Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I was born in the mid-1970s in the Midwest part of the U.S. My parents were about to enter Gilead when I arrived. My father converted to JW in his late 20s/early 30s. He was raised a Catholic, but became an atheist/agnostic. He had such a great life before becoming a JW. My mother is a born-in and her parents may have been born-ins as well. I have a younger sister who is still active as a JW. I have a younger brother who faded.
I married a newly converted JW. She had only been in for about a year. She obviously had no idea what she was getting involved in. She was raised by uber-liberal/hippy parents. We stayed active the first 2 years of our marriage. Then we faded. We have 3 kids. The middle child only made it to meetings until he was about 4. The youngest only attended a few Memorials. We have been completely out since 2010 and you would never guess we were ever in because we live like apple pie eating Americans with Christmas, birthdays, the whole thing.
How many generations have been JWs?
Depending on whether or not my mother’s grandparents were associated (that would go back to International Bible Students days) and including my kiddos, 4 generations.
Did you *really* believe in the bible, in spirits (angels, demons)?
Unfortunately I did. Every word of it was true to me. I had this obnoxious phobia about demons and demon possession. In the 1980s there were all sorts of crazy experiences the WBTS published about demons possessing people and craziness right out of the movies. Every bump in the night was a demon.
Did you get baptized? When and why?
Unfortunately I was voluntold into baptism at the age of 15. My father had finished the “You Can Live Forever on Paradise Earth” book with me in my weekly Bible study. My father was an Elder for most of my childhood. He told me I was ready for baptism. I just shook my head in agreeance and went about my business. At the next meeting our congregation Presiding Overseer (as they were called back then) came up to me and said “Your father tells me you wish to be baptized at the next Assembly.”
I was stunned! I didn’t know what to say. So I said the only safe thing – Yes. That next fall Circuit Assembly I was baptized.
What was the initial trigger that made you start questioning things?
It’s hard for me to know where to begin so I will just shotgun things out there –
At age 19 I was working in the Accounts Department at a Circuit Assembly. During one of the talks there was a change in policy. In the past, accepting non-military alternative service in lieu of conscription into the military was prohibited. Now it was ok. The Elder that was the Accounts Overseer was visibly distressed by this. He spoke about how he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, though not a Witness at that time, and accepted service with the US Postal Service in lieu of being drafted into the military. He did know many Witnesses who were offered the same, but went to prison.
My father has always claimed to be one of the Annointed. Just prior to my fade we were driving home from our annual District Convention (as they were called back then). He confided in me that there were Circuit and District Overseers who targeted those who claimed to be of the anointed for disfellowshipping. My father told me he was targeted just before we moved to another state.
During my fade my father confided in me that 3 brothers, some 19 years after moving to a different state and new congregation, made a startling confession – our Presiding Overseer had gone around to various ones in the congregation and told them not to socialize with my father or our family. It all made sense. I remember when my sister got married to a brother in our congregation. His parents through a holy fit over marrying her.
I read Graham Hancock’s book “The Mars Mystery”. I know he may be a foil hat wearing weirdo, but there is a chapter in that book that deals with the science behind the theory of life possibly being on Mars over a million years ago. Add to that the scientific impossibility of the account of The Great Flood of Noah’s Day and I was well on my way out.
Finally, I attended the 2010 Memorial at my father’s request. This was the first Memorial with the new song book, which I had no idea had come out. I remember feeling so out of place. I also recall the outline for the talk was the same old one I had heard every year for as long as I could remember. The next day I came to this website and had the scales removed from my eyes.
Where did you find information? Internet sites? Books?
Mostly from this website.
How difficult or painful was the process of leaving?
I want to say it was not difficult, but it was painful. My wife and I had already faded before moving to another state. We may have attended a meeting or two after moving. It was easy for me to excuse myself. My profession requires shift work and I was required to work double shifts. After the move I was literally working 2 fulltime jobs to support the family.
