Jim's Story

By Jim Rizoli

It all began in late summer 1972, with my twin brother Joe being contacted at the door by a full time minister of Jehovah's Witnesses. This encounter resulted in some written information being left for him to read which he found to be most thought provoking. We both were still living home at the time and upon return visits of the Witnesses, which I did my best to avoid, in fact there were times when I would hide behind something to avoid speaking with them my brother was pretty much convinced that he had found "THE TRUTH."

Of course the first one he wanted to share this information with was me. I in time eventually did listened to him and actually believed what he was telling me, it made so much sense. I was just to busy and at that point in time not willing to commit myself. My brother was now going to meetings and truly enjoying the experience. I must say his new found knowledge did create quite a stir in the home, with some pretty heated discussions with the rest of the family and myself totally agreeing with him, actually defending what he was saying. I did get a chance to meet some of the Witnesses that my brother was associating with and really enjoyed speaking with them. It was just a matter of time in which I also began to attend the meetings and accept the Witnesses views, which even to this day I still want to believe some of what they say as being true. It didn't take long for my brother and I to get baptized to Jehovah which is a far cry from being baptized into the Watchtower Organization, this was  April of 1973.

The more I attended the meetings the guiltier I felt for not devoting more time and energy to the witnessing activity, so it was just a matter of time that I decided to quit my full time job and launch forth into the full time ministry this was in May of 1976. I can truly say I loved what I was doing, meeting people having Bible studies was a terrific experience and I don't regret it at all. I had the opportunity to study the Bible with hundreds of people and influenced twenty or more people to become Witnesses directly and another twenty or so indirectly. With all of this activity I still wanted to do more in regard to helping people. Normally a person devoting the time and energy to the organization as I was, would be a welcomed sight to the brothers and also be used more in terms of more responsibilities in the congregation but I noticed that this didn't happen with me. The reason being I wasn't afraid to speak my mind on how things that bothered me.. The elders didn't like this quality of mine and did their best to hold me back from being used in the congregation. I also noticed that to disagree with the elders on any issue, most definitely would be used against me, even if what I said was true. The elders views were considered God's views, ( you know the holy spirit thing). The brothers who played the "game" were moved along in regard to congregation responsibilities more quickly even if their life styles were not so exemplary.

So to sum up what I saw, there was a lot of politics (hallitics) in the Kingdom Hall and to question any of it was not the thing to do. There was one elder in our hall that seem to have the most influence and was the one who seem to abuse his position of elder more than anyone. The
things he would get away with was incredible, being that he lived in an apartment downstairs in the Kingdom Hall with his wife he came to the conclusion that he owned the place. Now mind you the apartment was to be for a couple who devoted their full time to the ministry, and for this sacrifice they were charged a very reasonable rent. Eventually his wife dropped her full time status so only the brother was full time in the ministry, yet the rent for this apartment stayed the same even though his wife took on a job where their income grew. The rent that this brother was paying was only $125.00 a month including utilities. The apartment utilities were all electric and on an average month consumed at least $100.00 a month in electricity charges. So as you can see this brother was practically getting his apartment for free and we the members of the Kingdom Hall were footing the bill.

Considering that JW'S don't have a paid clergy and will make boast of that claim, we seem to have a contradiction of terms here. Not only was this brother getting dirt cheap rent he also deducted his rent as a charitable contribution on his income taxes. He also claimed a full time minister status which entitled him to some good deductions on his income tax even though he legally didn't qualify because to qualify you have to be a salaried full time minister. JW's don't get paid for their work in the ministry.  So to say he was ripping off the IRS is an understatement.

