My 21st Century Apostasy Trial

My final act as a Jehovah's Witness was to attend my judicial committee, or apostasy trial

My final act as a Jehovah’s Witness was to attend my judicial committee, or apostasy trial

I received the phone call on Friday night. I was expecting it. My mother-in-law had been approached at the kingdom hall by my “coordinator” (chairman of the local elders), who told her he would be phoning me.

She could tell from his sullen demeanor that it wouldn’t be to talk about the weather. The elders wanted to meet with me.

And so I had plenty of time to brace myself for the inevitable. I knew this was likely to be about my website.

Though I’ve been running JWsurvey for more than two years, it has only been within the past two months that I have shown my face and stepped out, as it were. I knew it was only a matter of time before confrontation with the local elders would ensue.

I will refer to my coordinator as Bob.*

Bob is a likeable guy who has risen through the ranks rapidly since his baptism. When I first met him in 2006 on my first trip to Croatia he had only been baptized a couple of years before. Now he was my local coordinator, which (with all due respect to Bob) epitomizes the shortage of male Witnesses eligible to assume oversight in Croatia. Bob would probably still be handling the microphones by now if he were a Witness in Britain or the States, no matter how capable he may be.

What Bob lacks in charisma and experience he makes up for in kindness and positivity – always wearing a smile on his face. This time, however, I could tell he wasn’t smiling.

“We know about your website,” Bob said in a melancholy voice, after an awkward introduction partly in Croatian, partly in his broken English. At that point, I knew this was finally it. I had been discovered.

“I see,” I replied.

“Could you come to meet with us at the kingdom hall on Sunday night, six o’clock?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “But on one condition…”

I explained to Bob that I seriously disliked two of our elders, and I didn’t want either of them involved in my judicial committee. One elder, Tom, had pulled my wife into the backroom at a meeting without me being present, and interrogated her about me and our private life. The other, Dean, had used information he gleaned from inviting us round for dinner to theorize, entirely mistakenly, about our motives for becoming inactive.

I wanted neither of these men involved in the final act of my 23 years as a Witness. And this still left at least two elders for Bob to choose from to make up the three needed for a judicial committee.

Bob agreed to my condition regarding Dean and Tom. He also agreed that, because I am English with a weak command of Croatian, the meeting would be held in English to the extent possible. It was for this reason, apparently, that an elder from the Branch Office in Zagreb would be attending. I later learned that the branch representative was also invited at least partly due to the fact that Sisak elders had no experience in dealing with apostasy, so they needed some guidance from higher up the chain.

When Sunday evening finally rolled round, I felt reasonably in control. I knew this was basically a formality. Some of my Ex-JW friends were suggesting I take along a lawyer, but I couldn’t imagine how this would be necessary. After all, both parties wanted the same thing – a parting of the ways between me and the organization.

Others suggested I record the meeting for uploading to YouTube as others had done. My wife and I discussed this and both reached the same conclusion. Not only would it be unkind to Bob and the other elders to push them into the limelight without their permission, it would also potentially compromise my integrity.

I would almost certainly be asked not to record the meeting, or whether I was carrying any recording equipment. I wanted to go into the meeting confident, with nothing to hide. I also wasn’t comfortable with lying on tape as to whether I was recording or not. Not recording the meeting and simply writing about it seemed the best course of action to take.

In the hours leading up to my judicial I was bombarded with messages of support and solidarity from others who had been through the same thing. Emails, Facebook messages and tweets came flooding in, giving me great confidence. One tweet, which I found particularly heartwarming, simply said…


Misha was right, I HAD already won. These guys had no power over me. They were simply oblivious spectators in my ongoing struggle with a cruel authoritarian cult that threatens my family. In fact, were it not for my desire to protect my family, I wouldn’t be going at all. I needed to let the organization know what would happen if my local elders made things worse for me than they needed to.

A last-minute email

Moments before I was due to get in the car I received an email. It was from Dad. I had emailed him two days ago to tell him about my judicial committee, inviting him to call me but only if it wasn’t too much for him to handle. His reply read as follows…

You’re right, it is too much, heartbreaking I think for us both. The happiest and most rewarding times of my life as well as the darkest convince me of my beliefs. I am so sad that that has not been you experience. The hardest thing for a parent is to let go when you feel they are making a bad choice. It’s yours to take and I must respect that.

We both must stand the consequences of our determination. You soon will become a parent yourself you will do your best I am sure to give her what you believe to be the best, that’s all your mum and I wanted for you.

I will never give up my hope for you despite your making it clear that if you are put outside you will never return.

I do not know how I will bear it if you reject the way I have chosen to walk, but despite how you feel about my sincerity I cannot put into words the love I feel for you, [your wife], and my prospective grandchild.

Love Dad

I was stunned. My mind had already been grappling with my impending face-off with the organization, and now I had Dad’s email to think about. He had wrongly assumed that I doubted his sincerity.

I knew why he had said this. I also knew that in my reply I would need to put his mind at ease, at least on that score. I don’t question my Dad’s sincerity at all – merely his unbending allegiance to a corrupt organization and refusal to look at the other side of the argument considering what is at stake.

Dad had also pointed out a fundamental difference between us. For him, the times of happiness and sadness in life are the driving force behind his beliefs. For me, periods of good and bad fortune and emotional responses to the same mean nothing when it comes to affirming religious convictions. There is no room for such sentimentality, especially if family ties are in the balance. What is of overriding importance to me is what is true, and what isn’t.

Sadly, Dad cannot see things that way. He cannot see that, in putting trust in an organization that makes him feel good, he is doing nothing different from the billions of followers of other religions across the globe.

It was this contradiction that was highlighted in our last face-to-face encounter. I had been left speechless and sobbing by his seeming indifference to the fact that his logic could lead him to be a follower of ANY religion.

When he came to console me, I shrugged him away. “Don’t you dare pretend to love me!” I yelled in the heat of the moment. That confrontation had clearly left both of us bruised.

Now he was letting me know that “we both must stand the consequences of our determination” – his way of saying, “I will shun you because you no longer share my beliefs, because that’s what my religion tells me to do and I must be obedient.”

