Hello all. I'd like share why I went from being a teenager determined to work in full time service for Jehovah my entire life, to now being on here commiserating with you all. I use to be an atheist but I now believe in God. But I'm not preachy about God. Sorry if this gets long and boring :)
I'm not sure how active of an apostate I'll be, but thats what I am, so why not have a little company, right? Besides, if any JW called me out, I'll just say, "What the fuck are you doing reading apostate websites?"
I was born and raised in Utah. I had a great upbringing. 5 brothers and sisters. Mom and dad stayed together for 20+ years, but it sadly ended in divorce. I appreciated being a witness and still do. I loved the good, but I grew to resent the bad. Evolution was my biggest issue. It was so obviously true, yet I had to keep convincing myself that if I believed it, I would die at armageddon. At Jesus and Jehovah's hands.
I got married at 19, because again, if I had sex with this girl then I would die... you know the rest. We had a tough courtship due to her father. Her father is the machismo type, along with his lack of masculinity. You know the type. His wife, my wife's step mother, accused me of all sorts of bad intentions after I moved into their congregation. Claiming that she "knew" I was the abusive type. She must know the type. During one of her fits of rage to the family, she claimed that her first husband punched her in the face with his fists, and now her current husband (wife's dad) punches her in the face with his words.
The truth is, we were 18 and 17. I was a reg pioneer and she auxiliary'd every month. We never kissed, we never held hands, and when we said goodbye, we gave each other awkward side hugs. Yet, her father as the "head" made unattainable rules for us to follow. Including forbidding us from speaking at meetings. He also told us that we could only hang out in groups if their for 6 or 7 "trustworthy" people their. Our friends couldn't invite both of us to hang out. I would often have to sit home alone by myself because of this problem. Her sister once told her father that we made out. We hadn't, but it didn't matter. It was over at that point. My wife's step mother even accusing her of sneaking out the windows at night.
I was removed as a pioneer because I wrote her an email once a week or so. Also, because my wife was "newly" baptized, they reasoned that it was also a bad example for me to date someone new to the faith. The only reason she wasn't baptized sooner, was due to a court order her mother was able to enact through the courts. The same man that told me this, was also a man that once comforted my wife over the court order. Telling her, "You've committed to Jehovah in your heart, and that is more important than the symbol." Obviously it wasn't.
Two elders made the decision and left the service overseer out of it. I know this, because a week after the decision was made I worked out in service with the SO. He asked me how my pioneering was going. I told him that I was removed. He told me that he was not informed of that decision, but would look into it. I never heard anything.
I don't know the truth but I did ask the, then, PO about it. He told me that the SO was informed, but he was having memory problems due to his age. The one part that I never understood, when the Secretary informed me that I was being removed he said it this way, "the brothers decided that you should step down as a pioneer." I refused their offer, but then he told me that it wasn't a choice. Probably just bureaucratic bullshit wording, right?
I was an 18 year old, living on my own, supporting myself, working part time, and committing 70 hours a month to my ministry. I wanted to pioneer my whole life. I wanted to reach out and be a servant, an elder, and do WHATEVER Jehovah willed for me. I lived in a shitty little studio apartment, I drove a shitty little car, and I wore shitty second hand clothes. Yet in an instant, these 2 men took away the only thing that gave me any sense of self-worth. All because of her weak dad and his contentious wife and 2 Lords of their realm.
Just a side note to how weak of a man he is. His first wife was RAPED by her father, who is a witness, yet he took his young daughters down to the molesters home and left them alone with him. At the time, he was having a heated custody dispute with his ex. She was vehemently against her daughters being raised as JW's. From my wife's personal accounting, her mother was definitely not innocent. She could have been more "diplomatic," but I empathize with her, because I would be full of hate towards that man and his religion too. Her own parents disowned her and gave her ex husband financial support to fight her in court. That is how weak he is. He will put his daughters in the care of a known rapist because the man will financially support his "righteous" fight for faith.
This episode was the beginning of my bitterness towards the true spirit fostered among elder bodies. I don't want to generalize. I KNOW that there are bodies of elders that are very reasonable and carry our their assignments with faith to god and not JUST to their men's club. It's just easy to create mini-kingdoms, and usually the Lords of those kingdoms know how to rise through the ranks. They usually know how to lobby the right people. And elders always get a more lenient benefit of the doubt than the sheep.
