We love you as long as…

When I joined the Witnesses I was welcomed with open arms and what I thought was open hearts. Over time it became clear that the hearts were far from open. As long as I was in the ministry doing field service and attending and answering at meetings I was loved. My health over the past 10 years has suffered. I am a diabetic and a stroke survivor which leaves me with a great deal of weakness and pain especially in my legs. This of course impacted badly on my ability to walk and balance.

I was forced to cut back on my field service. As soon as I done this the love for me dropped incrementally. In December 2010 I had an accident at work and broke both of my arms in fact I shattered all the bones in my left arm and had 2 operations to fix it. The ops were a success but my arm is permanently damaged as I damaged the nerves in my arm as well.

I was off work for 3 months and stared to suffer from acute depression which became clinical depression when I returned to work. I was unable to do the tasks and duties that I used to do, My entire life changed and I was attacked by people at work who wanted me out and tried to get me fired (they failed). This led to a deepening of my depression.

This led to me missing meeting and left me unable to do field service, I tried but I was hurt and disillusioned by the way I was being treated. About six weeks after my accident the circuit overseer and the PO in the congregation came to visit me at home. I had a wasted left arm and my right arm was still in dressings from the operation to fix my arm. I am right handed. They actually expected me to make coffee for them.

I made coffee for 2 able bodied people while still being in a great deal of pain and not being able to function properly. When my wife got home from work she was furious with them for their behaviour. A while later 2 elders came to the house to find out why I was missing so many meetings. The way they interrogated me really made me angry.

All this time I was trying to reach my wife and wake her up and get her out of the cult. I treated her with respect and love, unconditional love. She raged at me and spouted all the vile filth the Watchtower had taught her but still I loved her and made sure she knew it. In December 2012 we became parents.

The birth of our son led to my wife’s awakening. She looked at her life growing up a Witness and decided she as a mother could not allow her precious child to grow up the way she did as an outcast to society, picked on and fearful. My wife approached me and brought up everything I had questioned in the past. She examined herself and her beliefs and the treatment Witnesses hand out to each other.

It was difficult to watch her as she awoke from the cult and her hurt at being so completely deceived and the pain she suffered growing up as a Witness. The hurt turned to anger and then rage. Through all of this she was a new mother with me as her only support. I became her pillar of strength, her refuge from the storm. I loved her and our son with every fibre of my being.

Being a mum she finally knew what it was to give love unconditionally and that led to her understanding how I loved her so deeply. You see as a Witness she had only known conditional love. ‘I love you as long as’… ‘I love you because you’… This travesty of love caused her to be the type of person who always tried to please people and heavily criticised herself. As a Witness her sense of self was dependent on the meagre offerings of love she was given. eventhough

I was loved as long as I was useful to them, as soon as I was no longer able to go out on field service and attend meetings it was as though I was invisible to most of the congregation. Asiza suffered the same fate because she was a loving wife and mother. She cared for me and helped me through my pain and done what was best for me and our son. We were expected to take our baby boy to Tuesday night meetings. The meetings started at 7pm and ended at 9pm, way past this little man’s bedtime. Wednesdays became a nightmare with him grumpy and crabbit.

This was what was expected from all Witnesses, keep your children out of bed past their bedtimes and keep them quiet in the kingdom hall. As every parent knows babies need routine and positive reinforcement. On numerous occasions I watched as an unruly child was taken from the kingdom hall by his dad and ‘disciplined’ outside, tearfully and quietly returning.. This was encouraged by the elders. How is forcing your child to be quiet and behave while they are tired and bored showing love? How is hitting your child to force compliance with cult expectations love? How can parents justify their behaviour? It’s another example of ‘I love you as long as you…’

Witnesses were taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ, they even give him the title, ‘our Exemplar’. The way Jesus loved and the way he loved children especially is completely at odds with Witness behaviour. Jesus loved so much that he died for everyone regardless of who they were. When his disciples, the people closest to him tried to chase the children away from him he chastised his disciples with the famous words, “suffer the little children to come unto me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. It’s sad the Witnesses don’t follow this example.

On the 24th of June this year I lost the oldest friend I’ve ever known, my brother Gary. While we were Witnesses my brother came out as transsexual. As a Witness I was expected to cut off all contact with him. I could not do that I loved him. No question, I loved him and to add to the weight of all this my brother was dying of Multiple Sclerosis. The watchtower doesn’t care, they expect that the faithful will cut off all contact with such a person.

We came to England and I made the decision to stay to be with my dying brother and give my son a chance of a decent future. We had a year with my brother before he passed, a year the Watchtower would have denied us.