It wasn’t unexpected, but it rattled me all the same. I tried to put it to the back of my mind. If anything, this was further proof that I was doing the right thing. No son should ever have to receive that sort of email from his father. My progeny would certainly not see me abandon my relationship with them for ANY reason, let alone personal beliefs. The line would need to be drawn, and it would be drawn tonight.

The trial begins

I parked round the corner from the kingdom hall by the River Kupa, which flows through Sisak, my home town. After filming a quick video in my car, I walked the short distance through the rain to the kingdom hall. The gates to the car park were open. The lights were on, and there were two cars in the car park.

I stepped inside and was greeted by Bob. I entered the auditorium and two other elders greeted me in perfect English, neither of whom I recognized.

One, named Davor, was from the Croatian branch office. He must have been in his forties, schoolteacher-like in appearance. The other elder from Zagreb (about my age or perhaps younger) was called Dean. He seemed jolly and likeable. Bob joked that this was not the same Dean I had specified, so he assumed it was okay to invite him. I said that was fine by me.

We sat down facing each other over a small table that seemed to serve mostly as Davor’s desk. It quickly became obvious that Davor would be chairing the meeting.

I was asked whether it would be okay to conduct at least part of the meeting in Croatian. I said this might be a problem since my Croatian is extremely poor, so if the meeting is to benefit me I would appreciate if they could use English as much as possible, but I wouldn’t mind if I heard the occasional Croatian. They were fine with this.

They asked if it was okay for them to open in prayer, to which I said “yes.” All bowed their heads and Bob said a prayer in Croatian, none of which I could follow – not that I was really trying. I had too much on my mind. I went along with the prayer and said a loud “amen” at the end, just to put their minds at ease more than anything.

I was told that this was a judicial committee, formed on the basis that I was accused of apostasy. Did I understand this? “Yes,” I said.

For the sake of my own privacy, this meeting would not be recorded, and it would be appreciated if I did not record the meeting. I found this logic strange, since I had no concerns over privacy and would have been only too happy for it to be recorded, but this was clearly the Watchtower way of saying “we don’t want you to record this meeting.”

I assured them I wasn’t recording it, and that it was important to me that they understood that I wasn’t recording it. This seemed to put them at ease.

Davor explained that the purpose of the meeting was two-fold. They wished to “offer help” to me spiritually. I found this amusing, not least because it was later explained that doctrine was NOT to be discussed. How could they help me spiritually without discussing doctrine, since the reason I was there was due to my disagreement WITH doctrine? This alone highlighted, for me, how pointless the meeting was.

!cid_DF81B1D9-F625-4EFB-8757-A19D1EED9B7EDavor then made a throwaway remark to the effect that I was free to leave any religion if I so wished.

I had to interject.

“Respectfully, no – I am NOT free to leave this religion. I won’t have any of you tell me that. If I wasn’t being faced with repercussions for leaving, THEN you could say that I am free to leave. But I’ve had an email only this evening from my father telling me that he will shun me once I’ve left. My family is being used by Watchtower as a weapon against me. So you can say whatever you like, but I won’t have it said that I am free to leave this religion. Is that absolutely clear?”

There was awkward silence, begrudging acknowledgment, and the meeting continued.

The second purpose of the meeting, it was explained, was to protect the congregation. Two scriptures in the book of Galatians were read out, as follows…

“Brothers, even if a man takes a false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness.” – Galatians 6:1, New World Translation (2013 revision)

“A little leaven ferments the whole batch of dough.” – Galatians 5:9, New World Translation (2013 revision)

The latter scripture made me chuckle to myself. Were they aware that they were insulting me by referring to me as leaven that could corrupt others? Apparently not. I was to take it as a given that I was no better than a lump of yeast in their eyes. And again, how were they hoping to “readjust” me with a “spirit of mildness” while refusing to discuss my issues with the organization? It was plain crazy.

With the scriptural pretext to the meeting out of the way, conversation turned to my apostasy. Davor explained that they had found out about my website. A stapled print-out of one of the articles was produced and placed on Davor’s table, facing him. I was asked if these were my words. I strained from my position to see which article it was, being as it was facing away from me. Davor noticed that I couldn’t see and turned the print-out so I could see it. I saw that it was my “coming out” article – The Story of Cedars – A Prisoner No More. I could see that certain sentences had been highlighted in pink.

I was asked, “did you write these words, and do you stand by them?”

“Absolutely,” I responded. “I would also add that there is a promise on my website that if there is anything wrong, or incorrect, or misleading, I will change or remove it if it is brought to my attention. I have never had a serious email asking me to make changes in reference to this promise – only the occasional angry email from a Witness who stumbles on my site and complains about some point or other because they don’t know as much about the organization as I do.”

Again, my words received begrudging acknowledgment. Davor continued.

“Do you still consider yourself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?”

“No, I do not.” I replied.

Davor then brought up that I had mentioned in my article about my wife and I preparing letters of disassociation. I was asked if I had brought these letters with me. I said that yes, I had.

“In that case, the matter is settled,” said Davor. “You are no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do you have anything to add?”

I replied that yes, I did have a few things to say. First, I would appreciate being told how they came to learn about the website.

Davor looked at Bob, and Bob said that it was a sister in Croatia who had found the website and emailed him about it. Apparently this sister was not in our congregation.

I was slightly disappointed. I had hoped for a more romantic story involving frenzied phone calls from Brooklyn etc., but it seemed it was a simple case of a local snitch. Apparently the circumstances surrounding this woman’s discovery of my website, and precisely what she had been doing on it, were of no pressing concern. She had reported to her superiors like a good loyal Witness, and that was good enough for them.

Threatening my aggressors

I then explained that my main reason for being there was my family. My parents in-law, who live under the same roof, are both heavily reliant on my wife and I for a number of reasons. We had reached an agreement with them that religious matters, and particularly our objections to Watchtower, were not open for discussion in our household.

Like my Dad, my wife’s parents simply refuse to look at evidence. Not discussing our issues, and not making any attempts to awaken them, was the easiest and least distressing solution for all concerned.

