An Atheist Visits A Kingdom Hall

by Bangalore 50 Replies latest jw friends

  • Nerd in the Brain
    Nerd in the Brain


    I am very aware of the time tracking. As I said in the post, my mother-in-law is a JW, so that is not a new concept to me. (I've seen the tracking forms and everything.)

    As for my friend, we have time that "counts" and time that doesn't. If we're doing Bible study (which I do from a purely academic point of view), it counts. When we're hanging out with our families playing games or going to a museum together or anything like that, it doesn't "count." She's not secretive or sneaky about the time tracking or why she does it.

    I understand that people are hurting, but I wish everyone could understand that we all have beliefs and ideals and ways of life that we feel passionately about...everyone wants to be "right" and defend their "rightness," but we can be kind, and we can be compassionate, and we can help one another, and that will go much further (I think) than belligerence and animosity and condescension toward people who don't see the world the same way we do.

  • Londo111

    I definitely agree 100% about being kind and compassionate and helping one another, especially to JWs who are captive to their indoctrination. I detest belligerance, animosity, and condescension as well.

    Of course, because I do not share my parent's views, I have not heard from them in months. It was a subject I didn't even want to bring up with them...I thought I had an "understanding" not to bring it up. If you read the emails I had from my father, you would have seen the belligerence, animosity, and condescension JWs have toward former members. I have not had the stomach yet to share them on this forum.

    But I don't blame my parents...they are doing as they have been indoctrinated to do. I was once in the same place mentally.

  • Simon

    Thanks for taking the time to answer some of the comments Nerd in the Brain.

    I didn't see anything wrong with your blog article other than what it might have missed (I already commented on) but that's not your fault - anyone going to any church as a visitor is likely only going to see the public display and not the full reality of what goes on.

    Most JWs are good people who believe they are doing the right thing. Occasionally they treat people very badly along the way and so there are a lot of people who justifiably feel angry toward the group because their lives have been seriously adversely affected, often through no fault of their own. My mother cut me, my wife and her grandchildren off because she has been conditioned to believe the lies that the local elders say without even giving me a chance to speak.

    Despite this, I still think they have the right to practice the religion they want but likewise, we should be able to call them to account for the unchristian practices and hurt they cause. I've tried to describe this conflict here if you're interested:

    Freedom, Free speech, Censorship, Religion and Tight Pants

    Are we pro-shunning or against it?

    The right to shun - wrong?

    So, when people read something that appears to be "pro JW" they tend to get rather emotional and unfortunately sometimes lash out unfairly. Some of the comments on this topic show that and it's especially disappointing that people throw accusations of child abuse around so freely.

    There are few people so dysfunctional as exJWs (he said, as an exJW).

  • Nerd in the Brain
    Nerd in the Brain

    Londo - I'm so sorry that you've had such tension with your family. Your experiences are making me wonder if, perhaps, JW groups from different areas act differently. My friend, I know, left the church for several years, and, upon returning, was easily accepted. Her leaving the church did not cause her family to be unkind to her.

    My mechanic is also a JW, and we've talked before about his brothers being Atheists. Though his siblings are not part of the church, he still spends time with them and loves being with them and their children (as do his parents). (Long story on how I even know that.) :)

    And, on a more personal note, my mother-in-law is a JW, but has never, ever shown my husband and me (both Atheist) anything but overwhelming love and kindness.

    I am so hoping that you and your parents find a way to reconcile. I wish there were some way I could make that happen for you.

  • Simon
    Your experiences are making me wonder if, perhaps, JW groups from different areas act differently. My friend, I know, left the church for several years, and, upon returning, was easily accepted. Her leaving the church did not cause her family to be unkind to her.

    There are definitely differences within congregations - some have more 'hardline' elders while others are more forgiving of the rules.

    There are also lots of nuances to the rules of who should and shouldn't be shunned. You can be a JW publisher and leave and be fine. You can even take drugs and womanize and go back and be forgiven.

