Cool aid anyone?
This was of course great news for my wife. All the talk in the congregation about who had caused our spit up was now over. I had become the evil apostate. She was of course now the poor victim.
My children who were adults at this time where of course totally shocked and taken back by this sudden turn of events. However, they too had been having doubts about the organization for many years themselves. By this time they had pretty much stop going to meetings altogether. Of course it was time for the witnesses to do damage control on them.
It was too late my son sent in his letter of disassociation a few months later.
To this day my ex-wife believes that I’m totally responsible for taken her children out of the organization. This simply is not true. I certainly didn’t discourage them from leaving. As adults it was their decision. It was an easy one to make too, because the children of today are much better at spotting bull shit then my generation. For that very reason the younger generation in their organization are leaving in droves.
She totally believes to this day I betrayed her. But really who betrayed who. She choose to turn her back on her husband, children and own father because her religion told her to. For her the only true family she ever had was her church and the people in it. It wasn’t us, her flesh and blood. So did we betrayed her or did she betray us?
In sixteen years she has never asked me once why I choose to leave and why? She really doesn’t want to know the answer to that. If you were with someone for almost thirty years wouldn’t you want to know why they were leaving?
It would have made no difference to her anyway. Even If I had said I have seen the whole governing body having a mass orgy with farm animals and small children. It would have made no difference to her. It would be hands over ears saying blah… blah… blah. Please don’t confuse my mind with the facts.
We now have become part of the thousands of families split up over this religion. Children that have been shunned parents, parents who have shunned children. Siblings not talking to each other. Friends of forty years walking pass you on the street and not even looking at you. It’s like the last daughter in “Fiddler on the roof” when the last daughter married the gentile. “We have no daughter now.”
It’s totally surreal.
Oh course many people have asked me over the years what it was like to leave after a fifty years in that kind of controlled thought system.
My best analogy would be this one.
You’re walking down a street in California and someone stops and throws in a van and drives you to New York City. The van door opens up and they throw you out into the street. They tell you to never contact any of your former friends and family they are dead to you now. Your new life starts in that vacuum.
For many the new vacuum doesn’t work for them.
In December of 2001 a Jehovah’s Witness whack job named Christian Longo decided to kill his wife and young children. He said after, he was distraught over his expulsion from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2000, "I sent them to a better place."
Then in February a man killed himself, his wife and children all because of shunning of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Oregonian newspaper reported this.
MCMINNVILLE - The community of McMinnville was visibly shaken after
investigators discovered a family of six shot to death in their home in an
apparent murder-suicide Friday.
“Robert Bryant is believed to have shot his
wife and four children - whose ages
range from 9 to 15 - before turning the gun on himself, said Yamhill County
District Attorney Bradley C. Berry.
Robert Bryant was found dead in the living
room, 37-year-old Janet Ellen Bryant
in the master bedroom, and their four children in their beds, Berry said.
All had been killed by shotgun blasts.
"Evidence ... indicates that Mr.
Robert Bryant killed his wife and children
and then took his own life," Berry said, although a motive is not yet known.
"It was a horrible sight," Berry said.
The children last attended school on Feb. 22,
and the shootings are believed to
have occurred the following day, he said.
Dead are the 37-year-old father, his 37-year-old
wife, Janet Ellen Bryant, as
well as 15-year-old Clayton, 12-year-old Ethan, 10-year-old Ashley and
9-year-old Alissa Bryant.
Bryant was a self-employed landscaping contractor.
A former California neighbor, Albert Clary,
said the Bryants and their
relatives were Jehovah's Witnesses.
The family was reportedly shunned by both other Jehovah's witnesses as well as their own relatives following the incident.”
At the end of the article The Oregonian asked what could push a people to this kind of insanity.
I decided to call The Oregonian and told them I had some information that might help an outsider understand the devastating policy of shunning a little better. So Wendy Y. Lawton gave me an interview.
My Children begged me not to let the interview go into print. I told them. “I publicly went into this religion and now it’s time to publicly leave it.” Besides I said. “Maybe somehow I can help just one person who is in hell because of damage this religion has done to them or their family.”
It must have been a slow news day, because we ended up on the front page of The Oregonian on March 21th first 2002.
This was what the article said.
Keith Casarona doesn't pretend to know the mind of Robert Bryant. Why anyone wipes out his family with a shotgun on a Saturday night, then points the 12-gauge under his own chin is beyond the comprehension of this soft-spoken Tigard real estate agent.
Yet Casarona knows -- in intimate and anguishing detail -- the pain Bryant felt in his final years. Both men split with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Bryant was expelled three years ago in California. Casarona chose to leave a Beaverton congregation last fall.
The decision gave Casarona peace and fresh possibilities. But the break was devastating. Casarona said he lost his wife of 27 years and friendships that stretched back three decades. About a fourth of his real estate clients vanished.
"Witnesses are good people, and I bless their path," the 52-year-old said. "But when you leave them, you go into a Never Never land."