I was also mindful of the need on my part not to pursue other members of the congregation, or Witnesses elsewhere in Croatia, for the purpose of enlightening them. This too would distress my parents in-law, and put strain on a relationship on which we are mutually dependent.

As I explained to Davor, my wife and I are happy with the status quo. I am happy with my work on the internet being limited to English-speaking countries and not to the country I live in if this is the price I must pay for caring for my family.

If, however, my parents in-law were to be coerced into not speaking to us, things could change very quickly. I would no longer have any reason NOT to turn my attentions to Croatia, with its modest 5,000-or-so publishers. Newspapers would be contacted. Television and radio appearances would be made. Websites would be set up, leaflets would be distributed, and respectful demonstrations outside conventions could be expected.

The choice was therefore theirs. They could let me leave and allow my parents-in-law to deal with the situation in their own way without coercion, or they could make things harder for us and thus remove any reason I have not to create havoc for the organization in Croatia.

The elders looked at each other.

“We can only tell your parents-in-law, if they approach us, what it instructs them to do in the Bible,” said Davor. The others nodded.

I could feel myself losing my calm. They hadn’t grasped my threat.

“So you’re saying that you will tell my parents to shun us, even though this will create problems for them and for you?”

“We can only tell them what it says in the Bible. The Bible is our only authority.” An air of confidence swept across Davor’s face. My frustration mounted.

Fortunately, as the mood of the meeting darkened, I managed to gather my thoughts and find the route around what they were saying. This was one of two occasions during the meeting when my feelings got the better of me and I struggled but somehow managed to regain composure.

“Ah, if you’re saying that you will tell them to do what it says in the Bible that is fine by me,” I said, “because nowhere in the Bible does it say family members should shun each other. In fact, it says the opposite.”

There was a nervous silence.

“In the parable of the prodigal son, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, the son only returns to his father for… I forget the exact phrase… insincere reasons. He did not show true repentance according to the organization’s rules by rejecting his course of conduct.” (Luke 15:17-20)

The parable of the prodigal son contradicts Watchtower's shunning practice

The parable of the prodigal son contradicts Watchtower’s shunning practice

I struggled to remember the organizational phrase “worldly sadness,” which is the term used for when someone only returns to the congregation for improper motives rather than a sincere determination to cease wrongdoing, but it escaped me in the moment.

“The son goes away and has sex with prostitutes. He lives a life of sin and debauchery. And what is the only reason that he decides to return to his father?”

I paused, waiting for Davor or one of the other elders to answer. There was silence.

“We know the answer to your question,” he said coolly.

“Great, if you know the answer to my question, then what is it?” I asked.

“We don’t need to answer your question,” Davor replied sternly.

“What do you mean you don’t need to answer my question? It’s a simple answer, what is it?”

“None of us need to answer your scriptural question. We know what it is. We don’t need to answer any scriptural questions,” Davor asserted. His eyes seemed vacant. It was as though the friendly schoolteacher had evaporated, replaced by a cold Watchtower interface.

“That’s very interesting. Very interesting indeed,” I said. “I have asked you a simple scriptural question, in much the same way as Jesus would have asked the Pharisees a scriptural question, and you have refused to answer it. That tells me a lot.”

I lingered for just a moment to allow the awkward silence to drive home my point.

“The reason why the prodigal son returned to his father is…” I paused, and placed my hands on my stomach, “because he was hungry. He only came back to his father because he was hungry, not because of any real repentance. And how did his father respond?” I gestured with my arms, spreading them as if to receive the son in a warm embrace.

My point was made. The family bond surpasses everything, including perceived wrongdoing. The elders looked at each other and offered no reply.

“There is just something I’m not sure about,” Dean interjected. The other two elders looked at him. Dean had been mostly silent throughout, following what I was saying intently. I was beginning to warm to him, and was intrigued as to what he would say.

“You seem like a really nice man,” he said. “What I don’t understand is why would a nice man like you threaten us? It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like…” Dean struggled to find the proper word to complete his question in English. A brief discussion ensued in Croatian as the other two tried to help him. I waited for them to quieten down before answering.

“That’s a very good question Dean. All I would say is this. You can take a lot of things from a man. You can take his house. You can take his money. You can take his car. You can take his pet. All of these things a man can cope with losing. But if you take a man’s family away from him, you will find he is capable of doing a lot of things. And building a website is the least of the things you need to worry about. You have to understand, from MY perspective Watchtower is the aggressor here. I am the one being threatened, and I am only telling you all that will happen if you remove my reasons for not doing anything.”

Dean seemed bewildered. Perhaps he was feigning disapproval in front of the others, or maybe what I said was lost in translation. All the same, when I look back I don’t think I could have explained myself better. Watchtower were the bullies in this scenario, not me.

A letter not accepted

“Right,” said Davor, “well I think that brings things to a conclusion. I just need to see the letters of disassociation.”

“Of course,” I said, reaching for my folder and handing over a piece of paper containing handwritten, signed statements from both my wife and I. The end was in sight.

Davor placed the paper in front of him and began reading it aloud, beginning with my wife’s message in Croatian. My wife had written it rather hurriedly as I had been making my way out the door. She had offered to read it to me, but I told her she could tell me what it said when I got back. I was therefore in the dark as to what the letter said.

Davor finished reading the letter and muttered something in Croatian to the other two, who nodded. He then read my letter aloud, which simply read as follows…

To whom it may concern,

From henceforth, let it be known that I, [my real name], am no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses – nor do I have or seek any affiliation with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.

Yours sincerely, [signed].

I confess, I enjoyed hearing them read this out loud! But there was a setback in store.

“We can accept your letter,” said Davor. “It’s very clear and unequivocal. However, we cannot accept your wife’s letter. She doesn’t quite make it clear enough that she no longer wants to be a Witness.”

I couldn’t believe it. All sorts of thoughts began flying through my head. Up until now the meeting had gone almost entirely according to plan. Now it seemed my wife hadn’t been clear enough in her letter? I couldn’t imagine how that could be.

