by Barbara Anderson
When my husband and I left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), we, like countless others, lost family members and friends because of the Witnesses shunning doctrine. Each of us has a story to tell as to why we left. Some stories are similar; others far different. Some are shunned because they were disfellowshipped; others because they no longer participated in JWs religious activities or are said to have “rejected the faith.”
We were disfellowshipped and shunned, not for what was considered a “sin” (or wrongdoing) which we were unrepentant for, but for “causing divisions” by publicly denouncing one of Watchtower’s policies that protected criminal actions committed by JWs.
Those who shun as described above, do so because of instructions such as found in the September 15, 1981 Watchtower, p. 23:
“Persons who make themselves ‘not of our sort’ by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshipped for wrongdoing.”
Did our son love us?
Our son, Lance, loved us before we were disfellowshipped in 2002 and, if asked, probably would say he still does. We know we still love him.
Proof of his love can be found in a letter to us he wrote after his marriage. That was when the three of us were still living in Bethel, the world headquarters of JWs. The letter was published in the August 8, 1993 Awake! on page 31 as follows:
Lance’s Letter to Parents
Appreciating Godly Parents
Parents who work hard to raise their children to be responsible and God-fearing adults are gratified when their efforts are successful. They are also very pleased when their children express appreciation for that good upbringing. Following is a letter sent by a son and his wife, after their wedding, to his parents:
Dear Dad and Mom:
Oh, where do we begin? Let’s start by saying how much we appreciated your love, support, and generosity on our wedding day. It truly was a special day, and your presence was invaluable. Additionally, as if that weren’t enough, you assisted us in making our honeymoon so enjoyable. [Our gift to them was a honeymoon trip to California.] All the above is further evidence of what outstanding, loving, reasonable, and fun-loving parents you are and have always been!
Have you ever wondered why I have been able to stay on the straight and narrow? Because, besides my love for Jehovah God, I have always had great respect for you both. This respect has been so strong that coupled with your discipline, it has caused me always to think twice when doing things and making decisions. The success of my life in doing God’s will is indeed due in large part to your consistent love and discipline of me and your undying devotion to Jehovah and his organization.
If I were to take all the memories of my childhood about the two of you and were to combine them, they would say that although I may not remember everything you said, I do remember your outstanding conduct, especially your love for others and for Jehovah.
We love you very, very much. Your son and daughter-in-law, L. and W.
Note in the letter that our son used the word, “discipline” twice to describe what we did to keep him “on the straight and narrow.” His expressions of love, although sincere, reflect JW’s viewpoint on child raising, which we followed.