Interview With An Apostate: Pale.Emperor
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
33yp guy from Liverpool, England. 2nd generation, born in. Baptized at 19, left age 31. Divorced with a 4yo daughter. I always felt that being a JW held me back, there were things i really wanted to pursue and learn but it was impossible being a JW and a university student or entertainer. My family cut all ties to non JW family when i was little so i was very close to my JW family but I've never even met my non JW cousins (and there's a lot of them!), i wouldn't even know who they were if i bumped into them.
Were you a born in or a convert?
Are your parents / family JWs?
Yes. Although my father died 13 years ago. Parents converted in 1976. My mum grew up in foster homes and was exposed to the religion when she was 15. The org became her parent and she's fiercely loyal to it.
How many generations have been JWs?
Dad brought in his two brothers and his father in the 1970s. So im a 2nd gen, but my grandfather converted before i was born so technically a 3rd gen.
Did you hold any position in the WTS? (MS, Elder etc...)
No. I was constantly given "positive peer pressure" by my elder father in law to "reach out" but i never wanted to be one. More work, more bullshit. It was bad enough doing the mic and sound duties for no gratitude.
Did you *really* believe in the bible, in spirits (angels, demons)?
Absolutely. I was very studious and a 100% believer. My fathers family had it's share of clairvoyants and spirit mediums, so my dad had lots of stories about demons. So i believed in demons too. And if demons were real, then god must be real too i figured.
Did you get baptised? When and why?
Baptized at 19. I was dating a JW girl and there was no was it could be taken seriously unless i was baptized. Plus everyone was asking me when i was going to get baptized, so it was just expected of me.
What was the initial trigger that made you start questioning things?
Elders interfering with my life. Constantly being called in for questioning over stupid things that wern't even any of their business. The black and white thinking the magazines used really irritated me because i had secret work friends that were (and still are) my best friends - there were nothing like how the magazines were painting them. Also, i met a brother who collected old Watchtower publications and he said "it's no wonder they believed 1975". I was always told that the magazines never mentioned it, and it was "some" people going off on their own ideas. When he shown me the actual mags and books in print it really shook me.
Where did you find information? Internet sites? Books?
Their own literature initially. As i said, i was very studious. I wanted to know it all. The KH library had lots of Rutherford books so i borrowed one each week and couldn't believe what i was reading. They've since destroyed all those books now so i hear. After that it was Crises Of Conscience and this website.
How difficult or painful was the process of leaving?
It was worse than i thought. But mine is a special case. I woke up about a third of the way into Crises Of Conscience. I knew i had to leave but thought my family would respect my decision. When i disassociated my family were on at me everyday to meet with the elders! When i relented and did meet with an elder it turned out to be a JC of three of them there. I was disfellowshipped for "apostasy" despite having already DA'd. This isn't actually allowed but I've heard that im not the first that this has happened do. Apparently it looks better on Watchtowers stats for them to kick me out rather than me leave realizing it's bullshit. Being officially DF'd, my entire family now shun me. One of my sisters invents stories about me and JWs check my Facebook and make stuff up from what they see.
Was it a big dramatic exit or a careful quiet fade?
I tried to fade. I managed to not go out on the ministry for a whole year. I was regular at the meetings though and would occasionally drop seeds to the tired, fed up members who saw the hypocrisy of the elders.
Did you convince anyone else to leave with you?
I did try to wake up my wife but she would get upset and ask her elder father the stuff i'd discussed with her.
How were your family relations affected by your decision?
Completely destroyed. My mother tells people i died.
Were you or are you still being shunned by those who didn't leave?
Yes. Every JW, family or not, shun me completely.
How long have you now been out?
Almost 2 years.
Was there anything you looked forward to doing when you left?
Lie in's on the weekend and all that free time to do whatever. And making real friends. The world is a wonderful interesting place now.
What are you most proud of achieving since you left?
Making real friends and dating women who were actually suitable to me.
Is there anything you miss about life in the congregation?
Red pill or blue pill? Do you regret waking up to reality at all?
No. I only wish I'd woken up long ago.
Did you become an atheist or transfer your faith elsewhere?
I eventually became an atheist. When i first left i still believed in some sort of creator but after looking at what science and evidence had to say i conclude that the universe developed naturally.
How do you now feel about religion in general?
It's a delusion. Storied invented be people who couldn't explain something before science had the answer. If it keeps someone sane and happy and harmless then i've no problem with it. But when it asks for money, the killing of non believers and exemption from reporting crimes to the authorities then i have a problem with it.
