After more than two years, I am ready to tell my story
After more than two years of operating undercover, I am ready to tell my story

After running JWsurvey for more than two years, the time has finally come to share my story.

Why has it taken so long? Because when I first set up this website I was still technically a Witness – constantly in fear of reprisals from my family or my local elders if my true identity was ever discovered.

Now, after much discussion and soul-searching, my wife and I have both made the decision to part ways with the organization – regardless of how our Witness family responds.

There are multiple reasons for this huge leap, the main one being that my wife is pregnant. Both of us refuse to raise our child in a religion we know to be false, or to allow any of our relatives to attempt this with the excuse that we are still Witnesses – which would be the case if we remained inactive.

Taking this stand has come at considerable cost – a cost imposed on us by Watchtower. We have yet to hand in formal letters of disassociation, but we have let our family know gradually over the last few weeks. This has resulted in a considerable backlash.

On my side of the family in particular I have been subjected to insults and character assassinations – attempts to call my motives into question and frame me as “selfish” simply for acting on my convictions, and standing up for my own beliefs.

My father (who is an elder) hasn’t been abusive, but he has reaffirmed that he will be shunning us the moment things become official. We spent a few days vacation together in picturesque Northern Croatia before I sat him down and attempted to explain my position.

After I revealed the information on the UN/NGO scandal to Dad by showing him newspaper articles from 2001, he was initially nauseous and didn’t want to hear any more. A day later he told me he refuses to hear my side of the argument, and will be shunning me once things are official. In his mind there is no contradiction that he will be spending his time trying to persuade people of other faiths to challenge their convictions, while refusing to hold his own beliefs to even the slightest scrutiny.

It has been deeply hurtful and distressing for me to witness my own father, who I deeply love, surrender his reason and common sense with so little struggle – especially with so much at stake. It is still more distressing that I am being blamed for any shunning that ensues even though these are Watchtower’s rules, not mine. After all, I am happy to have a relationship with all of my Witness relatives no matter what they believe.

The more I observe the utter refusal of certain family members to even listen to my reasons, and hold me to a decision I made when I was 11, the more obvious it is that I am escaping a manipulative cult where independent thinking is ruthlessly crushed and loved ones are considered expendable wherever loyalty to the Governing Body is concerned.

You may well ask what brought me to this stage, and how I came to doubt my beliefs in the first place? I am writing a book on this at the moment, but I will do my best to present a summary of my story in this article.

***When this article was written, I still felt the need to keep my real name secret due to concerns over my family. Since then I have decided to be open about my real name, which is Lloyd Evans, but I will continue writing under the moniker “John Cedars” since that is the name so many people know me by.***

An unconventional upbringing

I was born in Manchester, England, in 1979 and raised in Wilmslow, which used to be a quiet leafy village in the suburbs, but is now a wealthy neighborhood known for its celebrity residents – mostly footballers and their wives.

I had an upbringing in which Armageddon was very much a real event that could strike at any moment.

One evening, our family worship featured an “Armageddon drill.” My father received what turned out to be a fake phone call telling him that the Great Tribulation was upon us. My family was to hurry to join the brothers and sisters at the local kingdom hall, because we would all be heading off to Macclesfield Forest to make our escape from the authorities under Satan’s control.

A photo of me taken shortly after my baptism, age 11
A photo of me taken shortly after my baptism, age 11

I remember running upstairs and frantically stuffing various items in my rucksack, including a recently released book called Revelation – It’s Grand Climax At Hand incase I somehow needed it. In that moment I was convinced I was witnessing the end of the system of things.

It was only when I came downstairs and saw the smiles on the faces of my parents and sister that I realised the joke was on me.

I was baptized in December 1990, age 11. I remember my mother crying at my baptism. In the years that followed I did my best to make my parents proud by being an exemplary Witness youth.

My parents were not as strict as others in our congregation, so they encouraged me to go to college after high school. I studied art for two years. Even so, it wasn’t long before I felt the pull of pioneering, in no way diminished by the constant pressure from the platform for young ones to pursue full-time service as a “career.” I started regular pioneering in September 1998 – the same month that I was announced as a ministerial servant. I had just turned 19.

The following year I experienced my first “crisis of conscience” when the Daniel book (or Pay Attention To Daniel’s Prophecy) was released at the “God’s Prophetic Word” District Convention. I remember being initially very excited. I felt I would be able to relate to it more than the Revelation Climax book, which by now seemed crazy and garish to me. I took my copy of the Daniel book home and read it quickly.

As I devoured its convoluted reflections on bible prophecy, feelings of disappointment slowly overcame me. I encountered various explanations of scripture that simply did not add up. For example, how could the Roman Empire become Anglo-America in one prophecy, but become Nazi Germany (an enemy of Anglo-America) in another? Should there not be some kind of consistency in God’s inspired word?

The more I dwelled on this and other issues, the more I suspected that the Governing Body was simply making things up as they were going along – “shoe-horning” scriptures to fit historical events.

My doubts eventually came to the attention of my Presiding Overseer after my ministry partner snitched on me. He took me aside one afternoon while on field service, listened to my issues for a while, and then said: “Listen, I just want to know one thing. Do you believe in 1914, or not?”

When I said that yes, I believed in 1914, he said, “Well that’s all that matters!” – and our conversation was over. After this bizarre exchange, I pressed ahead with my progress as a Witness, but always with niggling doubts in the far reaches of my mind.

A life-changing tragedy

Then in 2001 my world collapsed when my mother died of breast cancer. I was 21 at the time. Mum first fell ill in 1999 but received treatment, including a mastectomy, which forced her cancer into remission. But it resurfaced a year later and consumed her very quickly, despite aggressive chemotherapy. On May 9th 2001, Mum’s doctor gave her three weeks to three months to live. She passed away 12 days later while we were on our final family holiday in Cornwall.

Mum’s death forced me to push any lingering doubts as far back in my mind as I possibly could and soldier on with my “career” in the organization. After all, serving Jehovah loyally was my one and only chance of being reunited with her in the resurrection. I couldn’t let her down.

When I was 22 I began applying to attend MTS (now the “Bible School for Single Brothers”). I was finally accepted at the age of 25, and attended the 29th Class in Britain at the Assembly Hall in Dudley. I was thrilled and extremely proud, not least because by going through the course I was fulfilling one of my Mum’s dying wishes.

Mum had told me in one of our final conversations that in the resurrection she wanted to see a video of my MTS graduation. She didn’t know that the filming of graduations is prohibited by the organization, but simply by going and graduating I knew I would be meeting her expectations. I would film what I could while I was there, just in case.

(Top) preparing to give a talk on my MTS course, (bottom) being interviewed at the graduation.
(Top) preparing to give a talk on my MTS course, (bottom) being interviewed at the graduation.

Attending MTS was a mostly uplifting and enjoyable experience. What I most appreciated was the camaraderie and friendships with guys my age from all over the UK and parts of Europe. It felt as though there were little or no distinctions between students who were ministerial servants (like me) and students who were elders. We were all sharing the same experience together as those seeking to learn.

During the course there were one or two moments that made me stop and ponder, such as during one class when our instructor told us to put a line through some words in one of our volumes of Insight on the Scriptures. Apparently this change was required because of “new light” since these books were published.

The words we were asked to delete can still be plainly seen on current versions of Watchtower Library. I thought to myself at the time, “If these words are so wrong that we are being asked to delete them, shouldn’t ALL Witnesses receive similar instructions for their Insight Volumes?”

After two months the class came to an end, and I graduated along with 21 others. My Dad, sister, and some of my close friends came along to what proved to be an emotional graduation ceremony. I was interviewed and asked to relate my experiences leading up to the course, including the death of my mother and the fact that I had quit my job in order to attend.

At the end of the graduation I joined my classmates in singing an acoustic rendition of “Life Without End At Last” with my guitar. The audience erupted in applause. It felt like I had reached the pinnacle of my achievements within the organization. I was determined to put my training to good use.

A year after my MTS, I flew out to Croatia for a reunion with a number of my classmates. One student, named Miroslav,* invited us to spend some time with his congregation in Sisak, about an hour’s drive south from Zagreb.

It was in Sisak that I met my future wife, who was pioneering at the time. After a few months of getting to know each other through emails and phone calls she agreed to move to the UK so that we could pursue our relationship.

Six months after her arrival I proposed to her with a cheap silver ring (all I could afford as a poor pioneer!) on a row-boat in the middle of a windswept lake in the Lake District. She accepted, although later joked that she only said “yes” because she wanted to get off the boat!

We were married in the summer of 2007 on the Croatian coast, and honeymooned in Venice, Switzerland and Paris on our drive home to the UK. On our return, we resumed pioneering together in the same congregation.

We began married life living in a small basement flat in a rough part of Stockport. The sound of police sirens screeching through the night formed the soundtrack to most of our evenings. Looking back it was an inauspicious start to our new life together, but it was all we could afford as pioneers on part-time wages. In fact we couldn’t afford even that, because we soon started to slide into debt.

