The Story of Cedars – A Prisoner No More

After more than two years, I am ready to tell my story

After more than two years of operating undercover, I am ready to tell my story

After running JWsurvey for more than two years, the time has finally come to share my story.

Why has it taken so long? Because when I first set up this website I was still technically a Witness – constantly in fear of reprisals from my family or my local elders if my true identity was ever discovered.

Now, after much discussion and soul-searching, my wife and I have both made the decision to part ways with the organization – regardless of how our Witness family responds.

There are multiple reasons for this huge leap, the main one being that my wife is pregnant. Both of us refuse to raise our child in a religion we know to be false, or to allow any of our relatives to attempt this with the excuse that we are still Witnesses – which would be the case if we remained inactive.

Taking this stand has come at considerable cost – a cost imposed on us by Watchtower. We have yet to hand in formal letters of disassociation, but we have let our family know gradually over the last few weeks. This has resulted in a considerable backlash.

On my side of the family in particular I have been subjected to insults and character assassinations – attempts to call my motives into question and frame me as “selfish” simply for acting on my convictions, and standing up for my own beliefs.

My father (who is an elder) hasn’t been abusive, but he has reaffirmed that he will be shunning us the moment things become official. We spent a few days vacation together in picturesque Northern Croatia before I sat him down and attempted to explain my position.

After I revealed the information on the UN/NGO scandal to Dad by showing him newspaper articles from 2001, he was initially nauseous and didn’t want to hear any more. A day later he told me he refuses to hear my side of the argument, and will be shunning me once things are official. In his mind there is no contradiction that he will be spending his time trying to persuade people of other faiths to challenge their convictions, while refusing to hold his own beliefs to even the slightest scrutiny.

It has been deeply hurtful and distressing for me to witness my own father, who I deeply love, surrender his reason and common sense with so little struggle – especially with so much at stake. It is still more distressing that I am being blamed for any shunning that ensues even though these are Watchtower’s rules, not mine. After all, I am happy to have a relationship with all of my Witness relatives no matter what they believe.

The more I observe the utter refusal of certain family members to even listen to my reasons, and hold me to a decision I made when I was 11, the more obvious it is that I am escaping a manipulative cult where independent thinking is ruthlessly crushed and loved ones are considered expendable wherever loyalty to the Governing Body is concerned.

You may well ask what brought me to this stage, and how I came to doubt my beliefs in the first place? I am writing a book on this at the moment, but I will do my best to present a summary of my story in this article.

***When this article was written, I still felt the need to keep my real name secret due to concerns over my family. Since then I have decided to be open about my real name, which is Lloyd Evans, but I will continue writing under the moniker “John Cedars” since that is the name so many people know me by.***

An unconventional upbringing

I was born in Manchester, England, in 1979 and raised in Wilmslow, which used to be a quiet leafy village in the suburbs, but is now a wealthy neighborhood known for its celebrity residents – mostly footballers and their wives.

I had an upbringing in which Armageddon was very much a real event that could strike at any moment.

One evening, our family worship featured an “Armageddon drill.” My father received what turned out to be a fake phone call telling him that the Great Tribulation was upon us. My family was to hurry to join the brothers and sisters at the local kingdom hall, because we would all be heading off to Macclesfield Forest to make our escape from the authorities under Satan’s control.

A photo of me taken shortly after my baptism, age 11

A photo of me taken shortly after my baptism, age 11

I remember running upstairs and frantically stuffing various items in my rucksack, including a recently released book called Revelation – It’s Grand Climax At Hand incase I somehow needed it. In that moment I was convinced I was witnessing the end of the system of things.

It was only when I came downstairs and saw the smiles on the faces of my parents and sister that I realised the joke was on me.

I was baptized in December 1990, age 11. I remember my mother crying at my baptism. In the years that followed I did my best to make my parents proud by being an exemplary Witness youth.

My parents were not as strict as others in our congregation, so they encouraged me to go to college after high school. I studied art for two years. Even so, it wasn’t long before I felt the pull of pioneering, in no way diminished by the constant pressure from the platform for young ones to pursue full-time service as a “career.” I started regular pioneering in September 1998 – the same month that I was announced as a ministerial servant. I had just turned 19.

The following year I experienced my first “crisis of conscience” when the Daniel book (or Pay Attention To Daniel’s Prophecy) was released at the “God’s Prophetic Word” District Convention. I remember being initially very excited. I felt I would be able to relate to it more than the Revelation Climax book, which by now seemed crazy and garish to me. I took my copy of the Daniel book home and read it quickly.

As I devoured its convoluted reflections on bible prophecy, feelings of disappointment slowly overcame me. I encountered various explanations of scripture that simply did not add up. For example, how could the Roman Empire become Anglo-America in one prophecy, but become Nazi Germany (an enemy of Anglo-America) in another? Should there not be some kind of consistency in God’s inspired word?

The more I dwelled on this and other issues, the more I suspected that the Governing Body was simply making things up as they were going along – “shoe-horning” scriptures to fit historical events.

My doubts eventually came to the attention of my Presiding Overseer after my ministry partner snitched on me. He took me aside one afternoon while on field service, listened to my issues for a while, and then said: “Listen, I just want to know one thing. Do you believe in 1914, or not?”

When I said that yes, I believed in 1914, he said, “Well that’s all that matters!” – and our conversation was over. After this bizarre exchange, I pressed ahead with my progress as a Witness, but always with niggling doubts in the far reaches of my mind.

A life-changing tragedy

Then in 2001 my world collapsed when my mother died of breast cancer. I was 21 at the time. Mum first fell ill in 1999 but received treatment, including a mastectomy, which forced her cancer into remission. But it resurfaced a year later and consumed her very quickly, despite aggressive chemotherapy. On May 9th 2001, Mum’s doctor gave her three weeks to three months to live. She passed away 12 days later while we were on our final family holiday in Cornwall.

