I was a 5th generation Jehovah's Witness. I quit attending meetings as a Witness 3 years ago.
I was taught that the end was so close that education was frivolous. I felt a need to attend college to further my education. Being a mother of two prompted me to consider the need for such an education should financial responsibility fall on me. After beginning classes, I began receiving frequent visits from the elders in my congregation to discourage my efforts. They felt I needed to be spending more time in the ministry.
I had a personal struggle with the ministry because both of my children suffer from ADHD and manic-depressive Disorder. It was very difficult for me to take them door-to-door to do Witness work. I was often discouraged by their behavior and by criticism from others that did not understand my children's problems. My conscience was bothered taking my children in service because I felt their behavior was reproachful to God's organization.
My husband, who was also a Witness, was upset by the visits from the elders. Those visits left me extremely depressed and upset. My husband instructed me to tell the elders that if they wanted to visit with us, they should call and make an appointment to come when he was home. Even after that request they still persisted. My husband made a statement to someone in the congregation that he didn't like me being harassed and if necessary he would file a "restraining order" to keep them away. Then the visits ceased for awhile.
It seems to be a common belief among Witnesses that children with psychological problems like mine are perceived as possessed by the Devil. I personally witnessed families destroying objects in their home to rid their home of demons. Psychiatry and medication is discouraged as "worldly" influences deviating from God's truth.
My children's dysfunction reached the point that we were forced to seek professional help and medicate them. It became increasingly obvious to me that the elders in the congregation lacked the skills and qualifications to deal with our issues in a professional manner.
After speaking many times with a therapist, we began evaluating the structure of our family background and our history as Witnesses. I began seeing parallels between our family problems and religious fanaticism. Among some relatives there exists paranoia, obsessive, neurotic, and abusive authority behavior. It was quite an awakening. My family was extremely critical of my therapy. They felt I needed to ground myself more firmly in the "Truth".
My son's behavioral problems intensified after therapy. He confided in our therapist that a relative who was mentally retarded had molested him.
I approached my grandmother, who was the caregiver for that relative about the situation. She rebuked me and denied the allegation and stated that due to my son's mental illness, it was a fabrication of his imagination. At this point I didn't know what to believe, so I let it go, as you never think something like this is possible Jehovah's organization. We were taught that things like this only happen to people "in the world".
My grandmother insisted these problems were a result of my neglectful ministry and poor meeting attendance. Boasting that she would see better results than my husband and I , she began a personal bible study with him . He spent much time with my grandparents in there home, visiting for several days and even weeks at a time. I thought that this was normal. I also spent much cherished time with my grandparents when I was a child. My grandmother insisted that my son was better when he was in her home receiving spiritual nourishment than when he was with us. She requested to take him into her home on a trial basis, to which we agreed. I wanted the best for my son.
She began withholding vital information regarding my son's behavior at school and in their home, to the appearance that he was doing well. He was acting out in school, sitting in class in a daze, refusing to do school work, and speaking of demons, and death and destruction, and drawing morbid pictures of doom.
After several months of this, I decided it was time to take charge of the situation. One afternoon I pulled him from school and notified my grandparents that I was bringing my son home. My grandmother became enraged. I put a block on our phone and cut off complete contact with my grandparents and Jehovah's Witnesses in an attempt to take charge of our lives.
Several elders within the congregation knew about my son's molestation and covered it up to protect my grandparents. As far as they were concerned it was just a family matter, and they could not get involved. A campaign of ridicule started against our family by the elders. We resolved to gently fade away from the organization in an attempt to rebuild our lives.
It has been almost two years since this began. Our family is slowly healing. We began attending a church of our choice only after much research about the history of religions in existence today. Many well-meaning Witnesses whom we encounter within the community encourage us to return to meetings.
A few weeks ago, we were in the grocery store after church and two elders approached my husband because he was wearing a cross--this created a scene in the store bringing attention to our family. That same evening we were having dinner with my parents (who have been out of the organization for 12 years) and some of their friends when we noticed a vehicle parked outside their home with the motor running. I looked out the window and was able to identify the car as one owned by an elder we encountered at the store.
The next week we were approached by a Witness who insisted we needed to attend the Sunday meeting because the Circuit Overseer was visiting and he felt we would be encouraged by the visit. We stated we were attending another church.
At this point, we felt it was time to inform a close personal friend and my husband's parents, who were Witnesses--of our new religious preference.
Last week while eating dinner a gentleman who said he was an elder in the local congregation interrupted us with a phone call. He informed me that he was investigating a rumor that I was attending another church. He said that I could be disfellowshiped on this basis. I told him that the "rumor" was correct. He then asked me if my husband was also attending another church. I told him that I do not speak for my husband and handed the phone to him. He questioned my husband and stated that our cooperation would be appreciated. He requested that we write a letter of disassociation to which my husband agreed. When I was putting up the phone, I overheard a conversation between the elder and others, it seemed this was actually a conference call. The statement was made, "That's all we needed, now we got em." I was totally dismayed.
Jehovah's Witnesses have a way of further victimizing people when their principles are challenged.
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