    But if you happen to get baptized when you were 12 because you were pressured into it and just suggest that you don't think one particular teaching makes sense then bam, you can be out without the friends you grew up with or your family ever taking to you again.

    I expect to find out one day that my mother has died. I doubt I'll even be given the courtesy of being invited to her funeral even. What massive crime did I commit? I questioned whether I wanted to risk the health of my wife and my first unborn child based on a religious doctrine about blood.

    Just asking questions about a belief (not even violating it) was enough to raise a flag and set the local elders intent on kicking me out. Just refusing to say "yes, I will let my wife and child die" makes *me* deserving of shunning. Meanwhile other family and congregation members that commit all types of moral violations (e.g. 3 kids by 3 fathers) are free to associate.

    Question the basis for any belief (i.e. their authority) and you see the real monster.

    And, on a more personal note, my mother-in-law is a JW, but has never, ever shown my husband and me (both Atheist) anything but overwhelming love and kindness.

    They are all smiles while you are a potential recruit because you are not a threat to them. You could literally be a serial killer and JWs will welcome you with open arms (search for Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.

    But question anything, especially the authority of the church leaders, and they will treat you as though you are a serial killer.

  • Finkelstein

    The background undisclosed nuances of this religion is what makes it so dangerous and damaging, distant from the loving and engaging upfront appeal one might first experience.

    Sure it sounds like its all in accordance to the bible and Christian observance but in reality there are certain doctrines that have broken apart many families, indirectly caused many suicides, caused thousands of deaths relating to the no blood doctrine.

    Many of the doctrines were created with weak scriptural support or backing and relating to the pressing proliferation of the literature the WTS publishes.

  • Londo111

    Unfortunately, my experience is all too common and this forum is full of like stories from all geographic locations.

    It depends how you leave. Obviously, those who are disfellowshipped or who disassociate, they will face shunning from friends and family (not living in the same home). Not so much as a hello or an email. Some who have formally disassociated have expressed regret doing so later.

    However many on this forum have opted for gradually fading and distancing themselves from the organization. If JWs believe you are merely inactive, family relations can continue. Of course, you simply never speak about your doubts (or certainties) or research about the organization and never be seen breaking Watchtower rules (like celebrating holidays). This is what I tried to do.

    Even faded people do face cooling of relationships from friends and sometimes family. And there is a constant pressure to “return to Jehovah”, that is the organization. You constantly have to watch out not to say the wrong thing or be caught doing something a JW cannot do (like a birthday, Christmas, attending a church).

    But then, what do you do if a family member point blank asks, “Are you an apostate? Do you believe the Governing Body is the Faithful and Discreet slave?” You might try to word things in a non-threatening way and establish some common ground. But it comes a time when you have to choose to be honest or dishonest.

    If a family member is perceived as “apostate”, they can easily be cut off. “Spiritually stoned” as it were. Even in the same household, people have found themselves kicked out of their own home, divorces have occurred, jobs lost.

    There is nothing a non-JW can do to convince a JW to associate with a “mentally-diseased” apostate, even family.

  • leaving_quietly

    @Nerd, your article was enlightening. Great to see it from a perspective of an outsider. I'm not personally an embittered JW. I didn't have the bad experiences that many here have had, fortunately, so I don't share the same views. My opinion is that, doctrinally, JWs have many things wrong. I grew up as a JW, so never really questioned what I was taught until a few years ago when one of the major doctrines changed for the third time since I was baptized. After trying to follow the logic they presented as to why their current interpretation is correct, I found I couldn't believe it. But that raised more questions: what about other things that they teach that is unique to this particular religion? Can they be proven from the Bible? That was a thread I tugged on, and found that many things that are taught as doctrine are contrary to what the Bible actually says. JWs are very good at cherry picking verses that seem to support a doctrine, but very much ignore other verses that don't. I have found this all in my own research.

    That this religion claims to be directed by God, and in its own pages has stated that the things it teaches are FROM God, that forced me to question the validity of that claim. Why would God teach something as "true", then turn around in a few years and make that same teaching false?