Mum’s death forced me to push any lingering doubts as far back in my mind as I possibly could and soldier on with my “career” in the organization. After all, serving Jehovah loyally was my one and only chance of being reunited with her in the resurrection. I couldn’t let her down.

When I was 22 I began applying to attend MTS (now the “Bible School for Single Brothers”). I was finally accepted at the age of 25, and attended the 29th Class in Britain at the Assembly Hall in Dudley. I was thrilled and extremely proud, not least because by going through the course I was fulfilling one of my Mum’s dying wishes.

Mum had told me in one of our final conversations that in the resurrection she wanted to see a video of my MTS graduation. She didn’t know that the filming of graduations is prohibited by the organization, but simply by going and graduating I knew I would be meeting her expectations. I would film what I could while I was there, just in case.

(Top) preparing to give a talk on my MTS course, (bottom) being interviewed at the graduation.

(Top) preparing to give a talk on my MTS course, (bottom) being interviewed at the graduation.

Attending MTS was a mostly uplifting and enjoyable experience. What I most appreciated was the camaraderie and friendships with guys my age from all over the UK and parts of Europe. It felt as though there were little or no distinctions between students who were ministerial servants (like me) and students who were elders. We were all sharing the same experience together as those seeking to learn.

During the course there were one or two moments that made me stop and ponder, such as during one class when our instructor told us to put a line through some words in one of our volumes of Insight on the Scriptures. Apparently this change was required because of “new light” since these books were published.

The words we were asked to delete can still be plainly seen on current versions of Watchtower Library. I thought to myself at the time, “If these words are so wrong that we are being asked to delete them, shouldn’t ALL Witnesses receive similar instructions for their Insight Volumes?”

After two months the class came to an end, and I graduated along with 21 others. My Dad, sister, and some of my close friends came along to what proved to be an emotional graduation ceremony. I was interviewed and asked to relate my experiences leading up to the course, including the death of my mother and the fact that I had quit my job in order to attend.

At the end of the graduation I joined my classmates in singing an acoustic rendition of “Life Without End At Last” with my guitar. The audience erupted in applause. It felt like I had reached the pinnacle of my achievements within the organization. I was determined to put my training to good use.

A year after my MTS, I flew out to Croatia for a reunion with a number of my classmates. One student, named Miroslav,* invited us to spend some time with his congregation in Sisak, about an hour’s drive south from Zagreb.

It was in Sisak that I met my future wife, who was pioneering at the time. After a few months of getting to know each other through emails and phone calls she agreed to move to the UK so that we could pursue our relationship.

Six months after her arrival I proposed to her with a cheap silver ring (all I could afford as a poor pioneer!) on a row-boat in the middle of a windswept lake in the Lake District. She accepted, although later joked that she only said “yes” because she wanted to get off the boat!

We were married in the summer of 2007 on the Croatian coast, and honeymooned in Venice, Switzerland and Paris on our drive home to the UK. On our return, we resumed pioneering together in the same congregation.

We began married life living in a small basement flat in a rough part of Stockport. The sound of police sirens screeching through the night formed the soundtrack to most of our evenings. Looking back it was an inauspicious start to our new life together, but it was all we could afford as pioneers on part-time wages. In fact we couldn’t afford even that, because we soon started to slide into debt.

The call to elderhood, and the anti-climax

In April 2008 I was thrilled to be appointed as an elder. I felt as though I could finally put my MTS training to full use, and take a more active role in helping people. I already loved giving talks, but it was the shepherding side that I was really looking forward to. I was anxious to help people with their problems in any way I could.

But it wasn’t long before reality started to sink in, and I began to see what being an elder was really all about. I soon discovered that elder bodies are intensely political, easily manipulated by strong personalities, and that elders are most definitely not appointed by holy spirit as Watchtower so often claims.

Not all elders are the loving, humble shepherds you would expect

Not all elders are the loving, humble shepherds you would expect

Our congregation had a particularly thuggish Presiding Overseer (now known as a Coordinator) who seemed to delight in bullying the brothers and making their lives miserable. He would think nothing of counselling a brother who bought a new Range Rover on being too materialistic, or imposing arbitrary rules on a teenage boy not to socialize with a young sister he liked.

When I did my best to correct this bully elder’s overbearing behavior in the only way I could think of, I was chastised for going about it in the wrong manner. I was kept as an elder, but stripped of certain privileges, including my pioneer status.

My wife also had her pioneer status removed at this time, even though she had nothing to do with my elder issues. I was told that, since both of us had been failing to meet our hour requirement, I was to break the news to my wife that she too was no longer a pioneer.

And so, after eight years of selfless full-time service for the organization in two different countries, my wife was unceremoniously sacked as a pioneer through her husband without so much as a “thank you.”

My lowest point

But these troubles were soon to pale into insignificance when my wife made a heartbreaking discovery. She learned that, though I hadn’t cheated on her, I had been fraternizing with girls on the internet in ways that I shouldn’t have done as a married man. I had a big issue with cyber sex and pornography, which I had developed as a teenager, and which remained with me even into my marriage.

I am not proud of my actions, and to this day I grimace at what I put my wife through. She has never been anything but loyal and loving, and it saddens me that I hurt her by betraying her trust so early in our marriage.

I also feel it was hypocritical of me to accept an appointment as an elder with the aim of helping others and offering spiritual guidance when I had so many issues of my own to contend with. I was living a double life and being dishonest with people.

Even so, I can’t help but consider these actions to be very much a by-product of sexual repression in my formative years. In particular, I think of the difficulties I had in finding a marriage partner from a narrow pool of Witness girls, and the unscriptural Watchtower injunctions designed to induce guilt over masturbation.

