The Friday Column: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Doubts

Like myself, my wife was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and has always loved reading. When she was around 7 years old, she was reading through a science book and came across a chart detailing the evolution of the horse through the ages.

She was so excited about what she discovered, she ran to tell her mother. Her mother, of course, told her how wrong that book was and that it was not true. She taught her that Jehovah created all things and that evolution was a lie.

My wife points to this moment as the earliest memory of having to repress doubt as a Jehovah’s Witness.

How are doubters portrayed by Jehovah’s Witnesses?

The 2016 Remain Loyal to Jehovah! Regional Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses has stood out to many as unique. In 36 years of attending and viewing conventions, I have never seen one like this. It stands out as a desperate attempt on the part of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to scare and manipulate current members who may be doubting into staying in the organization.

For instance, during the symposium talk “Be Loyal As Jesus Was – When Abandoned”, a video was played that portrayed a Jehovah’s Witness named Sergei finding out that a close friend of his had “left the truth.”

There is a lot to say about that video; however let’s focus on what led Alexei to leave the truth. Alexei’s wife says,

“A workmate began feeding his mind with doubts about the organization. Pretty soon, those doubts turned into belief…[insert dramatic sigh]…and he left.”

The message from this video is clear: doubts will make you leave the organization.

In a 2001 article entitled “Do not let doubts destroy your faith,” the Watchtower compares having doubts to being infected with a virus.

“You probably also do all you can to avoid exposing yourself to viral or bacterial infection. Do you, however, exercise the same care when it comes to remaining ‘healthy in faith’? (Titus 2:2) Are you, for example, alert to the danger posed by insidious doubts?”

The Watchtower here is implying that doubts have a mind of their own. They can be “fed” to an individual. Watchtower wants you to believe that they can behave like a viral or bacterial infection, spreading and infecting the person, turning into “belief” and causing a person to leave the organization.

That makes doubts sound pretty scary! Perhaps a doubter should play it safe and just believe everything they’re told and suppress the doubt. Wait a minute, though. Doesn’t Proverbs 14:15 say that “the naive person believes every word”? So what should a doubter do?

Is Doubt Bad?

sahib-singh-keep-calm-and-never-doubtThe same 2001 article also acknowledges that it is sometimes okay to doubt. Under the subheading “Doubt—Is It Always Bad?” the article states:

“Of course, not all doubt is bad. At times, you need to suspend acceptance of something till you are sure of the facts. Religious exhortations to the effect that you should just believe and should doubt nothing are dangerous and deceptive.”

In practice, that sounds like actual good advice. However, in reality, ‘just believe and doubt nothing’ is exactly what Watchtower asks of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In paragraph 16 of that same article, asking such questions as ‘Are we really living in the last days? Can you believe everything the Bible says? Is this truly Jehovah’s organization?’ is likened to Satanic propaganda.

“Satan would love to plant doubts like these in your mind. Do not let a negligent attitude toward spiritual feeding leave you easy prey to his deceptive teachings. (Colossians 2:4-7) Follow the advice given to Timothy. Be a good student of “the holy writings” so that you can “continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe.”—2 Timothy 3:13-15.”

Interestingly, “being a good student” through personal study and “spiritual feeding” is what many who have left the organization point to as the source of their doubts. Personally, that was the case for me.

My Experience With Doubt and Personal Study

Though I had been baptized for more than 20 years, I experienced renewed zeal after I attended the 2014 Regional Convention; the convention that first initiated the now widespread use of video presentations. One video in particular impacted me deeply.

After watching that video and listening to the other parts in the program, I gave in to the emotional manipulation and resolved to “do more in Jehovah’s service.” I stopped missing meetings for trivial reasons. I increased my service time by 200%. I also started to do more Bible reading and personal study of Jehovah’s Witness publications.

I had been diligent at studying in my teenage years; however I had never really carried out serious personal study during the age of the internet. One of the first things I researched was the doctrine of 1914 and how the organization arrives at that date. The date of Jerusalem’s destruction by Babylon is important to the doctrine of 1914, as it is used as the starting point for a series of calculations that arrive at the 1914 date. Suffice it to say, when I Googled, I specifically stayed away from so-called “apostate” websites, and stuck with secular and academic sources.

When I Googled “Destruction of Jerusalem,” I found that the overwhelming consensus among academics was that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. In fact, no one on earth, except for Jehovah’s Witnesses, believes that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.

This made me uncomfortable, so I looked up more information in the Watchtower Online Library. The answers I found were lacking in evidence and filled with logical fallacies. The argumentation the organization offered basically boiled down to; “Trust the Bible more than you trust the historical and archaeological evidence these people have found.”

I was not reading Satanic propaganda. I was only examining the evidence.

It was an emotionally turbulent time for me. On the one hand, I had all the hard, verifiable evidence telling me one thing, and on the other I had the organization and my emotions wanting me to ignore that evidence and believe Watchtower teachings nonetheless.

There eventually came a tipping point, and I decided to rely on on the evidence.

Thus began my path out of Watchtower’s indoctrination, and towards true freedom of the mind.

If You Have Doubts

doing-researchSo, what if you are having doubts? What should you do?

Well, why not follow the advice of the organization from that same 2001 about doubts?

“A loving Christian is certainly ready to believe those who have proved trustworthy in the past. But God’s Word also warns against ‘putting faith in every word.’ (Proverbs 14:15)”

Yes, the organization warns us not to put faith in every word, yet be ready to believe those who have proved trustworthy in the past. So, how do you know if an organization has proven trustworthy in the past? Research the history of the organization and examine if their claims and doctrine have proven trustworthy.

“Sometimes a person’s past record gives legitimate reason for doubt. “Although [the deceptive talker] makes his voice gracious,” the Bible warns, “do not believe in him.”—Proverbs 26:24, 25.”

Yes, let the organization’s past record speak for itself. Examine the facts and see if it does not give legitimate reason for doubt. The organization has extensive practice seasoning their words “with salt” – thereby making their words appear gracious. Are they being deceptive? Again, that is for you, the reader, to judge.

The apostle John also warns Christians against blind belief. “Do not believe every inspired expression,” he writes. Rather, “test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) An “expression,” a teaching or opinion, might appear to emanate from God. But did it really come from him? Exercising some doubt, or suspending belief, can be a real protection because, as the apostle John says, “many deceivers have gone forth into the world.”—2 John 7.