The stress of dealing with my parents and not wanting to be active anymore took a physical toll. I began to grind my teeth at night, which wore a grove into one of my molars and cracked two other molars. My wife who was pregnant told the hospital staff at one of her prenatal visits that she was suicidal. I did not know this for a good 2 years after it happened. She told me she didn’t want to bring another child into this world that was trapped between two worlds. She was referring to the fact that we were completely inactive, but voluntarily restricting ourselves from living a non-Witness life. She told me that she would never walk into another Kingdom Hall as long as she lived. She told me she wanted the kids to celebrate their birthdays and holidays. I agreed. 2 years later I did a complete exit and was all in. We had our first Christmas Tree that winter. Watching the kids decorate their first Christmas Tree was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Was it a big dramatic exit or a careful quiet fade?
It was a quiet fade. I just used my excuse of always having to work to justify not attending meeting or field service. Every once in a while I attended a meeting. It was so difficult.
At some point I think I was actually marked. I even remember a part at a Special Day Assembly that used a negative experience about a faithful brother who became inactive. The description fit me. That was also the first time that we did not receive an invitation to go out to dinner after the program. It crushed my wife and I think that was the last straw for her.
Did you convince anyone else to leave with you?
I don’t think so. My wife was out before me. I did give an anti-Witness to a brother who my wife knew prior to our marriage. He stopped by our house one day with some work for her. She was anxious because she knew he would ask why we stopped going to meetings. I think I did a great job of answer his questions in a kind, and non-judgmental way. I say that because of his final response. It was “Wow! I have some things to think about.”
Were you or are you still being shunned by those who didn't leave?
I talk to my dad every once in a while on the phone. The same goes with my siblings. I haven’t spoken to my mother in about 10 years. There isn’t anyone else who is a Witness that I would even care to speak with again.
How long have you now been out?
I consider myself a former Witness for about 10 years. I have been inactive for about 12.
Was there anything you looked forward to doing when you left?
I kind of already did what I wanted prior to officially being done with the religion. I always wanted to have a career in law enforcement. I went to the police academy 2 years prior to me coming to the realization that the religion was not true.
What are you most proud of achieving since you left?
Since I was 19 I always wanted to be in law enforcement. It is partially the reason why I got out of the religion. When I was 25 I got my first fulltime job working for a police department, but not as a police officer. One of my jobs was to assist a detective who handled crimes against children cases. The detective had a case in which a Witness was sexually molesting a child in the congregation. The elders were avoiding subpoena service. I told the detective I would handle it and went and served every one of them in person. My eyes were open then.
For the past 6 years I have worked with the US Marshals Service working fugitive investigations. I have located and arrested hundreds of fugitives for crimes like Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, and Aggravated Robbery. The case I am most proud of is a guy who robbed a gas station and tried killing a police officer who attempted arresting him. The fugitive fled to Mexico. I worked for two and a half years to catch that guy. I finally caught him. Oh, and he is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, the congregation in Mexico assisted in hindering his apprehension as did his Witness parents here in the U.S. He just pleaded guilty an in now on his way to prison.
Is there anything you miss about life in the congregation?
I don’t miss a thing. I miss being close to my parents, but if I had to pick, I would pick living the real life.
Red pill or blue pill? Do you regret waking up to reality at all?
No. Reality is a pretty good thing to wake up to. I just wish I had woken up to it years before.
Did you become an atheist or transfer your faith elsewhere?
No. I do dabble in some Odinism I prefer the outlook on life presented by the Norse gods. The whole concept of sin and imperfection is nothing less than self-loathing. Odinism teaches that men are created perfect and capable of bring praise to the gods through deeds of nobel bravery. I truly despise Christianity as a whole.
How do you now feel about religion in general?
I think someone ironically said it best as – “A snare and a racket.”
Do you feel any guilt celebrating xmas or birthdays or doing any other JW "no-no"s?
I only feel guilt for not starting sooner. I especially do for my kids not having their birthdays and Christmas right away.
Have you attended any face-to-face meetups of ex-JWs?