“Why, what does she say?” I asked.

“It says that she no longer feels like she is a Witness. It isn’t clear enough.” said Davor.

This actually made sense. My wife is the ultimate peacemaker and hates upsetting or offending people. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in her efforts to be diplomatic, she had failed to be quite as forceful in her statement as a judicial committee requires.

“No problem,” I said. “I don’t have credit on my phone but I see you have a phone there. Do you mind if I use it to call my wife and have her speak to you? I’m sure we can sort this out.”

“No, that won’t be necessary,” said Davor.

“Please, it won’t take a moment.”

“No,” said Davor, “that wouldn’t be appropriate.”

“Listen, one way or another this ends tonight,” I said, growing in frustration. “Do you want me to go and drive her here through the pouring rain so she can tell you how she feels herself?”

“No, it would be too stressful for her,” said Davor, “we will arrange a separate meeting just for her.”

“Look, there’s absolutely no way my wife will meet with you,” I said. “Bob can tell you what she was like when he called me the other day to arrange this meeting. She refused to even come to the phone to translate for him. She just can’t handle anything like that.”

Bob nodded in agreement.

“You must understand,” said Davor, “we are meeting to discuss you, not your wife. We will need to arrange to meet with her separately so that we can find out how she feels and offer spiritual help.”

I could feel my anger swelling. My protective instincts began to kick in.

“Are you seriously telling me that you can’t accept her letter, even though she says she no longer feels like a Jehovah’s Witness?” I said.

Davor nodded.

“So let me get this straight. You’re saying that even if my wife had written exactly the same words that I had written, you wouldn’t have accepted it because this meeting is about me and not her?”

“Yes, that’s correct.” said Davor.

“So why did you even read her letter if this meeting is only about me?” I asked.

“She wrote us a letter, and we wanted to see what she said!” he replied smugly.

“I feel as though you’ve tricked me. Right at the beginning you asked if we BOTH had letters. You made it sound as though you were ready to receive statements of disassociation from both of us.”

“John, you know how this works,” said Davor. “You’ve been an elder. You know we need to follow procedures handed to us, and the procedures clearly state that we need to meet with your wife separately.”

At that moment, as had happened over the shunning issue, the fog in my mind suddenly lifted. From somewhere I regained my “elder head” and was able to find another way around the problem.

“Okay this is very simple,” I said. “All my wife needs to do is write the same letter that I have written and make sure Bob gets it, and then you will have to accept it as her letter of disassociation.”

Davor’s smug demeanor vanished. I had rumbled him.

“Er, we would not want to encourage you or your wife to do that,” he spluttered.

“No problem,” I said, calmness restored. “That’s precisely what we’ll do. I’ll tell my wife to send Bob a letter as soon as possible. Not that I want you thinking I’m telling her what to do – this is her decision.”

And with that, the meeting was concluded. There was no final prayer. All four of us rose from our seats.

“Can I shake your hands?” I asked Davor.

“Yes,” he said.

I shook the hands of all three enthusiastically, lingering a moment with Dean as he stifled an unexpected sneeze.

I thanked all three and headed for the exit. Bob watched to see me leave before returning to be with the others as I walked out the door.

The rain had stopped falling. I was finally free.









All conversations in the above article have been paraphrased to the best of my recollection. It should not be assumed that I have rendered a verbatim account of everything said, or the exact order.

Special thanks to Vincent Deporter for contributing artwork to this article.

* Out of respect for their privacy, I have slightly altered the names of the elders involved apart from Davor, who I refer to by first name only.

# I have since learned from my wife that a more accurate translation of the relevant part of her letter was: “I do not consider myself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” She has today sent an email to Bob telling him that she wants to be announced as disassociated on the same night as me, and doesn’t wish to be pursued on the matter.

Further reading…

Article translations: Polish | …

Related video…

Bookmark the permalink.

132 Responses to My 21st Century Apostasy Trial

  1. emmanuel says:

    “Shunning ” family members, to say the least is painful. The Bible itself admits this.

    In the mosaic law, family members were required to be in the lead to kill close relatives who were apostates ( Deut. 13 :6-11 ; Zech. 13:3). It had its purpose.

    “Discipline is not joyous but grievious” admits the Bible. It is for a purpose.

    Jesus express similar thoughts.

    Some accept discipline,some chaff, some reject it.
    Each One will carry his own load

  2. Sue says:

    There is no load to carry. It is a cult’s decision to shun. When people wake up and no longer believe lies, then they are ostracised. That is because the cult wants to maintain control. Family members who have been indoctrinated and are often fearful and uneducated just do what they are told. There is no thinking it through with doctrine or otherwise. Its abuse of family – plain and simple.

  3. morningstar says:

    “None are more hopelessly enslaved then those who falsely believe they are free” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

  4. Sue says:

    morningstar, I prefer Mandela on Freedom as I think he probably knew more about it than Goethe.

    “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
    ― Nelson Mandela

    not sure JW’s care about others and their freedom, which is sad given the teachings of JC.

  5. Thorsten says:

    Cedar, congratulation for you and your family. You are now out in the christian freedom.

    It is vera interresting, AS many oft whittnesses are awake now.
    We also where awake this year. My family and also my Patents.

    Best regards from Austria

  6. Godswill says:

    my dear friend what you just did is the greatest thing anybody on earth will think of doing,you just sinned against the holyspirit and that goes with a heavy purnishment,satan has really suceeded in turning you away and right now he has a thousands smile all over his face,Apostasy,Apostay,jehovah’s organisation will always strive despite oposition,you are not the first and niether will you be the last.Men have soth the downfall of this organization but all to No avail,read histroy and reply me what happened in germany at aldof hitla regime did he suceed the answer is No so you can’t stop a moving organization try and see if you would suceed?

  7. Sue says:

    Cedars has done the most courageous thing possible. Peace, love and joy be with you. Your language and thoughts indicate you are not at peace. That is sad for you. Please widen your horizons with education and begin to live and breath. Negative language and condemnation just indicates how misled you are. What a shame for you. You could be at peace, rather than spouting bile.