Yes, heed this advice. The organization’s doctrines might appear to come from God or Holy Spirit, but is that really the case? Why not do what they suggest and exercise some doubt and suspend belief until you examine the evidence?

A Unique Opportunity

magnifying-glass1The 2016 Remain Loyal to Jehovah! Regional Convention is an excellent opportunity to put aside confirmation bias, examine the evidence, and examine the organization. There are many people that claim that the organization is a harmful cult or high-control group. The organization denies this. Why not examine the evidence at this Summer’s convention?

Here is a handy guide to identifying if an organization is a harmful high-control group; a recognised model developed by Steve Hassan, an expert in dealing with dangerous high-control organisations. Take this list, go through every part and video at the 2016 convention and compare with this list. What does the evidence show?

That, dear reader, is for you to decide yourself.

 

By JW Survey contributor Sean McGee, A.K.A. Cappytan

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Editors note: Huge thanks to Sean for contributing this article. You can check out his YouTube channel here.

Here are a few of the videos waiting of you!

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54 Responses to The Friday Column: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Doubts

  1. Dwc says:

    What an awesome post!! I hope to do one of these Friday posts one day.

    i am currently at my Friday convention (last ever) and I am taking extensive notes. I cannot believe the difference an awakened view of this doctrine takes on now that I look at everything through a different light.

    Id be happy to share my notes after the weekend to anyone who is curious.

    But make no mistake the WTBS is using the standards that God has laid out in the bible and at every turn they twist them into fear obligation and guilt!

    • Cappytan says:

      Thanks…I’m glad to say, my last official convention was last summer. It is a surreal experience attending while awake to the lies.

      • John ship says:

        Ive been awake around a year but ive promised to take my wife to friday and sunday. Ive seen some of the awfull vids and the unfit for children bunker vid this will be my last convention .first was 1964 .how things have changed i cant believe it.the “new” GB are self dedtructing the org..

        • Will says:

          Great article. My last convention was in 2014— 100 years of the kingdom. I was miserable. I told myself that I was never doing another convention. 1914 was just an elaborate Watchtower lie.

          • Winston Smith says:

            The way I see it 1914 was a miscalculation that became a lie due to a lack of humility and and an unhealthy desire for power.

            Have not attended a convention since 2013 and happier for it.

            WS

      • Chantal says:

        My last official convention was last summer as well. Only went Sunday. That was too much. Lies, video, and propaganda

    • JBob says:

      I wish I had been more aware of being at my “last ever” convention.

      But I disagree that this convention is somehow “unique,” perhaps you were not aware of the full-court press GB v1.0 put forth during the first wave of dissents after 1975, and during the early 1980s. If the word ‘loyalty’ could have been worn away through use, the years when numbers were diving like kamikaze piloted planes would have been when that word was eroded from the dictionary by use in talks and publications. There may be some nuances to material presented at this convention, but from what I’ve seen leaked, nothing is new.

      The bunker videos are derivatives of years of KH legend and talk in service cars through the years as some speculated on “great tribulation” days. No sentiment, my club foot. These are throwbacks (or callbacks, if you’re really old) to those pre-1975 memories of speculative talk.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        JBob I think you are right and I think if there were those still alive who lived through many other dates of the end pre 75 and they knew about the internet they would be putting their two cents worth in the this is not new topic. We see what we want to see unless the c
        ognitive dissonance finally forces us to admit to ourselves “This cannot possibly be true.”

  2. Brother from Austria says:

    Thank you for this very good article!

  3. rob says:

    I remember many times hearing from the platform the words “make sure of all things” but unfortunately the witness religion does not allow this.

    An inability to question anything that is printed in the watchtower and an inability to speak freely and express doubts, is like living in a prison with no walls.

    I am so glad that I no longer have to punch my time card for this corporate religion and no longer have to adhere to the many pharasiacal rules.

    As this religion becomes more radical and tightens the grip even further on its members, and as members come to realize that the burden becomes heavier and heavier – which is contrary to what Jesus wanted for his followers –
    they may finally realize that this is not what they initially signed up for and just call it quits.

    I believe that we will never see a sudden exodus from this religion but a continued hemorraging of people who just can no longer stay in a religion that is trying to hide the mess behind the curtain.

    • Big B says:

      @ Rob

      I concur with you; and what a smelly mess it is! No matter how they try to visually hide their corruption from their adherents they can’t hide the smell. Especially from anyone who can use the internet. The information is out there for those brave enough to look.

      Like a rotten fish not only does it ‘stink on ice’ it (the Watchtower Organization & current seven mental dwarfs calling themselves the spirit inspired/guided Governing Body) ‘stinks from the head’.

      This money grubbing, time-bandit, covetous cult is no different than any other televangelist organization. Power over people is their mantra and trying to get money is what this ‘Organization’ is all about; doing so through the time honored practices of FOG (Fear Obligation & Guilt).

      They are indeed hemorrhaging with more than 2 leaving the organization for every 1 brought in. Maybe they could use a transfusion of money or more ‘New Light’. Any donors, anyone?

      On average, over 500 partook of the emblems at the Memorial over a 10 year period of time. The Governing Body has no control over these figures. Can they explain this? Will they admit that the 144,000, like everything in Revelation, is symbolic?
      Will Armageddon be brought on by Jesus’ armed angelic host and bring the Satanic world to an ignominious end, and save them from the further embarrassment of releasing more New Light?

      So kiddies, stay tuned next time for the further adventures of “the implosion of the Watchtower”!
      Brought to you by jwsurvey.org and many others reporting on the truth about the ‘Truth’ to help you unburden yourself and lighten your load.

      Oh, great article Sean! Enjoyed it immensely.

