October 18, 2009

Why Did I Leave the Jehovah's Witnesses?

The Jakarta Post

Referring to a letter titled "Protect rights of minority religions," (The Jakarta Post, Oct. 5), I would say that Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) shun people that are still Christians (like me) and JWs who leave them after learning about the entire JW picture. This policy is not found anywhere in any scripture.

They forced JWs to avoid vaccinations for 19 years, calling it an abomination that causes cancers, syphilis etc. They forced JWs to avoid organ transplants for 13 years, calling it "cannibalism". They forced JWs to go to prison rather than accept alternative options to doing the military service for over 50 years.

Yet, all along, they claimed they were providing the "food at the proper time", from God Himself. Their predictions of the actual end of the world, many times, in writing; every one of these predictions, in writing, has proved false.

People sold homes, gave up opportunities to start families, secure employment, lost opportunities for an education and instead spread a message of doom that was simply untrue with each prediction made.

All of these failed. If this is God's true and only channel, how then can they be so wrong so often, on doctrine, medical issues, end of the world predictions, and yet still demand complete obedience from their members who otherwise face risk of complete shunning?

If any baptized Witness "expresses" thoughts (even if only as opinions) contrary to what is taught in the JW society's publication right now, they will be counseled, and if their opinions are not accepted, they will lose their fellowship for disrupting unity.

This "squelching mechanism", as people like to call it, instigates fear among regular members to make sure they stay in line. Losing all contact with friends and family is just too much to bear for many. Life as you know it is gone.

In addition, JWs are also told repeatedly not to even consider looking at outside sources. All of this "outside material" is called "apostate literature." The term "apostate" is based on one simple criterion. Is it critical of the organization? Most sources critical of the organization are not apostate. They are secular. And they are often simply stating the facts about this organization. Facts, that the society does not want its members to know anything about.

Examining the society can only be done, they are told, if it is done within the organization. So, by not being allowed to examine their own faith through outside sources, and by having the ever-present threat of losing their fellowship hovering over them if they were to speak critically of the organization, most JWs do not even know about these many issues that I have just posted above.

As a member for nearly 20 years, I too never knew many of these things (because we are told not to read anything from the "outside") until I finally decided to read an article on a national news website that allowed critical comments about the organization. Comments that shook my faith in the JWs so much I decided to investigate things further. Comments that I was not supposed to look at, not even think about, because they are called "apostate". So, in the end, we have what many would consider as extremely damaging, impossible to refute facts, which undermine the Watchtower Society's claim that it alone is God's one true faith on earth today.

That core belief is, in my opinion, the glue that keeps everything else together.