My disassociation story

by Roger Kirkpatrick 16 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Roger Kirkpatrick
    Roger Kirkpatrick

    Following is a summary of events leading up to my decision to disassociate from Jehovah's Witnesses and the unforeseen results of that decision.

    A young man named Joel Engardio produced a documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses called "Knocking" which aired nationally on PBS. I purchased the DVD from Joel before it was even released and we exchanged emails. Joel had been raised by his JW mother and had been active in JW activities during his adolescence, but he was never baptized as a JW. He told me that he realized from an early age that he was a homosexual. He said he would love to be a JW but that homosexuals cannot become JWs. I replied to him, "You might be surprised how many JWs are homosexual but who follow the scriptural admonition to flee from fornication, the same as unmarried heterosexuals."

    I had learned that the terms heterosexual and homosexual were coined in the nineteenth century and primarily denoted orientation, or sexual ORIENTATION, as opposed to behavior. Many dictionaries list the primary definition of both terms as denoting sexual DESIRE regardless of whether such desire is acted upon. (Similarly, dictionaries define an alcoholic as one having an unnatural desire for alcohol, and many who consider themselves to be alcoholics abstain from imbibing alcohol altogether.)

    I related my conversation with Joel in an assigned talk on the Theocratic Ministry School in my local Kingdom Hall since it was relevant to the theme I had been assigned to discuss. One elder was upset by my suggestion that many JWs are homosexuals who remain scripturally chaste, whereas the Presiding Overseer (my brother-in-law, along with his regular pioneer wife) assured me that I had spoken correctly. The offended elder persuaded the rest of the elder body that I had expressed a personal opinion which conflicted with published Watchtower teaching. No correction of my comment was ever made by the elders, as is normal when an unapproved viewpoint is expressed from a Kingdom Hall platform. The Presiding Overseer never informed me of his change of opinion.

    Two elders were assigned to speak with me regarding my views on homosexuality, and they made it clear that they held the view that one is homosexual only if one practices homosexual behavior. The congregation was never aware of this controversy, and no one else had been offended by my comments. The elder body asked me to put my reasoning in a letter to the Watchtower Branch office, and they sent a cover letter stating the position of the elder body. (Keep in mind, this was a non-doctrinal issue.) The Branch office responded, referencing the 1983 Watchtower article which provided the basis for the comment I had made in my talk. One elder told me that when they read the Branch's letter, he commented to the other elders that the Branch had vindicated me. Yet the elder body decided to reject the Branch's letter (which I learned local elder bodies are at liberty to do regarding non-doctrinal issues), and they informed me that if I persisted in expressing my view of homosexuality they would consider me to be an apostate. To say that I was stunned would be an understatement.

    In retrospect, I consider that my local elders did me a favor, because that incident helped me change the way I viewed JWs, and, as Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." When I realized I could be labeled an apostate for expressing a viewpoint which had been published in the Watchtower (and which continues to be the official Watchtower teaching to this day), I also changed the way I viewed ones who had been labeled by JWs as apostates in the past, most notably the late Raymond Franz, former member of the JW Governing Body. I purchased and read his phenomenal book, "Crisis of Conscience," and I learned just how corrupt the Watchtower organization truly is, and it is all a matter of record. No wonder JWs are forbidden to read that book and others written by former JWs.

    That is when I became inactive for the final time. The problem with simply becoming an inactive JW and not officially disassociating from the organization is that one is unable to move forward in one's spiritual journey. If an inactive JW seeks spiritual fellowship outside the Watchtower organization, one is subject to being disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for apostasy. Even after five years of being inactive, my Facebook posts were scrutinized by my local elders, and I was visited by two elders when I posted a Watchtower article which claimed JWs were God’s prophet today. I was cautioned about posting anything which, in the words of those elders, brought "reproach on the organization." That is when I decided to write my letter of disassociation.

    I had learned that after a 1991 Watchtower article denounced as apostate religious organizations which had become accredited to the United Nations as non-governmental organizations, the Watchtower Society also became accredited to the UN as an NGO from 1992 until 2001, and withdrew its membership only after the Guardian newspaper published an expose. My disassociation letter made it clear that my conscience would no longer permit me to be associated with a religion which, by its own standards, had become an apostate religious organization.