  4. Fred says:

    Would Jesus wear a Rolex on JW Broadcasting?
    We must let Watchtower answer:

    *** w90 2/1 p. 25 pars. 19-20 Exposing “the Man of Lawlessness” ***
    19 The worldliness of some clergy has even been exposed in the media in recent times, as for example the licentious and luxurious life-styles of some TV clergymen. One modern songwriter composed a song with the title: “Would Jesus Wear a [$10,000] Rolex [watch] on His Television Show?” The song goes on to say: “Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth, have His second home in [luxurious] Palm Springs and try to hide His worth?” In addition, more and more clergymen condone or practice homosexuality. Even now the Catholic Church in the United States is paying millions of dollars in damages to compensate for priests guilty of sexual abuse of children.—Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
    20 Such wrongdoing cannot be ignored by God’s servants but must be exposed for the benefit of others. The great crowd of other sheep must be protected from those who would try to lead them to break God’s laws. And those “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” need to be searched out and gathered to the protective guidance of the Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, and “the fine shepherd,” Christ Jesus.—Ezekiel 9:4; John 10:11; Proverbs 18:10.

  5. Darth Fader says:

    Awesome Friday Article! I had “doubts” and w13 11/15 para 17 (3) confirmed them. The ORG belives it should be blindly obeyed without question. The 2016 convention videos scream “CULT”. People need to wake up and ask questions or they will end up trapped in a basement. Doubt and questioning are built in survival tools that can save your life
    The 2016 convention videos are so incredibly difficult to watch. I would rather wear a flatulent elephant as a helmet then ever have to watch them again.

  6. Oubliette says:

    Sean, what a well-reasoned article. Thanks for writing this and sharing your experience.

    I really appreciate the way you pointed out that the WTBTS wants people to doubt everything except what they say!

    There is nothing wrong with doubts. Doubts are healthy. Ignoring them is dangerous. As has often been pointed out: if something is true, then questioning it will only lead to affirming its validity. The WT leaders don’t want their followers to question or have doubts because they know where that will lead.

    My only comment is that you shouldn’t use Wikipedia as a source as it is not consistently reliable. Here are two better sources in reference to confirmation bias:

    Psychology Today Magazine (online) – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias,

    And a more comprehensive research paper:
    Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises by Raymond S. Nickerson – http://landman-psychology.com/ConfirmationBias.pdf

    Keep up the great work!

    Oubliette

  7. Stephanie says:

    So glad you are sharing your story, Sean!! Welcome to freedom– your voice deserves to be heard.

  8. I KNOW NOTHING says:

    Thank you for this great article.Doubt is what I had struggled with all the years that I had been a JW and no amount of research or study of JW literature was able to erase my doubts,it only helped to reinforce them.Doubt is good.

  9. ruthlee says:

    Like others I started the research path and not a jot of what I thought was true, was true. Then came the anger, then the disappointment and now the freedom to think as I please. I do not fear any of them now it is all smoke and mirrors,a fabricated sham. Such an elaborate façade while it lasted. As commented I find wtower stuff really hard to read or listen to as it gets on my nerves. I have no trouble reading the bible in fact that is the best thing that came out of this journey. I am still not going to this convention there is no point what can they teach that gives hope or purpose to my life. After 3 days of drivel how could I possibly go and tell my neighbours to collect their pandas and come in the bunker with me and all the other jdubs. Maybe to relieve the boredom in the bunker someone could bring a violin. Mind you no one would know how to play it but it would be an interesting curiosity. On another note , If jdubs were gathered in a bunker for sometime and they read the bible together they would find all the truth they needed without Brooklyn’s spin on things. mmmmm then we would hear a few teeth gnashing as the great discovery of delusion.cheers Ruthlee

  10. Quendi says:

    Sean,

    Many thanks for your piece. I hope it spurs thinking readers who are still active Witnesses to give it the serious consideration it is due. Those same readers should also be alert to the clever manipulation the Watchtower has employed over the decades to keep its followers in the fold. It is not just the threats of disfellowshipping and subsequent shunning that rein in many doubters, it is also the corrosive acid of whether any doubter is worthy of God’s love and guidance should he or she question Witness orthodoxy.

    Many people embrace Watchtower theology because they sincerely love God and have come to believe that the Witness religion is really the way of pleasing Him. To doubt and then leave the organization might lead to spiritual suicide and the wrath of God lying everlastingly upon them. So they remain imprisoned, burdened by their doubts and the false hope that everything will work out for the best in the end. That was certainly my belief and why, when my first misgivings surfaced more than twenty years ago, I stayed. When I was eventually disfellowshipped, I spent five vain years seeking reinstatement before I finally worked up the courage to act on my convictions and end any and all efforts to return to the organization’s good graces.

    For some people, the key to leaving is to acknowledge that love for God and love for the organization are not synonymous. Once a person gains that clear and distinct understanding, shackles will fall off, the prison gate will swing open, and the road to freedom can finally be trod.

    • fallingangel75 says:

      @Quendi, I feel like this describes my husband, and until very recently it described me as well. Part of the reason why we are distressed right now is exactly that.

      He thinks that I have abandoned all belief in God and right and wrong. He thinks I will incur God’s everlasting disapproval.

      I have been told for so long that the JWs were his only approved channel that I am not sure what to do next.

      And as much as I appreciate this site, everyone is all over the place as far as what they chose to do when they left.

      I do wish I knew where to look for more info about what else is out there.

      Some will misunderstand and think that I have left one master and I don’t know how to be free, so I’m searching for another one.

      I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do next. I do want to decide for myself, but after being a witness all my life, I don’t even know what my options are.

      I’m not sure if I want a personal relationship with God, or to belong to some other organized religion.

      I do still believe in the concept of right and wrong and truth and lies, but I am unsure about how to seek God’s approval and what and how much he expects of us in the way of good works.

      I’m certain that I should do what I can to help my fellowman, and to be a good person, but beyond that I’m at a loss.

      And, I know that it is a contradiction to everything I just said, but some days I do wonder if there’s a God.

      The foundations of my faith have been so thoroughly shaken that I’m not sure of anything I was taught regarding the existence of a Creator and what he wants for us.

      • Quendi says:

        @fallingangel75

        You are not alone in your feelings of disorientation while you wrestle with your conscience, your faith and your sense of morality. Others have felt the same and I can say this was where I found myself when I made the decision to have nothing to do with the Watchtower again.

        In my own case, I had to wrestle with feelings of low self-esteem and self-hatred. Since I am a gay man, the Watchtower had taught me that I was the scum of the earth and only completely purging my true nature would ever bring me God’s approval. I came to realize that was untrue and then I was able to finally move forward.

