I think I made up my mind

by paradiseseeker 25 Replies latest jw friends

  • DesirousOfChange

    I would not DA instead just stop going , if you DA your parents and your friends will probably never talk to you again.


    1) DA is playing by THEIR RULES

    2) DA puts your family and esp (non-family) friends into a much more difficult situation. To associate with you, they must now also "break the rules". Non-family even risks being DFd if they do so. That's often too high of a price for them to risk.

    3) DA gives the Elders the easy way. You've done it. It's over. No meetings. No time wasted on why you're "weak" and "inactive", etc

    Unless DA is doing something meaningful for your mental health, don't do it. Be a prick to the Borg.

  • snakeface

    I agree with DesirousOfChange. DA is doing it their way, playing by their rules. Do your thing YOUR way.

    Myself, I ended up writing a DA letter months after I left but that was to stop them.from contacting me. The elders kept coming by unannounced. I would answer the door in my underwear and act like I was sleeping or just getting into the shower or go out, or else if I was working outside doing yardwork or washing my car they'd stand there and run their mouths. I'm in Florida. One summer day I was outside with no shirt on, washing my car and they started counseling me on modesty and that I should dress.like a minister. One elder said, "You look like you're all ready for a day at the beach," to which I replied, "Perhaps I am." Another thing that was happening was, some of the people were leaving me voice messages saying they missed me at the meetings. I would frequently find tracts and notes left in my front door when i'd get home from work.

    So the letter I wrote was primarily to tell them to stay off my property and to stop contacting me. In the letter I also mentioned something about "since I already left the organization several months ago..." I did not give any reasons. I just said I was notifying them "in writing" not to have any further contact with me.

  • 2+2=5

    I just stopped going. No sporadic attendance or just the memorial, just stopped and didn’t explain why.

    If you want to have a honest conversation with your parents do so. I only gave genuine reasons to my parents and a single JW friend. Worked out for the best because years later I still rub shoulders with JWs, It’s like I’m an enigma to them.

    It’s your life and you are 100% right in wanting no part of JWs. Just don’t stress while you’re fading, try and enjoy life during the process.

    All the best.

  • rawe

    Hi paradiseseeker,

    When looking at options for leaving the idea of fading comes up. The goal of fading is to slowly disengage over a long period of time such that essentially the Ex-JW is forgotten. That is, as far as the congregation is concerned. The advantage of course is the Ex-JW can then hope to be treated by JW family and friends in a non-shunning manner.

    However I would suggest there is another option: Abrupt stop followed by no substantial communication as to why. In fact jw [dot] org claims this approach will not resulting in shunning. They claim: "Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest."

    The key to this approach (assuming the goal is not to be shunned) is "no substantial communication." JWs generally have cultivated a deep sense of loyalty to the organization. Well meaning family and friends will often report to the elders those who say anything contrary regarding the organization. Thus statements such as, "Yes, I've haven't been to meetings in sometime. However, please, I don't want to talk about it. Know that I love the brothers and sisters as I always have." This communicate that you don't want to talk but also that you are not a threat.

    I left abruptly. Literally the same day I was out in service. I even had to call the elders to tell them my home could not be used as a book study center. No action, other than a marking talk, was taken at the time. I left in October 2007 and openly celebrated Christmas in 2009. This did prompt a response. After being contacted twice by phone I wrote them the following letter (see below). This did cause them to pause but finally in March in 2010 they announced my name without informing me in advance. After chatting with a lawyer I decided not to pursue the matter. Such a case would be difficult to win and costly.

    All in all I'm reasonably happy with the actions I took and the outcome. JWs have crafted the statement to protect themselves legally. While that works, it also leaves me to say, quite correctly, that I am not disfellowshipped, I never disassociated, and at no time was a JW ever directed to shun me. When I show up as memorial (as I do each year) there is little they could do other than ask me to leave. But since no one knows all the details I find some shun some don't.

    Here is the letter:

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    I have prepared this written response in anticipation of your concerns.

    Ecclesiastes 7:1 says “A name is better than good oil”. Most people are concerned about how others view them and I am no different. For the most part, our good name results from right action on our part. Yet not everyone will agree what is considered right and proper. For example, you and I may see nothing wrong in enjoying a cup of hot coffee, yet a devout Mormon may view such as a serious sin.

    Likewise, one of Jehovah's Witnesses may look upon a house decorated with Christmas lights with disdain. In contrast, the majority of the community may see such as a delightful display of “Christmas Spirit”. More informed individuals may reflect upon the ancient beliefs regarding the winter solstice and note how connected our lives are to the power of the sun.

    For the Christmas season of 2009 I have decided to decorate my house with lights for good reason.

    As a member of the community who has had no substantial1 association with Jehovah's Witnesses in over two years I am not under any obligation to explain myself. This is private matter of no concern to Jehovah's Witnesses. Yet two principals found in the Bible motivate me to explain.

    Psalms 26:4 says, “I have not sat with men of untruth; And with those who hide what they are I do not come in.”