    My wife of 42 years had been okay with my simply being inactive, as I had been inactive for years at a time throughout our marriage. Yet, when I officially disassociated, her attitude toward me immediately changed, and she soon informed me that she intended to divorce me. Subsequently, she consulted a marriage counselor who had helped her best friend work through a rough period in her marriage, and my daughter and I assumed that my wife was having second thoughts about divorcing me. However, she told me that the difference was that her best friend's husband still desired to be a JW and I did not, confirming the fact that my disassociation was the cause of her seeking a divorce. While JWs are mandated by the Watchtower organization to avoid any contact with ex-JWs, neither the Bible nor the Watchtower encourage JWs to divorce or shun their mates who leave the religion. Yet, my wife intends to divorce me and to shun me because she WANTS to do so. I feel that this illustrates the destructive effect oppressive religious cults have on the thinking and reasoning abilities of their adherents. As my 36-year old son said regarding his mother's decision, "Isn't it interesting how witnesses can seem to overlook obvious scriptural principles that conflict with their ideas when they want to ease their own conscience!"

    At 1 Corinthians chapter 7, verses 12, 13 and 15, the apostle Paul counsels Christians, "If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and yet she is agreeable to dwelling with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband, and yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her, let her not leave her husband. But if the unbelieving one proceeds to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace." Since I have not renounced my Christian faith, I wondered who, in my situation, was acting as the unbeliever. Then, a friend asked, "Well, who is the one that is ignoring scriptural counsel and leaving?" It became obvious to me at that point that, by my wife's leaving, God has called me to peace.

    ~ Roger Kirkpatrick

  • pale.emperor

    Thanks for sharing Roger. It's annoying isnt it when JWs will just do what they want anyway and make themselves out to be the "holier than thou" for doing it.

    DAing or getting DF'd is not an easy situation to be in, but in my personal opinion, its better than being simply "faded" because there's closure. And active JW's know where you stand.

  • NoviceLocs14

    Thanks for telling your story. Those elders sound like control freaks to me. Your discussion about the lack of freedom from a fade vs disassociation reassures me that I made the right decision to DA.

    On a fun and random note, it's interesting you mentioned the Knocking documentary. Part of it was filmed in my home congregation and territory (they even used the street my parents lived on for some of the preaching scenes). My family and I were featured walking down our street in the closing credits of that film. I take pride in knowing they unknowingly filmed an "apawstate" in their movie ;)

  • Finkelstein

    The WTS was founded by lies, ignorance and deceptions all circumvented to empower disingenuous men running their very own publishing house, whose written articles explained why they should be the chosen ones to follow and be obedient to.

    The obvious tell tale to those particular formative doctrines which the WTS used are becoming clearer to their inherent falsehood as time progresses.

  • Daniel1555

    Thanks for your story and welcome.

    You are for sure a person who is living by your conscience and you are courageous.

    I was df'd for apostasy and my wife separated also because I didn't follow the org anymore.

  • Chook

    Roger you could of reasoned ( if that's really possible ) to the elders that an alcoholic is still an alcoholic even when not drinking . Adults having to answer to elders which are sometimes no older than 25 about intimate matters is Christian porn.

  • dubstepped

    Wow, what a story, thanks for sharing. JWs strain out the gnat and gulp down the camel, don't they? I'm so sorry that your wife reacted so poorly. That is heartbreaking.

  • Old Navy
    Old Navy

    When a Wife walks away from a marriage in circumstances such as those, in all likelihood the Wife had been desirous of separation for quite some time and simply needed a "legitimate" excuse. When Love is gone from a marriage there are usually certain signs. Had either of you, Roger or Daniel, noticed any peculiarities in your Wives prior to your decision?

  • stuckinarut2

    Thank you for sharing your story Roger.

    Regardless of what happens with those around you, please remember that you alone are in control of your feelings and self-worth.

    No one has the right to cause you undue anxiety or stress.

    I respect the fact that you stood up for TRUTH and HONESTY, when the society and those held captive by it can so easily act dishonestly.

    Much love my friend.

  • smiddy

    Many people JW`s included who will believe what they want to believe regardless of the evidence that goes against it.They will rationalise and justify their position because it is what they want regardless of any argument against it.

    Its self gratification to do your thing regardless of what anybody else thinks or knows.

    Bible scriptures are only good if they serve my purpose.

    Jw`s are experts taught by the GB to pick and choose (cherry picking ) scriptures to suit their purpose or agenda.

    Its your wife i`m referring to here Roger.

    Thanks for your story Roger, a story that has ended well for you despite not knowing the end outcome.

    Take care.

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