BBCRadioOxfordHow much does the general public in the UK really know about Jehovah’s Witnesses?

For most people, the image in their head is probably of those smartly dressed people who turn up at your door on the weekend, or stand next to street-carts full of literature, smiling politely.

True, some members of the public may be aware of the blood transfusion controversy, and some might understand that there have been recent news stories about the religion covering up child abuse. But other members of the public probably consider them harmless eccentrics at worst, and at at best they probably work with some Witnesses, or go to school with them, and find them to be affable, friendly people.

But does that change when they find out what Jehovah’s Witnesses really believe, and find out about the aspects of JW life that most JW’s are less than eager to discuss with the general public?

Helen J Brown: Heaven is a Donut

417wqW2iFJLOn the 25th February, BBC Radio Oxford’s Kat Orman interviewed former Jehovah’s Witness Helen J Brown.

In this wide ranging and in-depth interview, Helen discusses the effects of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witnesses (including being engaged to be married at 15) the pain and suffering inflicted by the shunning policy when she left, the impact of the blood policy, why she considers Watchtower to be a cult, the organisation’s child abuse problem, and much more.

What is fascinating to see is how interviewer Kat Orman, who states at the start of the interview that she’s previously never thought of the movement as being harmful, becomes increasingly horrified by what she learns about the core beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the practices that go in within the congregations worldwide.

The interview is only available until 25th of March, and here at JW Survey we urge you to take the time to listen to the full interview, and listen to Helen tell her powerful story in careful, articulate depth, and also listen to her discuss with Kat Orman some of the secrets Watchtower is desperately trying to hide, and of which most of the general public are ignorant.

Helen has published a book documenting her life growing up as a witness. It’s entitled Heaven Is a Doughnut and is available to purchase now.

BBC Radio Oxford Interview (Helen J Brown’s Segment begins at around 3 minutes into the show and lasts for about 30 minutes.)

Amazon link to Heaven Is A Doughnut


21 thoughts on “Watchtower News Bulletin: BBC Radio Oxford interview with author and former Witness Helen J Brown

  • March 10, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Wonderful word expose (a) :-) where religion is concerned:-) can’t get enough:-)!

    • March 10, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks HJ many of the emotions you describle i feel and have felt after 50 years in this org with two children one in and kne now out.i am fading at present as wifevand most family in .as you say as i am now woken up the conflicts are having to be dealt with .i shall get your book .and recomend it to my son who is out .

  • March 10, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    The JW organisation is a social club. I am of the opinion that there are thousands of witnesses that don’t believe a good portion of what they are taught but are too afraid of losing their social club with the organisation. So they just go along with it and say nothing – just like a mushroom. Happy to be kept in the dark and be fed bull dust and they will grow well.

    • January 26, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Yes, Freedom, you are right. I know several of them. If you add in the ones who stay because they can’t leave without being shunned, that would add up to about half of our membership, in my opinion.

      But it’s a nice social club. We can sit around after the meetings at a cafe and talk about the topics at the meeting we thought were ridiculous. We can share how much we hate the mannerisms of Steve Lett. We can talk about overlapping generations which can continue on for several hundred years, about higher education and how there are so many window cleaners who get disfellowshipped, and we can guess how long it will be until there is a new understanding of Gog of Magog. And we can thank God we aren’t elders, or we’d need to try to fit in with the zombies.

  • March 11, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Although most Witnesses refuse to listen to anything critical about the Organisation, the information you provide is vital for the wider public. Maybe we too should have our trolleys on the street corner with warning information.

    • March 11, 2016 at 5:41 am

      James – Now, that’s a thought. Set up a stand a few yards away! I think we would see them scurrying off in minutes! Good for a laugh though.

    • January 26, 2017 at 2:26 am

      Why not just set up a cart and pretend to be them? Then when they come to set theirs up, they will see there is already one there. Tell them the CO told you to come there. They won’t question a CO, surely.

