Why I can no longer support aggressive forms of activism against Jehovah’s Witnesses
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Watchtower encourages JWs to think of former members as angry protesters, but are there smarter ways to break through indoctrination?

Watchtower encourages JWs to think of former members as angry protesters, but are there smarter ways to break through indoctrination?

I can vaguely remember the last time I encountered “apostates” during my years as an active Witness. I recall they made their presence known at a summer convention.

Whatever message they wished to convey seems to have been smothered by the abject fear I had at the time of any who oppose the organization. All I can remember thinking was, “why are they picking on OUR religion, when there are so many more things wrong about, say, the Catholics?”

This ability to think back to one’s time as an indoctrinated Witness, and contemplate what it was like to be in fear of anything or anyone opposed to “Jehovah’s organization,” is sadly a resource not always called upon by former Witness activists.

Sometimes, when one observes the methods used by former Witnesses in pursuing their activism, one is left wondering whether they can remember anything at all of what it was like to still be a Witness – terrified of even looking at the apostate bogeyman, never mind listening to his angry words.

More recently, videos have been posted to YouTube depicting what I am now calling “aggressive activism” – former Witnesses confronting JWs on the street or at places of worship; goading and mocking them with condescending and belittling words.

I have been familiar with this approach ever since I was a Witness, and truthfully I CAN sympathize with it. When you feel something has been taken from you that cannot be replaced, whether it is a family member (through shunning) or years wasted in cult servitude, it is difficult to stop the anger from spilling over and manifesting itself.

I have often imagined myself causing a scene at an assembly or convention – persuading myself that such actions would always be with the goal of waking people up, when in fact I have known deep down it would simply be about unleashing my primal urges for revenge on a group of bewildered and terrified cult victims.

Common sense should dictate that if you are going to set about the delicate task of untangling the amalgamation of years of extremely potent cult indoctrination, the way to do it is not through shouting and intimidation.

Arguments are not won by the one who can shout the loudest, but by the one who can present the most compelling argument when the opportunity arises. And no information can be absorbed in any meaningful sense by a victim of indoctrination if it is being thrust at them against their will. To suggest otherwise is to fail to grasp what undue influence is and how it works.

The problem is that so many examples of aggressive activism now proliferate that pointing out how deeply unhelpful and even counter-productive it is has become taboo among former Witnesses. I found this out to my cost recently when I dared to point to the elephant in the room in a fairly innocuous post on my Facebook page. Though my observations earned more than 300 “likes,” they also prompted a fierce backlash.

I was accused of being “judgmental” and “divisive,” and one website even briefly allowed someone to post a long rant about how I was a cyber bully and self-styled cult leader. This same individual went on to make further accusations about me that were downright slanderous, suggesting that I may be a sex offender and dragging my wife and baby daughter into his comments – and all because I had committed the heresy of voicing an honest opinion on what I consider to be an important subject.

The simple truth is that most people who know anything about undue influence and how pervasive it is understand deep down (even if they might be reluctant to admit it) that aggressive activism is at least potentially detrimental to the goal of awakening those who are indoctrinated.

True, everyone is different, and there will always be the occasional Witness who responds to being shouted at and ridiculed about his faith. But for every one of these there are surely dozens who will retreat deeper into their indoctrination when their cherished beliefs are threatened. It is therefore a numbers game, and logic dictates that if a certain approach is detrimental to the majority it should be dispensed with in favor of a more effective alternative.

And in what I call “strategic activism,” such an alternative is readily available.

The internet is fast proving to be Watchtower’s nemesis. Not only does it make objective information freely and easily available on a scale never before seen. It also makes meaningful activism accessible to almost anyone through the burgeoning social media phenomenon.

YouTube in particular now offers anyone with something to say the platform to say it in front of thousands or even millions. The most gifted convention speakers would struggle to boast the audience figures that are attainable from a well-put-together YouTube video.

Considering the opportunities now available to the modern activist, coupled with the advice of cult experts like Steven Hassan who urge a “strategic approach,” it seems only too obvious that the gung-ho, in-your-face methods of yesteryear are unnecessary, unproductive and obsolete.

By behaving in an aggressive or confrontational manner with Witnesses, we fit into Watchtower's "mentally diseased" stereotype

By behaving in an aggressive or confrontational manner with Witnesses, we fit into Watchtower’s “mentally diseased” stereotype

But more importantly, for anyone who can remember anything about what it’s like to be a Witness, these brash methods are more likely to delay someone’s awakening than to accelerate it.

Taking to the streets with a handmade sign or a loudspeaker may feel empowering to someone who is bearing deep scars and feels the urge to act out in some way, but we owe it to those who are still inside to make it easier for them to leave – not harder. And by caving in to our primal urges for revenge, and shouting and goading perplexed victims of Watchtower’s undue influence, we squeeze ourselves snugly into the “mentally diseased” stereotype Watchtower has fashioned for us.

It is for these reasons that I am now distancing myself firmly from those who carry on aggressive activism in its various forms. I care too much about the fate of ordinary Witnesses and their children to endorse those who engage in such behavior, either tacitly or otherwise.

