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Waking Up

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One of the oddest things about being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is what happens when a JW “wakes up” and discovers TTATT (the truth about The Truth).

This awakening is a long process.  It starts with a niggling doubt, some teaching that just doesn’t quite sit right.  Maybe it’s a change in a teaching, what the Society calls “New Light.”  For me, it was a change in a core teaching about when The End would come.

The Watchtower Society has taught for well over 100 years that Jesus gave his followers a clue as to when the end would come.   In Matthew 24 his disciples asked him for a sign that the end was near.  Jesus described a whole laundry list of not-so-remarkable events (wars, earthquakes, etc.) to watch for.  Then he said, “This generation will not pass away until all these things occur.”

Mix together a vague prophecy, some devil-may-care chronology, a belief that God is communicating only with you, and a whole heap of hubris, stir well.  Yield:  An adjustable end-time teaching.  Serve relentlessly.   Without getting into nitty-gritty detail, the Watchtower Society had taught that the “time of the end” began in 1914 (with a whole lot of emphasis on WWI), and since Jesus had said that the end would come within the lifetime of a generation, it is logical to conclude that the system would end in the 20th century.  Many times in their literature they stated outright that the end would come before the new millennium.

Fun fact:  The Watchtower Society holds that God’s truth is revealed gradually, only when Jesus’ followers are ready for it.  They cite a handy scripture in Proverbs 4:18 that says that the light gets brighter and brighter, even though that scripture is not talking about doctrine, and is probably mistranslated in their Bible.  In any case, all JWs get really excited whenever there is “new light” in the Watchtower magazine.

Around about 1995, the Society could hear their chronological clock ticking and came out with some “new light” about the meaning of the word “generation.”  It was so murky and illogical that I can’t even remember exactly what their argument was.  It had something to do with the definition of the word “generation” that made it possible for any group of contemporaries to be part of a “generation.”   The moment I heard it I said, “We’re going to see the year 2000 in this system.”  I recognized it as a maneuver.  An organization that claims to be the sole conduit of God’s Truth shouldn’t need to maneuver,  shouldn’t find it necessary to overturn a doctrine that had stood for nearly a century just to save face (and they’ve changed the understanding of “generation” twice more since then).   That realization started the ball rolling for me.  It took another nine years for the ball to strike the pins.

During those nine years I started noticing cracks in the Christian personalities of those around me.  I saw politics and cliques at work, elders who hardly ever used their Bible when giving talks, and just general hypocrisy.  I was irritated.  Luckily, I was not alone.  I had a friend who shared my irritation.  Once she and I discovered our mutual growing antipathy we started to get together regularly for what we called “natter” sessions where we would express our feelings about the organization freely without worrying that the other one would turn us in to the elders.

I had known for several years that Jehovah’s Witnesses had a big problem with pedophilia.  Of course, in any microcosm you’re going to see a cross-section of the human condition, but there was a much bigger problem with JWs, and it still exists.  Their procedure for dealing with accusations of pedophilia does not involve law enforcement, nor is it likely the perpetrator will ever be disciplined for his actions.  Here’s why:  Even as recently as October 1, 2012 the Watchtower’s stated procedure when an accusation of child abuse is brought to the elders’ attention is for the elders to contact their local branch office of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.  The branch will give them instructions.  Under no circumstances are the elders or the accusers to contact the police.   In other words, keep it hushed up.

Within the congregation, the elders can convene a judicial committee only if there are two witnesses to the offense.  When does that ever happen in a case of child molestation?  I’ll tell you – never.  The perpetrator is considered innocent of the charge, and it is quite possible that the accuser will be the one in hot water for making an unsubstantiated accusation.

I knew of a situation in a neighboring congregation where this very situation existed.  There was more than one report of a young man in the congregation, an elder’s son, molesting younger boys, sometimes even in the kingdom hall.  Because nothing could be done to discipline the young man, he was free to prowl the congregation and snatch more victims.  Outraged parents took their children and started attending my congregation, even though it was a long drive for them.  Some of them actually packed up their households and moved to my town because their home congregation had become a dangerous place.

