James' Story

I've decided to tell "my story" because it may hold similar thoughts that others have experienced.

Who am I? I was an active witness for 15 years, with 9 of them spent pioneering. I served at Bethel and in 10 congregations across the U.S. I was a ministerial servant for many years and was well on my way to joining the "inner circle" when, one week before I was scheduled to give a 45 minute public talk at a Kingdom hall, I went to my meeting and gave the visiting District Overseer a letter explaining that I did not want anymore responsibilities in the congregation. The letter was admittedly ambiguous, just stating that I had developed doubts over unanswered questions. I waited a week, and when nobody stopped by to ask me what my questions were, I decided to stop going to meetings all together.

I didn't leave the "truth" because I wanted to engage in forbidden activities. I had never read any apostate literature and no one had put doubts about the organization in my head. I never tried to lure anyone away with me. I never spoke poorly about the society. I was simply very unhappy being part of something I had a hard time believing in anymore. I had looked around at my "brothers and sisters" and I realized that, in order to survive and prosper in "the society", you needed to become a certain kind of person.

Those just entering the "truth" had a raw energy about them. A passion for salvation and a sense of wonder at the overwhelming love showered on them at the meetings. They truly believed, as I had.

Then, there were those in the middle. The ones that had been burned by the "friends", or treated unfairly by the elders. These were the ones at a crossroads. They could take this test of faith and go one of three ways. They could leave the truth and all their "brothers and sisters" would shake their heads in shame. They could stay, but stand up for themselves and attempt to retain their personal integrity and a sense of sincerity about their lives. These ones, more often than not, ended up on the outskirts of association. They were Brothers and Sisters, but they were to be approached cautiously. They were treated as second class citizens in the congregation and any responsibilities or "honor" they received in the hall always seemed like charity.

In the end, these "friends" exuded an aura of desperation. Like they really wanted to believe that the way they were living their lives (by WTS standards) was important, but it was a constant struggle to stay convinced.

Finally, there was the third choice.

The individual that did what they were told without question. They lied, and manipulated, and betrayed without hesitation. They saw the hypocrisy, cruelty, and favoritism, and decided they could live with it. They could congratulate a brother for living in abject poverty and denying himself a further education. They could watch a sister suffering clinical depression go slowly crazy while they read her scriptures. They could listen to a child speak of being molested or abused and then victimize that child further if it meant keeping them quite. They could tell a mother to deny her child a blood transfusion and feel proud of that decision at the funeral. And they could do a lot worse if called upon. These individuals thrived in the organization. They were our leaders. They were the "strong" ones in the congregation. They were the ones you did not mess with. You were either with them, or against them. And if you wanted to last, you would have to become like them.

I decided I did not want to become that kind of person.

When I stopped going to meetings, I did not suffer a void in my life. I did not spiral into drugs and depravity. In fact, I didn't do anything but go to work and come home to my T.V. for a year. When I finally felt ready to re-enter the real world, it was not with a feeling of impending doom, but a rush of excitement for a whole new chapter in my life and all the opportunity that could bring.

And still, I did not speak unkindly of the organization. Live and let live, that was my motto. If I respected them, perhaps I could expect the same civil treatment.

You'd think I would've known better. They tried, through my mother, to turn my child against me and it failed. I will no longer allow them to have any contact with my family. I consider my mother disfellowshipped. She had behaved in a manner that presented a danger to my family, and until she is ready to change, she will have no contact with us. This may sound harsh to some readers, but I wanted to tell my story in the hopes that anyone reading that have had similar experiences or feelings could know that they are not alone. And more importantly, they are not wrong to feel the way they do.