In my dream, I’m on the air at one of the radio stations where I used to work as a DJ, looking at a person in the adjoining studio through a pane of glass. His studio is dimly lit, so I’m not sure who it is, but he seems familiar to me. He’s trying to talk to me about something, but I can’t hear him. Either the glass is too thick or my hearing too dull. I hold up my hands and shrug as if to say, “Sorry, can’t hear you.” He looks down and sighs. I open the mic to give the latest weather forecast.
I was born into the third generation of a now fourth generation Jehovah’s Witness family. My grandmother became involved in the early 1940s when someone knocked on her door and engaged her in conversation. My dad was just a teen then and didn’t become involved. His father didn’t either, remaining a part of another church. But Grandpa was lovingly supportive of Grandma’s desire to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When, soon after her baptism, she began to share in the full-time preaching activity, he even bought her a car just for this purpose; he called it her Kingdom Chariot.
How thankful I am that he was so supportive. Many unbelieving mates cause so much trouble for their spouses. But even though Grandpa didn’t agree with the Witness belief that we were allied with the only channel of communication from Jehovah God, he was respectful of her feelings on the matter.
When my mother and father began dating while still teenagers, Grandma started a study with Mom. She responded well and soon after so did my father. In fact Mom used to tell me that Dad never did really have a Bible study with someone else. Instead he began voraciously reading Watchtower Society publications, and in no time he and Mom were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah.
I don’t recall Dad ever really talking about his being of the anointed. To this day, I see that as a sign of his humility. He’s never been the sort who looks for undue attention. Other people in our congregation used to ask me about it though.
“So what’s it like living with one of the anointed?” they’d ask, full of wonder.
“Is it true your father is of the Heavenly Class?”
I decided that, given there are so few anointed on earth today, they just don’t understand. Don’t understand that my Dad is just like everyone else’s. Maybe a little different; he’s intensely focused on preaching the good news. Other than liking to watch sports a bit and enjoying a round of golf or a bicycle trip, his life is focused on field service and sharing the experiences he has therein. On Saturdays—and many weekday evenings—he was almost always gone until late in the evening, on Bible studies. But other than that, he’s a normal human being. The way some of the friends spoke, you’d think angels were regularly floating down to our home for consultations with him.
At some point, perhaps around eight years old, I came to understand that this meant he wouldn’t be with us in the new system. I recall crying to Mom, asking why he would leave us. Mom was understanding, but tried to help me understand.
“He’s been given a great privilege. He’s going to be a King in Heaven.”
While this certainly sounded intriguing, I still didn’t know why, as a King, he wouldn’t be able to at least visit us once in awhile. Couldn’t he do that?
“Well, we don’t really know. Maybe he’ll be able to. But don’t worry about it, honey. By the time this happens you’ll be an old man, and you’ll understand better. You’ll be proud of him.”
This assuaged my feelings just a bit, but only temporarily. I remember, perhaps only a year or so later, being on a two day canoe trip with Dad, my uncle and cousin. A guide had pulled our old Chrysler station wagon up to the halfway point along the banks of the river, so instead of pitching a tent like my uncle and cousin did, we just put the back seat down and slept in the car. As we were falling asleep, I nestled up to Dad and implored tearfully, “Please don’t go to heaven!” I don’t think he responded to me in any other way than holding me and comforting me until I finally fell asleep.
I guess Dad didn’t really know what to say. How do you explain something like this to a nine year old? Like Mom, I imagine he just had faith that eventually I’d understand. And even though for a few years after this I still had to run to the Kingdom Hall bathroom and cry at every Memorial celebration, eventually I guess I did understand.
The song is fading out. Time to put on my headphones, talk about this Friday’s station promotion at Remington’s Pub downtown, and play a few commercials. I hear a knock on the window. I glance to the left. Him again. What does he want? He’s still lurking in the shadows, trying to talk to me about something. I point to my headphones then the mixing console to show him how I’m obviously busy right now. I hold up my index finger, signaling that I’ll be finished in a minute.
School can be hard for a Witness youth. Especially a sensitive boy like me. You’re thrown in with a bunch of kids who have no idea how important the time is that we’re living in. They don’t even know God’s name is Jehovah. Every time there’s a holiday party or birthday celebration, you just hope no one says anything to you about it. You know these things are wrong, but sometimes it’s hard to explain it just right to the other kids. Then sometimes they make fun of you for it. Kids can be cruel. Mom helped me to see that they don’t understand what they’re doing, because their parents don’t know any better either. That’s why we have to keep busy in the preaching work, going out in service whenever we can so we can help save them from destruction.