Watchtower's rules on masturbation, as reinforced on a recent video, have a real impact on people

Watchtower’s rules on masturbation, as reinforced on a recent video, have a real impact on people

Of course, I accept responsibility for my actions and I do not blame Watchtower for everything. After all, plenty of Witnesses seem to develop into well-balanced adults without these problems.

But my wife and I both now realise that sexual repression in my upbringing was a major factor. It forced me into finding ways of satisfying my natural sexual urges as a virgin without intercourse so as to remain “morally clean,” and this led to an unhealthy dependency on the internet and pornography.

Once my wife discovered my problem we had a number of emotional exchanges. Decisions needed to be made. My first instinct was to sweep things under the rug and work things out between us, but in the end I decided to stand down as an elder and move back to the congregation I had grown up in to receive discipline.

Apart from anything else I knew I wouldn’t get a fair trial from the bully elder, who would doubtless want to make sure I suffered further for daring to question him. This matter involved my wife and I, and not him – so I chose to receive my punishment from elders I felt I could rely on to be impartial.

I wrote an exhaustive confession in a letter and posted it through the letter box of my new Coordinator. Before long I was summoned to a Judicial Committee and made to relive everything I had done in excruciating detail, despite my signed confession which had already explained everything.

At one point I remember being reduced to tears. By the end of it all, it was decided that I should be reproved and not disfellowshipped. However, my reproof was to be publicly announced both in my new and former congregations to make it clear that I had done wrong during my time as an elder.

A fresh start

Around this time my wife and I agreed that we needed a fresh start, so we decided to move to live with her parents in Croatia. Our years spent pioneering had left us with very little money and a mountain of debt, but we at least had an opportunity to build an apartment for ourselves without worrying about rent or mortgage payments.

And so we packed up our belongings and made the move across Europe to Croatia in the summer of 2009. At the time I recall being determined to restore my spirituality, and maybe even work my way back to serving as an elder again eventually.

As soon as the language barrier disconnected me from indoctrination at meetings, I began to think for myself

As soon as the language barrier disconnected me from indoctrination at meetings, I began to think for myself

For the first few months in my new congregation I continued under the restrictions from my reproof in the UK, meaning that I couldn’t answer up at meetings or participate in any talks on the Theocratic Ministry School.

I was reduced to being a mere observer at meetings that I could scarcely understand due to the language barrier. I knew a few words of Croatian, but certainly not enough to follow closely what was being said.

Before long, something unexpected happened. My identity as a Witness disintegrated as I could feel myself being unplugged from the indoctrination. For the first time I began to ask myself, “What do I truly believe?”

I recalled my doubts about the Daniel book from when I was 20. I found I was able to add a number of other issues and teachings that I could no longer agree with. Eventually I sat down and wrote a list of nine “grievances.” When I looked at the list, it was obvious to me that I was now only a Witness in name only. There were just too many things wrong with the organization for it to be the “truth.”

Eventually my restrictions were lifted and I began giving Bible readings in Croatian on the school meetings. Elders would give me encouragement, leaving me with the impression that I would be re-appointed before too long if I just put forth a little effort. But by this time it was too late. I was already waking up.

Then one day in May 2011, after pouring out my feelings to my wife, I decided to declare myself inactive. I felt I needed to let my Dad know of my decision by telephone. I recall him being heartbroken. I broke down in tears once I had finished talking to him. No son relishes the idea of being viewed as a failure by his father.

I wrote a letter to my elders briefly explaining my reasons for being inactive. In hindsight, I realise that my elders could have very easily taken this as a letter of disassociation and severed me from the organization there and then, but for some reason they didn’t want to do this. At least, not to begin with.

Stalling the inquisition

Two elders visited and we had a long and tearful discussion. I explained that I would still be attending memorials each year (to keep my family happy, in my mind) but that I could no longer go preaching when I had so many doubts. They chose to respect this, so I assumed that would be the end of it.

Around this time a new elder joined our congregation from Zagreb bethel, and he soon learned of my inactivity. He decided he didn’t like the way things had been handled, and convinced himself that there must be more to my decision than I was letting on.

This elder pulled my wife to one side at the end of one meeting and interrogated her in the back room, asking questions about my behavior and quizzing her as to our business affairs. My wife and I run a small business, and he and others had come up with a theory that I was staying on as a Witness just so I could exploit Witnesses when handing out work.

All of this happened at roughly the time I finished reading Crisis of Conscience and learned of the 1980 witch hunt against the likes of Raymond Franz and Nestor Kuilan. It felt very much like my elders had me in their sights in the same way, and were determined to disfellowship me on any pretext – real or imagined. All they needed now was a chance to grill me for information having failed to get anything from my wife.

I received a phone call from an elder asking to arrange a visit, but I told him in no uncertain terms that they had broken the rules by interrogating my wife without me being present, and I would therefore not be cooperating with any attempts to offer me “help” until I received a full apology.

Predictably the apology never came, and I was finally left alone. If there was one thing I knew I could rely on, it was the pride of elders and their tendency to deny doing anything wrong. This uneasy stand-off gave me the freedom I needed to explore my new reality without being immediately separated from my family.

The birth of JWsurvey

As things settled and I grew accustomed to my new life as a “fader” I continued to trawl the internet for information. in particular was a real eye-opener. It was on Paul Grundy’s site that I learned of the UN/NGO scandal, Rutherford’s letter to Hitler, and the Mexico/Malawi scandal. Barbara Anderson’s website also informed me on the complexities of the child abuse issue, and how Watchtower is causing real harm in that regard. Everything began to fall into place.