I know I am making enemies by taking this position – that much is clear from the abuse I have been subjected to already. But if there is one thing my opponents need to know, it is that trying to silence me only makes me want to shout louder. And exploring and promoting productive, non-confrontational ways to help wake up Jehovah’s Witnesses is, in my view, a cause worth shouting about.

 

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164 Responses to Why I can no longer support aggressive forms of activism against Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. Criticus says:

    1. You are absolutely right: Violence begets violence; aggressiveness triggers counter-aggressiveness. Cause-effect, it’s as simple as “You hit me – I hit you back”. This does not bring us any further, it does not yield desirable results. It shuts any open door close.

    2. Talking about “primal urges” and “venting frustrations”: That’s a matter of psychology and mental hygiene. How are we who once were blinded by the WTS’s promises of “rich blessings of pursuing the best career and way of live possible” as defined and prescribed by the WTS handling ourselves as regards overcoming past experiences and negative emotions that exist due to the realization of past mistakes, or what we could have done better or differently? If we allow ourselves to get bitter, embittered, resentful, sour, then yes – we want to “vent”, to let off steam – but this is not the mature way, nor is it healthy nor constructive. It would mean letting the past control our present and our future, and we would still allow the WTS to have a grip on us and manipulate us. Inner rage is a very bad mentor. We need to let go.

    I have found that all those “missed opportunities” of the past (missed College Studies, missed opportunities to develop artistic abilities, talents, faculties to the full, reaching our full potential), having sacrificed all those on the altar of WTS-interests are all part of a path we need to go, a process we need to pass through in order to become what we are today, and there is absolutely no guarantee that things would have turned out for our better had things been different in the past. Nobody knows what alternative reality does look like. Somebody once said: “This world is the best of all possible worlds”, and I hold this to be true in the case of each & every former JW who has woken up from his delusion and who does NOT allow the realization of the futility of once having been under the WTS’ spell to cause him to get angry or bitter. We need to let go & move on, but yelling & screaming won’t let us. Calmness is power. THAT is where the potential lies and what lets us perceive of ways and methods of effectively reaching out to those who still are under the WTS’ dominion, with a calm M.O. and convincing, eye-opening reasoning.

    Nothing is lost, even not to those who spent – I am consciously not saying “who WASTED” – countless hours of “advertising advertising advertising”. Although it may looked like “wasted”, it isn’t, for it makes us (or: Should make us) compassionate for those still struggling in this hamster wheel, and compassion – not rage – is a very effective enabler to touch hearts and souls. And it may even have imbued us with certain useful skills that are not exactly loss and waste.

    To me, Jesus’ words of Luke 9,62 perfectly apply: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” If you look back, you can’t plow straight. Your line gets crooked. We should not let this happen. Let’s not our past CONTROL us, but let’s BUILD on it, for the better and to the benefit of others and ourselves. This will contribute to “making the world a better place”.

  2. I absolutely adore you. I find your commentary educated, reasonable, and genuine. I have never… EVER… found an “apostate” or ex-JW that made me feel comfortable to not only read read their website, but watch their YouTube channel… REPEATEDLY.

    THAT, to me, is strategic activism and I honestly feel it has made me better at arguing the points I do when I choose to. That other stuff… those other forms of arguing… those are temper tantrums. That’s Bart Simpson demanding attention. It can be called many things in many different realms inside and outside the religious spectrum, but “activism” is not one of them. Activism implies the desire to make change. People who scream their positions aren’t wanting change, they want attention. More than that, they want validation.

    By visual definition, that method is a purely selfish act. What you do, sir, is anything but selfish… and for that, I’m very very glad.

    Chin up.

  3. Thankyouall! says:

    I agree pickled brain to bj, I want to thank Cedars too. I am new here & if it wasn’t for his updates mixed with humour, I would have found it harder to not only find the exit door but to help my husband as well. It’s been an emotional journey for me this past year with the realisation of the massive dissolution & invested emotion.

    He is gifted, he knows how to balance the anger with wit & clever writing. I can’t go a day without reading something here. There are so many other articles I still haven’t read yet.

    Cheers to you Cedars & your Family. I hope that I can say this for everyone here that we love you for it.

  4. ‘Nice comment from ‘Thank you All’ . I am sure Cedars appreciates these positive remarks from those who really understand the SACRIFICE he has made in terms of Time,money & as I said earlier Emotional input into this website & YouTube channel. Glad it has helped you & hopefully Many others. KEEP the POSITIVE COMMENTS COMING EVERYONE out there who appreciate all that Cedars has done!!

  5. Criticus’ your comment was excellent.About not letting the past control the present.you are eloquent in your writing & speak a lot of sense.We don’t need comments with abusive swear words like the ‘F’ word which the comments from John Chapman doesn’t do us any favours in opposing the Watchtower.The majority of us on this site are decent people.

  6. brandnew says:

    Cedars, your style of writing, your way of getting the point across, and tact, make you theee man…..rock on ! !

