The trouble with apostates (and why it shouldn’t put you off being one)
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There is a war going on among apostates, but it is no reason for gloating by Jehovah's Witnesses

There is a war going on among apostates, but it is no reason for gloating by Jehovah’s Witnesses

At the beginning of October I produced and participated in a video featuring 62 Jehovah’s Witness apostates from all over the world. The video has so far attracted more than 24,000 views.

Our message to believing JWs was simple: apostates are NOT your enemies. Apostates are simply JWs who have summoned the bravery to subject their cherished beliefs to objective scrutiny and logic, based on which they have decided to reject irrational, corrosive teachings and practices, and start afresh.

As should by now be obvious, I am (and always will be) a proud apostate. I am immensely relieved to have discovered, while still relatively young, that the beliefs passed on to me by my parents were false. I also derive great pleasure and personal satisfaction from being involved in raising awareness of the harm caused by cults such as Watchtower through my activism work.

But being a JW apostate does not mean I support and endorse the behavior, methods and agenda of ALL other JW apostates. Just because I come from a cult in which “unity” of thought and action is demanded, this does not oblige me to nurture similar “unity” to some mirror organization or community.

For example, a year ago I took the decision to distance myself from apostates who engage in aggressive forms of activism after I noticed an increase in videos being shared on Facebook showing certain individuals harassing Jehovah’s Witnesses on the street and at their places of worship.

Even though I didn’t name any names, or target anyone in particular, by merely stating the obvious on this issue (i.e. aggressive confrontation of cult victims is not conducive to their rehabilitation) I was subjected to a barrage of abuse and slander culminating in my being labelled a sexual predator, a stalker, a cyber bully, a cult leader and a wife beater by two individuals in particular – Mike and Kim Brooks, of New Mexico.

Since then, Mike and Kim, while insisting that I refrain from any criticism of them, seem to have set up camp as “Cedars Haters HQ.” Over the past 12 months they made two more videos with me as the subject, and have attracted a small army of similarly-fixated, mostly-Christian evangelical “haters” from across the ex-JW community.

In one of these videos, Mike Brooks threatened me with physical violence if I ever set foot in New Mexico. The “crime” that warranted a violent attack on me was my failure to apologize to another person for something within an arbitrarily-defined time period.

In the second video, both Mike and Kim condemned me for giving away an unauthorized copy of Crisis of Conscience to my YouTube subscribers. Though the pair bemoaned the breach of copyright represented by my unauthorized copies, which were printed by a friend, both seemed oblivious to the fact that copyright laws are equally applicable to digital PDF copies, such as the PDF copy Kim Brooks admitted to having in the same video (and which was even being distributed on their website when their video was uploaded).*

A ‘community’ divided

Since first getting involved in activism work in 2011 I have had to deal with an unrelenting tide of criticism from fellow ex-JWs. Even my first attempts at setting up a survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which led to this website being launched, attracted controversy. Mike and Kim’s crusade against me, which is so clearly driven by deep resentment of my atheist views, is just the latest in a long line of aggravation I have become accustomed to dealing with.

I have repeatedly acknowledged that the majority of criticism of my work comes, not from Watchtower, but from my fellow ex-JWs. This, in my view, underscores just how damaging and corrosive the Watchtower cult is. Those who leave can be riddled with so much resentment and frustration that many can’t help but re-direct it at their fellow ex-members, who in their troubled minds become more worthy of criticism than Watchtower itself.

At times these “haters” get me down. I am, after all, only human and susceptible to sustained threats and abuse directed at me and my family. At other times I am able to shrug off the negativity and press on with my work. But with this latest “copyright” fiasco I feel something has changed, which is why I have decided to write this article. I assume my readers and YouTube subscribers value my treating them like adults and telling it like it is, and by pointing out the elephant in the room I will hopefully prepare you all for what lies ahead.

I have long understood that the so-called ex-JW “community” (I prefer to call it a movement) is composed of factions. You might be unaware of these factions if your only interaction with ex-JWs is brief forays on social media or forums. But when you deal with ex-JWs on a day-to-day basis as I do, the factions are all too obvious, and encompass two principle areas.

The Activism Spectrum

The first area, or spectrum, concerns activism. The following graphic gives you a rough sketch of the various mindsets…

activism-spectrum2At one end of the spectrum you have aggressive activists, who advocate confronting JWs on the street and in kingdom halls. A common defense of aggressive activism is: “All forms of activism are equally good, and different forms of activism work on different kinds of people.” My reply to this argument is that it overlooks how complex and deeply-entrenched cult indoctrination can be, and the delicacy and sensitivity required in disentangling someone from it.

Saying that all forms of activism are equally good is like saying all forms of dentistry are equally good. Just as a bad dentist can end up doing more harm than good, so can an activist who believes in storming into kingdom halls and berating cult victims as a means of helping them.

On the opposite end of the activism scale you have anti-activists, including JW apologists for Watchtower (but also some apostates) who oppose any attempts to wake up JWs from their indoctrination. You may consider it unthinkable to have such a mindset, but I have an awakened uncle who embraces it unashamedly. The attitude of awakened JWs who are against activism can be summed up as: “Thanks to the work of activists I’m now awake, but waking anyone else up through activism is distasteful. All the Witnesses still inside can fend for themselves.”

“Strategic activists” are those who take full advantage of online resources, including blogs and social media, to make it as easy as possible for Jehovah’s Witnesses to awaken without resorting to harassment or confrontation. You don’t need to have a blog or YouTube channel to be a strategic activist. You can get involved in strategic activism simply by supporting and promoting other strategic activists, or by sharing links to important articles or videos that may prove helpful in prompting JWs to start thinking for themselves.

“Armchair activists” is my description for usually-anonymous ex-JWs who for various reasons don’t do any activism themselves, but who offer guidance on how they would do it from the sidelines. Armchair activists can exert either a positive or negative influence. Their guidance ranges from constructive criticism and helpful advice to fierce attacks on the methods, motives and character of those actually involved in activism. There is at least one forum I can think of where armchair activists seem to be in the majority.