That night I had a weird dream. I would see the faces of some of the kids from school. Then suddenly the flesh would fall from their faces, leaving only horrifying images of their skulls. When I awoke, I was left with questions I’m sure common to most Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Why would Jehovah destroy these kids? Is it really fair to do that? Because they won’t listen to us at their doors, he’s going to kill them?”
It takes time, you see. Time to understand the issues involved. Time to comprehend what Satan has done to the earth, and why there is no way peace can come until all those who manifest his spirit or refuse to listen must be removed. Anytime we start to feel sorry for them, that should just steel our resolve to reach out to them—to help them learn the truth. I am thankful to my parents as well as the Faithful & Discreet Slave for helping me have the proper perspective on this.
I’m back into the music, and take my headphones off. He’s tapping on the window again. What is this guy’s deal? He’s clearly very serious about communicating something to me, but what? I squint as he mouths the words, but can only hear the muffled sounds of his voice as he speaks to me, eyes wide. My hands go up again in cluelessness and I smile. This is getting funny. Why doesn’t he just talk to me later? I’m on the air right now, for Pete’s sake! I chuckle and turn back to the programming log.
If there’s one thing that irritates me it’s people who are chronically negative. I’ve even come up with my own term to describe them: Opportunistic Faultfinders. They’re constantly picking at every little thing about some in the congregation—sometimes even the Society itself. Why do they have to be this way? Why are some of us always looking to dismiss the negative and look at the good—but they’re always jumping at the chance to accuse or criticize?
I will admit that there have been times when I’ve had difficulty understanding some things. For instance, I don’t understand why the Apostle Paul said women should not speak in the congregation, and why at the Kingdom Hall this wasn’t the case. I mean, I don’t know why women shouldn’t be able to speak right along with men; I would think they should have every right to do so. But there it was in black and white—in the Bible. Then one friend helped me to understand. He showed me the context. Paul also said that if women wanted to learn something, they should question their husbands at home. So Paul wasn’t just talking about “speaking” in the congregation. He was talking about a woman questioning a man in front of everyone, perhaps in a challenging manner. I got it. From then on I determined to use this as an example. Whenever I wouldn’t understand something, I would investigate more. Upon further examination, I would then come to understand.
Why can’t everyone do this? Why are they so bent on disturbing the peace within Jehovah’s organization? If they’re not careful they might find themselves together with the apostates, people of the Wicked Slave class. I have never seen anything by an apostate that I found the least bit interesting. And, mind you, I’m not reading apostate literature. A few times I’ve heard from people at the door who tell me what they say—and occasionally I’ve stumbled across something online. Before I know it I’ve read some of it—but I move on immediately. Trust me, it’s completely lame. They go all the way back to the time of Russell to try and prove something against the Witnesses. When someone in field services throws up something about Charles Taze Russell to me, do you know what I ask them?
I ask them what is the first thing they ever learned about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Invariably they tell me about going to school with a Witness, and how they learned that we don’t celebrate Christmas. I then ask them, “Did you know that Charles Taze Russell celebrated Christmas?” They don’t immediately discern my meaning, so I explain that we don’t look at Russell as any divine being. He was just a good man who started a serious investigation of the Bible many years ago.
When the Proclaimers book came out, I was happy to read (and share with others) Russell’s claim that he was not a divinely inspired prophet, but that he was merely acting like a finger, pointing to God’s Word the Bible. We did not deify this man. He himself used to quote the Proverb about how “the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day becomes firmly established.” So the light has taken us beyond Russell, and any attempt to impugn him is therefore insignificant.
What’s that? Now the guy on the other side of the glass is raising his voice a bit. I glance over and see him speaking matter-of-factly. His eyes convey that he thinks he has something important to tell me. I wheel my chair a few feet in his direction to see if I can make out what he’s saying. The sound is dull; all bass and no treble.
“…ahm…ew…ayke opp…yoo her edd…”
Try as I might, I can’t make out the words. And I’ve never been good at reading lips. Whoops! I have only ten seconds left on my song, and nothing else is cued up. Acting quickly, I grab another CD, pop it in, bring it up on the board and hit play—just in time to avoid any dead air. Whew…
“Look, pal. I can’t understand you, okay? I’m trying to run a radio show right now. Got it?! I’ll talk to you later.”
