Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What is the "Blue Book Value" of being a Jehovah's Witness, and How Much Will it Cost You?

Let's say you're looking to purchase a used car.  You haven't decided on a make and model yet, but you go to a dealership to see what deals, if any, you can find.  The dealer shows you a car and says how amazing it is.  You have to admit, it is a great color, nicely sized, and even fits your family very comfortably.  You ask the dealer for more details; Has it been in any accidents? Obviously there's been previous owners, what did they have to say about owning the car?

The dealer doesn't answer your questions. Instead, he tells you again how wonderful the car is.  He advises you once more how nicely it fits your family, and repeats to you that you like the color. He then tells it handles great and drives smoothly.  You find it strange that he didn't answer your questions, but since he mentioned how well it handles while being driven, you request a test-drive.

The dealer declines.  He says you have to buy the car before you can drive it.  Again, that seems very odd to you. What is this guy trying to hide? you think to yourself.  You tell the dealer you'll think about it and get back to him.  He gives you a brochure about the car on your way out.  As you open it, you read the exact same "wonderful" things he had just said. You thank the dealer for the brochure, but inform him that you'll be checking out Consumer Reports, some reviews of current and past owners of the car, and even researching the blue book value.

The dealer's eyes darken.  He tells you that you are forbidden to do independent research.  The only reliable source of information is himself, and the brochure you're holding in your hand.  What would you think? What would you do?

Most people would find this scenario laughable.  Anyone with any wits about him would immediately diagnose the dealer as mentally unsound and walk out of the dealership.  Everyone knows you're allowed to do independent research when buying a car.  In fact, most would argue that it would be crazy not to do a thorough examination before any large purchase, or major decision in one's life.  And to be told that you are forbidden to do so--well that's just ridiculous.

Isn't it? Wouldn't it be just as crazy to commit your very life to an organization without hearing both sides of the story? What would you think about someone who told you that you couldn't do independent research about said organization in any materials but those produced by that very group? Would you not think there was something wrong with that picture?

This scenario is exactly what plays out in the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses.  Our car dealer, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, forbids reading, viewing, or even discussing anything that criticizes or just plain disagrees with the materials it publishes and dispenses.  It also readily forbids questioning the organization. Don't believe me?

"The 'faithful and discreet slave' [Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses] does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites that are not produced or organized under its oversight.  For those who wish to do extra Bible study and research, we recommend that they explore Insight on the Scriptures, All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial, and our other publications..." (Our Kingdom Ministry September 2007 Question Box)

"How is such independent thinking manifested?  A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God's visible organization." (Watchtower 1983, 1/15, p. 22 par. 21)

What about if you meet someone who is a former Jehovah's Witness? Would you not want to understand why they left? Wouldn't you want to know their experience, so you can make an informed decision? Well what does the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society tell us about that?

"We do not receive them into our homes or greet them.  We also refuse to read their literature, watch TV programs that feature them, examine their Web sites, or add our comments to their blogs." (Watchtower 2011, 7/15, p. 16, par. 7)

Okay, so you are strictly forbidden from talking to others who used to be involved with the organization.  Can you at least do some research on your own?
"The scriptures warn against isolating ourselves, thinking that we can figure out everything with independent research." (Worship the Only True God, Ch. 3, p. 26 par. 8)

Well what happens if you find out that there are things that the organization has been just plain wrong about in the past? Shouldn't you be able to make up your own mind as to what you believe?
"There are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: 'This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.' This is independent thinking.  Why is it so dangerous? Such thinking is an evidence of pride... If we get to thinking we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves:  'Where did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the way of truth if it hadn't been for guidance from the organization? Really can we get along without the direction of God's organization?' No we cannot!" (Watchtower 1983, 1/15, p. 27 pars. 19, 20)

When you think about it, this is just as ridiculous as buying a car and being told that you cannot research anything about it, and you cannot speak to anyone who has ever owned it.  If you wouldn't take such a gamble with a purchase, why would you take a gamble with your life, and family? 

The truth of the matter is, like the car dealer above, the organization doesn't give you the opportunity to test-drive before you buy into it.  You are not told what you are getting into before you accept.  Some of us were born into the religion, and were thus forced to accept and conform.  Why? 

