Interview with Former Jehovah’s Witness on Freethought Radio
Posted: 16 August 2008 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I just listened to an interesting interview on Freethought Radio on Air America. The subject was a woman named Sarah Brasch who works as a human rights lawyer. She talked about what it was like to grow up as a child in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

One thing I didn’t know was that they don’t believe in Hell. But they do believe in spiritual demons and Satan.  Because they don’t believe in Hell, they use demon possession and demon spiritual warfare to intimidate and scare their flock, especially the children. They don’t dilute this ideology in front of children. Children in the religion, like Sarah was, are plagued with nightmares about demons and always fearful of being possessed by one. She said she feels it’s a form of child abuse. (I agree, as would Richard Dawkins).

As a result of her fear, Sarah said she became a zealot, always being the one in her class to raise the most money for their organizations and earn good points. But she was also judgmental of others. She also felt exploited when they had to go door to door to tout their pamplets and beliefs. With a child there, who would be verbally abusive to these strangers at their door?

The turning point came when her mother had a baby and he was very sick and needed a blood transfusion. Her household was very chaotic to begin with, her father was verbally abusive and her mother submissive but highly devoted to the faith. A judge stepped in and the state took her baby brother away where her got the medical attention he needed. He’s fine today.

The church also teaches that women must be submissive to their husbands and church elders look the other way when family members are being abused by their fathers and husbands. But they are quick to intervene when issues like blood transfusions come up.

Today, Sarah still suffers from the effects of the mind control and abuse. She said a few years ago she broke her hand and went to the emergency room. She told them she was a Jehovah’s Witness because she feared a transfusion. Then she realized what she had done.

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Posted: 18 August 2008 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I wasn’t able to find the interview, but I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well, although my parents weren’t very strong in the faith or “the Truth” as its referred to.  We only attended meetings sporadically as I was growing up and it wasn’t until I was older when I was pressured somewhat into taking it more seriously.  At the time, mostly to appease my family, I agreed to study the bible with one of the witnesses, but I eventually developed a more sincere interest and became an active member for a few years before eventually deciding to leave, which was a little over ten years ago.

They don’t believe in Hell, or at least they don’t believe in eternal torment.  They don’t believe that man was ever meant to die.  They believe Adam and Eve were real and would have lived forever along with all of their offspring if they hadn’t sinned.  As a result, I never had to get over any fear of everlasting torture myself.

They do believe in Satan and rebellious angels as demons and that they are actively trying to mislead people.  Its been my experience though, that they don’t teach these things with the intention of scarring members, although I’m sure it’s had that effect for many, but that they just really do believe this stuff.  Just like with much of mainstream Christianity and the teaching of Hellfire.  They believe that these things are facts.  I completely agree though, that religion in general is a form of child abuse.

The fear I had to get over was the fear of apostasy.  I mean, when your taught from when you were young, that there is a creator, and that you owe him everything, every meal, every breath…and that he can read your thoughts as well as see what your doing at all times, you really don’t allow yourself to think critically about him.  It really does warp your whole world view.  And then your taught that he has an organization here on earth and that his holy spirit operates through them.  Then, thinking critically about them at all becomes thinking critical of him.  Entertaining critical thoughts then is risking apostasy, which your taught of course, is the one unforgivable sin.  Blasphemy against the holy spirit.  This is the fear I think that keeps most people clinging to their belief in god, but its particularly so I think with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Fear of being critical or even thinking critically of the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society.

So much to say, I find that I don’t know what to say.  I’ll leave it there and hopefully I made some sense

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Posted: 18 August 2008 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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The podcast is now available at the link I provided in the original post.

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Posted: 18 August 2008 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I just listened to the interview, and I would have to say that my experience, although unpleasant, did not reach this level of abuse!

I’m not sure if it’s statistically significant, but for such a small cult, there seem to be a lot of former J.W.‘s who later identify themselves as atheists/agnostics. I’m just glad this girl left J.W.‘s to join the world of rational thought.

Seriously though, the witnesses have to do all of the door to door selling of their religion because it has such a high dropout rate. Around the time I left in 1975, there was a published study that revealed that one third of new J.W. converts left within five years after joining.

When I was living in Toronto 30 years ago, and helped start a support group for ex-witnesses, many of us were sick of religion entirely, while maybe half wanted tips on how to find a better religion. I think the J.W.‘s message, which is almost completely devoid of any kind of emotion or spiritualism, leads people to search to use reason and empirical evidence to answer their questions. It’s only when they can’t provide logical answers that they start spouting faith nonsense in a desperate attempt to try to stop members from leaving the “truth.”