    My issues with the JW religion are mostly doctrinal. This religion allows you to question things to a point, but there's a fine line that cannot be crossed. A non-JW can question as much as they'd like, but there are limits to how much a baptized JW can question.

    You were fortunate to be able to freely visit a Kingdom Hall. In the JW religion, if a JW were to visit another religion's church for services (not counting weddings or funerals), if found out, they would likely be brought before a judicial committee (a religious tribunal) and possibly disfellowshipped (excommunicated). It may even be considered an automatic disassociation, which has the same results as disfellowshipping... immediate shunning from JW friends and family. Therefore, no JW can visit another church for services, even out of curiosity. Thus, if one has doctrinal questions or misgivings, they are generally told to "wait on Jehovah," which, for all intents and purposes, means to wait until an article is published in a Watchtower or some other book or brochure that addresses the question or misgiving, which may be never, or at least, not to one's satisfaction.

    While the religion encourages personal study, coming up with answers that are different than what the organization publishes and trying to tell others what you've found is a big no-no. It's considered apostasy. In some cases, some have been disfellowshipped because they adamantly disagree with certain key doctrines. Others have decided to keep quite and leave the organization, but in doing so, they are considered by other JWs as "spiritually weak."

    So, while JWs do have a good way of life on the surface, there are certain policies that make it very challenging if you are one who thinks about things and has questions. In that case, one has to simply suffer in silence. In my case, it has caused a HUGE rift in my marriage and talking about anything biblical is taboo in the home. My JW wife refuses to have any open discussion because sometimes what I bring out from the Bible differs from what is taught by the religion. This is a major stress on the marriage. I am not the only one in this situation, either. This same story has been told countless times by people here, many of whom are still active JWs. This particular forum is an outlet for our frustrations because, well, no one else is willing to listen.

    Thanks for your blog post. It was enjoyable for me to read.


  • Beth Sarim
    Beth Sarim

    Like I've said a few times before about ''fading''. It can take years to successfully ''fade''. Even decades, yes decades. Everyone's ''fading'' situation is different.. It depends on your local gestapo elders' group too, of how persistant they are.

    However, those who have a ''clean break'', like that of being df'd(disfellowshipped) or whatever, no more looking over one's shoulder, Birthday parties, Christmas trees. More so real friends, living common-law and all the freedoms people have which out countries fought for!!!!

  • label licker
    label licker

    Thank you, Simon. Until you have walked in someone's shoes especially when your a child and your parents are suppose to protect you from such wickedness and they don't, you bet some of us are hurt. Just picture a ten year old child watching their parents fight physically in front of you because one will follow the org on the no blood issue while the mother has gone into a deep depression until she takes her life a few years later on the very same date her son passes away. And your only ten, and your brother that is dying is eleven so your about to lose your play mate for life. All because of no blood. I hope none of you will ever experience that.

    The fact that I had to leave home at fifteen not know anyone in the world because you tell your mother that your father tried something on you and she tells you the only thing to do is leave home. So here I was at fifteen hitchhiking into the closest town and staying in a van at the auto wreckers not knowing who to trust or where my next meal was going to come from let alone finishing my education which I did later on. Honestly, I don't know how I did it.

    Why are any of us on this site? To me angry and bitter is posting pics and making fun of the witnesses and name calling. Do you really think jw's will want to read here. I came here because people like the Searcher, Blondie, Mary ect ,,, were opening my eyes to the falsehoods of the org. and are mature about it. I get angry when I see this and want to share it with my older sister whom I will never be able to talk to ever again or my two other brothers or all my nieces. All in the name of

    I've earned the right to be sad, angry and bitter if that's what some think but next time you post make sure you choose your words wisely. We didn't ask to be abused and manipulated by an organisation which my parents were also under their influence. Having your childhood, parents and siblings stolen from you as well as fake friends in the org was not what I had signed up for and never will again in the name of god! All I wanted was a sense of belonging that I had taken away from me for such stupid reasons.

Share this