Canadian ‘brainwashed’ runaway teenager chooses religion over mother

A Canadian mother is in tears after her daughter has fled home after joining the Witnesses

A Canadian mother is in tears after her daughter has fled home after joining the Witnesses

A Canadian mother has been left distraught after her daughter fled home due to her newfound faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Cassidy McCarville has since told reporters she didn’t run away but “chose her religion over her parents.”

The 15-year-old became a Witness two years ago, and has since become “fanatical,” going out preaching rather than doing her schoolwork according to her mother, Candis McCarville-Wier.

When Candis grounded Cassidy last Tuesday, thus preventing her from attending a meeting, the teenager fled home. Candis contacted the police who traced her to a Vancouver hotel to which Cassidy had been taken by a “friend’s mother.” But the police refused to bring her home after determining she was “not in any danger and had not committed any crime.”

Said one family law expert, Tracey Jackson, “I think probably the police are looking at this and saying it’s futile. ‘I can go find your child, bring the child home, and the child will just run away again. And I’m not going to do that 100 times — I have other things to do.'”

Candis, side-by-side with husband Jeff Wier, gave an emotional interview to CBC, in which she described how her daughter’s attitude toward non-Witnesses had deteriorated since her conversion.

Cassidy (pictured) has joined a religion that, according to her legal guardians, is detrimental to her

Cassidy (pictured) has joined a religion that, according to her legal guardians, is detrimental to her

“She thinks that because we’re not Witnesses she doesn’t have to listen to us,” Candis said, adding, “People who are not in their faith are considered ‘worldly’ and they say it’s best to avoid ‘worldly’ people because they’ll negatively influence them.”

Her husband Jeff lamented the impact Cassidy’s involvement with the Witnesses has had on her socially.

“Her social life has changed 100%. She went from being very social, [with] many friends of many different backgrounds, all good well-raised kids, I knew most of them, they’re all good kids, to now she only associates with Jehovah[‘s] Witness[es]. We have really no anger towards the Jehovah[‘s] Witness[es] themselves, but Cassidy’s involvement with them has been detrimental to her.”

When prompted by a reporter to describe what state her daughter is in, Candis immediately replied “brainwashed… brainwashed cult.”

“I’m sure that there are great people in this faith, y’know?” she added, “But there are also some freaks. And my daughter, my experience with this has been that like… it’s made her fanatical.”

Cassidy texted her parents on Thursday night, telling them she had taken a bus to Okanagan to stay with a cousin.

Open to interpretation

In reviewing this story, you have to wonder how this teenager’s reckless actions could have possibly found support from members of her congregation. One 1992 Awake! article entitled “What if My Parents Don’t Support Me in My Faith?” has this to say…

“Does this mean, then, that there is nothing you can do to improve the situation at home? Not at all. Take young Joe, for example. He describes the amount of spiritual support given by his unbelieving parents as ‘limited.’ Yet, Joe admits that he may actually have contributed to their lack of support. How so? Well, it seems that when Joe first began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, he did little to apply what he learned to his personal life. So he continued to disobey his parents. Naturally, they saw little reason to study the Bible themselves, much less encourage more Bible study on his part.

What about you? If your parents are unbelievers, do your actions give them reason to believe that you are serious about wanting to serve God? Christian wives are told to win over their unbelieving husbands by their fine conduct. Could your parents likewise be ‘won without a word’ if you were more obedient and respectful toward them? (1 Peter 3:1; Ephesians 6:1-3) If so, would they not be more likely to support you?” (g92 1/8 p.20)

The above counsel seems quite balanced. Children of unbelieving parents are urged to be “obedient and respectful,” which would surely involve respecting a parent’s right to impose discipline.

However, an earlier Watchtower article has this to say…

When required by an unbelieving parent to do something that would directly violate the law of Jehovah God, the child would be guided by the counsel in the Bible: ‘We must obey God as ruler rather than men.’ ‘He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me.’ ‘Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.’—Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:37; Eph. 6:1.” (w60 12/1 p.736)

It isn’t hard to imagine how a teenager like Cassidy, especially if goaded by external influences, could interpret being banned from attending a meeting (or, worse still, being made to attend counselling) as a “violation” of the “law of Jehovah God.” This would explain her extreme actions in fleeing home, seemingly with the support of at least one Witness adult who is sponsoring her behavior.