  7. anonymous says:

    I have seen a youtube video recently where at an assembly, a man with a mask on his face and was shouting at Witnesses from across the street at how he had been abused as a youngster and even though I feel very sorry for this man, to me the man was making himself and his cause seem extreme and sad and gave the Witnesses the impression that there was something wrong with him, rather than cause them to investigate the accusations against the Watchtower. I remember going to assemblies and any “apostates” yelling, I just closed my ears to it because I had been trained like a dog to dismiss it. We have to remember the mindset that has been instilled in those people. On the other hand, if there were literally hundreds of protesters, yelling through loud speakers something in unison like “you cover up child abuse” over and over again, so that those people entering an assembly couldn’t just dismiss it, then maybe then, that protest might have some affect. It seems to me when you have a lone person out there on the street yelling, it only causes the person to look kind of nuts.

    Here in the United States, yet another black man with 6 children was killed by the police and let off the hook by a grand jury. It is causing riots in New York and rightly so. It is on video tape that the man was suffocating and 6 times said he couldn’t breathe, and yet the police officers kept choking him and what for? They said he was selling “loose cigarettes”. If it was me, I’d have a hard time, not rioting and violently so. That is how angry it makes me. The protesters are being given credit for not being violent about it. But really, will that solve the problem? I actually think violent protests are what will work. It is taking all these people’s strength to not be violent.

    So, I can see both sides of the argument. But all Cedars did was offer his opinion. He should not be vilified for offering an opinion. There is a right way to protest and a wrong way. A person should be allowed to offer an opinion without going off the deep end and accuse him of discounting all those who have protested in the past or who might want to in the future.

    It is also not right to read into his words, things that he didn’t say. It is also not right to take his honest and humiliating words in his life story to use it against him and accuse him of child abuse. All these things are what abusers do.

    I love Kim and Mike and I also love Cedars. These are the 2 web sites that are helping me through this horrible situation of being out here all alone in my town with nobody that I can talk to and confide in about Watchtower abuse.

    I would hope that Mike and Kim watch their video again and also watch Cedar’s video again and reconsider their rebuttal video. The biggest faux pas that I saw that Cedars did was to take credit for helping “wake” up Mike and Kim. I understand a parent’s love for their child but sometimes, a parent has to help the child reason on whether it’s just a difference of opinion and real abuse. Cedars should have been allowed to tell Mike that he didn’t “see” the subliminal images. Even Mike has said that not everybody is going to see the images. For the Watchtower to be deliberately putting in Satanic images into the pictures, would take a huge conspiracy. I am not saying this isn’t possible but I believe that the Satanism are the ones running the whole thing, not the artists.

    Mike and Kim read a book about subliminal images and so because of reading that book, they can see things that we, who haven’t read that book, don’t see. I am an artist and I know how hard it is to make a picture perfect so I look at those pictures and don’t see penises until it’s been pointed out to me that it could look like a penis. I think the picture on the song book could have been a mistake. Artists aren’t perfect. I think it’s entertaining to look for those images, but most of the time I just don’t see them either until it’s been pointed out to me.

    One thing I wouldn’t do though is try and show them to my husband because he’d just say that Mike and Kim are crazy. So, I think that Cedars was trying to tell Mike and Kim that in a nice way but they took it as discounting their work and that hurt their feelings.

    One thing in a fair fight, you need to say what is on your mind and make it clear, just as Shila said and that is what she didn’t do when she was angry at Cedars’ comments to her dad’s videos on subliminal images. I am glad Mike and Kim read Cedar’s replies because it seemed to me that he was trying to work it out with Shila with phone calls, but she refused and closed him off. That is not a fair tactic either.

    I have seen Cedars caustic replies but I don’t know the basis or the background so I withold my opinion about whether he abusive in his words but I have seen enough of his videos to know that only a humble person would tell about the bad things he did and let the whole world know what he did. When somebody does that, it isn’t fair to use that against him. That should be between him and his wife and nobody else’s business.

    The comments on Mike and Kim’s video were underhanded and cruel. I hope they take that video down and reconsider. If Cedars is as bad as they said he is, I didn’t see any evidence in their video. I love Mike and Kim and Cedars. I want them to talk on the phone and clear up their misunderstandings. It’s clear that both parties were hurt and are still hurting over the whole thing.

    • Cedars says:

      Hello Anonymous. I know you mean well, and that you seek reconciliation, but I would appreciate if there could be no further mention of Mike and Kim on JWsurvey. There will be no “talking on the phone” between myself and a couple who posted a one-and-a-half hour rant against me on YouTube, suggesting that I may be a wife-beater, a stalker of their daughter, and continuing the insinuations that I am a sex offender of the very worst kind, and that my six-month-old daughter is somehow in danger. They crossed the line when they first lent their support to a sick individual and pathological liar who voiced some of these accusations. To go on to repeat these accusations themselves, and even embellish them (i.e. the insinuation that I am beating my wife simply because she looks, to them, “beaten”) and read out private correspondence in an effort to character-assassinate me does not constitute the behavior of nice, reasonable, rational people. If you still “love” them despite their efforts to defame me for the simple crime of voicing an honest opinion, that is your choice. But I would kindly ask, as a favor, that you don’t mention them again on JWsurvey. The same goes for everyone else. I work too hard on this website to see it used as a billboard for these deluded, narrow-minded, vindictive people.

