My wife and I just left the WTS after some 6 years of involvement (5 1/2 as baptized JWs). It has been a painful experience, I must tell you, but also one that has been filled with great joy and relief, too. The agony and the ecstasy, you could say. Our leaving went something like this, if this is of any benefit to any of you undecided ones:
First, the beginning of the end for us was watching the Dateline program last May (which I still have on tape). We were shocked and afterwards, ashamed to be JWs. The elder we trusted and spoke to about this played down our concerns and stressed how there were no molesters in our hall (but we wondered how we would really know if this were true or not). We started to check into Silent Lamb's statements and started to research the newspaper, but did not take any "so-called apostate" steps yet.
The District Convention in the Summer was boring, tedious and almost mentally painful. As I sat there, bored out of my mind at the repetitive material presented that I had heard a million times by now, an epiphany occurred to me. What if 607 BCE was incorrect? I knew that most history books showed the date 587 BCE, which I had thought was strange, but had dismissed it... what if this date were true? Would this mean that the end of the Gentile Times really occurred in 1934 instead? If so, did that date have any significance from a spiritual standpoint? A million questions raced through my mind... This later prompted me to research this date for myself, "to prove if these things were true or not" like the Bereans. A Google search revealed the shocking truth: 607 BCE was BOGUS. The British Museum, who had done most of the archeological research in Babylon and now possess most of the artifacts, put the date at 586/587 BCE. Seems that they ought to know if anyone does. Moreover, the Temple Mound Web site, sponsored by the Israeli government, also uses this 587 BCE date. It seemed that NO references existed mentioning 607 BC as the valid date. Wow!
Slowly, as we listened to more KH talks, and heard them tout 1914, which was entirely dependent on 607 BCE being true, (which we now knew to be FALSE), we came to realize that this doctrine (and its associated doctrines) were all totally bogus and oft repeated. This also meant that Christs' return in 1914 was also bogus, as was the significance of 1919, etc. A house of doctrinal cards started to fall down...
We became more and more embarrassed to go door-to-door, too, as we no longer felt that we were carrying a message of truth to others. We did not want to be hypocrites, but we were often forced to be in that position. We ended up turning in several months worth of bogus field service reports because we could not make ourselves do door-to-door anymore. We went to great lengths to avoid field service. Yes, we felt guilty for lying, but felt also that the society deserved it in return for their many lies and extrascriptural mandatory requirements.
At this point, our belief system had crumbled to the point (last summer) that I had purchased a whole batch of so-called apostate books, like Franz's Crisis of Conscience, and his Christian Freedom book, Olofson's Gentile Times Reconsidered, and several more from Amazon. I hid them under the bed and read them and re-read them and read them also to my wife. We hide them in FEAR that someone would drop by unexpectedly and see them on our coffee table.
At the Circuit Assembly, another event documented elsewhere on this board occurred, where Governing Body member Herd spoke at the keynote closing address, and made reference to the Silent Lambs and the media coverage of child abuse cases as "falsehoods, slander, and the work of the Devil". I was outraged that he used such a glaring false generalism to cover over these many cases of child abuse, and I waited for him in the stage exit corridor with my daughter in hand, to confront him with a single question: "Do you mean that All of those stories about child abuse are not true?" He failed miserably at answering this point-blank tell-the-truth-or-become-a-liar question...
This left us convinced that this organization was no longer blessed by Jehovah, but was rife with hypocrisy, lies, and falsehood. But, this was not the last straw...
To make a long story short, it took almost a year to break from the mold of the JW's cult. I tried hard at first to overlook these many discrepancies, but my own cognitive dissonance grew and grew and eventually overruled and I ended up resigning as an MS. This took the elders quite by surprise, and I am sure that they doubted my stated written reasons for leaving, which were as bogus as their 1919 doctrines in the Isaiah book we were studying. But, I had to get off the platform, lest I burst out with "this is all lies, friends!" at my next part. I simultaneously resigned from the Theocractic Ministry School, where my wife, child and I were regular participants. I could no longer speak falsehoods from the platform and found it tough to even answer the WT questions on Sunday.
