A tearful Brie gives a brave speech in front of her classmates in a video that would later go viral
A tearful Brie gives a brave speech in front of her classmates in a video that would later go viral

Chances are if you’re reading this you are one of the 536,000 (and counting!) people who has already seen a remarkable video by a courageous schoolgirl named Brie.

Brie, a senior at Lincoln High School in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was given an assignment with the rest of her classmates to deliver a “persuasive speech.”

“[The teacher] pointed out that speeches are much more persuasive when you’re using something you value to drive your ideas,” Brie later wrote on the Friendly Atheist blog. “It made me think about what I value in life and what my class needed to know about.”

When Brie gave her emotional speech she made sure one of her friends filmed it for her. She told her classmates of her experience growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, including the negative impact of shunning on her family and the covering up of abuse she has witnessed among her friends.

The resulting video was uploaded less than a week ago, but it has already gone well-and-truly viral – even catching the attention of the UK’s respected Independent newspaper.

We can be thankful to Brie’s teacher, Mr Hansen, for handing Brie an assignment that has turned out to be truly educational, not just for her class, but for the whole world.

This brave 18-year-old girl has seized an opportunity to stand up to Watchtower, a sinister bully that exports misery on a global scale, and has utterly exposed and shamed it in front of over half a million people.

“It is a religion that preaches love and acceptance, but the reality is everything is conditional,” said Brie. “Love and acceptance is only extended as long as members practice absolute obedience and question nothing, ever. This religion destroys lives, destroys families and they do it largely unchecked… because they are really good at silencing the people who leave.”

Probably many ex-Witnesses like me will have felt a twinge of envy while watching these words spoken, simply because we too have been victimized by Watchtower and would have given anything to turn back the clock and take such a bold stand as teenagers.

But not many of us, myself included, were as courageous back then as Brie is now – and that is the crucial difference.

I cannot thank Brie enough for her inspirational words, and for taking such a powerful stand for her generation. Brie has done what any good activist does: she has taken the pain experienced by herself and others and turned it into something positive and productive by using it to raise awareness and thus spare others, not least her classmates, from what she has gone through.

The runaway success of Brie’s video highlights clearly that the Watchtower finds itself in a whole new ball game. The tables have well and truly turned.

Gone are the days when the Governing Body could withhold information from those tenacious and persistent enough to search for it. Gone are the days when they could stifle free thought, and keep young, intelligent people in silence and subjection.

The internet has changed everything. Now everybody has a voice if they will only summon the courage to use it. It is a privilege to see a brave young woman like Brie do just that, and find her voice with such stunning results.

 

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