It is difficult to fully assess just how many ex-members there are of the controlling and authoritarian religions of the world. When it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the group I am most familiar with, I’ve heard numbers like “a million” or perhaps even more. When I left 30 years ago there were no web sites, no online support groups, no outreach for former members that I was aware of. I exited on my own, with my few non-Witness family members a good 500 miles away from me. I was birthed into the world, alone, afraid and despondent. I didn’t know how long it would take me to recover from the years I spent allowing others to tell me what to think, in the time that my mind did not belong to me. Once I was free of it I was set adrift, wandering in the midst of an often confusing and perplexing world.
Today, there are numerous sites, blogs and discussion boards that are supported and maintained by the many ex-Witnesses who feel compelled to help others. Whether motivated by compassion for fellow former believers, or full of wanton hatred for the Witnesses, these individuals are collectively working to bring the organization down. When I reflect on what is happening I am in awe. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I thought there would be a day when the Jehovah’s Witnesses would cease to exist I would have been skeptical. But I doubt no longer. In an interesting twist, the Witnesses, who early on blanketed streets and neighborhoods with a message of intolerance and hate for all those who didn’t believe as they did, are now being punished online for their current and former deeds. Yes, the chickens have come home to roost.
It is not easy to convert someone to Jehovah’s Witnesses today. No sooner that a loathsome video about how a child should “Witness” to a child with gay parents is released, it is shared with thousands who cannot believe what they are seeing. Surely thousands more have seen the video released at the summer conventions this past year which show a young lady being effectively “shunned” by her parents (they won’t even answer the phone when she calls). It would be tough for someone to be caught off guard by the Witness message today. The JWs, once themselves experts at disseminating their shifting propaganda, are now at the mercy of a counter-attack of proportions like nothing they could have ever mounted themselves with their small web presence.
This is why I write. This is why I won’t remain silent. I have a voice and I must use it. If one less child is abused, if one less person dies as a result of not receiving a life-saving blood transfusion, if one less mind is turned inside-out by the controlling Watchtower message, then I have done my job. For the million or so ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses in this world I presume there are as many individual stories, some similar but no two exactly alike. Speak up! Do not be ashamed of the fact that you once believed in the words of insecure old men. Know that by sharing your story you may also be helping someone else rewrite theirs.