What happens after you become a Jehovah's Witness, and then find that you no longer agree with their teachings and practices?
"We now come to the matter of being loyal to Jehovah's visible organization.  Certainly we owe loyalty to it, including the 'faithful and discreet slave,' through which the Christian congregation is fed spiritually.  Suppose that something appears in the Watch Tower publications that we do not understand or agree with at the moment.  What will we do? Take offense and leave the organization?  Loyalty includes waiting patiently until further understanding is published by the faithful and discreet slave." (Watchtower 1996, 3/15, p.17 par. 10)

"It may be that you left Jehovah's organization because you had a different understanding of some Scriptural point.  Perhaps the point has been clarified, either being changed or established by further Scriptural research under the direction of God's spirit.  Would it not have been better just to have stayed with the organization, waiting on Jehovah?" (Watchtower 1988, 1/15, p. 22)

"What if we individually have difficulty understanding or accepting a certain point? We should pray for wisdom and undertake research in the Scriptures and Christian [Watch Tower] publications.  Discussions with an elder may help.  If the point still cannot be understood, it may be best to let the matter rest.  Perhaps more information on the subject will be published..." (Watchtower 1996, 7/15, p. 17 par. 7)

So, no matter how much you might be struggling to buy into what the organization is selling, you are admonished to suppress it, and wait for them to correct themselves.  What if this never happens? What if you decide to leave? Can you just walk out and let that be that?  Well if you make your doubts known to the elders they must give you firm and direct counsel.  If you still continue to have doubts, and make them known, you risk being disfellowshipped (removed from the congregation and subsequently shunned by all, including your own family).

"Any with sincere doubts should be helped. Firm, loving counsel should be given.  If one obstinately is speaking about...false teachings, this may be or may lead to apostasy.  If there is no response after a first and a second admonition, a judicial committee should be formed." (Shepherd the Flock of God, p. 65, 66 under subheading: Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truths as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses)  So really, you don't have to disagree with the Bible to get removed. It's about disagreeing with doctrine as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses.  And once you are expelled from the congregation, it is as if you are dead to their members.  People you once called "friends" will no longer speak to you, greet you, or even look at you if you pass their way.  Your family members are instructed to follow the same course of action:

"What if we have a relative or a close friend who is disfellowshipped?  Now our loyalty is on the line, not to that person, but to God.  Jehovah is watching us to see whether we will abide by his command not to have contact with anyone who is disfellowshipped... Think of that if you are ever tempted to violate God's command to not associate with your disfellowshipped relatives." (Watchtower 2012, 4/15, p. 12)  This applies to those who disassociate themselves from the religion as well.  It does not matter whether you are involved in "gross sin" or just merely disagree with the teachings.  If you leave, you fall under the same umbrella, and you will lose your family who remain in the organization. 

These things are not told to people who are contemplating joining the religion Jehovah's Witnesses, nor those born and raised inside the organization.  The thousands of children who get baptized every year thinking they are doing the right thing or gaining their parents' approval are not told that if, at a later time, they choose to leave the religion--they face the harsh reality of being cast out and shunned by the very ones they trust and love the most. 

I know this from experience.  I have been disowned by my brother, grandmother, aunt, uncles, and even my own mother. This is the same actuality also suffered by thousands upon thousands of others who have left the Jehovah's Witness religion.

You should not have to choose between a religion and your family.  It says so right here regarding those who are considering leaving their religion and converting to Jehovah's Witnesses:
"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family." (Awake! 7/2009, p. 29) Why, then, should the rules change when you are considering removing yourself from the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses? "Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else--including the family bond... Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through email." (Watchtower 2013, 1/15, p. 16)

So, please, test drive before you buy! It is your right! This is your life. Check the "blue book value" of this religion, and really consider if it is worth surrendering your children, family members and freedom.




21 comments:

  1. In my judicial meeting, I showed them a printed copy of the article that says no one should be made to choose between their beliefs and their family. I'm still not sure how their logic worked when disregarding that statement, but involved saying that family members who potentially would shun me "had the choice" whether to do so or not, regardless of the fact that they would be specifically told to shun me. I told them that if they made that choice, I would still be forced to chose between beliefs and family, but to them, for some reason it still did not apply.

