Events leading to my decision to disassociate

by Roger Kirkpatrick 11 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Roger Kirkpatrick
    Roger Kirkpatrick

    Following is a summary of events leading up to my decision to disassociate from Jehovah's Witnesses and the unforeseen results of that decision.

    A young man named Joel Engardio produced a documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses called "Knocking" which aired nationally on PBS. I purchased the DVD from Joel before it was even released and we exchanged emails. Joel had been raised by his JW mother and had been active in JW activities during his adolescence, but he was never baptized as a JW. He told me that he realized from an early age that he was a homosexual. He said he would love to be a JW but that homosexuals cannot become JWs. I replied to him, "You might be surprised how many JWs are homosexual but who follow the scriptural admonition to flee from fornication, the same as unmarried heterosexuals."

    I had learned that the terms heterosexual and homosexual were coined in the nineteenth century and primarily denoted orientation, or sexual DESIRE, as opposed to behavior. Many dictionaries list the primary definition of both terms as denoting sexual DESIRE regardless of whether such desire is acted upon. (Similarly, dictionaries define an alcoholic as one having an unnatural desire for alcohol, and many who consider themselves to be alcoholics abstain from imbibing alcohol altogether.)

    I related my conversation with Joel in an assigned talk on the Theocratic Ministry School in my local Kingdom Hall since it was relevant to the theme I had been assigned to discuss. One elder was upset by my suggestion that many JWs are homosexuals who remain scripturally chaste, whereas the Presiding Overseer (my brother-in-law, along with his regular pioneer wife) assured me that I had spoken correctly. The offended elder persuaded the rest of the elder body that I had expressed a personal opinion which conflicted with published Watchtower teaching. No correction of my comment was ever made by the elders, as is normal when an unapproved viewpoint is expressed from a Kingdom Hall platform. The Presiding Overseer never informed me of his change of opinion.

    Two elders were assigned to speak with me regarding my views on homosexuality, and they made it clear that they held the view that one is homosexual only if one practices homosexual behavior. The congregation was never aware of this controversy, and no one else had been offended by my comments. The elder body asked me to put my reasoning in a letter to the Watchtower Branch office, and they sent a cover letter stating the position of the elder body. (Keep in mind, this was a non-doctrinal issue.) The Branch office responded, referencing the 1983 Watchtower article which provided the basis for the comment I had made in my talk. One elder told me that when they read the Branch's letter, he commented to the other elders that the Branch had vindicated me. Yet the elder body decided to reject the Branch's letter (which I learned local elder bodies are at liberty to do regarding non-doctrinal issues), and they informed me that if I persisted in expressing my view of homosexuality they would consider me to be an apostate. To say that I was stunned would be an understatement.

    In retrospect, I consider that my local elders did me a favor, because that incident helped me change the way I viewed JWs, and, as Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." When I realized I could be labeled an apostate for expressing a viewpoint which had been published in the Watchtower (and which continues to be the official teaching to this day), I also changed the way I viewed ones who had been labeled by JWs as apostates in the past, most notably the late Raymond Franz, former member of the JW Governing Body. I purchased and read his phenomenal book, "Crisis of Conscience," and I learned just how corrupt the Watchtower organization truly is, and it is all a matter of record. No wonder JWs are forbidden to read that book and others written by former JWs.

    That is when I became inactive for the final time. The problem with simply becoming an inactive JW and not officially disassociating from the organization is that one is unable to move forward in one's spiritual journey. If an inactive JW seeks spiritual fellowship outside the Watchtower organization, one is subject to being disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for apostasy. Even after five years of being inactive, my Facebook posts were scrutinized by my local elders, and I was visited by two elders when I posted a Watchtower article which claimed JWs were God’s prophet today. I was cautioned about posting anything which, in the words of those elders, brought "reproach on the organization." That is when I decided to write my letter of disassociation.

    I had learned that after a 1991 Watchtower article denounced as apostate religious organizations which had become accredited to the United Nations as non-governmental organizations, the Watchtower Society also became accredited to the UN as an NGO from 1992 until 2001, and withdrew its membership only after the Guardian newspaper published an expose. My disassociation letter made it clear that my conscience would no longer permit me to be associated with a religion which, by its own standards, had become an apostate religious organization.

    My wife of 42 years had been okay with my simply being inactive, as I had been inactive for years at a time throughout our marriage. Yet, when I officially disassociated, her attitude toward me immediately changed, and she soon informed me that she intended to divorce me. Subsequently, she consulted a marriage counselor who had helped her best friend work through a rough period in her marriage, and my daughter and I assumed that my wife was having second thoughts about divorcing me. However, she told me that the difference was that her best friend's husband still desired to be a JW and I did not, confirming the fact that my disassociation was the cause of her seeking a divorce. While JWs are mandated by the Watchtower organization to avoid any contact with ex-JWs, neither the Bible nor the Watchtower encourage JWs to divorce or shun their mates who leave the religion. Yet, my wife intends to divorce me and to shun me because she WANTS to do so. I feel that this illustrates the destructive effect oppressive religious cults have on the thinking and reasoning abilities of their adherents. As a dear friend commented regarding my wife's decision to divorce me, "Isn't it interesting how witnesses can seem to overlook obvious scriptural principles that conflict with their ideas when they want to ease their own conscience!"