All right, let’s be absolutely, brutally honest here. I can admit that I have had doubts about the organization at times in my life, and any Jehovah’s Witness who says he or she hasn’t is (in my opinion) probably not being truthful. For instance, since I was a child, I’ve not felt quite right about the Society’s position on listening to opposers. I mean, just because someone disagrees with us, is that any reason to refuse to listen to what they say? I don’t really talk about this much, but I just don’t get it. The truth doesn’t have to fear the light, right? If this is Almighty God’s one and only true religion, then what do we have to worry about?
Kinda reminds me of the talk show hosts I used to listen to when our radio group turned one of our stations into a News/Talk format. I immersed myself in all of the hosts—almost all of them conservative in nature. I enjoyed G. Gordon Liddy’s style. He was a staunch Conservative, but allowed callers with opposing viewpoints the time to make their disagreements known. When refuting them, he did so quite calmly, usually ending with, “But we shall have to agree to disagree, and thank you for your call.”
Ken Hamblin was different. Although espousing nearly the same viewpoints as Liddy, he would become enraged at callers who disagreed with him. He’d cut them off, saying, “No! I’m not going to let you spew that trash on this program, you egg sucking dog Liberal!” I always wondered why he felt he had to do this. What was he worried about? That maybe he himself was wrong? That unless he dominated every second of his program with only his own perspectives, his audience might be poisoned by what they said—and he’d lose them? Didn’t seem like a confident person.
But, as the Society has conveyed, apostates are not just people who disagree. They have only one objective: to destroy. They use cunning reasonings to mess with your mind and cause you to have doubts. If I were a parent, would I want someone doing this to my child? Of course not! Therefore we must be on guard against these ones who prove themselves to be God’s enemies.
I can also admit I don’t feel right about the Society’s position on disassociation. I remember driving home from an elder’s meeting, and saying aloud to myself, “Can’t a person change his mind?” I mean, don’t get me wrong. Myself? Oh, I believe this is Jehovah’s organization. I’ve determined for myself who that Faithful & Discreet Slave is, make no mistake. But if someone disagrees, in what position am I in (indeed in what position is any human being) to say, “I’m sorry, but you MUST agree with us, and if you don’t we reserve the right to punish you severely.”
Here again, what are we worried about? Let people believe what they want. We know this is the truth. If someone disagrees with us isn’t it a sign of our own insecurity to get mad at them? To cut them off from their very families and the only community of friends they’ve ever had?
And, I don’t mean to get out of hand here, but what about this shunning? Understand that I appreciate very much the need to keep the congregation clean. But when I was younger I was told that we just weren’t supposed to associate with disfellowshipped people. Now we’re not even supposed to acknowledge them. Don’t say a single word, pretend they don’t even exist. One Watchtower even went so far as to say we should hate them—and that it would be improper even to pray for them.
I know this is just my own, sinful viewpoint, but doesn’t this just seem childish to you? It reminds me of kids I used to play with who, when the others wouldn’t do things just their way, would “take their ball and go home.” Sometimes, if they got mad at someone, they would try to get the rest of us not to talk to them. It also reminds me of what happens when someone gives their husband or wife “the silent treatment.” The Watchtower Society has definitely told us that this is wrong. So why is it right for the leaders of the organization to tolerate—and even initiate—a far more profound “silent treatment” when it suits their purposes?
These are just a few issues I’m working through. The Society admits that they are not perfect—and I certainly don’t need them to be. It could be that sometime later they make adjustments in these areas. And how stupid would I feel if I left the organization over these things—only to see them adjusted later in Jehovah’s time. Being able to work through these things may mean the difference between entry into God’s righteous new kingdom and being “sifted out of the wheat” into destruction at Armageddon. And isn’t life in a paradise earth worth anything we have to do to get there?
Well, ignoring him isn’t doing any good. This character is persistent. I wonder if he actually has something important to tell me… Let me put on a long song here. Got it. Don McLean’s “American Pie,” the long version.
I stand up this time and walk over to the glass. His eyes have a steely resolve. He seems confident that eventually I’ll understand him. He opens his mouth again and I hear the muted sound of his words.
“…aike upp…ooze or edd…”
“Aike upp?” Is he saying, “Wake Up?” Unclear, I place my ear against the glass and listen carefully.
“Tom! Wake up! Use your head. It’s not what you think, Tom. Do your homework!”
Homework? What homework?
