If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, you will have to be satisfied with remembering October 4th 2015 as the day congregations worldwide were informed of the scrapping of the Theocratic Ministry School – over a week after the news was leaked in advance by a Bethel source.
But if you are a former Jehovah’s Witness, or an “apostate,” you can take pride in thinking of October 4th 2015 as the day when more ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses than have ever before appeared in a single video with a message of love and concern for those still trapped inside the Watchtower organization.
Organized to commemorate the anniversary of this website’s launch on October 4th 2011, the short montage film represents the joint efforts of 62 “apostates” from far-flung corners of the globe. Rather than trying to condemn Jehovah’s Witnesses, the video sets out to debunk the damning stereotypes of apostates as disseminated in Watchtower publications.
Instead of appearing as foaming-at-the-mouth mentally diseased vagrants, the apostates in the video are calm, rational people who have walked away from a religion that causes far more harm than good, and is ultimately untrue.
It is hoped that the video, with its intriguing title, will reach out to as many Jehovah’s Witnesses on YouTube as possible, and get them to rethink their position regarding doing objective research into their cherished beliefs.
[Please note: Due to a music rights issue, the video does not play on all handheld devices.]
JWsurvey Day was first announced at the end of August, and the collaborative video was given the working title of “What you DON’T know about apostates.” A Facebook group was set up, and the script was made available online for people to choose which lines they wanted to speak.
However, as more and more people signed up for an ever-diminishing number of parts in the video, it became clear that something special was happening. The sheer number of people who wanted to share in delivering the video’s message was an event in itself.
Last night, as the deadline for the video drew close, I stayed up until 4 am making last-minute edits. Over 4 gigabytes of video submissions had to be sorted and whittled down to a final 15-minute short film. As the video took on its own personality I noticed a change was needed. The original title would be scrapped in favor of “62 Apostates Who Love Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (There are actually more than 62 apostates appearing in the film, but because I would rather downplay the figure than exaggerate, I have counted only those who speak in the final edit.)
I sincerely hope that we can do the video justice by making sure it is shared as widely as possible. It’s wonderful to see the enthusiastic response already on Facebook and Twitter from ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who are enjoying seeing their own thoughts about Watchtower verbalized by such a wide array of people.
Special mention must also be made of all those who have worked in translating the subtitles for the video. Presently there are 8 languages available, but a further 9 are in the pipeline. Michel Mix (pictured below), a member of the JWsurvey Day group, has done a fantastic job of coordinating the translation project from his base in Colombia.
Oftentimes when I do activism work on my own (for example, a large JW Broadcasting rebuttal), I can find the process genuinely tiring – and even mildly frustrating. But when I am working with so many sincere people, I feel the burden lifted. Activism becomes the unbridled joy it should be. I am working with like-minded individuals who share my passion towards an important goal, which is one of the best feelings you can have in life.
A tribute to JWsurvey
When I first set up JWsurvey, it did feel like “my website” – and I still catch myself speaking in those terms occasionally. But as I look back on the work that has been done and the huge potential for making a difference moving forward, I find those ideas are shifting. JWsurvey is becoming more of a legacy.
In the most recent 2015 survey, one of the questions asks which resources have been most instrumental in the person’s awakening from Watchtower indoctrination. The answers as of October 4, 2015 are as follows…
In total, 1,218 have so far credited this website as either very or extremely influential in their awakening. This figure, and the figures for other similar websites, are simply astonishing. It is a sobering reminder of just how much work the internet is doing in chipping away at Watchtower’s stranglehold on people’s minds.
It also means the role of this website is more important than any one single person, which is why I have been gradually expanding our team of writers and illustrators over the past year or so. My eventual aim is to leave JWsurvey in the capable hands of the next generation of activists, to hopefully continue on long after the bulk of my work is finished.
In the meantime, there is still much work to do – work that is made far more enjoyable when I allow myself pause to reflect on what has been accomplished. In that spirit, I hope you will join me in celebrating today, October 4th, as “JWsurvey Day.” And I leave you with some short messages that have been sent in by our readers…
Please note, I haven’t been able to publish all the comments as some are too long, but I will try to find a way of somehow adding some to this article either as links to Word documents or as comments.
Put simply, JWsurvey enabled me to fully wake up. As an elders daughter who had pioneered – I faded from the organisation aged 21. I wanted to think for myself; I started to have an awareness that my thoughts were being controlled. This was not easy; I left behind my whole community to embark on a journey to educate myself and build a new support network.
