The Prisoner Village
The Village at Portmeirion, Northern Wales

A memory appeared on my Facebook page. from four years ago today, June 8, 2014.

This was my very first post, as I had never used Facebook. I joined to aid my recovery process after leaving the Jehovah’s Witness organization. The post was a sort of “coming out.” I wrote about the British television series from the 1960s known as “The Prisoner.” Freedom of mind, individuality, and escape were themes central to the show.
It never occurred to me that researching and writing would become an important part of my life and work over the next 4 years.
Jehovah’s Witnesses rarely write, and when they do, their thoughts and writings are closely monitored by fellow tattle-tale Witnesses and congregation elders, who are sometimes borderline illiterate, or completely devoid of any desire to put their thoughts down in writing. 
The Witness environment is not where you want to be if you desire to express yourself. Social media posts are monitored, questioned, and scrutinized. Independent thinking is out of the question. Anyone opposing Watchtower’s revolving dogma-door will be introduced to the business end of an elder’s conference room.
And if you are a woman – forget it.
So I extracted myself from the Jehovah’s Witness mental incarceration and began writing. Nothing prolific – just a few posts here and there, but enough to recognize that this is where I need to be. Just over a year later I engaged with the Australian Royal Commission and wrote an email which affected the outcome of the Commission. It resulted in the subpoena of a Governing Body member. Recently I received correspondence from the Commission confirming the events which led to that subpoena, and I hope to write about that soon. 

Words, evidence, and facts matter

By the end of 2015, I started writing for JW Survey, a website which analyzes the latest Watchtower developments. A few months later, I became an editor, together with “Covert Fade” – a well-respected, intelligent fader from the JW religion. We coordinated and collaborated on our own articles and posts, along with contributed pieces from a litany of former Witnesses.
From simple Facebook posts to investigative journalism, a lot has happened in four years. Writing matters. If you don’t dig into a story, you will never get answers. And if you don’t get answers, neither will the public. In 2016 I dug deep enough into Watchtower’s “Telly award” news post that I was able to unearth a decades-long pattern of self-promotion in the form of fake media awards. Before the end of the year, Watchtower pulled down their news article and refused to comment on the reason for this move.
In 2017 I traveled to Philadelphia for a week to cover the Fessler versus Watchtower trial, which in retrospect was the best decision I made that year. The trial itself was not covered by the media, except for a reporter who arrived just in time for the settlement by Watchtower, and the subsequent sealing off of this case by a non-disclosure agreement. Thankfully I was there, and still have information to publish about that case. It was an eye-opening experience.
Reveal Conference 2017
The author, with U.K. attorney Kathleen Hallisey at the 2017 Bringing Abuse to Light Conference in London

The Fessler coverage landed me an invitation to speak at the London Reveal conference a few months later, where I met journalist Mike Michael Rezendes from the Boston Globe – the inspirational coordinator of the Spotlight team which exposed institutional abuses and corruption inside the Catholic Church. I remember asking Mike what he felt was the most important part of his investigative journalism. He answered: “Documents.”




This was good advice. Recently it paid off when I began investigating the status of the Delaware versus Laurel Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses child abuse case, where elders have been held responsible for failure to report abuse. Very soon I will be reporting on the outcome of this case, thanks to documents I have filed for from the State of Delaware. Watchtower attempted to sweep the outcome of this case under the carpet – but I am not going to let that happen. The penalties imposed by the court will soon become public knowledge, thanks to documents.
A lot has happened in 4 years, since my first Facebook post. In that post, I wrote about the British “Prisoner” series, which was a metaphor for my own life. At the end of 2016, I visited the Portmeirion village in Wales, the iconic home of the Prisoner series, which was filmed 50 years ago. It seemed appropriate that I journeyed there with JW Survey founder Lloyd Evans, and our co-worker Covert Fade. I think we’ve all come a long way.
Yours truly, with JW Survey founder Lloyd Evans. Sailing the iconic “stone boat” featured in the Prisoner series

What will the next 4 years hold for all of us? I can’t be sure, but I can tell you this: We will continue to research, to write, and most importantly, to help individuals wake up from lies, undue influence, and indoctrination.

