My parents became Jehovah's Witnesses in 1953. I grew up under the old congregation regime, Congregation Servant, Assistant Sevant and Theocratic Ministry School Servant, along with assorted Ministerial Servants. Dad was disfellowshipped in 1956. He went to meetings with us off and on until he was reinstated in '62. I was baptized in '63. I liked being a Jehovah's Witnesses, field service, meetings, and especially the assemblies. Back then a reinstated brother, such as my dad, had to wait ten years before they would be permitted to do anything in the congregation except answer questions at meetings, do field service and conduct studies with interested persons. They couldn't even give the lead talk in the Ministry School. Our family were just plain old publishers. That all changed. In 1971 I moved to a neighboring city and began attending a local Hall. The following year I was assigned by the Congregation Overseer to conduct the Watchtower Study in a new congregation that was being formed. I was to do this until the Society made their full time appointments for that Kingdom Hall. It was made known to me that, at some point in time, I would become the Assistant Literature servant in my congregation. Life was good for me as an up and coming young Witness. Then I shot myself in the foot. How you ask? Well, let me tell you. I met a girl. We dated. I asked her to marry me. She accepted. So far, so good, a lot of young witnesses get married and start families. Trouble was, she was an "interested person" only, she wasn't even "baptized". Not only that, she was divorced and smoked. Because she was divorced we had to appear before the Congregation Overseer and Assistant Overseer, with witnesses, that could confirm her previous husband had remarried. Otherwise I could have been disfellowshiped for adultery. Now, I don't know if that has changed since then, at the time that was the rule. Needles to say I was no longer considered for a Ministerial Servants position. I took it on the chin like the good Witnesses I was along with my unbaptised wife, who never faltered in her support for me. After all, the brother's were only doing their biblical duty to protect the flock from a renegade. That's what the then current Literature Servant called me. Later he was disfellowshiped. Seems he had been a closet smoker for years. When that became a disfellowshiping offense he got nailed. His comment was tame compared to what others did and said, simply because I got married. There's more to this story, but it would take a book to tell it all. Let me just say that it was the beginning of the scales falling from my eyes. Except for a few who accepted, in the true spirit of agape, my wife and myself for our marriage, and who we were, an entire congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses became our enemy. I do not use that word lightly. They were the enemy. We became awash in innuendo, vicious gossip, slander and out right lies. Even my wife's best friend, who had introduced us, became an enemy. This loving sister took it upon herself to call my wife's mother, who had no love whatever for Jehovah's Witnesses, and tell her I was a wife beater. It caused a lot of damage between my mother in law and me, which took years to overcome. It broke my wife's heart and caused her to tell me: "I don't care what you do, I'll never set foot in a Kingdom Hall again" and she didn't. I had numerous conversations with "older mature brothers" who were supposed to know spiritual things. I got the same advice that I have read and heard others say they got. "Wait on Jehovah", don't "run ahead", and most of all "be patient". I was being told in so many words that my choice of a wife was the cause of all the strife and division in the congregation and even though some of the brother's and sister's acted rashly, Jehovah's people were guiltless, after all I'm the one who became "unevenly yoked" while they remained faithful to Jehovah and his Organization. I "grew up in the truth". To coin a phrase I was a cradle Jehovah's Witness. I felt like the guy who retired that was handed a gold plated watch and a tin placket to hang on the wall that said: "Glad you were here, but now you gotta go". With that experience at the hands of "Gods People" and the manner in which my mother was disfellowshiped I struck my tent in 1974 and moved on. Wish I could say I never looked back, it just wouldn't be true. It took a long time to get the Watchtower out of my system and I don't think my experiences, as a Jehovah's Witness, or the aftermath, are all that different from what others have gone through. Weather you're a current Witness, living in hell on earth, agonizing over what to do, or an ex Watchtower slave, making a life for yourself, we've all have made the same journey, one way or the other. We all have the same story to tell. Which can be summed up in one word betrayal. One more thing before I end. I didn't get caught up in 1975. Some folks did. Don't know why, but I just didn't think about it much. I didn't experience the "body of Elders" in the way many of you have. When I left it really hadn't taken full effect. I will say, from what I have read over the last several years, including Ray Franz book, it is without a doubt the most insidious burden the Society has ever placed on the backs of Jehovah's Witnesses. Highhanded, kangaroo court, lynch mob mentality, unjust, power monger, dictator, thug, bully, Gestapo are a few words and phrases that come to mind. What a millstone.