  8. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:


    Oh dear oh dear! It is for a purpose?

    How can you compare the stoning of family members in the Bronze Age, where, let’s face it, people were really horrible, with a modern society that condemns these acts as barbaric?

    The truth is mankind has moved on from the horrific violent justice of a bunch of goat herders in the Middle East. Even if modern societies have the death penalty, they do not stone people to death!

    Jesus did not allow a woman to be stoned, oh, but the WTBTS has removed that passage from the new bible, hasn’t it?

    Jesus never shunned anyone. He spoke with everyone. He condemned violence.

    Peace be with you


  9. David says:

    Godswill, it is not you who has been assigned to judge who has sinned against the Holy Spirit, that is Jehovah’s assignment. Cedar’s decision must be respected whether anyone agrees with it or not. He was fully conscious of his decision.

  10. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    Yes, David, I completely agree with you.

    For folks who believe in God, then it must be God who judges who has sinned against the Holy Spirit.

    Gods will, you are not qualified, and neither is the WTBTS, to judge Cedars.

    Leaving an American offshoot of 7th Day Adventism, a publishing company in Brooklyn, is by no means the same as sinning against the Holy Spirit.

    In your zeal, you have seriously overstepped your place, Godswill.

    Jesus gave many examples of the folly and evil of judging others, without first examining ones own motives and behaviour.

    The GB have presided over an unholy organisation that has caused great suffering to many.

    May your God give them their reward in full.

    Peace be with you


  11. Rose Li says:

    I commend you and what you are doing. May God protect you and your family from evil doers. I will pray for you.

  12. Courtney says:

    This is true, John. I’m trying this with my parents now after 16 years of being DF’d and letting them wonder and feel the pain a bit deeper versus me feeling the pain. They are so very brainwashed. Did you notice in the video from the Summer 2013 convention talk how MANY times the said “Jehovah”? Every single sentence when they were telling people how to treat disfellowshipped family. I have not had any luck getting through to my parents by pointing out the hypocrisy And brain washing tactics. Now, I’m just hoping time and them realizing all 3 of their children are out of it and they hardly see their 2 grand babies. With the impending arrival of your first child, this time will be so emotionally tumultuous for you and your wife. I pray you meet new friends and find some peace in knowing you can show and teach unconditional love to your children.
    I’m rambling on in a comment. I will write you from another source. Be strong and be blessed!

  13. Courtney says:

    I was replying to someone else’s post about letting time pass before you reach out to your parents….let them miss you….let them miss knowing their grand-daughter. It will be so very painful, especially at the time of the birth of your baby. Time will heal the wounds.

  14. Jaco says:


    Thank you for sharing your journey. You have been brave. I’m just so glad you have not joined an Evangelical church which by definition would have been switching one cult for another. You will be fine and you will prosper!

  15. LAC says:

    When you really think about it what can the Elders say? Really their comments Biblical or otherwise are only valid to themselves as you John do not believe in their teachings thereby you do not believe that you are an Apostate neither do I. It’s like calling someone a Heretic really those words would not have any affect on me! Apostasy is only valid to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you are not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    The other thing I find very strange is that they approached you mother-in-law at a public meeting to tell her that they were going to call you! I find this perplexing indeed! What business is it of your mother in laws? I’m not trying to be rude but I don’t understand why the Elders would approach her this has nothing to do with her. But then again JW are so great a third party communication. I can’t tell you how many times my husband or I would be sick on a meeting night and one of us would bring messages home to the other saying so and so says hi and they missed you at the meeting. I found that very distasteful. We never once got a phone call asking us how we were we only go third party messages. I find it particularity distasteful because most people have a cell-phone that they carry around all day long but not one person could use the stupid thing to call and ask about us? I once was approached by a sister at the local Walmart who said “Oh I haven’t seen you at the meeting lately are you OK?” She had been playing with her cell-phone while she made the comment to me. I just looked at her and said “Oh I notice you have a phone there I guess I am not on you top five favorite people to call to see if I am Ok or not.” I then walked away!
    I can’t tell you how many people pay lip service only and have no real concern for others. They can parrot the WT buzz words back to you in such a mechanical way that it gives me the chills.
    Their comment on “We have to protect the congregation…” I would have said you mean your assets! Your membership from declining! ” “God forbid if you ever told your members what was really going on in this organization.”
    Well John you went through it! I have been fighting with the ORG for the past year and a half…..the battle still rages!

  16. L fields says:

    So true! I should have never given then the power to even have a meeting with me. The one thing I do regret is entertaining them and showing up for the JC meeting. They were causing me too much undue stress, so when they said they were disfellowshipping me, I was so calm. I don’t know where it came from, but I just didn’t have time for their foolishness anymore. So I said “okay” walked out and never look back. Like I just didn’t give a damn anymore. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, huge! I wanted to kick myself for not getting out after my mother passed away two years earlier.

  17. Freedom says:

    I was taken to the hall by two elders for a ‘chat,’ by that read, they tried to convince me to return to my abusive, cheating husband after I left him. To my knowledge it wasn’t meant to be a judicial committee meeting however afterwards the entire congregation shunned me. I was persona non grata and my (ex) husband was invited to each families home in turn for dinners etc.

    At that point I actually hadn’t done anything more ‘serious’ than walk out of my marriage and refuse to return. After that, I stopped going, I shunned them as they shunned me. I started researching, I learnt the truth behind that religion. I also got a divorce (on the grounds of adultery as my ex had since been disfellowshipped for moving his bit of stuffing in six months after I left him, how I’d have loved to have seen the faces of the families who took him in as they did) I got a boyfriend (atheist) moved in with him, (unmarried, the shock) and am now much happier than ever I was during my time with that cult (25 years from birth)

    However my family are still all witnesses, although only two stopped contact with me, so I get a lot of nagging about going back, and a lot of stress when I read the latest bull the society is pulling.

    It’s always good to hear when someone else has managed to get out of the mire that is that awful cult, but be wary, they will still try to hold on, sink their claws back in and control you.

    I love your website for exposing the truth.
    Major Kudos, keep it up.