        I still believe in God, and I still believe that some portions of what we call the Bible were inspired by Him. Once I had reached that point I began searching for a spiritual community where I could both contribute my gifts and abilities and be welcomed and loved for who I was. I am not saying that everyone should do as I did, but I have come to realize that being part of a community is an essential need I have. I have been fortunate to find one where I live in Denver, Colorado. That has enabled me to continue my “detoxification” program and I have grown and made progress in the healing I have needed.

        In short, I would say that severing ties with the Watchtower is only a first step. I was a Witness for more than thirty years, so my detoxification has been a gradual process, not one that has happened quickly. Furthermore, it is an ongoing condition; and once I realized that I was able to let my healing take place at a healthy pace.

        The road ahead will not be easy for either you or your husband, but should you choose to take it, I would say your choice is the wise one. You will find that there will be many people who will want to aid and assist you find the lives that will satisfy you. Redevelop your thinking abilities. Listen and learn, even when you hear things you don’t agree with because that is how you will grow in wisdom. Share your hopes and fears with others as you have in this forum and I think you will find that the rewards you will reap will far outweigh any blows you may suffer.

        • fallingangel75 says:

          Thanks, Quendi. Even though I am still in my 30s, I also count more than 30 years in because I was a very precocious child.

          I have many clear memories of observations made and conclusions drawn that go back to when I was 3 or 4 years old.

          I have even more strong impressions of things I understood and began to question counting forward from the age of 5.

          Thirty years would be a lot of indoctrination if I was counting from age 15 or 20 or 30, but the impact on my psyche from that 30 year span comprising essentially my entire life is a whole other issue to deal with.

          I like you. I really enjoy your comments. My heart goes out to you. As much as I was ever unhappy, I feel like it cannot compare to what you experienced as a gay man.

          I often questioned the rules, but I never felt self-hatred as a result.

          I felt stifled and unable to pursue goals. I also felt like I could not measure up to expectations, but I never felt like it was inherently wrong to be myself or to love who I wanted to love.

          That’s a whole other set of issues.

          I was always very confident in myself and my abilities. Thankfully, no self-esteem problems.l. The struggle I had was with humility and the roles that women are relegated to.

          But that is off-topic.

          It intrigues me that you still believe in God. Many people have abandoned belief in God over less.

          I have a question: when you say that you belong to a ‘spiritual community’, is it actually a church with services and Bible study? Or is it a less formal group that does outreach programs, social work, charity, etc.?

          I’ve never been to Denver, but it seems like a cool place. Me and my husband considered moving there at one point.

          I appreciate your advice. Much of what you said is what I have always done, which is a large part of the reason I find myself here now.

          I always participated in Interfaith discussions and charities. (Secretly. After I became an adult. Less once I got married.) But I have attended church services with co-workers. I have read recommended books and magazines and study publications from other faiths.

          And I enjoyed it, and often felt encouraged and upbuilt. I did learn things.

          I always believed it was ridiculous to ask people to accept and read our literature and to come to our meetings, but to flatly refuse theirs.

          Of course I was alone in this. I never announced that I was doing it, and had concerns about the consequences if I was ever ‘caught’.

          And I was never sure if Jehovah would hold it against me, but I was still willing to take my chances.

          I have also always been sympathetic to people in the LGBT community. I have way more gay friends than any proper witness should.

          I feel like that comment is like when people say they have a black friend, and you think: sure you do – have you ever been to their home?

          Yes. I really do and I really have. On the super down low, of course, and not for stealth conversion.

          Like to sleep over and watch a movie. More than once.

          Never cracked a Bible, didn’t even bring one.

          Gasp! Shame on me, right?

          I feel like my thinking abilities are and always have been in tact, there was just so much information I didn’t have about things that the organization is doing wrong. Or the more objective history, not the one they teach us

          I realize that I had always cherry-picked which beliefs I really held and would defend.

          When questioned about certain doctrines, I would say, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach ‘x’, my personal belief however. …

          But that is off-topic, also.

          What has kept me in is mainly the fear of losing out on everlasting life in paradise, because I did earnestly believe that was a real thing.

          And the fear of losing my friends and family through shunning, because that most definitely is a real thing.

          • Quendi says:

            @fallingangel75

            Thanks for sharing some of your story. I appreciate the sentiments you have expressed and found none of them offensive or condescending. I have taken my time in replying to you because I wanted to read your answer more than once to make sure I grasped what you were saying. Also Sunday’s events in Orlando have been mind-shaking and heart-breaking and I wanted to take a little time to absorb their impact.

            To answer your question about the community I joined, I will share a few details. After I made my decision to forever sever ties with the Watchtower, I took time off from religion, as it were, and gave myself a rest period. My belief in God was something I had long before I studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses and it survived my withdrawal from the cult. I had reinforced it with my own independent studies in religion, philosophy and science, so I didn’t need Watchtower literature or meetings to maintain my belief in God’s existence or his love for humanity.

            A friend counseled me to look for gay Christians in the Denver area to associate with. This is where the Internet was a great help and I found a group that looked like it would be suitable. It was the Metropolitan Community Church of the Rockies located in Denver. At that time I lived in Longmont, some 40 miles away, but I thought it would be worth the drive to see what was going on there.

            The first service I attended was in September 2011. I came dressed as if attending a Witness meeting and was stunned to see everyone else in casual attire. I wasn’t “love bombed” when I entered the church and quietly took a seat in the back row. That allowed me to watch and listen unobtrusively.

            The service was utterly unlike anything I had ever experienced. There was lots of singing which involved the entire congregation. There was a choir of only seven or eight people, but they sang with real joy and gusto. The music was a blend of popular songs and traditional hymns.

            It was the sermon, however, that riveted me–that and the behavior of the congregation. The message I heard that morning didn’t revolve around a “gay agenda.” Instead, I heard a simple but effective message of how God’s love was all embracing and that He had given us our nature, our character and our talent to use in service to one another and to enjoy life to the full. As I looked around the congregation and saw men and women sitting with their same-sex partners, I realized I had found something special. All the fear and hatred had been left outside the church doors and here was a place where people could express their love freely. There were straight couples in attendance that morning who had not only come themselves but brought their children as well. (The church’s motto is “We are gay and straight together.”) As I listened to the sermon, I began to quietly weep. For the first time in my life I had walked into a house of worship and did not feel shame for being a gay man. For the first time in my life I heard words from a minister that God loved me just as I was.