  • March 11, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Thanks for the heads-up. We’ll definitely listen to the BBC Oxford interview with Helen J Brown, and raise further awareness about it as much as we can.

    Really do think consciousness-raising about the human rights abuses of the secretive Watchtower Society is reaching unprecedented levels this year. Glad to be part of making positive change happen, bit by bit, day by day. What a privilege!

    Let’s all carry on doing the best we can in our own unique, inimitable ways. Remember, one life-affirming reality high control orgs like the Watchtower Soc cannot effectively manage is individuality and individual responses. But the inherent diverse individuality of human beings is wearing this Organisation down.

  • March 11, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I was upset yesterday. I came out of a shop and a sister and her granddaughter from another cong. were just entering… she threw her arms around me and said she hadn’t seen me in ages. I hugged her back – lets face it, it’s not the fault of the minions, that they are still blinkered. She asked how I was doing….. did she know I had stopped attending meeting? 3 months awake now :)… So I told he straight up that I no longer attend meeting and that I had asked the elders to leave me alone. She was actually very kind but said those dreaded words ‘the end is just around the corner’. I looked over her shoulder at the mountains in the distance and bit my tongue. It wasn’t the time or the place. It was this bit of the conversation that upset me. She asked if we could meet up for coffee sometime. I genuinely feel sad that these – mostly lovely people are living in a bubble. I wish I could deflate it. Popping it would be cruel. Most are not ready for the truth. I told her coffee would be nice but I won’t talk about the ‘truth’. I have nothing good to say about it. We parted and I felt so sad.

    • March 11, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Please cheer up Tara, just remember that you are the one doing the right thing. I understand what you mean about them living in a bubble but as you say so many are genuinely good people. However, the thing that really gets me is the turning a blind eye to all the wrong. How can they support such an ugly and corrupt organisation – they must know at least about the child abuse, and the elders most definitely know about it.
      They very rarely knock on my door but always do with the pathetic memorial invitation. They knocked 2 days ago and I just could not answer the door. I was feeling so angry and knew they would not listen to anything.
      Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your tight pants and sing a worldly song!

    • March 11, 2016 at 9:20 am

      I feel bad for them as well Tara. However I am not so diplomatic when they statements like “the end is just around the corner”. I’ve spent so many years trying to convert people I feel obligated to burst some bubbles. People react differently and don’t easily forget what you tell them even if it’s negative. It may be the very thing that wakes them up.

      So when they tell me ” the end is right around the corner” my reply is “then why is the organization so concerned with building a new headquarters?” “And what are you doing here? You should be screaming that from the rooftops if you actually believe that?”

      I know it may sound cruel to some but which one is worse. Helping to enslave unsuspecting people which is what the JWs actively engage in? Or helping to free one from captivity? Don’t get me wrong. I do this when they open the door by making such condescending statements.

      • March 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        This is what gets me… They’re are allowed to go around bursting other peoples bubbles by going unannounced to their homes yet you are not allowed to say anything to them. Everything seems to be on their terms like spoilt brats.

      • March 12, 2016 at 9:19 pm

        I like that! – ‘“then why is the organization so concerned with building a new headquarters?” “And what are you doing here? You should be screaming that from the rooftops if you actually believe that?” ‘ – I’m going to use it. I usually lose my eyes in the back of my head from rolling my them so hard at the ‘end is so near’ statement. Your response is great.

    • March 11, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      I think that on some level most JWs know that the end is not as close as they have been told. The response your aquaintance gave was nothing more than cult programming. That is the natural thought-stopping technique embedded in the Witness psyche whenever anyone says anything negative about the org. It prevents the rational part of their mind from stopping to assess the reasons you don’t go to meetings and perhaps realizing your reasons are rational. In these situations, when appropriate, I try to see if I can say something to get them thinking, like “remember when we were young and the told us the 1914 generation would never die out? Turned out that was an error so why should I believe claims about the end now?” To really help these people the best we can do is to try to reach the authentic self buried under the cult personality. And always keep calm. Let them get angry if they choose. Remember you are the one that is free and they are prisoners of the mind.


