The arrival of our baby daughter is a reason for joy and reflection
The arrival of our baby daughter is a reason for joy and reflection

Those who have been following my story will know that it was only as recently as last November that I decided to reveal myself and officially sever all ties with the Watch Tower Society, which happened a month later at my apostasy trial.

The breaking point that led to this life-changing decision was the news that my wife was pregnant.

We both agreed that it was inconceivable for us to raise our child as a Jehovah’s Witness, and we knew that if we stayed as Witnesses in name only (inactive) this would give our believing family some leverage to try to indoctrinate our child themselves.

As a consequence of taking our stand so emphatically, my wife and I have undergone tremendous emotional turmoil from our believing family members. Tears have been shed as we saw Watchtower forcing rifts in our family before our very eyes.

It must be gratefully acknowledged that some in our family have adjusted better than others, much to our relief. Even so, to be shunned by ANY loved ones who you once considered inseparable is a devastating experience – especially when it is over nothing more than a difference of beliefs.

Watchtower claims that shunning has spiritual healing benefits. It assures Witnesses through talks and literature that shunned family members will be more likely to realize the error of their ways and return to the arms of the organization. But I can testify that such emotional blackmail has the exact opposite effect on me.

Certain loved ones may hold out hope that I will “see the light” and come running back as a result of their cold shoulder treatment, but in actuality by demonstrating their mindless loyalty to Watchtower they are only strengthening my resolve.

The more I see clear evidence of the organization’s cruel unflinching tyranny in my own family, the more determined I am to insulate future generations from it. If my wife and I need to go through this pain so that our offspring never have to, it is a sacrifice worth making.

A reason for joy

It was because of this sacrifice that we decided our child would be named Jessica Liberty – the middle name serving as a reminder of the gift of free thought we have fought so hard to give her.

You can imagine our joy when, on May 7th at 11pm local time, Jessica Liberty finally arrived into the world. The magnitude of the event was such that I was inspired to make the following video by way of a tribute to our precious daughter.

I don’t know whether my family will ever see this video, but if they do I hope it will help them to at least partially understand why I have taken this stand. As much as my father professes to love me (and I am sure he does in his own way), his expressions remain valueless so long as they are not demonstrated.

True parental love is standing by your child no matter what they think, say, or do. It means acknowledging that we are all entitled to see the world differently and base our beliefs on evidence, and that the time and affection we show our children is not predicated on whether they share our religious views or organizational allegiances.

This is the opposite of shunning. It is unconditional love – the very least any child deserves, and something our daughter will always have from her parents.









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86 thoughts on “The Opposite of Shunning – A message to my newborn daughter

  • May 14, 2014 at 1:44 am

    That is so beautiful, John.
    Your words epitomise everything that many of us share with you. I trust your lovely daughter will grow up safe and secure, with freedom of thought, and parents who love her unconditionally.
    What a wonderful future she has in store, outside of a controlling cult.
    Many thanks for sharing, John. Love to you and your dear wife.

  • May 14, 2014 at 2:17 am

    God bless you, your wife and your beautiful daughter. As a former Witness who voted with her feet in the 1970’s, I know the pain of those who have been shunned by their own flesh and blood. May the good Lord continue to use you to reach out to those Witnesses who have been deceived, and may your testimony speak volumes to all Witnesses who are held in bondage to a man-made organisation. The article below may be of some use:

    Praise God that He brought me out of the darkness into the light (on 30 March 1996) and that God continues to draw Witnesses to Himself.

  • May 14, 2014 at 2:49 am

    I certainly hope your parents get to view this and reflect on its message.

  • May 14, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Beautiful video,beautiful baby John, thanks for sharing your joy with us.We wish you and your lovely wife a joyous life with your precious daughter.You have given her a truly precious gift and though it’s cost you dearly is worth every tear you have shed.What an abomination that your jw family are being denied the joy of cuddling their beautiful granddaughter.Shame on Watchtower.This happened to me and I hate them for it.I now have a loving relationship with my grandchildren but nothing can make up for missing those early years.Congratulations and much love to you all.:)

  • May 14, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Congratulations! Bringing up a child is the most rewarding experience I have had, I wish you all the happiness in the world.

    Kate xx

  • May 14, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Congratulations on becoming a father. Jessica is beautiful and I know you’ll make such good parents.

  • May 14, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Chorei de emoção, irmão John Cedars.


    Que Jéssica Liberdade, esta linda menininha que veio ao mundo da humanidade, possa saborear cada momento de sua vida livre. Livre das garras dos verdadeiros apóstatas do cristianismo de todos os tempos: os do Corpo dos Governantes das Testemunhas de Jeová.

