The Watchtower Society has taught for nearly one hundred years that anyone who has at any time been baptized as a member of that organization, and has called themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” is committed to that organization for life.
Former JW tells his story – Part 1
Should a person leave the organization for any reason, either by choosing to no longer associate and participate at the local Kingdom Hall, or by being excommunicated (called “being disfellowshipped”) by the local organization for any one of a number of reasons, then they are considered “traitors,” “evil persons,” or “children of Satan.”
If someone is disfellowshipped or chooses to leave the organization for personal reasons (called “disassociation”), they are treated in a similar manner. If a former member stopped believing in the teachings of the Watchtower Society, he is often called an “apostate,” especially if he shares the reasons for his doubts or preaches the doctrines of another religion.
To an average non-Witness, this approach by the Jehovah’s Witnesses might be considered reasonable and acceptable. After all, every organized religion has its rules and most have procedures for excommunicating sinners and non-believers amongst their members.
Former JW tells his story – Part 2
The difference is that you can not just be an “ex-Jehovah’s Witness.” You can be a non-practicing or non-observant Jew, a former Catholic, or a non-church-going Protestant and still have a fairly normal relationship with your family and friends. Catholics, Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox, and Lutherans will often attend each other’s churches if it is more convenient or if a spouse belongs to one of those other churches. Likewise Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and even Baptists will often attend each other’s churches without fear of excommunication by their own denomination.
For a Jehovah’s Witness, however, simply attending a wedding or going to a funeral of a friend or family member in another church can result in “probation” or even “disfellowshipping.”
Many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses were not excommunicated for some sinful act such as fornication, adultery, criminal behavior, or drunkeness. They were disfellowshipped for reading the Bible on their own or asking sincere questions about the teachings of the Watchtower Society. Many have been disfellowshipped because they expressed their doubts about certain practices or doctrines to another Witness, only to find that other “brother” or “sister” reported them to an overseer in the local Kingdom Hall.
Witnesses can also be disfellowshipped for accepting a blood transfusion or allowing their child to have one during surgery. They can be disfellowshipped for joining the military, voting, running for public office, or becoming a police officer.
Women can be disfellowshipped for divorcing their abusive husbands. Divorced JWs can be disfellowshipped for marrying someone else if they can not prove that their former spouse committed adultery or has already remarried and technically committed adultery.
It’s tough at times being an active Jehovah’s Witness because of all the rules and the requirements for total obedience to the Organization. Having to attend meetings twice a week and sitting through boring and repetitive Watchtower studies and “public” talks. “Going out in field service” to knock on strangers’ doors to try to preach to them is not easy. Trying to avoid knocking on those doors can also be quite a chore and often requires some ingenuity and a dulled conscience.
It is also very tough to be an ex-JW. You may lose all of your friends. Your family may not speak to you except in rare situations. You find that you have not only given up your religion, but also daily life as you have known it.
In spite of those penalties, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are leaving the religion every year. More ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses are speaking out, creating websites, setting up support groups, writing books, and giving speeches to interested groups – all in an effort to get out the real truth about what life is really like as a Jehovah’s Witness and to expose the ever-changing teachings of the Watchtower Society.
The more skilled of these former Witnesses are able to use the Watchtower’s own words to condemn them. These ex-JWs can point to hundreds of examples of the contradictions, non-Biblical teachings, and outright lies that have been published and preached by the Watchtower’s leaders for nearly 130 years, and these skilled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses can point them out faster than you can find the letter “a” in a dictionary.
Former JW tells his story – Part 3
This website has been created and published online to give these ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses a wider audience and a louder voice. We won’t ignore the arguments and comments of current Witnesses, but we will not let them take over this site as they have others and abuse the process of fair and open discussion.
Wish us well in this endeavor. We hope to hear your comments and publish your contributions. Come visit us and all of the other ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses that value their freedom of speech and thought – freedoms they did not have while under the control of the Watchtower Society.