Meeting John Hoyle during a recent trip to America

Meeting John Hoyle during a recent trip to America

The more I learned, the more I wanted to share. I was also curious as to how many others like me were out there. I began thinking of ways to poll such ones for their opinions so that people could see at a glance what the consensus was among thinking Witnesses.

Then one day I proposed setting up a survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I began experimenting with ways of making this a reality. I thought it would cost a lot of money to set up, but an Ex-JW web developer and writer called John Hoyle came to my rescue completely out of the blue. He contacted me and essentially said, “If you want I can build you a website that can host your survey, and you won’t need to pay me anything for it.”

At first I thought it was impossible for a complete stranger to be so kind and make such an offer with no thought of payment, but I figured I had nothing to lose in accepting. Before long, was launched. The rest, as they say, is history.

A reason to take a stand

Fast forward two years or so, and yesterday I found myself attending a hospital appointment with my wife, who is three months into her pregnancy. This was our first opportunity to see our first baby in the womb by means of an ultrasound.

(Top) with my wife on vacation, (bottom) ultrasound of our baby.

(Top) with my wife on vacation, (bottom) ultrasound of our baby.

As the grainy images came up on the screen, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could see our baby’s heart pumping in its chest. I could see its legs folded buddha-like beneath it. I could even see its fingers as its hands were raised almost covering its alien-like face.

The thought occurred to me, “I will love this person unconditionally its whole life, no matter what it thinks, says or does. I will never allow myself to be separated from it, no matter what happens.”

Unlike me, this child will be taught only proven facts – not religious dogma designed to reinforce the unquestioned control of an elite group of deluded theocrats who insulate themselves from even the mildest criticism.

There will be no “Armageddon drills.” There will be no fear, guilt, or paranoia. There will be only love and acceptance. My child will have all the opportunities I never had as a youngster – including the chance to build a life for itself doing and believing whatever it chooses, with my support.

Yes, my Witness family is bitterly disappointed in me. Yes, they view me as a traitor. But there is nothing I can do about that other than to build my own family, free of such rifts and divisions. Though this is proving traumatic for me, I cannot live the rest of my life bending over backwards to conform to the expectations of my indoctrinated forebears.

They may prefer for me to remain inactive, trapped in some sadistic vow of silence so that the mother organization can continue to wreak havoc undisturbed. But I refuse to tacitly bend my knee to Watchtower for a moment longer. A stand must be taken. A line must be drawn.

After all these articles it is high time for me to talk with my feet – especially with my child’s future at stake. Yes, fading is a great option if you can stay quiet and pull it off, and I support those who handle matters in that way. But if you are an activist like myself with something to say about Watchtower and the means to say it, you will find it increasingly difficult to keep it going for too long before something has to give.

The journey continues

I know many of you reading my story will be disappointed at my personal failings, but please understand that I am only human and never set myself up as a role model or spiritual guru for anyone. I am interested only in exposing the scandals and falsehoods of an organization that claims to represent God as honestly and journalistically as possible.

I have not the faintest interest in drawing off followers, preaching alternative doctrines or telling people how to live their lives. I am interested only in revealing the truth about Watchtower, and I feel my experiences within the organization, both good and bad, put me in a great position to do this.

Nothing I write should be considered as beyond question – in fact I am happy to receive criticisms and make changes to articles if needed. I am committed to using my energies to join with other more seasoned campaigners in informing the world about what I view as a damaging cult, which I see tearing my own family apart and threatening countless others.

To all those who have sent messages of support and solidarity over the past few days via Facebook and email, I give my heartfelt gratitude. It is not easy to make this stand. I have shed more than a few tears, but I know what I am doing is right.

By going through this pain now I am sparing future generations from the same problems. I want to give my child a life free from fear and indoctrination, with the opportunity to explore this amazing thing called life without the shackles of ignorance and servitude. I can think of no finer legacy to pass on.









*Miroslav has recently been disfellowshipped for apostasy. On his facebook profile, he identifies himself as a follower of the Bible Students.

Translations: Romanian | …

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488 Responses to The Story of Cedars – A Prisoner No More

  1. Lyn says:

    I have only just browsed down the comments and am just amazed at how many supposedly current JW’s are commenting – not only on this site but on other sites where factual information, respectful dialogue and honesty are paramount, that is, except for the comments of the JW’s.

    Why are you on these sites? Where does the vitriol come from? I “faded” 30 years ago and am only just discovering these wonderful affirmations that there are others who have woken up to the fear and control that is part and parcel of being a JW.

    I too once countered someone with, “I’m not brainwashed!” Funny that, of course you are not aware when you are, and think you have a free mind.

    • miap tan says:

      Your story really touched my life john. I went through somewhat similar experiences as you but with an additional twist:

      I was betrayed and set up by the brothers for ridiculous charges such as demon meditation to prevent my appointment to a position of responsibility and whats more it was in a military prison camp where we were supposed to be taking the stand for Jehovah. How i got out and how i survived this persecution from “Jehovah’s people” isamazing and ubelievable divine help and will be released in a book soon. Many have reached out to me and asked me to publish my experience in a book to free the Singaporean congregation from this horrible spiritual prison. I am hoping you will get in touch with me at would appreciate greatly your input before i write this book.

      cheer and keep up the fine fight for truth! for our one true god jehovah!

  2. Joe says:

    I was once a Presiding Overseer (back in 2008, one month prior to wedding) I was removed by scheming, calculating, jealous elders who actually lusted for a position I was more than willing to give to them. I continue as a pioneer even though not spiritual enough to be re-appointed (never removed as pioneer). I see so much truth in what you said in your life story and find myself in a very similar place in my life. I don’t go to meetings anymore (over 2 months) and don’t even get a call from elders to see if I am alive, just a text to send over my time. I see such hypocrisy. We are told to ask questions when we are studying but once in, you can never question anything. I still believe in Jehovah God and his Son Christ Jesus, I still believe in the Bible, but just cannot digest the hypocrisy, lies, cover ups, and back peddling anymore. Thanks for what you are doing, sir.