            I attended services for six months and got to know different individuals there. Then I moved back to Birmingham, Alabama to care for my mother. I was gone for nine months before returning to Colorado in January 2013, this time to settle in Denver with the man who is now my partner. I resumed my association with MCCR and decided to join in October 2014.

            Since joining, I have participated in different activities the church has. I was asked to be part of the choir. I do occasional public reading during a service. I support the outreach the church has in our community. We have a food bank that feeds hundreds of people. We support a shelter for homeless LGBT youth and we do other things that make me feel glad to be part of this community.

            We have no requirements that people believe a rigid and unyielding set of doctrines. For example, on “Trinity Sunday”, the pastor said that he knew there were some among us who did not subscribe to the belief in the Trinity–I am certainly one such person–but that was okay because we were about sharing God’s love with everyone. There was another Sunday when the guest speaker was an atheist. His message to us was to build on our common humanity and thereby enrich the lives of our brothers and sisters. One of our members has a husband who is an atheist but regularly attends service with him because, as both of them have told me, they want their adoptive children to experience genuine love in a community that will accept their parents and themselves unconditionally.

            I can’t imagine any Witness congregation coming anywhere close to expressing this kind of love and acceptance. This is not to say that MCCR doesn’t have problems or experience stress and discord. Every human community does. The difference here is that we try to work these things out in love and we allow our people to freely express themselves.

            So this is where I find myself now. Our community is facing some serious problems, but we are determined to move forward as a family. When I contribute money, I know where it is going and how it is being spent. When I make the occasional suggestion, I am listened to respectfully even if my idea is not adopted or acted on. People tell me how glad they are to see me and how much they appreciate my contributions to our community’s life blood.

            My partner is not a church-goer, but he is glad I have found a spiritual home. I am grateful for his support and being part of MCCR has reinforced my determination to never set foot in a Witness gathering again.

            Quendi

      • Winston Smith says:

        FA75,
        As you start down your path of discovery, my recommendation: study everything. Have you read Ray Franz’s 2 books? They are a good place to start.

        You will find a way that works for you.

        WS

        • Adrian says:

          @fallingangel
          Trying to find advice for someone in your position, who still has a partner who is in the organisation is tough.
          Firstly I’d say that when I left Jehovah’s Witnesses at 17, four years after being baptised at 13, I still believed in God and Jesus, and I held on to a faith that they knew I was doing no wrong to anyone. I had to accept that I wouldn’t know everything or have the answers to everything, but did I ever? When the going got tough on the doors, with someone who had questions that couldn’t be answered by Insight o.t. Scriptures or an elder, we generally would give up and decide the person we were talking to was not a sheep – so we never really had all the answers. So first of all you’ll need to accept that God, as you understand him actually loves you unconditionally.
          Years later I joined a Church of England (Episcopalian Church). I was by then an atheist, and I was surprised at how accepting they were of atheists and Catholics who went along but didn’t take part. Yes, really. If you do find another religious group, make sure that they show unconditional niceness. No genuine people will show unconditional love straight out, watch out for those sorts of groups. You don’t want to bounce out of the frying pan and into the fire.
          However, being as you are, still married to a believer, you will probably find that sort of step too much, so I’d advise you to search out some other form of communal activity – local knitting group, welding classes, exercise group, whatever. If they show politeness that should be good enough.

          My big advice to people leaving, especially to younger people, is to be conservative when deciding what is good and is not good, and who your new associations are. The world is full of wonderful people, but there is also a mixed bag, and soem awful people out there too, so dip your toes in the water, and trust that in the fullness of time you’ll get a feel for who, in the long term is a genuine friend and who is not.

          Good luck in your search.

          • fallingangel75 says:

            @ Adrian: Thanks. One thing I have realized by reading here and other ex-JW forums is this – I am not as isolated and sequestered as many have been.

            I continue to say that I am very outgoing and friendly. People meet me one time and comment that I seem fun, cool, nice, kind, etc.

            People comment that I must have many friends and that I must have been popular in high school, etc.

            Not trying to pat myself on the back at all.

            But I have never struggled with making friends or fitting in. (In the good way.)

            I’m a natural leader and influencer, not a follower. (Except for being a JW, and always it has chapped and chafed.)

            My struggle really has been with the JW pressure to NOT make friends outside the organization. That goes against my nature.

            I really always did it anyway, but drew the line at going to holiday parties and birthdays and such. (Mostly.)

            If I thought I could attend and not be found out, I totally did, but this was not often.

            I always get invited, though.

            I live in a part of the country where a lot of people go to church and are god-fearing, and even those who are not are still good people focused on taking care of their families.

            I suppose I have been a social ‘double-lifer’ for the past 15 years.

            And I am therefore not naive about people outside the organization.

            I recognize that people are good and bad and you must pay attention to the cues they give about how they intend to treat you.

            As they say, my mama didn’t raise no fool.

            I can handle myself in the world. Both of my parents were very streetwise because they grew up poor in bad neighborhoods.

            So even though I grew up sheltered in the suburbs, they always made sure to teach me to protect myself from people of an untrustworthy and predatory nature, and that such individuals are just as likely to be found inside the organization as out.

            But not to fear everyone.

            I appreciate them for that. I feel like I know how to make my way in the world better than most who were born into the organization.

            I have an instant network of friends I can become a part of more fully than before, when I do find the courage to leave.

            I’m not worried about that.

            What hurts is that I cannot have both.

            I must accept the severance of ties with all of my closest JW friends.

            My close friends from my workplace and charities I’m involved in is what has shown me that JWs are not as superior as they claim.

            I know so many good people doing good works who genuinely care about and care for others selflessly.

            People who are making just as great an effort to apply bible principles in their lives and marriages as any of the Witnesses.

            JWs do not have the corner on that market like they would have you believe!

            So that is great advice about evaluating my new associates, but I have that part covered.

            I already know a lot of good and trustworthy people.

