ONE THING JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CAN’T STAND is when one of their members leaves their organisation or is disfellowshipped, and then proceeds to say negative things about it, for example on social media. Jehovah’s Witnesses really do have a sense of entitlement in this respect. They honestly believe that they’ve got the right to say whatever they like about other religions, but when it comes to themselves, only good things must be said, especially by former members who they regard as “apostates” if they dare say anything remotely unflattering.
Over the years, Watch Tower has pointed the finger at the Catholic church, for example, for having a problem of child sexual abuse in their midst, but if anyone points out that Jehovah’s Witnesses also have a very real problem, they deny it. They downplay it. They look for loopholes when taken to court. They get offended when a former member, perhaps one of their family, points these things out publicly. They think that we should remain silent. Well, I’m here to tell you we will not be silenced.
On a personal level, I know from experience that when family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses find out that we’re highlighting Watch Tower’s faults, they get very upset and very offended. They don’t understand why, after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses, we don’t just keep our mouths shut. Not only do they get upset, they try to stop us from speaking out, using guilt-tripping, circular reasoning, and fallacies galore. Well, today, I’m going to consider some of the things that they say, some of the things that have been said either to me or about me, and what my response is to these accusations.
First of all, I have to ask how it is that people, family, old friends, even know that I speak about the Watch Tower. I’m disfellowshipped. I haven’t been to a meeting for almost 4 years, and for the most part, I’ve not been in contact with any active Jehovah’s Witnesses for the same amount of time. Any contact I do have with family members, for example, is minimal and it never includes anything of a spiritual nature. Why? Because, while I may not respect their beliefs, I do respect their right to hold their beliefs and, unless solicited, I’m not going to go pushing my views down their throats. In other words, I don’t actively push my apostate ideas on people. The only way that they would ever know what I think is if they have gone out of their way to look me up on social media, visit my Twitter feed, listen to my podcasts, or even purchase my books.
Here’s the thing: You wouldn’t come to my door and ask if I have any negative opinions about Watch Tower, would you? You wouldn’t come to me directly in person and ask, “What things are you doing now that you didn’t as a Witness? Do you swear? Do you smoke? Do you take drugs? Have you had a tattoo? Are you living in sin? Do you go to another church?” So why is it that you’re so curious as to look me up on social media to find these things out?
For the record, yes, I do occasionally swear. I wouldn’t say I have a “potty mouth”. I might occasionally swear for emphasis, or in humour. But you know what? It’s just words as far as I’m concerned. No, I don’t smoke, if you must know. I don’t take drugs. I don’t have a tattoo, but I might get one, and if I do that’s my right. It’s of no concern to you whatsoever. Yes, I am living with my partner without being married. Again, of what concern is it to you? And no, I don’t go to another church, but if I did, why would that be a problem? I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness anymore!
While I’m at it, you may as well know that I am a Pandeist and an Advaitist, so I happen to believe that the Universe, as a whole, including me, is God. I don’t believe in your Jehovah anymore. In fact, after a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that he was either an imposter posing as God back in the day, or a completely made-up deity that never even existed. Either way, I don’t think he exists now.
Another thing: Although it’s not my bag, I see nothing intrinsically immoral with homosexuality. Why would I? I don’t use the Bible as my standard of right and wrong anymore. And I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating birthdays or Christmas, although because I’m not a Christian, at least not in the religious sense, I don’t tend to celebrate Christmas. I do believe Jesus existed, but I don’t believe he performed miracles, and I certainly don’t believe he was resurrected. As an Advaitist, I believe in reincarnation, and as a Pandeist, to me, Jesus was no more special or a “son of God” than any of us are manifestations of whatever Source underlies our Universe. He might be your “way”, but he’s no longer mine.
So you see, I really am an open book with nothing to hide. It’s all out there on my podcasts, but I would never come directly to you to share these things about my life. If you find out, you will have had to have gone looking in the places that I’ve shared the information. The thing is, you say that you believe the Bible, so why don’t you apply it? Don’t be a hypocrite. Do what your governing body tells you to do. Simply don’t read my apostate material, and do what your Bible tells you in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, namely, “Mind your own business”. You’ve got your life, I’ve got mine, and I’m allowed to live it however I please now. I’m no longer subject to your rules.
While we’re on the subject of your Bible, you’re very quick to quote 1 Corinthians 5:13 when it comes to disfellowshipping people like me: “Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves”, but you neglect to read the context of Paul’s words, starting in verse 12: “What do I have to do with judging those outside? Do you not judge those inside, while God judges those outside?” In other words, you have no place judging me. You determined I was “wicked”. You kicked me out of your organisation. That should be the end of it. I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness anymore. I don’t live by your rules, and even if the Bible is true, if there is a God, it’s him, and it’s him alone that gets to judge me. And you know what? I’m actually okay with that. Let God judge me. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’m honest about my past failings. I live a good life, I think, based on the “Golden Rule”, and I’m absolutely certain, if God exists, that I would be fine, unlike those who are associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are, by their very association, complicit in the crimes of the Watch Tower Society and its leading authority figures. I would much rather stand on my own before a judging God than to have to be judged along with what Watch Tower’s done over its 150-year history.