Where am I going with all this?

Unconditional love, it’s the thing that really builds us up and gives us strength to face anything and triumph and grow. It is the only true love. The conditional love practiced by the Watchtower tears you down and stamps what’s left of you into the dust. They ‘love’ you as long as you are useful and giving them money and recruiting new victims.

Love means putting yourself last, your children or better half comes first. Others come first. It’s a choice we have to make, to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others. If the person, faith, thing you love doesn’t put you first then you need to take a good look at whether they deserve your love at all, because you deserve the best love has to offer.

When you are facing a challenge, a fork in the road, a choice remember the words of Lionel Richie:   ”Show the world and all its people, All the wonders love can bring, Give us strength and understanding, Give us all one song to sing”.

Craig Tait


Something to believe in


I was raised a Baptist and then in my teenage years as a Pentecostal so as you can imagine I had a pretty thorough bible education. I was married to a woman whose entire family was Hindu. My best friend at the time was a Jew (his father was a rabbi) and at work my friends and colleagues were Roman Catholic, 7th day Adventists and Muslims. I even had Atheist and Wiccan friends. After my marriage fell apart I stopped believing in anything.

I met and fell in love with a Jehovah’s Witness. I started studying and we married, we left the cult together and try to educate those who are being targeted by Witnesses and those trying to leave.

Now that I have stated my credentials it’s time to get to the point.

The hardest thing I ever had to observe was how my wife had to challenge what she believed as a Witness in the cold hard face of facts and proof. As a Witness she was taught to believe what the elders and Governing Body told her and never challenge the Governing Body no matter how absurd the instruction was.

I challenged the directives from day one. No beards on the platform… right. I grew a beard and a moustache and still gave my talks and readings. That was the way I started showing my wife my dissatisfaction with what was occurring and the seed was planted. The seed grew into doubts and doubts into questions.

Questions I was happy to answer as best I could even though they led to arguments and recriminations. It’s never easy challenging what you believe and I acknowledged this and loved her unconditionally through this process. It’s this unconditional love that I demonstrated that helped her wake up and leave and research all she was taught. My wife now spends a great deal of time exposing the lies and half-truths of the Witnesses and helping others to recover.

But a question remains, now what do I believe?

If I have been lied to my whole life and I reject all that the Witnesses stand for where do I go and what path should I take to get there? I do not have those answers as faith is a very personal thing. Some people will become Christian, some Atheist, some may veer towards non-Christian faiths like Islam or Judaism. All of these belief systems are great as long as you do the one thing that you were never permitted to do as a JW. You must question yourself and find out who you are before you take any steps towards faith.

As Asiza has written about in the past it takes time and work for your true personality to exert itself and throw off the shackles of the cult personality. I believe it should be a crime that the Watchtower and other cults break down your sense of self and replace it with their own creed and value system.

When you know yourself take the time to research the faith that is drawing you. Question its history and practices. One of the things I hated about the Watchtower was the way it treated women as second class members and that helped keep me focused on what I truly believed.

No matter what you choose it will take time to acclimatise yourself to your new surroundings. As human beings and as individuals we need something in our lives. In the words on Bon Jovi, “In a world that gives you nothing, we need something to believe in”!

Craig Tait

The Hero and Heroines Journey From Cult to Consciousness – Brien Pittman


tunnel picWhat a long time it can take for a person to become the one they have always been.

At one time or another, all of us have worn other people’s beliefs and personalities. And understandably so, when the very religion we belong to and the institutional structures of our society makes being ourselves; much more demanding than attempting to become someone else.

“Follow to Fit in” would be an accurate definition of the phenomenon’s social psychology refers to as conformity and obedience. A cursory look at world history is all the proof one needs to realize that after 10,000 years of civilization; conformity and obedience is still hard wired in the neurology of every human’s mind, and is most often used by those sick with desires for power to manipulate and control the masses.

Journeying, evolving beyond our minds primitive ‘hard-wiring’ is the only way to protect ourselves and break free from the abuse and trauma suffered by trying to ‘fit in” rather than working to become authentically who we are. If we learn the necessary steps and have the stubbornness needed to achieve such authenticity.

The resounding truthfulness, inner harmony, and peace, of being uniquely who we are is vastly more enlightened and rewarding than fitting into the herd.

Sometime during your repressive religious lifestyle, perhaps to your dismay, you found yourself living someone else’s life or, a dual life. Their values, beliefs, and rules were directing your behavior, your choices, and your perceptions about yourself, others, and the world; your entire life.