The call to elderhood, and the anti-climax

In April 2008 I was thrilled to be appointed as an elder. I felt as though I could finally put my MTS training to full use, and take a more active role in helping people. I already loved giving talks, but it was the shepherding side that I was really looking forward to. I was anxious to help people with their problems in any way I could.

But it wasn’t long before reality started to sink in, and I began to see what being an elder was really all about. I soon discovered that elder bodies are intensely political, easily manipulated by strong personalities, and that elders are most definitely not appointed by holy spirit as Watchtower so often claims.

Not all elders are the loving, humble shepherds you would expect
Not all elders are the loving, humble shepherds you would expect

Our congregation had a particularly thuggish Presiding Overseer (now known as a Coordinator) who seemed to delight in bullying the brothers and making their lives miserable. He would think nothing of counselling a brother who bought a new Range Rover on being too materialistic, or imposing arbitrary rules on a teenage boy not to socialize with a young sister he liked.

When I did my best to correct this bully elder’s overbearing behavior in the only way I could think of, I was chastised for going about it in the wrong manner. I was kept as an elder, but stripped of certain privileges, including my pioneer status.

My wife also had her pioneer status removed at this time, even though she had nothing to do with my elder issues. I was told that, since both of us had been failing to meet our hour requirement, I was to break the news to my wife that she too was no longer a pioneer.

And so, after eight years of selfless full-time service for the organization in two different countries, my wife was unceremoniously sacked as a pioneer through her husband without so much as a “thank you.”

My lowest point

But these troubles were soon to pale into insignificance when my wife made a heartbreaking discovery. She learned that, though I hadn’t cheated on her, I had been fraternizing with girls on the internet in ways that I shouldn’t have done as a married man. I had a big issue with cyber sex and pornography, which I had developed as a teenager, and which remained with me even into my marriage.

I am not proud of my actions, and to this day I grimace at what I put my wife through. She has never been anything but loyal and loving, and it saddens me that I hurt her by betraying her trust so early in our marriage.

I also feel it was hypocritical of me to accept an appointment as an elder with the aim of helping others and offering spiritual guidance when I had so many issues of my own to contend with. I was living a double life and being dishonest with people.

Even so, I can’t help but consider these actions to be very much a by-product of sexual repression in my formative years. In particular, I think of the difficulties I had in finding a marriage partner from a narrow pool of Witness girls, and the unscriptural Watchtower injunctions designed to induce guilt over masturbation.

Watchtower's rules on masturbation, as reinforced on a recent JW.org video, have a real impact on people
Watchtower’s rules on masturbation, as reinforced on a recent JW.org video, have a real impact on people

Of course, I accept responsibility for my actions and I do not blame Watchtower for everything. After all, plenty of Witnesses seem to develop into well-balanced adults without these problems.

But my wife and I both now realise that sexual repression in my upbringing was a major factor. It forced me into finding ways of satisfying my natural sexual urges as a virgin without intercourse so as to remain “morally clean,” and this led to an unhealthy dependency on the internet and pornography.

Once my wife discovered my problem we had a number of emotional exchanges. Decisions needed to be made. My first instinct was to sweep things under the rug and work things out between us, but in the end I decided to stand down as an elder and move back to the congregation I had grown up in to receive discipline.

Apart from anything else I knew I wouldn’t get a fair trial from the bully elder, who would doubtless want to make sure I suffered further for daring to question him. This matter involved my wife and I, and not him – so I chose to receive my punishment from elders I felt I could rely on to be impartial.

I wrote an exhaustive confession in a letter and posted it through the letter box of my new Coordinator. Before long I was summoned to a Judicial Committee and made to relive everything I had done in excruciating detail, despite my signed confession which had already explained everything.

At one point I remember being reduced to tears. By the end of it all, it was decided that I should be reproved and not disfellowshipped. However, my reproof was to be publicly announced both in my new and former congregations to make it clear that I had done wrong during my time as an elder.

A fresh start

Around this time my wife and I agreed that we needed a fresh start, so we decided to move to live with her parents in Croatia. Our years spent pioneering had left us with very little money and a mountain of debt, but we at least had an opportunity to build an apartment for ourselves without worrying about rent or mortgage payments.

And so we packed up our belongings and made the move across Europe to Croatia in the summer of 2009. At the time I recall being determined to restore my spirituality, and maybe even work my way back to serving as an elder again eventually.

As soon as the language barrier disconnected me from indoctrination at meetings, I began to think for myself
As soon as the language barrier disconnected me from indoctrination at meetings, I began to think for myself

For the first few months in my new congregation I continued under the restrictions from my reproof in the UK, meaning that I couldn’t answer up at meetings or participate in any talks on the Theocratic Ministry School.

I was reduced to being a mere observer at meetings that I could scarcely understand due to the language barrier. I knew a few words of Croatian, but certainly not enough to follow closely what was being said.

Before long, something unexpected happened. My identity as a Witness disintegrated as I could feel myself being unplugged from the indoctrination. For the first time I began to ask myself, “What do I truly believe?”

I recalled my doubts about the Daniel book from when I was 20. I found I was able to add a number of other issues and teachings that I could no longer agree with. Eventually I sat down and wrote a list of nine “grievances.” When I looked at the list, it was obvious to me that I was now only a Witness in name only. There were just too many things wrong with the organization for it to be the “truth.”

Eventually my restrictions were lifted and I began giving Bible readings in Croatian on the school meetings. Elders would give me encouragement, leaving me with the impression that I would be re-appointed before too long if I just put forth a little effort. But by this time it was too late. I was already waking up.

Then one day in May 2011, after pouring out my feelings to my wife, I decided to declare myself inactive. I felt I needed to let my Dad know of my decision by telephone. I recall him being heartbroken. I broke down in tears once I had finished talking to him. No son relishes the idea of being viewed as a failure by his father.

I wrote a letter to my elders briefly explaining my reasons for being inactive. In hindsight, I realise that my elders could have very easily taken this as a letter of disassociation and severed me from the organization there and then, but for some reason they didn’t want to do this. At least, not to begin with.

Stalling the inquisition

Two elders visited and we had a long and tearful discussion. I explained that I would still be attending memorials each year (to keep my family happy, in my mind) but that I could no longer go preaching when I had so many doubts. They chose to respect this, so I assumed that would be the end of it.

Around this time a new elder joined our congregation from Zagreb bethel, and he soon learned of my inactivity. He decided he didn’t like the way things had been handled, and convinced himself that there must be more to my decision than I was letting on.

This elder pulled my wife to one side at the end of one meeting and interrogated her in the back room, asking questions about my behavior and quizzing her as to our business affairs. My wife and I run a small business, and he and others had come up with a theory that I was staying on as a Witness just so I could exploit Witnesses when handing out work.

All of this happened at roughly the time I finished reading Crisis of Conscience and learned of the 1980 witch hunt against the likes of Raymond Franz and Nestor Kuilan. It felt very much like my elders had me in their sights in the same way, and were determined to disfellowship me on any pretext – real or imagined. All they needed now was a chance to grill me for information having failed to get anything from my wife.

I received a phone call from an elder asking to arrange a visit, but I told him in no uncertain terms that they had broken the rules by interrogating my wife without me being present, and I would therefore not be cooperating with any attempts to offer me “help” until I received a full apology.

Predictably the apology never came, and I was finally left alone. If there was one thing I knew I could rely on, it was the pride of elders and their tendency to deny doing anything wrong. This uneasy stand-off gave me the freedom I needed to explore my new reality without being immediately separated from my family.

The birth of JWsurvey

As things settled and I grew accustomed to my new life as a “fader” I continued to trawl the internet for information. JWfacts.com in particular was a real eye-opener. It was on Paul Grundy’s site that I learned of the UN/NGO scandal, Rutherford’s letter to Hitler, and the Mexico/Malawi scandal. Barbara Anderson’s website also informed me on the complexities of the child abuse issue, and how Watchtower is causing real harm in that regard. Everything began to fall into place.

Meeting John Hoyle during a recent trip to America
Meeting John Hoyle during a recent trip to America

The more I learned, the more I wanted to share. I was also curious as to how many others like me were out there. I began thinking of ways to poll such ones for their opinions so that people could see at a glance what the consensus was among thinking Witnesses.

Then one day I proposed setting up a survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I began experimenting with ways of making this a reality. I thought it would cost a lot of money to set up, but an Ex-JW web developer and writer called John Hoyle came to my rescue completely out of the blue. He contacted me and essentially said, “If you want I can build you a website that can host your survey, and you won’t need to pay me anything for it.”

At first I thought it was impossible for a complete stranger to be so kind and make such an offer with no thought of payment, but I figured I had nothing to lose in accepting. Before long, JWsurvey.org was launched. The rest, as they say, is history.

A reason to take a stand

Fast forward two years or so, and yesterday I found myself attending a hospital appointment with my wife, who is three months into her pregnancy. This was our first opportunity to see our first baby in the womb by means of an ultrasound.