      • March 11, 2016 at 2:22 pm


        Nice way to reply to the “time of the end” comment. That will go into my repertoire. : )


      • March 12, 2016 at 9:09 am

        Thank you Winston. Great point, and great reminder. I’ve been having a terrible time trying to speak to my poor husband. I see him switch to cult personality and it is so sad. I’m going to try to use Steven Hassan’s techniques, as you illustrate above. Please keep posting.

  • March 11, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    You are all totally right. I think part of the reason for not saying anything is fear… will she get on the blower and tell the elders in my hall.. ‘sister so and so is questioning her faith’ or will she perhaps stop and think…. thanks for the replies guys. I need to consider my responses to those comments.

    • March 12, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Tara – A similar thing happened to me the other day. I bumped into a couple from my old congregation as I was leaving the supermarket. “Haven’t seen you for ages …”
      I replied that “I don’t go anymore …. I’ve packed it all in ..”
      She said she was sorry to hear that and I said don’t worry, I’m not! They departed from me in a flash!
      Sad, yes, but not for me, for them! It’s hard to burst the bubble isn’t it, I don’t try too much these days unless they ask me why? Then I let them know, otherwise I let the bubbles float away …

  • March 14, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Listened to the BBC interview and think for the most part it will be insightful to many out there who know nothing of the JWs.
    However, it did feel like she made it look far bleaker than it actually is for many on the inside. I guess it may have been her own experience, but saying that she never laughed, never cried, that her emotions were always controlled, just seems like the kind of thing that JWs can zero-in on and say that she’s exaggerating. Cedars himself has on occasion pointed out he’s got great memories of his Ministerial training school and travelling to where the “need was greater” (can’t remember if that was the reason) or maybe KH building projects, and how much fun they were. This is not to say it’s ok for them to promote distance from other normal people and social circles, discourage education, forbid life-saving blood transfusions or enforce/encourage shunning. All the same, while I’m thrilled to be out, I do have fond memories and had great laughs with some really good, albeit now obviously deluded, people.

    • March 14, 2016 at 8:10 am

      It probably was her unique experience. It might have been her family dynamic or the atmosphere in her congregation. When my mother converted, she became more stern and less fun, so at age 11 I noticed a definite change to our family dynamic, especially the hostility my mother had to my father who didn’t want to join the cult with her. So there was less joy at home for me.

      I was in three different congregations and two were run by elders who were miserable control-freaks and bullies. Sure, we managed to have fun and laugh in social settings but at the Hall, it was not very joyful in the slightest. The last KH I was at, the elders were far less nasty, even cool, so it felt different.

      I laughed as a JW, to the appropriate jokes, of course. And I also cried a lot, at the misery of being in that cult and feeling my life was pointless. I was dragged in by my mother at age 11 and never became an uber-JW, never baptized either. By age 16, I loathed the cult and just pretended, living a double-life as much as I could. I escaped at age 20 and have had a wonderful life since, with a lot more laughter without the guilt. By comparison, my life in the cult was bleak.

  • March 14, 2016 at 7:53 am

    It was interesting the very first comments by the interviewer how she never linked the JWs with a cult, that she can’t connect the two. And that’s so true of most people in the “world”. The JWs have been lucky enough to have a very benign image to the world, which works for them because they can ensnare their victims easily.

    Since I’ve been out, whenever the subject of JWs has come up, I’ve told the real truth about them. I make sure I mention the high control, the two-witness rule that protects child abuse, and about the emotionally abusive shunning that breaks up families. Most are shocked because all along they had that benign image of the JWs. I enjoy destroying that misconception because I hope it will protect somebody from making the horrible mistake of joining that cult.

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