Apostate Story @ New York Times

by DannyHaszard 28 Replies latest social current

  • DannyHaszard
    The New York Times
    Turn of Faith

    ... at birth in 1967 by a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, I was asked from an early age to ... the Bible clearly proved that Jehovah's Witnesses were the only true Christians ...

    • New York Times
    • 8/14/2005

    Turn of Faith

    By JOY CASTRO Published: August 14, 2005

    Adopted at birth in 1967 by a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, I was asked from an early age to behave as much like an adult as possible. Three times a week in the Kingdom Hall in Miami, my brother and I strove to sit perfectly still in our chairs. Our mother carried a wooden spoon in her purse and was quick to take us outside for beatings if we fidgeted.

    I sat onstage in the Kingdom Hall in Surrey, England, where my father's job had taken us. Nervously pushing my memorized lines into the microphone, I faced my mother, who was seated across from me. We were demonstrating for the congregation exactly how a Bible study with a ''worldly'' person, or non-Witness, should go.

    I had played the householder before -- the person who answered the door. That was easy: you just asked questions that showed you didn't know the Truth. Portraying the Witness was harder: you had to produce the right Scripture to answer any questions the householder might ask.

    But we had written our parts on index cards and rehearsed repeatedly at home. I was well dressed and shining clean. I said my lines flawlessly and gave looks of concern at the right times. Finally, the householder agreed with everything I had said: her way of life was wicked, and the Bible clearly proved that Jehovah's Witnesses were the only true Christians who would be saved at Armageddon. Her look was grateful. Then she smiled, becoming my mother again. Everyone clapped, and she glowed with pride. At last I could go out in service.

    From the age of 5 until I was 14, I knocked on the doors of strangers each week with memorized lines that urged them to repent. I didn't play with worldly children. I didn't have birthday parties or Christmas mornings. What I did was pray a lot. I knew the books of the Bible in order, by heart, and could recite various verses. My loneliness was nourished by rich, beautiful fantasies of eternal life in a paradise of peace, justice, racial harmony and environmental purity, a recompense for the rigor and social isolation of our lives.

    This bliss wasn't a future we had to work for. Witnesses wouldn't vote, didn't involve themselves in worldly matters, weren't activists. Jehovah would do it all for us, destroying everyone who wasn't a Witness and restoring the earth to harmony. All we had to do was obey and wait.

    Shortly after our return to the States, my father was disfellowshipped for being an unrepentant smoker -- smoking violated God's temple, the body, much like fornication and drunkenness. Three years later, my parents' marriage dissolved. My mother's second husband had served at Bethel, the Watchtower's headquarters in Brooklyn. Our doctrines, based on Paul's letters in the New Testament, gave him complete control as the new head of the household; my mother's role was to submit. My stepfather happened to be the kind of person who took advantage of this authority, physically abusing us and forcing us to shun our father completely.

    After two years, I ran away to live with my father. My brother joined me a tumultuous six months later. We continued to attend the Kingdom Hall and preach door to door; the Witnesses had been our only community. Leaving was a gradual process that took months of questioning. I respected all faiths deeply, but at 15 I decided that I could no longer be part of a religion that condoned inequality.

    After she finally divorced my stepfather, my mother moved out of state and married another Witness. Our occasional correspondence skates over the surface of our strained deténte. I feel for her struggles. A smart, capable woman, she subjugated her will and judgment, as the Witnesses teach, to her husbands'. If she damaged my brother and me or failed to protect us, she did so out of fear and belief. She wanted to save us from certain destruction at Armageddon, from a corrupt and dirty world. She wanted nothing less for us than paradise.

    I love my mother, but I also love my ''worldly'' life, the multitude of ideas I was once forbidden to entertain, the rich friendships and the joyous love of my family. By choosing to live in the world she scorned -- to teach in a college, to spare the rod entirely, to believe in the goodness of all kinds of people -- I have, in her eyes, turned my back not only on Jehovah but also on her.

    It's strange when Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door now. I know discussion is futile; they have a carefully planned response for any objection. Finally, I say, ''I'm an apostate,'' and their eyes widen at the word: someone who has willfully rejected Jehovah, far worse than a worldly person, who is simply ignorant of the Truth. A threat to the faith of others, an apostate deserves to be shunned, as we were forced to shun our disfellowshipped father. The Witnesses back away from my door.

    Joy Castro is the author of a memoir, ''The Truth Book,'' to be published next month by Arcade and from which this essay is adapted. She lives in Crawfordsville, Ind.


    Google search for Joy:


  • DannyHaszard

    Unrelated this story from the UK was on the wire last night.

    The manic beach preachers
    Independent, UK - 1 hour ago... As it turns out, Jonney knows a thing or two about Christianity. He was raised a Jehovah's Witness. It was a miserable experience. ...

    As it turns out, Jonney knows a thing or two about Christianity. He was raised a Jehovah's Witness. It was a miserable experience . Forbidden from hanging out with outsiders, he found himself virtually friendless. At 17, he finally wrote his parents a letter telling them he was leaving the faith, and their house. Needless to say, he's not very big on religion.

  • dilaceratus

    Those familiar with the New York Times Magazine, where this "Lives" essay was published, will be aware that they also run a "Letters" column each week. You may imagine that there will be a number of pro-Witness letters submitted to "correct" the emotions and memories of Ms Castro. Those wishing to offer support for the publication of the piece should follow these instructions:

    "Letters should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, Magazine, The New York Times, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. The e-mail address is [email protected]. All letters should include the writer's name, address and daytime telephone number. We are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished letters. Letters may be edited for length and clarity."

    To avoid confusion, the editorial control of the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine are entirely separate. Letters submitted to the Op-Ed page of the paper itself will eventually find their way to the Magazine, but will perhaps be lost, or delayed so as to miss deadline.

    There may be some complaints to the Public Editor (Ombudsman), Bryan Calame, whose column appears on the Op-Ed pages, about whether this was an attack by the newspaper on a specific sect. If he felt that the essay passed a line, all content published under the "New York Times" banner falls under his purview. His email address is [email protected].

  • mrsjones5

    Read it, liked it, she doesn't live far from me.

  • prophecor

    Interesting piece there, Dan. It takes people like this to help us see the truly destuctive force that destroys so many lives and families. It's difficult to see from the inside, but if we ever find ourselves outside....

  • Room 215
    Room 215

    Dilaceratus: That's all well and good; I just wonder how many dubs read the New York Times. I doubt they're a major component of that paper's readership demographic.

  • dilaceratus

    "That's all well and good; I just wonder how many dubs read the New York Times. I doubt they're a major component of that paper's readership demographic."

    Whether that's true or not is irrelevant. The New York Times has a physical circulation of about 1.75 million, its online version gets somewhere around 20 million unique visitors monthly, and it is easily the most significant source of reportage in the the United States. (USAT and WSJ have larger circulations, but do not wield the same journalistic influence and leadership.) Anyone remotely familiar with the media in the United States knows this, and anyone with any interest in relating to the public a message about their organization or agenda knows this, as well.

  • jesussaves

    Wow!!! I'm impressed. I've decided to email Dr. Phil so he can have some ex-JW survivors on his show. Maybe this author will go and have her book sales skyrocket!!!!

  • Dogpatch

    Good shot Danny, I just got the book and am looking forward to reading it!


    Net Soup!


  • Darth Yhwh
    Darth Yhwh

    If I didn’t know any better I would think that the first six paragraphs are the beginning of my life story.

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