When I found out what was happening I was completely outraged.  Being a survivor of child sexual abuse myself (although it happened before I became a JW) I couldn’t understand how God’s organization could permit such a situation to continue.  Maybe the boys in Brooklyn didn’t know about it.  Shouldn’t we tell them?  Of course, being a woman, any letter I sent to headquarters would be sent back to the elders in my congregation.  I asked my husband at the time to write, but he decided he would “leave it in Jehovah’s hands.”   My faith was strong then, so I went along with his decision, but the idea that there were children suffering shattering emotional trauma was impossible to ignore.

If you are outraged that a mind-control cult is harboring pedophiles, please view this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcIC4g5tulw and visit this Facebook page:  The Association of Anti-Watchtower Activists

Next week:  The Final Straw

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8 responses »

  1. Thanks for creating an awareness of this issue!

    Jehovah’s Witnesses hit with $28 million sex abuse settlement Oakland,Calif.-Google it.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have many issues with sexual molestation of children.The religion and its members are more concerned about protecting the group image than the victims.

    TWO WITNESSES required.
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses require ‘two witnesses’ to a crime or it didn’t happen,you are supposed to ‘leave it in
    Jehovah’s hands’ wait on the lord.
    How many pedophiles allow an eyewitness?
    These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.
    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.

    Danny Haszard *tell the truth don’t be afraid* FMI dannyhaszard(DOT)com

    Reply
  2. This is really scary stuff! It’s going to take a lot of strong people to bring this to light.

    On another note – I’ve missed you! Glad your blog is back in action. But no pressure. 😉

    Reply
  3. Choose Freedom

    There are so many things I can relate to in this post! It’s mind boggling how prevalent this problem is. We had the same situation in our congregation. The son of an elder was molesting children and those who accused him were vilified and told to keep quiet or they would be disfellowshipped for gossip and starting divisions. This happened to a member of my immediate family. Finally, he molested two children at the same time and the parents called the police and they had no choice but to disfellowship him because it was widely reported on in the community and they hsd their two witnesses to the same crime!

    Reply
  4. wow, how scary is that? …that TWO children had to be molested at the same time before something was done

    Reply
  5. “The branch will give them instructions. Under no circumstances are the elders or the accusers to contact the police. In other words, keep it hushed up.” – This used to be the case for many years but it is no longer the case. Your article is a bit misleading suggesting that this is still the latest policy. The elders have been explicitly told not to discourage accusers from going to the local authorities, and the elders will report it where they are required to by state law. However, I agree with every other statement in your article, well done.

    Reply
  6. Wow…here I was, looking for a forum on relocation to Oregon when I stumbled upon this forum, instead. Being a former JW, I am finding your blog quite interesting. I was born and raised JW but left “the truth” when I was 14 and have not returned. I took a World Religions course in college and well remember the day I came upon a book on the JW religion and learned that, after years and years of being told it was the “one true religion” and that it had basically been around forever, it had actually only been in existence for a little over 100 years. Boy, was I ticked. It’s a religion that seems to stay with you forever, whether you want it to, or not. I carried my “no blood transfusion” card for many years after I left the congregation and would likely have refused a transfusion for many more after that. Even now, reading your words and writing my own, I’m feeling a sense of guilt that I can’t seem to shake.

    Reply
  7. I am a former JW. Most of my family are JW’s. I can relate to 90 percent of your article. “Be in submission.” I remember hearing that over and over again. It is very much a cult and the brainwashing is a big part of it. Many of them are truly nice people who want to do the right thing. But they are caught up in the whole brainwashing mind control culture. For so long I wondered why no birthdays or X-mas or any holidays??? Then I thought about it. Birthdays and special occasions call for quality time spent with non JW family members in some cases. To become a JW means to divorce any non JW family members so thus no special occasions with them. Very sad but true. As far as the molestation, the last I heard was it was an elder issue for them to resolve, not the police. Also, what I found interesting is they require their members to be upstanding members of the community but they look the other way when it comes to illegal aliens getting baptized and becoming members of the organization. I am not making statements for or against illegal immigrants because this is not the forum for it. But I found that interesting because if I did something illegal, I’m sure I would be put on reproval, disfellowshipped, and/or be advised to turn myself in to the authorities. Strange organization indeed.

    Reply

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