It’s the mid 1990s and I’m serving as an elder in my congregation, enjoying the friends, giving talks often more than once a month at congregations throughout my state. I’ve been asked to chair the Judicial Committee of my closest friend and fellow elder who has been accused of pedophilia. Since this brother is considered such a “pillar,” the Circuit Overseer assigns two extra brothers from other congregations to sit on our committee.
He won’t confess, and I just can’t believe it. This is one of the best men I know. Why can’t he just admit it. What a lesson this is to me. “Do not put your trust in men.” The Bible says it; the Society says it. But not THIS man! Not my friend. There are two accusers who’ve never met before and have never spoken, telling almost exactly the same story about what he did to them some years before. We cannot find any holes in their testimony. Why won’t he just confess!?
While deliberating I ask the four other members of the committee to come up with every reason we can think of as to why he won’t confess—other than what appears to be the obvious one: that he may be lying so as to avoid the consequences. One of the brothers suggests that the man did it, but then forgot about it. Dubious as it seems, we had to be willing to look at every possibility.
Since no one else can come up with one, I share mine. What if he has confessed his sins to Jehovah, and thinks there is no need to confess to men?
The rest of the committee all look at me a bit uncomfortably. They clearly don’t think there is any point going down this road. We have been instructed that individuals in the congregation must confess serious sins to the elders, and that’s all there is to it. I understand their position, but decide privately to conduct the research on this subject so that, if this is the case, I can perhaps restore my brother.
I start by going to the usual places Jehovah’s Witness go when researching something: Reasoning from the Scriptures, that nifty little handbook so many of us actually have bound right together with our copy of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. As I flip through the pages, it occurs to me that the Society has always criticized the Roman Catholic church for its practice of confession. No man had the right to absolve another’s sins. That was Jehovah’s job, we recognized. And yet it seems to me that the Watchtower’s position is, in effect, no different from the Catholics’. I find under the subject of “Confession” this text…
“When a person sins against God
Matt. 6:6-12: “When you pray, go into your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father who is in secret . . . ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified . . . and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’”
Ps. 32:5: “My sin I finally confessed to you [God], and my error I did not cover. I said: ‘I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.’ And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.”
Wait a minute. This seems to be saying that Confession as practiced by the Catholic church is wrong because we are supposed to be confessing “to Jehovah.” The italics are theirs! The scriptures they use confirm that it is to Him that we are to confess—and that He is the one who pardons our sins. If so, why does the Watchtower Society say we must confess to elders? I know of only one scripture that we’ve used to refer to this subject. It’s James 5:14 & 15, which reads…
“Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.”
As I ponder these words, it strikes me that while they do recommend the loving guidance of the elders, they do not seem to require a person to go to them. It seems more like just asking for help—not confession. And it says “Let him…,” not “He must…” Furthermore, the only place the Reasoning book addressed this scripture was under the following heading…
“When someone becomes involved in serious wrongdoing and wants spiritual help”
Hold on. So going to the elders is only something you do when you “want” help? This is not at all the actual position the Society takes on this matter. As an elder I knew this. We were officially instructed to use lack of confession—or sometimes lack of a speedy confession—as a reason to disfellowship people. For a sinning one to say they didn’t “want” any help would have no relevance at all to a Judicial Committee.
Heart pounding, I looked further, finding more information on confession in Insight on the Scriptures…
Confessing sins to one another. The disciple James counsels: “Openly confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may get healed.” (Jas 5:16) Such confession is not because any human serves as “helper [“advocate,” RS]” for man with God, since Christ alone fills that role by virtue of his propitiatory sacrifice. (1Jo 2:1, 2) Humans, of themselves, cannot actually right the wrong toward God, on their own behalf or on behalf of others, being unable to provide the needed atonement. (Ps 49:7, 8) However, Christians can help one another, and their prayers on behalf of their brothers, while not having an effect on God’s application of justice (since Christ’s ransom alone serves to bring remission of sins), do count with God in petitioning his giving needed help and strength to the one who has sinned and is seeking aid.
And here’s something from a 1997 Watchtower…
*** w97 12/1 p. 14 Jehovah, a God “Ready to Forgive” ***
Despite what mistakes you may have made, if you have truly repented, taken steps to right the wrong, and earnestly prayed for Jehovah’s forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, you can have full confidence that the words of 1 John 1:9 apply to you: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
As it turns out, this information did not play a role in the Judicial Committee I was then chairing, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind over the next few years. I recall mentioning it confidentially to an elder friend of mine. He recognized what I was saying, even reminding me of another Society policy that seems inconsistent. They taught elders that if a person had sinned seriously—but at least three years had passed before they decided to come forward—they would not even have to form a Judicial Committee. Their reasoning was that enough time had passed and that Jehovah had obviously, in this time, forgiven the individual.