The killings in McMinnville last month -- the worst mass murder in recent Oregon history -- cast a spotlight on Jehovah's Witnesses and their practice of "dis-fellowship." In a Christian sect that proudly protects members from the corrupting influence of outsiders, expulsion is the harshest form of discipline.
There is no official motive for the slayings. Police think Bryant was under emotional strain when he shot his wife, four children and himself. That stress, investigators said, included fallout from his shunning.
Now anti-Witness Web sites are abuzz with accusations. "Who in their right mind would ever want to stay in this horrible, horrible, hateful religion?" one posting reads. Witnesses, too, are talking. But they're saying the church is the scapegoat for an unfathomable act.
Leonard Golaboff, a 46-year-old elder in Oregon City, notes that there is no proof that Bryant's ouster from a congregation outside of Sacramento was directly responsible for the murders and suicide. Like all expelled members, Golaboff said, Bryant could have changed his ways and come back.
"This is all just a tragedy, a travesty, a shock," Golaboff said. "What was going on in this man's mind? I am sure there is a lot that we don't know."
What worries Golaboff and other Witnesses is a link between the trigger of Bryant's shotgun and a 132-year-old faith that deplores violence and cherishes family.
Jehovah's Witnesses are a made-in-America church that boasts 6 million international members. They believe in Armageddon: The world will end, the wicked will die, and God will create a paradise on Earth for the righteous. The name refers to members' watchful return of Jehovah, or God.
The Bible is their bedrock. Witnesses live their lives in strict accordance to its teachings and follow a rigid moral code. Stealing, drinking, smoking, premarital sex -- all are forbidden.
According to another Bible interpretation, members also must keep separate from a world invisibly controlled by Satan.
They're not supposed to vote, join the military or celebrate holidays aside from the commemoration of Christ's death each spring. Close ties with nonmembers, or the "worldly," are discouraged. The reason is reflected in a standard Witness saying: "Bad associations spoil useful habits."
Protecting the congregation's purity is the point of dis-fellowship. Members are kicked out before they can harm, or continue to harm, others with conduct or beliefs that contradict the Bible.
Sherwood elder Tom Davis said there is a second purpose: Putting a member back on the proper moral path. Davis said dis-fellowship -- or even the threat of it -- often forces people to make positive changes in their lives.
"This helps someone realize that they've made a mistake and need to change their ways," Davis said. "And we're not talking about little stuff. This discipline comes from violating the stated laws of God."
According to elders, experts and church materials, here is how dis-fellowship works: To get kicked out, baptized members must display a pattern of "serious un-Christian conduct," such as molestation, adultery, drinking or lying. Promoting teachings that conflict with the Bible also qualifies.
It isn't clear what Robert Bryant's offense was. Neighbors and friends in California said he began to question Bible teachings and found the Shingle Springs, Calif., congregation too controlling. An elder has declined to discuss specifics, saying Bryant had "turned away" from the faith.
Elders said they try to avoid shunning through Bible counseling. And, if repenting members convince leaders they've changed, they can stay. If they don't, elders call a private, judicial-style meeting and expel them.
The shunned still can attend religious services, officials said, and conduct business with members. But Witnesses are instructed not to socialize with someone who is dis-fellowshipped.
John Crossley, a professor and director of the school of religion at the University of Southern California, said a similar tradition of excommunication is shared by Catholics, Mormons and the Amish. But the practice is fading.
"It is almost impossible to hold up moral doctrine and force people to conform to it anymore," Crossley said. "It is especially difficult to continue a practice that is as severe as dis-fellowship."
Witnesses point to lives transformed by shunning. People kick drugs, stop gambling, and mend marriages. But critics attack the practice as cruel and destructive.
While families aren't required to split up due to dis-fellowship, critics and even a few church members said that is often the practical result. Computer sites devoted to attacking Jehovah's Witnesses are loaded with stories of divorce and custody battles and estranged siblings -- as well as depression, drug abuse, bankruptcy and suicide.
Daniel Duron used to be among the angry.
After he left the church in 1984 over a disagreement over blood transfusions, the Hillsboro roofer's world turned upside down. Elders came to his door and told him his two boys were "fatherless." His wife and friends and extended family became strangers. Duron was so shaken he planned to kill himself. The gun store, however, was closed.
Soon Duron started fighting. He divorced and won joint custody of his sons. He picketed a local Kingdom Hall. He joined a support group for ex-Witnesses, where he met his second wife. Looking back, the former elder said the biggest impact of his shunning was the sudden loss of certainty.
"Everything you believed in is gone with this tight-knit church family," Duron said. "The way you look at science, spirituality, the after-life -- it's all different. Eventually, that can be very positive. But it's also scary. I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone."
You can reach Wendy Lawton at 503-294-5019
I love the line. “Davis said dis-fellowship -- or even the threat of it -- often forces people to make positive changes in their lives.”
Yes if we can, we will FORCE you back to god’s loving organization. So much for free will.
Cool aid any one?