      • Ricardo says:

        What a strange reply this is! Why should Lloyd want defamatory slander about himself displayed in posts on his website? Of course the comment won’t be deleted. It will be left as a monument to absurdity.

  8. Lesley says:

    Hi John – I completely agree with your comments in this video. When I was waking up I of course started going on “forbidden” ex-JW websites, and I have to say that the abusive, foaming-at-the-mouth style forums very nearly had me running BACK to the Organisation! As you say, they fit with the WT stereotype of “apostates” and are actually counterproductive.

    I am very sorry to hear that you are now receiving abuse and persecution. Please, please, please stay strong. Your calm, rational, informative way of doing things is far more persuasive than aggressive action. I have been away from the Big O for 10 years now, but found myself wavering recently. Your podcasts have stabilised me and strengthened my resolve. I cannot thank you enough. God bless you ….. even though you’re not sure if you believe in him or not!

  9. anonymous says:

    Hi John. I understand. Right now I am hating those at the Kingdom Hall who I thought were my “friends” who are shunning me and I haven’t done anything wrong. One of these women had told me that I was her “closest” friend in the whole world and when my husband goes to a meeting she will run up to him and tell him about her calls in service and not a word about me and when she sees me in public, she runs the other way. Nobody can understand those kinds of feelings unless you are going through them yourself and telling others not to feel like doesn’t help. I wished I could be forgiving but I can’t and that is nothing as compared to being slandered in public by my “best friend”.

  10. Sterling Martin says:

    Lloyd,

    I need to first start by saying that I very much appreciate the stand that you’ve taken. It’s the more adult and loving thing to do. I’ve emailed several members (no names) of the Ex-Jw community, pleading them to stop. That their reasons for ‘aggressive activism’ are selfish and misguided. I’m considering making a video address all of the Ex-Jw community asking them to stop with the hate, and the bitterness, and poisonous words. They are not helping.

    I’ve been out of the Watchtower for 3 years now. I’ll admit, I was angry and bitter myself. After much self evaluation I’ve excepted that the Watchtower is a “blind guide” (Matthew 15:14) and that they will bring themselves down.

    The only thing I care about now is what are we going to do for the people that after left after the Tower falls and the dust settles. Millions of people that will be left lost, confused, and scared. I care about giving them a place to go to, a place of spiritual nourishment and safety.

    I understand that after someone leaves the Watchtower, it’s up to them whether they wish to pursue faith or not. But for that that do, that’s who I aim to help.

    As I’ve stated on previous comments in your videos, It really is too bad that you consider yourself an agnostic. Please don’t take that as a condescending comment. It’s really not your fault (Matthew 18:6). It just personally makes me sad when people lose faith in God after leaving the Watchtower.

    All the best,

    Sterling

    [link to evangelical site removed, see posting guidelines]

    • Cedars says:

      “As I’ve stated on previous comments in your videos, It really is too bad that you consider yourself an agnostic. Please don’t take that as a condescending comment. It’s really not your fault (Matthew 18:6). It just personally makes me sad when people lose faith in God after leaving the Watchtower.”

      I’ll try not to take it as a condescending comment, even though it is deeply condescending. My agnosticism is entirely my “fault.” It is the product of subjecting the bible and Christianity to the same scrutiny I subjected Watchtower beliefs and practices to.

      I find it amazing how, despite claiming to have lives full of happiness and fulfillment, religious people are seemingly never truly happy unless everyone around them embraces their beliefs.

      That aside, I appreciate your kind words of support regarding my stand against aggressive activism. It is heartening to note that you are not the only Christian to have done so.

  11. Sterling Martin says:

    My apologies Lloyd. I completely retract what I said if you took offence.

    My hopes are too begin to move in a more positive direction with regards of ‘life after the Watchtower’. The majority of the things I see on Ex-Jw websites and videos are hate-filled and emotion-fueled poison. As I stated, the only thing I care about is what to do with the people that are left once the Watchtower is finally undone and helping them in a time of personal crisis. “Aggressive Activism” makes helping those people that much more difficult.

    Please keep the stand that you are taking and stay strong my friend.

  12. Jesse James says:

    Thanks for taking a stand against the very loud radicals setting the movement backwards, instead of moving the ball down the field he throw it back in the Watchtower’s direction. The only way we will make any progress with JWs ripe to leave is by being rational, kind and loving with lots of understanding, it goes a long way.

    There are many, many, many clicks inside the Kingdom Hall and Branch according to that Governing Body who felt he did not get treated like royalty, welcome to the club GB member! Now you know what the average JW goes through so stop telling the World, “We have the love Jesus Christ said his followers would have”, they don’t ever look you in the eyes outside of the Kingdom Halls according to many Witnesses getting disgusted with the loveless Borg.

    Cedars, someone moved away from California to Virginia and thought their previous Kingdom Hall was devoid of love, boy were they shocked to see how bad their new Hall was! These JWs wanted nothing to do with a family in very good standing, their new Kingdom Hall must have been on Tony Morris “naughty list” because it’s been over two years and nobody has shown any concern making him question the religion.