Now aged 30, it has only been in the last 18 months that I have been fully awoken and free from JW indoctrination, thank you to JWsurvey and the John Cedars YouTube channel. This intelligent, insightful, educational, humorous and honest website, truly helped me to understand the facts as to why I had left. For this I will be eternally grateful. In the past two years I have been able to live a normal happy life, without any guilt, fear or regret – this is priceless. In addition to this, my child had been born free. One of the greatest gifts I could give him.
Please keep up the good work! You do an amazing job.
Thank you once again.
I became a witness in my early 20s. The promise of a paradise earth where there is peace and unity among all mankind especially between a husband and wife appealed to me. I wanted this kind of world for my children. I studied and became a witness hoping and praying my husband would too and he did, but it did not make my marriage better it only made it worse. My husband believing that I now was scripturally bound to obey gave him total control and he was even more abusive. There came a day when I realize that if I stayed with him he would kill me and our children so I made the decision to leave and I did.
Of course, I was no longer good association because I separated from my husband and eventually divorced him to protect myself and the children. Being a single mother was hard I had to work 2 jobs to support us but at least we did not have to live in constant fear. The congregation had little to do with me so I received no help from them I was completely on my own I missed so many meetings trying to work and take care of my children.
My older daughter introduced me to your website because she no longer believed it was the truth, because of the way we were treated. She pointed out scriptures that showed that her dad was not the loving Christian husband he should have been and that the elders were told and sympathized with him cutting me off from a faith I believed in wholeheartedly all those years.
I did read JWsurvey and all the links as well. JWsurvey helped me loose the fear and guilt that comes with leaving what you come to believe is Gods organization. I have been able to heal and i am still healing. Thank you so much for the real truth about the Watchtower organization
I remember when JWSurvey was just an idea and Lloyd was only known by his pseudonym and had yet to officially break ties with the Watchtower. I had already been disfellowshipped and was using my true identity on Facebook, but that’s not to say I was truly free of the brainwashing and programming. I struggled for a long time… and reading the articles on JWSurvey proved to be a regular source of fact-based, reliable information that I have come to rely on.
It’s always exciting when there is a leak, but more importantly, JWSurvey has been a comfort to the demons plaguing my mind. Lloyd has a remarkable ability to quickly read, digest, comprehend and effectively refute Watchtower propaganda, time and time again. Sensationalism would only detract from the well-reasoned information that JWSurvey presents, and Lloyd does not take short cuts. For all of these reasons, I would say JWSurvey is one of the go to websites that I regularly refer people to, and I hope that Lloyd and his team will continue to maintain the high standards of quality in the days ahead.
I da/df myself in 2003 … but defended the JWs and their policies a long time. Somehow in 2011 this stopped. A year later I knew I had to work up my past and I was searching for people with the same thoughts… that something in the organization was not right!
I found a German forum of escapists but felt like I would never fit in… and then I found JWSurvey.org and the kind words on this page showed me, that the author was indeed empathic and would exactly know what I was thinking. His objective arguments and the information he provided confirmed me… I had not left the truth… I left a dangerous cult. And his non-agressive activism showed me, that it is not a bad thing to be an apostate…
JWSurvey helped me to understand, that the truth about the “truth“ is a story about deluded old men, who think their claim to lead is based on a story Jesus told.
JWSurvey showed me, that apostates do indeed care for the people still caught in the organization… and are indeed good people.
Visiting JWSurvey helped me get an idea of what to expect beforehand from the shunning that was sure to and did follow my exit from the religion, I also found needed encouragement and support from the articles and community of posters. I have always favored the honest, logical, balanced approach and visitor feedback your website & YouTube channel affords which made it enjoyable to view/visit.
One thing it helped I’m sure many visitors realize, is the choice we had all along to free, happy lives without instilled fear through cult doctrine. JWSurvey isn’t extremist nor does it promote fairy tales, it simply states the facts and sets an example in speaking up against the harmful effects of cults in an empathetic way that many could relate to.
JWSurvey gave me much courage and support while helping me realize freedom and peace of mind were already mine, I only need reclaim it from the undue influence of the cult that influenced me to believe otherwise. JWSurvey educated me on effective ways I could help others. I know it would have been more challenging for me had I not came across your activism efforts, but I am beyond grateful that I did.I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but it is true when I sum it up in one sentence, JWSurvey helped me reclaim long-overdue emotional freedom and joy in my life.
(Editors note: This article was updated on 1 August 2017)