  18. JBob says:

    It still baffles non-JW folks when I relate the emotional burden when becoming “not a JW”. Most individuals change churches as their personal needs dictate [note I deliberately did not use the phrase “spiritual needs” as though I’m some sort of Gnostic??]. For JW’s it’s a life-changing event, meaning a possible loss of family, friends and spouse. Did anyone do “suicide watch” on John and wife?

    After years of dealing with “apostate” trials and the ensuing debate on dogma, the elders have guidelines. The mounting streams of video indicate the new approach is to dismiss for “failure to comply” — again, obedience theme. The dismissal (except for extreme prejudicial cases where gross misconduct is evident) always comes down to “failure to comply”–going off the ranch in regard to dissenting website, blog, publishing, or video-blogs.

    Thus, it is with utmost predictability to see JW’s attempt to smear those who express dissent with immoral character–same game they’ve run for years versus “Babylon the Great”. And, same game that the Adventist ancestors and cousins on the family-tree were running years before Russell met Barbour. One character is caught in “sin” and there goes that group’s validity. Yet, those rules don’t apply to Gov Body or JW aggregate, just individuals inside, and soon-to-be outside. It’s called hypocrisy. And, it’s legalism–the behavior Jesus Christ mainly condemned the P’s & S’s.

  19. pearlsB4swine says:

    Well done Cedars in surviving your witch trial.
    Just remember one mans apostate is another mans freedom fighter. I try and take comfort in hoping that the more these
    dehumanizing kangaroo court style inquisitions are exposed for what they are that more people will take courage and stand up and shout “I m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

  20. Holy Conolli says:

    I kknow your feeling, I have been there. Try to get involved with outside efforts. Sports, Hiking, painting, friendly clubs, Biking etc. Take a music class, learn a hobby. What have you ever really liked to do? What were some of your goals before the WT took up all of your free time? You can still do it and you can still fnd happiness outside the clutches of the Wt. It may take time but little by little the chains will come off. I did it. It took a while , a few years but I hardly think of it anymore and if I do the pain is gone although the anger for wasting my time and thinking how I could do that for so long still haunts me to a degree. Life takes us on different journeys. Why many of us became JW’s is different for everyone. The point is if you are not happy you need to get out and change. You can do it and can do it easily by just slowly fading away.I wis I could talk to you on the phone and go voer ssome points that helped me. I was an Elder for nearly 14 years. A true JW believer so I have the experience from breaking free to being in a good mental place right now.

  21. Paul Drake says:

    I loved the way you threatened the bullies with the one thing they hate the most — bad publicity!
    It’s too bad you had to relinquish your Shepherding book when you ceased being an elder. I wonder what their reaction would have been to this passage found on page 60:
    “10. Though this is not an exhaustive list, brazen
    conduct may be involved in the following if the
    wrongdoer has an insolent, contemptuous attitude made evident by a practice of these things:
    • Willful, continued, unnecessary association
    with disfllowshipped nonrelatives despite
    repeated counsel—Matt. 18:17b; 1 Cor, 5:11, 13;
    2 John 10, 11; w81 9/15 pp. 25-26.
    “Shepherd the Flock of God”—1 Peter 5:2”?
    Just another example of shameless duplicity — only elders get this “secret knowledge”; while everyone else relies on what is printed in OM, KM, and WT.

  22. Tatiana says:

    That is a remarkable story! God, now i realize how wise it was of me not being baptized, so i just walked out and my family (mother and sis, who still are JW) can not shun me and we are in pretty good relationship. If i was baptized, that would be a disaster not only for me, but for my father, husband and future kids – not mention how awkward that would be for my parents-in-law, because i don’t know how would i explain to them, that parents could not talk to you only because of difference in beliefs!!!

  23. Doug Seefried says:

    Hi All,
    The wachtower condems baby baptism but pushes children who are 12 yrs and older to do so..After disfellowshiping I requested from my children that they do not get jw baptised until they turned 33 yrs old so that they can make an informed decision,( as Jesus did ) and that they would not have to go through the cult terror. Problem solved nobody got baptised, and we have a beautiful family now.
    Cedar–you are doing a wonderful work and helping thousands of innocent people from getting caught up in this CULT, who want to brainwash you, use your time and take your money, it has never changed for a 100 yrs. ( If Jesus came down to earth and saw the huge real estate conglomerate of JW’s +-200 Billion, would he repeat ( or change ) his words, ‘sell everything and give to the poor’??

    • Holy cannoli says:

      You are right about the early baptism of the JW children. They push baptism on their kids from eight years old to 13 years old but everybody knows that a child is a developing mind that is easily influenced by its parents and others around them. In my opinion there should be a full disclosure package that explains everything in detail if someone gets baptized what the results would be if they ever decide to leave or change their beliefs. This would eliminate 75% of the people being baptized into this religion. On another note are you not think the originators of the watch Tower Charles Tays Russell and others were as greedy as the current day watchtower people. Despite the Russell was obviously very wrong in his understanding and his teaching I don’t think he was as power-hungry or as greedy as the governing body is today. In fact I think I remember reading that he himself said if they have to ask for funds or donations then they would shut the watch Tower printing down. Things change over the years and in the watchtower world seems like they have become dictatorial or communistic dictatorship type of religion where no one can express a different opinion.

  24. Jeannie Krusche says:

    Baptizing youngsters (under 10 years old) seems to be the latest and I could never understand why kids of 12 – 15 were baptized, because nowhere in the Bible does it say children were baptized, only men and woman. My 2 cents.

  25. George Karpel says:

    ” I was finally free.”

    Those are the most important words in the whole document. All else is just commentary.

    Welcome to the human race.

  26. Diana says:

    You did great! I haven’t yet received that call. In my case the elders won’t return my calls. I don’t know why. Can’t figure any of it out. It’s like they’re afraid of me. But my situation involves an abusive husband. There’s no way for me to know what he’s been telling them. I think he’s telling them I’m mentally ill. I admit they’ve all driven me absolutely bonkers, lol. I keep testing the fence for weaknesses like a velociraptor, wondering when the hammer is coming down. The problem is that I have children in the organization. When I’m gone, I lose them. Like you, I will NEVER return. I was always one to never say never, but I feel I must in this particular case.