    • Sisi says:

      Joe, please stop looking at what “people” do. They will have to answer to Jehovah. Only look at what you are doing. That is what should matter and will matter to you in the grand scheme of things. If you still believe in Jehovah God, his son and the Bible as you say (unlike Cedars) that is what it is about! Unfortunately, Cedars too believed in Jehovah, his Son and the Bible. Why do you think he is where he is now? Please think about it and be nothing but honest with yourself. It brought tears to my eyes when I read about Cedar’s mum, and that when she wakes up he might not be there. I am a mother myself, and there is nothing more heartbreaking. But, in saying that, Jehovah’s greatest gift is the gift of freedom and choice. And we must respect that. Jehovah respects it. But he is also just and rightful judge of what is acceptable and what isn’t. He makes the rules, and made the laws including the law of cause and effect, so we will all reap what we sow.
      And it’s not about the WT or GB. They are just there to keep “prodding” with reminders. And to keep the congregations morally and spiritually clean (that is a scriptural requirement) That’s all. What some elders do is bad. They will be judged have no fear. Otherwise it’s between you and your God. What I can say with certainty though, that if you don’t return to meetings, I will most likely find you on forums voicing the sentiments of those who no longer believe in God. Do not underestimate the power of Jehovah’s adversary who would want nothing more. I am assuming you do believe he exists also. Please take care.
      P.S. Just in case you are wondering, there ARE answers to all the accusations that critics raise against the the JWs, you just have to want to find them.

      • 02Stang says:

        @Sisi There might be other people responding to your post as well. But since you are defending JW.ORG please see this “The Cedars Challenge”

      • Rowland Nelken says:

        I have asked countless JWs the same questions and received zilch in reply.

        Perhaps you, Sisi, can provide evidence to substantiate the Gov Bod’s claim that it is the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’ as referred to by Jesus in Mat. 24. On that claim rests the entire authority of the JW bosses. If you can provide evidence that will be a first.

        Perhaps you could also explain why anyone should want to belong to an American Adventist breakaway sect whose achievements, since 1879, amount to the following:

        1. A series of duff prophecies about the date for Armageddon.

        2. A cavalcade of doctrinal flip flops. Christian Zionism and the Rpature are but two binned doctrines.

        3. Thousands of deaths, since 1945, through the ban on blood transfusion.

        4. Split families through shunning of apostates.

        5. Paedophile protection through the two witness rule.

        6. Stunted lives through the frowning on higher education.

        7. Social isolation through the banning, since 1925, of Christmas and other celebrations.

        8. Nightmares about the prospect of Armageddon when the all loving Jehovah executes billions for the capital crime of not being Jehovah’s Witnesses.

        But I will, charitably, finish with mentioning a couple of positive achievements.

        9. Mastery of the dark arts of cult mind control.

        10. Using the above as a tool to persuade millions to donate their time and labour as unpaid mag. distributors, thereby increasing the capital value of the Watchtower Empire.

        11. A parallel mastery of the smooth arts of PR, whereby a corrupt and nasty little corner of Christendom has been able to present itself as a group of earnest and sincere evangelists.

        This last, fortunately, is now failing badly and the JW cult is, at long last, shrinking. Its demise cannot come too soon.

      • Dodger says:

        Are you not told that Christ is the head of the congregation? And that those who lead are chosen with the influence of God’s holy spirit?

        So why would God or Jesus choose bullies, politicians, backstabbers, and rapists to have positions of authority? Or even allow them to remain after even one act of cruelty towards the sheep in their care? Surely Jesus, who can read hearts, would know exactly who NOT to permit to hold such positions of authority. Yet, here we are.

        What explanation do you offer? Does Jesus not care, or does he not exist? Is so much holy spirit used up in finding “sheeplike ones” in the field, through extraordinary measures, that there is none left over to protect innocent children in the congregation, or to make sure that the “sheeplike ones” already in the flock are protected from all varieties of abuse from the very ones who are assigned to shepherd them.

        Maybe the reality is that it is just another flawed human organization led by flawed humans following a flawed God imagined by flawed men. Maybe there is no spirit in action, no Christ in charge. If he is in charge, he has some serious explaining to do.

        I know reaching this conclusion requires common sense and logical thinking which are not encouraged, so your mileage may vary.

  3. Pburford says:

    I left the congregation over 30 years ago, but I have just recently accepted a bible study from the JW’s again. I had rejected organized religion for years until 5 years ago when an accident that could have cost me my life, made me aware of how important it was to get a grip on my spiritual path. I started reading and searching in every religion and belief system to find something that I connected to. Lately, I have felt like I was missing something and have been feeling lost. The JW’s came to my door several times, so I decided to accept a bible study. In the last couple of days some things from my past have awoken and I am now dealing with them. As an abused child from a Ministerial
    Servant father, I was not protected from him by my Pioneer mother or the congregation which housed Elders I found out later that knew of the problem. I remember feeling so lost and disillusioned from the experience that I buried deep down inside of me so as not to deal with it. I remember years later talking with my mother after my father had passed away about my childhood. I wanted an explanation, I wanted to know why I never felt loved or safe in my own home. Her response” Are you crazy, your father never did that”, when I rebutted her comment, her next response “Maybe I was not home”, me knowing she was downstairs the whole time. I believe that by starting this bible study, God is now revealing to me what I had buried all those years ago. Dissolving these issues is very important for my spiritual growth in making me whole. I started looking for others with the same experience and came across your website today. Its amazing to see how the layers of our soul will peel away as the time is right for us to face our demons and dissolve the issues in order for us to grow to the next level of spiritual maturity. I plan on reading Crisis of Conscience in the next few days. I also plan on looking at some of the other websites you make mention of. I thank you for the information you share on your site, I already feel stronger today and I am ready to fight for my freedom… I am still going to study with my JW friend for awhile longer, one thing for sure they do know the scriptures. As far as joining again, I do not see that happening at this time. My heart goes out to all who have been abused and beaten, mentally, physically and emotionally. I pray for your freedom, and that you find your joy and happiness. Loving God should be easy.
    I thank you again for sharing your experience.