More than likely, the more you struggled to achieve the life of another, it never quite felt right, even though no other alternative seemed to exist. Even when you achieved the acceptance and praise of others, you secretly felt fraudulent. Because you knew their acceptance of you was hypocritical, conditional acceptance and most of all a violation of your spirit.

In fact, I’m willing to bet you repeatedly experienced a ‘rebellion’ of your soul so to speak; the desire for your life’s emergence, an overthrow of your oppressive religiously prescribed understanding of self and the world. And that is totally ‘normal’ for someone with an immense love for life, freedom, and truth.

It is also extremely common, since the dawn of time, for every human journey to authenticity and enlarged being; to begin with fear, confusion, and contradictions.

This series of articles is going to ask you to occasionally embrace the similarities of your journey and the mythology and poetry of the ancients, as they aptly describe ‘The Journey’ we must all take; if we ever hope to become the person we have always been.

Traveling With Dante

You were pulled or, more accurately thrown from your familiar environment into the darkness. Like the poet Dante, you descended and upon waking, found yourself, just like Dante, in the figurative underworld having lost your way. (some people know it as PTSD)

All of us, whether we are ex-jw cult members or not, despite our best intentions, commonly find ourselves, at different stages in life, lost in the figurative underworld.

No amount of good intentions, intelligence, forethought, planning, prayer or adherence to a so-called biblical blueprint, can spare any of us from these periodic encounters with confusion, uncertainty, depression or, disappointment with ourselves and others, and the subsequent ending of the blueprints, beliefs and stratagems that once seemed to work but, now are obsolete and ultimately are no longer of any value in our lives.

What can this apparently self-directed journey or process, which challenges us to overthrow our old ways of thinking, feeling and responding to life mean, and how can we grow from such upsetting disruptive encounters with the darkness of our underworlds?

In Dante’s case, his journey through the underworld began as a divided person. One-half of Dante was unyielding, moralistic and legalistic, which acted as the supreme judge and decided who belonged in hell and more specifically, which circle of hell each sinner belonged in.

The other half of Dante was a humble pilgrim who journeyed to sacred places for spiritual reasons. He was a man who had himself been lost in the underworld, and who was sympathetic to others who had strayed from their soul’s path.

When Dante finds himself lost in the underworld, he is terribly frightened until Virgil, who symbolizes human reason and wisdom arrives to deliver him from hell. Dante the pilgrim is at first apprehensive, cautious and frightened until he is reassured of Virgil’s noble intentions.

However, near the end of the journey, as things become increasingly complicated and difficult to comprehend, Virgil shows signs of failure and weakness. In other words, Dante is loosing faith in his reasoning abilities and wisdom, and this of course makes Dante the pilgrim irritated and fearful, until Dante’s, moralistic and legalistic side -now balanced with compassion- rises to the occasion, giving Dante support and strength.

In the end, Dante returns to the upper world, the two halves of his self-joined, united with wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment of himself and of life in general.

While Dante’s Inferno has many symbolic representations and meanings, the overall message is the duality of life: that there cannot be pain without its opposite pleasure, light without darkness or enlightenment and serenity without suffering.

Re-read the last sentence if you need to for, it is vitally important that you understand clearly, that this is why you are so different from the ones you were forced to leave behind. This is the great difference between you and all the other people who chose to stay.

Like Dante, you are learning to accept the duality of life; even though there are still times when it scares the living hell out of you.

Despite what they say and believe about you, despite what they cause you to believe about yourself, despite even being diagnosed with PTSD.  You, just like Dante, are on a Hero or Heroines journey to more enlightenment because, again like Dante, you are ‘courageous’ enough ‘stubborn enough’ to suffer the ridicule and rejection of loved ones, even the inferno of hell if need be, in order to find and become your true Self. What more loving gift could you or anyone else give to the world than the best you. Just think what the entire world would be like; if more humans were willing to embark upon ‘their’ hero’s journey.

All enlightenment means is the state of having knowledge or understanding. You can put ethereal meaning into it if you like but, it’s through your experiencing more life, even the suffering, that you have gained more knowledge, more enlightenment. Think about it for a moment, even if you are currently lost in the underworld, your world is still larger than the ones who are too scared to leave and live life authentically.

Not meaning to sound clichéd’ or all new ageie but, whether you are currently a Jehovah’s Witness, deeply contemplating leaving the organization or, whether you are one of the brave souls who has recently left; it’s all a part of your journey. Even if you are an old timer like myself.