    Apóstolo TDS

  • May 14, 2014 at 3:48 am


    Such wonderful news! A healthy, happy baby girl who will be loved unconditionally by her loving parents.

    Congratulations to you and your wife, John!

    I hope that now your daughter is born, your family will re-evaluate their obedience to the WTBTS’ shunning policy.

    You have done the right and loving thing by leaving that cult. Your daughter will never have to experience the horror of having her morality dictated by unaccountable leaders.

    Wishing you all the luck in the world,

    Peace be with you


  • May 14, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter Cedar is exciting to see the face of your daughter Jessica Freedom, our children deserve to have their own freedom of choice as to their religious beliefs are concerned, no human organization have no right over our lives present and future, and much less that of our children do not deserve to be given in sacrifice for such a Machiavellian and shameful Organization …

    I welcome the new world of parenthood, I wish you all the success in raising your first child ….


    PS: I am a follower of your story more, and in the Free Forum unfettered thought … I always shall count with all our support … will be happy to add this great event, honoring all of our children who are living in freedom and …

  • May 14, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Congratulations through my tears of joy for you. You are an inspiration to others. May your family be blessed with many happy years. You have made the best decision for your daughter.

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:17 am

    This put a huge smile on my face this morning. CONGRATS to the both of you! Wishing you and our family all the best that life can give !

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I did the same thing for the same reason. Only my offspring were in their teens at the time. Much like spousal abuse, the cycle needs to be broken, and a price needs to be paid. The suffering will result, for now, but a larger good is done. We will not be handing down a legacy of abuse. Keep up the good work!

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Congratulations John, what a beautiful and lovely addition to your family!
    I hope your JW family members watch the amazing video you made and it melts their hearts and their resolve to shun you…How could it not?
    Enjoy this time with Jessica, they grow up so fast!


  • May 14, 2014 at 5:28 am

    God bless you and your family, and much congratulations on the strong resolve to keep your new born child away from the clutches of that sick, preverted, satanic cult.

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Cedars, first of all, I present to your spouse and yourself my most sincere congratulations.

    Secondly, you both can be proud, you are parents now, and I’m quite certain you’ll be great parents.

    I think your statement about the Unconditional Love sums up everything Holy in this life. When you think of any belief system points back to this, Unconditional Love. All the rest is detail.

    Lucky you, as you found it and didn’t go astray into the dangerous alleys. Some get caught up in that and it makes so that all their love comes back to them as suffering, though this wasn’t necessary. But, most of the shunning family members do love the ex-JW, it’s just, like you say, they do it their way. Pity that years-long moral harrassment yields such results on people, who are good people otherwise.

    Much love from here to your wife, you and this cute little girl over there !

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Congratulations to both of you!

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Hi Cedars,
    Wonderful video. A birth opens a new door for you in the future. Now we have got the faces of your daughter, your wife and you. That’s really nice ! You are becoming familiar to us. Thanks so much for sharing. All the best and take care.

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Congratulations, John, to you and your wife! You fought for your liberty, and now you have your Jessica Liberty!

    Some may claim to have “the truth,” but I think your video contains pretty much all the truth one needs: unconditional love!

    Oh, what a lucky man, wife, and child! I feel better about the whole world right now just knowing about your family and its values. Once again you have warmed our hearts just by being you.

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Congratulations! What a beautiful family :) I wish you all the best! Having a little one truley changes your life. Though nothing will make the damage the watchtower has caused in families any easier you can celibrate the unconditional love you all will share and pass on. :) We have gone through almost the very same situation minus minor differences, so I really understand what you all have fought for, and yes it’s definitely worth fighting for. Jessica Liberty is a beautiful name!

  • May 14, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Congratulations to you and your wife! You are so appreciated!

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Breaking the cycle of shunning may present challenges for both you and your new daughter, but the effort is worth it.

    My family has suffered for over 100 years of Watchtower induced family destruction. All the best to you and your courageous wife.

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Welcome to beautiful Jessica Liberty, she looks just like the both of you, it is so wonderful to see how proud you are to be her parents. Thank you for sharing.

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Cedars this made me cry. So so many congratulations to you and the beautiful Mrs Cedars and your absolutely stunningly gorgeous little daughter. You are a wonderful and fabulous family.
    Thank you for sharing this with us

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Nice video Cedars. Love it.
    By the way, where are you located? I am in Florida and would love to meet you to give you more moral support.

