Why Would Someone like me Leave The “Truth”?
The title of this thread is rhetorical. I am going to answer it with my own experience.
Before I do that, I want to discuss what we are told through the literature and the instruction that is given during meetings, assemblies and conventions, for the reasons why people leave the “Truth”.
The Watchtower of 15 November 2008, in the article “Help Them Return Without Delay” indicates people leave because of the following:
• They succumb to “anxieties of life”
• they may have been "stumbled"
• they may have a problem with teachings,
• they may be involved with wrongdoing.
So how can anxieties of life affect someone? Well according to one personal account in the aforementioned article:
“I started giving more attention to worldly matters than to spiritual things. Then I stopped studying, engaging in the ministry, and attending meetings. The next thing I knew, I was no longer a part of the Christian congregation”.
Allowing these anxieties to facilitate a drifting away from the “truth” means that an individual has failed to put their faith and trust in Jehovah and have allowed poor spiritual habits to develop.
What about stumbling? Stumbling basically refers to the negative effect of the actions of someone in the congregation, this can be a general problem or something directed specifically at the individual who has been stumbled.
Allowing oneself to be stumbled is a sign of spiritual immaturity, or a lack of reliance on Jehovah to keep his congregation clean. It shows a proud stubborn attitude, an inability to work with the elders.
What if an individual has a problem with WTS teachings? This is of course, according to the watchtower, a problem with the individual and not with them. The following statement, from the 11/15/08 article, is a suggested strategy for dealing with this problem:
It may be helpful to remind an inactive one that “the faithful and discreet slave” is dispensing excellent spiritual food. (Matt. 24:45) That is how the person originally learned the truth. So why should he not be determined to walk in the truth again?—2 John 4.
Of course if the individual doesn’t respond to this reminder and they continue to feel the teaching is wrong they will be disfellowshipped for apostasy! Apostates are, according to the WTS, the most dangerous people in the world, their thoughts and ideas are like powerful poison, with the potential to fatally damage the spiritual health of every member of the congregation.
A wrongdoer will either leave the congregation because they are racked with guilt or they show an unrepentant attitude and are either disfellowshipped or disassociate themselves by their actions or a formal letter. To be disfellowshipped an individual has demonstrated a wicked heart. They are a practiser of sin. This type of person wants to lead a promiscuous, debauched lifestyle. They are dealing treacherously with their marriage mate or they are lured by the machinations of Satan, they are selfish and unloving, and reject the safety of the “Christian Congregation”
So according to the society no one leaves the organisation unless they are in the wrong. They are sinners, apostates or just not putting kingdom interests first.
So where does that leave me?
Let me give you a bit of background. I was brought up a JW by my mother who was contacted during a depressive episode whilst she was pregnant. It was one of those “I was praying for help and direction & who should knock on my door? ….” experiences. My mother was in a very unhappy marriage (primarily caused by her owned neurosis), already had a year old son (my brother) and was concerned for the future (it was the mid 60’s and she was scared of everything including hippies).
My father worked in the oil industry and was often away in the Middle East for months at a time, so this gave my mother ample opportunity to become super zealous. She strongly believed that the best way to show her love for her children was by discipline, and boy did she discipline. Even today, the thing most people remember about my brother and myself when we were growing up, was the frequent slaps, smacks and pulling of hair administered by my mother in the Kingdom Hall.
Throughout the 1970’s my mother’s life (supported by my father’s very good income) was pioneering, attending meetings and assemblies, and completely indoctrinating her kids through fear and constant study. When were very little she used to make us sit quietly for 2 hours on dining room chairs in order for us to do the same during the meetings. We were not allowed to fidget in the slightest, if we did, we got a wallop. Our weekly study was the book being studied in the group (imagine at 6 years old we were studying the Babylon book) and for stints of 1 hour. Any lack of concentration was met with some form of violent discipline.
When we started school we had tell all our friends we were witnesses and expected to use every opportunity to speak up for the “truth” (which of course we didn’t). As we got older we couldn’t have friends either in the congregation or at school unless they met mother’s approval. Worldly friends were given a “Youth” book and were told they had to read it. As you can imagine we never took our school friends home!
Our school teachers were told to use the severest discipline and report any misbehaviour to my mother. Thankfully the teachers showed reasonableness and it never happened.
My brother and I both learned to compartmentalise school and home-life so that mother never really learned who are friends were or what we were up to in school. By the late 70’s my parents had divorced, (due to my mum’s paranoia and frigidity). In order to make ends meet she started working, which reduced the constant monitoring and allowed the opportunity for both my brother and I to start making friends and do things that normal teenage kids do.