(Top) with my wife on vacation, (bottom) ultrasound of our baby.
(Top) with my wife on vacation, (bottom) ultrasound of our baby.

As the grainy images came up on the screen, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could see our baby’s heart pumping in its chest. I could see its legs folded buddha-like beneath it. I could even see its fingers as its hands were raised almost covering its alien-like face.

The thought occurred to me, “I will love this person unconditionally its whole life, no matter what it thinks, says or does. I will never allow myself to be separated from it, no matter what happens.”

Unlike me, this child will be taught only proven facts – not religious dogma designed to reinforce the unquestioned control of an elite group of deluded theocrats who insulate themselves from even the mildest criticism.

There will be no “Armageddon drills.” There will be no fear, guilt, or paranoia. There will be only love and acceptance. My child will have all the opportunities I never had as a youngster – including the chance to build a life for itself doing and believing whatever it chooses, with my support.

Yes, my Witness family is bitterly disappointed in me. Yes, they view me as a traitor. But there is nothing I can do about that other than to build my own family, free of such rifts and divisions. Though this is proving traumatic for me, I cannot live the rest of my life bending over backwards to conform to the expectations of my indoctrinated forebears.

They may prefer for me to remain inactive, trapped in some sadistic vow of silence so that the mother organization can continue to wreak havoc undisturbed. But I refuse to tacitly bend my knee to Watchtower for a moment longer. A stand must be taken. A line must be drawn.

After all these articles it is high time for me to talk with my feet – especially with my child’s future at stake. Yes, fading is a great option if you can stay quiet and pull it off, and I support those who handle matters in that way. But if you are an activist like myself with something to say about Watchtower and the means to say it, you will find it increasingly difficult to keep it going for too long before something has to give.

The journey continues

I know many of you reading my story will be disappointed at my personal failings, but please understand that I am only human and never set myself up as a role model or spiritual guru for anyone. I am interested only in exposing the scandals and falsehoods of an organization that claims to represent God as honestly and journalistically as possible.

I have not the faintest interest in drawing off followers, preaching alternative doctrines or telling people how to live their lives. I am interested only in revealing the truth about Watchtower, and I feel my experiences within the organization, both good and bad, put me in a great position to do this.

Nothing I write should be considered as beyond question – in fact I am happy to receive criticisms and make changes to articles if needed. I am committed to using my energies to join with other more seasoned campaigners in informing the world about what I view as a damaging cult, which I see tearing my own family apart and threatening countless others.

To all those who have sent messages of support and solidarity over the past few days via Facebook and email, I give my heartfelt gratitude. It is not easy to make this stand. I have shed more than a few tears, but I know what I am doing is right.

By going through this pain now I am sparing future generations from the same problems. I want to give my child a life free from fear and indoctrination, with the opportunity to explore this amazing thing called life without the shackles of ignorance and servitude. I can think of no finer legacy to pass on.

 

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*Miroslav has recently been disfellowshipped for apostasy. On his facebook profile, he identifies himself as a follower of the Bible Students.

Translations: Romanian | …

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491 thoughts on “The Story of Cedars – A Prisoner No More

  • April 18, 2014 at 6:37 am
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    How many people who have commented have actually been a Jehovahs Witness? I have been raised one my whole life. I think it comes closer than other religions. Although I want to find my own path. They are not a cult! Thats ridiculous! No one is perfect and i suggest more research before you comment blindly.

    • April 18, 2014 at 6:47 am
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      “i suggest more research before you comment blindly” – oh, the irony.

      Can I take a complete stab in the dark and assume you’ve never read Crisis of Conscience by Ray Franz?

    • April 18, 2014 at 7:53 am
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      So far as I can gather, Really, nearly every contributor here is an ex Jehovah’s Witness. Indeed, it often takes experience from the inside to come to the conclusion that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed a cult, and a singularly malign one too.

      Hitherto, the JW bosses have been as successful at PR as they have been at cult mind control. Hence many outsiders view them JWs as odd and earnest, but otherwise harmless and polite, religious enthusiasts.

      I was raised as a JW. It was the worst aspect of childhood by far. The obscene idea that God was about to execute, well before the end of the 20th century, the greater part of the world’s population for the capital crime of non Kingdom Hall attendance, and a failure to regularly knock on doors armed with a bag of mags from New York, gave me nightmares.

      Here is a list of definitions of a cult. You will find that JWdom ticks most of the cult boxes whatever the definition. Steven Hassan’s BITE model certainly applies. ( Control of Behaviour, Information, Thoughts and Emotion).

      http://www.prem-rawat-talk.org/forum/uploads/CultCharacteristics.htm

      The JW bosses are getting especially jittery just now as the internet is loosening their control of information. Sites like this one (and there are many and they are growing in number – JWdom has left such a trail of anger and misery that it is now reaping the whirlwind) make it easy for anyone to learn, in a very short time, that there is no truth in JW TRUTH.

      Here’s to your awakening, Really, and escape! Best wishes.

    • April 19, 2014 at 12:37 am
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      Really – Now you know that the majority of contributors here are ex Jehovah’s Witnesses who have ‘done our research’ do you have anything to write in defence of the Watchtower Organisation?

      You made an accusation about blind comments. Please point out any errors made by any contributor. This site is not managed by Watchtower principles. It is open to criticism and disagreement.

      You have made an accusation, Really. You have made what appears to be a blind comment, the like of which you, quite understandably, disapprove.

      The onus is clearly on you now to specify the errors and ignorance expressed, and correct other contributors’ mistakes.

      All you wrote was an unsubstantiated claim that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult. You have now been presented with evidence that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do indeed tick all the cult boxes.

      Are you satisfied with that evidence? Or can you back up your blind comment that they are not a cult with the results of your research?

      We await your answers.

    • April 20, 2014 at 10:19 am
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      Can we assume, Really, that in the absence of any reply, you have done what nearly all jws do, on this and the myriads of other ex JW blogs, Facebook groups, and YouTube vids?

      On discovering that their little cult is utterly indefensible, is based on lies deceit, threats and fear, they retreat to the Kingdom Hall in a desperate attempt to convince themselves,for they convince nobody else, that there is some truth in JW TRUTH.

      I wish you, Really, in your search for your ‘own way’, an escape from the malign clutches of the cult in which you were raised.

      There is plenty of he available for those in your unfortunate position.

      Best wishes!

    • April 26, 2014 at 2:03 am
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      Now that you realise, Really, that you have had the misfortune of being raised in a cult, here’s a a very useful book which will help you to escape.

      http://www.amazon.com/Combatting-Cult-Mind-Control-Best-selling/dp/0892813113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398502362&sr=8-1&keywords=Stephen+hassan+-+CUlt+mind+control

      Stephen Hassan, as a youth, was ensnared by the Moonies and, after escaping, became a psychologist. Although he does not mention JWs specifically in this book, he is now working with AAWA (the Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses http://www.aawa.co ) as a consultant. After studying JWdom, he realised straightway that JWdom is indeed a cult.

      While you are waiting for the book’s delivery you could ponder a question I have posed to countless JWs, but have never received an answer.

      The JW Gov. Bod. claim to be the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’ as referred to by Jesus in Matt. 24. It is on this claim, and this claim alone, that rests their entire authority to label all they write and speak is Jehovah issued TRUTH.

      I have asked countless JWs to provide evidence to support that claim. None has been able to. The reason is simple. There is no evidence. The prime claim of the JW bosses is baseless.

      In order to find your ‘own way’ really, you need first to find your way to the Kingdom Hall exit.

      Here’s to success in your journey!

  • April 20, 2014 at 4:45 am
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    Can we presume, Really, that the absence of an answer from you means that you now recognise that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed a cult?

    You wrote that JWdom comes ‘closer than other religions’. Closer to what?

    In inconsistency, cruelty and duff prophecy it is probably way ahead of other branches of Christendom. In pretension it is definitely way out in front. Sure the Pope of Rome presumes he is God’s exclusively earthly rep., but even in Catholicism there is some room for debate and dissent. In JWdom any questioning of the bosses’ authority is met with disfellowshipping and shunning. The Catholics have been guilty of hiding paedophiles, but have been forced to acknowledge their errors, and even seek means to address the problem. JWdom also has a paedophile protection problem with its 2 witness rule but remains in denial. Google Candace Conti.

    If you imagine that JWdom comes closer than other religions to THE TRUTH, please tell us which JW TRUTHS are your favourites. Here is a selection: The date for Armageddon can be calculated by means of studying the measurements of the Great Pyramid. Jehovah does not care about blood transfusions (pre 1945). Jehovah will execute at Armageddon anyone who has a blood transfusion (post 1945). Jehovah is OK with receipt of blood fractions but will execute at Armageddon anyone donating blood, the only source of such fractions (21st century). The righteuos will be raptured to Heaven to escape the destruction of Armageddon (Russell early 20th century). Abraham and Isaac will be resurrected in 1925 (Rutherford 1920)

    Do you mean that JWdom comes closer to outright lunacy than any other branch of Christendom?