            Adrian: I can’t tell from context – are you still an atheist? Or were you an atheist at the time, but they won you over? Did you join the church while still an atheist?

            It was unclear to me.

            I’m not about to go join up anywhere anytime soon. When you break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the worst thing is to try to replace them immediately and on the rebound just to fill the void.

            I feel that way about this. But I do feel like I must decide something about whether or not I truly believe in God and how or if I must worship him.

            I don’t want to automatically default to atheism because the witnesses deceived and disappointed me, nor do I want to align myself with another group that is just as misled but more fun to be a part of.

            So I’m not about to rush out and immerse myself in anything just because I’m lonely and I need to belong.

            But thanks again for your advice and concern. I genuinely appreciate it. 🙂

      • Andrew Haas says:

        I think your right. At this stage you should not let others tell you what to do. God loves you and will wait for you as you embark on your journey of discovery. I can only tell you of my journey and if you find it helpful, then I’m glad. I left the JW’s 15 years ago. I felt a real tear but also a sense of freedom. Part of the process was reading Ray Franz’s two books. As soon as I discovered the Organisational lies and deception I became a avid reader of Christian theology. I discovered and started to believe many things that at one time I would have condemned. These new doctrines took a lot of soul searching and prayer, before I saw their place in Christian theology. To believe in the trinity, the immortality of the soul, the heavenly hope for all Christians was going against all my JW indoctrination but now I believe without doubt. Many would say that I am now indoctrined into another form of theological thinking. I know that what I believe and the path I have chosen is not for everyone, but that’s ok. I no longer look at people as “us and them”. To me, everyone is equally loved by God. If you want to find truth, you will find it but will take time as work through the process. The church I belong to is brilliant. It has a prison ministry, a bread ministry to the poor in our city. It supports overseas missionaries. Both women and men teach. I feel loved without conditions. These are people who really care about fellow church members and the wider community. I have never been happier. But that’s just me. Others have found a different path and that freedom to choose has to be supported. It’s a fundamental right !! Hope you find your path to peace.

      • Jess says:

        Take a comparative religion class at your local community college. It will expose you to several different ideologies/belief systems from all over the world. I did and it was amazing!

      • free@last says:

        Hi fallingangel75,
        I have been reading (sometimes stalking, lol) this site for a while now without replying but your comment made me want to reach out to you. Like you, when I left the JW org I was filled with doubt about where to go, what I believed, and how to move forward. Even when I found a church that I loved, I still had lingering doubts because so much of what I observed was so different from what I was taught. I finally learned that it is OK not to have the all the answers because no one does. So much about being a witness is this (false) sense of security that we have all the answers and everyone else is wrong. One day after questioning “Why am I having such a hard time with the way people at my church are worshiping God?” (They were worshipping in tongues, which as we both know, jw’s think is wrong) What is amazing is that God answered my prayer not by confirming that what I was seeing was either right or wrong, but by revealing that He cannot teach me anything if I think I already know the answers. So I just want you to know that is OK to have doubts, but have faith that you will find your way. Until then please know that this community is here for you and we understand.
        Here are a few scriptures that have always helped me, I hope they do the same for you.
        Matthew 7:7, 8 & Philippians 3: 12-14
        With Love
        free@last

  11. Chantal says:

    Very good and informative article, Sean. Thank you for sharing. When going in field service we were told to ask bible students to doubt their beliefs in their current faith. But, OH NOOO, never question the Almighty God, oh excuse me, the Watchtower

  12. Tara says:

    ‘Our’ convention is also this weekend…. did I go? Hahahahahahahahahahaha…no.

  13. Matias says:

    Great article. Enjoyed it.

  14. Maria F. says:

    very very good, keep up the great work, i really enjoy the articles,and just want to add that,this is our,my family and mine 5th,year out of the org..after more than 30 years,and no one wants to even think of going back…!!!

  15. Gaby says:

    Great article! When I spoke of doubts I had about the org. my family were like your not suppose to question Gods appointed men and reminded me of The Israelites and what happened to them for doubting Moses. Even my father who stop attending meetings for many years and celebrates birthdays , xmas ect.. told me this and told me how we are in the last days and this isnt the time for doubts! This made me realize how controling this cult is! Even those not currently attending meetings still have control of their thinking. Thanks for posting the handy dandy guide. Scary that once we believed this cult and still now trying to break away emotionally from it is not easy. How they had full control of our mind, behavior and thoughts is pretty scary to me. Since this regional convention my mom has become more zelous and has been too busy to see her grandkids. How they waiste their time and energy in this religion instead of what really matters. I feel so bad for my family and others that were close to me that are still in this religion. Wish i can help them.

    • Former Italian Congregation Chicago says:

      Me too. It’s sad. I make it a point not to have any contact with my mom. I let her know when I’m stoping her house to pick stuff up via text. My dad is not a JW so I have reason to stop at the house. The rest of my family are jdubs and they each need to be courageous to take the first step themselves; persuading and talking to them is useless.

  16. Telescopium says:

    Thanks for this article Sean!
    I appreciate that you mention being a good student has led to many leaving the Organization. That was my experience too.
    I think it’s disgusting that the literature portrays everyone who left as “weak” or “disloyal”.
    They don’t want to address the questions the faders/disassociated/disfellowshipped ask. They just want them to shut up! And to top it off, they make it seem like the major reasons people leave are anxiety, hurt feelings, or guilt (see the Return To Jehovah tract).

    My sense of justice is outraged.

    Right now I’m waiting for Oubliette to hold his review session, because I think I finally understand the answer: It’s a cult!

    • fallingangel75 says:

      @ telescopium, what I resent just as much is the implications that the majority leave to pursue immoral lives of debauchery. How many times have we heard that the major reason people leave is fornication, adultery, or drug and alcohol abuse?

      All my life I’ve heard that people don’t like the restrictions that are there to protect them…. that lie alone has got me so angry now that I know differently.

      And that people are too self-centered to go to meetings and field service.

      So what if I am?

      Yeah, now that I realize what a crock it is, I DO have better things to do with my time, even if it means that I want to lie in bed guilt-free on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

      • Telescopium says:

        Fallingangel75,
        Totally agree with you. I guess they’ll never make it sound okay to leave, because everyone would rush for the doors!

