Here is Mark Jones' reply
I was a 100% devoted Jehovah’s Witness. So much so that I had read literally every Watchtower book and magazine I ever heard of. I even began to work my way through old Watchtower and Awake! magazines. I got as far as the stuff printed in 1956 before I left entirely. There is no one reason, but actually a cumilation of reasons that just piled up to make it impossible to stay in the religion:
- Elders interfering and policing your life. Religion is supposed to be one’s relationship to God. Not people invading your privacy and checking up on you and encouraging members to snitch on eachother. I had elders visits for things that wernt even in the bible like questioning a Watchtower doctrine, growing a beard and even leaving a job I didn't like. If i didn't tell the elders the reasons for anything I did they’d get suspicious and visit my home for “a chat”.
- The lack of any real love. Considering that I belonged to a worldwide family all unified in the same belief, I had no friends. The congregations are full of social cliques and you’re not allowed to have friends who arnt Jehovah’s Witnesses. For the JW’s reading this who insist that there are not social cliques - it’s very likely that you’re in one and that’s why you dont see it. You’d be hard pressed to find any elder that imitate Christ, the brothers that do dont get appointed as elders for some reason. Any love you may receive is totally conditional on the basis that you’re a fellow Jehovah’s Witness. Should you stop attending meetings or leave the religion for any reason you’d find yourself actually shunned by these people - family included.
- It’s impossible to leave the with your reputation in tact. This was something that bothered me for years. Why were Jehovah’s Witness leaders so afraid of ex-members? Even ex-members who were kind, happy, successful and had bore no ill feelings against the Watchtower society? They’re so afraid of Jehovah’s Witnesses talking to ex-members, why? If you have “the truth” what’s to be afraid of? Surely anything a defector or a liar has to say can easily be refuted with truth should it not? The only way to leave is to commit some sort of “sin” and get disfellowshipped, or inform them that you’re no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. Both cases result in the complete shunning of the person who leaves. This includes your family. Mothers shun their children, children shun their parents, brothers shun their sisters. And then the Watchtower society has the audacity to claim that the person who left is the one who broke up the family!
- Information withheld from members. We all knew that the elders get letters and information that us regular members dont get to see. But it wasn't until 2 years before I left that I learned that the elders have their own secret book that everyone else arnt allowed to read. It’s called Shepherd The Flock Of God, (if you google it you’ll find a PDF online). In this book it gives many reasons for which someone can be disfellowshipped which most people are not aware of. It tells elders NOT to tell a person that they can appeal twice a disfellowshipping decision. It tells elders that if someone is inactive and turns up to a judicial committee then they can take them turning up as them acknowledging the authority of the Watchtower society and you can disfellowship them. This would result in that persons JW family ten shunning them even though they haven't identified as a JW for many years. Also, the Watchtower magazines say that a person is only disfellowshipped for an unrepentant attitude, but the elders guidebook says that even if they are repentant that have to be repentant enough to convince the elders in the judicial committee. And on at least one occasion I sat in on a judicial committee where one elder said “we can see you’re repentant, but we must disfellowship you to set an example to others”.
- The religion is simply not true. There was a book published by a former Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body member called Crisis Of Conscience (there’s a PDF online if you look for it, and it’s on amazon). Throughout the book he reveals - with evidence - things that went on in the organization since it’s inception and the scandals that were covered up. Some things I was aware of as a JW but only knew half of the story, the other half of the story is quite shocking and revealing. After reading that book and seeing the evidence and checking it with Watchtower’s own publications there’s no way I could stay a Jehovah’s Witness and call myself an honest man.
When an honest man is proven wrong, he either stops being wrong or stops being honest. - Anon.
How do I feel about the Jehovah’s Witnesses? I love them. I genuinely wish no harm or ill toward any of them. It’s the Watchtower society that I take issue with. Jehovah’s Witnesses dont know that they’re being manipulated, kept in the dark, used and lied to every day by their leaders. The very fact that they’re not allowed to talk to ex-members or read anything that criticizes the Watchtower society shows that the Watchtower society knows it’s manipulating it’s members.
It’s my hope that more people will evaluate and investigate their own religion and go where the evidence takes them.