We will welcome former Witnesses with open arms, much like Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they will welcome back the dead in the “New System of Things.” Except this resurrection is real, and men and women are being brought back to life in ways they never thought possible.
For all those who are my friends, both in person and around the world, I thank you for listening for four years. If I have learned anything, it is that one person can make a difference. Keep on reading, keep on writing, and never underestimate your ability to make this world a better place. 
John Redwood

Mark O'Donnell

Mark O'Donnell is a former Jehovah's Witness turned whistleblower after discovering the disturbing child abuse epidemic within the religion. His story, along with the revelation of a secret database of child molesters were featured in the March 2019 online issue of the Atlantic Magazine: O'Donnell continues to investigate allegations of child abuse within the Witness organization, and works with law enforcement, attorneys, and survivors of abuse, writing about his findings on and other outlets.

26 thoughts on “The Friday Column: Redwood’s Reflections

  • June 8, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks, John, for all that you do, and the impact you have made.

    “Be seeing you!”

    • June 11, 2018 at 12:14 am

      thank you john .your comments and research have helped me to wake up after 50 years a jw .i am now almost faded i am not yet DFd i am able to help and talk to family and friends still trapped

  • June 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you for giving displaced people a source to have hope that there is a real brotherhood of x Witnesses that just want to enjoy their new found freedom!!

  • June 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    I hope you have had a chance to visit Portmeirian in North Wales John, where The Prisoner was filmed. If not please let us host a visit there when you are next over to our beautiful country of Wales.

    • June 11, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Thank you John! Yes the first photo was taken in the village back around Christmas 2016. We were in Wales for 4 nights and were disappointed we could not connect with you back then. So glad we’ve had time to spend together since. Hope to get back to Wales again soon- it is truly beautiful country

  • June 8, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    John Redwood, thanks for your excellent reporting and all the hard work that goes into it.

    I particularly like that last part about welcoming former JW’s analogous to the Watchtower teaching about welcoming back the dead. In many ways waking up from the JW cult is like dying and being resurrected. Or perhaps waking up after a long period of being comatose, while experiencing really bad dreams.


  • June 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Bravo! You have definitely found your niche.

  • June 8, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Dave Gracey

  • June 8, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for your hard work John and your excellent writing. Documents and facts will either alter the watchtower or bring it down. You have found your home and your calling @ jwsurvey .

  • June 9, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Great writings John and very heartfelt. I know it takes a lot of time effort and cost to be focused like you guys are. Keep doing what you are doing and helping the X JW community. There are many that want to come out of the WT but are actually just to scared to do it for many different reasons.
    When you are into the JW’s full time and you want to get out sometimes your mind can be blurred and you see no way out.These articles help people see there is a way out and there life after being a JW.

  • June 9, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Wonderful article. Thank you.

  • June 9, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Writing has a way of clarifying your thoughts and healing the wounds of yourself and others. As a writer myself, it is the first thing I turned to when making my exit from the organization. One thing I’ve noticed is the distinct lack of female voices among exJWs. I’ve attempted to contact jwsurvey to offer my services, but with no response. Is this because I am a woman, you do not need more information at this time, or because the email and contact form is not functioning?

    I am a 4th generation Witness who managed to get an education and become the author of 9 books, dozens of magazine articles, and editor of two online magazines. For 40+ years I have been immersed at the highest levels of the elder elite – assembly overseers, RBC committees, judicial matters, and Watchtower correspondence. I’d love to offer my expertise to the team if desired.

    Keep writing! And thank you for your continued support of this community.

    • June 10, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      Merry Widow, I would love to hear your story!

  • June 9, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    You have made an enormous difference John! Thank you for all you have done and are going to do. It’s a privilege and pleasure to know you! Keep it up. I hear you could be up for a Telly!

  • June 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Hello John,

    many thanks for your excellent article with interesting and useful details.

    You can be sure that here in Europe another eager reader will pay attention to news

    coming from you.

    I do wish you all the best for the near future and …more

    Angelico Alberts

  • June 9, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks John for your hard work . It certainly helps in confirming at times our commitment to leave this faux religion. Your work cost no doubt but be assured that so many lives are gained and many are enjoying the reality that life is greener on the other side. I was indoctrinated from a babe, I’m left after 55 years. A father of three and an Elder, we are now all out! Enjoying the paradise that is here now..but still bitter that a huge chunk of my life was squandered on lies , dogma and control. Thanks again for helping keep the escape hatch open.

  • June 10, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for your commitment, John. As they say, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. You’re a good man.

  • June 11, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Thanks John. Appreciate your perspective.

    How is it that a “Slave” is on top of the Watchtower “hierarchy”? Does that even make sense?

  • June 11, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    @ Doc
    No, it doesn’t make sense. Chalk it up to another example of Watchtower Doublespeak / Doublethink a la “1984”.

    @ JR
    Thanx for another fine article. Very encouraging and relatable.