Non-activists are those, like my wife and many other friends of mine, who are simply grateful to have escaped Watchtower with their wits intact. They neither criticize activism nor involve themselves in it – they just dust themselves down and get on with their lives.

The Belief Spectrum

The second area of “factions,” and perhaps the area that effects me the most personally, is that of belief.

And it is much simpler to explain.

evangelical-atheist

Over the last four years, many will have noticed the tone of my articles and videos follow my journey from skeptical Christian, to agnostic, to agnostic atheist. Throughout this journey I have always striven to be as respectful towards believers as possible.

I understand that some people need religion in their lives, and though I find it both obsolete and in most cases repulsive, I personally cannot envision a world where everyone is atheist and nobody is religious. I also acknowledge that the majority of JWs who find themselves on this website will recoil if they feel coerced to abandon belief in God altogether.

It is for these reasons that JWsurvey has, and always will have, a “religious neutrality” policy displayed in our comments section, whereby it is prohibited to evangelize either religion OR atheism on these pages (i.e. “This belief system works for me – and everyone else had better embrace it too!”).

But, though I try to be as respectful and accommodating as possible towards believers, there is an evangelical Christian faction within the ex-JW movement, and it does not play by the same rules.

While some Christians jumped to my defense over last year’s aggressive activism debacle, rightly acknowledging that harassing cult victims is anything but loving and Christlike, they were worryingly few in number. Aggressive activism and evangelical Christianity, it seems, usually go hand in hand.

Worse still, though I hate that this is so, as of this moment I can probably count on one hand the number of friends I have who are both Christian and genuinely respectful of my lack of belief, including my right to criticize religion on my YouTube channel.

And I can understand the reason for this.

Though there are liberal Christians out there who embrace a “live and let live” approach, and who aren’t remotely concerned as to whether others around them embrace their beliefs or not, the simple truth is: evangelism is a part of Christianity. It is mandated for Christians by Jesus himself. (Matthew 28:19)

Christians who take their faith seriously are supposed to think that anyone who doesn’t share their belief in Jesus as savior has slightly (or radically) bleaker future prospects than they do. In that context, promoting one’s beliefs when the opportunity presents itself, such as when others are discussing religion on a website or forum, is only to be expected. In their minds, they are doing us all a favor.

But rather than its members simply extolling their own understanding of God and his requirements for humans, for some time now the evangelical Christian faction has adopted a troubling new approach: stamping out the fledgling ex-JW atheist faction wherever it manifests itself.

Again, I only need to dip into the way my mind was calibrated as a JW, and the motivation behind this offensive by the evangelical wing is as clear as day.

As a JW, apostates were not just slightly-misguided fellow creatures who were pitied but still worthy of respect. They were the enemy. The gloves were off. Apostates were agents of Satan himself who were to be, not just avoided at all costs, but resisted and repudiated if they made incursions into God’s organization and its all-important kingdom work.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the same righteous indignation fuels the hate-strewn rants of the likes of the Brooks’ and Alun Williams (another even more eccentric would-be spiritual mentor), to name only a few. They will not share the same space with unbelievers. They can barely tolerate the fact that unbelievers exist, but the moment an ex-JW unbeliever such as myself opens his mouth and criticizes their cherished beliefs on a suitably well-subscribed YouTube channel, this constitutes an act of war. I become “fair game” (to coin a Scientology expression), and any tactics no matter how underhanded may be brought to bear.

No perceived flaw or slip-up is too trivial to warrant an avalanche of criticism. Even giving away an unauthorized copy of a book is to be treated with horror and disgust, and responded to with character assassinations of the most severe kind – even if the one doing the criticizing is guilty of the same indiscretion.

By this point you are probably thinking: “Ok, I get it. There is an evangelical faction in the exJW community, and it has its knives sharpened for anyone like you who espouses atheism. But what is different? How has anything changed?”

The Christian evangelical faction has, to my knowledge, always been mostly populated by demonstrably-eccentric conspiracy theorists, obsessed with freemasonry, subliminal images and the illuminati, who are almost a parody of themselves. But, like Donald Trump, against all odds they are gaining in influence, and have already attracted a respectable portfolio of more eloquent, credible spokespersons to rally to their banner.

This latest copyright fiasco came as a surprise, not because of the ferocity of the attack over such a trivial issue, but because it succeeded in duping a number of fellow activists – including a couple of respectable Christians I was hitherto friends with, who gave me bear hugs last time I met them in person, and who have featured on my YouTube channel.

I was previously unaware of there being any animosity between this couple (who I can’t name) and myself, and they were even friends with me on Facebook. But one of them made it clear in a private email exchange with a mutual friend that, because I offered an unauthorized copy of a book on my YouTube channel, I am to be considered “toxic,” a “liability” and “bad for business.”

The vitriolic tirade in which these sentiments appeared was apparently an ill-judged attempt to use the copyright issue as leverage to turn my friend and certain other fellow activists against me and my work. The person was, in effect, outing themselves as a “Cedars hater” and siding with Mike and Kim Brooks.

Again, you are probably thinking: “So what? Why do I need to know all this? Why do you even need to write about it? By writing about it you are only exacerbating an already fraught situation, and possibly putting off JWs who will leap on all this as evidence that life outside Watchtower is full of bickering and turmoil.”

I am writing about this situation because it matters – or should matter to those who value free inquiry and intellectual honesty over religious zealotry and unfounded dogma. Things will not improve by ignoring the underlying problem, the elephant in the room. Whether I like it or not, a bitter war between the evangelical and atheist factions in the ex-JW community is raging – and it has just escalated.

A war I don’t want

I did not sign up to be an activist four years ago because I sought confrontation and controversy. Believe it or not, I loath confrontation and will avoid it where possible. But whether I like fighting or not, fighting – if only of the defensive sort – is precisely what I must now do if I am to continue despite sustained efforts to silence my atheism by those who insist everyone should believe as they do.

What matters to me is not power, prestige, money or popularity. If I wanted those things, there are far easier ways of obtaining them than being a secular-minded ex-JW anti-cult activist. What matters to me is one thing, and one thing alone: the fight for truth. It is a fight that has been going on for centuries, fought by great minds and inspirational individuals who have made immense individual sacrifices to birth a society as tolerant and progressive as the one we now enjoy.