Me and my wife did what teenagers do. We rebelled, and we had nothing to lose as long as we didn't have sex. When she moved out on her own things got hot and heavy. We tried to just hang out at her apartment with a chaperone, but her dad would drive by and call her if he saw my car. He would get really emotional and wax about his history of "fatherly" love. Telling her how worried he was. Saying bullshit like, "even the music you listen to now, it sound like Satan!" and "you even spell your name differently because of him. I tell ya, he just wants to control you." None of this was true of course. He is an emotionally abusive human. In the congregation he has his squeaky clean image. The reality though, he is just a weak little man that wishes he could be strong. I assume this is why he cherishes the petty power he gets to wield as an elder.
Things got real when we started feeling up each other, we realized that we needed to get married, or die... again, you know how this ends.
Due to the turmoil, we decided to have a small wedding. We originally planned on a larger wedding, but we both decided that her family's drama wasn't worth it. We chose to only invite our most immediate family, one close friend each, and the PO at the time to give the talk. The PO that we confessed our acts of uncleanness to. At that meeting he told us, "I'm not going to give your talk because I want to. I'm only doing it because I want you to have some of Jehovah's spirit there." Or something along those lines. He was also disappointed that we chose to be married in nature, and not the KH
We went on a road trip for our honeymoon and had a picnic a week later. True to their character, her entire family showed up with sour faces and not one present. Not trying to sound selfish, it simply hurt our feelings. This consternation continued. The step mother never letting go of her resentment. I wasn't even allowed to go over to their home for the first year. The step mom would constantly go to the elders because me and my wife would visit her brother and sister. She was "offended" because their mother was "the apostate." When confronted by the elders I would defend it every time. Telling them that it is better for us to be good witnesses to them, rather than shun them for their mothers mistakes. I am very grateful that I got to know her through this channel. Did I mention that a CO once said about to me that he didn't know my wife's step mother very well but has heard nothing good about her? Her reputation of contention is well-known and easily perceived. Yet, her husband qualifications never seriously came into question. See what I mean about the men's club supporting the men's club first? Of course you do. Thats why you're here ;D
Despite us both being discouraged, we were determined to get on the pioneer rolls. After being married for a year and getting 20-30 hours a month, we applied for the new service year. I had a conversation with the PO before we submitted them. I told him that I didn't believe we could handle rejection again. He was very encouraging towards applying. He even assured me, "I wouldn't tell you to fill out the app if I thought you'd get rejected." Aaaaannnnd it was declined. I asked him why he told me that, and he said, "What I ACTUALLY said was, fill out the app and the body will take a look at it." I have a very good memory. I know what he said, because he knew how apprehensive we were. I even told him that we would prefer to wait than get hurt again. I do appreciate the fact that it isn't a one person decision. But he seemed so confident when we talked before.
The reason why and how we found out was more icing on my bitterness cake. Me and my wife wanted to check out need greater work in Nicaragua. We moved in with my dad he let us live their for free to help us save money. It was very nice, but it was about 30 miles away from our congregation that we didn't want to move out of. We wanted to remain in that congregation, because my wife wanted to stay close to her dad. Her dad has a huge house and plenty of room, but we weren't welcome to live with them. Even though it would have saved us 30 miles of commuting time.
We did the best with our situation. My father and his wife went through a divorce though. It caused absolute chaos in our life. For a month, we had to deal with constant harassment from my step mother. She was a witness, but she wasn't about to allow me and my wife to live there for the last couple of months we had left before Nicaragua. She even called the cops and had us evicted. Her father in law said that he would let us move in, but to find another route first. Thankfully we had some friends offer their spare bedroom. He was starting to warm to me, but we had to walk on eggshells for his wife. Her petty feelings were always the priority, even over his own daughters feelings. He simply cowered to her. Probably because she financially supported him.
During that month of chaos we only got 3 hours of service. These 3 hours were the center of our apprehension to submit pioneer apps. This is the reason why I talked with the PO before hand. He knew what we were dealing with that month and he expressed understanding and reasonableness. He told me that they could attached a letter of explanation as to why that month was so hard. Saying to me, "Dan, you pioneered and you know what it takes." What I feared more than him was the Secretary. The same guy that broke the news to me that I was being step'd down. He's a nice guy, but he's got a stick up his ass.
About a month after we submitted our apps and only a couple of days before we left to Nicaragua, we heard nothing. I had to go to the Secretary after the last meeting before our trip and ask him. He pulls out the apps and sure enough, with a yellow marker circling it, it was those god damn 3 hours. He told me, "the body would just not feel embarrassed to send a pioneer app with this months field service time." I said, "Go fuck yourself you sanctimonious turd." Actually, I just silently walked away and told a friend that is was declined. This friend ripped the PO a new one outside the KH. Something that the PO blamed me for years later.