    On the bright side, I got away with being marked rather than disfellowshipped. Although according to my mom's notes for the marking talk, I'm not actually marked, because they talked about it in the context of one who refuses help. I never refused help, I only asked for real evidence that they indeed had the truth. Evidence they were unable to provide.

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    1. And that's the problem. Once you present them with a question that they cannot answer, your only two options are "waiting" on Jehovah (which really means keeping your thoughts and questions a secret) or being expelled from the congregation so that you don't "pollute" others with your unanswerable inquiries. It's so sad.

      I'm glad you got away with just being marked. But really, how in the world are they even allowed enough power to even MARK you as bad association? Who do they think they are? I hope that you do find the courage to gain your freedom. It's so valuable. Thanks for the read!

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  2. Hi, I'm Daniel, from Mexico. I was born in the religion and at 14 years old, baptised. Then at 19 have to move to another place and when arrive to the town i was moving, search for the local congregation to "report", but they never receive me as I thought. I stop from going to the meetings for almost 3 years, when the elders came to my house looking for me, it was to tell me that i was being disfellowshipped (without judicial committee) and that was that... without help or anything. I did not refuse the fact of being disfellowshipped because i was going to 'give them a reason to be right'. So since then, my mom doesn't talk to me, or even allow me to visit her. It has been 5 years since then.

    (I'm very sorry if my vocabulary is poor)

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    1. Daniel, thank you so much for reading. I am very sorry about being shunned by your family. Wow, 5 years! That is a very long time to be without your mother. Please know that you are not alone in this. There are so many thousands of us going through the exact same thing. You should be able to live your life, choose how YOU want to worship without risking your relationship with your family and friends. Sadly, that's just not the way it is in the organization. I do hope you find your happy place. Visit http://www.AAWA.co for some information as to how to connect with others like us!

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  3. Excellent advice Stephanie.
    While examining my religion, the p.o. elder came by to council me and during his visit, he told me that I should not partake of the emblems nor study the bible independently because the Bible was written only for the 144,000 and you are not one of them because the 'heavenly door' was closed in the year 1913 and so you are of the other sheep class. And too, the bible was written only for the 144,000 and not for you. "
    Really?
    John 10:9
    Jesus said, "I am the door: if any one enter in by me, he shall be saved"
    And thinking about all those years this religion encouraged it's members to 'study your Bible'. I ask, what is the point if the Bible was not written for me?

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    1. Oh wow! How disheartening! What a joke! I'm glad you figured it out in time!

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  4. correction, I meant to say, " the year was 1935" not 1913.

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  5. Great article Stephanie- and a great blog! I will be putting up a link to this site on mine.

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    1. Thanks for the read! I will check yours out as well. :)

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  6. Stephanie,

    Thanks for another great post!

    I love the analogy. Anyone (even a Witness) would investigate a car purchase far more than they are allowed to investigate this religion -- which becomes their whole way of life!

    If you buy a lemon of a car it will cost you time and money, which are temporary inconveniences. But a bad car purchase won't DESTROY your life the way buying into this religion will.

    This was a revealing quote:

    "Jehovah is watching us to see whether we will abide by his command not to have contact with anyone who is disfellowshipped."

    For being touted as such a vitally important part of their doctrine, it's funny how the word "disfellowship" appears nowhere in the Bible. Not even the NWT contains this word, except in the concordance in the back where it says "See Expel" -- and if you look up Expel it references Jesus saying how his followers would be expelled from the synagogues, or about expelling spirits: nothing about expelling a member for thinking. That was Paul's idea, and even he seems to have thought better of it in a later letter attributed to him:

    "This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary now, you should kindly forgive and comfort him, that somehow such a man may not be swallowed up by his being overly sad. Therefore I exhort you to confirm your love for him." (2 Cor. 2:6-8)

    Funny how we don't hear that quoted in the Kingdom Halls during a disfellowshipping announcement. But no matter what this Saul/Paul may or may not have written, we should listen to our own hearts.

    Funny how nowhere in the Bible does it say to shun family members.

    Funny how their "Jehovah" misses seeing children being molested in his Kingdom Halls because he's so busy watching to make sure no one talks to a disfellowshipped person!

