Since waking up I’ve done a lot of research in a small amount of time. Having avoided looking at any Watchtower publications for a long time, it’s actually been very cathartic. Something that I’ve come to realise is that, unless I’ve been disfellowshipped without my knowledge, I’m still considered a Jehovah’s Witness, albeit a spiritually weak one.
“What if a person no longer preaches or attends your meetings? Do you view that person as having resigned?
No, we do not. Resigning, or disassociating oneself, is different from becoming weak in faith.” – Frequently Asked Questions – JW.org
It’s highly unlikely that I’ve been disfellowshipped as my family never stopped talking to me and I was only shunned in a general way by the congregations that I used to attend rather than by everyone. Don’t get me wrong, no-one ever socialised with me, but they wouldn’t refuse to say hello. The hardest thing for me was when I discovered that the person who had been my best friend when I was a witness was terminally ill and I asked if I could visit her. I was refused. I was told that she had been asked and it was her decision not to see me. To be honest, I can well believe that she could have done this as she had a very black and white view of who was acceptable association. However, I have no way of knowing whether she was even asked.
So recently with all of my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t ever want to be associated as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in any way shape or form. To have people think that I would be an apologist for the Watchtower’s heinous protection of paedophiles. To have my name associated with an organisation that would rather pay millions of dollars rather than hand over internal records of paedophiles is so abhorrent. Therefore, I am extremely keen to disassociate myself from the organisation as soon as possible.
However, I find myself in a bind. Perhaps at this point you are wondering what could prevent me from disassociating if I feel so strongly about the Watchtower organisation’s stance on paedophiles in the organisation? Surely there could be nothing? I sincerely wish this were true!
My family is very small. I only have one relative left alive who is a Jehovah’s Witness. If I disassociated myself, I would be immediately shunned by this relative. Now, I would be willing to endure this, but it’s not that straight forward. My relative is very old and has dementia. Sometimes she doesn’t remember my name. She gets very confused. It is so very tragic to see her deterioration as I love her so very dearly. She is a gentle and kind soul. She has experienced her share of abuse over the years with which the Watchtower organisation has not helped. I cannot in all good conscience disassociate myself whilst she still lives. It would be unbelievably cruel. She doesn’t always remember my name, but she knows who I am. I am her only living blood relative. She was unable to have children, so she has always viewed me as her daughter. It would be incredibly selfish of me to disassociate now. My only contact with her is via the telephone as we live thousands of miles apart. The Watchtower organisation would stop her having contact with me. The Witnesses who are her friends would no longer talk to me. And I am her medical power of attorney, so there is a risk they may take me to court to have this overturned.
So disassociating at this time, although it would make me feel better and more in control, would be purely for my benefit. Tragically, knowing that I want to disassociate is a double-edged sword. When I am free to do so will also mean that my beautiful aunt will no longer be alive. This makes me so very sad. But it also makes me incredibly angry that the Watchtower organisation still has such control over my life and the life of my family. All of my actions are governed by whether or not I can allow myself to be seen to say or do certain things. I am daily under threat of being forced to cut contact with an elderly relative. I’m terrified that they will find out who I am and carry out their heartless and cruel punishment.
There seems to be an uncontrollable urge for them to control everyone who comes in their orbit. I asked some ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses on Twitter why they decided to disassociate.
The Watchtower organisation and those who act upon their instructions, i.e. the local elders, seem incapable of just allowing people to decide what they wish to believe without resorting to bullying and coercive tactics.
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t realise that their basic human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are being impinged upon from the moment they associate with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Oh and if you are a Jehovah’s Witness apologist and want to dismiss the Declaration because it originates via the United Nations which the Watchtower organisation calls the “wild beast” of Revelation – please educate yourself as to the Watchtower organisation’s membership and association with the UN.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association. – Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Italics mine.
Also, they judge, they judge harshly and without mercy. Yet they claim to follow the Bible:
“The apostles and other sincere ones want to live in a way that pleases God, but that is not easy in their circumstances. Many Pharisees, for example, are critical, harshly judging others. So Jesus admonishes his listeners: ‘Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged.'”—Matthew 7:1, 2.
It is dangerous to follow the lead of the overly critical Pharisees, as Jesus illustrates: ‘A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Both will fall into a pit, will they not?’ Then how should Jesus’ listeners view others? Not with a critical eye, because that would be a serious offense. He asks: ‘How can you say to your brother, “Brother, allow me to remove the straw that is in your eye,” while you yourself do not see the rafter in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the straw that is in your brother’s eye.'”—Luke 6:39-42. – Jesus—The Way, the Truth, the Life – Chapter 35 – The Famous Sermon on the Mount
So I am torn. I can’t wait to disassociate, but I feel so guilty for being impatient because I feel like I am wishing ill on my beautiful aunt. I honestly wish that she could keep living forever and this is where the emotional blackmail of the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine is so insidious. Having been so completely indoctrinated when I was a child, that little voice in the back of my head keeps saying “you can see her, just become a Witness again”. I know it’s all lies and false promises, but when you are emotionally invested in a person and vulnerable, it is so appealing to allow yourself to believe the lie.
So for now I have to be content drafting my letter of disassociation and make sure that it perfectly encapsulates my disgust at the actions of the Watchtower organisation towards abuse victims and also towards anyone who has come into contact with it.
I shall finish this post with another reply to my Tweet:
Thank you for reading my blog. My next vlog will be uploaded to YouTube over the weekend.