    • Sisi says:

      My heart goes out to you and I am happy you have been able to uncover what has no doubt been subconsciously plaguing you. Please mention the abuse to those who you are studying with.
      And when you read Crisis of Conscience, don’t just take it at face value but do objective research. Realize that the person who wrote it did not have the most honest intentions at heart despite what he says. I know what I am talking about, I have read the book myself. If you are a truth seeker, you will find it (the truth).

    • Dodger says:

      No need to read Crisis of Conscience, but by all means if you do, keep an open mind.

      More importantly, trust your own conscience and your own common sense. Do not let emotions overrun the thinking ability that God gave you.

  4. anonymous says:

    @Pburford, your story is really interesting. When you say your father abused you, are you saying he sexually abused you or beat you? I think a lot of JW kids were beaten (abused). I did it to my kids too because I was led to make them quiet at meetings and I used a wooden spoon and I used it at home too. I abused my own kids and I wished I could go back and know then what I know now. Thankfully my kids don’t hate me for it but I have a real guilty conscience for it.

    When you study with those Witnesses, you might be able to help them by coming to web sites like this and others so that you can ask them about things like the latest jwbroadcasting where Splane said that only the anointed Witnesses in 1914 saw that Jesus was ruling and nobody else did. Ask them if they can prove that as a lot of us have the old books from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that totally prove that statement to be an outright lie. Also, have them prove that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E. when all history books say that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586/587. If 607 fails, then so does 1914.

    Once you read Crisis of Conscience, you will have tons to ask them, like where in the Bible does it say that Christians are to go from house to house? It’s not there. Also, there is nothing in the Bible to say that there was a Governing Body in Jerusalem in the 1st century. Ask them to tell you where in the Bible it says that the great crowd will be on the earth or where in the Bible it says there will be a paradise earth?

    Ask them how to prove that Jesus was talking about the anointed being the 144,000 and the great crowd being the “other sheep”. Ask them to prove that the man Jesus said would be with him in paradise who was being put to death alongside him, was talking about the earth, when the only hope for mankind at that time would have been heaven, i.e. anointed in the Organization before 1935 as per Splane’s latest jwbroadcasting claim about the overlapping generation.

    • pburford says:

      Anonymous- I was verbally and physically beaten. He was an angry man and anything that pissed him off was taken out on me. There were only I and my brother, he being the younger. I don’t think I would have hated him just for whipping my butt for talking during Sunday service. He was raised by a Presbyterian preacher who was the meanest man I knew. I get why he was like that. Taking it out on your child, drinking, and then attending the kingdom hall and holding a ministerial position as if your life is perfect caused me to hate him and the jw belief. It has caused a lot of turmoil in my life but I have been working with a life coach and doing self improvement work on me personally and spiritually for the last five years. I only took the bible study recently with the jw`s because I felt a void and wanted to make sure that I was in the right place I needed to be spiritually or was it just my past experiences opening up for me to face and dissolve. I have learned that when the timing is perfect we will face issues from our past if it is making us stagnant in our growth process. Like an onion being peeled, layer by layer. Like the universe promises things will open up for our advancement such as finding this site yesterday and seeing others that have lived and felt the same as I did. I am so grateful.

      • Betty says:

        Your comments about how your father would physically and verbally abuse you then go to the KingdomHall and act all was perfect in his world and how that caused you to feel hatred towards him and towards the JW beliefs really struck home with me. I lived the same kind of life only my dad was an elder and their were 5 of his kids at home. My dad could have abused any of us but he chose to always come after my younger brother and myself. No matter what we did it was never good enough for him, we were always in the wrong. My mother never interfered in any of the beatings and when we were beat at the KingdomHall, even though everyone could hear what was happening, no one ever stepped in.
        My brother and I both became inactive and had issues with social anxiety and depression. We both had terrible addictions to drugs and alcohol for several years. Eventually my dad apologized to my brother for the things he had done to him and they have a better relationship now even though he has not gone back to the meetings. As for me my dad does not acknowledge the abuse he put me through and I still have alot of hatred towards him and towards a religion that lets child abuse run rampant and do nothing to stop it. God is supposed to be all about love but I still have not figured out how your father beating you until you are unconscious on the floor and so bruised you are not allowed to go to school for weeks at a time has anything at all to do with love and if that is what it was then I don’t want anything to do with it or the people that follow those teachings..

  5. Jon Dudley says:

    Lloyd, Thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate your sincerity, honesty, and candor … even to the point of confessing your personal failings. I also agree with your public stance against aggressive activism. I am a former pioneer and also served at Brooklyn Bethel for close to 6 years … from 1976 – 1982. I was serving there when Ray Franz was asked to leave and personally witnessed the witch-hunt atmosphere. My doubts came to surface around that time period. Unfortunately, I did not have the courage or moral fortitude to act on conscience. So rather than leaving on my own accord, I self-destructed … subconsciously sabotaged myself … got involved in wrong conduct that would guarantee disfellowshipping. I have been out and free since 1982 … but only in the last few years have I begun to view the Watchtower organization as a bona fide cult of false prophets. If you would like a more detailed story, I will send you an email later. (Please forgive the lack of proper spacing and format here. My computer is screwed up, partially disfunctional.) Thanks again … Wish you the best. Jon

  6. Jim Moore. says:

    Thank you for the honest recount of your story. I was raised a witness, baptized at 24 and have unofficially disassociated myself for the last 4 years but my family now consider me an apostate. Im 44 now.
    I’ve been disfellowshipped twice since I was 28 and disassociated once. To say it was painful was an understatement and lead me to drug and alcohol addiction and almost successful suicide which required hospitalization.

