By the time 1967 arrived, my religious leaders in the Kingdom Hall had taken me aside and given me the Straight Dope.
The Vietnam War and the Draft created existential problems for young Jehovah's Witness males. The Governing Body was unusually silent (in public) about issues of this nature except to pontificate in print in the most general terms. JW's didn't fight in wars because we were Neutral. As in, "We don't take sides." As if that was possible.
Privately, however, it was a different story.
I was 20-years-old. I had received my letter from the Selective Service.
I was nervous, as they say in the South, as a long-tailed-cat in a room full of rocking chairs!
The Congregation Overseer (these days called a Presiding Elder) pulled me into the Kingdom Hall library along with his assistant.
They spoke and I listened and nodded.
"What we need to tell you is confidential. Whenever you are asked by some Official, you must always answer by saying this is YOUR decision alone--nobody has coached you or told you what to say."
What struck me as odd was the starkness of the duplicity implied by these words!
"We're going to tell you what to say and what to do. Deny we told you."
The counsel and admonition I was given in that library on that afternoon at age 20 have forever changed my life dramatically. I listened and I obeyed.
Let me simplify the steps.
1. I was a baptized minister of Jehovah's Witnesses since 1963.
2. I fully accepted and believed it was the only true religion being guided by Almighty God, Jehovah.
3. The top leaders who gave spiritual direction were so-called "anointed" men to whom Jehovah gave explicit and definitive comprehension of the meaning of Bible prophecy.
4. By following the directions of these leaders and those whom they appointed in local congregations, I was being obedient to God.
5. When outside Authority (National or local) of a secular, Federal, or Judicial nature ordered me to perform actions CONTRARY to my spiritual leaders' direction---I must obey God rather than those men of authority.
Are you with me so far?
The man, Charles T. Russell, who established the WatchTower Corporation back in 1879, founded a religious movement of Bible Students who were convinced Russell had "inside" information about the imminent END of human history and a prophetic battle between God and human government to bring about a new Kingdom on Earth under Jesus Christ.
Russell did not dissuade young males from entering the Armed Forces, but did advise them to fire over the heads of charging enemy soldiers on the battlefield! (How insane this is on the face of it I need not discuss. It is obvious.)
When Russell died, most of his prophetic pronouncements consisting of "firm" dates, had been falsified by non-performance.
Undeterred, his replacement in the Presidency of the WatchTower Corporation, J.F. Rutherford, was a bit more intransigent than his predecessor.
President Rutherford had a way of grappling with opposing ideas, authorities, and situations by the head-on aggressive bombast of a polemical nature.
1. Rutherford published THE FINISHED MYSTERY book which advocated for the overthrow of established authority of governments and urged non-compliance for young men (and women) in accepting the patriotic duty of servitude.
2. Rutherford and 7 Directors of the WatchTower were prosecuted for Treason and imprisoned in Atlanta penitentiary. (Note: Rutherford had vainly tried to avoid prison by censoring all copies of THE FINISHED MYSTERY and using the WatchTower magazine to shill for War Bonds but without success in mitigating his prosecution.)
3. Rutherford REINTERPRETED in his official capacity as a dogmatic pronouncement, the actual meaning of Romans 13: 1,2. Weirdly taking the plain text and turning it upside down and inside out. (Secular authority became the heavenly authority.)
4. Released from prison on procedural Writ of Error (not acquittal or retrial) President Rutheford began an interruptive insurgent battle against government authority through a series of Supreme Court litigations by cherry-picking instances of Federal overreach in prosecuting Jehovah's Witnesses for unpatriotic acts and refusals (ordered by Rutherford).
5. Males inside JW congregations were caught in the middle of these battles between President Rutherford and the Federal Authority (whose 'authority' had been nullified by Rutherford.)
6. All members of the WatchTower family of believers became frontline lab rats in testing whose pronouncements carried the most weight: Rutherford or Governmental.
School children were placed in treacherous waters being advised to NOT salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor to stand and place their hand over their heart when the National Anthem was played. (Note: at the outbreak of WWII, this became extremely controversial).
7. Jehovah's Witnesses all over the world became the focus of persecution NOT BECAUSE they were "true Christians" but because President Rutherford was using them to fight a proxy war against HIS PERSONAL ego enemies: Government Authority. (Note: We have only to look at the true story of 7th Day Adventist, Desmond Doss, who fought to serve in the Armed Forces as Medical Personnel on the battlefield while refusing to take up arms, to see how it was possible for a genuinely devout Christian Conscientious Objector to comply with the authority of Romans 13: 1,2 and serve God and Man at the same time.)