My closest and dearest friends are all ex-JWs. They got out a good ten years before I did.
Do you tell people about your JW past?
No. I am highly embarrassed over my JW past.
Do you feel animosity or pity toward current JWs?
Pity and disbelief. How anyone would want to continue being one of JW after all that has transpired is beyond me.
How do you respond to witnesses when they call at your door?
I haven’t often thought about trying to engage them in meaningful conversation. However, this new JW 2.0 brand doesn’t want to talk. They just hold out their I Pad and want me to watch a video. No thank you.
Storm the barricades
or tend to the wounded? (do you favor activism or support)
Definitely tend to the wounded. A direct attack will only fortify their beliefs. They have been brainwashed into believing that they are the only true religion and that a prerequisite of being the only true religion is that they will be persecuted for their beliefs.
I have used this line – “I love you as a brother. As such, I do not wish to discuss my beliefs with you as I do not want to interfere with your beliefs. Each person must make their own spiritual journey without the outside influence of other people. I will continue to love you regardless of your beliefs.”
What do you think is the most effective approach to reaching people still in?
First, tell them that you love them. Your love for them is not conditional as love has no conditions. Tell them that every person has to make the truth their own. Something is factual and true because it is, not because of who said it. Take your own personal journey and learn for yourself. If anyone tries to persuade you otherwise they are selfish and do not love you.
Do you think the WTS can or should be destroyed, will continue on as-is or grow / change?
The WTBS is a business. It has always been a business and it always will be. Like any other business, it will either continue to change or it will become irrelevant. JW 2.0 is living proof of this. I do not recognize JWs as the same religion I was raised in.
How has your life been impacted by your JW past?
It put me behind schedule for a good decade. If I had followed my dreams instead of feared reprisal I would be much closer to retirement. I am still fortunate enough to retire in the next 10 years and will be in my early 50s.
Are there things in your life you blame the WTS for?
I regret not joining the military. That is probably the one regret I have in life. If I had the ability to travel back in time and speak to my 18 year old self that would be the one thing I would definitely tell myself to change. I took the ASVAB test in high school just to try and see what I would be good at in life. I scored off the charts. The Navy wanted me for their nuclear program. The enlistment package they offered was rather lucrative. I would have probably tried to get a commission as a Naval officer.
JW upbringing - a protection or a curse?
Curse. Sure, I never did drugs, had underage sex, or broke the law. Guess what – my kids haven’t either and they are atheists.
How do you fill your time now it's not filled with meetings and field service?
I concentrate on my family, my career, and am the president of our local police association. I like to raise money for police officers who have been injured or are dealing with serious medical issues.
Do you still have an interest in JW beliefs and doctrines?
I do especially from the historical sense. I have learned more about JWs since I left than I did with all the studies I had while I was in. Learning about Charles Taze Russell being a follower of William Miller was an eye-opener. Spoiler Alert – JWs are the 20th Century Millerites.
How much of your time is still spent on JW related matters?
Not much. It’s more of a hobby.
What do you think of the ex-JW community?
I think it is a wonderful help for those who want to get out.
Do you see yourself still being associated with the ex-JW community in 5 or 10 years time?
I hope so. I also hope the community doubles in size in the next 5 to 10 years. Before I die I hope that only ex-JWs exist.
Do you fear the future?
Not in the least.
What advice would you give to anyone starting the journey of leaving the WTS?
It’s a lot like going to a lake in the middle of a blazing hot summer. Just jump in, head first. Sure, there will be a moment of shock due to the drastic temperature change, but you will be happy you did.
What would you change in your life if you could go back and talk to yourself?
I would have left at 18 and right out of high school. I regret not joining the military. I regret not returning the attention of that pretty girl in high school was not a Witness. I regret not being sexual active prior to marriage. I regret not becoming a police officer at 21.
Do you have any regrets about life since you left?
The only one that is hard for me is not joining the military.
Can we read your life-story anywhere? (links to online or books)
Not at this time. I will probably write a book after I retire, but it will deal with my career.