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Thank you for sharing this story and heart-warming video. Ultimately, love is the only thing that will sustain the human experience. And I am so proud of you for choosing “love of your family” over the ideals of a large printing company that uses undue influence to keep people from using their critical thinking skills. All the best to you, Jane and Liberty.

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Congrats to you and your wife. When my first son was born it was the most unbelievable experience I felt up to that point. What followed was another boy and my daughter who we named Jessica so we have something in common. I now have 5 grandchildren and am loving it so much. The joy I experience is unparreled by any other life event. My children expect one who is staying active for relation purposes with his mom are raising their children in a loving way devoid of any religious indoctrination.
    My grand children will have the best start to their life because they will be raised in unconditional love.
    My daughter who confides in me a lot and asks for my advice although she is 28 and has a loving smart husband tells me her children will never see her mom because she had been shunned by her for many years now. Her husband says she does not deserve to see the grand children because of all the damage that was done to my daughter by her mother through shunning.
    Karma- now who is shunning who?
    My daughter said as long as her mom is a devout JW she will never see her children. She will never expose them to any type of indoctrination.
    This is solely my daughters choice and right. You talk about role reversal in shunning. Lol
    So enjoy that little bundle of joy and if you look me up on Facebook John B. Candido Jr. And friend me we can see pictures of these beautiful little ones.
    May you always be a proud Poppa and raise her in the best way possible.
    She will always be Daddy’s little Girl!
    Good Luck being a new parent. You will experience Joys you never knew before.

  • May 14, 2014 at 7:25 am

    beautiful, thank you for sharing!

  • May 14, 2014 at 7:40 am

    My i say John , what a beautifull daughter !

    .. to whom The Son make free He makes free indeed.

  • May 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

    John, I do not think I ever read such beautiful words of love as yours on the birth of your daughter. The video brought tears to my eyes. Some time ago I decided to free myself from the control of the WT. and let my children know of my unconditional love, and strong desire they have freedom of thought. (Something , sadly, my parents did not give me because of their devotion to a
    religion.)I wish you, your wife, and baby all the best.

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:03 am

    The first time I heard the term “unconditional love” was from the mouth of a mental health worker–secular with no claims of being Christian. It was presented as the brighter side of a dark issue where relationships are formed due to dependency on what is received, or gained. Relationships are continued despite an individual having self-destructive behaviors, controlling, manipulative, and abusive traits. It’s about laying all the issues on the table and dealing honestly in a relationship without fear of loss or withdrawing.

    JW’s would claim this is what shunning is about, but, misses the point that a confrontation–laying bear issues–does not exclude continuing a relationship with boundaries. Counterpoint, being former JW does require shunning JW’s, but would mean continuing relationship with boundaries established by acknowledging “pain points” (don’t “preach” at me, etc).

    A good road map of this is given here:

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

      Thanks for the link to that really good Got Questions article on Codependency. I agree that former Witnesses should not shun existing Witnesses, and I’ve never met one who does. For my part, I have a real desire to reach out to them in Christian love. They have been deceived. But shunning your own flesh and blood is not biblical and it just goes to show how desperate the Governing Body is to prevent anybody from challenging their authority.

      I was brought up from birth into this organisation but left them in the 1970’s. 18 years ago, I became a Christian.

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Counterpoint, being former JW does not require shunning JW’s :-)

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Félicitations aux heureux parents. très belle petite fille.
    Le prénom est bien choisi.

    Bienvenue à Jessica LIBERTY.

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Congratzz Cedars, thxss also sharing thiss

  • May 14, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Mr. and Mrs. Cedars,

    Your daughter, Jessica Liberty is beautiful. She inspires much tenderness and happiness. May your beautiful angel shine up your world every day. CONGRATULATIONS!

  • May 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Congratulations!! This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen, and the courage you have is inspiring. Know that you have touched many, and we love you all right now, on this earth.

  • May 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Congratulations! I love the image of her looking into the camera! So cute (e.g. ~3:50) Such big, beautiful eyes! Eyes that can (and will) see the world with a *clear* view I’m sure! :-D

    Good luck and many happy years to the three of you.

  • May 14, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Congratulations on your beautiful daughter!

  • May 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Congrats, buddy.

    Welcome to the club.

  • May 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    John, thank you for sharing one of the most precious moments in your life. It is so inspiring to see your unconditional love for baby Jessica. It is obvious the three of you have bonded in a very special way. Thank your dear wife for sharing herself and Jessica with all of us…the rest of your family.

    It is so obvious to me the real love I see expressed today is coming from loving hearts. Thank you for making this site available so that we have a place to gather…and share the miracle that is Jessica Freedom.

  • May 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm


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