    He was disappointed when he saw the JWs at the stores, shops, Malls only to get ignored or blown off by the loving elders and friends! No JW or JW Elder showed up while his child battled a life threatening illness, no uncommon by my experience this is happening more making your website more valuable once they began to doubt.

    Now after emailing and contacting him by phone he see’s it’s a lie!

    What if I had used a forceful approach to get him out? The Witnesses are doing a great job of demonstrating they don’t have love among each other as claimed by the Watchtower. The Witnesses are suspicious of everyone and ripe for friendship methods of deprogramming again that makes sites like JWSurvey, JW-Struggle very valuable!

    I hope your wisdom is listened to by people thinking of anarchist style tactics. They don’t work plus it’s counterproductive because someone ready to leave the Cult might start clinging to a religion they might have almost been out of! Many have doubts, old Witnesses are depressed because “we were not suppose to get old and die”, these conversations are taking place at almost every party I’ve been to, that tells you their ready to listen to another point of view.

    I appreciate your stand against angry people making our job tougher, we don’t need JWs thinking we all are angry when actually many of us are happy even though they took twenty, thirty, forty or more years of our lives! Ex JWs need to stick together, do more functions with each other demonstrating we do have a community that’s far superior to Kingdom Halls that don’t even speak, care or love their fellow Witnesses.

  13. Fidel Apostate says:

    Hello Cedars,
    I completely agree with your view of aggressive activism. I’m still an active witness, recently resigned as an elder because no longer bear the pressure and other subjects.

    This type of activism only closes the minds of witnesses, for me the result is the opposite, they think that they are the chosen people and are a target of persecution that was prophesied in the Bible.

    Continue this way as you have done so far, has certainly prompted many minds as well as mine.

    All the best,

    Fidel Apostate

  14. E3 says:

    I have seen the offending video at the other end of this issue. I realize you don’t want the individuals involved mentioned on this site, and I understand why. They did cross a line, and that is unacceptable.
    In their video, it is easy to pick up on the vitriolic anger they feel. I think (hope) that they do not realize they are misdirecting their anger. It is baffling that they can read your messages to them and come up with their interpretations. However, I have come across such situations before when dealing with individuals with mental or emotional problems, which one of these individuals admit to in their video. While not defending their actions, I would like to point out that people who deal with such issues often times act in unreasonable ways, and are unable to control themselves from doing such. Being at the receiving end of such is painful, and infuriating, and completely unwarranted. Sadly, when someone gets to that point, the best way to handle the situation is to walk away, as logic and reason have no bearing on how they feel or react.
    I wanted to voice my support for you, and acknowledge my disagreement with their assessment of the situation. I think their somewhat obvious emotional issues and/or underlying rage cloud their thinking beyond their ability to reason on the matter. In that circumstance, they launch attacks based on what appear to be purposeful misunderstandings as far as a rational person could tell.
    But there is where the problem lies, when an individual has emotional or mental problems, they cannot approach a problem rationally. Such is blatantly the case here, for at least one person involved. This is not to say that their emotional issues are their fault any more than someone who contracts cancer is at fault for their condition. The problem is that those close to them become wrapped up in their condition, and their perception becomes distorted, resulting in the sort of video they put up. It would also appear that the other individuals involved have some less than healthy emotional issues as well.
    The situation could be compared to them being on a drug that makes them feel that they are being attacked. Their feelings are real, even if disproportionate to what actually happened. They react strongly when they feel that their feelings are being discounted. While their feelings are indeed real (whether with or without reason), their reaction is not understandable to a rational person, thus the disconnect.
    There is no defense for that type of video, and putting it up only serves to make those involved look foolish, childish, and consumed with rage. I had a hard time getting through it, as watching it was making me angry with the individuals in the video! How could they so purposefully misread your messages??!! I think the true issue at hand though, are the conditions they are personally dealing with, which is no fault of theirs or of yours.
    They owe you an apology for that outburst, which I imagine they won’t give. They think you owe them one. To the casual observer, they appear consumed by their rage, thus are blinded to the situation. I think they need the help they think you need. Sometimes, the mirror is the hardest place to look.
    I honestly hope they can work through the situation and their issues. They have potential to continue doing good, but not by attacking others as they have done in this case. I wish them no ill by stating that.
    I again wanted to voice my support for you here, and state that to any casual observer their accusations come across as nothing more than baseless and foolish on the part of angry individuals, and thus will be discarded. It is understandable and even to be expected that this situation would infuriate you. Attempts on your part to fix the situation (which I perceive you have stopped) will only be destructive (as you have no doubt noted) until they can address their own issues in a healthy and productive way.
    That being said, my hope for them is to move forward in a positive way from this, and address what is truly ailing them, which is not you.
    Thank you Cedars for the well reasoned, fair, honest and logical articles and videos. You have helped and continue to help many.
    And, please, if anyone is ever for any reason considering suicide, please immediately call a help line and get counseling and talk to your doctor! We love you and would be distraught if you were dead. There is nothing worth killing yourself about. For those who saw the video they know what I’m talking about.
    This should serve as a stark lesson for all about the effects of being involved in such an org, even years after you have left.