The witnesses believe the Bible will provide logical answers to faith issues, so those who follow the path of reason and logic to eventually question J.W. dogma, have been provided the tools of inquiry by their leaders! And the Witnesses don’t have an equivalent to the irrational emotional appeals of pentacostals and similar evangelical religions.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Yeah, that was an interesting interview.  It’s a shame she had such a traumatic experience.

I’m not sure if it’s statistically significant, but for such a small cult, there seem to be a lot of former J.W.’s who later identify themselves as atheists/agnostics.

That wouldn’t surprise me at all.  I agree with you about the Witnesses message.  Most mainstream churches seem to be a lot more honest about the necessity of faith and that reason can only take you so far with the bible, whereas Jehovah’s Witnesses really believe that you can know that its the truth.  And so when one finally overcomes the fear of thinking critically about the Society, they’re able to see that the reasons for believing aren’t good at all and with no real belief in the concept of faith itself holding them back, its probably a lot easier to discover the real truth wink  Thats more or less what happened with me.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Storyteller - 18 August 2008 05:54 AM

  This is the fear I think that keeps most people clinging to their belief in god, but its particularly so I think with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Fear of being critical or even thinking critically of the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society.

Exactly what are the Watchtower and Bible Tract societies? Organizations within the church people must attend? What do they do? Just curious.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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It’s basically the legal organization used by the governing body of elders, the leaders of the faith itself, to print all their literature and distribute their teachings to all the congregations world wide.  It might have been more accurate of me to refer to the governing body specifically instead of the society. 

The governing body make all the decisions regarding the doctrines of the faith, any corrections or adjustments that may be needed, etc and pass them on through their publications like the Watchtower magazine.  To disagree with something in the publications is to disagree with the governing body of the organization and if your vocal about it to other members of your congregation, you’ll likely be confronted by the elders of your congregation and risk being disfellowshipped if you persist.  While they don’t necessarily believe that the governing body is infallible, they do believe gods spirit is operating through them, guiding them in a way, so to disagree with the organization is to be an apostate.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Interesting. So this governing body, I assume of men, are like god in a way. What they say, goes.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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rab - 19 August 2008 07:31 PM

Interesting. So this governing body, I assume of men, are like god in a way. What they say, goes.

Yeah, as far as official doctrine or interpretation of scripture.  If a witness believes that the governing body are wrong on an issue they’re basically expected to adopt a humble attitude and trust that god will correct the mistaken understanding at some point.  Which leads one to wonder why he couldn’t have just beamed the correct understanding into their skulls to begin with.

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Posted: 20 August 2008 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Storyteller - 19 August 2008 11:29 PM
rab - 19 August 2008 07:31 PM

Interesting. So this governing body, I assume of men, are like god in a way. What they say, goes.

Yeah, as far as official doctrine or interpretation of scripture.  If a witness believes that the governing body are wrong on an issue they’re basically expected to adopt a humble attitude and trust that god will correct the mistaken understanding at some point.  Which leads one to wonder why he couldn’t have just beamed the correct understanding into their skulls to begin with.

And if anyone notices when the governing body makes doctrinal changes or revises interpretations of prophecies, they pull out the canard that the “light is getting brighter as we reach the culmination of the end times.” This b.s. is used to explain away all of the revised dates that were chosen for the start of the end times.

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Posted: 20 August 2008 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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The JWs occasionally come to my door, and I always politely say ‘no thanks’. I think next time they turn up I’ll be less polite.

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Posted: 20 August 2008 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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A strange coincidence, they showed up to my house the day I listened to the Brasch interview. I was driving out as they (man, younger man in passenger seat, two kids in the back seat) were driving in. We stopped our cars and I asked “What’cha want?” To which he replied, “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and are you familiar with our literature?” I said, “Yes, you people have been here before but I’m not interested. Thanks anyway.”

They turned around and followed me out of the driveway. No harm, no foul.

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Posted: 20 August 2008 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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And if anyone notices when the governing body makes doctrinal changes or revises interpretations of prophecies, they pull out the canard that the “light is getting brighter as we reach the culmination of the end times.” This b.s. is used to explain away all of the revised dates that were chosen for the start of the end times.

Yeah, they point to the scripture in proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”  Which I guess means god sat back for the better part of two thousand years and watched all the wars fought in his name, the torture and execution of heretics and witches, before finally granting them the true understanding of christianity.  But not the complete understanding, mind you, just a push in the right direction.

You can ask them to put you down as a ‘Do Not Call’ but eventually they call back anyway on the off chance that the person may have moved out.

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Posted: 21 August 2008 09:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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They are persistent little buggers, aren’t they?  LOL

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Posted: 24 August 2008 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I guess it would be considered rude to answer the door wearing horns and a tail next time the JWs come a-knockin’ aye? Maybe I’ll just hold one of my black cats, smile (revealing fangs of course) and take their “literature.” wink

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