Of course, when we are in the midst of suffering and tragedy, talk about Journey’s and growth and wisdom seems pointless and insensitive. Yet much later we will often come to realize that we have acquired a more discerning consciousness, a more complex but clearer understanding of our self, the world and also, a much more interesting life. Because of our Journey.

I hope that by sharing my thoughts on the subject you will be inspired and encouraged to remain with this part of your journey right up until you reach your destination. And another adventure begins.





Getting to know yourself again

There is a saying that Jehovah’s Witnesses like to use when it suits them. ‘You can take the person out of the ‘Truth’, but you can’t take the ‘Truth’ out of the person.’ This was supposed to engender the idea that this ‘truth’ is just so fundamentally correct that it stays with you as if it is a beneficial thing. The ‘truth’ I’m speaking of is their version of correct spiritual teaching. In reality this saying actually describes how difficult it is to remove the cult personality and the cult reactions to life’s situations. It takes time to form this cult identity and over the years as a Witness this cult version of yourself will be reinforced and strengthened over and over by the interminable hours spent at meetings (similar to church services), field service (public preaching or cart manning), assemblies and conventions (bigger church services) and only associating with other Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In my view you will probably have to spend just as many hours and far more to reverse the indoctrination, and let your genuine personality assert itself. While you are healing and recovering you will be very confused, the only way I could deal with this confusion was to research, read and study everything that was causing my confusion. That doesn’t mean that as soon as you have overturned every wrong belief of the Witnesses you are all better. Instead it is the beginning of the recovery process, which is akin to the grieving process. Your emotions will be all over the place, give yourself time there is no quick fix or short cut to healing.

While I was in this state of confusion I would stare at my reflection in the mirror. This may sound strange – but honestly  I was trying to find out who I was. If I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness then who was I? It was a legitimate question and I didn’t have an answer. You get to know someone when you talk to them and make eye contact, so this was probably what I was doing to myself. Slowly my genuine personality started to show itself and now instead of suppressing it I could just let it be.

It may sound utterly simplistic but list the thing you like to do, the things that make you happy and over time you build on that, you try new things and discover the person you were meant to be. I’m the introverted type and I gravitate to quieter activities, I can now celebrate my low need for social interaction. As a Witness you were forced to be extroverted, going up to and talking to people uninvited, giving those ‘talks’ on the platform in the form of conversing to another sister. It seemed to me that my natural inclinations were incorrect and I had to change to fit the ideal of being a ‘good Witness’. Now that could all change, I could actually be myself.

I have recently discovered a love for gardening. Previously it was just ‘work’ I had no time to do it and I ended up with dead plants because I would forget to water them. Now I am thoroughly enjoying it, you would not believe my excitement when I saw those little bright green shoots showing themselves! I was so proud 😀

The person you had to be to fit in with the Witnesses you can now discard, you can celebrate your true self and really get to know yourself all over again, learn and grow and step out of your comfort zone. As a ‘born in’ that is a huge ask because you weren’t given the chance to form a genuine personality apart from the cult identity, but we humans are incredible beings, we can survive the un-survivable, forgive the unforgivable and make better lives for ourselves upon the ashes of the last one. So the next time you look in the mirror, look yourself straight in the eyes and commend yourself for how far you have come. Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses is worthy of a salute and no matter where you are in your journey of healing, I salute you.


Trust issues…and then some

It’s been awhile since I wrote and there is good reason for that, I’ve been processing an awful lot of information and trying to form my genuine ‘uninfluenced’ opinion. Which believably is really difficult when you have been raised in a very narrow fundamentalist way.

When I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses I had zero interest in joining a new church, but there was something that I honestly missed. The community, the feeling of belonging – and a church appeared attractive in achieving that again. I wanted to go slowly, to just get my feet wet and see what it was all about. Undeniably I got a bit swept along, and ended up having to step back and take a hard look at where I wanted to go. Who I wanted to be.

This is not to discuss my spiritual journey and what I believe now…that is a work in progress, I wanted to discuss my deep seated trust issues and perhaps they are your issues too. Overall a church is lead my men to some degree, many are incredibly sincere individuals, genuinely just trying their best to follow their God, many others though are misled themselves and some are plain fanatical.

How do you navigate through all of that without completely losing your way while on your own journey? What has helped me is putting down what my core beliefs are, these are not even the doctrinal/spiritual beliefs, but the stuff that involves love, morals and integrity. That is essentially what I am building on, what adds to it, grows it, or strengthens it is what is kept, all the rest is considered, and discarded if necessary. My realisation is that being completely honest about how I feel and think on things is of more value than just following rules.

