My parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was 4 years old and I became a social outcast because of their religion. I was made to participate in door to door work. I wasn’t allowed to have friends or to participate in extra-curricular school activities, holiday-celebrations, the flag salute, or any of the other things kids did. I sat in the hall while my class celebrated on the other side of the door and stood stock still and mute during the Pledge. My parents forbade me to attend graduation because it was a “worldly ceremony”. While my classmates were making plans to attend college or enlisting in the military, I had no idea what I’d do after graduation. JWs were not allowed to attend college and had to take a “neutral” stance on political issues and warfare.
I felt completely misunderstood by my parents and the organization. Everyone said I was rebellious because I wouldn’t bend to the status quo. The elders were often called to “have a talk” with me, but I bothered by things that seemed morally wrong within the organization. I took issue with the rulings on blood transfusion, shunning, and the sanctioning of child abuse. Like many others, I became a dysfunctional adult, due to being unable to develop social and coping skills. Worse, when I struck out on my own, my parents cut me off completely.
Out on my own, I sought a real church but was afraid. JWs are taught that all other religions are false, controlled by the Devil, and will be destroyed. So, I drifted through life aimlessly, getting into drugs and alcohol, making bad dating choices, and landing in trouble with the law. I finally pulled myself together and joined a substance abuse program run by a Christian woman who soon became a mother figure to me. She encouraged me to seek God, in order to fill the void I’d been unable to fill by my own efforts. Later that year, I attended a nondenominational church service and met the pastor who later became my mentor and employer. Under her mentoring, I developed a deep love for God and my spiritual void finally dissipated.
When I compared JW literature, I couldn’t believe how at odds it was to the Bible. I found major doctrinal flaws and even outright lies devised to support JW doctrine. Circular, out of context, reasoning was consistently used to “prove” the JW stance. It was clear that the New World Translation (JW Bible) was both deceptive and corrupt. I also looked into the origins of the religion and discovered that its founder, Charles Taze Russell, was a false prophet and the resulting religion was, by definition, a cult.
I know that God has watched over me every step of the way, since I left the JWs. Today, He has given me a wonderful ministry helping others who seek recovery from cult affiliation and dysfunction.
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