    Matthew 7:12 says, “All things, therefore, that YOU want men to do to YOU, YOU also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.”

    I have no desire to hide what I am. When asked, I have always tried my best to honestly explain how I feel about matters. By doing so, I hope to build mutual understanding and respect, even if, when all is said and done, fundamental differences of viewpoint remain.

    It is my desire for my choices to be understood and respected. On the other hand, I must try and appreciate how my current actions may reflect on my former faith. I am confident the golden rule continues to work as well today as it has in the past. Although I will address some serious aspects of protecting myself from slander, libel and a possible religious hate crime, please be assured my desire is to leave both myself and Jehovah's Witnesses in peace. I will outline some easy steps that will allow this goal to be accomplished.

    Today I identify myself as an atheist although I do not insist I know for certain God does not exist.

    When I was baptized in July 1981, I joined Jehovah's Witnesses voluntarily. When I ceased association in October 2007, I left voluntarily. I make no pretense among Jehovah's Witnesses or in the community that I remain one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Even though I do not believe in God or think of Jesus as anything more than human, there are several important reasons for decorating my house with Christmas lights.

    The foremost is an outward signal to the community I no longer adhere to my former beliefs as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. By refusing to participate in most holidays, Jehovah's Witnesses ask their members to act in an esoteric way. These actions cause a separation between members and non-members. Part of the difficulty one experiences in leaving the faith is working through a reintegration process. It is my belief that taking specific actions which outwardly show my affinity with the community at large will be cathartic. Unless you have gone through the experience of leaving a faith such as Jehovah's Witnesses, it is hard to appreciate how difficult the process can be.

    I must stress I am not seeking to officially disassociate from Jehovah's Witnesses. I also am not seeking to be officially disfellowshipped from Jehovah's Witnesses. I merely wish to be left in peace as I have left them in peace.

    Membership in a religious organization in a free country is on a voluntary basis. I joined voluntarily and I left voluntarily. Jehovah's Witnesses, like other organizations, have rules and regulations which govern membership. Those who do not adhere to these rules may have their membership terminated, even unilaterally. Thus the voluntarily aspect applies to both parties.

    I would not ask Jehovah's Witnesses to accept me as a member in my current state of belief. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in God while I do not. Membership, therefore, would not be compatible. Likewise, the Phoenix Atheist Group, with whom I occasionally associate, only accept atheists and agnostics. Those who would identify themselves as “Christians,” for example, cannot be members.

    I nonetheless, have four reasons to resist official recognition of my non-member status by Jehovah's Witnesses.

    First, it would serve no purpose. I make no pretense of being one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I am open and honest with everyone about what I believe. If some Jehovah's Witnesses feel my current beliefs make friendship with me impossible, such is their personal choice.

    Second, I have family and friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Although my relationship with them has changed somewhat, by a display of mutual respect, I have been able to maintain a level of warmth and communication. An official status of disassociation or disfellowshipment would impair these relationships, perhaps irrevocably. This is not a burden I seek to place on myself or these family members and friends.

    Third, many former Jehovah's Witnesses have found comfort and support by seeking out other former members. Online forums and face-to-face support meetings can now be readily arranged through the power of the internet. First time members to these communities are often fearful of who they will encounter. Being able to truthfully report I am neither disassociated or disfellowshipped can assuage such fears.

    The Phoenix Atheist Group would be interested in how religious organizations treat former members. However, unlike former Jehovah's Witnesses, my status as disassociated or disfellowshipped would not be a concern to this group.

    Fourth, the leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses has made no provision for a dignified resignation that does not involve implying bad character and subsequent shunning of the former member.

    You may find such frank talk about former members and meet-up groups disconcerting. Yet, upon reflection, you may realize this should be of little concern to Jehovah's Witnesses. These groups are for former members who are seeking support while transitioning out of the faith. As a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation elder, you are only able to assist those returning to, remaining in or joining for the first time. Support for former members and those leaving the faith is the exact opposite of what you can provide. What would it say about Jehovah's Witnesses if they sought to interfere with a few thousand former members who meet in rag-tag support groups around the world?

    Nonetheless, we must reach a balance where legitimate concerns of Jehovah's Witnesses relative to actions of Randy Galbraith can be addressed while avoiding punitive measures simply because of your dislike for atheists and former Jehovah's Witnesses. If I am made the subject of slander or libel with clear intent to bring harm to my good character, I will resist, legally if necessary.

    Since I have left voluntarily and am no longer a member, the only legitimate concern may be a misunderstanding of my views by some Jehovah's Witnesses or members of the community. I am sure you do not want any to conclude Jehovah's Witnesses have relaxed their views on Christmas decorations because of the choices I have made. I do not want misunderstanding to persist either. I thus offer these suggestions as avenues for resolution.

    1. You are welcome to leave me in peace, concluding some misunderstandings may happen from time to time, but do not carry enough concern that they need to be addressed.

    2. You are welcome to direct any with inquiries to contact me for an explanation.

    3. In private, you are welcome to explain to any who inquire that I am an atheist, however, I have not been disfellowshipped nor have I disassociated myself. Therefore, the congregation is not directing anyone to shun me.