Do you feel any guilt celebrating xmas or birthdays or doing any other JW "no-no"s?
No. I used to feel a teeny bit guilty having sex with girls but not anymore.
Have you attended any face-to-face meetups of ex-JWs?
No. But i'd love to.
Describe your circle of friends - mostly other ex-JWs or regular people?
Regular people. I've only ever met about 3 ex JWs from my past. All have some sort of issues still left inside them from the cult.
Do you tell people about your JW past?
Yes. I find it to be a great expose, plus i have a lot of funny stories that people just wouldn't believe. My upbringing and former beliefs were so whacky people are entertained by it.
Do you feel animosity or pity toward current JWs?
Pity. I hate the Watchtower society, not JWs.
How do you respond to witnesses when they call at your door?
I only wish they would! If they did i wouldn't tell them im an ex-member. I'd ask lots of questions.
Storm the barricades or tend to the wounded? (do you favor activism or support)
A bit of both. You have to be careful though because the idea of a raving, angry apostate plays right into the GB's hands.
What do you think is the most effective approach to reaching people still in?
Exposing the Watchtowers own writings and flip-flops. But not in a mocking way.
Do you think the WTS can or should be destroyed, will continue on as-is or grow / change?
I think it'll morph into something else or will splinter off. Even if the GB ran off to Rio with their 19yo girlfriends and all the money there's still hardcore believers who would take this as a fulfilled prophecy and start their own JW2.0 religion. I hope this happens in my lifetime.
How has your life been impacted by your JW past?
I never go to go to university of discover the real world. Thankfully im making up for that now and studying in Uni to be a therapist for ex-cult victims.
Are there things in your life you blame the WTS for?
There's still some negative self talk that im working on rooting out. The black and white thinking. Getting rid of the loaded language like "the world", "the truth", "the society" etc has been difficult.
JW upbringing - a protection or a curse?
A curse. If you're looking for advice on raising well adjusted non-judgemental children stay well clear of the Watchtower society publications.
How do you fill your time now it's not filled with meetings and field service?
I have lots of interests. Im a photographer and work with a lot of models, some of which have become my friends. I take art classes. I go to the theater and i study things that are actually useful.
Do you still have an interest in JW beliefs and doctrines?
Yes. It's funny because when i was a JW i had a fascination with Mormonism and it's history. Im somewhat of an expert in the Mormon religion. Since leaving i've swapped it for Watchtowerism. I follow whats going on and i think us ex-members are better informed than active members now.
How much of your time is still spent on JW related matters?
Too much. I've had to wean myself away. I visit this site daily, I watch Lloyd Evans rebuttals. Unfortunately i think about Watchtower all the time. It's annoying because there's unresolved conflict that i cant just deal with because my family wont talk to me to set the record straight.
What do you think of the ex-JW community?
I love it. I like that it's growing and there's a general sense of brotherhood. We dont always get on but at least we're honest about it!
Do you see yourself still being associated with the ex-JW community in 5 or 10 years time?
Do you fear the future?
What advice would you give to anyone starting the journey of leaving the WTS?
Take it slow if you want to. Read, research and dont tell anybody. Dont feel like you need to explain yourself to anyone if you miss a meeting etc.
What would you change in your life if you could go back and talk to yourself?
Stop letting the elders boss me around and dont put up with their bullshit. Read their guidebook and know it like the back of my hand (like i do now).
Do you have any regrets about life since you left?
Can we read your life-story anywhere? (links to online or books)
I have a YouTube channel. But i only make a video when i think i have something to add that no one has done yet. I may write my story but I dont feel the burning desire to at the moment. If i do I wouldn't sell it or anything, it'd publish it in eBook format for free.
Nicely said. It read to me like we were sitting down having a conversation. Great point of view and you have made a great adjustment to the new reality.
Good job PE, you've come a long way your progress has been noticeable.
Thank you for sharing. And congrats for getting the degree to help the ex-cults. Something tells me you will be very busy!
Thank you for sharing. I would also like to return to University so I can help ex-Jw's. Not many therapists (at least not here in US) are familiar with the JW cult. They think its just another religion and fail to see how traumatizing it can really be.
Good interview, PE. The video was well done. Good to open as a proud apostate. No shame.
Another interesting life story thank you for your time pale.emperor.
Thanks for sharing
Thanks Pale! Appreciate your story, and your vids on YouTube.