Will I be able to just join a church and be completely happy? Maybe not, it might take me years to finally find my ‘church home’ but in all of it I will learn and I will grow and I will meet some of the most amazing people and their experiences, personalities and stories will only add to the colour of my life. Though I may not agree 100% with everything they believe that doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate them for the people they are.

Learning to trust again is a long drawn out process, and to be completely honest I am certain that I will never be able to trust a man on a platform ever again. It won’t matter how spiritual he is, or how learned he is, because I was so badly lied to once I will always keep my ‘exit’ light on just in case I need to get out. Organized religion is unfortunately run by imperfect men, no matter how sincere they may be they can’t get it perfectly right, I cannot expect them to either. We were taught as Witnesses to trust implicitly what the Governing Body said, we were also taught to trust the elders as our shepherds and trust their judgements even when it was so clearly and obviously a wrong call.

I think that with this training to trust so completely when we leave that ‘button’ is still there and needs to be crowbarred out of or brains because in trusting another so completely we are utterly not trusting our own consciences or reasoning. Imperfect men cannot be implicitly trusted as if they will never do anything to hurt us or always know what is best for us. How can they? How can we? We can only do our best and give each other understanding or forgiveness when things go wrong or advise is incorrect.

With growing up in an abusive home I saw my mother beaten terribly by my father when I was very young child. I swore to myself then that if my boyfriend or husband hit me, even once, I would leave him. No questions, no time for apologies, I would pack my bag and I would be gone, any children involved they would come with me. That was it, it was my line in the sand. Step over this, its over, I don’t care how much I love you. That is a pretty serious promise to make at 6 or 7 years old, but I was dead serious. I never wanted to be in the same position as my mother, crawling on the floor trying to get away from my fathers fists.

Obviously I did tell my husband about this promise and he completely agreed with me. He would help me pack if he ever done anything like that. He had seen some awful stuff and he would never raise his hand to me ever. We have been together for nearly six years now and not once has he ever raised his hand to me. With consistency I have learned that I can trust him in this. Does that mean he has never hurt me? No, he has, I have hurt him too – but we have forgiven each other and learnt from it and thankfully grown closer together.

When it comes to spiritual guidance and shepherding that is on a level that requires far more accountability, but at the same time we have the ultimate responsibility for our own beliefs and actions. When you are finally free to make your own decisions don’t just give it up. No matter where you are in your journey, be true to yourself, be honest, even if its hard to hear or understand, we really do need to like ourselves and embrace our own experiences so that we can be in a healthy place to learn to trust again. I suppose what I’m trying to say is you need to learn to trust yourself again first before you can learn to trust others. th[5]

We shouldn’t be looking for someone to tell us what to believe or think. We need to do that for ourselves now, and yes, its difficult when you first start in this because we are so used to being told what is right or wrong. We have to step up to the responsibility to ourselves to start making those decisions, what is acceptable and what is not.

This is turning into a much longer post than I thought – to close off, something I heard recently that really rang true for me was this – love of God is what has caused some of the worst atrocities known to man, crusades, inquisition, terrorism – instead we are told we should love our neighbour, which means everyone, we should love our fellow human beings, and that is what is being forgotten about in all the ‘love of God’ thinking. What about love for our fellow human beings, and giving them respect and dignity? Isn’t showing love for our neighbours how to show love of God?



The Picture of the Governing Body

This idea of comparing the Governing Body to the book “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde has been bouncing around in my head for some time. It occurred to me that if we were to find those metaphorical portraits of the Governing Body our eyes would scorched by the vile filth there portrayed.

If you are not familiar with this book, here is the plot from Wikipedia:

—Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty; he believes that Dorian’s beauty is responsible for the new mode in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life.

Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied and amoral experiences, while staying young and beautiful; all the while his portrait ages and records every soul-corrupting sin.[5]

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)


There have been movies based on this book as well, the most recent one I saw (2009) still gives me the shivers.

To fill you in on my comparison a little more. There is Dorian, a very beautiful and successful gentleman with  hardly a hint of stain on his name, he gets up to the most awful things and none of it seems to stick for very long at all. He gets away with the most disgusting things. The only thing that record the vileness is the portrait. Its ages, corrupts, decays on the canvas, his beautiful visage distorted, scarred and stained by his actions. Can you even imagine the portraits of the Governing Body members, the so called faithful and discreet slave? They have been complicit in death, sexual abuse, in fact every abuse we know of, lies, hypocrisy, shame, fearmongering, guilt inducing their members, controlling their members very lives. Why? All to maintain their power, their money, their empire.