You say I’m an apostate as if this should somehow shame me, but it doesn’t. You say it in such a derogatory, dramatic way, and yet I’m not at all ashamed. Not in the slightest, in fact, quite the opposite. I’m actually proud to be an apostate from the Watch Tower organisation. Jehovah’s Witnesses paint apostates really badly. They use (or rather, misuse) language to effectively defame us. They say that we’re “mentally diseased”, “gangrenous”, “Satanic”, that we’ve “sinned against the holy spirit”, and that we’re deserving of the “second death” in Gehenna. This is nothing less than hate speech and it doesn’t even accurately reflect what an apostate is. Go and look up the definition of apostasy in a dictionary. “Apostate” just means someone who rejects a religion or a political belief. For example, if you were a Catholic before becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, you’re an apostate. “Apostate” says nothing about the morality of a person, his goodness or his wickedness. It just defines what his position is regarding a previously held belief. And you know what? If that belief is erroneous, if it’s dangerous, then rejecting it is surely a good thing, no?
So for the record, yes, I am an apostate. I reject utterly Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m never coming back to the Watch Tower organisation. Why? Because I think the organisation is teaching lies. I also think it’s handling child sexual abuse really badly, and that it’s a dangerous cult. So I want nothing to do with it because it compromises my own honesty, my own integrity, and spirituality, and I honestly do think it’s doing the same thing to you. Simply put, I don’t want to be like you. I want to live my life from a position of honesty and freedom. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being prevented from speaking up whenever I see error or injustices. Also, I spent 50 years directing people to an organisation which I now view as a cult. I feel a moral obligation to tell people that I was wrong and that they shouldn’t join the Watch Tower organisation, the same way that you tell people not to join other religions.
You tell me I should keep my views to myself. Why? I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness so I’ve got no obligation to keep my mouth shut about the lies and injustices I see in your organisation. You tell me I should leave but say nothing, but why should I? Because it’s uncomfortable for you? Why don’t you stay silent about things that you feel are wrong in other religions? How come you’re allowed to judge me for my actions, but I’m not afforded the same courtesy? How come you can speak negatively about other religions, calling them the “Great Harlot”, “Babylon the Great”, but I’m not allowed to say anything remotely negative about your organisation? You speak out against homosexuality using homophobic language in the process. How come you’re allowed to do that when hate speech is actually a crime? Why is it that there’s one rule for you, but another for everyone else?
You reply, “Well, we have the Truth!” but that’s what every single religion says. You come from a place of entitlement, more so than most other faiths. Most religions think that they’re the only ones who are right, so you’re not alone in that, but generally speaking, other religions are very tolerant of people’s rights—their right to believe what they want, their right to freedom of speech and so on, but you’re not tolerant, not by any means. You expect other people to be tolerant of you, but you never repay the favour. You have no problem identifying Mormons and Scientologists as cults, but you bury your head in the sand when the same is said of your religion. If you just took a moment to review the actual marks of a cult you would see you are in one. So, I class you as a dangerous cult, the same as Mormons and Scientologists, and just as you highlight other religions in a negative light, feeling you’re doing a public service, I do the same.
Recently, someone close to me got offended because I’ve stated, in my podcasts, that I Am God. I’ve even written a book called I Am God. The thing is, they don’t understand what I mean when I say I Am God, nor do they care to find out. They just get offended, thinking that I’m saying I’m their God, Jehovah, but nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, I don’t believe Jehovah exists, so to say that I’m Jehovah would be nonsensical. They get offended, but they don’t take the time to find out what I mean as an Advaitist, as a Pandeist. They certainly don’t read my books. They condemn, but they’re closed-minded so they speak of what they don’t know because their organisation conditions them not to listen to anything outside of the Watch Tower bubble. Thus, they are ignorant.
Another thing: You say I should keep my personal life private. Why? It’s my life, not yours. You ask, with surprise, “Don’t you feel embarrassed by sharing your story of cheating on your wife?” for example, and the answer is no, I don’t. Why should I? It happened. I may not be proud of certain choices I’ve made, but I own my mistakes, unlike the Watch Tower organisation. I try not to hide or downplay my failings. What you mean, I think, is that it’s embarrassing to you to have a family member being open about his personal life. Yet, doesn’t your own literature praise how Bible writers in the past were honest about their failings? Doing the same thing allows me to point out Watch Tower’s errors without, hopefully, being viewed as a hypocrite. I expose my own errors rather than wait for them to be exposed. Besides, I think I should share my story, even my failings, to help other people in similar situations. And for the record, I don’t regret leaving my wife at all. What I do regret is not being honest about it at the time. I should have been open with my ex-wife. I should have told her I’d had enough of her shouting and yelling, and I should have filed for divorce, rather than looking for a way to provide a “scriptural reason for divorce”.