  27. Rocio m says:

    I am ever so proud of you for standing up for what you feel is true. A religión of any kind that threatens your family and possibly livelihood for questioning, is an insecure and deceiving one, some more blatant than others. You did what you needed to do and your children will not suffer from Indoctrination. Much love to you and your family from Iowa.

  28. simon says:

    One thing I noticed from the comments of those supporting the decision of John to be a non-conformist within, was that majority of them were those who have been dis-fellowshipped from the organization.
    I believe every religion should be a way to have personal relationship with God. In that context, all forms of organized religion have their creed and teachings that are unique to them, especially in Christianity.
    Inasmuch as you are not forced to be a member of a church or organization, you need not become a turncoat within the system. The idea of running a blog under cover to criticize your faith is reprehensible, appalling and unacceptable.
    If you are sincere, all you need do when you discover that being a JW is no longer the best for you and your wife, is to communicate your position to the appropriate authorities and quit letting them know that the ‘kitchen is too hot’ and you are quitting. No need turning yourself into a folk hero.

    • Cedars says:

      “Inasmuch as you are not forced to be a member of a church or organization, you need not become a turncoat within the system.”

      I wish that were true of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it’s hard to argue you’re not forced to be a JW when they baptize children (I was baptized at 11) and threaten anyone who wants to leave with shunning by family members.

  29. simon says:

    Even granted that you were baptised at 11, after coming of age and getting married, I think you should have discovered yourself and take a bow. I still maintain it is immoral for you to start your website that was set up to fight your cause against the establishment [JW] while you were an insider, moreso, when you were running it anonymously until somebody within the organization found out and reported you to the authority. This raised a serious moral question on your part.

    On your family members, according to your account, they were not happy with your decision and they told you in clear terms. Even when it was painful for your dad and mom to see you leave, they conceded to you the right to take your decision. They are firmly committed to their faith and believe in the Bible in line with what they subscribe to, and are not ready to abandon all that for the filial bond between you and them.

    Honestly, I think you should reciprocate by respecting their views based on their strong convictions, too. As adults, we are free to take decisions based on our judgment either right or wrong. One thing we always have to contend with is the ugly fact that we have no control over the consequences of our actions. SHALOM.

    • Cedars says:

      “I still maintain it is immoral for you to start your website that was set up to fight your cause against the establishment [JW] while you were an insider”

      Only a heavily indoctrinated Witness is capable of spewing such nonsense.

      So, according to you it is “immoral” to speak out against an oppressive organization that hurts and even kills people through its teaching and practices while still on the inside? Bear in mind the only reason I was working anonymously as an “insider” was because I was being threatened with punishment with shunning if I spoke out.

      How convenient it would be for any brutish tyranny throughout history if nobody was allowed to stand up to them, or blow the whistle on their atrocities.

      For the time being I hope you don’t mind if I prevent you from using JWsurvey as a platform to spout your ignorance and twisted version of morality. If this angers you – take heart! All you need to do is answer the Cedars Challenge and I will let you post again to comment for a short while before I take this site down entirely…

  30. Imacountrygirl says:

    Simon, It is obvious to me that you have no clue about the inner workings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. To break through their veneer, one has only to do an honest google search of the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses to get an accurate history, not the “cleaned up” version that Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves are taught and sincerely believe.

    The thing about the internet is that no matter how hard the Governing Body would like to control the information available to everyone, they cannot stop the “truth” about their own version of truth from shining through. It is correct that you cannot believe everything you read, but when one major site continually over a period of time contradicts historical facts, a person with thinking and reasoning ability surely is bound to find the disconnect from reality.

    Just using common sense, do you honestly think that God, the creator of the universe and the epitome of intelligence is communicating such dark unclear information that he has to keep making it brighter and brighter for the GB to understand it so they can correct it?

    What an insult to Jehovah God that He cannot communicate directly with the Governing Body well enough for them to have accurate information!

    Simon, there is so much that you do not know about Jehovah’s Witnesses inner workings from the top down and from their humble beginnings. I wish for you the courage and bravery it will take for you to face the facts.

    You came onto this forbidden site, read and commented, which gives me some hope for you. You’ve already demonstrated curiosity. It only takes a tiny crack to cause the greatest dam to burst.

  31. Charles Costante says:

    “I still maintain it is immoral for you to start your website that was set up to fight your cause against the establishment [JW] while you were an insider”

    I find it interesting, simon, that you ended your last post with the salutation “SHALOM”, which means ‘peace’. Don’t you think that’s a little hypocritical after calling Lloyd immoral?

  32. Charles Costante says:

    The lies that the Watchtower has fed Jehovah’s Witnesses for the past 140 or so years – THAT’S IMMORAL!

    The misquotes and plagiarism in a lot of their publications – THAT’S IMMORAL!

    The shunning of disfellowshipped ones for questioning their beliefs – THAT’S IMMORAL!

    Allowing so many to die because of their policy on blood transfusions – THAT’S IMMORAL!

  33. Holy Connoli says:


    You say that as an adult Cedars should have just faced the facts and dealt with his being shunned a s part of his situation and not write his Blog “undercover”? Well, we all know it doesn’t work like that bc the Authorities will not allow it. The Authorities ( JW- GB ) Must punish you so that all others see the pain you will feel and set you as an example to continue to control anyone else that EVEN THINKS of leaving.We all know you are not allowed to leave without paying a price. The GB will not allow you to have free thoughts and share them w others. They also have a twisted explanation of the HISTORY of the WT and they attempt to rewrite their own History in nothing but a positive light.

    When I was an Active JW for over 20 years It always bothered me that the WT could attack any other belief system and call them False, Babylon the great, make fun of them, claim they are from the Devil and everyone who predicted End times were False Prophets but when anyone said anything bad against the WT they were enemies of the Kingdom. The mistakes they made were ok but mistakes of others they condemned. Basically they are just another Religion but the WT has turned into a Mind controlling Cult. Free thought even on the Bible is not allowed.