8. In the U.S. and Germany, needless imprisonments and violent persecutions were wrought against JW's who were trapped in the middle of an unnecessary showdown with Authority, having been indoctrinated by false interpretations of both Law and Scripture.
After the death of J.F.Rutherford, his replacement, Nathan H. Knorr (and V.P. Fred Franz) continued the hardline direction of using Brothers and Sisters as test cases for Puritanical one-ups-manship versus all secular authorities (Federal, educational, medical, etc.)
In the early 1950's, doctrinal changes were wrought from the top of the Organization.
The worship of Jesus Christ was ended and the dogma of Romans 13: 1,2 was quietly reversed (back to the original and obvious secular meaning.)
WWII ended in 1945 and within a few years, the Korean Conflict (undeclared "War") begun.
The powerhouse legal counsel of the WatchTower's Supreme Court battles, Hayden C. Covington, authored a detailed legal pamphlet published by the WatchTower in 1950.
Legally Establishing And Defending The Good News.
In a review of this pamphlet, the following observation is made byPHILIP PERLMUTTER, of the American Jewish Congress:
"Indeed, few religious groups have battled the devil as hard as the Jehovah's Witnesses and certainly none, because of it, have so furthered the cause of religious liberty. They have done it. with militant religiosity and martyr-like indifference to riots, scorn, abuse and statutory regulation. To make matters even worse, police, pedestrians, and residents have greeted them with everything from indifference to violence. The latter occurs not so much because of their missionizing techniques, but rather because of what their beliefs necessitate in the way of societal behavior and responsibility. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses will not vote or hold public office, serve in the armed forces in peace or wartime, join interfaith movements, salute the flag, allow a blood transfusion, and as a rule, will not obey any man-made law which they consider a violation of God's law. Ironically enough, although they repudiate earthly governments, they readily utilize its courts to further their theology..."
Which brings us back to the Kingdom Hall library where I stood at age 20, listening to Gene Beard and Wally Coulter, representatives of the WatchTower religion, Jehovah's Witnesses. All those previous Brothers who stood as I stood and received the instructions they received, did so with an innocent stupidity as "useful idiots." (Note:A useful idiot is someone who supports one side of an ideological debate, but who is manipulated and held in contempt by the leaders of their faction or is unaware of the ultimate agenda driving the ideology to which they subscribe. )
What was I told? Why am I writing this today?
First of all, I'm am 70-years-old. My life is pretty much behind me. My successes and failures are a done deal. But when I was 20, my whole life was AHEAD of me. Big difference!
Because advice was given by my religious overseers, I followed it.
To Wit: Do NOT accept ALTERNATE civilian service in a hospital!
It is viewed by Jehovah as the EQUIVALENT of military service.
I was prosecuted in Federal Court and sentenced to six years under the Youth Corrections Act and sent to prison.
I entered prison in 1967 and was paroled for good behavior in 1969.
I began my life as an EX-CONVICT without a college education, no skills (other than artistic) and was immediately impressed into full-time ministerial work (Pioneer) performing 100 hours of door-to-door evangelism.
I began my life more or less as DAMAGED GOODS with little prospect other than minimum wage poverty and religious servitude.
I'm writing this to tell you the above article (see top) is 100% CONTRARY to the "true counsel" given to me back in 1967.
Has JEHOVAH CHANGED HIS MIND?
Or is this religion and its leaders changed the way it appears to government authority in an era in which they are suffering lawsuits for pedophile members? Is this religion changing the way it appears to government authority since they are kicked out of countries such as Russia as a destructive religious cult guilty of splitting up families and allowing innocent children to die because of medical prohibitions?
THE INTEGRITY of this religion is counterfeit and the history of its doctrinal absolutism is false.
What is WRONG one era is proclaimed RIGHT in the next.
Who says so? They do (or they pretend Jehovah does.)
I wrote this to call BULLSHIT on the "anointed" conduit of Truth.
It isn't True at all.
Don't believe anything these leaders tell you is absolute unchanging "truth" because my own personal experience has clearly debunked that idea.
Their Truth is up for grabs.
If you are a JW, your whole life is up for grabs, too.
These leaders are but the latest incarnation of a series of liars from 1879 to 1917. Don't trust a word they print or preach. Get out while you still have a life ahead of you.
I left Jehovah's Witnesses in mind and body a long, long time ago. My recovery was long and arduous. The damage done at age 20 affected me financially, educationally, and emotionally until I began taking charge of my own repair.
I strongly urge you to do the same. Get out. Get out now while you have time to build a beautiful future in the real world with real friend who won't judge you as a "mentally diseased apostate" simply because you wake up and discover you are in bondage to a cult