Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My Mother introduced me to her JW world when I was 12. I had to attend the weekly book study....boring!!!! Plus the Disney TV show was on Tuesday EVE 8 to 9 and once a month they did a space show......no matter how hard I tried couldn’t get out of that BK study.
Are your parents / family JWs?
Not at that time eventually my Mom was baptized...... I followed at age 16 and 1.2 . Dad had no interest in the Catholic Church and definitely no interest in becoming a JW. His disinterest would serve me well in years to come.
Did you hold any position in the WTS? (MS, Elder etc...)
Yes a pioneer after I graduated HS, then a year later I pioneered where the need was great. The little congregation I served in appointed me assistant presiding minister, The Kingdom Ministry school servant and for a while the Bible study servant. Those would be three Elder’s position's today. Man serving where the need was great was a blast........ it was a whole different JW world. I also gave my 1 hour talk 32 times my fist year. It was on Juvenile Delinquency and the Bible. I am not sure how the bible tied into this but somehow I made it work. It and I became well known in the circuit. I had to drive to these distant congregations. And if the talk went well my ego would compliment me on my drive back. When I met my wife to be I managed to get my feet back on planet earth and started to grow up.
Did you *really* believe in the bible, in spirits (angels, demons)?
Not really I was more involved with the people in the congregation. In later years I realized I was a Secular Humanist.
What was the initial trigger that made you start questioning things?
Reading: Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer....I finally realized what I distrusted about the WTBTS..... the short explanation was...... everything. It’s entire corporate structure and beliefs was bat shit crazy. When I came to that realization I realized I was still swinging on the WT’s rope. Swing my life away or cut yourself loose.
Where did you find information? Internet sites? Books?
Unlike today there really was no information.......This was 1962 to 1964 so I took that knife and started slicing off the WT Fat and finally there it was a tiny piece of meat. Not good enough.
Another thing that happen back then that changed my thinking was getting shot at. I was at one of my favorite trout streams (one of the important perks of serving where the need was great) when I hear what sounded like a bee buzzing past my head followed by a loud bang. My body understood quicker then my mind and the next thing I realized was that I was crawling through the creek staying as low as I could. As I was trying to get to better cover something silver was flashing towards me. It was a beer can followed by five more. Somebody didn’t realize I was down stream and this jerk was having a good time shooting at beer cans at my expense. So I was trying to kick the cans away from me. I kicked a couple of them and swatted a few more cans away from me and finally got to some decent cover. I heard a car door slam and it was over. I got out of the stream and walked up a distance to see if this was in some way an intentional attack. I found the place where the shooter stood and realized because of the nature of that stream he would not have been able to see me. What changed for me was I knew all that ‘please Jehovah protect me’ BS was not working. Nor had I asked for any help.
How difficult or painful was the process of leaving? Not very difficult apart from tip towing around relatives who were JW....... we got on with our life. Moving really helped from PA to my family's home in the New York City area to Fort Lauderdale FL. Three other things also helped. If you left the religion or DAed yourself you were not shunned.
Your publishers cards were to be sent to your new congregation. Ours were lost.......that was particularly embarrassing for me. Did I mention that I was also the Publishers Card Servant? Till this day I don’t know how they got lost.
Now the best of all.....I finally told my wife that I no longer wanted to be a JW but if she wanted to continue that would be her decision to make and I’d support it. It took her about a minute then she said “Good....cause I never believed in it!” One of my precious memories.
How were your family relations affected by your decision?
They couldn’t understand it so we must have been doing something wrong.
Were you or are you still being shunned by those who didn't leave?
As stated before we were never shunned with the exception of my niece who was a born-in 7 years after we left. We had a relationship for the next 30 years and then she shunned us. I respect her decision to be an ignoramus.
What are you most proud of achieving since you left?
That I have been there for my wife, our son....our grand children........ close friends and non JW family. My JW family all died off.
How do you now feel about religion in general?
I think freedom from religion is what is important to me.
Describe your circle of friends - mostly other ex-JWs or regular people?
Great people who have lived successful lives and who always pay back something to our community.We also have a couple of JW friends.
Do you tell people about your JW past?
Hell yes.......... if the subject comes up. We lived and sacrificed a part of our lives...... we own those years. Usually they find out my wife and I have been married for 54 years and want to know how we met. We tell them we met when we were in the same cult. If they are curious we are happy to answer their questions. We are proud of our exit and the life we have made for ourselves.
How do you respond to witnesses when they call at your door? I treat the JW’s with respect, find out if they would like a bottle of water or use the bath room or just sit on our porch for a while. If they start to witness I tell them I used to be a pioneer and an Elder. If they have anything they’d like to ask me feel free.
Storm the barricades or tend to the wounded?
Storming the barricades tends to create more wounded. I am on this forum in support of those who want to keep their freedom and dignity intact.
What do you think is the most effective approach to reaching people still in?
To wait for those who arrive on this and other sites who no longer want to be still in or at the least have to stay in and need us apostates to help keep them stable.
I have run out of time....hope this helps.