    At 1 Corinthians chapter 7, verses 12, 13 and 15, the apostle Paul counsels Christians, "If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and yet she is agreeable to dwelling with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband, and yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her, let her not leave her husband. But if the unbelieving one proceeds to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace." Since I have not renounced my Christian faith, I wondered who, in my situation, was acting as the unbeliever. Then, a friend asked, "Well, who is the one that is ignoring scriptural counsel and leaving?" It became obvious to me at that point that, by my wife's leaving, God has called me to peace.

  • WillYouDFme

    I am sorry for the crap you went through, but HAPPY they helped you get out of the CULT!

    I had an opportunity that made it easy for me to play the Stumbled Card and my elders were to afraid to really confront me since they had a lot of guilt about what happened.

    What happened to you I think is kinda odd. You seem to have a lot of really Asshole elders, more than the usual congregation.

    Good luck!

  • DesirousOfChange

    Roger, both experiences are pretty incredible. WTF is the matter with these people? I find it unbelievable the WT Service Dept allows a BOE to "disagree" with their written (and the WT's written) opinion. Surely the CO was copied on this correspondence. He must have no balls if he let 3 old farts contradict WTS.

    Sorry to hear about another marriage on the rocks due to someone awakening to TTATT. I'm fortunate that my wife was soon ready to walk away not longer after I made the decision. But frankly, things have been a bit rockier now that she realizes she isn't waiting temporarily until I'm "perfect" and this is likely all we get in life.

    Good luck to you!

    The greatest revenge is living a happy & successful life!

  • TJ Curioso
    TJ Curioso

    Roger, about your comment:

    "While JWs are mandated by the Watchtower organization to avoid any contact with ex-JWs, neither the Bible nor the Watchtower encourage JWs to divorce or shun their mates who leave the religion."

    Read this:
    16 Jesus taught that the only Scriptural ground for dissolving a marriage vow is when an innocent mate chooses not to forgive an adulterous partner. (Matt. 19:9;Heb. 13:4) What, then, about separating from one’s marriage mate? The Bible is clear on this too. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11.) The Bible does not set out grounds for marital separation. However, some married Christians have viewed certain situations as a reason for separation, such as the extreme endangerment of one’s life or spirituality by an abusive or apostate spouse.*" (w17 April p. 7-8)

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once

    My guess is that your marriage was over long before you DA'd. That was just an excuse to act on her true desire.

  • john.prestor

    Roger, you made the right decision. I respect that you chose your own way, and when you wanted out, you got out. Keep living your life for you.

  • stillin

    Thoughts well expressed, Roger. It was my own questioning the "lordship" of local elders that began to wake me up about the whole thing, too.

  • Phizzy

    T.J Curioso quotes a WT that does the usual J W Org thing, introduce an idea with no Scriptural backing with words like " Some Christians have .......... ". This is pure Mind Control, giving the impression that a non-Scriptural course of action can be approved by God. They use this in the Shunning Policy and elsewhere.

    What a specious argument ! How many " Christian" J.W's could you point to who have "decided" to do things the Org would condemn ?

    Roger, I feel for you, not just for the pain that your wife has caused you, which must be agonizing, but for the total injustice of the whole situation. The Org and its minions really do act like Totalitarian States, where you can be condemned regardless of the Law of the Land or Human Rights.

  • Diogenesister

    Did those foolish elders forget 1st Corinthians 6. Verses 9- 11????

    o not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [b]homosexuals, nor [c]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 and yet such were some of you! But you were washed, but you were [d]sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
  • rawe

    Hi Roger,

    What struck me in your account was contrast between your empathy and interest vs concern and control expressed by the elders. Not only did you find the pro-JW "Knocking" documentary interesting (I too watched it as a JW) but you went the extra mile to contact Joel and get his back-story. You then related that with empathy in your part. Given that 2-3% of the population will identify has homosexual in most congregations it is likely 1 or 2 will be homosexual.

    Some of the elders by contrast found the idea uncomfortable. But so what? The facts about Joel are just that -- facts about his existence. As is true 2-3% stat. And you're not asking them to agree and speak on the subject. Where is the freedom and trust in their brother? Alas, the imagined purity of message and presentation trump all that. And so it goes... no apostate, like Raymond Franz, got to you. Used his supposed magical skills to divorce you from the "truth." Rather, JWs, eat up their own. So determined they are to control their members they wind up crushing the spirit of otherwise loyal members.

    I'm now an atheist, but I would agree -- you're being called to peace. The road from JW to former member can be bumpy at times. In the end, for most, it is much better place. A place where one can be their authentic self. Where trivial and petty debates about words are a thing of the past.

    Take care,


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