  15. @E3. Your Comments & your ANALYSIS is Brilliant & very very insightful!! You have STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY of the Human Mind!!! I have members in my family who lecture at university on the subject & you deserve a GRADE A!!! The issue here is we all as ex JWs must stay UNITED. As Jesus said a HOUSE DIVIDED WILL not STAND.So if possible please stay united.I know Cedars Would have tried his best let’s hope Mike& Kim calm down & have the humility to Apologise for the sake of the common CAUSE!

  16. @E3… BRILLIANT Comment & ANALYSIS above!! E3 you are a very very Insightful person!!I have family members who lecture at university & believe me you would get GRADE A for the above comment!! Jesus said a Kingdom Divided will not stand ! The Guys at Brooklyn will be so happy if they can divide us .Please don’t let that happen.We need each other.

  17. I know Cedars would have done his best to try & reconcile the situation but it is dependent on the other guys that is Mike & Kim to be humble & apologise.Humble people draw people to them.Agressive & Abusiveness repels people & pushes them away!

  18. I know Cedars would have done his best to reconcile the situation But it is really dependent on the other side of the argument to say they were sorry& apologise.There is no need for abusive & aggressive comments from & it only repels genuine people who seek a way out of the watchtower.Keep up the fine work Cedars!!The advice in my other comment was for them not you.

  19. Ted says:

    I came across the video while browsing, found it depressing.
    Some of their interpretations of certain events was extreme,
    to say the least. It was just a hysterical rant without any
    positive purpose, or result. I don’t think they’ve done themselves
    any good with it.

    It reminded me very much of a couple I was associated with in my
    job as a dance teacher. They were continually suspicious,
    even when things were done to help them, they’d attribute some
    bad motive to it. It was irrational and caused my wife and I
    considerable grief. The only solution was to separate from them.

  20. Daniel B says:

    Hi John,

    I just wanted to voice my support for you and the site. I’ve been DFd for 9 years now and I really appreciate your style and approach. Over the years I have followed this site and I have come to respect you a great deal for your style of activism, particularly your objective, ongoing commentary on current WT issues. Keep up the good work.

    I too have wrestled with ‘aggressive’ activism.. I live in NJ which places me very close to Brooklyn, Paterson and the new HQ in Warwick. It has been very tempting to want to go and let some of my anger and hurt out directly to the people closest to the root of the org. I haven’t because I know it would be a waste of time and counter-productive to the greater goal of helping and supporting those still in to wake up and join the real world.

    There is one exception that I feel would merit some consideration to this whole ‘aggressive activism’ question. If a group large enough were to picket and protest something like the opening of the new Warwick HQ, it could create enough of a buzz to get valuable media exposure. If there are 100, 200 or more people protesting something that wouldn’t otherwise attract any outside attention, it could make for a terrific opportunity to expose the WT and inform the public that they are more than polite, well-dressed weirdos who knock on your door a couple times a year.

    This kind of numbers scenario is the only exception I could think of. 6-10 protesters are easy to ignore and aren’t worth the attention or exposure. Aggressive tactics would only be effective with the kind of numbers that would create exposure to the important issues.

  21. Daniel B says:

    I think that prior to the proliferation of information about the JWs on the internet, those protesters served a very important function in creating public awareness of Watchtower abuses.

    In those days, you had to empower your own voice, or shrink into the ‘silent majority’. The only way to do that was through protests and demonstrations. There was no more effective means of communicating dissent with the Watchtower. Now, each of us has our own platform to circulate ideas and information and this has certainly has made life infinitely more difficult for the WT but it was not always so easy to break your silence in a way that matters.

    We all remember apostate protests very differently because we were JWs while involved and we felt they were targeting and persecuting us. I remember being terrified and curious of them when I was a child, and sneering at them as a teenager. Our past experiences and memories certainly casts a negative light against those who we remember practicing aggressive activism in the past.

    Try to look at it from an outsider’s persective: If you were average Joe on the street, the information coming from those protesters and picketeers may have been an invaluable resource to keep the JWs from picking up an extra convert. While it was aimed at active JWs, it was likely most effective as a deterrent to sway normal people against joining the JWs. If you were a study attending your first DC, what other channel would you have had to get a dissenting view of the WT? What other way was there to plant the seeds of the ‘forbidden’ questions in someone’s mind?

    This is far less important now in an age when average Joe is more likely to Google JWs before getting involved, but before we had this powerful platform, aggressive activism was really the best and only effective form of fighting against the org.

  22. Brock Talon says:

    Cedars,

    I want to start by saying that I agree with your current position on aggressive activism one hundred percent. Most of it is directed at the rank and file JW anyway, who are really the victims in the equation. What good will it do to punish them?

    Interestingly however, the title of your article implies that you did support it at one time though. That’s why you said “I can no longer support” it. I believe you are being honest that initially you were comfortable with it. I suppose I was OK with it too at one point.