They may look like well turned out men in bespoke suits and expensive well chosen jewellery. Some may speak well and have serious authority and perhaps even have that presence that people admire and want to follow and emulate. Does this picture show who and what they really are? By no means! (remember that line from Watchtowers?)

If I give my imagination some free reign I can just picture a basement somewhere in their brand new headquarters, a seven or eight walled room with a huge portrait hung dead centre on each wall. A red or purple velvet cover on each one with a little draw string of gold thread with a tassel to pull the cover out the way to view the vileness beneath. Each Governing Body’s name on a little gold plague above the portraits. The wall that is showing below the covers stained, mouldy and spattered with blood drips and dark splotches of dried blood. Dark disgusting discharge pooling on the otherwise immaculate skirting boards, spreading and reaching out to the other similar smelling pools spreading on the beautiful marble tiles.

Each day some poor fellow takes his mop and bucket and cleans the mess away, when the floors shines again he carefully steps out of the creepy room, locks the massive reinforced door and returns his cleaning tools to his hopper. He knows that he will clean the same mess again as it will have reappeared the next day as it has every day since he took the vaunted position of ‘official cleaner of the portrait vault’.

Although this is just an analogy the reality of it shocking. There are so many people cleaning up after them, defending them, and being loyal even when their own consciences are screaming against the crimes being committed. The Governing Body has much to answer for and their crimes are no longer being so well hidden. More and more they are being exposed and those portrait covers are being dragged off inch by inch until the full horror of their crimes are manifest for the whole world to see.

Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses preach?


I’m not looking for the usual answer  that they will probably repeat to you verbatim. “Because Jesus did”, or “we are only following Jesus’s example”.

Let me tell you a little memory of mine about a Jehovah’s Witness regular pioneer. I will call her R in my story, she was a friend of mine, in fact she was one of the first friends I made in the congregation when I was still ‘in’. She regular pioneered for years straight out of high school, she  worked part time in order to make sure she could still be in full-time service. Her one ambition (if I may say so) is that she wanted to go to Bethel. At that time the South African Bethel hardly ever took in single sisters, so she did finally get in by marrying a bethelite. Roughly seven years later she left bethel with her husband and is now still pioneering, well last I heard anyway.

That is some background for you, as a person she is the sweetest loveliest person I knew. She was always looking out for every one else. She often had ‘gatherings’ at her house for the youngsters so we could have some fun, supervised of course.

One night on our way to the meeting, I was sitting with her in the back of the car and I could see she was exhausted, completely shattered. She told me how she had been up since early that morning trying to get her hours in as it was the end of service year. For those who are a little lost here – the JW’s have a ‘service year’ just like a ‘financial year’ of a company. In that year a regular pioneer would need to put in a total of 840 hours. It works out to 70 hours a month. Since she only had like a day left in order to make up her hours she had been doing ‘crazy’ amounts of time to reach her goal.

As usual I deprecated my own service saying that I only did like two hours all month (I had heavy responsibilities taking care of my chronically ill mother – I wasn’t just slacking off) and that doing all her hours must feel amazing. Instead of agreeing with me she said very honestly that she thought my two hours given to Jehovah in joy and love were worth more than her ‘forced’ hours of seventy. Pretty much a quality over quantity thing. I was quite surprised by that because QUANTITY is all about being a good JW. That is why they have these hour requirements, that is why there is a congregation average of about ten hours a month, that all publishers should at least try to achieve.

Now that I am out and able to think clearer her comment  strikes me even more. Here was a regular pioneer, doing everything that should make her ecstatic with happiness according to the JW checklist, and instead she was half envying my happily given preaching hours.

So, why do they preach? Because THEY HAVE TO. You cannot be a Witness and not preach pretty much, if you don’t preach for three months consecutively you are then labelled as ‘inactive’. You need to hand in a ‘field service report’ every month to declare how much you have done and this is how the elders monitor your ‘spiritual health’ because if you are doing too little that means they need to follow up with you.

In fact I have heard so many stories of how JW’s at the time would falsify their hours just too keep the elders off their backs. Just imagine if a quarter of a congregation of say a hundred members are giving in fake hours, how much of that yearly report is pure fiction? Are they faking their hours out of malice? No, its out of fear because they don’t want the elders to start boring their eyes into them wondering what is wrong.

The next time a Witness knocks on your door, they may be just like my friend R. When you feel that usual understandable annoyance, just think that they are forced to be there in order to maintain their image of being in ‘good standing’ or completing their service hours. Oh they also need to recruit for the Organization, but honestly the overwhelming reason is to get those hours in. The new ‘cart witnessing’ is a real demonstration of that, are they talking to anyone? Most of the time they appear to just stand some distance away and watch or sit in their folding chairs keeping an eye on the cart. Hardly the way Jesus preached, but then that really wasn’t the issue was it?