The funny part, I don't even think we went out that month. It was a horrible month for us. So in the JW mind, maybe thats the real reason why it was declined right? Because that is how petty of a god they worship. They worship a god that punishes a teenage couple for emailing, feeling each other up, and desiring commit 70 hours a month to preaching about him.
This whole series of events haunted me for some time. It took years before I qualified to be a MS. They would never give me actual reasons. They said that I just needed time. Apparently, there was more reasoning as to why they declined our pioneer apps, other than the 3 hours, but I was never informed of that reason.
At this point, I'm inwardly bitter and outwardly trying to be a good witness. around the age of 23, I started doing research. I was attracted to critical thinking. Even though I was stuck in indoctrinations, I was learning a lot about reasoning and logical thinking. At 25 I knew that I didn't believe in god anymore. I kept it to myself and hoped that a miracle from god would prove he was real. I didn't want to give up my life, but I knew I would have to if I "came out." I couldn't be honest with my wife because she is like a volcano that is always ready to explode. Anything anti-witness triggers instant explosions because she is really sensitive about her past concerning her apostate mother. I couldn't talk with any brothers or sisters, because I knew they would be stumbled due to my belief in evolution.
I was stuck and depressed. Life wasn't all bad. We travelled, we got back into the pioneer ranks, and I got to give public talks which I loved. I had to keep a sleeper cell of a double life. I knew I wanted out, but I was so fearful of the only options I saw. I was also unhappily married. The tumult from her family cooled, but it was always ready to erupt. And it did on occasions. Usually ending with her dad making proclamations of his devotion and love for his daughter, but never backed up by actions. Only big words from the little man.
A couple years ago, I had a breakdown. I told my wife that I wanted a divorce and that I wasn't sure if I even believed in god anymore. I got a call from the then, PO, but now COBE and he convinced me to talk with him and another elder with my wife. They convinced me to stick it out and even assured told me to not step down as a MS. I was surprised by this because I was very honest about my doubt of faith. I was even able to continue to give outgoing public talks.
This encouraged me. I felt that I was given a second chance. I really felt loved from Jehovah. So 6 months later, I applied to do temporary work at the Warwick project. Just for a week or two. I wanted to do my part to help. Again, the brothers could not bear to submit my app to the org. The same secretary telling me, "it would not look good on the body if they were to submit my app with my recent history." My question to him, "Why can I go to another congregation and teach as a representative of Jehovah, but I can't swing a hammer for him?"
None of it mattered. They compromised by submitting the app but marking that they didn't agree with my answers to the questions outlined. During the 6 month span between my breakdown and me submitting the app, not one of those brothers asked me even once how I was doing. I take that back, when I said that to the COBE, he reminded me of the time that we were at a get together and he asked me how we were doing. This was while we carrying drinks from his truck to the picnic table. It was about a minute long conversation.
I told this entire account to my CO and he flat out said that they were "overly-righteous" in their decision. But of course, there is nothing he can do to the Lords of their realm. The facade of the elder body is always more important than the right thing. It is an undeniable spirit cultivated among the worldwide brotherhood. The org prefers protecting elders egos rather than the hearts of the sheep. Elders gladly accept their double honor, but the double judgment part not so much. And of course, JEHOVAH will be the one to take care of those problems. I'd believe that, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. When I read the experiences of ex-jws and the unbiased media reports that are easily accessible, I understand the truth. The congregation is not the safe place I believed it was.
After this episode, I was done. I stepped down and talked my wife into moving to another congregation. I tried one last time to build my faith but it didn't happen. October of 2017, I told my wife again that it untenable for me to continue as a witness and I didn't want to stay married. I was honest with her about it. I loved her, but I hated the prospect of having to be married to a witness. It would be impossible for us to share friends, her family would want nothing to do with me, and I was also not happily married. But we decided to try and make it work.
I quit going to meeting and started trying to assemble a new "side" life. I didn't want to live a double life anymore, I wanted to have an open life that my wife was aware of and could accept. Even if she didn't approve. I wasn't df'd, I just slipped away one day. During this time, I did not have a single visit from any elder in my congregation. Not one friend came by to ask me what was up. It hurt my feelings, but it made me feel a bit validated. I felt validated that I didn't need to rely on THEIR love. I believe in conditional love, but JW love is conditional to a much darker depth. Offering and giving soooo much loving support, but willing to take it away in an instant.
This is where it gets interesting for me. Me and my wife got pregnant. I prayed to God and simply said, "if you make yourself real to me, I promise to be your servant." Even though, I didn't really have any serious hope, I still had some. About 3 nights later, I had an amazing spiritual experience and I had full faith in God after. I don't really care to go into it, because I don't know how to explain it and I don't really care if people believe me or not. It was real to me and I didn't have a fear of dying after. For the first time in my life, I felt content about my lot in life. I didn't care about heaven or paradise. I was happy knowing that I was fortunate to be living at all. I accepted that I will die one day and possibly never live again. If there is an afterlife or a resurrection, thats a bonus.