It was brought to his attention but he had his own way of justifying what he was doing. He claimed he was being paid by the literature he placed at the doors. Considering that the magazines were twenty five cents and the books were fifty cents to one dollar he would have had to sell 20,000 magazines and 5000 books just to make $10,000.00 something that the whole congregation couldn't do in twenty years. Oh did I mention that this brother also deducted 20,000 miles a year for traveling in his car, not bad since he very rarely used his car in the ministry, he usually got others to drive him around. That's equal to 500 mile per week or 70 miles per day, which would be technically impossible to do going door to door in a suburban setting. Maybe he threw magazines out the window as he drove around for two hours. He was a very conniving and dishonest man. Yet he came off as being a humble and meek person. We actually named him Don the Con, it fit his lifestyle perfectly. So it was this situation that started me to question the integrity of these people, particularly those in that took the lead. Eventually I got the other brothers to see what was going on and it was agreed that his rent would be increased to  $250.00 and a separate electric meter was installed, so now things were on more of an even keel and we wouldn't be paying for his electric bill. Considering that for over fifteen years this brother got away with paying this low rent you can imagine the money saved by this brother at our expense.

It was soon after that this brother seeing that we were on to him, was transferred to another congregation in another town most likely at his request, but believe it or not, he still lived in the apartment in the our Kingdom Hall while commuting to his new assignment to the other congregation some fifteen miles away. Usually when a transfer like this happens the  person must give up their apartment and move to the area where he is now located, but do to the power and influence of this elder he was able to live in his still affordable $250.00 a month apartment which was still $200.00 cheaper than the going rents outside the area. If it was you or me living in that  apartment we most likely would of been asked to move out.

My time in this congregation was limited due to the fact that my wife and I purchased a home 15 miles away and would be eventually moving out of the area, and attending a new Kingdom Hall. It was at this point in time that I was very happy, serving as a full time pioneer, eventually being appointed and elder (after 15 years of full time pioneering the elders ran out of excuses, that's another story).

I really thought this was as good as it gets, but I was wrong. My brother Joe got involved in a situation with this elder (the same one living in the Kingdom Hall, Don the Con ) that would be the beginning of the end for him. This elder has done a lot of mental damage to many people by abusing his power, and covering up wrong doing of the friends that "worshipped" him, very few have had the guts to stand up against him and you will see why.

Well anyway, my brother brought this elder up on charges of lying and his covering up of the sexual misconduct of another brother. The case was a closed and shut case but that's not how it turned out. We thought that this elder by his actions would be exposed for his lies and reprimanded or even removed as an elder but we were wrong. This elder actually persuaded the other elders to see things his way and was believed. I actually testified on my brothers behalf against this elder only to have my testimony dismissed.  Believe it or not, my brother was the one
disfellowshipped, for LYING.  What was the lie you say? Good question to this day we still don't know.

To be disfellowshipped in the WT organization  you would have to be an unrepentant practicer of sin. So for my brother to be Df'd for lying my brother would  have to been a practicer of lying, so the question is what were all the lies? And over how long a period of time was he lying?  Who witnessed these so called lies? When asked what the lies were the response from the elders was " NO COMMENT".

The elders on this case were actually guilty of covering up another brothers deviate sexual behaviors in a case that would have ended up in court as a civil  matter against this deviate "brother,  but like everything else it was swept under the rug.  Now you can see why it was covered up, because the elders themselves could have civil charges brought against them also. The organization that I looked up to instead of standing up for what was right and just went along with this kangaroo court and covered it up. To say it was a big let down for me is an understatement. I figured that there was nothing that I could do about it and being that I was moving shortly, I thought I would leave it all behind and in Jehovah's hands as the saying goes and get on with my life, I moved out of the area, ready and willing to get on with the
witnessing work in August 1989.

A New Start

I must say it all started out great, I was most welcomed and used in my new congregation, more so than I even expected but it would soon be short lived. After about six months the circuit overseer came and normally the appointments of elders and servants in the congregation followed. When the time came to announce the appointments I was informed a week prior, that the elders felt that it was best to hold back the appointment, but not only hold back, but demote me to a ministerial servant! If I didn't accept I would be have no responsibilities at all! Talk about being knocked of your horse. The reasons given were so ridiculous that I almost started to laugh. ( It's good to have a good sense of humor when dealing with elders)