It is impossible to know exactly what is going on in this teenager’s head, but I cannot help but sympathize with her traumatized mother. Candis McCarville-Wier turned to the authorities in her hour of need, and they let her down badly.

In determining the girl to be in no immediate danger, the officers in question gravely underestimated the insidious nature of cults in their ability to control minds and sever family ties. A teenager may not be in physical danger, but he or she can certainly be in psychological danger.

As to whichever Witness adult is responsible for paying Cassidy’s hotel bill, he or she should be ashamed – as should Cassidy’s local elders for their apparent indifference.

One elder reportedly told CBC reporters they would “never ask a child to leave their parents.” That may be the case, but Cassidy’s elders have clearly failed in their duty to encourage her to do the right thing by returning home immediately to her legal guardians. In showing such negligence, and disrespecting the rights of her mother, they have brought shame on themselves and their religion.










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34 Responses to Canadian ‘brainwashed’ runaway teenager chooses religion over mother

  1. Rowland Nelken says:

    The poor parents seem convinced that the religion per se is not to blame, and that only a few fanatics within it are a problem.

    This is all the more reason to campaign and to bring to the public’s attention that the earnest, respectable, polite churchy image of the JWs belies their insidious and intrinsically destructive nature.

  2. Cedars says:

    Interesting observation Rowland. My impression is that the parents know exactly what they’re up against, but are trying to be diplomatic, and not come across as bigoted.

  3. A 15-year-old staying in a hotel, and no one thinks she’s in danger? I know it’s Canada, but come on people…

    There were dozens of supporters when this story hit Facebook, and one woman said something like, “the parents should get to know what their daughter believes so they can see how it’s beneficial for her.” As I said there, maybe the parents do know what she believes. Maybe they know how JWs tell women to stay with violent and abusive men, and they want something better for her. Maybe they know about the pedophiles some of whom are even elders, and they realize she’s not safe by herself in the Kingdom Hall.

    One also said that being a Witness, the parents don’t need to worry about “teen pregnancy.” Yeah, except that most JWs get married at 18 or 19 and get pregnant right away, and then can barely support themselves. How is this different? The parents may also want something better for her life in the long run.

    No matter the circumstances, obviously being a Witness has not taught this child respect, consideration, or an ounce of humility. If she thinks she knows how to take care of herself at 15, she needs a good wake-up call. And no, it doesn’t “violate god’s commands” to miss a meeting. What if you’re sick or need to work late or your car breaks down? No new system for you? They didn’t ask her to take blood or celebrate Christmas. Obviously she’s just using the “truth” as an excuse to be a little brat.

  4. H.K. Fauskanger says:

    Could be her version of a youth rebellion, though she is “escaping” into a rather more authoritarian regime than anything her mother could impose.

  5. bigmax says:

    Sickning!!! I can’t wait to read that jw’s are exposed for their false teachings and brainwashings and the religion is a done deal!

  6. JB says:

    Cedars, there is indeed some “interpretation” on this one, the news doesn’t show what kind of clashes happened between the parents and this teenager, it only says what concerns the parents had with the situation. Nor is there a way to get “Cassidy’s version”. I’m also a little surprized the parents never had any contact with anyone else from the JW side. This is why, this story sounds quite “uncomplete” to me to have a sound opinion.

    This said, as she’s under 18, so the parents have all legal rights. She’ll have to wait 3 more years 🙂

  7. Buddhagan says:

    This is why I forbade my mother from talking to my minor son about any JW material. She once wrote a letter (who does that anymore??) and included a magazine with it. Encouraging my son to be JW and shun me is not encouraging him to obey his parents as their bible says. Now that my children are grown, they can make their own decisions. Neither one is inclined to be JWs.

  8. John Baptist says:

    Perhaps one day this site and many others won’t be anymore because they will have accomplished their goal in making people really aware of how damaging the Jehovah Witness Religion really is.

  9. Dynamo says:

    This child clearly has a persecution complex. Actually, most children her age have persecution complexes. Being a JW in her situation amplifies it considerably.

  10. Jeannette says:

    The elders have a moral obligation to encourage her to go back home and work things out. There are predators out there and those elders could end up with blood on their hands.

  11. Tiger says:

    They had 2 points of counsel on the subject you nicely outlined. Both contradicting each other. The writers believe by creating conflicting counsel they can pick the side that keeps them out of trouble when confronted. Glad this caught the medias attention, maybe it will raise awareness and people will look in to what is really going on.