        Enjoy your guilt-free meeting nights!
        Enjoy your guilt-free weekends!
        Enjoy your guilt-free life!

    • Outandabout says:

      No question, Telescopium, but they’re actually more than just a cult…..it’s a Death Cult! You have to be prepared to die for their beliefs. I believe the GB would love to get the blood monkey off their backs but they’ve come too far now to admit it was a mistake. They’re playing a double game by making it a matter of choice and so avoiding any legal comebacks, but at the same time they are forced to push the blood policy as gods word because to say anything different would be to admit they were wrong and risk having their arse’s sued off by irate families, not to mention a possible exodus on top of that.
      So to summarise: they are killing people to maintain their lies and are fully aware of it.
      Evil at it’s absolute worst!!
      This angle needs pushing hard.

    • Former Italian Congregation Chicago says:

      Good point. Instead of answering the doubts, which are most common to all witnesses, they just prompt the jdubs to avoid and shun. Their teachings, coming from god, should be solid in every respect and angle. Their cavalry of special pioneers, regular pioneers, and auxiliary pioneers should all be excited to jump into action and rebuddle every point and counterpoint we bring up. Instead they are instructed to avoid. If you are preaching 90-120 hours a month, aside from going to class/meetings a few times a week, your skills should be honed down; you should be drooling at the chance to take on someone who was once a jdub. I mean the preparation in studying the watchtower, reading the bible, going to the meetings and preaching should make anyone of these witnesses want to take on a debate. But no they tell you to avoid and not to engage in conversation. We just have questions! I have a BA in business and I’m confident in any situation where people ask me questions, they should too.

  17. Vidiot says:

    “…There eventually came a tipping point, and I decided to rely on on the evidence…”

    Hoo boy, that takes me back.

  18. MamaJane says:

    I was around for the 1974 – 2006 district conventions. Back in the 70’s I was a kid. I remember being frightened to death at some of the talks. Especially the ones just before the doomed date of 1975. Around 2000, I just became numb to the monotone voices at at the meetings and assemblies. I left for good about 5 years ago. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had doubts and I was labeled apostate because (they) couldn’t answer my questions. Nice, huh? So, I did the unthinkable…. I researched and read a real Bible!!! Got my answers! I knew then, in my heart, it was a cult. I pray that my mate and family wakes up to the madness.

  19. Twmack says:

    The sign, (Now removed) from the NY HQ building,
    inviting everyone to “Read Gods Word Daily” was
    mis-leading, even deceitful, it’s not what they want
    you to do.

    What should have been displayed there on that building,
    is this statement from a 2011 KM.—

    Does ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ [Watchtower organization] endorse independent groups of Witnesses who meet together to engage in Scriptural research or debate?—Matt. 24:45, 47. No, it does not. K,M, Sept, 2011 p

    Independent Bible study quickly exposes them, and their wrong
    understanding and application of scriptures. It’s what led to several
    at bethel HQ being disfellowshipped in the 70s , including
    former Gov,Body member, Ray Franz.

    One of the things that these ones exposed, was the fallacy that
    there are two classes of Christians, they realised that,
    “ALL who are led by Gods spirit are the children of God” Ro,8/14

    What also became plain to them was that, “Christians are saved
    by Grace not by Works” . Eph 2: 8-9, this is one thing they do not
    want you to meditate upon. They want you to go on filling in those
    FS Reports and keep doing more and more. And never doubt them.

  20. Kat says:

    If one has doubts research it is either founded or not.

    Isn’t this what JW expect from those they preach to going around planting doubts into peoples minds about their own beliefs, they expect them to research.

    I think many JW have doubts and for many they don’t care about it, others do and follow up on those doubts by research. Are not the GB telling JW to be like the Boreans, and to make sure of all things.

    This religion is BS.

  21. Gary says:

    Love this website.

    Well as an old witness take this for a young mind.
    https://youtu.be/XUW-QkHBr8g

  22. People need to realize that IF you are a JW or any member of a controlling religious group, that you as a member HAVE to accept the policies they merit out to people in the group they consider apostate or not worthy of the group any more. This poses a serious problem for those who are honest and truthful because those members they expel or not found worthy could have been real Godly honest people. If you take persons like former Gov board member Ray Franz or others like him who have been booted out of the group then you as a JW take corporate responsibility to the actions of the JW hierarchy and YOU as a member have to answer to the Biblical command to NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS. If the group expels someone on FALSE silly charges then YOU share the guilt and as Jesus said, If the blind lead the blind then BOTH fall into the pit. This should not be taken lightly people. This has happened I am sure to many in the JW’s. Certain Elders may have a bone to pick against someone and manipulate things to where that person is put on trial and disfellowship that person when in reality that person has done nothing major as a sin. Corruption follows every group. But the bigger issue is whether you as a child of God want to follow SCRIPTURE or be led by the nose to accept an unrighteous act that goes against the written word of God…

  23. Jerry says:

    I leave alldoubts behind when I think of theTrinity. I was about 12 y.o. when it dawned on me that with Jesus praying to God. God was higher than Jesus. You don’t pray to some one your equal. I never had to consuider the Trinity again.
    I read in the paper about a man having trouble with his 16 y.o. girl. So he took her forearm and held it over a hidh heat gas stove to show her what it would be like forever if she doesn’t change her ways. She wound up in the hospital and he in jail. How could anyone think of God burning people forever?
    Only Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth on these matters. What a blessing and freedom this gives us!

    • Winston Smith says:

      @Jerry
      You are using an incredibly inaccurate definition of the Trinity in your reasoning. It is the same definition watchtower uses. But they have an ulterior motive: “A “straw man” argument defines a person’s point of view inaccurately, and then attacks the misrepresentation. The Watchtower does this by defining the Trinity inaccurately and inadequately. When presenting the Trinity doctrine, the Watchtower melds Trinitarian and Modal concepts, creating an inconsistent and confusing teaching that does not define any formal position.” See more detail at: http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/trinity.php

      WS

  24. James Broughton says:

    My Anglican bishop once told me that the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Wise words which have helped me in my ministry.