    Finding story’s such as yours has helped me gain strength and really confront and accept that I was a part of a cult and kept in out of fear of loosing my family.

  7. Ant says:

    “Enjoyed” your frank experience Lloyd, thanks.
    I reckon people like your father, who have been JWs so long, just cannot face the retrospective loss of most of their lives.
    It takes courage to accept and admit, that one’s life has been virtually meaningless, to date. But let us hope that he appreciates even a limited time of freedom and peace of mind ahead, in his remaining years.
    I was 45 when I finally exited and it took a few more years, being alone, to sort myself out, but I wouldn’t change that for anything. I am almost there!
    Best to you and hopefully, your Dad too.

  8. David Tritenbach says:

    This was the story I was looking for, your story about a “thuggish Overseer” reminds me of our local Kingdom Hall where he got away with tax-evasion, theft, fraud and many other sins that would make inmates blush. When I tried to expose his fraud and tax evasion and pathological lying, I had my so-called privileges stripped away!

    The Watchtower Organization is loaded with bullies and cowards, the cowardly elders who sit back and tremble, they wet their pants because their afraid of the Bully Elders and Bully COs. All these years wasted chasing a lie, a lie that changes annually wrapped in “New Light”. How can the New Generation not see all the lies you and your wonderful wife did, incredible story of courage and boldness, the Watchtower needs to worry that good men like you are not standing idle as they lie!

  9. Dodger says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, was raised in the Truth, and many aspects of your story resonate with me, including the personal failures that you dealt with and the strain that it put on your marriage.

    Although I have come to many of the same conclusions that you have regarding the nature of the organization, at the same time I have to wonder if we – by which I mean, those of us who have been excommunicated, sometimes more than once, those of us who have faded, or who are on the path to awakening – if we all are just not the right “fit” for this club.

    Do we all see the evil in the organization because we are inherently evil in our own hearts? I like to think that I am a good person, I am a good husband and father in my own eyes, although not the eyes of the congregation, I tried my hardest to live up to those requirements but no matter how hard I tried I could not. So, here I am on the outside. There is much that I have experienced within the congregation that would cause me to be bitter and resentful, but I am also bitter and resentful towards myself.

    Without discounting your story in any way, I’m interested in also hearing from people who saw the light even while they were truly in good standing in every way. It seems that there are just those people who manage to be happy in this organization, more power to them I suppose, and for that reason they will never see it the way that we do.

    Please forgive me, I do not intend to speak for anyone but myself, I am just trying to understand the feelings in my heart. I wish only the best for everyone in their own personal journies towards enlightenment and contentment.

  10. Free Mind says:

    Thank you so much for all the work you are doing! I love your website. My mind has been totally freed of my past beliefs as a JW but I thoroughly enjoy reading the articles and experiences you have posted here.

  11. jay says:

    I am an JW for 20 years but inactive for almost 15 years, i started attending meeting again last 2 years, during the time that iam inactive i am very critical with the teaching of watchtower because of the influences of website such as yours, if you really believe that watchtower or jw organization is wrong can you give us a organization that you think represent the real truth from the bible, the reason that i decided to attend again i noticed that there are a lot of complain and accusation about the organization without offering an alternative that offer the truth, as far as i believe there is no such as a perfect religion or perfect christian as everybody is not perfect, but i believe that there are some people and organization that are trying their best to accord with the bible teaching and jehovahs witnesses is the best among them, be constructive and show me a religious organization that close to the biblical truth that we have learn as a JW and maybe I will consider leaving the organization…

    • Rowland Nelken says:

      No individual ol or organisation knows THE TRUTH. No comlpete truth about everything is contained in any book, whatever claims are made for the Koran, Das Kapital or the Bible.

      Once you acknowledge your own and humanity’s relative ignorance, life becomes a wonderful journey of discovery. Any individual, organisation or book which claims to provide access to an absolute eternal truth is a con.

      Best wishes for your journey Jay.

    • Winston Smith says:

      Why do you need to belong to a specific organization? In my assessment that is residual JW conditioning, the idea that there needs be an extensive and highly structured organization. If you search the scriptures you will find that there was never a large, centrally structured organization – although the JWs try to twist the scriptures to indicate that there was one – rather early Christians met in very small groups. As Jesus said ‘if there are two or three gathered in my name’ – not hundreds or thousands – ‘I am with them.’

      The first few centuries of Christians did rather well spreading the good news throughout the world without a centrally controlled organization. 1 Timothy: 2:5 “For there is one Godand one mediator between God and humanity,Christ Jesus” – notice there is no mention of an Organization interposed between Christ and humans, as the Watchtower would like you to believe. The point is that according to scripture you can have a personal relationship with God through Christ alone and do not need an organization to direct you.

      Some suggested reading: In Search of Christian Freedom by Ray Franz – he shows from the scriptures that there was not a strong central organization back in the first century and why one is not needed today. Also check out some of the information on

      If you really fee you need the fellowship of a Church, check out some of the main stream Christian Churches in your area. I have gotten to know a number of Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and others who are really good people trying to follow the scriptures. Did you that the Baptists’ growth rate is 3X that of the JWs?