    You came on this site, Really, and made an ignorant accusation. You have been answered. Do you have anything to write in defence of your hideous little cult?

  • April 20, 2014 at 10:21 am
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    Correction: There is plenty of help available for those in your unfortunate position.

  • May 2, 2014 at 5:39 am
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    Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it was not easy to write especially when it comes to admitting your mistakes. I hope that given your history as an elder, pioneer and family…others will be helped.
    Unfortunately most people don’t see ‘the truth about the truth’ until they are cast out, but once your out the feeling of freedom is amasing, its like seeing the world through glasses when you’ve struggled with your vision for years….everything looks crisp and fresh, its wonderful.

  • May 9, 2014 at 6:01 am
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    You are still a prisoner. You are a prisoner to your hatred and the way you show you are still a prisoner is your lack of ability to move on. BTW it is your own fault that your family don’t speak to you. Many have left with making such a funfair of things and still have great relationships with their family who are still active JWs. So the problem is yours not JWs. Please there is already too much hate in the world just learn to move on and be happy.

    • May 9, 2014 at 6:14 am
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      “just learn to move on and be happy”

      I AM happy, thank you. But that doesn’t mean I have to move on by forgetting everything that has happened to me. If anything, my activism is my way of moving on. By exposing these issues, I reduce the likelihood of others who aren’t even born yet going through the same thing.

  • May 9, 2014 at 7:07 am
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    Juan,

    I don’t know what offends me more, the meaning behind your words or your complete lack of proof reading.

    I assume that you meant to write:

    “Many have left WITHOUT making such a funfare of things”

    Now I have corrected your comment for you, let’s move on to your opinion, shall we?

    John Cedars is being shunned by his family because they currently have an erroneous view of the bible. Do you have proof that Cedars’ family would not shun him if he did not run this website?

    How would you describe a great relationship with a family member?

    A funhouse? Is that the best description of Cedars’ work that you could come up with?

    How is Cedars’ work like a funhouse? Is it a trivial means of entertainment? Is it a gaudy and brash show?

    Now let’s address the old saw horse,” just move on already”.

    I had moved on. I had got on with my life. Then, in a discussion with a Witness relative, I mentioned that no one knew the names of the so called Governing Body. I looked up a list of the men on that body, and I came across this website.

    The revelations of systematic, almost institutional child abuse and domestic abuse shocked me to my core.

    I decided that I had to get involved, and try to help protect vulnerable children and women from abuse.

    What do you think about the child protection policy in the WTBTS? Do you think it is fit for purpose? Can you find any mistakes in Cedars’ articles?

    If you are so eager to move on, then no one is stopping you. Go forth and live your life, and stop posting ill written, ill thought out comments on this site.

    Lastly, I will say this. Our struggle against this cruel cult is borne of love, not hate.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • May 14, 2014 at 6:41 am
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    Congratulations….
    I disassociated myself 13 years ago and that was one of the best decisions I have made through many years.
    I could no longer see the abuse going on in the congregation and when the circuit overseer was visiting I talked with him to put the wheels running into investigating the matter. He was very keen to start the procedures till he left and the elders covered it all up. No surprise here I guess. I could no longer be part of such hypocrisy and my wife and I both left. We then decided to have a family, and 18 month later my son is born. He is now 11 and his grandmother from the mother’s has not seen him in about 9 years. Needless to say this is the only grand child she will ever have and the crazy woman leaves 8 minutes away from us. Very sad….but life goes on……This is what this damn cult does to people……I always wonder what jesus will say to her when he is back for judgment…..if you believe that shit of course…..All of you who have left, are thinking of leaving….Do not look back….you will have NEW AND BETTTER FRIENDS………..

  • May 14, 2014 at 11:52 am
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    I last spoke to my biological parents back in 1989, at the age of 17, when I told them that I did not believe in God or the bible itself. I came home from working at a “Brother’s” subway sandwich restaurant at 2 am, to find my stuff packed and outside. My father gave me a ride to a place he had arranged for me to move into, and at 3 am, I was handing some guy money from my savings to rent a room with an attached bathroom.

    I put myself through high school after that. The worst part was they were so anti college, that it never occured to me, despite having had the realization that my indoctrination was wrong, never occured to me that college was even an option.

    Despite all that, I consider myself one of the luckiest ones, a clean break at a young age. I had never been baptised, since I kept putting it off for it not feeling right, so while I had not been disassociated, as it was called back then, i might as well have been. My son will never know so much as a word of indoctrination, in anything. It is the best thing I can take from my childhood learnings to give to him. I tell him, he is only 6, the more adamantly someone tells you something, the more you should question it, even if it is me.

  • May 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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    Gyphynx, What a horrible experience…and you were a minor and still in high school! Some would even consider that child abuse as you were not even 18 years old.

    Then to spring that on you in the middle of the night, after you got off work and were no doubt exhausted physically, and then not to get to pack your own things, I find the whole thing inexcusable. They treated you like a common criminal just because you did not believe in God or the Bible.

    I am so glad that you were able to survive that and then go on to college!! That took a lot of courage, my friend.

    I don’t hear any hate or anger in your voice, though I am sure there had to be a lot of pain, feelings of betrayal, fear and uncertainty.

    And for what???

    Just so they remained loyal to the organization. I hope they find great comfort in their organization, because that is all they have.

    Maybe one day, when the organization falls down around them, when their eyes are opened and they see what hypocrites they have been, relationships could be rebuilt…it is sad that your son is growing up without the love of grandparents.

    Hearts of stone is what they have, to turn their backs on an innocent child and withhold their love.

    I hope you have been able to forgive them and let go of anger and resentment because that is a gift you give yourself, to not hold onto those poisonous feelings.

    I wish for you and your family, all the love and happiness you can hold, and all the virtual hugs this message can give you, as they come from my heart.

  • June 17, 2014 at 8:38 am
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    You are a smart fellow and I wish you the best, keep up the work of exposing the falsehood, I only wish I had read
    Ray Franz book 30 yrs. age when it was offered, I refused to even consider it, what a waist of my years it has been. now at 74 my eye are getting opened as the 1914 date is exposed as false. I just finished Carl Olf Jonsson’s book and am reading it again in disbelief. WT has known this since the late 70s and still refuse to accept the facts. unbelievable, the spirit of gods truth is not with them. thanks and keep it up as I can’t thank you enough. BOBBY RAY

  • June 23, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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    The idea of just moving on and living your life like nothing ever happened is silly and unrealistic. Every JW would agree that humans are created in the image of God, which includes having the attribute of justice. Does justice allow you to turn your back on atrocities committed to family and friends? Would justice simply allow a person to watch others suffer at the hands of a persecutor? Unfortunately, your rationale is common for witnesses. Put things off. Do not think about things to deeply. Let others make decisions for you. I know if you let yourself think critically you will understand that “moving on” is not always an option.

    • June 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm
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      Tim, what would you have us do to get justice?

  • September 1, 2014 at 10:17 am
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    Thank you for this article. I thought I could dodge this issue with my family, but when the latest article came out in the WT, about Aaron’s son, my mother made it clear she could no longer speak with me. My sister, a current JW, called me drunk and angry a few months ago, stating that she wanted to know what was going on. It was late at night, so I tried to stay calm and let her know that I just had a few questions and didn’t agree with everything in full. I told her that I didn’t want to speak about it or influence her and respected her opinion and that I just wanted to still be part of her life.

    My brother had already told me that if I dated a non-believer, he would not speak with me.

    My mother was the only hold-out and would still occasionally speak with me on the phone. She said that she wanted to make sure my boyfriend didn’t think ‘we’ were crazy. Six months later, she changed her mind and said that I could call her if I really needed to talk, but she didn’t want to have any kind of casual conversation with me. She wrote another two paragraphs “imploring” me to reconsider my relationship with Jehovah and stating that she could never have a relationship with me unless I had a proper relationship with Jehovah.

    I had defended her views and her conscience, but I can’t any longer. I am new at making friends, and I’m terribly lonely. I have nightmares about the loss of my family that include being dragged into a Kingdom Hall and being made to confess all of my sins. I dream that I am reunited with them, only to find out that they are going to bring me before the elders. I miss them and love them so much.

    You have to ask yourself, what would you do if your entire family was gone in a moment? How would you get through that? I’m searching for help with grief, but it isn’t easy. With every mis-step and hiccup, every time that I cry and hurt inside, I hear my mother telling me that leaving Jehovah will only bring hurt and loss, that he teaches us to benefit ourselves, and if we follow the truth we will have happy full lives. I truly feel loss now, and it’s easy to hear her words sting. If only I was still going to the meetings… If only I could have squashed those questions… If only I could agree with them, about everything…

    My partner asks why I will not lash out and be angry with them. It is because I understand that they cannot see things any other way. They are not bad people! They are trying to feel good, feel the love of God, spread that love, no matter how many people they hurt along the way. I can’t hate them.

    I do promise that when I have a child, I will not expose it to these kinds of influences, and I will love it unconditionally. If my child decides that there is a God or not, whether they marry or stay single, whether they love women or men, I will be their mother. I will not be ashamed of them. And no one will tell me that I should abandon them so as to teach them a lesson.

