On leaving JW's and hating religion...

by Jehalapeno 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • Jehalapeno

    It's been nearly 4 years now since I completely woke up to the Watchtower lies.

    Thinking back on my JW life, during the time I believed, the organization truly did teach us to hate all beliefs that were contrary to the Watchtower's.

    I hated "false" religion.

    So, when I finally woke up and applied critical thinking to my beliefs, I just went on hating religion in general...only this time I added JW's to that list.

    A few months of waking up, I decided to base my beliefs on evidence. I didn't want to have a set of beliefs unless there was some logic or evidence behind it. So, now I consider myself an atheist.

    And I kept on hating religion.

    Within the last six months or so, something has changed. I suddenly don't hate religion anymore.

    I'm still an atheist, but I've been reading a lot on Western Civilization and the contributions made to liberalism by religious ideas. The idea of a free press was started by religious people in an effort to get the bible into the hands of the layperson.

    The idea of being tolerant of others beliefs, even if you disagree with them, started because of religion. John Locke was extremely influential on the enlightenment period and the liberal movement. The framers of the United States Constitution was heavily influenced by Locke and other liberal thinkers of their day.


    I kind of took a detour there. I guess what I'm saying is that, even though I don't agree with believers and see no evidence of it:


    I truly feel that holding on to that tradition in our society is important to the preservation of individual human rights.

    I do still detest certain religious practices, like the honor killings in the middle east, treatment of women, treatment of homosexuals. But religion, in general, has come a long way since the middle ages. Islam needs a reformation on the human rights front, I feel. But other than that, I think religion is continuing to get less oppressive over time. Hell, even Saudi Arabia is allowing women to drive now!

    Anyhow, sometimes when leaving a group like the JWs, the pendulum can swing wildly the opposite direction. I think my pendulum is starting to get more centered now. Though I still am basing my beliefs on evidence, I no longer have any issue with people that want to believe in God.

  • cofty

    I have sympathy with your position with a few provisos.

    I feel no need to back off in challenging factual claims made by religion. If somebody wants to argue that religion might be/has been useful even though it is not objectively true I can live with that. When fundies want to argue that the bible is inspired or that god heals the sick or that creationism is scientifically credible then I am your opponent.

    I still have no tolerance of Islam. It is the slow kid in the class. If it ever catches up in terms of personal freedoms then and only then will I give it a break.

    Having said all that, I still have concerns that religion was a force for intra-group and national cohesion and its demise is not an unmitigated good.

    Many liberal xtians and reformed Jews have found a way to hold on to religion as a social influence while avoiding inter-group animosity and without lying to themselves about what is true. Maybe there is something to be said for that.

  • dogisgod

    religion is a double edged sword. It can have pluses and minuses. One of the most destructive support beams of religion to continue to exist is the patriarchy. As long as this exists someone is going to be stepped on, persecuted, denied rights, murdered, raped etc. Children will be sexually plundered and not receive justice. Women will always be subject to being reduced to cheerleaders for the male hierarchy. being indoctrinated in male dominated religion has too great a cost. You can take someone out of a religion but getting those beliefs out of your mind takes a long time. Why? Because it is your default mechanism. It is your foundation to how you perceive everything. I have to question everything I think. You may leave a religion but it is really hard work to get all those roots out of your mind and heart.

  • Giordano

    My dislike for the JW's is two fold The Society and their enforcers, CO's and Elders.

    Since I remember a lot of nice people in my old congregation which I joined with my Mom when I was 13 and left to pioneer where the 'need was great' when I was 18.

    Mom had a very unpleasant 2nd marriage (my father died when I was 13) and I fell in with the crowd at the Kingdom Hall. We had a few ex Bethel brothers who taught me how to drink when I turned 16.

    The KH was half black..... my first lifetime experience with black folks and they were warm and hospitable...... so many good memories.

    In my pioneer years I started running into a few AHole Elders (actually this was a pre- Elder era) and Circuit servants.

    The beliefs never meant that much to me.

    After leaving the JW world with my wife I just forgot about the JW's though we both still had relatives still in. They lived for and died for their beliefs.

    It was my reading mostly history that I realized how many wars were fought over religion and caused by religion. Maybe, to be fair, religion was only the excuse. Like in the American Civil war when both sides proclaimed their actions to be blessed by their Christian God. The vision of two 'christian' soldiers one in blue and one in gray trying to stick a bayonet in the other??

    However what really hit me was Jonestown Nov. 18 1978. This totally turned me off towards high control religions Then my wife and I each lost a close family member well before their time because of the blood ban. So now needless dying...... hit close to home.

    We still have a few close JW friends. But I did grow to hate religions that allowed and covered up sexual child abuse. That interfered in medical treatments. That guilted followers over their need to masturbate, make love with another consenting adult.

    Something slimy like the WTBTS which not only likes to be on their followers backs and now more then ever.............. between their legs.

    Your average community churches? No real hateful feelings. JW's and Mormons who knock on my door especially younger ones? We try to be polite.

    Since I am retired, I am active in my community as a volunteer. I also spend an hour or two on this forum each day adding my two cents worth.

    My hope is......... as many have expressed, a simple desire to share a kind word and use what we learned from our 'time in' to be helpful not hateful.