But nothing can be taken for granted, and those who insist on inflicting their ignorance on everyone else are far from disappearing in the rear view mirror. The struggle continues and effects all of us, whether it is creationists rallying for equal time in the classroom, or gays and lesbians being denied equal rights, or jihadists trying to burn civilization as we know it. And in my own corner of this global battlefield, I refuse to keel over and capitulate to evangelical thugs such as Mike and Kim Brooks or those they succeed in enticing to flock to their anti-intellectual crusade.

That is why I wanted to let my readers and YouTube subscribers know that, from now on, I will be more open than ever about my atheism, and my channel will feature more videos specifically on that subject. It is painfully apparent from my interactions with Christian evangelical ex-JWs that many of them are completely unaware of the arguments for unbelief, and I want to do my part to redress the balance.

JWsurvey, meanwhile, will remain for the most part as it is now – a welcoming environment for both the religious and secular-inclined alike. Scriptures will continue to be freely cited where necessary, because even though Christianity is objectively without evidence as a belief system, it just so happens that the bible is still in conflict with the teachings and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a plethora of areas.

Finally, a message…

To my critics I say: Get off my back, or prepare for a long and bitter struggle, because I didn’t break free from years of cult servitude to be told to “shut up,” and I won’t be bullied. And even if you should succeed in silencing me, ultimately the wind is in the sails of free inquiry, science and reason. Others will pick up my baton when I finish, and I am already far from alone.

To my friends I say: Thank you so much for your support, but PLEASE refrain from attacking those who attack me. By doing so you only bolster their persecution complex, and rather than take out their frustration on you they will only escalate their onslaught.

And to Jehovah’s Witnesses who might be reading this, I say: The fact that ex-JW apostates are fighting each other is not evidence that you are not in a cult. It only means that Watchtower indoctrination has a range of extremely unpleasant side-effects, which include suspicion, paranoia, jealousy, anger and bitterness. All of those things can be found in abundance in kingdom halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but at least those of us on the outside have the ability to choose who our friends are for ourselves. And the longer you stay in the cult, the more pronounced those characteristics may be when you are finally able to walk away.

 

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*For the record, I do not say there was nothing wrong in my offering an unauthorized copy of Crisis of Conscience. I merely say that apologies need to go to those to whom they are owed, and any breach of copyright is strictly an issue between me and the copyright holder. And if you insist on besieging me with complaints on the matter, if you are fair and consistent you must similarly rebuke everyone who has involved themselves in downloading or distributing a PDF of the book – something the copyright holder has hitherto done nothing, to my knowledge, to halt. Others have complained that the JWsurvey.org logo has been added to the copy I was giving away, but the logo was added by my friend, not me – not that I think doing so was the heinous crime people are framing it as. And if you are to chastise me simply because my website is advertised on someone else’s copy of a book, you also need to level similar criticism at the owner of the JWfacts.com website, which is also endorsed.

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259 Responses to The trouble with apostates (and why it shouldn’t put you off being one)

  1. Deep Thinker says:

    Just want to mention what Winston Churchill said:

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

    • minion says:

      @ Deep Thinker,

      In these battles the enemy was a worthy opponent.

      However, with current JWSurvey haters – these are unworthy, unfit, unjustifiable, inconclusive, uncertified, and mentality disease (I quote WT terminology).

      Unworthy of an opponent to battle. The battle is already won.

      Internet numbers viewership don’t lie.

      Watchtower Corporation does lie.

      JWSurvey = “Unity in Freedom for Thruth”

      Peace out,

  2. minion says:

    JWSurvey = “Unity in Freedom for Thruth”

    JWSurvey = “Unity in Freedom for Thruth”

    JWSurvey = “Unity in Freedom for Thruth”

    Peace out

  3. rikos says:

    some time last year i send mike recommendations that the way he was speaking to the jehovah witnesses was totally unacceptable,disrespectful, with anger and nerve.
    i was very embarrassed to be ex-jehovah witnesses. i ask him to change his style, to be culm and to respect those people who was still in captivity inside the watchtower. the only way you can help those people is if you imitate other ex-jehovah witnesses in a good nobility and respect. In reply he make a video part was towards me to criticize my english and he express anger and humility towards me. i continue to lessening to his videos because he was unveiled good information, i am not complain to anyone i am just expressing myself how embarrassing i was when our movement should be very professional.

  4. Tony Brock says:

    This is a very important article. This discord between ex-JW’s really took me by surprise after joining Facebook and connecting with so many. I think that when you have spent your whole life as a JW, you are used to JW’s being on the same page with you at all times (even though they likely went home and bashed you behind your back – I know I did). You had to pretend that you were all friends, all the time. Now as I connect with ex-JW’s, I see that this guard has (reasonably) been let down. I assumed all would be rational, skeptical thinkers. Many are, but I have also ran into my fair share of evangelicals, conspiracy theorists, and far left and right wingers. Being technically still in and attending meetings, it would be easy to see going back as an easy option. There are times when I look around the hall and think, “Man, these are really nice people, maybe I am making a mistake.” Obviously, this is intellectually dishonest, but it appeals to me emotionally.

    Thank you for such a timely article.

    Tony “arm-chair activist for now” Brock

  5. Robert67 says:

    It seems there is no real owner of the rights to Crisis of Concious and Search of Christian Freedom. I would still attempt some due diligence, but found this on another ex jw website. I don’t know how I would feel about someone trying to make a living off of Rays work, but I do know his message has to continue to help others. Still hearing about current JW’s acquiring current copies of these life saving books, just to destroy them.

    It is simple. Ray had a glut of the previous 3rd-cover edition, before the last paperback version, which was revised from the hardcover. Ray had a garage full of hardcovers that weren’t selling good, since a newer and cheaper paperback version was printed by Amazon. Dan Dystra And his wife Deb took care of Cynthia, and Deb took over the book sales, and wanted to get rid of the remaining hardcovers, so they didn’t want to paperback on Amazon yet. So

    Deb and Cynthia decided it was best to hold back distributing the newer revised paperback until they unloaded much of the hardcovers. There were stalls along the way. Not a scheme, just they need to unload a garage full of books, originally printed by Tom Cabeen’s company.