The reasons against me centered around how I handled myself at the doors, some felt that I was too strong at the doors. Even so,  I was very successful at the doors and in the first two years that I was there I started at least ten Bible studies, and here they were criticizing me on my strongest asset. So as you can see there was no scriptural reason not to appoint me as an elder. The elders even admitted that this was not the normal procedure and quite unusual and since I didn't ask to many questions, they were most likely relieved. They didn't have to give me any straight forward answers. There definitely was something fishy going on here. So I dropped the issue even though my being not appointed was a topic of conversation with the rest of brothers and sisters for a while. I figured this would give me some time to work with the congregation and they would get to know me better. So another six months go by and the time has come again for appointments and again no appointment. What is going on here? I said to myself. Here I was in my 15th year in the full time ministry, already appointed an elder in another congregation, with a good recommendation coming from that congregation. Went to Bethel two or three times a year to help with the construction projects there. What more could I do? What is wrong?  This time I decided to take the elders up on it, I met with the  whole body of them wanting some reasonable answers. There were no reasonable answers, they were mad that I had the meeting called in the first place.

This cat and mouse game went on a few more times, you can see what was going on, they were not  going to appoint me and were looking for any excuse not to. In time I noticed I even lost some responsibilities that I had in the congregation and again no reason why, no one was talking. I still was used to give public talks and conduct a book study for the time being. This was now starting to have a demoralizing effect on myself and my wife. I started thinking is there something wrong with me. My answer would soon come.

Finally the "TRUTH".

One day while working in the ministry with an elder who recently moved into the congregation I asked him what was going on. He informed me through hearsay that the circuit overseer was behind my not being appointed an elder. As far as I could see this circuit overseer actually lied to the elders in my congregation about some things he said I said. His influence was so great on this body of elders that they actually changed their whole view of me based on his false testimony of me. I finally found the truth!  For three years I've been waiting for this day, Not one of the original elders involved in the case to this very day has admitted what happened. You would think that the elders would of asked me for my side of the story when this all began but that was not the case. You see, this circuit overseer was the one who I had to give my testimony to in behalf of my brother when he was about to be Df'd, so now you can see why he had it in for me. This is the way he got back at me for telling the truth while  testifying in behalf my brother. So needless to say the hand writing was on the wall for what I would do

The next fiasco occurred when my brother implicated me in a letter he wrote to a former friend of his in another congregation. Remember Joe is Df'd at this point in time, This person, Joe wrote to turned the letter over to he elders in my previous congregation. I already had made arrangements to meet with the elders in my congregation to talk to them about some things that bothered me, and I figured I would speak to them about the letter also. This was all set for Sunday Feb. 14 1993. On Friday Feb. 12 I spoke to one of the elders (a good friend of mine and my partner in my business) in my previous congregation ( who was also involved in this case) and told him what I was going to do, he told me that he would not speak to the elders in my congregation about the situation but would let me speak to them first. He then proceed to call the circuit overseer that night and was told to go to my elders with the information first, ( he just told me he would let me go and talk to them first) as you can see the circuit overseer has a lot of influence on people, (incidentally this was not the same circuit overseer that lied about me it was his replacement) the circuit overseer actually persuaded my friend and work partner to go back on his word to me. So that Saturday the 13th he came up to my new congregation to speak to the elders in my congregation about me and the letter. It was by chance that I spoke to him that night (Sat.) and I was then informed by him on what he had done.

As you can imagine I was not a happy camper, and my wife was even more upset, of course he had his excuses why he went back on his word to me, it didn't matter, he was a coward and he would have to answer for what he did. In fact this brother broke down and cried as he spoke to me later on, knowing that he had betrayed my trust in him. That Sunday Feb. 14th 1993 I wrote my letter of resignation as a ministerial servant and full time pioneer. I was still on the record as a member of the congregation but I didn't attend the meetings. Within  the last two years I've read former Governing Body member Ray Franz's book "Crises of Conscience" and his other book "I Search of Christian Freedom" which have been very helpful in my recovery from the Watchtower organization. What happened to him makes what happened to me pale in comparisons. It's sad the friends don't read his books, I know they would greatly benefit from them. If you want to understand how the WT thinks and comes to the decisions they do then these books are a must reading.