Meanwhile, some of the super-fine self-righteous village Napoleans in our congregation started to treat us like dirtclods. I came to feel that I was secretly marked by some. At about this same time, we instituted a "random meeting abstinence program", wherein we would pick meetings at random to miss, with no discernible pattern, to throw the congregation members off our trail. Sometimes we would miss the Sunday meeting, sometimes field service, sometimes book study, sometimes the TMS and Service meetings (we particularly hated the Service meetings). We strove to reduce our attendance to a mere 50% or less.
The final straw: the critical mass reaction that brought us to the conclusion that we would never set foot in a KH again, was the WT article (3/15/2003?) that detailed who could and who could not be deemed worthy of partaking of the memorial bread and wine. This particular article was just too much. Also, the Memorial itself was spiritually painful for us. We had trouble making it through the Memorial -we sat in the back and departed immediately afterwards. It seemed so contrived. so phony and false - and this is what I have fought against all my life - hypocrisy and lies! We decided that night to never attend a meeting at a Kingdom Hall again.
We weren't naive, though. We knew all along that the "fade-to-black plan" would never work for us. We were hounded by phone calls and surprise visits. They would call our house, call our work numbers, call our cell numbers... We also got several emails expressing great concern for our well being... They would not leave us alone.
We talked about renting out our own house and moving out of county and renting yet another house - changing our phone number; selling our house and moving out of state; quitting our jobs, etc. Every possible scenario was discussed and explored for feasibility. Finally, finally, after many "nagging phone messages from so-called do-gooders", we realized that we would just have to bite the bullet and write the elders and the Society and resign. Fade to black would not work for former prominent members like ourselves. We would just have to leave the organization once and for all.
We even searched this board for departure scenarios that might work for us... We lucked onto Maverick's example of a Baptism Nullification Letter, and thought it was an excellent choice for us. So, we revised it and sent it to the Society and the local elder body. Then, we left on vacation for a while.
We are currently awaiting (3 weeks and counting) any official reply. In the meantime, all of our JW relatives have called and come by, telling us how wrong what we are doing is, and using every manipulative, guilt-ridden tactic you can think of, to convince us to come back to the WTS. In particular, my wife's sister dropped by unannounced one weekday evening last week, and started banging on the door. We pretended to be NAH. They knocked and knocked and knocked. The dog went beserk and we hid in the bedroom, as my wife had already had two heart-to-heart gut-wrenching discussions with her sister, and could not bear another.
They left, thank God. I suggested we get away, in case they doubled back, but my wife said, "No, that won' t happen". But, sure enough, 15 minutes later, after we had relaxed, turned on the lights and TV, they came back! We again shut off the lights and pretended to be NAH to avoid a confrontation. They came to both doors and knocked and knocked and peeked in the windows, and even left us a rude voice mail via cell phone! How's that for loving Christian behavior!
After that incident, we did go for a long walk, as it upset everyone. When we got back, I called my sis-in-law and told her that "we are not coming back" and that there were new ground rules: "no more discussion of religion ever again". Period. No debate. No discussion.
Since then, every JW relative has called. We have refused to tell them the reasons we have left the Org, stating that this would be "creating divisions". And, physicologically speaking, this creates an inner curiousity in them we hope, too...
So, we are now without any friends and half of our relatives. At least the non-JW half of the family is thrilled and supportive. But, some of the congregation members were our dearest friends for several years (or so we thought), and it is tough to realize that their friendships were only conditional all along.
We've become resilient and maybe a little paranoid in the process. But happier and much, much freer. We both are certain we will have nothing further to do with organized religion for the rest of our lives.
Yes, this past year has been a stressful ordeal for our family, and it's not really over yet, but we feel good about our decision and about our new life. We are enjoying the free time we now have that we never had before... And, most important of all, we know we did the right thing by leaving this counterfeit organization.
I hope this somewhat wordy essay proves of benefit to those of you who are troubled by your consciences and paralyzed, as we were, by the fear of leaving this false organization. It's tough - I won't kid you- and the greatest irony is that it should not have to be this hard- leaving any other church would not be. (I keep pointing out to the JW relatives that the JW Web site says that "we don't shun fellow members who choose to leave the organization" and then ask them, "do you think this is TRUE?" And, "if it's not TRUE, why would they print this?") But, the truth is that life is hard and leaving the WTS is hard, but it's worth the emotional turmoil to have a clear conscience and to regain your freedom.
Last, but not least, I am now free to say to all of you, without any feelings of guilt:
HAVE A HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!