    The thing is, I believe most newly escaped ex-JWs feel some sense of freedom and catharsis by acting out against their former elders, former JW friends, whomever. I just feels real good to do it, even though it is sometimes a bit irrational and doesn’t help anything in the long run. It’s sort of like losing it while driving and flipping off the guy who flipped you off first. Sure it’s immature, but we’re all human and sometimes we just give in to the impulse. It feels good at the time, even though we might be a bit ashamed of ourselves afterwards. I think we’ve all done it actually, if not about this JW stuff, then with other things.

    So, while I will officially take the stance that aggressive ex-JW activism isn’t the way to go, I can also understand why some need to do it. It becomes part of THEIR healing process.

    So please, keep up the good work and spread the word that there are other, better ways to help JWs leave the organization, but don’t be surprised to see this aggressive activism played out over and over again by those newly freed.

    I think it just sometimes goes with the territory.

  23. Join-Stay25Yrs-Leave says:

    I agree 100%. I’d like to ad an experience that may be antitypical.

    During my 25 years as a dedicated baptized witness, I read every bit of “apostate” literature I could get my hands on. I did this in secret. No one but a single trusted friend and my wife (who disagreed with my choice but stayed silent) knew of this.

    Why would I do this? I did it because I loved Jehovah, and I KNEW that the power of TRUTH could not be weakened by opposers’ words. I knew Satan could not stand against the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. I did it, because I knew if I understood the thoughts of opposers and words, I would be better prepared to help others receive the TRUTH and I could help fight against the words of opposers.

    Guess what? It worked. The more aggressive, angry, stubborn and dogmatic the oppose, the easier it was to take the Scriptural and Reasoning tools provided by the WTS and to obliterate the apostate point of view. I welcomed an attack by the likes of a “Danny Hazard” and his ilk. It took so little to fortify brothers who I spoke with about the apostates view. The simple combination of WTS words and the over-the-top behavior of the apostate was a golden sword with a diamond razor edge. The picketers at assemblies were nothing more that a silly joke. The more an apostate invoked “being saved”, “accepting Jesus”, ‘showing scripture’, the easier it was to dismiss them. More importantly, their words and methods served to STRENGTHEN the WTS position. One reason for that their passion for taking down the WTS lead them to make factual errors in their claims, to exaggerate, and to include ideas and feelings that were myopic and impotent—are meaningless to others in general. If they only realized how truly counterproductive their actions are, I would chuckle to myself.

    And then came a different kind of apostate: Ray Franz. He presented his point of view and experiences differently than the angry rants of the typical apostate. (In my view, using that approach that Mr. Cedars now suggests.) Franz’s words were the axe that chopped down the WTS seemingly invincible tree.

    —I won’t describe how they were different, because anyone can read his book Crisis of Conscience can clearly see the difference between him and a Danny Hazard or a Mike & Kim (both of whom I have an understanding and kindred feeling for now.)—

    Franz’s approach helped me to become a realist. His words did not “turn me against” the WTS, but allowed me to see both them, and their process, to be that of flawed men. This allowed me to accept my own thoughts of doubt toward the WTS as being OK. I no longer believed thought and feeling contrary to the WTS were coming from “a treacherous heart” or “from Satan.” Simply put, non aggressive approach of reason allowed me to shake the cult group-think and accept the REAL TRUTHS that previous I would bury.

    Over time, every apostate message presented in this same method that I came across helped me to see THE TRUTH ABOUT THE TRUTH as it is called. The cult was disassembled brick-by-brick through reason, not emotional reaction.

    Eventually I broke free. I faded away, by design, and did not disassociate for the express purpose of not being alienated to access to all the JWs I know that comes from shunning. I am happy to report that I have actually helped others (including my ENTIRE family) one-on-one do the same. All with the non-aggressive message, which does not immediately close the minds and ears of most JWs.

    Having worked literally one-on-one with dozens of local JWs who have become “weak” (many the children of “former friends” who have doubts) and helping them to actually leave permanently, shed the cult-think, believe in themselves and HEAL, I can tell you that not one of them was ever effected positively by the ‘aggressive’ type of apostate. They all have expressed a similar view that they felt those types of apostates just have a personal ‘axe to grind’, and may have just traded WT fanaticism for and anti-WT fanaticism; they want nothing to do with that.

    My apologies for such a verbose post, but I wanted to provide some insight into why I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Cedars. I am not simply picking my favorite “famous” exJW. In fact I didn’t even learn of the YouTube group of ExJWs and Mr Cedars until very recently.

    I’m glad ExJWs are getting together, connececting and spreading their messages. It’s a shame there are divisions coming out of this.