  • Simon

    Religion is OK (ish) as long as it isn't in control and is kept to local homes and churches. When it is kept private and as long as people don't use it as a vehicle for abuse, I say leave people to it and don't harass them.

    But, as soon as it steps into the public square - have at it. If you are preaching, then you get to listen to what I have to say about your god. If you don't like it, don't talk about it and keep it at home.

    I don't agree with harassing JWs in their KHs, they have a right to their beliefs. I don't agree with being disrespectful to people, but when they come to my door don't expect me not to challenge your silly beliefs.

    Some people don't seem to be able to separate their own personal or family dysfunction or failings from the religion that they happened to be in when those things happened. All they can see is hate, they heap the blame on the WTS for all their lives ills and want to retaliate. It's not really balanced or healthy.

    Some branches of Christianity actually do good works and real charity and deserve to be commended for that. It may be we don't believe the things that motivate them but does that matter if it 'causes them to live a good life and do good?

    When it's fascism masquerading as religion and using it as a vehicle for political control I think the knives should come out and it should be shown no quarter. It should be attacked, ridiculed and criticized at every opportunity.

  • TD

    I don't have any problem with the religious beliefs of people like the late Martin Gardner or Jane Goodall.

    I'm afraid I'm with Cofty when it comes to most of Islam though.

  • truth_b_known

    I'm ok with religion. I have a hard time tolerating Christianity and Islam. I wish more people would get back in touch with their ancestors' faith. Hail Odin Allfather!

  • Sliced

    2 Cents: Religion (Organized Religion) to me has always been destructive when you look at the WHOLE of it. (Like was mentioned, there was a few good things accomplished here or there, which could have been accomplished even still without a religious group behind it) With that said, however, there is a huge difference between religion and spirituality in my eyes and I see the world a whole heck of a lot better WITHOUT religion clouding my view...

  • Simon
    I still have no tolerance of Islam. It is the slow kid in the class. If it ever catches up in terms of personal freedoms then and only then will I give it a break.

    I think that's unfair on slow kids. It's more like the bully of the class that picks on the weak, steals and beheads some of the other children.

  • OneEyedJoe

    JWs (probably accidentally) really managed to instill in me a love of truth. I took that part really literally when I was younger, and it may have something to do with my love for science and learning that has persisted down to this day. So it's primarily on that basis that I object to religion. It generates in me no small measure of disgust when I encounter someone purporting to dispense truth to followers, when they really have no way of substantiating their claims.

    The usefulness of the ethical (or, perhaps, less unethical) versions of religion out there is something that I often find difficult to pin down. I'm tentatively settling on the comparison to the many heuristics that humans use in thinking, for example, the availability heuristic - estimating the likelihood of an event based on how easily you can call to mind an example. This was once probably very efficient ways to get really close to the truth, but due to the many layers of selection bias in our modern society (i.e. what gets reported in the news, what gets talked about in the office, etc) this heuristic now leads people to greatly over-estimate their likelihood to get murdered or die in a terrorist attack vs dying from heart disease or a car accident.

    I now mostly view religion in this way - in the past it was a powerful force for bringing together a tribe and focusing people on the collective good of said tribe, especially in times when scarcity and violent conflicts with neighboring tribes were common. But in modern society we've gone a long ways of figuring out things like efficient land use and diplomacy that have driven religion to obsolescence in these areas, and worse it can often be a hindrance. In some places, maybe in driving local community involvement, it can perhaps still be an effective tool that has fewer drawbacks if its tendency to drive tribalism is kept in check - in much the same way that the availability heuristic can be very useful if we are careful not to apply it to things that have undergone the filters of selection bias. All that said, though, it is also true that there is absolutely no occasion where, given the choice, the availability heuristic would never be the best approach to estimating probability if you had the time or mental resources to fully take into account all the data at hand and rigorously analyze it with properly developed (Bayesian) statistical tools. I see a strong parallel here for religion as well.

    Religion is often used as a shortcut to meaning - do these things and you will have lived a good life. In my view, constantly examining your life, motivations, intentions, and your actions and their outcomes, is a far more effective and generally applicable way of leading a good life. In just the same way that heuristics have zones where their not applicable, but the full theorems of statistics don't, so too does religion have holes - rules listed as a path to a good life often include things that are unnecessarily troubling (e.g. excessive control on sex, excessive reliance on gender roles and male authority, etc) that the generally applicable principle does not (I make no claim that I've discovered such a principle, just that it likely exists). But at the same time it's easier to say "don't have sex unless you're married" than it is to teach someone the risks of having sex, how to mitigate them, and how to respect your partners and your own emotional health in the process.

    So, all this said, I'll admit that (non-cult, friendly, less unethical) religion is likely useful in some cases. The biggest problem with it, in my mind, is that it doesn't encourage the religious to recognize when their religion isn't useful. If people could simply realize that their religious rules might have exception, or might lead to erroneous scientific beliefs, unnecessary tribalism, or rules that might be injurious to some, it would go a long way to eliminating most of the problems that I attribute to religion. But, I suppose, if people realized that their religious dogma could, even in principle, fail them, then it would cease to be religion.

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