  12. Julia Orwell says:

    I converted as a teenager and can understand what the girl is thinking. Becoming a JW as a teenager is, believe it or not, a form of rebellion. For me it was rebelling against my culture and upbringing as an atheist. That and, I was was tricked into thinking it was the right thing to do and that Jehovah was real. It’s complicated. I can so relate to her changes, though I was constantly reminded to be obedient to my ‘opposed’ parents (they never were opposed, but JWs kept referring to them as that) so as to be a good witness to them.
    I did however, run away once myself. I grabbed my stuff, got in my car and took off to a JW friend’s house after a fight mum and I had over something that must have been JW related. Mum somehow managed to get hold of me on the phone and talked me into coming back.
    As a teenager when you’re trying to do your own thing and are convinced no one understands you, it only reinforces your persecution complex if your non-JW parents aren’t thrilled that you reject the upbringing they’ve given you and conflict occurs. The congregation doesn’t help matters by telling your impressionable teen brain that the conflict is “Satan using your parents against you.”

  13. Eddie says:

    Another statistic, a runaway teen. I can’t express a fair opinion because I don’t know her side of the story and what’s going on in the family.
    Regarding the WT nothing surprises me, an organization fabricated on lies, deception, master manipulators !

  14. Cedars says:

    Joseph, please re-read what I said about Cassidy’s elders. I said they had failed in their duty to persuade her to return home immediately. Though we don’t know precisely what is going on behind the scenes, that much is clear.

  15. Cedars says:

    It isn’t an assumption at all. I’ve been an elder so I know how it works. Elders have a duty of care to members of the congregation, particularly in cases such as this. It’s virtually impossible that this girl attended a meeting (which she was supposed to be grounded for), THEN went to stay at a hotel with a sister, THEN hopped on a bus to go and stay with her cousin, without her elders being aware of her delinquency at any point.

    Maybe they tried persuading her to go back – in which case, why did they not make this abundantly clear when the media came sniffing? Either way, they failed in their duty of care because Cassidy obviously did not return home immediately as she should have.

    As to your point about “created equal” – I have no idea what you’re on about. Sorry.

  16. HAKIZIMANA Jean de Dieu says:

    “Masanao’s fine example” is in action behind the scenes!!

    What, though, if your father or your mother does not worship Jehovah?— […] if your parents tell you to do something that God says you should not do, you can explain why you cannot do it. You should not lie, steal, or do any other bad thing that God says is wrong, no matter who tells you to do it. You are right to obey God! (

    Over the years, Masanao, an elder in Japan, invited single ones and spiritually fatherless families to his family’s study. In time, some who were helped became elders themselves and imitated Masanao’s fine example. (

    What about “spiritually fatherless & motherless children”? That applies to the child. Masanao’s fine example is in action!! DO NOT BE FOOLED! God speaks to the child through elders!!

  17. Cedars says:

    What does legality have to do with it? I am talking about the situation from the elders’ perspective, and from a moral perspective. This has nothing to do with “legality” or what is or isn’t illegal. Why are you now trying to confuse the issue by bringing in this new dimension to the argument?

    I am not jumping to any conclusions. That the elders knew what was going on is clear from the media coverage. It is also clear that they failed and were negligent in their moral and self-proclaimed duty of care to persuade this girl to return to her parents. If you can’t see that (or, more accurately, refuse to see it) that’s not my problem. But please don’t try confusing the issue through talk of “legality,” or try to misrepresent me as “unethical” on no basis whatsoever, or I will assume you are trying to troll the topic and respond accordingly.

  18. Dave says:

    Parental Alienation within the JW religion is a big problem not only for unbelieving parents but also those who were former members like myself and are now disfellowshiped.

    It has been a constant battle to keep a good relationship with my 9 yr old son even though I went to court 18 months ago to get regular contact and agreement that he would not be unduly influenced to follow his mothers (JW) religion.

    So far there have been problems following the summer 2013 convention which he attended. After the convention and talk about shunning he told me on the phone it was best we went our separate ways but two weeks later changed his mind as he missed me. He did not come to visit for a court ordered week at christmas because of the pressure he felt about christmas ( even though its optional ) and when I asked if he will come for the court ordered week at Easter he quickly changed the subject.

    This is just two examples, I can relate much more about my experience but would end up writing a small book.

    My advice to any parent leaving the JW religion or has a former partner in this religion is go for custody of your kids early on and don’t let grass grow. You Will End Up Losing Them!