You say that you’re offended or disappointed in me. So feel offended. Feel disappointed. Nothing’s gonna happen. Nothing will change. I’m not coming back to your organisation just because you want me to feel guilty for upsetting you. While I don’t like the idea of you being upset, I won’t live my life out of fear of you being offended or disappointed. Your offence, your disappointment, your upset, they are your feelings. The problem is yours to deal with, not mine. Of course, the easiest way to avoid being upset and offended is don’t listen to what I have to say.
At the same time as seeking out my social media, podcasts and so on, you also say that you don’t want to hear about the Watch Tower’s lies, the sexual abuse coverups, why 1914 is wrong, and why the governing body’s not appointed by God and so on. The thing is, I feel I have a moral obligation to warn people about what I know, so if you approach me and start condemning me I am going to tell you what I know. Like I say, I won’t come to your door (like you do) telling you that you’re wrong, but if you come to me, expect me to be honest with you and tell you exactly what I know. Again, you don’t have to listen. You can walk away, but you can’t, and won’t, stop me from speaking my mind.
The bottom line is, you think you’ve got the right to control me, but you don’t. You’ve got zero authority over me, and as I’ve said in the past, I reject any notion that the governing body has any authority other than what you afford them. Moreover, I’ve chosen not to return to your organisation because I simply don’t believe it. I don’t believe in your God. I don’t believe in your Bible. I don’t believe in your organisation or its rules. For example, I don’t care at all if you think that I’m living in sin for not being married to my partner. Your definition of “sin” is based on the Bible. I don’t believe in the Bible, so sin is completely irrelevant to me. As I’ve explained before, I do believe in crimes according to the law, and I also reject any conduct that hurts another person, actions that are not consensual, but beyond that, I believe in letting people live their lives how they want to. The crazy thing is, you care more about me not being married (a “sin” based on your definition and interpretation of the Bible) than you do about child sexual abuse occurring within your midst (which, as I’ve already pointed out, is a crime based on the law). The question is, what will you do about it? Nothing, I expect. You’ll just “leave it to Jehovah” like you always do. A question for Jehovah’s Witnesses: If other churches were to say “wait on God” to sort their child abuse problems out, how would you respond? Or if they argued, “Oh well, our leaders are imperfect”. Would that be acceptable?
You question me as to why I dare speak against Watch Tower, but if I try to explain the reasons to you, you just put your fingers in your ears and say “la la la”. Remember, I was an elder, so I know certain things.
- For example, I know we were told to keep child sexual abuse “in-house” back in the late 90s and early 2000s.
- I also know what the elder’s book tells elders about viewing child pornography, that it’s not child abuse, despite it being a crime and carrying a 7-year sentence in the UK. Do you know, elders may not even form a judicial committee to deal with someone who views child pornography, choosing instead to just give them private counsel? And they definitely won’t report it to the Police.
- I know what the elder’s book says about elders who hid immorality for years and then decided to confess years later. Again, a judicial committee isn’t necessarily formed, and the person may even be allowed to continue serving as an elder. Can you imagine the same concession being afforded to rank-and-file members of the congregation?
- I know what the elder’s book says about contact with disfellowshipped relatives, and I know that this is completely opposite to what the congregation is told in their literature and in talks at assemblies and conventions.
- I know that David Gnam, a Watch Tower lawyer, lied to the Canadian Supreme Court when he said that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t use the term “shunning”—you do, look it up—and also that “normal family relations continue with the exception of spiritual” conversations.
- I know about numerous child abuse cases that are currently in court, which the Watch Tower organisation is fighting using your contributions.
- I also know about Tony Morris’s new house, again, paid for by your contributions.
If these things were happening in any other organisation you would be horrified. You’d point your finger and you’d say how despicable these things are, but because it’s your organisation you say nothing, and you expect others to keep quiet too. How dare you? How dare you?
As I’ve explained, I’ve pretty much said everything that I want to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organisation. It’s all out there in my blogs, in my podcasts, and also in my upcoming book, Believing the Lie—A Story of Cognitive Dissonance. To be honest, I don’t really have an awful lot more to say that I’ve not already said, and I’ve even announced that I would like to move away from discussing JW content on my podcast, but when you try to control me, thinking that you can dictate what I can or can’t say, that just makes me even more determined to speak up. So I will continue to speak out about the lies and uncleanness that I see within the organisation as and when I feel like it. I’ll always try to do so in a respectful, unemotional way, not resorting to lies or drama as some apostates do, but if I think that something needs saying, I’m gonna say it, and if you don’t like it, don’t listen, but don’t think that you can stop me by making me feel that I’m offending you or disappointing you. It won’t work.
You’ve got no authority over me. You’re powerless to prevent me from speaking my mind. Your organisation no longer controls me and your God, Jehovah, has no relevance to me. You will not have me living my life from a position of fear, as a friend recently said, “watching my back and sleeping with one eye open”.
You will not silence me.