My first false baptism

The thought of baptism has been on my mind a great deal recently. A young sister that is currently been forced to get baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness even though she doesn’t want to has reminded me very strongly about my own baptism way back in 2000 when I was 18 years old.

Flashback to a very cold day in August 2000 at the Eikenhof Assembly Hall in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was so nervous that day, in fact to be very honest I was terrified. My panic was at 200%, the hours before the baptism talk I was shaking with nerves. All baptism candidates sit in the front of the Hall, and I sat there feeling so scared and just wanting this situation over with. I cannot remember what the baptism talk was even about, though I’m sure it was pretty generic. We then stood up and we said the  required ‘Yes’s’ at the right time. We then filed out to the baptism pool outside. My anxiety was so high that I could barely feel myself walking down the aisle and outside, it was like I was hovering above myself and observing this all around me, like it wasn’t really happening to me. In the little changing room, I shakily got out of my clothes as I had my swimming costume underneath. I waited my turn at the door as we queued up and stepped down one by one to the brother in the pool ready to dunk us. The water was icy and I was shaking even more as I approached the brother and clumsily folded my arms, held my nose and then splash and out, it was all over. Cold to the bone I stumbled out to grab my towel. After getting dry and dressed there were the usual round of ‘congratulations’ and ‘well done’. Did I feel joyous? Not really, my overwhelming nerves has only just calmed, I felt exhausted. A huge scary thing was over, finally.

Should I have been that scared that day? In hind sight, yes – my emotional reaction was spot on regarding what I was getting myself into. I had no idea at the time! I was dedicating myself to an Organization. To backtrack a little more, before baptism you have to go through  100 questions in the ‘Organized To Do Jehovah’s Will’ book. There are three parts, and you go through all those questions in three sessions with three different elders. They will then decide if you are ready for baptism. If you are, an announcement is made at the next meeting, and you will be baptised at the next assembly or convention.

Getting baptised is becoming a fully fledged Jehovah’s Witness. Already having reached the age of 18 meant that most of the young Witnesses in the congregation were already baptised, being one that wasn’t made me stand out. Peer pressure at its best, but then I genuinely thought this was the right thing to do, even though I was so scared. My Bible study conductor brought up the subject first, once I had completed all the books it means the next step is field service and then baptism. Elders will also apply pressure, but then I have also noticed how harassed they look when they have too many baptism candidates that have to go through all the questions and the closest assembly is just days away. It all looks like WORK.

In comparison to this full on exam on their publications and then baptism that sort of feels like sheep being dipped quickly and smartly to join the rest of the slaves that are beholden completely to the Organization, there is the usual Christian baptism.

I am now looking forward to my new and proper baptism as a Christian. Guess what, there are no 100 questions and no pressure from anyone for me to do so. It is up to me, when I’m ready, that is all. The requirement is that I accept Jesus as my saviour. That’s it. I feel excitement, a touch of nervousness, but over all joy, that I going to get baptised. Very different from my first time round! – Edit  – I didn’t get baptised again. My so-called proper Christian baptism didn’t happen as I am not Pentecostal material. I continue to live and learn, post Watchtower.

Even though my baptism should have brought me closer to God, it did no such thing. I felt no different. The baptism talk also warns you that now you will be in Satan’s cross hair’s even more than ever. I wonder now if Satan is actually just saying ‘hello’ to another one obligated to an organization and dragged further away from Jesus. (just my personal musing).

If you feel like you are being pressured, unduly influenced and strongly persuaded that you should get baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness, really think about where this pressure is coming from. Is it from a good place? People that only want the best for you? Perhaps its because you are the only one in the family that isn’t baptised yet and its making your parents look bad, or its making your Bible study conductor look bad. This decision is not up to them, and you shouldn’t be doing it to make other people happy. This is a serious decision that only you should make, without any undue influence muddying the waters.


How to prove Jesus is not Michael the Archangel

I had the most enlightening conversation over e-mail with a current Witness over this question and I wanted to share the result, how to prove that Jesus is not Michael the Archangel with scripture. The Governing Body teaches that Jesus and Michael are the same, Michael being Jesus’ name in heaven before he came to earth.

All the scriptures quoted are from the New World Translation.

