@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.