    Cruelty can never be kindness.

    And enduring cruelty cloaked in kindness is a terrible kind of pain. It condemns and convicts you, indicts your pain, and accuses you. The only relief is in complete separation from it, but it doesn’t come overnight.

  • September 1, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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    Elizabetha you are not alone! I am reading your comment and crying with you.

    I know that terrible loneliness. You are not the only one to have those nightmares. I and other former JWs that I know have suffered them too. I also have heard the same sort of words your mother wrote to you.

    My friends who have not lived through the JW nightmare do not fully understand either. There are ex-JWs on this site too, who do not fully understand your hurting.

    Your comment “cruelty cloaked in kindness is a terrible kind of pain” is oh so poignant! I made excuses for my family for years but it didn’t ease the pain.

    There is life outside of The Org, and it can be a happy one, but you will need to stay strong and believe in yourself; losing your family is not easy to cope with – try not to be dragged down by emotional blackmail.

    Elizabetha – you have friends here, who can identify with what you are going through. Please be assured that you are not alone.

    x

  • September 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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    Thank you. I really appreciate your kind response. Being left completely alone is a devastating situation. Your kind and thoughtful words mean so much!

  • September 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm
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    Elizabetha, I also know your pain. One minute you have your family, the next, they are gone. I had been disfellowshipped for a while, but my brother and two sisters still talked to me….because our mother was alive in a nursing home. They chose her death as the point they could no longer talk with me or have any thing at all to do with me. Not even during receiving guests at the funeral home or at her funeral. I was left out of all the decisions and actions to bury her. My mother had confided a lot in me, they didn’t even get where she was born right, it was in a different state!!! None of them know as much about our mother as I do.

    In one fell swoop, I lost my mother when she died, and I also lost my siblings, though they are still alive.

    I have gotten better to the point that if my family comes up in conversation, I say that my family has disowned me and will not even speak to me and that they do that because they are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Let me just say I am not the GB’s best PR person. Everything I tell is true, but I am no longer hiding their actions as if I have done something wrong. Sometimes I even volunteer the information to people that my family has known all our lives. If one of my siblings gets confronted with what I am saying, they will have to defend themselves. I am not going to live in shame any longer.

    Rosie is right, no one understands this like those of us who have gone through the same thing. It is a special kind of pain that unites us. That is why this site is so special to me and I don’t miss a single post. Here I feel understood and accepted, regardless of how we have chosen to move on with our lives.

    I am so sorry you are going through this pain, but there is a reason for it. You have chosen Truth over Lies.

    None of us has the right to judge another. I did a life-time of judging when I was a JW. Now I am ashamed of how I have treated people. Now that I know better, it is “live and let live” for me.

    We are each accountable for our own actions, and for those that believe, we will have to answer to Jesus as he will be the one doing the judging. They will have to give their own accounting for their treatment of you. I agree with you, they are not bad people, they are just following orders….just like Hitler’s followers did.

    It is OK to cry about losing your family. There is a grieving process to go through. There is so much pain that your family could so easily break their family ties with you just because men told them to. If you are like me, I thought we would always be family and we would always be there for each other, no matter what. I never dreamed it would ever be “I love you…IF” I didn’t think any strings were attached to their love. But it is a conditional love.

    I have described the pain as open heart surgery, without any anesthesia.

    I feel unconditional love here among my real family. That same love is here for you. Feel free to talk on here anytime you want to. A lot of us subscribe to the post, so we are notified about every comment made here, so someone will see and respond to you.

    Sorry Cedars, but this is the only way we have to communicate with each other….in individual posts. So we are bound to go off topic.

    Elizabetha, it is going to take time, so be kind to yourself and concentrate on doing what is best for YOU. Stick to the basics of living one day at a time. It is a scary place and I know you feel alone, but I promise you that you are not alone.

    With love from your sister

  • September 21, 2014 at 7:31 am
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    Cedars, I was reading some of your earlier articles and am I to understand your father was a Circuit Overseer and your family are friends with one of the Governing Body, Jeffrey Jackson? Your father must have been quite brave to encourage you to have gone to college, taking into account his life history as well. You said you studied art. Is that your artwork with the caricature of yourself in your original articles?

  • October 10, 2014 at 10:57 am
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    In your video you claim that the JW organisation is some massive ruse to make people follow an elite bunch of men. Question: for what gain ? I’ve collected the money before and near to nothing is donated ! Can you explain what is the purpose for this mind control scheme ??

    • October 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm
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      Hi Steve, thanks for reading my story and commenting. I don’t recognize my words in your comments, which sound like an over-simplification of a rather complex matter. There doesn’t HAVE to be a cynical, strictly money-oriented scheme in place for Watchtower beliefs to be a deception that venerates an elite group of men. As it happens, the Governing Body members DO profit materially from their positions, even if there is no evidence that they are all multi-millionaires. Everything they need is provided for them by the organization, and they live very comfortably at bethel – more comfortably than your average bethelite. They also receive rockstar adulation wherever they go, which includes countless overseas trips to international conventions, etc. All this special attention fuels their ego and feeds into their delusion that they are God’s mouthpiece, and that their interpretation of the bible must be heeded first and foremost – even if people get hurt. So in summary, the Governing Body get a LOT out of their positions, even if it isn’t in a solely material sense. And I don’t personally hold the opinion that their actions are necessarily cynical per se. Having listened to hours of Governing Body talks, I don’t believe there are any closet atheists on the Governing Body – put it that way. They all believe they have a special place in God’s plan, and this gives them the boldness to issue their commands and perpetuate the delusions they inherited.

  • October 11, 2014 at 1:47 am
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    But you accuse the Watchtower Society of Mind Control. Entities that practice / inflict mind control have a motive, a purpose. A nefarious purpose. What, in your opinion, is the ultimate goal of the men of the Governing Body ?

    • October 11, 2014 at 1:59 am
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      I would agree that much of the written material on undue influence (mind control) gives the impression that cult leaders are entirely cynical, and know precisely what they’re doing in misleading people. I am personally not of that opinion – or at least I don’t believe it’s true in every case. As I said, I don’t believe any Governing Body members are closet atheists, which they would need to be to be running a scam. You either believe in God, or you don’t. If you believe in God, and you run a cult like Watchtower, then you believe that everything you do and say has God’s backing. I don’t believe the Governing Body have an “ultimate goal” per se, other than the furtherance of the organizational legacy they inherited, whether or not Armageddon arrives, and regardless of the harm caused to people by their mistakes.

  • October 11, 2014 at 3:44 am
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    So if their purpose is to further the organisation legacy, what is the purpose of the organisation. As you know, it’s to spread the message of the Bible. These men believe in God and believe that the Bible is a message from God. So they have dedicated their lives to that task. Seems reasonable to me. Plus the comforts they enjoy, mentioned in your previous post, also seem reasonable rewards for their dedication. Of course they believe they have God’s backing ! Every religion does ! The Pope believes he has God’s backing and the Catholics interpret the scriptures in a certain way. Mistakes are made and children are abused. Is Catholicism a cult ?

    • October 11, 2014 at 4:16 am
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      The stated purpose of the organization may well be to “spread the message of the bible” (as you put it), but anyone can plainly see that there is more to it than that. If it were all about the Bible, and believing in Jehovah and Jesus, then you should be able to stand up at your next congregation meeting and proclaim the following without punishment or censure: “I believe in the Bible, Jehovah, and Jesus – but I do not believe the Governing Body are representatives of God and his earthly organization.”

      If you fancy giving this a go, please let me know what happens. If you don’t want to try it, even by way of an experiment, then I think you understand my point.

      You also say, “These men believe in God and believe that the Bible is a message from God. So they have dedicated their lives to that task. Seems reasonable to me.”

      Simply believing that you have God on your side, and that your message is bible-based, does not make those things true – as you argument seems to suggest. Otherwise, as you also allude to, any number of other religions must also be God’s organization – including Catholicism. The simple question is this: is the religion practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses true, or not? If it IS true, then evidence to support the claims made by the leaders should be straightforward to produce. If it is NOT true, or if any amount of ambiguity is required in support of the claims made by Watchtower, then Jehovah’s Witnesses are no more true than any other religion – all leaders of which make grandiose claims of themselves that cannot be substantiated or verified. I explain this “challenge” in the following video. Perhaps you can rise to it and, in so doing, give me cause to take down this website?

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:09 am
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    Before I get to your challenge video lets deal with your last post. I don’t get your point about standing up in the meeting and denouncing the GBody. The Bible talks about a ‘faithful and discreet slave’ dispensing spiritual food and most JWs believe this is the GBody. Just because they ‘believe it’ doesn’t make it true, no. But they have studied, observed and logically come to a considered opinion that it is them. If they stopped thinking this they could leave and join another religion. So why would they want to stand up and denounce their leaders ??

    Also, you didn’t answer my question: Is catholicism a cult ??