    So now you can get the newer paperback cheap, and the older hardcover. Best bet is the downloads! Save your money.

    No scam, just practical idea that took way too long to implement, thus the VERY high prices on Amazon for awhile. Before Deb, I was basically the only authorized seller except for a couple of others of his friends.

    Now Amazon has the rights to print and distribute it. But it is offline for now, and only the expensive versions are listed. Get a digital copy! I shut down my store, and never made much money from them, although I sold thousands over the years, I guess the garage still has quite a few paperbacks left. Not good marketing strategy for such a needed book, but the girls must know what they are doing. (???)

    When I die I will be forgotten in a month. No big deal. I just want my scrapbooks up!

    When I ended up in the hospital two years ago, got out with no explanation of my problem and they still haven’t figured it out yet, only about 4 or 5 people out of my 2800 subscribers bothered to email me, and NONE from this board. Even all my own bloggers! That’s why I shut down freeminds2.org. I canned the site because of my “helpers” and “bloggers.” It wasn’t worth killing myself and trying to help unappreciative persons and people who offered their help and bailed, leaving me dead in the water. . Life on the internet is fleeting.

    Doesn’t bother me, I could do without all the phone calls and donations then. couldn’t even take a salary after that, as 90% of our income disappeared, just because I wasn ‘t posting on the net daily. What kind of stupidity is that? Even my own bloggers weren’t interested in what happened to me. I’m over busting my ass on the Net, but freeminds.org will always continue, at least as a monument to my blood, sweat and tears for over 30 years. But I am more than happy with what I’ve accomplished MYSELF.

    Going to reinvent myself, if I can overcome my bodily fractures. I can barely walk now, and the doctors can’t figure it out. I have learned I always have to do things myself, or they won’t get done. But I’m used to living that philosophy.

    I have probably the only person-run cult ministry in the world that could gross over 100k a year the last few years, with NO money from churches, organizations, or very little from people on this site. I shut down my stores.

    But I had a lot of generous givers that I made friends with 25-30 years ago, and they still are great friends, but they have all but retired. They kept me alive. Kudos to the Jansmas, Danny Haszard, and many other great friends of mine, who except for Danny never really visited this site. Making good friends and keeping them is the key to life… and NOT internet-only friends. Poof! and they’re gone one day. A waste of time when you’ve already accomplished what you wanted to from the start. And I did, much more so than I expected.

    I was one of the very first on the Net re: JWs in 1996, and always had the greatest traffic for decades… over 2k unique visitors a day. There are still several gigs of files, video and audio on my site, but have to fix some links now that all will be part of the freeminds.org site. I dumped all the stuff from freeminds2.org… it wasn’t me at all, and all who ASKED to help that proposed to fix and work on the site bailed, dropping my income to $2800 a year because the site was broken. But I know of no one else that could, by themselves, draw in over 100k a year consistently before they came along and broke it all. But they meant well.

    Oh well, I need a permanent vacation.

    peace,

    Randy Watters

    http://randallwatters.org (links to be fixed shortly)

    • Pat says:

      Randy, I left the WT in 1997 and you’re site was instrumental in my exit. When it became inactive I just thought you had had enough! I’m so sorry that it was your health that was the culprit, and also that hardly anyone (including myself) thought to ask if you were alright. As you say, blogs etc on the internet come and go and probably people accept that for what it is. Once again, apologies to you and best wishes in regard to your health.

  6. Peter Jeuck says:

    Having grown up in a family and religious environment that was hostile to education I attended college ten years after I should have after graduating high school. In college I drifted into a scientific, physical sciences curriculum because I discovered I was good at mathematics. I went on to obtain a graduate degree in engineering. Still it took another 20+ years before I would fully wake up to the truth. I fought hard for my personal intellectual freedom, and through the years drew increased criticism from among those I knew in my childhood religion to the level of vitriol. I am now personally the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. What scares me the most is the increasing activity, political and socially, by increasingly organized Christian radicalism to silence freedom of thought, expression and sciences based truth. Yes my faith has been lost. But with that loss of faith I gained a freedom of mind that I wish for all. There is a war and the war is against such freedoms we now enjoy being waged by a closed minded majority. I find it hard to believe that the majority of people in the nation I live in, the stalwart of freedom has almost the lowest percentage of people who accept evolution as true. I think the battle against ignorance is broadening and intensifying. I worry about the kind of world my five month old grandson will have to live in. All systems that prey on people’s minds whether they are considered a cult or main stream, if their goal is to crush and defeat reason and truth, their true goal is eliminating everyone’s freedom.

    • Winston Smith says:

      Peter,

      It sounds like you and I followed similar paths, although I may have been 10 -15 years behind you. Due to the controlling religious environment I grew up in as well, I also did not attend college until about 10 years after high school. I also pursued a degree in Applied Sciences (as I mentioned in an earlier post I am currently pursuing my graduate level degree).

      I definitely credit the education I received at my University for developing and honing my critical thinking skills. It took me about another 10 years (from the time I began college) to start to fully wake up to the truth about the Truth. Certain congregational developments assisted me in seeing things as they truly were (In scientific terms I call these developments “catalysts” for a reaction that would have simply occurred more slowly without them).

      You didn’t indicate what country you were from – I’m from the US and we have a major issue with the fundamentalist and creationist agendas (and their heavy involvement in the political system). There is just so much misinformation out there. I have been faded from the JW religion for about 3 years, and it wasn’t until about 1-1/2 years ago that I started to truly appreciate the scientific validity of the Theory of Evolution. I mentioned this author in an earlier post, Donald Prothero, and I found his book “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” very insightful into the facts about fossil discoveries and the flawed reasoning of creationists. I later learned that the JW Creation Book was mostly a regurgitation of creationist concepts. Protherto pointed out that it is entirely possible for a person to be both spiritual/religious and scientific. But the reality is that the two have little to do with each other.