  24. E3 says:

    I wanted to post one more comment about the idea of aggressive activism. While there is disagreement about this form of activism, my eyes were just opened to one way in which it may actually be beneficial. It will most likely not be for the JWs themselves, and will most likely push them further into the arms of the org. However, theunwitness posted a video from jwfairytale about the effects of posting videos of protests on youtube. The effect is on individuals who are not JWs who get to see JWs unmasked. JWs have a reputation as peace loving individuals. However, when the greater public sees how they respond to protests, the mask may rapidly fall. When they see JWs for who they are, and how afraid they are of the information, the net affect may be to discourage others from being caught up in their net. As fewer people join, and the exodus continues, the net affect is positive. The best result would most likely be attained from this form of activism when the individuals involved were not aggressive towards the JWs or disruptive of their meetings, thus making for the biggest contrast possible. Being aggressive towards individuals or groups, or disruptive of meetings may eliminate the effect, as the JW response would most likely then be viewed as justified. I’m not saying I conclusively agree, but I thoroughly respect the point, and it caused me to think in a way I hadn’t before.
    It takes multiple different approaches to handle a situation that is so thorny and so difficult. I can see the importance of approaching the subject with an open mind. Having left the org, many of us may still struggle to do that, as I know I do. All the different opinions may just add up in a positive way that none of us previously considered.
    Again, I would like to express my support for anybody engaged in the work they are doing. Lots of people are doing lots of good work, even if I haven’t always agreed with their methods. Sometimes we just need to keep in mind that we want to direct our energies where they will have the most benefit.
    I recommend that anyone go to theunwitness channel on youtube and watch the video and decide for yourself what to think of that approach. I am neither encouraging nor discouraging such a form of activism.

  25. Palimpsest says:

    Cedars,

    I have all of about ten seconds here, so I haven’t read this in full yet, but I already want to say: thank you. I have been beating this drum for years and it’s always nice when more people pick up sticks.

    A few times over the past couple of years (since whenever people started following your blog), I’ve mentioned on JWR that I didn’t always care for the tone of your posts. It was largely due to this issue. I’m excited to see it all again with fresh eyes. And I’m sorry.

    I’ll have something more useful to say once I can!

    Sincerely,
    Pal

  26. Gilbert says:

    Think about Martin Luther King and Gandhi. “non cooperation with evil is just as important as cooperation with good” I think the timing has to be right. The pot is brewing and something is in the air. If you look at all major religions and Governments they all had a point were there was a revolution or civil war. JW/ Watchtower is getting to that point. Nonetheless there still needs to be a revolution and it is already going on. They know it. We live in interesting times.

  27. Mitchell4 says:

    Well said. In the organization for every bad apple there is a handful of amazing people, people who are obviously at heart good, caring individuals. It’s funny because before I read this article, I had forgotten about my parents rushing me past the apostate culture outside of the assembly. It was always very uncomfortable. I was never tempted to take one of their leaflets. It had the opposite effect of what they wanted to have on me. It was relieving to get inside, because outside, that was the “world” yelling at me. In the flesh!
    I’m still working on a more subtle approach as I have family members that I would really like to see open their eyes, finally. But I have learned I’m not going to be able to take it from them, and honestly I don’t think I would if I could because it makes them happy. We all need to treat each other with decency. That, in fact, is one of the ways Jehovah’s Witnesses have been able to draw so many followers in the first place.

  28. Steven says:

    You the man! Thank you for your videos they really helped me to see what the watchtower really is. I’m recently done with that hardcore cult. 🙂

  29. StillJW(I think) says:

    Very well written. Three years ago if I were approached by people screaming and shoving banners in my face, I would have reassured myself that this just means the end is really near. Even in the organization I never liked negative undertones and criticism of other religions and their members. So I was kinda surprised to see that it carried on even outside of the WT. This has been a very useful article to me, because now I will be even more careful of who in the exJW community I associate with.

  30. XXX Redtube says:

    Sometimes, when one observes the methods used by former Witnesses in pursuing their activism, one is left wondering whether they can remember anything at all of what it was like to still be a Witness – terrified of even looking at the apostate bogeyman, never mind listening to his angry words.

  31. With respect says:

    That is a very decent approach

  32. With respect says:

    Neither can I.
    Nevertheless I agree, and I’m willing to listen.
    I seen many hurt individuals and I have to disagree but not with you:-)
    I do apologise for being random.
    Yes I believe there’s a god, not because there’s a Watchtower, so in the interest of freedom of thought and honesty, I agree to disagree. Random selection insists so:-)

  33. With respect says:

    I want an intellectual debate not a bloody preaching to:-) x

  34. With respect says:

    How abut the. . . Counterfeit Kingdom:-)

  35. With respect says:

    We know there are no closing arguments in a debate unless the person is close minded.
    Fish, barrel, Watchtower.

  36. With respect says:

    The principle of freedom is the right to be wrong:-)
    And that’s my first premise 🙂

  37. I Foster says:

    At school, when I was 10 years old, the teacher told a story about the Sun and the Wind watching a man who wore an overcoat. The Wind said to the Sun, “See me remove the man’s overcoat”.
    The Wind blew and the man held on to his overcoat. So the wind blew harder with no desired effect. The more furious the Wind blew, the tighter the man held onto his overcoat.
    Eventually, the Wind gave up. He had exhausted himself.
    The man continued to walk along wearing his overcoat.
    The Sun told the wind that he would try. The Sun began to shine, the man unbuttoned his overcoat. As the Sun shone brighter and became warmer, the man took off his overcoat and he walked along in the pleasant sunshine.