    • October 11, 2014 at 5:17 am
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      Steve – answer my questions honestly or I don’t understand why I should answer yours. I raised the “is it true or isn’t it?” argument because a negative answer to that question renders moot all other conceivable arguments you could raise in defense of Watchtower. I have better things to do with my time than chase around trying to pin you down on the questions that matter as you skip to another point entirely. I asked about the standing up in the congregation scenario to make a point about the true nature of the organization (in response to your “it’s all about the bible” sentiments) that you seem to have missed entirely. Rather than repeat myself, I will pass on this video in the hopes that you will watch it and some of it will sink in…

      And yes, Catholicism is a cult, but a far less harmful one – because in most countries and cultures (such as in the US and UK) it’s at least possible to vote with your feet and get out of it while retaining contact with your still-believing family.

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:22 am
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    With the challenge video. Just so I know what you are looking for?
    – what is considered appropriate proof / evidence?
    – do you believe that 1914 and 1919 are significant dates in the Bible ?

    • October 11, 2014 at 5:25 am
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      Steve – no offense, but if you need to ask what “appropriate proof / evidence” is, then maybe this challenge isn’t for you.

      Your second question is also discouraging. Do YOU believe that 1914 and 1919 are “significant dates in the Bible?”

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:25 am
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    Sorry, just saw your Catholic comment after your video so no need to answer that. So all religions are cults then ??
    Perhaps its a less harmful cult because there are less ramifications for gross sin?

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:37 am
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    This is the thing with you. When arguments don’t go your way you get abusive and irritable. You accuse the Watchtower of sweeping away those who don’t go along with the status quo, yet you are the same. You accuse me of dishonesty just because I don’t agree with your reasoning. My point is the Bible talks about a FADSlave and JWs agree that its the GBody. We stand by them in that claim. Is it true ? It’s up to people to decide for themselves. Have I made myself clear there ?

    • October 11, 2014 at 5:42 am
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      Where have I accused you of dishonesty? I’m merely frustrated that you refuse to answer my questions (which underpin the entire argument) while insisting that I answer yours. If objecting to this makes me “abusive” then you must have led a very sheltered life. As to…

      “My point is the Bible talks about a FADSlave and JWs agree that its the GBody. We stand by them in that claim. Is it true ? It’s up to people to decide for themselves. Have I made myself clear there ?”

      Abundantly clear. The claims you make in support of your religion are no more valid than those made by ANY other religion. In the lottery of religions all making grandiose claims for themselves, you just so happen to have hit the jackpot with the one whose claims are true. Evidence is an afterthought.

      Should we throw you a party, or will a simple “congratulations” suffice?

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:48 am
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    I know many JWs who have left and still have close contact with their families.

    Being a JW is not a soft option like many religions. If you can’t / won’t follow the moral code then you can’t be one. That doesn’t make it a cult. It makes it scripturally sound.

    I’ve never experienced shunning as you call it. Discipline is needed to protect the congregation and then they are, almost always, welcomed back with much rejoicing and hugging and tears etc etc.

    Some obviously don’t want or take the discipline and leave. Their prerogative. No shunning here. Just high standards.

  • October 11, 2014 at 5:56 am
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    This is where…..’Steve – answer my questions honestly…’
    ie – Suggesting I haven’t been honest with you. (perhaps I’m a bit super sensitive as I spend most of my time around very polite people).
    Abusive – I’ve read some other posts from you on this site.

    It comes down to belief in the Bible. Then seeing which organisation fits best. But if you no longer believe in the Bible then its a non argument. I think this is where you and I are ??

    • October 11, 2014 at 6:07 am
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      It doesn’t surprise me that someone who doesn’t know what evidence is can’t recognize a distinction between asking someone to answer questions honestly and accusing someone of dishonesty.

      Anyway, I assumed we were done here. You have made it perfectly clear that you embrace belief in Watchtower’s claims without any need for evidence. I have congratulated you on arriving at a conclusion that appears to satisfy you, even if it makes the claims of your religion no more valid than any other.

      Is there more to discuss?

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:05 am
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    No offence taken. Just humour me then. What evidence / proof is required. Just so I don’t give you something that is considered too ‘faith’ like?

    So by your answer I take it that you don’t believe those dates are significant. It’s important, as I don’t want to provide proof of events around dates, if you don’t even acknowledge the dates.

    • October 11, 2014 at 6:10 am
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      Anything that relies on faith, credulity, or presupposition of any kind isn’t evidence. I hope that clarifies things.

      I’ve deleted your other comment about “what question didn’t I answer” to keep the page tidy. I was referring to the Cedars Challenge, which you seemed to be dodging.

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:15 am
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    Reasoning book page 202 defining what a cult is: “A cult is a religion that is said to be unorthodox or that emphasizes devotion according to a prescribed ritual. Many cults follow a living human leader, and often their adherents live in groups apart from the rest of society. The standard for what is orthodox, however, should be God’s Word, and Jehovah’s Witnesses strictly adhere to the Bible. Their worship is a way of life, not a ritual devotional. They neither follow a human nor isolate themselves from the rest of society. They live and work in the midst of other people.”

    Now this is another definition of a cult (by the way, probably thousands of cults so it’s not picking on any one religion) by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.:

    Notice how much longer this description is.

    The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to it’s leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

    Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

    Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and it’s leader (s).

    The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry-or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

    The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, it’s leaders(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar-or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

    The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

    The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

    The group teaches or implies that it’s supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example lying to a family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

    The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

    Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

    The group is preoccupied with a bringing in new members.

    The group is preoccupied with making money.

    Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

    Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

    The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

    Steve, I have been in this religion for 50 years and there is no way in hell that you can convince me that Jehovah’s Witnesses are being controlled by a cult leadership mentality. I know better and so does almost everyone else who posts here. Like Cedars said, can you stand up in front of your congregation and say that you do not believe that these 7 men in New York are appointed by God and can you prove it????? If you go from door to door telling people this is the true religion, just what makes it any truer than any other religion???? The reason you don’t take his challenge is because just as he said, you think you just happened to hit the jackpot of all the religions out there and just happened to fall into the right one. That shell of yours is probably made of cement, but think about it.

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:19 am
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    I meant to say Steve that there is no way in hell that you can’t convince me that Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t a cult….

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:19 am
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    Catholics have been forced to come to terms with their paedophie protection. JW are still in denial. Popes have apologised to to Eastern Christians and Jews for past crimes. JWs, whose record is entirely negative, have never apologised for anything. The Eastern and Western CHristians, in so many of their sects, have bequeathed a fine legacy in poetry, music, painting and architecture. The JWs, a part of the world, but who affect to despise it and imagine they are above it, have left none.

    Popes may pretend to be infallible but they are open to criticism in a way the JW establishment is not.

    Catholics will dialogue with members of other branches of CHristendom as well as with members of other religions entirely, like Jews, Muslims and Hindus. Patronisingly they simply see these others as misguided. JWs hold themselves completely aloof from all members of other faiths even from other branches of Protestant CHristendom of which, though they pretend to deny it, they are a part. JWs cannot wait for Jehovah to execute all non JWs.

    The power of the Pope may be inordinate but it is tiny compared with the authority of the JW Gov. Bod. Catholic historians Paul Johnson and Hans Kung have both voiced their disagreement with Popes as well as their reservations on doctrine. Neither has been excommunicated.

    The diktat of the JW Gov. Bod., by contrast, is absolute. Merely questioning is a disfellowshiping offence.

    Anyone who cannot see why an organisation whose achievements in its 135 year history amount to no more than deaths through refusal of blood, protection of paedophiles, split families through shunning, duff prophecy, Armageddon nightmares and stunted lives through the frowning on higher education, need to be exposed and held to account for its crimes, must themselves be a prisoner of its mind control methods.

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:21 am
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    ‘It doesn’t surprise me that someone who doesn’t know what evidence is can’t recognize a distinction between asking someone to answer questions honestly and accusing someone of dishonesty’
    Its the same thing. You just have confused thinking processes. Like calling discipline ….shunning !

    You keep talking about religions claiming to be the one. Its not to do with that. Its about the existence of God, the credibility of the Bible and who is making sense. Religion is the problem. It gives God a bad name.

    Anyway it’s clear we are on different paths. Opposite in fact. I’m with all the people who say to you…move on. Move on mate. Your analogy of someone stealing $35k from you is flawed though. You donated the money willingly. You gave a gift, and then realised you wanted it back. You can’t de gift. Stop winging and grow up.

    Good luck with your activism against God. I know who I’m backing !

    • October 11, 2014 at 6:28 am
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      Steve – before you disappear, I need to sincerely thank you. You have superbly showcased the level of ignorance that is required in order to mount a defense for Watchtower. You have been asked to present evidence to support the Governing Body’s claims, thus distinguishing them from other religions that make similar claims, and you have come up with… diddly squat.

      As you stick your head deeper in the sand, I want to thank you for showing everyone what it takes to remain a loyal JW after visiting this site. Equate shunning to discipline, equate Watchtower to God, equate acting under undue influence to giving “willingly,” equate exposing falsehood to “whinging” and… voila! Cognitive dissonance is calmed and blissful ignorance is restored.