    4. You are welcome to make this one time public announcement, provided it is stated clearly and read in full:

    “This is to inform the congregation that Randy Galbraith identifies himself as an atheist. He has not been disfellowshiped. He has not disassociated himself. The congregation is not being directed to shun him. This announcement is being made for informational purposes only.”

    I hope at this point all your concerns have been answered and the matter can now be settled. My sincere and best wishes go with you.

    What, though, if you are unable to comply with the above suggestions? I want to stress that my only desire is to be peaceable with all concerned. I hold no malice towards Jehovah's Witnesses. I will ask a court to judge our concerns only as a last resort.

    If you decide to form a Judicial Committee, please be aware I do not view myself under your ecclesiastical authority. I am happy to meet with you or other Jehovah's Witnesses to discuss matters. If you view such as a Judicial Committee, that is your right, however, I will not. Since the outcome may involve charges of slander, libel or religious hate crime, I must insist on certain things up front.

    1. All face-to-face and over-the-phone meetings will be recorded for posterity.

    2. No face-to-face meetings will take place without my legal counsel present.

    3. I must be informed in writing who I am dealing with, who they represent, what their charges are and what action they intend on taking.

    4. All written records, including, but not limited to, letters, forms and notes, pertaining to my case must be kept for posterity and be made available to me or my legal counsel upon request.

    5. All correspondence and oral direction given or received between the local congregation and legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses must be recorded and kept for posterity and made available to me or my legal counsel upon request.

    6. I must insist myself and my legal counsel be made aware seven days in advance of any intended public announcement involving my name. I must be allowed suitable opportunity to record the announcement for posterity. My legal counsel must be allowed to be present.

    7. I must insist myself and my legal counsel be made aware seven days in advance of any meeting parts, such as “local needs” or “marking talks”, wherein the substance of my private life is discussed, even if my name is not mentioned. I must be allowed suitable opportunity to record such for posterity. My legal counsel must be allowed to be present.

    8. I must insist names, addresses and phone numbers of congregation members who hear any announcement involving my name or talks wherein the substance of my private life is discussed be made available to myself and my legal counsel for possible depositions.

    9. Any private counsel written or orally given to congregation members involving my case must be recorded and made available to me or my legal counsel upon request.

    My understanding regarding disfellowshipping is the following format is used: “So-and-so is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses”. I call this the “short-form”.

    Within the context of free exercise of religion, such a statement may find justification. For example, if one of Jehovah's Witnesses who seeks continued association and views himself under your ecclesiastical authority commits adultery, such an individual may not object. In fact, they may be grateful details of their “sin” have not been elaborated upon. Such an individual may then seek reinstatement, and through this process, feel the “sin” has been put behind them and once again enjoy fellowship within the faith.

    However, my situation is dramatically different. I have not shown any moral lapses of which I might be ashamed. My belief Jehovah God most likely does not exist is as sincerely held as yours that he does. I do not view myself as under your ecclesiastical authority. I have left and am not seeking continued association.

    If the short form is used without elaboration, I can only conclude you have decided to slander me with clear intent to bring harm to my good character. This is so, because both you and I know the public statement “Randy Galbraith is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses” suffers in what is not said and what is implied. Several means of addressing misunderstanding and confusion about my status as a non-member have been given above. If this “short-form” statement is used rather than the more precise one I suggested above, I will ask a court to conclude the following:

    This “short-form” statement was made with the full knowledge it would do far more than merely clear up any misunderstanding regarding my non-member status. It would directly result in harm to my good character. My family and friends who remain as Jehovah's Witnesses would be obliged to shun me. Former members who may wish to interact with me may become fearful upon learning I have been disfellowshipped. This outcome was known in advance and pursued despite viable alternatives because of your dislike of atheists and former Jehovah's Witnesses. You intend to bring harm to my good character. You intend to interfere with the functioning of former Jehovah's Witnesses support groups.

    Likewise, any private counsel wherein my name is used or implied that has clear intent to bring harm to my good character or impair my relationships with family and friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses I shall view as slander.

    In conclusion, it is good to reflect upon the true meaning of religious freedom. For we cannot rightly secure religious freedom for ourselves if we seek to deny it from others.

    The July 2009 Awake! said “God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.”2

    I commend the Awake! author on such a reasonable view. I only ask you apply such sentiment not only to those leaving other faiths to join Jehovah's Witnesses, but also extend such to those of us who do the opposite.

    Yours sincerely,

    Randy Galbraith

    1Within the first year after leaving, I attended 3 meetings, since then, I have attended no more.


  • Dagney

    If you are going to relocate, why not just do that and start fresh and make your own new life? I know and understand the reasons for the DA, but it's not really necessary unless you want untangle yourself from your family and friends permanently. This is a big step at an emotional time, so proceed cautiously.

    There is no reason not to just move and get on with living on your own terms. Whichever way you choose, best of luck!

  • The Scotsman
    The Scotsman

    Difficult decision but it will not be regretted.

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