    I recall how Watchturd would claim that no ‘amazing’ feat (eg. those near-miraculous quick-build KH’s lol) could be accomplished without “jehovah’s spirit”. Organized religions think the world just couldn’t get on without them. Yet, notice how no religion has ever contributed to the technological advancements that have changed all our lives for the better. It wasn’t the catholics who put a man on the Moon. It wasn’t the muslims who gave us central heating or indoor plumbing. It wasn’t the jews who blessed us with the microwave oven. Planes, trains, automobiles, toilets, toilet paper (hallelujah – we no longer need to go OUTSIDE to use the bathroom!!!), computers, vaccines and other modern medical wonders, etc, etc, etc now exist, no thanks to christianity, islam, judaism, hinduism, buddhism, sikhism, mormonism, 7-day adventisism, scientology, or even the Moonies! In fact, most human progress occurred IN SPITE of religion rather than because of it. Organized religion, thanks for nothing.
    And how about those most intrepid of all our ancestors, the caveman (and women)? Whether you believe in Evolution or not, cave people DID exist, and yes, they DID get up early in the morning, sharpen a stick, and go hunting for woolly mammoth, all while trying not to get eaten themselves by some a**hole saber-tooth tiger. We owe our very existence to their tenacity. How did they accomplish the Impossible without Jesus, Moses, or Muhammad?
    For that matter, how did the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids without killing each other, even before the 10 commandments rolled around?
    Organized religion, Thanks for nothing.

    • June 11, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      I see a clip on YouTube claiming an archaeological find from the 1st century proving that God’s name is Jehovah followed by much coo-ing and gushing in the comments section from JW’s. So, using the same reasoning, I guess having the Egyptian sun god Ra depicted in ancient hieroglyphs also proves the existence of Ra. And why stop there……the Greeks, Hindu’s, everything, all true because someone scratched something on a rock somewhere. No other proof needed.

      A classic example of believers not looking for truth but confirmation that what they believe is right.

      Science – here are the facts, now what can we conclude.

      Religion – here is the conclusion, now lets fit the facts.

      • June 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm

        :D That’s right, outie.
        Hey, maybe one day 2000 years from now someone will dig up a first-issue copy of “Dianetics” and declare, “Eureka, Scientology has been vindicated as the One True Faith!!!” ROTFLMAO
        Since we’re on the topic of the ancient Egyptians, I watched a fascinating documentary series on Netflix a couple years ago called The Pyramid Code. Besides debunking the old myths that the pyramids, etc were built by slaves, and that the Pharoahs were tyrants, it explained how Egypt degenerated from a positive, enlightened society, into darkness and eventual ruin. Basically, it was the Goddamm priests. The Egyptians did have some kind of primitive belief system, or superstition, if you want to call it that. They believed in an Afterlife, and were very desirous of getting there after death. Enter the priests. Those bastards, just like their counterparts today, could recognize a great business opportunity when they saw it. They gave up their roles as benign spiritual counsellors and devised ways to acquire wealth and power off the people’s superstitions, essentially “selling” salvation to the ignorant masses, much like the priests, imams, ayatollahs, rabbis, and elders of our day (e.g. inducing children to donate their ice-cream money in order to please “Jehovah” and hence survive into the “New World”). So I guess that’s where it all started. The priests eventually acquired more and more power over the Pharoahs, even assassinating those who didn’t cooperate, eventually f***ing up ancient Egypt’s near-perfect system.
        Go figure.

        • June 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm

          ……. Everything was pretty fine until the priests got “organized”!

          • June 12, 2018 at 2:07 pm

            Thats right, Resister and is it just a coincidence that two of the most Godless counties on Earth (Japan and Sweden) are the most peaceful. But boy, are they gonna pay for that!!…..apparently. How dare they be so peaceful.

  • June 14, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Thank you John for all your hard work. You have been a part of my exit from this cult. From your example I have learned that one person can make a difference. I will not stop my endeavors to free others imprisoned in watchtower. The world can be a better place.

  • June 16, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Everyone commenting is appreciative of your efforts.

    May I make a suggestion? I notice there has been no mention of the $60 million (or is it more) class action suit in Canada. I am not surprised that jw.orgy has no information on this. But jw.survey has also been completely quiet. Why is this? Because you don’t want to jeopardize their case? Because you think they won’t win? Because you don’t know anything about it?

    Surely this is big news. Can you tell us anything about it?

    Keep up the good work.

  • July 23, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you so much for your hard work, it is much appreciated.

Comments are closed.