      Science is based on facts, that which we can observe, while religion is based solely on faith. I came to realize that I believe in a higher power simply because I choose to. Others can choose not to. Generally speaking, you cannot factually argue in favor of one belief system over another. They are based on faith. Even the scriptures admit that “faith is not a possession of all people” (2 Thes 3:2). And it’s okay if someone does not possess religious faith or they simply have a different faith from you. It’s not a reason to hate.

      WS

  7. David says:

    Just want to let you know that there are probably many more like me, who really enjoy reading your articles.
    I can only speak for myself, of course, but I have been reading your articles now for years. Only in the beginning I was commenting on some, but mostly I tried to be brief and just thank you for a good written article, as I want to do this time again. Already then I felt that there would be quite some who really loved criticizing other views, so I saw it as wise not to comment too much. It’s not nice to hear what you have to go through now, while just helping others to awaken to this cult. You were a big help for me going through this phase of my life. I’m not saying this was the only help, but one of the very big ones. So, thank you for continuing this. You certainly have a gift, many others don’t have. Wishing you all the best and hope you have the strength to go on!

  8. Omar says:

    This interesting reading, Thank to John. I watch video exJW and watch this one:

    http://youtu.be/cLMJUiEl2Lc

    Also interesting video. I need Conscience Crisis en espanol.

  9. Frenchman says:

    Looking forward for more outspoken atheist views! Religious people speak out unapologetically. The world would be better off without religion. We’re reminded of this everyday. Enough with fairy tales, imaginary friends, delusion, after worlds, ignorance, cult of death and negation of this only life.
    Being french, I will quote the french philosopher Michel Onfray with a sentence I subscribe entirely to: “Atheism is not therapy, but restored mental health”. It says it all.

  10. RetiredLE says:

    “The worst kind of oppression is when the victims think and talk in the language of their oppressors.”
    ― M.F. Moonzajer, LOVE, HATRED AND MADNESS

  11. Gwen says:

    It is so disheartening to hear about fellow exJWs behaving in this manner. I am still a Christian but I acknowledge that there is really no proof of my belief system, hence it is a faith. I respect atheists, agnostics, heck, even Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, I may disagree with other people’s beliefs but to each his own. It disappoints me when I hear about fellow Christians behaving in a very un-Christ-like manner. You do good work, Cedars and I am grateful for it. Please don’t let anyone discourage you from fighting the good fight against Watchtower. My activism is limited to witnessing to JWs when they come to my door – asking the questions that get them thinking about their doctrines but in a manner respectful of their humanity. I wish I had the time and energy to do the kind of work that you do. I certainly wouldn’t criticize anyone who spends their time and effort and money helping others to escape a damaging cult.

  12. Pat says:

    To coin a phrase “why can’t we all just get along?” Very upsetting to hear about all this kerfuffle yet as others as well as Cedars have said, we couldn’t have independent thoughts or speech while we were in WT so I suppose it’s inevitable there are clashes of opinion now we are free to express ourselves. Sad that the ‘us against them’ mentality continues to flourish even after WT. As a journey to atheism was my own experience, I shake my head. What difference are we to WT if we continue to squabble between us? I don’t think spouting vitriol against each other accomplishes anything. I listened to Mike and Kim once and once only, they are not for me. I enjoy jwsurvey and Cedars youtube channel and thank you for them Lloyd. I enjoy other activists contributions too. As an armchair activist I am in awe of the amount of work people put into it. My thanks to all of you.

  13. Man from the lions pit says:

    Hi Lloyd I’m just re posting my comment for you from the begging of this concussion because I posted as replay to other commenter and not as direct reply to you.This is overflowing with reaction and I’m pleased to see that majority is of your support with many commenting for first time !
    ———————————
    I have kind same concern as Ken S above.
    To be brief I would say at fist that you are different class than Mike & Kim.
    I saw ones of their videos some time ago but simply put it’s not for me.
    So if you want “fight”them its up to you but I think it’s a waist of time and energy but I respect your current feelings.Just keep in mind that feelings are subject of change in time and space. 🙂
    So my concern is if you will be able to keep you mind frame in same good shape and focus on your original objective “to give voice to silent majority” as ex JW on this platform at the same time profile yourself in Y tube channel as “advocate of atheism in fight against evangelical Christians”.
    To me this is asking about kind bipolar approach which will weaken your current strong position in this segment.
    The success (I don’t mean commercial or how many visitors your site have) of JW Surwey is that you were able to tackle some issues of JW.org in original way thus pleasing to many .You open eyes (awake) of many of JW community so this ability and position will be endanger in my humble opinion.
    I respect your personal development as you described that you came from being a JW trough agnosticism to atheism but don’t forget the journey of searching for the TRUTH in life doesn’t end in the camp of the atheist.
    If than would be case than we wouldn’t have those who leave this camp in disappointment and go there where the others come from or somewhere else.
    My best wishes to you and your family Loyd,stay strong bro !

  14. phoenix_rising says:

    I was also surprised to see the level of chaos within the ex-JW community. I think it has to do with people being held down like a spring when they are in the organization – then once out they just fly off. It’s like yes the chains have been removed but its not an excuse for crummy behavior. I refuse to be one of those bitter ex-JW’s. Better to have learned the truth about the truth then to die in darkness mentally. When I see ones bemoaning their age in relation to how long they were in darkness – Well okay! You were deceived by a lie and maybe you feel cheated. But guess what – you are now in charge of your destiny! Make the most of it! Don’t become some foam at the mouth snot like I see certain ones on youtube. If you’re going to engage with the ex-JW community then contribute something. Be positive. Know when to laugh at the organization. Know when to laugh at yourself. Know when to be angry and to focus that anger on the right things.
    But most importantly remind yourself what you have gained: True Freedom. As I type this I sit in my office and look out and see my co-workers – many who I am going to spend time with during Christmas. And I appreciate that I am no longer afraid of worldly people – they haven’t hurt me – they wont shun me because of differing views. But I also have some work to do! I need to finish school – start working out again – and take advantage of the years I have left. Not out of spite but out of celebration that the years I have left are my years – and what I get out of them is what I put into them.
    Everyday I make a list of three things to do. They are always random. Here is today’s list.
    1) Hold the door for someone
    2) Make someone laugh
    3) Help someone disadvantaged feel valued

    Simple and silly I know – but its been helping me take the focus off of being shunned. Atheist – God believing – whatever you believe – we should all treat each other kindly and with respect. Those are just my two cents. I hope this brought a little cheer to some of you.