First off I listed the different occurrences of Michael the angel in the Bible. archangel-michael-6575209

Dan 10:13 “But the prince of the royal realm of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty one days, and , look! Michael, one of he foremost princes, came to help me; and I, for my part, remained there beside the kings of Persia.”
Dan10:21 ” However, I shall tell you the things noted down in the writing of truth, and there is no one holding strongly with me in these things but Michael, the prince of you people.”
Dan12:1 ” And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince….”
Jude 9 “But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses body, he did not dare to bring a judgement against him in abusive terms but said: “May Jehovah rebuke you.”
Rev 12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled”
From this we can list some facts about Michael:
1)A foremost prince
2)Prince of the people
3)A great prince
4) Archangel
5)He has ‘his’ own angels
We can only conclude from this that Michael is a high ranking angel and described as a prince.
Now let’s read Hebrews 1:5,6 “For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: “You are my son; I today, I have become your father”? And again: “I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son”? But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.”
That is rather conclusive isn’t it? Michael is clearly an angel even though a high ranking one, and the Father is saying and in fact repeats the thought that none of the angels were chosen for the task of being his son. Only Jesus could be – who is not an angel by that scripture!
Please do comment with your thoughts on this and definitely comment if I missed something!

Did Jesus die on a cross or a stake?

This question may seem very simple to the average person but to a Jehovah’s Witness this is huge. You are taught that the cross is a pagan symbol, that you shouldn’t wear it, have it in your home or otherwise even respect it. What bothered me when I was waking up was that I truly had bought into the idea that Jesus died on a stake. There is an explanation in their Greek Interlinear Translation that explains very wordily that it was a stake (crux simplex).

Once I had to admit that I had been deceived about a number of things, this teaching had to be examined as well. I spent a great deal of time reading this page on the website http://www.jwfacts.com http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/cross-or-stake.php. I strongly urge you to go through this information, I don’t simply want to regurgitate it here, but I wanted to share how I finally reached the answer to my question.

I was still a bit in a quandary all because my brain was not cooperating, what I really wanted was for someone just to tell me directly that it was a cross or not. That kind of thinking is definitely from being brought up a Witness. You are always told what to believe, what to think, your free will is circumvented. It was HARD having to think about this myself. I had to sleep on it and then come back and read the information again and pretty much cajole my brain cells into really putting some effort into this!

I decided that a good way to understand was to find out how the Romans really went about killing off criminals. This page was helpful to me  http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/crucifixion/roman-crucifixion-methods-reveal-the-history-of-crucifixion/

This is a paragraph taken from the page: —According to the literary sources, those condemned to crucifixion never carried the complete cross, despite the common belief to the contrary and despite the many modern re-enactments of Jesus’ walk to Golgotha. Instead, only the crossbar was carried, while the upright was set in a permanent place where it was used for subsequent executions. As the first-century Jewish historian Josephus noted, wood was so scarce in Jerusalem during the first century A.D. that the Romans were forced to travel ten miles from Jerusalem to secure timber for their siege machinery.

It made perfect sense to me that the stakes would be already be at the place of execution. I had always wondered how one man could carry a tree trunk all by himself anyway, so the stake being positioned next to the hole in ground and then hoisted up once the man was fixed in place followed my new train of thought very well, but then came the question, Jesus was carrying something, what was it? The scripture reads in the New World Translation: Matthew 27:32 As they were going out they found a native of Cyrene named Simon. This man they impressed in to service to lift up his torture stake,

A quote from jwfacts.com:

Biblical References

Scriptural references to Jesus death indicate that he died on a cross, not a stake.

The accounts at Matthew 27:26, 31-37, Mark 15:14-26, Luke 23:26-38, and John 19:1-22 all show that Jesus was forced to follow the practice of carrying the stauron to Golgotha. As seen from Dionysius quoted later, it was a Roman practice for the victim to carry the crossbeam, or patibulum to site of execution. There the patibulum was affixed to an upright stake.

John 19:17 “And, bearing the torture stake for himself, (bastazón hautó ton stauron), he went out to the so-called Skull Place, which is called Gol´go·tha in Hebrew.”

So I accepted now that the stake was already at the place waiting for Jesus, so what was being carried had to be cross beam. It would be smaller, thinner and relatively lighter and it would be possible for a man to carry it.

So if there is no real evidence to support that Jesus died on a stake why insist on it? If it was about historical evidence, truthfulness, integrity, it could be understood – but it isn’t. It’s just about being different. Judge Rutherford back in the day wanted the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be different from mainstream Christianity and so the cross had to be removed and proven to be ‘pagan’ by any way necessary – which included misquoting, lying and mistranslation.