My mother had a strange relationship with all the men in her life including me. Before 1961 she loved my father in some strange way. She really thought her new religion would get my father back on the right path, back on the straight and narrow. Yet every congregation seem to have its problems and my father was quit to point them out to her.
So finally in 1960 they decided to go on a grand adventure and move to Long Island New York. There they thought they would find a new life. My father was going to start a pizza by the slice business with my uncle. We started attending the Babylon New York Kingdom hall. Well, things didn’t work out and 1961 we were heading back to southern California.
You know what they say. “Where ever you go that’s where you’ll be.”
My parents went back to there old congregation Glendora California in 1961. My mother had a strange feeling about the congregation. There was something going on there that just didn’t feel right. There was a huge exodus going on of people leaving the Kingdom hall too. So my parents (probably mostly my mother) decided to go to the Azusa Kingdom Hall instead. The funny thing is, we lived about a hundred yards from the Azusa's congregation’s territory line.
So she requested her publisher record cards. In those days you would have to go to the Bible Study overseer to get your publish record cards. These cards reported all your field service active and any other information a new congregation might need to know about you. They like to keep close tabs on everyone.
They don’t give this cards to the publishers themselves any more. Now, they mail them to your new congregation. The reason is people would get their cards and throw them away and stop being Jehovah’s witnesses. The society wants to know if you quit now a days. Why is that? The only reason I can think of is so they can punish you. They want to be able tell everyone that “brother or sister so in so is no longer a Jehovah’s witnesses.” This way they can make sure everyone knows when you leave. No fading allowed, let the shunning begin!
Something strange happened. Instead of getting their cards the “brothers” in charge said they wanted to meet with my parents. Back in the nineteen sixties there were three brothers in charge of the congregation. There was the overseer, the assistant overseer and the theocratic ministry overseer.
At the meeting the three brothers requested my parents to stay and not leave the Glendora congregation. In essence they needed to stop the exodus out of the Kingdom hall. Since my family was well known in the hall they choose us to make an example of. There really was no rule about going to a congregation outside your territory, so my parents held their ground.
My parents ended up writing a letter to the Brooklyn Bethel, the headquarters of the organization to complain about these overseers. My parents didn’t know it at the time but the letter that they wrote was not confidential. The society forwards all letters to your overseers or elders. So these overseers got really mad. There were more meetings and more yelling. A one point they called my father “a monkey on a string.” I’m not sure what that means. Whatever it meant, my dad didn’t like it and let them have it. I heard there was a lot of yelling and name calling that went on in those meetings.
All my parents wanted to do was go to a different kingdom all. It ended up with my mother being “publicly reproved” and my father was “disfellowshipped for slander and rebelliousness against the organization.” They said they would have disfellowshipped my mother too but she had a bad heart and the shock might kill her. They were right, it would have killed her.
I’m guessing my father could have done some activity that might have deserved this kind of punishment. So maybe on some level he did get justice. On the other hand my mother was the perfect JW follower.
This totally destroyed our family. My father blamed my mother and her religion for his public humiliation. My mother was in total shock and disbelief that there could be such an injustice in “the lord’s house.”
My father ran a crew of about thirty men on a construction site. One day he overheard one of men tell another. “You know Marty got kicked out of his church. What kind of terrible thing do you do to get out of a church, have sex with farm animals?” My father had a lot of pride, so this cut him to the core.
He stop going to most of the meetings. My mother was a diehard. She was never going to give up. She was more diligent than ever. Sure we got the looks at the kingdom hall and the whispering behind our backs. She never flinched.
We ended up going to the Azusa congregation anyway. Why not, we had paid the price for wanting to go there already. Six months of faithful meeting attendance in her new congregation and her “public reproof” was lifted.
My parents went to the circuit overseer to get justice. He was on his last trip through and didn’t want to get involved. The next circuit overseer wasn’t much better. Since these three “brothers” are appointed by the society and thus it is thought they were appointed god himself. They were untouchable.
So in 1964 my parents flew back New York City to the world headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses which is called Bethel. They wanted to plead their case to the big boys. They talked to Harley Miller in the service department. After hearing their story he set up a special committee to retry their case. Finally after for four years the matter was reopened. My parents were not just reinstated they were exonerated.
What happened to the three “brothers?” Nothing happened to them. Oh guess what? They all left the religion years later also.
According the society all elders and servants are appointed by god’s Holy Spirit. So I guess it was god who made the real mistake here not these guys. Whenever things like this happen in their organization of course the Witnesses will be the first to tell you “we are all imperfect.” Yet, god spirit appoints their leaders. Another catch 22 in action.
Bottom line even though my mother and I did nothing wrong we were still shunned by the Witnesses. So shunning is not just reserved for wrong doers. Anyone in good standing or not, can experience this unique Jehovah’s Witnesses punishment.
In high school I was shunned by my witness friends and dislike by fellow class mates too. A rock and a hard place. I was determined to show them all. I would became a super witness. I would pioneer and go to Bethel became a servant (they didn’t have elders back then) and show them all. Yes I would make my god and family proud one day.