    Stephanie, I'm so sorry that your family is shunning you. I hope some day they come to their senses and realize that their priorities are askew because they've been hoodwinked by idiots. When my sister was disfellowshipped I left almost immediately (and I was at Bethel at the time,) because I knew I could never shun the sister I grew up with and loved. Those who remain loyal to the organization in such circumstances are living their lives in fear (and dare we say: cowardice.)

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    1. Wow, what an amazing comment. Thank you so much! As always, you are a pillar of knowledge. :)

      I love this: "Funny how their "Jehovah" misses seeing children being molested in his KHs because he's so busy watching to make sure no one talks to a disfellowshipped person."

      That is so true. The priorities of the cult are so skewed, it is beyond my comprehension. I just do not understand, though I do painstakingly try.

      About your sister... I can only wish my brother had your common sense. Your sis is very fortunate.

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  7. Ok so if you liken the bible to the manufactures guide with the car the man who designed the car would surely tell the person writing the guide what to write but would you dismiss it because he didn't personally write it? No you wouldn't ,would you then go to outside companies to tell you about your car? No they didn't design it so what would they know about it?
    To me it's the only religion that makes any sense of the bible,I do feel some on here are dealing with a few nut jobs who give us a bad name the same as Muslims get with extremists.
    I know if I did do some thing truly wrong like sleep with another man and not be sorry then yes I would loose my family but only if I wasn't sorry and no longer loved Jehovah and I do feel that's fair I knew that when I made my vow.Its not like I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

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    1. Thanks for the read. Two points about your reply:

      1) In your scenario, the manufacturer told the dealer what to write in his brochure...so the person who goes into the dealership should automatically believe the dealer? If the manufacturer truly believes in his product, should he be afraid for the buyer to test drive it? Should he be afraid for the buyer to read reviews and testimonials regarding the soundness of the car? The only reason he would have to worry about any of that is if he has something he doesn't want the buyer to find. A LEGITIMATE organization can stand up to criticism. A LEGITIMATE organization would encourage its members to get both sides and make an INFORMED decision. That's not the opportunity afforded the witnesses. Especially not those who have been born into it.

      2) You make mention that you would know what you were getting into. Well I'm glad you're of sound enough reasoning to know to not sleep with another man... But you know just as well as I do--THAT is not the only reason for getting disfellowshipped and subsequently shunned. There are multitudes of reasons one can be disfellowshipped--one of them being just simply disagreeing with any of the teachings being dispensed in the literature.

      But back to your point about knowing what you're getting into--what of the thousands of children getting baptized every year? Minors! 8-year-olds, 12-year-olds, etc. Do you truly believe these children KNOW what they are getting into? Do they KNOW that if they ever change their mind, they will be subject to ostracism from every person they know and love? If your answer is YES, then why are children of this age not able to enter into any other legally binding contract? Why are they unable to get a cell phone, purchase a home, get married, or make any other life-altering decision? It is because they are TOO YOUNG. And if they are too young for that--then how can they POSSIBLY be old enough to dedicate their entire LIVES to an organization?

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  8. I really appreciate these quotes from various Watchtower publications, it is a stark reminder of the sadistic tendencies that plague the organisation.

    The Fear of Freedom by Erich Fromm makes this discerning point about sadistic tendencies: "Some of the most frequent rationalizations are the following: "I rule over you because I know what is best for you, and in your own interest you should follow me without opposition." Or, "I am so wonderful and unique, that I have a right to expect that other people become dependent on me." Another rationalization which often covers the exploiting tendencies is: "I have done so much for you, and now I am entitled to take from you what I want."

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    1. Oh, and a further point I meant to add was the determination to see people suffer. Fromm makes the point, "A third kind of sadistic tendency is the wish to make others suffer or to see them suffer. This suffering can be physical, but more often it is mental suffering. Its aim is to hurt actively, to humiliate, embarrass others, or to see them in embarrassing and humiliating situations."

      I think that this can be seen quite clearly in the organisation's stance with regard to disfellowshipped ones. I'd go further, though, and say it can be seen in pretty much every activity that the Society subjects its own congregation members to.

