Simon, I too am so sorry to hear that your deluded parents
allowed that wonderful opportunity to be taken away from you. It breaks my
heart. I want to thank you for providing the discussion forum to explore our
thoughts and feelings about our own experience as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I find
that I am rather torn about the subject.
On one hand, I think all teachers are entrusted to be
compassionate, approachable role models who can also challenge and inspire our
children in the classroom setting. My daughter is a teacher, and I admire her more than I can say. On the other hand, I
do believe that parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit.
In retrospect, I would like to retract my statement that
this teacher crossed the line in trying to “de-convert” his student. Actually, I think he acted in a responsible manner by approaching the parents for a Bible Study.
He was up front in his approach. I do still have misgivings about a teacher
taking a student aside privately to attempt to “de-convert” a student. Teachers are not cult experts of any kind, and they will never have the full story about what
goes on behind closed doors. Because of that a teacher may not be aware of the full
impact of his actions in a given situation.
My initial response was coming from the place that his man,
even though he thought himself a friend, likely knew little of the student’s
reality (his “norm”) at home. For me, as a teen in an abusive family, it would
have been a blessing if my parents had been reported to Child Protective
Services. Children from abusive homes are taught not to tell, so that didn’t
happen. When my parents took away my prospects of going to a High School for
the Arts, it wasn’t because they were JWs. It was because they were just not
functioning at a level to support any of their five children in that manner.
As teen I personally adopted the JW family model as a norm
that looked better to me than my experience and gave me hope that I could one
day have a happy family life of my own. Yes, it’s a cult. I know that now, but I chose
cult over crazy. I chose it for structure, and it served me well at the time.
Let’s just say that, in my opinion, not one of the seven siblings in my blended family faired
as well. There is the perfect storm of mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction
and domestic violence in my family that is being carried on to the next
generation to this day. I was able to put an end to that in my own family, and
we are all out of the cult. It was a painful path, but it was mine to choose.
Who knows how things would have played out if a teacher had
tried to extricate me from the cult. I like to think that I would not have turned down the scholarships I was offered, and I would have gone on to
college and explored my many interests and talents, but realistically, that is
not what happened in my family of origin. I guess I’m saying life is not black
and white, and each situation is different, so I guess the only thing we can
really do is use our best judgement, act
out of kindness and tread lightly. I think this teacher did that, and is now
doing all he can to educate the public and protect other families. He seems
like a good man who is doing a valuable service by shedding light on damage done by the teachings of fundamentalist religions in general, not just JWs. All religions that teach that we as individuals are nothing and only live to serve god destroy human potential.