That’s right! Here was proof that the Society recognized a person could sin and be forgiven by Jehovah—without his ever having confessed to elders! And if Jehovah Himself doesn’t require it, how on earth can they?
“Tom! Wake up! They’re not who they say they are! Use your head!”
Having finally heard his words, I pull my ear off of the glass and turn my head to face him. As I squint into the shadowy studio, I see his face. He looks awfully familiar.
It’s the Spring of 2004. I have not served as an elder for more than five years, having stepped aside shortly after the Judicial Committee referenced above. I am sitting before three elders, the subject of a Judicial Committee myself this time. I had approached them to confess about my own wrongdoing. After being estranged from my wife for four years, I had committed adultery. Although I had uncovered much information about confession to men not being a Christian requirement, I still feel compelled to—primarily because I feel my estranged wife has the right to know.
Having come to them myself, having shown all due repentance, I am confident that I’ll be publicly reproved instead of disfellowshipped. Interestingly, during my last meeting with the elders, when I mentioned how I felt my wife had a right to know these things, one of the brothers on the committee held up his hand.
“Wait a minute. Even if you hadn’t confessed this to your wife, you still had an obligation to confess it to the elders in the congregation.”
Now what? My pet organizational issue has arisen. What do I say. I could say…
“Yes, I know, brothers, and that’s exactly what I did.”
But instead, in the interest of full disclosure, I say…
“Well maybe you can help me then, brothers, because I haven’t been clear that I do have that obligation.”
Well that was that. A couple of the brothers seemed almost outraged that I would even say such a thing, suggesting that I was trying to “minimize” my wrongdoing. I asked how not knowing that confession to elders was a Christian requirement would in any way be “minimizing” my sin. Clearly they must have observed enough to know that I was not minimizing anything I’d done. And despite my comment I did in fact confess anyway.
I explained that was aware I may be wrong about this position—but that I’d arrived at it after reading the Bible and many articles from the Watchtower Society itself. I opened up the Reasoning book and read them what it said about confession being something we do to Jehovah. I also referenced other articles and publications. They sat silently and would not respond. In spite of the fact that I had actually confessed, they had decided that my comment about not being sure it was an obligation was just too much to take. Within one hour they informed me that I was to be disfellowshipped.
A couple of weeks later, one of the elders on the committee—a friend, phoned to ask me what my father and brother thought about ‘how was treated by them.’ This struck me as odd. “Well, I don’t know what they thought about it, Darrin, I didn’t really try to get a reaction from them. Why do you ask?”
“Because, in hindsight Tom, I’m not certain we did the right thing.”
He went on to share with me (as he had over the years) many things he didn’t like about the way things were handled in the congregation. He never liked it when things weren’t consistent.
“I’ll tell you this, Tom. Lots of brothers are being stumbled right out of the truth because of it! And some of ‘em have never returned.”
So even though I was disfellowshipped, in part, by this man—even though I was not happy about their powers of perception during my hearing—even though I could not understand why Jehovah’s organization would allow something like this, I defended it.
I asked him whether he indeed thought this was Jehovah’s organization or not. I told him that if we believe it is then we have to be willing to take the bad along with the good. He needn’t worry. I appreciated his concerns, but I would certainly be reinstated in good time, and this would all be behind us.
Yes, I was firm and confident in this. But why couldn’t I let go of my concerns over this subject of confession? I prayed constantly about it. I continued to do the research. There were no two ways about it. The Watchtower Society knew that the Bible does not require confession to men in order to receive Jehovah’s forgiveness, but they still used it as a reason to disfellowship and shun a person. They’d be cut off from their families, friends, everyone in their world. This was, to say the least, a glaring and obvious inconsistency. I could see them dancing around it in the pages of their publications.
*** w93 3/15 p. 10 Jehovah’s Mercy Saves Us From Despair ***
Are you distressed over some concealed sin? Would it not be best to confess and leave it so as to receive God’s mercy? Why not call the congregation elders and seek spiritual healing?
*** w2001 6/1, Questions from Readers ***
“How much better to accept the loving assistance that Jehovah provides through the elders!”