  25. Free Thinker says:

    Hi guys,

    at this week’s mid-week meeting they present this comic-strip-like video animation clip about how to imagine life in the JW.Org-promised “New System”. (The sound track is horrible.) During the subsequent audience commenting session (“What are YOU looking forward to in the NS?”), I really believed I was in Kindergarten or in pre-K: Lion-, tiger- and pandabear-petting – eternally beautiful weather – the best food & drink – swimming & diving in the ocean without any danger of sharks or shellyfish, … – mountain hiking without danger of rockfall… Nothing, not a word about God, Jesus Christ, spiritual things; it is only “ME ME ME, MY pleasure, MY belly, MY hobbies, MY interests…” – there is abolutely no truly grand vision, no true spirituality, no perception of man’s divine affiliation (“Gotteskindschaft” in German). Everything is infantile, shallow, hollow, me-focused on an appalling low level. All these people want to do is living in an eternal Disney Land, an everlasting theme park. Lock them up in a zoo for good – that’s all they need. Panis et circenses.

    It appears to me that this thing with highly emotionally charged video clips, like this tear-inducing one about the resurrection (dead sister coming back to life), is becoming a standard in JW.Org-“teaching”, in order to compensate for the hotly longed for but never-arriving “Waiting-for Godot-New World”. Looking at what their “teaching” (spiritual JUNK-food) consists of for the last decade, it is becoming obvious that the JW.Org-CEOs are ever faster running out of “spiritual ammunition”, of “meaty instruction”, in particular since the ominous announcement regarding “simplified teaching” at the occasion of the release of the new NWT in Oct. 2013 (they won’t teach about “prophetic parallels” any longer, but only about “practical lessons based on Bible characters”). All that is done by now – besides blunt cold calling & sales technique training – is an eternally stretched out “My Book with Bible Stories”, with recurring and utterly weird “lessons” to be learned from Abraham, Ruth, Esther, …, based on highly speculative reasonings about “Imagine what Noah/Abraham/Moses/Ruth/Esther/Mary/… MUST HAVE (!) felt …” (“no doubt” – “doubtless” – “surely” – …, all meaning “WE DON’T KNOW”). The “spiritual food” consists of: Cardboard, styrofoam flakes, air-bubble-wrapping foil, sawdust, or outright crank & garbage.

    Hence, it appears to me that – in order to come to grips with, and brake this dullness, this utter lack of “meaningful guidance” and “solid instruction”, coupled with the consistent failure of their “The end is coming SOOOOOOOON”-prophecies – they are trying something new, which is those emotionally highly-charged,heart-warming and touching, yet excruciatingly infantile video clips that are obviously supposed to rekindle the faded hopes and yearning of the disillusioned “publisher”-flock. This is a prove of the sheer desperation of JW.Org’s CEOs who don’t know anymore what else to do to keep things going and holding their flocks together. Their lies and erros are now “becoming flesh” and start to raise their ugly heads out of the mud in which the JW.Org could hide them for so long, staring the JW squarely in the face and revealing themselves for what they truly are: Empty, shallow wishful conjecture, childish dreams, invented theories and hypothesises without substance, in essence a bunch of hogwash and deception.

    That’s my current stance on that.

  26. Minion says:

    Greetings to all:

    @ C, great article about doubt, what if – this or that.

    You know, one does not need to go to far to research to find out if this is the true religion or the truth, or its not.

    The Watchtower Corporation, using the outlet known as Jehovah’s Witnesses – religion for non-profit status solely for not to pay taxes in all their business ventures – is one big key component.

    Active JWs and Bible studies need to ask, if Isaiah 43:10 written 1,500 years before Jesus was on earth. Then why did he not make mention of this scripture and support Jehovah’s expression. If this scripture has any validation and merit – Jesus would have made reference as he did in other occasions. He did not, and this proves the religion known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the true religion, or the channel Jehovah is using.

    The man Jesus was known to teach his followers and never did he mention ‘you are Jehovah’s Witnesses based on Isaiah 43:10’.

    Jesus disciples did the same, never recognize Isaiah 43:10, never used gods name.

    Perhaps, this validates G.Jackson explanation at his testimony in court in Australia. When he explained (the governing body) we are not the sole channel of God, this would be presumptions.

    G.Jackson is telling the truth, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the true religion, or supported by Isaiah 43:10.

    Active JWs and Bible studies, we are not making this stuff up. It’s real and true.

    1.) You have no support or backing from Jesus, he never supported Isaiah 43:10, why? Because it does not exist.

    2.) You have no support from G.Jackson, the GB is not the sole channel god is using.

    3.) You have no support from other GB members, who chose not to go to court and defend their stands, on why they do what they do. Right or wrong. They prefer to use Your donations and children’s ice cream money and pay millions of dollars of fines instead.

    One thing is real and true, we at JWsurvey, we are trying to help you see the big picture of what is Not real and Not true inside The Watchtower Corporation.

    Please research on your own, and find where Jesus ever supported Isaiah 43:10.

    Peace out,

  27. Jullie Caron says:

    I was raised within this organization, but left after noticing some serious flaws being taught. Haven’t attended or partaken in any service within JW organization since 1995. I felt a need in my spirit about 6 yrs ago and began seeking for the one true God. This has led me to some amazing ministries that use basic teaching from the Bible (which I never learned..cause it was twisted when JWs taught it)
    In the last few years, I have discovered so much…but most of all, how to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
    I went back to check out the Friday afternoon convention with a friend that claimed to be both Christian & JW…(not sure how that’s even possible!)…and was disgusted by some of the things they were saying….which is how I discovered this site…through my distaste as they were speaking…I was googling.
    I haven’t seen my Mother in 9 yrs because of the block instilled in her by the JW teachings…she refuses to even speak to me for more than 10 min- a few times a year. I was raised by her alone and never knew my Dad. Because of her beliefs, it was very difficult to have a close relationship with other family..arguments would break out. I have 4 kids my Mother doesn’t even know. This isn’t what God wants for us! I know God is Love and we are to Love as the greatest of all commandments. I just enjoyed a weekend retreat with Ellel Ministries (actually went from the convention to there!) And am so thankful for the healing I was given. I have complete faith in God and that he will restore everything eventually to what it needs to be…and in the mean time…I wait and serve him. I am so grateful to know that Jesus paid the penalties of sin and we just need to receive, forgive, be faithful and help others to discover God.