    This article along with others on this site has been very useful. Thank you cedars for all your hard work.

  19. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    The principle here is that the girl is under the age of majority. She is 15!

    No religion should encourage or allow a minor to run away from home. The elders should have counselled her to go back home, not stay in a hotel.

    What are they playing at? A 15 year old girl on her own in a hotel room? Anything could have happened.

    I think that some folks are implying that there were serious problems at home. There is no evidence for that here. She should be going home and doing as she is told.

    How desperate they must be, to aid a teen to flee her home, simply because she is grounded and not allowed to attend a meeting. Are their numbers so small that they will seriously interfere with parents’ right to set reasonable limits on their child’s behaviour?

    Let’s hope that the child returns to her parents, and that she can be more reasonable in future.

    What next? She gets baptised and that’s the last they ever see of her?

    I find this story incredibly worrying. It stands as an example of why describing JWs as a cult is accurate.

    Peace be with you


  20. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    JB, I hope that in “three more years” she will have woken up to the high control religion she has chosen and get out of it.

    Your comments are almost predatory. It’s just a waiting game is it? Wait for her to be 18 and then she’s part of us and there’s nothing anyone can do.

    Of course, everyone has the right to choose a faith or no faith. However, do you really believe that this poor kid is getting balanced councel from her congregation? Not doing her homework because she’s an unpaid magazine distributor – does that strike you as balanced and reasonable behaviour?

    Peace be with you


  21. JB says:

    Hi Excelsior,

    I think I expressed myself very poorly, my apologies for this. What I really had in mind was when she’s 18, she can decide for herself (and bear the consequences), but in the meanwhile, she’s under the responsibility of her parents. Whoever JW knew about her whereabouts should do the necessary so that she returns back to her parents immediately – and then, they should leave her alone, as per the parents’ wishes. If for some reason, she has a real problem with her parents (like being mistreated, etc) it is also the authorities’ job and JWs have nothing to do with this.

    I am a DF’ed ex-JW and actually, as long as the organization remains as it is today, I have no intentions to go back. I could elaborate this sentence in more details but I would digress from the initial topic.

    I can only advice this teenager to do the same as I do, and keep away – or at the very least, to be very very careful.

  22. Cedars says:

    “Duty of care” and “negligence” are not terms that are exclusively legal in nature. And implying that I’m “excited” purely for defending my article against your pedantic and ever-changing arguments is extremely juvenile. If anyone is getting “excited” over this and other issues, it is you with your myriad complaining emails yesterday and now trolling of my website today.

    Yes, that means I’ve discovered who you are. Bye.

  23. JB says:

    BTW, I also wanted to say reading about Dave’s experience really makes me boil … Dave maybe you should write a small book about this.

  24. HAKIZIMANA Jean de Dieu says:

    What are you battling for! Do you want the child to choose religion over her mother? For what? To study the Bible’s stories like this?:

    (Genesis 19:32) . . .let us give our father wine to drink and let us lie down with him and preserve offspring from our father.”

    or this:
    (Matthew 1:24, 25) . . . Joseph woke up from his sleep and … he took his wife home. 25 But he had no intercourse with her until she gave birth to a son; and he called his name Jesus.

    You are talking of legal… I do not know legal what! Legal terminology! Explain me what the Watchtower id implying here: this

    the clergy ‘framed mischief by law’ and organized mob violence against God’s people (re chap. 22 p. 147 par. 17)

    Weapons used against true worshippers have included bans, mob violence, prisons, and the ‘framing of trouble by law.’ (

    ‘framed mischief by law’, ‘framing of trouble by law.’! Please Joseph, here the issue is not legal, we are talking about destroyed lives by a cult. We are talking about our experiences not the law!

    Please Joseph, remember the other Joseph, the law could not protect him from the accusations of his master’s wife’s (Genesis 39:20)!!

    ‘framed mischief by law’, ‘framing of trouble by law.’, are JWs immune of that? You are lucky not to be the other Joseph to understand the limits of the law especially when corporations find loopholes in “the law of the land” to destroy lives with “theocratic law”!!

  25. Susan says:

    I so feel for the parents. I have a five year old son and can’t imagine after years of loving and caring for him, to have a dangerous cult come along and steal him away from me. Anyone familiar with Jehovah’s Witness teachings knows that the daughter is being taught that her parents are influenced by Satan as it’s “His world”, and that if they don’t become Witnesses, they will be destroyed. This cult breaks up families on a daily basis as they are doing here.