      Thanks again.

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:31 am
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    I like the phrase attributed to Jesus, Steve Stevenson: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’.

    WHat would you presume to know of an organisation whose ‘fruits’ in its entire 135 year history amounted to duff prophecy, unnecessary deaths through a ban on blood transfusion, serial doctrinal flip flops (inclusing those on blood), split families through shunning, paedopheil protection and stunted lives throug ht efrowning on higher education. Would anyone presume that this organisation is God’s sole earthly rep.?

  • October 11, 2014 at 6:48 am
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    Activism against God? NO, activism agianst a bunch of guys in New York, who claim, with zero evidence, that they are God’s sole earthly rep. There is no evidence to support that claim. I have asked countless JWs to substantiate that claim, and you, Steve Stevenson, are like them all. You have provided none because there is none. The claim is bogus.

    You have clearly swallowed all the nonsense pumped out by your New York controllers. JWs are a religion. They are a part of CHristendom. They are a Protestant sect. They are a part of the world. They are simply one of the worst aspects of all the above.

    No doubt you will retreat smug and satisfied in the knowledge tht all the JW detractors will be executed by Jehovah at any one of his Truthfully Truly True Armageddons; if not in 1914, 1925, 1941, 1975 or before the death of the 1914 generation, then any time soon within any multiple of generations possible.

    May I second Cedars’ congratulations. Anyone visiting this site with a curiosity to know about JWs will note, from your comments, how deeply in the sand a head has to be buried in order to remain a JW believer.

  • October 11, 2014 at 7:10 am
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    Steve, what make the Jehovah’s Witness religion any different than the Mormons? Have you examined the Mormon religion? I spent 48 years of my 68 years going to meetings and conventions and out in service for this religion and gave up going to college for this religion. I can’t get my life back. I consider my life (the only one I will ever have and it’s nearing it’s end now) as worth a whole lot more than $35,000. Who can give me back my life? You can’t, so I am talking about if I had been held captive to the thinking that if I didn’t serve this religion that I’d be killed at Armageddon as being held hostage, much the same as anybody else who had been kidnapped and held hostage. If a person is held captive by a kidnapper, that is considered a crime and how much is a human life worth?? So, it boils down to this: Were we told the whole truth about the truth when we got baptized, or were details about our religion held back from us and we were tricked into getting baptized? I was not told the truth about the history of this organization and if I had been told the truth about the history, it would have been very clear to me that there is no way that this could be the one and only true religion.

    For one thing, if Jesus and Jehovah had chosen this religion in 1919 as his one true religion, then it should be exactly the same today as it was then, shouldn’t it? That’s why it is so important for you to examine what what was being taught in 1919. Using the light gets brighter excuse doesn’t answer that question, does it?

    We were not told the whole truth when we were baptized. We were tricked into it with counterfeit word (2 Peter 2:3…”Also with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit words”.) and love bombing which is another cult tactic, not mentioned in my post from before. What 11 year old child is going to be examining the history of his religion BEFORE baptism?

    Remember all that advice from the Kingdom Ministry at the Ministry school that we were never to take anybody’s literature? I always thought to myself even then all those time, why not???? What could that literature have to say that could convince me that I didn’t have the truth so I refused it, trusting that the Society was telling me the truth. Absolutely nobody should be afraid to examine the history of his religion, no matter who or what it is. If you are afraid, there is something wrong with it.

    Ask yourself, are you fee to examine the real history of your religion? You are not free to do that. The reason is that you will be shocked at what was being printed and distributed as “truth” in 1919. The Society never talks about what was being printed in that year. They just say that 1919 was the year that Jesus chose this as his one and only true religion and we all swallowed it without asking any questions but where is the proof of that?

    Prove to us that we didn’t waste our lives on this religion that Jesus and Jehovah chose this as his spokesman in 1919. We all want to hear what it is so we can be happy that we didn’t waste our lives on a religion that boils down to serving men and not God. If you can prove that to me, I will gladly start serving the Organization again. If you can’t then I’d say we were serving men and not God and I feel sick to my stomach that now I am old and have wasted my life and I can’t get it back.

    Be glad if you are young. You still have time to open up your eyes and see it for what it is, a lie.

  • October 11, 2014 at 8:37 am
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    I agree Steve Stevenson. Let us get this clear. You and I know, because it’s THE TRUTH, as presented by Jehovah’s Exclusive earthly agents, that Jesus chose the Bible Students in 1919 because they celebrated Christmas, had no opinions on blood transfusion, had been wrong about Armageddon coming in 1914 and whose leader, Judge Rutherford was, in 1920, to publish his own TRULY TRUTHFUL, TRUTHFULLY delivered TRUTHS in ‘Milions Now Living Will Never Die’. The God delivered TRUTHS in that book are so obviously TRULY TRUE that only an obstinate apostate would try and deny them.

    1925 was to be the year of Armageddon, the year when Abraham, Isaac and other Biblical celebs were to be resurrected in San Diego. We know that’s TRUE, don’t we Steve Stevenson? We also rub our hands with glee that Jehovah will soon execute at Armageddon all those wicked, worldly people who deny that TRUTH.

    I mean, it does stand to reason. If god’s earthly reps say they are the Faithful and Discreet Slave, then they must be the Faithful and Discreet Slave.

    We know it is worth sacrificing our lives in this doomed and wicked world and to spend all our spare cash and time on distributing mags from New York so that Watchtower’s capital value can continue to increase. What greater joy than to hang about at a mag stall all day, or knock on closed doors proclaiming The Good News of the Kingdom!

  • November 5, 2014 at 11:09 am
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    Thank you John for your videos. I perhaps underwent a similar process, a complete deconversion from religion, with my family. It was extremely difficult, but I feel better now than I ever have before. Being a resident of Brooklyn I see JW all around me, and wonder much about what they believe and how they are motivated. I wonder whether I should say hello, or ask them why the believe, or even engage kindly and explain why I don’t. I feel there is so much unnecessary suffering as a result of such religious beliefs. Anyway, thanks again and keep up the good work. Regards, Gregory.

  • November 23, 2014 at 8:49 am
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    Thank you for sharing your very personal story John. I know it helps me to know that there are others like me, who struggled to do the right thing under tremendous pressure not be a “disappointment”.

    I always have felt that I learn much more from my failures than my successes…and now waking up for the first time, I don’t have to feel as guilty when I do stumble.

  • December 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm
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    An excerpt from a friend of mine providing a key component in defining a Cult. I copied and pasted this particular characteristic, because it highly illuminates the fact that the Watchtower Organization is a Cult. Read below ! ” CENSORSHIP OF EXTERNAL TEACHINGS

    Forbidding members to read foreign literature or to be otherwise exposed to teachings of those outside their organization is a sure mark of falsehood. The leaders forbid it in the pretense of guarding their sheep from the children of Satan and darkness, who, according to them, are all those in disagreement with, or indifferent to, them.

    The reality is that these people are afraid of the truth. They are not heartily confident that what they believe is the solid truth of God, though they will deny the fact ever as strongly as Peter denied the Lord. This is because they do not know Him Who is the Truth, the One Peter denied. They are found denying Him constantly, as an organizational policy and way of being. They have not been delivered of the spirit of fear.

    “The wicked flee when no man pursues; but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1 MKJV).

    “He who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 HNV).

    So often have we encountered Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, for prominent examples, who are not prepared to listen objectively to what others have to say, though they are fully ready to declare their doctrines. Indeed, when their missionaries have come to our door and into our houses, they are only there to pitch their organization and its teachings, but never to hear and consider what the Bible actually says. At first mention of dissent according to the Scriptures from what they have been taught, they immediately look for a way to avoid the matter and move back to their doctrine, or they move on.

    Is this not a sure sign of arrogance and ignorance all rolled into one? Those who know the truth are free to listen, as well as to speak. Those in truth invite those in error to speak, so that they might have the opportunity to speak the truth to those in error. To do this, they must listen and pay attention, but those in error and serving their organizations can’t even bear to listen to the truth, much less try to answer it.

    Those in error are afraid to hear the truth, lest they should be further confounded. In the depth of their inner beings, they are insecure. They try their best to convince others of their sandy foundation in false doctrine, as though a convert to their organization or system of belief will somehow confirm their steps and prove them right. They rejoice when they win another soul to themselves, thinking that the more of them there are, the greater the likelihood that they are right. They place faith in numbers (which is the opposite of God’s way). Truth makes it more difficult and confusing in conscience for those who have a purpose other than knowing the truth and doing the will of God. They prefer to keep their lives in lies and illusion, in darkness, rather than lose them for Truth’s, the Lord’s, sake.