  15. Rhentt says:

    You, good sir, are an inspiration. Your work has helped thousands of cult members find their way out, and thousands of cult survivors make sense of things that didn’t seem right. Please, for the thousands more to be reached, don’t let the self righteous hypocrites get you down. Assholes come and go, the good guys stick around through the tough times. Thank you for all you do.

  16. Amber says:

    I think it is clear to anyone with common sense that Mike & Kim are a little bit “off”. Just the fact that they send a Cease & Desist letter to keep Lloyd from mentioning THEM in any of his videos, but then have the audacity to still mention HIM in their videos shows that they are a few french fries short of a happy meal. And the crazy video Mike made to “reprimand” Lloyd for something that was absolutely none of his business, really was the icing on the cake. I was embarassed for him and what a spectacle he made of himself, but it also really angered me because of his pompous, self righteous attitude. Just like the JW elder mentality…disgusting.

  17. KeriG says:

    Like others, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the articles and videos, which have truly been a key for my own awakening. I’m glad you will not be bullied by the likes of those you mentioned, and I hope you can continue to not let it get under your skin (I don’t know that I could). I remember watching a few of the videos of those mentioned and I found them very off-putting. I realize now why that was the case. They sound like they are still within the organization. They sound bitter. There was at least one family within every congregation I ever attended who sounded like this. They didn’t believe they were getting the recognition they deserved, they complained and talked behind the backs of those who they perceived or did receive ‘special privileges’, and they were always the ones with the latest gossip about who was in trouble and for what (whether the information they were spreading was accurate or not!). This couple has obviously brought this mentality with them to their crusade. I would refer to it as an anti-WT crusade, but this does not seem to be the case. I don’t say this as an attack on them, but this was the perception that I had from them, which made me entirely grateful to find this website and articles.

    I also applaud you for expressing more atheistic views going forward. I went from deistic, to agnostic, to agnostic atheist during my own time waking. I think it is as important for people who are waking up to see there is a community of people who no longer have a belief in religion, as there is a community for those who are still religiously inclined. Coming out from under indoctrination is hard enough without thinking that you have put yourself at odds with those who could be your allies, as most have already been cutoff from their former support.

    So good job. Keep posting excellent articles and videos. I may not have children yet, but you still have helped save any future ones from growing up in this cult.

  18. Amber says:

    I happened to see the video by Unwitness about this situation purely by chance, and I can’t even explain how furious I became listening to him go on about it like it was the worst thing ever! WTF? And the way he kept saying how “Cedars thinks your stupid, Cedars is lying to you”(sounding a bit like Lett?)and how he was Superman protecting Ray Franz’ legacy from evil Cedars. And all I could think of is, this Joel guy is really pathetic. He just dislikes Cedars and will use anything he can to stir up trouble. And reading the comments, I was surprised that certain people were going along with it (like, really? You can’t understand that the $10 is just for the paper? Not Profit?! It’s a big book!) I also found it amusing how Joel thanks people for “seeing it his way” in the comments. FYI, I’ve always been just a neutral party watching everyones youtube videos(I’m also an ex-jw who left 13 years ago after 33 years in, and am shunned by my family also)but this Cedars bashing has really pissed me off, especially that stupid video that Mike Brooks made! Those 2 pompous pigs need to either get down off their high horses or go back to being JW’S with their “Elder Mentality” because we Ex-JW’s don’t play that!

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you so much for mentioning his complaint about the $10 per book. I was thinking the exact same thing. I loved how Joel pointed to that and said that that was the reason he made his expose video. He so obviously took that email (which may or may not have been fabricated haha) way out of context present it as a “damning fact.”

  19. Gary says:

    Thank you for posting this.

    Most of the greatest crimes ever committed against man have been done so in the name of religion, and without question the worst douche-bags I have personally met and experienced in this lifetime have also been among the most pious. After reading this blog entry, your video, and having experienced first hand what happens to people to whom they don’t agree with, Mike and Kim (M+K) have PROVEN themselves to be no exception in that regard.

    The fact that you actually PURCHASED those copies pretty much defeats the entire argument that you are illegally selling the book and attempting to profit off of those leaving the cult. Considering that I too have done/still do desktop publishing, those numbers sound about right for printing costs. As for the other issues such as the logo on the back, seriously who cares? LOL!

    That’s too bad as M+K have the charisma and enough of a following that they really don’t need to resort to harassing other members of the ex-JW community. If memory serves though it seems that they stated that they didn’t really care what a person’s beliefs were, that it was more important to stand together as a community… apparently a disingenuous comment on their part. That and if you are correct in assessment of what is really bothering them what it is that they hope to gain by being at the top of the pyramid so to speak.

    The Watchtower is pretty much going the way of Scientology in that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Depending on what happens with the accusations of paedophillia and the alleged instructions to destroy church records, the Watchtower might not even be around in a few years from now.

    I’ve never been baptized or formally a JW, but it seems that they have still managed to play a significant role in my life regardless. A number of years ago someone very special to me committed suicide… while I’m not going to say that it is the Watchtower’s fault, her prior involvment with that cult played a very significant role in what happened. Much of the reason I have been following the ex-JW community is to try and gain my own understanding.

    Another factor is that when the JWs in the area set up their own internet ISP (NWTech if anyone is interested.. now defunct, but wouldn’t be surprised if some of their staff got hired on to JW.org), and I was contracted out to help train some of their staff. Needless to say, I was put under a lot of pressure to join the organization. For that reason I felt the need to find out as much as possible to protect and defend myself.

    In other words, I came here looking for information, not to get involved in a clash of personalities. However when I saw that M+K were singling you out in public over what seemed to be a trivial matter, it gave me reason to stop and look. After looking through the evidence, I realized that M+K was doing this purely for the sake of “stirring the pot”. When I tried to point this out, I got banned and my comments removed.