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  9. It's not just disagreeing with teachings it's going around telling others you don't agree and they shouldn't either.if you disagree and leave and get on with your life not posting blogs etc then you've just stopped believing your not trying to work against Jehovah's organisation and therefore not an apostate or helper of Satan so would not be shunned by family and others.i know plenty of people who have just stopped coming who don't like how things are run but just left and that was it.you have to do something more to be disfellowshipped.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Guess what I did when I came to disagree with Catholicism? I left. Then I joined the Jehovah's Witnesses and began "going around telling others" how I no longer agreed with Catholicism (and every other religion except the Watchtower religion) and that "they shouldn't either." That's what Jehovah's Witnesses do: they go door-to-door "working against" every other religion out there.

      Then they put their double-standards on display for all the world to see by posting comments such as yours: saying how apostates should just "get on with their life not posting blogs etc." So, it's evidently okay for the Watchtower to criticize every other religion in the world, but when it comes to someone criticizing the Watchtower's religion the critic must be a "helper of Satan!"

      Can you say "hypocrisy"?

      You imply that if Stephanie had just left quietly she wouldn't have been shunned. So you're saying it's okay to have doubts as long as you keep quiet about them and don't try to warn others or right the wrongs that you see? OR ELSE you will be punished by being shunned!

      Anonymous: Do you really recommend the above as a brave and moral way to live your life? In fear-imposed silence? This is the life-style the Watchtower religion offers us?

      Let's say we're all in a theater together when Stephanie notices the curtain has caught on fire. You are sleeping in the back row. Do you think that she should leave quietly or tell you that something is wrong?

      Stephanie: "Wake up! This place is on fire!"
      Anonymous: "Shut up! Can't you just leave quietly? I'm trying to sleep here!"

      BTW, Anonymous: You are just as guilty of breaking Watchtower rules by adding your comment to her blog as Stephanie is for speaking her mind. Or did you miss that article, as well as the latest convention talk "Beware Human Apostates"? You'd better get back to the brainwashing; you don't want to miss hearing about any new rules you might be breaking!

      OR... since you've already slid into such "sin," you're welcome to continue a fair examination of your religion on the Internet. You really do have a choice, being human like the rest of us.

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    2. Steve!! So eloquent, and so perfectly timed! I LOVE the movie theater analogy. This is exactly what the WT Society imposes on its (former) members. I really hope Anonymous gains the courage to start thoroughly examining her organization. Hopefully your comment helped. Thank you! :)

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  10. Stephanie, you have made these points very well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a level headed dialogue about a complex issue. I was just thinking this morning 'would I have joined the religion if I knew the heartbreak involved in loosing all my friends?' It's a difficult internal dialogue to have. Thanks for raising ths valuable talking points.
    x Amie
    http://www.lesbianjw.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. Love the analogy! This article should Prompt people to THINK...a lil use of their SOUND MIND;) keep ysing your talent of writing to AWAKEN THE SHEEPLE & Stay Encouraged! Wholeness & Love 2 u/fam

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  12. Stephanie,

    I was raised a JW, baptized at 14, disfellowshipped at 17, reinstated 8 months later and as soon as I was reinstated I walked away for good. I am fortunate as my family knows I do not believe what they do but have accepted Christ instead and they still associate with me on a daily basis. My dad is an ex elder (he willingly stepped down due to his work load he couldn't do both). He said my judicial committee was handled wrong, (my elder Uncle agreed). I sought them out to admit to wrongdoing because I felt guilty. They proceeded tell me I wasn't guilty or sorry enough. If that was the case why the heck did I tell them. It a evil wicked pagan cult. My heart goes to you and to the other stories I have read here. I can relate to these peoples stories as I have seen it happen. When I was 6 my 18 year old sister was disfellowshipped and coming to the hall any my mother told me she as bad and I couldn't even look at her. It made me so sad because at that time I idolized my sister, she no longer loved with us. I pray that my family comes to their senses and I am making slow progress with my dad if he comes to know Jesus I am confident mom will follow. My sister probably not. I fear only hell awaits her at death. I will be praying for all the people who have been shunned by their family. I hope they all find the peace they deserve and the love of people who really know what love is. Thank you for this site.

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