    • Jaime says:

      The society puts Christendom on the same level as Satan, which makes it hard to look at a church as an alternative to them. After reading the Bible (Not NWT) for a couple of years, I looked at a local independent church that agreed with the Bible and it’s context. I now attend a fundamental independent Baptist Church. The Pastor reads straight out of the Bible with no influence from books written by men. Once the Spirit dwells in you, the Bible is the only book you need. You won’t be able to put it down.

  12. Lydia says:

    My sister was contacted by JWs by door to door preaching in 1987. She immediately had a Bible study upon the first return visit. So of course my sister started witnessing extensively to our mom and me. Soon we attented all meetings and had our Bible studies too. My sister got baptized in 1988. My mom and I got baptized in 1993. I married an opposer of JWs and did not attend meetings regularly anymore. I also stopped preaching. I have faded for 14 years now. My mom and sister are still devout JWs. I wish I could just show them one video of John Cedars but I can´t do that. They would shut down their blinds right away because he´s an “apostate”. I myself am still very confused because I´ve just very recently woken up. Up till 2 months ago I was still convinced that JWs have the truth. I am disappointed that there will not be a paradise earth 🙁 and that this is all there is to life. Especially since 80-90% of the earth´s population is dirt poor and many have bad illnesses and are disabled. I would like to know what your book´s title will be once it´s published. I am such a “fan” of yours because you explain everything sooo well in your videos, especially in your JW Broadcasting rebuttles! I can´t get enough of those! I´m looking forward to your next one! Thanks for all your work!

    • Rowland Nelken says:

      Extreme poverty is declining dramatically. Polio is following smallpox and bubonic plague into the history books. Humanity is getting progressively less violent at every level. JWdom depends for its appeal, partly, on the fiction that the world is getting ever worse, and that the decline from the mythical Eden can only be reversed by a mega destruction at Armageddon. I am glad you have escaped the misery making negative clutches of the Watchtower. Time now to clear your mind of any remaining junk deposited there during your years of Kingdom Hall attendance.

  13. Faith Weinbaum says:

    After just reading the story of Cedar, I now understand your position and am so sorry for that horrid experience you and your wife had to experience. Remembering you in my prayers. Well said by Rowland…if this outlet helps do what your conscience tells you.

  14. Shirley Valdez says:

    It looks as though I’m a little late to the party. I’ve just recently been turned on to JWsurvey and John Cedars You Tube videos. I have to say I’m really impressed at the way in which he delivered his message, straight forward but respectful. I’ve been separated from the organization for about 8 years now, after having been in it for 35 years. I’ve been very leery to listen to “apostate” opinions. It’s taken quite some time to shed the indoctrination, but I think I’m finally there! I look forward to reading and watching more of Cedars articles and videos.

  15. Joseph Dyer says:

    Thank you for your story.

  16. Joseph Dyer says:

    I was an elder for 10 years. I can relate to your story. thank you for sharing.


  17. amy Goodson says:

    I too was raised a JW. I was publicly reproved at 14 for kissing a boy. It took me years to understand the manipulative ways elders and other JWs (including family members) operated. It wasn’t until I had a child that I understood the meaning of “unconditional love” so when I read the part of your story where you saw your unborn child, it brought me to tears. It’s still hard to understand how my parents put a religion before me because I could never do that to my children. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your educational videos!

  18. Gregor says:

    Lloyd – Thank you for sharing. My wife is from Bonsaka-Krupa Bosnia ( refugeed to U.S) & the surviving members are in England. We are non-witnesses and are dealing with my older sister and her husband – both staunch-in-the-organization for forty+ years. Your story, website, and other sites like yours have given me so much insight –
    Thank You –
    Loadmat (Gregor)

  19. Autumn1975 says:

    Thank you for sharing. I want to say more, but can’t find the words. I’m just starting to wake up.

  20. Leann says:

    Thank you for the time you spend in trying to help others. I wonder if one underlying reason for the required shunning imposed by the org. Is that it puts the org. In a better position to receive the more money when members die and leave dollars to wtbs. Instead of df family members? Just saying? Interesting.

  21. Rowland Nelken says:

    Quite right Rose – That is why St. Paul advised against marriage and child rearing. The first generation of Christians were convinced that Jesus would return in their lifetimes.

    The Christian story is, in part, one of 2000 years of disappointment.

  22. Kevin says:

    The read was such an eye opener. Thank you for your courage indeed many will by your courage see that light.

    I admire your openness and transparency

  23. Dear John,
    I am watchin and listening to your you tubes and the reason is that I have a brother who is involved in JW for more than 45 years. My prayer is that his eyes will be open for the truth. And John I hope en pray ernestly that you will find ( because I couldn’t find out if you still believe ) the true loving God of the Bible. I am listening to the worst convention ever and the only talk they are bringing is loyal to Jehovah what I miss is the love of the God of the Bible. They are not bringing the Word of God but they are bringing there doctrines. I am sorry for my englisch but I hope you will understand. John, I know that the Lord has not forsaken you He is LOVE
    sincere blessing,
    Tjitske from Holland

  24. Tjitske says:

    Dear John,
    I am watchin and listening to your you tubes and the reason is that I have a brother who is involved in JW for more than 45 years. My prayer is that his eyes will be open for the truth. And John I hope en pray ernestly that you will find ( because I couldn’t find out if you still believe ) the true loving God of the Bible. I am listening to the worst convention ever and the only talk they are bringing is loyal to Jehovah what I miss is the love of the God of the Bible. They are not bringing the Word of God but they are bringing there doctrines. I am sorry for my englisch but I hope you will understand. John, I know that the Lord has not forsaken you He is LOVE
    sincere blessing,
    Tjitske from Holland

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