William's Story

My mother received a knock at the door when I was 4 years old, that knock would alter the course of my entire life. It was then, she received what she and millions of others call 'the truth.' In reality it's the Watchtower's version of what the bible teaches. We were raised from then on going to 5 weekly meetings having home bible studies. A bible study to Jehovah's Witnesses means using Watchtower books for 99% of the study and the bible only 1%. You are required from a young age to believe what you're being taught and must also preach it to others. There are even mock bible study sessions at the Kingdom Hall (place of worship) called talks where children and adults are taught how to spread the Watchtower's version of God's word.

I have little memories of life before being a Jehovah's Witness. I believed what I was told was the truth. I was convinced that we were the only ones serving God in the proper way. I was sure we were the only ones that would survive Armageddon (God's war that will destroy all wicked). I was also sure this would happen before I reached the sixth grade! I remember riding home from a Circuit Assembly (semi annual meeting of all JW's within a certain area or circuit) I was 9 at the time. We were all saying good-bye to the Buckingham Assembly Hall because it was the last time we were going to see it, at least on this side of Armageddon. Needless to say 26 years later I'm still here on this side of Armageddon and so is the Buckingham Assembly Hall.

Although my mother was a devote Jehovah's Witness, I watched her regularly abuse my older brother and sister. As a preteen I helpless witnessed the beatings and terrible verbal abuse. I mainly keep this to myself lest I too receive the same abuse. It didn't take long before her wrath would also include me. One day on the way to the Kingdom Hall she noticed jelly on my otherwise clean white shirt. In a rage she hit me in the face, which caused my nose to bleed onto my shirt her words were "Now look what you made me do." This was normal abuse in our house, a model family at the Hall and dysfunctional at home. The abuse continued throughout my early teen years with growing intensity only to stop when I gained a height advantage.

As I grew I suppressed the terrible memories of my childhood and focused on the paradise promised. I progressed in the Congregation, mostly because of being able to give good talks and the amount of time I spent in field service. (You are to report the amount of hours spent in door to door ministry which is looked at as an indication of spiritual growth.) I served as a Ministerial Servant (deacon) for 7 years and an Elder (bishop, priest) for 3. I never seriously questioned anything the Organization (Watchtower Society) put forth as bible truth. Not until November of 1995. We were always told that the generation that began the last days (Watchtower teaches the last days began in 1914) would not die off. That group was reported to be well along in age. But then suddenly the Watchtower changes what the term generation means. It no longer means this aging group, the Watchtower of November 1995 said. I was shocked to see this, and it didn't sit right with me. It seemed too convenient to change the meaning right at the time it was to be fulfilled. That was my first serious doubt about anything coming from the Society. At the time I was serving as an elder and did what we are all told to do when we have doubts, 'wait on Jehovah' which basically means wait on the Society. So that's what I did for a year, but at the special school they have for elders a scripture in James was read that rang so clear to me. It said if you are a teacher of what is wrong you will receive a weightier judgment than the one following you. After returning from this school I immediately resigned the office of overseer (elder).

I had no proof to offer my fellow elders (as they met with me to try to change my mind) that the Watchtower was teaching false information. I only had this hunch, this feeling about this new teaching concerning the generation spoken of at Matt. 24 and Luke 21. It was not until I met Mary on AOL she gave me my first proof that the Watchtower's version of the truth was anything but. Mary gave me more than proof she gave me the support I needed. When you no longer associate with JW's your whole community disappears. They were the only friends you were allowed to have so when they're gone you are totally alone. Mary gave me links to sites that did research on the JW's as well as names and phone numbers of support groups. This literally saved my life. You see when I was associated with the JW's I avoided the reality of my past. I suppressed the memories of the abuse I received. I held out hope for the paradise that would remove all the ills of this world as they promised. When that failed to happen, I sank deep into depression. My past childhood hit me in the face like a ton of bricks, as well as the wasted 30 years of my life. Add to that my wife telling me and my two small sons that I was under the influence of demons. I seriously considered suicide. If not for all of the support I received, who knows what would have happened.

My wife is currently serving as a regular pioneer (full time minister) she is raising my oldest son as a Jehovah's Witness. He too was raised that way and at this point wants to stay there. I told him he no longer has to go but he said he want to. He also told me he wants me to come back to the hall so Jehovah won't kill me. It breaks my heart to see him there being misguided, but I don't want to force him to leave. My youngest son is only 1 and a half and I will not let him be exposed to their teachings. I haven't disassociated myself (former state or write that you no longer want to be a JW) nor have I been disfellowshipped (excommunicated) either option ends up with the person being shunned by family and friends. I don't want my son being told he has to shun me or only talk to me about family issues and not the bible, or that we can't pray together. As this is what the Watchtower tells family members of disfellowshipped members in the following articles: Watchtower 4/15/88 pg 28 and Watchtower 6/1/70 pg. 351,352. There are many articles that say similar. There is a real strain on my relationship with my wife and extended family although they don't shun me since I'm still officially a JW they have greatly reduced their association with me. I haven't talked to my mother in almost a year (I've haven't been associated for a year and a half) My older sister who left home at 18 had little or no contact with my mother because my sister wasn't a JW My sister thought she would be closer to my mother if she became a JW So at the age of 30 she began to study again and she got baptized. My sister found her wanting for a loving relationship with my mother was still not to be. My sister not really wanting to be JW didn't follow their many rules and was disfellowshipped and now is totally shunned by my mother.

Being and elder who at times voted to disfellowship people, (voted in the sense that there are usually 3 elders in a judicial hearing and if the majority vote that the person is unrepentant this results in disfellowshipment) I feel terrible knowing now what I did to their lives. Some are still being shunned by their former friends and family. I've seen things as an elder that many JW's don't get the opportunity to see. One example, I served as the official accountant for the circuit. That just means that after the Circuit Assembly I would audit the books and make sure the money went where it was supposed to go. I began to notice that for each assembly we were being charged a couple thousand dollars a day. (By the way remember that we paid for this building now being charged to use it) If the witnesses don't contribute to cover this charge then each congregation that were there that weekend must split the amount owed and send in a check. Oddly the elders must ask the congregation by way of resolution before any money can be spent. (By their own accounting rules) But the Society request the money be sent in immediately so there usually isn't time to make that request (which is usually done at the midweek meeting) so the money is sent first then the request is made at the congregation. This happened often in my local congregation. Also in connection with the circuit accounts if there is a surplus, that surplus cannot be used to cover the expense of the next Circuit Assembly. It just stays there in limbo until it is sent to the Society as a contribution, because there is nothing else that money can be used for. The JW's must contribute as if they had no money to start from at the beginning of each Circuit Assembly. Seeing things like this as an elder made me wonder is this God's Organization? But regrettably it wasn't enough to make me take a serious stand. I questioned it and was given 'well that's the way the Society wants it done' and I didn't push the issue.

I only hope that my actions now can in some way make up for what I have done to the lives of unwitting truth seekers. I write this story not to encourage any current Jehovah's Witness to leave what they believe is the truth. I write this story to all those who like me, have serious doubts or who have left and found their whole life turned upside down.

Being a Jehovah's Witness is not just a religion, it governs you entire life in every aspect imaginable. You become institutionalized, you need the security that this large organized society offers, and are afraid to do without it. It's like a small child, who all of the sudden now has support himself without his 'mother' (word used by JW's to refer to the society) I now am on line doing what was done for me. I try my best to help current and former JW's who have doubts, get the support they need. If you need any information you my write me at WTLies@aol.com.