In 1995 I was marked as bad association, imagine being bad association for telling the truth, and May 6th 1996 I was disfellowshipped for " LOOSE CONDUCT" which had nothing to do with sexual issues (in my case) but to mean " A WANTON DISREGARD FOR AUTHORITY".    Or in other words I disagreed with the elders.

So for all the Jw's out there, be careful about disagreeing with the elders it will be a means for them to disfellowship you because their word is the word of God.

So here I am Df'd for a charge that makes no sense at all. I did appeal the Df'ing just to see what was going to happen and true to my words nothing happened, the new body of elders from Springfield Massachusetts upheld the first elders Df'ng of me. Talk about a kangaroo court.  It was very interesting,  The elders never answered any of my questions. I was able to tape the meeting and we made a transcript of the dialogue which I've posted on the web. I was hooked up with a wireless mike and my brother Joe was outside in his car with the recorder. I felt like I was in my own  "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" movie!   So I have 50 minutes of discussion which just shows how the elders lie and pervert the " TRUTH".

So there you have it.
I am now cut off from 23 years of association from people who I thought were my friends, my wife still goes to the meetings when she can. It's not a pleasant situation, but life goes on.  My wife sees what's going on but chooses to deal with it on her own terms, but its not easy for her.

In regard to me personally I'm doing just fine,  financially things couldn't be better now that I'm not spending 20 to 25 hrs. a week pioneering I'm working more which is OK for me. I would be a millionaire today if not for the fact that I gave up 17 years to the pioneer activity. But again look at what I learned and how things turned out, you can't put a price on that. Spiritually I feel great, I don't belong to any religious group and would consider my self an Independent Christian, which sound contradictory but that's how I feel. I have a hard time accepting religions that say they are the only way to salvation, and it seems to me that religions are missing the mark of what the Bible says makes a Christian a Christian  To me the churches are controlling people in their own way and a lot of damage is being done to many people.  Many people who leave the Jw's seem like they have to get involved in some other church to feel whole again,  I don't agree. I think that people have to develop their own relationship with God and build on that without the mediators (churches).  I guess many people are spiritually insecure and need reassurance from others to show their on the right track. Not Me! If this is the road you want to take than more power to you, I will not stop you. Once you give your self to any church you inevitably have to make compromises and I see many Exjw's doing a lot of compromising especially doctrinally.  I will never compromise my conscience just to look good for a group of people.  Been there,  done that. I don't feel I have all the answers but I  will listen to all sides of an issue to the best of my ability and make decisions based on that information. I wish I had more close friends to talk to but that's the consequences I have to deal with when leaving a group that uses friendships as a black mail tool to keep you in.

So life goes on,  and life is good.  There are days I have to pinch myself saying is this real because of the happy feeling I have being out of the Jw's.  I think the nicest thing that I'm experiencing is I don't have to rush around anymore. My life was one continuous rush to nowhere and I really didn't have time to appreciate the things around me.  Now I take my time and don't have to worry about did I read my Watchtower for Sunday, did I prepare for my speaking assignments for Thursdays service meeting etc. etc.

Life is good!

The Internet has been a great blessing to me  because of all the information that I gathered dealing with the Jw's and other mind controlling organizations. It's also been a place to develop cyber friends whom you at least can speak with openly and honestly. It's also  nice to see something you've written and put on the web read and acted upon by someone you don't even know.  I've had several people write to me thanking me for my input on WT matters. So you never know who will read what you've written and start questioning
things with the WT.

Some times you might question the decisions you made in leaving the Jw's saying: Was it worth losing all the "friends" you once had. Was it worth being  disfellowshipped and forever treated by the Jw's as a sub human. The answer is quite simple  YES! And I'd do it all again if my experience helps others

The WT Organization is an organization out of control and there is nothing you can do about it except warn others of the dangers. Hopefully if enough information is put out there,  more people will see what's going on. We can only hope to lessen the pain others have experienced and continue to experience at the hand of this idolatrous organization.

Jim Rizoli