  34. Kola says:

    I have followed the exchanges between Cedar and Simon including the other responses afterwards.
    One thing that clearly spelt itself out is the animosity between Cedar and others who were once members of Jehovah’s Witnesses group.
    To start with, I am not a Christian. But a close interaction I have had over the years with JW members negates what Cedar portrays them to be. I know for a fact that they are law-abiding, shun immorality, do not cut corners and try to be of exemplary conduct within the community.
    I am also well aware that they do not take blood transfusion based on their beliefs. I do not know about severing family ties with those who are no longer welcome in their fold for reasons of misconduct.
    My own take about this is that if Cedar has any facts to show the JW people runs a cult group that poses danger to society, he should send it to the relevant security agencies or go to court to enforce his fundamental human right. I don’t think the best thing is to attack the organization through a blog. When the authorities are involved, it becomes a big issue that attracts global media attention that will wake people up. Religion is by choice, not by compulsion.

    • Cedars says:

      Kola – as I’ve repeatedly argued, either Jehovah’s Witnesses are true or they are not true.

      If they are true, then let’s see some evidence – and if the evidence holds up to scrutiny I will take down this website (you can’t get fairer than that!). If they are NOT true then at BEST Watchtower is deceiving millions of people, and at WORST it is killing Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions, and causing suffering on a breathtaking scale through its shunning policy and mishandling of child abuse.

      If you have a “relevant security agency” I can take my complaints to I am all ears, but I’m afraid you’ll have to give me the phone number by email.

    • Holy Connoli says:


      I was an Very Active JW for over 20 years. I was an Elder and a Speaker at Assemblies. My Wife is still a active JW and is even a Pioneer for more than 20 years. By your comments that they are law abiding citizens and basically good people is not the issue here as I see it. There s a HUGE difference in seeing the JW’s from the Outside looking in and being on the inside and dealing with the JW inner circle culture. It is far different knowing some JW’s from work or other places then actually being one and experiencing their life.

      They are and can be nice people. However the ultimate goal of a good JW is to convert you to their Religion. Once you are in the religion you must observe and partake in all their ever changing beliefs and “RULES”. If you do not you will be ostracized and shunned or DF. They do not tell you that when you become one or if they do they make it seem like it is something they do to keep the Cong clean? However the rules apply to any one who may speak out against the religion or just change their mind about their personal belief system.

      The WT will try to destroy you mentally and emotionally if you leave. They will not allow tour mother, father, YOUR own children, former friends to associate with you even not eating or talking with you. It is a cruel and arrogant way to invoke punishment.They destroy families and Love.

      It becomes mental torture. Where is freedom of religion? Where is freedom of thought? Even the UN charter of human rights states that people should be able to join or leave any religion of heir choice without punishment. THE WT claims to support freedom of choice without punishment but they inflict it themselves on their own members or former members., They are no different than Scientology, or Jim jones, or David Koresh when it comes to these issues.

    • steve says:

      Hi Kola,
      I was born and raised a witness and DF’ed at 16. Why? because I kissed a girl and smoked a cigarette at school and was dobbed in by the son of an elder.
      Shunned by family? too right! Ousted from home, abandoned by everyone and everything I had ever known I had to live under a bridge in what was like a foreign land and you couldn’t speak the language.

      Sound a bit dramatic? maybe, but as a kid that’s what it feels like.

      When you go from the security of family and friends to absolute loneliness with nothing, thoughts of suicide weigh heavily on your mind. It’s sites like this that give you strength and comfort, knowing you’re not alone. Sites like this save lives!

      As for law abiding and shunning immorality, obviously the “brothers” that touched me as a kid didn’t live by those rules. Sexual abuse was rife in our congregation.

  35. summer says:

    At least they met with you.

    For me, they refused to look me in the face, they did a conf phone call.

    And i was only allowed to answer yes or no to their questions. They refused to allow me to talk in depth at all.

  36. says:

    Lloyd, thanks for your testimonial. I am looking forward for the day that I will take the same step as you did with my wife. I no longer believe in this organisation and the way they deal with people. And the reason I am still on, it’s because of my direct relatives and my wife.
    I hope to get a way out soon.

  37. Adrian says:

    Quick question, who brought up the example of the prodigal son? Them or you?

    To my knowledge, the prodigal son was a fictional character. No?

    • alanv says:

      It was Lloyd who brought up the account of the prodigal son. He made the point very well that the son came back to his father not because of any real repentance but because he was hungry.
      Yes it was a story, but like many stories Jesus told had a very clear message.
      The father was to forgive the son unconditionally, and certainly there was nothing in the way of shunning. In fact the complete opposite was true. The father welcomed his son back with open arms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Comment posting guidelines:

Kindly observe the following requirements before posting any comments to our articles or pages:

  • ABUSIVE COMMENTS - Do not post comments that include swear words or may be considered abusive, lewd, blasphemous, obscene or threatening
  • ILLEGAL COMMENTS - Do not post comments that condone or propose illegal activity, or that breach copyright law
  • OFF-TOPIC COMMENTS - Do not post comments that are off-topic and bear no relation to the page or article
  • RELIGIOUS NEUTRALITY - Do not post comments that are evangelical in nature or may be construed as imposing one person's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) over those of another
  • LANGUAGE - Visitors from all countries and language groups are welcome. You may post comments in languages other than English, but we would appreciate if you could make any such comments brief. We would also be grateful if you could run any such comments through Google Translate and convert these to English, but this is not an absolute requirement.
  • LINKS - You may post links to third party websites, so long as (1) you limit these to 2 links per comment, and (2) the content on these links doesn't contravene ANY of the first four points. Specifically, you may not post URLs to websites that are evangelical in nature. Our links page has an extensive list of such sites for any who are curious about Christian beliefs in the context of Jehovah's Witnesses. thanks all visitors in advance for respectfully observing these guidelines. Any who persistently fail to do so, despite warnings, may find themselves blocked from making further comments at the discretion of the site moderators, whose decision will be final and not open for debate.