    Ultimately the only people that M+K are going to hurt is themselves. Those that are intelligent and hooked into the “cult of personality” will see through their game and distance themselves. Then again if M+K play this card too often, they will more than likely chase off their subscription base more than anything.

    At any rate, I for one really do appreciate your work Lloyd. Regardless of the idiots out there, you are doing a great public service! Thank you!

  20. nullandvoidboy says:

    I want to tell you that if it wasn’t for me coming upon JWsurvey, I would still have been that guilt ridden JW who wasn’t able to reconcile his troubled feelings with a belief system that made no sense….had I come across any of the “evangelical” activists, they would have scared me right back into a kingdom hall….I saw common sense spoken here….logic….and for the most part, patience.
    I consider myself agnostic leaning towards atheist. I in NO WAY EVER want to trade one false belief system for another…my Ex wife has….she is now a Buddhist…I respect what anyone wants or doesn’t want in their life, but no one is ramming ANYTHING down my throat…and by the same token, neither will I.
    The WTS has left a lot of damage in it’s wake, but coming across this site has helped the healing to take root in me……but if some aggressive wing nut started yelling at me to “wake up”, while I was still a Jdub, I probably would’ve stayed one….Thanks for your kind, common sense approach Cedars

  21. Jon Stewart says:

    That’s a great article JC. I’ve been a follower for some time, and have also touched base with the couple you mention. I’m involved in the recovery community, which has it’s own discourse around thought reform and whether or not religion has a place largely due to the undoubted success of AA and the 12 steps. However, ultimately, truth counts – and the truth is … the God of the Gaps has shrunk to such a tiny place that it’s no longer meaningful – however deep our evolutionary needs for religion as an effective form of social bonding may be. So well done for standing up for truth, science, progressiveness, honesty, the future, atheism, logic … and all those other good things. It takes a brave person to do that. You have many friends you don’t even know. If you haven’t seen it already, check out Prof Andy Thomson’s “Why We Believe In God(s)” talk to the American Atheists 2009 convention on YouTube. It’s stunning. Really worth a watch and will give you a lift in those moments of self doubt. All the best, Jon Stewart, England.
    http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/29/alcoholics-anonymous-saved-my-life-but-i-lost-my-faith

  22. Sue says:

    One thing that we as exJWs have a hard time with is judgmental black and white thinking. It was inculcated in to us that you are either good or bad and we regularly demonized people who weren’t in our JW bubble. It takes a huge mind shift to understand that there are many shades of grey and we don’t all have to agree and it doesn’t matter if we all agree.

    I know Lloyd can find it frustrating at times and can get cranky… not surprising considering the amount of flack he gets. Those of you who had your feelings hurt because he said something insulting and decided to start a vendetta to get this site lose its support need to examine your motives. This site is too important to let your personal feelings get in the way of its work.

  23. Faded says:

    Lloyd, you have the best blog on the Internet. I may have walked away, “faded” from this cult over the last ten years, and doing my best to extricate myself from the indoctrination that I feel is part of my DNA, but I actually find myself mad at my hubby sometimes when he doesn’t agree with something I think. On any given subject!! Lol. I think that’s part of that bs unity of thought indoctrination I was raised with. It’s something I’m working through in therapy. Not to mention I’m just a pushy broad at times. Hee hee. But Mike and Kim are similar to this in that they’re not happy with those who aren’t practicing apostate activistism THEIR way. That’s a little off the wall. Isn’t it enough we finally get awakened to the truth about the truth, only to dive into another belief in one minute? I don’t think that’s rational. You slowly evolved to the place you are now. I’m at ground zero. I’m not sure the bible is the word of God, or even if there IS a God, and that’s on ME to figure out on my own personal quest. Not for anyone else. What I love about your blog and some others’ You Tube channels is the commiseration and support. It means so much, I cannot articulate it as I’d like. We stepped out of a Orewellian cult, only to walk into another one force fed by unstable, resentful apostates? No thanks. Mike and Kim can do as they please, but they seriously need to dial it down. Lol I left this cult to think for myself. Not for more bullying and being told what to believe. You keep doing what you’re doing. You’re a gentleman and a brilliant dude. Respect. Deep respect.

  24. christopher Lord evans says:

    Happy Christmas
    To everyone. I was a jehovahs witness for around 25 years and left some 15 years ago.
    And even you yourself are still connected subconsciously and consciously to the j.w. why do I say this? when you make the break, then you also let go of all those books on your bookshelf, the mind controlling books and those watchtowers, and when you burn them up then you are on your road to recovery. This is a symbolic and physical gesture of defiance below your level of consciousness. Until such time as you do this, you are all still connected and being fed by the watchtower society. You are still promoting their favourite mind control over you and your family. There will be haters, and pain and misery from others whom discharge and vent their own fears and pains upon others by condemning others, until they too let go and find peace.

    • Caroline says:

      @christopher Lord evans, I threw away a whole bunch of our old books that were duplicates and now on Ebay they go for big bucks.

      Those old Watchtower and Awake magazines and bound volumes and books and brochures are worth an awful lot of money on Ebay. A while ago, I saw one of those old phonographs the Witnesses used to use, go for over $1,000.00 and magazines and old bound volumes go for hundreds of dollars.

      When I first started waking up, I didn’t have any of those old magazines and books and had to send for them on Ebay and one I even had to pay over $200.00 for so I could prove to myself what the Watchtower Society used to preach in the time when Jesus and Jehovah supposedly chose the Watchtower Society as the word of God from Jehovah in the early 1900’s to the 1940’s.

      I had to prove it to myself that the so-called “apostates” weren’t lying about what the Watchtower used to print when they claim that Jehovah and Jesus had appointed them as their one and only spokesman to mankind on earth.

      If you are just waking up and haven’t destroyed your old Watchtower literature, whatever you do, don’t throw away your old literature! It is priceless when it comes to showing friends and relatives what the Society used to print, if they will let you show it to them if they aren’t afraid that the old Watchtower literature isn’t “apostate” now that it’s “old light”.