They avoided stating that it was a Biblical requirement to receiving God’s forgiveness. But saying “How much better it is!” or “Why not?” can only be described as suggestions or statements of opinion—not evidence from God’s Word. This was not a matter of their not yet receiving “the light from Jehovah” on this subject. They already had “the light” on it—but they refused to act in accord with it. They were guilty of deception.
And so on June 29 th , 2004, I decided to look more deeply into this subject. It was on that day that I created an account on the “Jehovah’s Witnesses Discussion” forum, commonly called JWD, but with an actual URL of www.jehovahs-witness.com . Still convinced this was Jehovah’s organization but unable to communicate with any of my brothers, I turned to those who would talk to me. I was very cautious at first.
Sometime in August I was reading information on Randy Watters’ FreeMinds site. I found his compelling story about his own discovery that the Watchtower Society was guilty of being (what he called) Judaizers. They were turning away from the new law of the Christ in favor of creating lots of laws themselves—and forcing others among them to accept these laws.
Thereafter I went through a phase in which I hoped the organization could be reformed. I tried to find others who held out the same hope, but didn’t find too much. As I continued to conduct my close investigation into this organization, and to a study of Christianity—apart from the teachings of the Watchtower Society—I soon came to the conclusion that the reform necessary for this group would render it completely unrecognizable by any who knew it. I then discovered Tom Cabeen’s wonderful paper, “Does God Work Through an Organization.”
By the time I completed reading it, I knew that day would mark a great change in my life. It was September 15 th , 2004, when I came to understand that God did not have an organization—as taught by the Witnesses. It was then when I accepted that the Watchtower Society was not what it purports to be. This conclusion was supported by a shocking amount of evidence. I could not believe how my family and I had been duped for more than sixty years and for four generations by them. I did not want this to be true, but plainly it was.
So now I know whose face it was on the other side of the glass.
It was my own.
For years there had been a voice calling out to me. It was the voice of reason, of common sense, of truth. I occasionally allowed myself to hear it, but I was great at dismissing it. Instead I kept playing the music, as it were, carrying on with the work before me. But finally, at thirty-eight years of age, I approached the window and found out the truth.
I allowed a group of men to be my conscience. Men who had predicted at least nine times when this world’s governmental system would come to its end—and who’d been wrong every time. Men who claimed to be the sole channel of communication from God to the rest of the planet, but whose teachings were frequently changing. Men who demanded the utmost caution regarding keeping without spot from this world, but who themselves entered into an arrangement as supporter of the United Nations, the organization they themselves identify as The Wild Beast of Revelation. Men who, in their desire to look good before other men, will do anything to escape the scrutiny that comes from policies that protect pedophiles and that result in the countless deaths of those who they threaten not to accept blood transfusions. Men who call upon every available resource in demanding freedoms and the right to operate their religion as they see fit, but who deny those in their flock even the most basic freedoms and rights.
How in the world could so many people still choose to believe in them? And how could I have been one of them?
I appeal to all those Jehovah’s Witnesses reading this true account to listen to the voice that I dismissed for so many years. The reasons for coming to the conclusions I did are certainly all not identified here, but of a few things you can be certain…
-That there are many people in the world who believe so strongly in something that they are willing to misrepresent the truth in order to convince you to believe as they do.
-That no human being anywhere has the right to force another human being to believe as they do.
-That if someone does try to force you to believe as they do, you should be suspicious.
-That if someone tells you only to listen to them—and threatens you that even listening to someone else will bring negative consequences—you may be certain that they are deceiving you in some way.
-That you are entitled to get all of the information on a subject—and no one has the right to keep you from it.
Your conclusions may differ from mine, and that’s okay. Jehovah gave you the Bible, and he also gave you your mind. The Bible tells you to develop your powers of discernment. How can you do that if you attach yourself to an organization that demands you let them do the discerning for you on all important matters?
As in my case, that voice you hear may sound dull and muddy, and you may not be able to tell whose face it is. But if you’ll only allow yourself to listen to it, focus on it, you’ll find it’s your own voice, your own face. It doesn’t want anything but for you to wake up, pay attention and use your head. If your voice is like mine, it’s trying to tell you that something isn’t right—that something just isn’t adding up.
If you decide to listen to your voice, the ramifications are not easy. It may take you a long time to face them. But know this: that there have been—and there currently are—many, many courageous persons who’ve been where you are. They’ve stood up to authoritarianism and been left with a clean conscience and sweet, spiritual freedom.
For many in the past it has meant facing death. For you it probably won’t be as profound as that. Just be happy you listened sooner rather than later.