I had a new spirit that calmed me. I wasn't so anxious. I was also smoking weed, which I attribute as the anxiety cure. I started going back to meetings, going out in service, and commenting. But I made sure to tell a friend of mine, who is an elder, that I believe in evolution. I told him this because I wanted to make it clear that I NEVER wanted to serve in the congregation. I had no intentions of lying to people's faces in order to protect the orgs creation myth.
This same "friend" outted me as an "evolutionist." I should have known how sensitive of a subject it was to him. A week before he outted me, he gave a comment during the watchtower and lumped in "evolutionist" with atheists, saying, "they just take Jehovah out of the picture." I told him once that is he that makes a big deal, not me. We both believe in God, why does it matter how we each decide how God works? He told me that when he looks at the mountains he prefers to believe that God made them. I once again clarified, I believe that God made them too, I just don't believe it was through magic.
This offended him, but I thought of an illustration. If I went with a 5 year old to a magic show, we would be seeing the same tricks and same results. The 5 year might believe that the magician has supernatural powers. Me being a bit more of critical thinker with more life experience and knowledge, I can safely assume that there is a rational explanation behind the trick. We both see the appearance of magic, but one of us knows better than to assume it is actually a supernatural phenomenon. The other just doesn't know better.
Its like a 30 year old that believes professional wrestling is real. Sorry bro, but eventually you have to give up that delusion and realize its only sweaty guy opera.
I realized that I am just not cut out to be a JDub. My wife went to the elders and told them about me smoking weed. The elders didn't have a single shepherding call, they didn't once attempt to help me with "rehabilitation," and they didn't even have 2 brothers investigate. They called a judicial meeting right away. This is while I have newborn baby. One brother said to me, "I don't even like you and I want nothing to do with you." I asked him to kindly step down from my committee since he sounded a little biased. I got the stock, "I'll talk to the body and get back with you."
As soon as that call was over, I called another elder to make sure that 2 people knew. This other elder told me that he surreptitiously on the line when I talked to the first brother. I said, great then you heard him say that he doesn't like me and wants nothing to do with me. This brother told me that I'm emotionally abusive to the elders. I'm not trying to come off perfect here, but these men seem to have very weak, petty egos. I assume its because the org has been protecting their weak little egos for decades now.
Both these brothers told me that they would get back to me with an answer. I even asked if I could move to another cong and have other brothers deal with me. Instead, they held the judicial committee without my informing me that it was still on. They df'd me.
I'm definitely bitter. But I'm bitter towards the blatant hypocrisy that is tacitly approved by the org. The stock answer is always that Jehovah will take care of justice in his own time, yet that doesn't stop them from shunning a man from the only community he has ever known, simply because he smokes weed. What is their scriptural justification? Because of the scripture where Paul said to cleanse ourselves from every sort of defilement of flesh and spirit. I not so tactfully asked, "2 out of 3 of you are overweight. Why should I respect your authority over this scripture?" They were more concerned with showing me some outdated material from old watchtowers and the reasoning book.
I also asked them why Jesus direction about handling sinners in Matthew 18 wasn't being applied. One elder said that it was only for petty offenses. So we read the account, at the end it says to treat the man as among the world if they refuse to listen to the older men. Clearly it is not just petty offenses. Another brother said, "That only applies if you sin against a brother. You sinned against Jehovah." As a reminder, I sinned against Jehovah because of their very narrow interpretation of one single scripture.
This is why I'm so angry. If a large corporation fired me for smoking weed without offering treatment, I could probably sue. But because this is a religion, they have the right to refuse helping me, but they also have the weapon of completely cutting me off with their shunning practice. They can use one vague scripture to implement this weapon, but they feel ZERO accountability in not applying another scripture that is very clear and easy to understand.
Because I was a faithful "witness" my entire life, I never made worldly friends. I never built any network other than the "only" one I would ever need. Because I believed the lie. I believed that JW's are looked after by faithful honest men. Again, I'm not trying to make a blanket statement. I know that many elders are good guys desiring to good. But again, its the real sick motherfuckers that learn how to control the congregations and play the system to their favor. Its a religion that rewards sycophants. Men learn at a young age to brown nose the right brothers. If you're willing to stroke the ego and kiss ass, the more you're rewarded and you move up the ladder. We all know this is true, even though "faithful" JW's still believe the lie.
So that's my story. PM and I'll give you names if you want