      That old literature shows that the Society is not and never was directed by God, if those old “truths” change like that and were silly, compared to what the Society is saying is the “truth” today. That old literature, it convinces us, more than anything that we don’t have to be afraid of the Watchtower and their elders and Governing Body because of the nonsense they were printing at that time.

      Jehovah wouldn’t be telling the rank and file or the Governing Body lies all that time to get them through until the rank and file can accept the “real” truth. Why would God be withholding “truths” so “deep in the end”?

      If there was a perfect God really directing the organization, he’d have been telling them the real “truth” all along. That old literature proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is not a perfect creator God directing the Watchtower Organization. If nothing, else, it proves that there is an “evil” entity directing the Organization.

  25. To my friends I say: Thank you so much for your support, but PLEASE refrain from attacking those who attack me. By doing so you only bolster their persecution complex, and rather than take out their frustration on you they will only escalate their onslaught.

  26. debian70 says:

    Don’t give up! Thank you

  27. Tony Vida says:

    Actually, apostasy has entered the Organization. When the angel Gabriel visited Daniel and gave him the final prophecy of the final part of the days or the time of the end. Gabriel said to Daniel, “Im going to show you what will befall your people.” Daniel 10:4 Gabriel meant this as a whole, as a nation. What befell them,? Daniel 11:32, “32 By smooth words he will [ao]turn to godlessness (NWT, apostasy) those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”
    What JW’s don’t understand because they are far too arrogant to understand, is that they are not EXEMPT from what the last two previous nations suffered at the hands of Jehovah’s enemies. What happened?? Destuction and a great scattering from Babylon in 587 B.C.E. and Rome in 70 C.E. And when it comes to the word apostates, the only place where Apostate is ever mentioned in the bible, as “Apostate Nation”. You JW’s are smart when it comes to the bible, look up the term in your bible concordance. Im not giving you the scripture. Bad thing is, the JWs cant see the apostasy, because of their heart condition Jehovah has closed their eyes to it. (Not a good sign for them)

  28. TiredofHatefulJWApostates says:

    I am so glad I found this site – the search query I typed in was “ex jehovah’s witnesses who aren’t conspiracy nuts”.

    I was raised a jw, but left in 1997 after my mother died and though I have Complex PTSD (due to sexual and other forms of abuse while I was a jw – no, not by someone in the cong so I’m not a lamb. I knew a few, though), I have never felt the pull to go back. Never. Not once.

    For some reason, though, when I was on Youtube over this past weekend, I saw a video by an exjw but I don’t remember (my memory’s not the best) exactly who it was and I went from there. All the things I remembered, all the reasons I left were in those videos. So glad there are more exjws speaking out than when I originally left and looked for support online. Leaving was one thing, shaking off the conditioning was quite another.

    To my point – over and over again were the mentions of the Freemasons, the NWO, and other conspiracy lingo. I have rejected that because the people who are so deep into that world use the same kind of conditioning and shunning of those who don’t believe as the very Order they rail against, not to mention the racism they never admit to. Red flags went up. I saw people screaming about how there’s no real love in the JWs (which is true in my experience) but in the next breath calling current JWs terrible names and using the foulest language.

    I watched a few more channels, hoping to get different perspectives and the majority I saw were using the same language, parroting the NWO stuff, talking abt conditioning using the same techniques, and it made me super uncomfortable. Were I still in and preparing to leave, I would not want anything to do with such people nor would I feel safe around them. I was relieved when I found your channel, and then this site.

    I am an apostate, and I’m not afraid of that term. What I’m afraid of is the group of very aggressive apostates who are not helping by yelling at current witnesses and abusing exjws who aren’t in lockstep with them. They’re using the same tactics, esp of fear-based conditioning, that the Society uses. I was put off. OFF.

    There are wonderful apostates who are sincere about spreading the news about how harmful the JW org is, sincere and serious about shining light on a secretive and corrupt org – and they don’t have to yell or scream at or abuse people who attract people to their pages or Youtube channels. There are ways to be exjw activists without putting doubters off. We can do this – that org will fall. People are leaving in droves because they realize they’ve been bamboozled. People are waking up, and it’s thanks to the many exjws who stood up and told their story, made us feel that we’re not alone nor crazy. Back in 1997, there were fewer online, but they were instrumental in showing me that I wasn’t imagining things, that my reasons for leaving were valid.

    I draw the line when people start with the “prepper” talk because that’s nothing but fear-based. And when you mention Alex Jones (another person who’s made his money scaring people and yelling at them – which is why I turned my back on him and his ilk), as a comrade, I’m done. You’ve lost credibility as far as I’m concerned.

    Glad not all apostates want to yell the rest of us into submission!

    • John Redwood says:

      Tired..

      Thank you for your comments

      The editors of JW Survey were all very sincere JWs who know what it is like to be a dedicated member of this faith. We have been elders, ministerial servants, pioneers, RBC workers, and in many cases still have contact with some high ranking JWs right up to the governing body helpers, including the president of one of the Watchtower corporations used by this organization.

      We care about the truth, which is ironically what we all used to call the knowledge we had as JWs. So – if we want the truth, then the truth should stand up to scrutiny at every level.

      Remember – if God always tells the truth – then let’s examine God’s statements and see if we can establish their proof (as stated by the JW organization)

      As for conspiracy theories – well, those too deserve a chance to be proven true or false. The issue we have with most “theories” is that supporters are not willing to allow their beliefs be challenged, and this is very true of the JW organization.

      Interestingly, a person can still be a person of faith in God without denying most scientific discoveries – a fact which most major religions of the world are catching up to. However the JWs are not catching on – the cling to beliefs such as the 4026 BCE date for the creation of Adam, as they declare this as the unchangeable timeline of the Bible – and this is just one example of a doctrine which will unravel their own religion as a result of their own arrogance and ignorance.

      Meanwhile, we will continue to be open minded here at Survey, and accept undeniable truths presented to us from reliable sources. And when we are wrong- we will admit it. Which as I have always said, is something we do not see in the JW organization

      JW