  26. HAKIZIMANA Jean de Dieu says:

    @Suzan, I think JWs are mocking other religions… They fight for the so called the TRUTH to the extend of
    hiding even the TRUTH about themselves. They break families to all costs.

    Look at this part of their answer for the question “To what extent need a faithful Christian wife resist a divorce action brought by her mate?” (

    “In such a situation, though, she might need to protect herself and the children. How so? She would want to retain custody of her beloved children so that she could continue to show them motherly love, give them moral training, and instill in them faith based on fine Bible teachings. (2 Timothy 3:15) The divorce could endanger her rights. Hence, she might take steps to be represented properly before the authorities in order to protect her right to have access to her children and to be sure that her husband was obliged to support the family that he was abandoning. In some places, a woman contesting a divorce can sign legal documents that set out provisions for child custody and financial support, without agreeing to the divorce her husband is seeking.”


  27. April Smith says:

    I hope that since this young lady had a lot of good friends before she chose to go this route, she will reflect back at some point, and have doubts that Everyone outside of the JW oganization should be considered bad association, and that only they can be true friends, and have “the truth.”

  28. Excelsior, formerly known as George says:

    JB, I am very sorry for going off on one in my previous post. I completely misunderstood your comment. The fault is mine.

    My goodness me, poor Cedars is being trolled much more over this article than others. It looks to me that the WTBTS machine has woken up to what an omnishambles* this case is, and is desperately trying to get its side of the story out there to minimise the damage. *a phrase used by Malcom Tucker in The Thick Of It.

    Will self preservation lead the local elders (controlled by Bethel) to tell the youngster to go back home? It should do. This is a terrible advert for a religion that is so obsessed with its image.

    I find it fascinating that the WTBTS will go all out on this case, but will ignore the plethora of domestic and child abuse that goes on in its midst. What a telling insight into their warped and twisted world view.

    Peace be with you


  29. Apostate,shamostate says:

    I really feel for the parents, to have a child fall prey to anyone especially a controlling evil religion must feel awful. I hope Cassidy will come to her senses and go back to the people who love her unconditionally.
    My parents are shunning me because I have left the lie, Cassidy’s parents can always adopt me!!
    Thanks for your website Cedars, you are amazing.

  30. Dave says:

    JB – Unfortunately I do not have the talent for writing like cedars but would be happy to give further information to anyone that may need help before its too late.

  31. 20years says:

    I can relate to this story completely. The JWs found me when I was just 13. In the very second chapter of the book they studied with me, they warned me that Satan would begin persecuting me through my parents, and that opposition was a sure sign that I was doing the right thing. However much Cassidy loves her newfound faith today, the story may be very different years down the line. Hopefully she won’t ignore her higher education (like the watchtower encourages people to do), she will opt for a lucrative career (something that the watchtower frowns upon) and she will, in one way or another, realise the marketeering ways of the Watchtower.

    I feel sorry for Cassidy’s parents. Back in 1987, JWs sounded greatly urgent as “Armageddon was at hand” and said conversion was the only way. And they said I could always leave home and work at Bethel if my parents said I was unwelcome to live with them any more. When I look back, I hate two particular Witnesses for inciting me to rebel against my parents, which caused them much grief.

  32. JB says:

    Hi Excelsior,

    Back in time I was a JW, pedophilia issues were unknown, so I discovered these issues only during recent years.

    And reading this article, I thought the same as you mentioned. I think it’s vital for the congregations to consider properly all child abuse issues, before saving other children.

  33. JB says:

    Dave, I also wished I could write as good as Cedars does.

    But still, via the blogs and comments, such events get heard. The main issue about such a publication that ironically, the target audience wouldn’t read it.

    No religion which has rules to hurt people can justify itself. Although it’s wishful thinking, I wished this changed in better.

  34. Joe says:

    I had a similar experience just that I was 2 year older. Converted as a teenager, I can understand what the girl is thinking and what the parents are going through. The JW teaching appealed to me then because it gave me hope for the future. I thought I’ve found the truth. After almost 40 years as a JW I have found that it was a false hope. I’ve regretted all the hustle I gave my parent then. I’m furious because I was tricked into thinking it was the right thing to do and that Jehovah was real. It’s complicated.
    My advice the parents is be relax and rather support her. She will eventually come to her senses. I know, it will not be easy but be patient.

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