    “And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices truth comes to the Light so that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God” (John 3:19-21 MKJV). “

  • April 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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    Hi Lloyd,
    Thanks for your very heartfelt and graphic story and I’m happy that your family unit is at peace and I appreciate that you have genuine grievances against the WT organisation.
    I’m an active JW (and currently an elder) though I always try to apply Bible principles in my personal & congregation life. A lot of elders are like you describe, especially in small towns as it is sort of a power trip for them. I’m happy to stay in the background and try to encourage my brothers & sisters and keep their faith strong. THAT is the purpose of being an elder in my opinion and I believe that Jehovah will judge us all for how we act and treat others.
    Whilst I believe the WT org is the one God is using (where we differ), I don’t believe that only JWs will survive Armageddon (especially those who have left religion due to the appalling hypocrisy or for other valid reasons). Look at the ratio of how many entered the promised land after leaving Egypt: out of millions there were just 2 and their families (over 20 years of age) so if we apply that ratio today.
    The trouble with Apostates (and I don’t class you as one mate) is that on the whole they are bitter & twisted and consumed with their hatred for the JWs and that doesn’t benefit anyone. If someone is genuinely happy as a JW then why try and take that happiness away from them? Bear in mind that being a JW has helped many endure very painful trials.
    I think the org is changing bit by bit as the younger generation start becoming the elders of today. I’m certainty not going to judge anybody if they have a beard (though I’m not too keen on women with them!), I’m never going to pry into someone’s personal life (especially not their sex life – but that could be due in part to me being British!), or force them to see things my way. I studied medicine in my youth and will continue to avoid blood transfusions like the plague (like most enlightened medical professionals) whilst seeking out the best non-blood alternatives. Finally, if I ever came across a case of child abuse, I would go straight to the police (as would most genuine JWs I think).
    As the Apostle Peter said, “Lord where shall we go away to?” so until proved otherwise untrue I will continue to carry out my God-given commission to preach the Good News and shepherd his sheep to the best of my limited ability.
    By the way, it made me smile reading your MTS experience at Dudley – did you get a certificate in Brummie translation too?!
    Hugs.

    • April 23, 2015 at 11:36 pm
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      “If someone is genuinely happy as a JW then why try and take that happiness away from them?”

      That’s a bit like saying: “If an old woman draws comfort from believing she’s been sold full life insurance and funeral cover from a scam artist in return for all her life savings, why take that happiness away from her?”

      Sorry to drag you back down to reality, but either the Jehovah’s Witness religion is true or it is not. If it IS true then you should be able to prove it with relative ease by answering my Cedars Challenge below (spoiler alert, you would be the first to do so). If you claim it is true but you can’t prove it and it’s all down to faith then your claims are no more verifiable than those of any other religion. If the JW religion is NOT true, then at the very least Jehovah’s Witnesses are misleading themselves and others, including children who are indoctrinated at the earliest opportunity. At worst, Jehovah’s Witnesses are killing people by making them refuse medical treatments on which the bible does not (and could not) comment, and splitting up families needlessly through its shunning policy (denounced in a 1947 Awake article as unbiblical) which causes unspeakable heartache and misery.

      And I consider myself an apostate even if you fail to identify me as one, because I have walked away from my former beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness, and despite having a great deal of love and concern for Jehovah’s Witnesses I loath the Watch Tower Society and everything it stands for.

    • April 24, 2015 at 12:48 am
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      Wow ! What an extraordinary comment, Average Joe. I do not hate JWs. As a child I remember some very supprtive and friendly Kingdom Hall attendees. It seems tragic, in retrospect, that their innate goodwill had been hijacked by a corrupt global publishing and property corporation and was exploiting them as unpaid mag. distributors. They were kept in line with the fantasy reward of an earthly paradise (due back then well beofre the 20th century’s end) and the threat of Armageddon annihilation.

      Indeed this Armageddon nonsense is what I resent most about my childhood JW experience. Such are the mind control techniques of the org. that I actually believed that my non JW friends and family deserved execution simply on the grounds of non KH attendance and non WT mag distribution.

      Great was the relief, when, after much study of the Bible, the history of CHristendom (of which JWdom is a singularly nasty little part. yes you are part of CHristendom merely a late 19th century Adventist spinoff) and of JWdom itself, I realised that the whole thing was a cruel con.

      I wish for you, Average Joe, and all your fellow JWs, release from WT bondage. You deserve better!

  • April 24, 2015 at 3:27 am
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    Hi Average Joe, Im also a brit and I do feel we have a bit of a different take on the teachings from the Watchtower, although I know some die-hard witnesses who will not waver from what is said in the publications. I was intrigued by your comment; “Whilst I believe the WT org is the one God is using (where we differ), I don’t believe that only JWs will survive Armageddon (especially those who have left religion due to the appalling hypocrisy or for other valid reasons).
    I felt the same way while I was still active, so I was very puzzled when I found these quotes from our publications that teach the idea that only JWs will survive armageddon;
    “So the visible congregation of Gods people has something to do with the provision of salvation today. Indeed, it has an important place in that provision. Every congregation forms a small part of Gods people. We cannot remain outside the organization of Gods people, separated from it, if we want to have Jehovahs protection. Jehovahs spirit and his angels all tend to a bringing together in unity of thought, aim and action. So there is a vital connection between Jehovahs protection in the antitypical city of refuge and His visible congregation of spiritual Israelites, supervised by the faithful and discreet slave.” Watchtower 1967 Aug 15 p.499

    “And while now the witness yet includes the invitation to come to Jehovahs organization for salvation, the time no doubt will come when the message takes on a harder tone, like a “great war cry.”” Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.21

    “But Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his “faithful and discreet slave”, made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.” Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.27

    “To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.” Watchtower 1983 Feb 15 p.12

    “Only Christian witnesses of Jehovah who successfully pass this test will survive and come forth like fire-refined gold for God’s use in his precious new order.” Watchtower 1985 Mar 1 p.14

    “Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the “great crowd,” as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil.” Watchtower 1989 Sep 1 p.19

    “They must appreciate that identifying themselves with Jehovahs organization is essential to their salvation.” Kingdom Ministry 1990 Nov p.1

    “But if we were to draw away from Jehovah’s organization, there would be no place else to go for salvation and true joy.” Watchtower 1993 Sep 15 p.22

    “Direct Interest Progressively on Bible Studies: The primary purpose of a Bible study is to teach the truth of God’s Word. It should also build in the student an appreciation for Jehovahs organization and make him aware of the vital need to become part of it. … The weekly Bible study should include instruction that will help students appreciate the organization and take advantage of provisions for their salvation. Kingdom Ministry 1993 Apr p.3

    “In fact, with God’s day of judgment so near today, all the world should ‘keep silent before the Sovereign Lord Jehovah’ and hear what he says through the “little flock” of Jesus’ anointed followers and their companions, his “other sheep.” (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) Annihilation awaits all who will not listen and who thereby set themselves against rule by God’s Kingdom.” Watchtower 2001 Feb 15 p. 14

    “There would be “a great crowd” out of all nations who would not experience death but would have the prospect of living forever on earth. Are you among them?… The great crowd support the small number of those with heavenly hopes, who take the lead in the preaching work. Those of the great crowd are pictured as being marked for survival. (Ezekiel 9:4-6) “The mark” is the evidence that they are dedicated to Jehovah, baptized as disciples of Jesus, and involved in cultivating a Christlike personality.” Worship the Only True God (2002 ) p.124

    “But Jehovah’s servants already belong to the only organization that will survive the end of this wicked system of things.” Watchtower 2007 Dec 15 p.14

    Reading these was an eye opener to me, and my conscience was troubled because I wasnt in agreement with the faithful and discreet slave on this matter, although this was the stuff I was brought up to believe. I couldnt actively partake in a preaching work that was based on the premise that you have to be a JW to survive armageddon, otherwise youre ‘bird food’ when Gods day comes.
    Someone else disagreed with the idea that only one organisation would survive armageddon, He disagreed strongly enough to share this belief with others…
    “Russell wrote; ‘We felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists, who were expecting Christ in the flesh, and teaching that the world and all in it except Second Adventists would be burned up.’ .” Proclaimers book p45

    I can recommend JWfacts website, I think you would find it eyeopening like I did.
    As for ‘where else shall we go?’ the scriptures put it this way;
    “Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”” John 6:68

    I have not left God or Jesus, I love them with my whole being, but I have left the organisation, as I no longer can believe it is a true channel from God.
    I really wish you the best, I wish my family and friends the best too, I dearly love those still in this religion and do not feel any hate towards the followers. Like Cedars, it is the men at the top that I disagree with, the governing body/ Faithful and discreet slave. So I guess that makes me apostate too. I hope we hear more from you Average Joe x

  • April 25, 2015 at 10:45 am
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    thanks for the reply Fluffy. Glad to see there’s still some love in here. I find that hating people only ends up causing damage to yourself.
    I feel exactly the same as you as regards to Jehovah & Jesus. I also know that they will put right ALL wrongs committed in their name, especially by those who claim to represent him, come what may.
    All the best.
    AJ

    • August 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm
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      Did Average Joe ever come back to answer the points Fluffy made? I find if you argue a JW into a corner they will often run away and hide or sling inane insults like ‘apostate’…and the run away and hide.

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