in 1931? I submit to you that the names Watchtower and Jehovah are interchangeable, that Jehovah is merely the Watchtower, and vice versa. I offer the following as evidence:
By leaving the Watchtower religion, one does not leave one’s belief in God, or in Christ Jesus, or in the Bible as God’s Word. Yet, JWs will say that one has left Jehovah. And, when inviting ones to return to the Watchtower religion, JWs say “Return to Jehovah.” So, by their own words, JWs prove that Jehovah merely means the Watchtower.
Many sincere believers in God and Christ Jesus have left the Watchtower because of many teachings and practices which conflict with the Bible. For example, consider the following:
Look up the word ‘sanctuary’ in the book Insight On the Scriptures, and notice the definition, “divine habitation.” In Jesus’ day, the Jewish people worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem, and that temple prefigured the spiritual arrangement for worshiping God today. Within the temple was the temple sanctuary containing two chambers, the Holy and the Most Holy which represented heaven itself where God resides. The two chambers were separated by a tent.
While people could move about the temple, only Levite priests could enter the Holy
chamber of the temple sanctuary, and only for the purpose of offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. For example, look up Luke 1: 9, 21 in The Greek Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, noting the literal translation of the Greek word translated there as ‘sanctuary.’ You’ll see the term “divine habitation.”
Now look up Revelation 7: 15, which discusses the great crowd, and note the literal translation of the Greek word translated there as ‘temple.’ Again, you’ll see the term “divine habitation.” So, according to God’s Word, the great crowd worships God day and night in the temple sanctuary, or the divine habitation, of God’s spiritual temple. Thus, the great crowd is a priestly class of Christians who serve God under Christ Jesus along with the figurative 144,000, spoken of in verses 4-8 of that chapter.
Incidentally, the Watchtower used to say that the great crowd served in the outer courtyard, not even in the temple. Recently, they have conceded that the great crowd is in the temple, but they stop short of saying that they are in the temple sanctuary, which is where the Bible places them. Why is the Watchtower taking so long to admit what the Bible says?
What is signified by serving God in the Holy chamber of the temple sanctuary?
To find the answer to that question, look up the word ‘temple’ in the same volume of Insight On the Scriptures. In the third paragraph under the subheading “Jehovah’s Great Spiritual Temple,” it states: “Consistently, the Holy (temple sanctuary) represents their condition as spirit-begotten sons of God, with heavenly life in view, and they will attain to that heavenly reward when their fleshly bodies are laid aside in death.” Thus, according to the Bible and Watchtower publications, the great crowd is a priestly class of Christians who are spirit anointed with heavenly life in view.
But, this is not what Watchtower teaches, is it? We were taught that only 144,000 are spirit anointed with heavenly life in view. Clearly, in the light of scripture, that is not true!
Did you know that, prior to 1935, the Watchtower taught that all Christians were spirit anointed with heavenly life in view? Where did the concept of two classes of Christians having separate hopes originate? Who came up with the idea that only 144,000 Christians go to heaven? It was the brainchild of Joseph Rutherford, the same Watchtower president who prophesied that Armageddon would occur in 1925 and who, even when that prediction failed, instigated the building of the sprawling mansion, Beth Sarim, which still stands in San Diego.
Shortly before his death, Rutherford admitted to a small group of confidants, including Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz, and Hayden Covington, that he had made an ass of himself. Now, it is abundantly clear that his unscriptural theology has made an ass of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well.
C---n, you have been misled, and I bear a huge responsibility for that, since I chose to remain in a religion which I knew was not teaching Bible truth. You never exhibited an interest in spiritual things or in discussing Bible topics. That is not a criticism, just a stating of fact. No one was interested in discussing spiritual things or the Bible except at the Kingdom Hall where it is a very controlled discussion, in that the Watchtower provides all the questions as well as the approved answers to those questions. The Kingdom Hall is not a place for asking independent questions, but is simply a place where indoctrination takes place. People merely parrot the answers they’ve been given. Until you became interested in a girl who was baptized, you had no desire to get baptized. I knew you had no idea what you were getting involved in. Once you got baptized, it was too late. The Watchtower cult is like the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like (become inactive), but you can never leave (disassociate) without dire consequences. One can never question Watchtower dogma. I would rather have questions I cannot answer than answers I cannot question!
In his book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote: “People have the right to believe whatever they choose. But it is a different matter to use the protections afforded a religion by the First Amendment to falsify history, to propagate forgeries, and to cover up human-rights abuses.” As my letter has made clear, Watchtower is every bit as guilty of these offenses as is Scientology. Have you watched Leah Remini’s A&E series about the aftermath of leaving the Church of Scientology? One cannot watch it without seeing the many similarities between Scientology and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I often recall a scripture from Jeremiah which says, “You will hear a word behind you saying, This is the way. Walk in it.” I heard that word in my life when I was 30 years old, but I disregarded it, fearing what would result if I followed its direction. I have lived to regret that decision. However, when I finally listened and followed that word–which for me meant getting out of the Watchtower cult and leaving all its craziness behind–my life has been one amazing experience after another. My life since moving to New Braunfels has been incredible, and I have met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends who seemed to have been just waiting for me to get here. I have not lost one thing that hasn’t been replaced many times over. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. The same thing has happened for your sister, and she is happier than she has ever been also.
Take a look around you, C---n. Look at the lives of the JWs you know personally. They are not a happy people. There is a lot of judgment and constant upheaval and drama in their lives related to just being a JW, not from outside the organization, as in the case of persecution, but from fellow JWs inside the organization! You know that to be true, and that should tell you something! I know that you are not able to be your genuine self as long as you remain among the JWs in Abilene. And no matter how much you do for Jehovah (Watchtower), it is never enough. If you haven’t figured it out yet–and I’m betting that you have–every JW you know is living a double life. The face they show when attending the Kingdom Hall is not who they truly are. I knew that when I was still a JW, but I had no way of knowing everything that was going on right under my nose. There is no way I can tell you everything I would like to tell you in this letter. If you could ever arrange to come visit your sister and me, we could have a long talk and you could see for yourself what it means to be completely free to embrace your genuine self and to be loved unconditionally without being judged at every turn.
You know that you can call me at any time if you ever wish to talk about anything I have written herein or about anything at all.
With all my love,
Your father, R---r