To try and maintain control and instil bible principles she arranged a very full spiritual programme. We had “family study” Monday night, an Elder would study with us on a Wednesday night, meetings Tuesday, Thursday and Sundays, field service for at least two hours Saturday morning and 1 hour Sunday.. She got rid of the television, and had frequent music clearouts. We were allowed to read, and to be honest we read to our hearts content. Our one treat was we could go to the cinema with those in the truth who were deemed acceptable, a list that constantly changed, as youths in the hall started to show some individualism and various adults would upset my mother over trivial matters.
As I grew older I began to rebel, I began to resent the discipline (who wouldn’t) and mybrother was developing into a supercilious, arrogant secondary parent. He would delight in trying to run my life when my mother wasn’t around (he even tried to continue in this role even after I was married). I started spending a great deal of time “working” on my friend’s parent’s farm, where I could be myself. When I attended psychological therapy a few years back, it transpired the times on the farm were the happiest in my childhood.
I think I would have been happy to leave the organisation at that point but the regime of study and meetings and wholesome association in the congregation kept me on the “straight and narrow”. I grew very close to a couple of brothers in the congregation. One was much older than me, a musician who was extremely technically competent with electronics and motor vehicles. He became like a surrogate father to me a taught me a great many of life skills needed to get by as a young man. He got me on the district assembly sound team and there. I found some great buddies who seemed to have a great balance in their lives between the religion and other outside interests.
My other friend was a couple of years younger than me, we were both bright and had similar interests in music. His parents were so relaxed in their outlook compared to my mum, that I spent a great deal round his house. My mother was happy, his dad was an elder and mum was a regular auxillary pioneer. This friend became very close and eventually was my best man at my wedding. He was disfellowshipped in 2001, I will discuss to that soon.
I was now a well known figure in my circuit, with a couple of very close friends and a wide circles of others. I was baptised at 18 in 1985 just before I left 6th form. As I progressed through school, it became obvious I was good at science especially biology. Although my mother was an extremely zealous witness, she did have one major issue with the WTS. She felt that my brother and I should get an education and that pioneering was going to be a waste of time. She didn’t want us to go through University but to get Jobs where we would be trained and sponsored to get professional exams. There would be plenty of time to pioneer once we had an education behind us.
My mother was a nurse and suggested I got a job in a medical laboratory. I did and I hated it, I was testing blood, faeces and Urine for metabolites in order to help clinicians make a diagnosis. I was very good especially at the special tests where there were small or contaminated samples. I lasted about 2 years and found a role working for a speciality chemical company where I eventually got my education up to masters level and the start of a promising career (which I screwed up 12 years later).
I met my wife at sports centre in 1986. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, in fact her first impression of me was poor to say the least. Eventually (after being invited to her parents house for a party with a group of my friends) she started to see the charming, caring side of me! We fell in love and had a textbook JW courtship (didn’t even kiss until we were engaged). We were married in October 1988. We had our own studio apartment, both had good jobs and were in a congregation where my mum wasn’t! A congregation where I was just me. We were both being used on the district assembly, in the congregation I was becoming an accomplished platform speaker, and we both had a regular and enjoyable share in field service, we were both very happy in our roles in the “truth”.
In 1992 I was appointed a MS servant, it took a while due to not meeting hairstyle criteria (I had a couple of 1980’s style perms) and a propensity towards sarcasm. But eventually I got there. Things were going well, happily married, good job and recognition in the congregation. I believed in the organisation and genuinely felt I was trying to lead a good Christian life. In 1994 we moved from the city to a more rural, very middle class location. This meant a change in congregation and my first encounters with the negative side of the cult, although at that time I did not realise what I was being subject too. In fact it would take nearly 1 ½ decades for that realisation to sink in.
So the latter part of the 1980’s and 1990’s were very good for my wife and I. We are doing well “spiritually” and both had good jobs. Our increasing income allowed us to move at a relatively young age to a nice area. We wanted to stay in our old congregation but I was told as an appointed man I should support the congregation in my new territory.
This new congregation had a completely different feel about it to our old one. There seemed to be groups of people forming cliques. There were a couple of very wealthy brothers who seemed to be at every event and there were definitely some elders who appeared to be “more equal than others” as George Orwell would say. There were also some well established extended families that obviously held the majority influence. The family connections went up to the body of Elders and one in particular who would by 2008 be the congregation COBE, I’ll call him Bro Lying Slimeball (you can guess he was instrumental in my decision to leave).
Over time it became obvious to me that favouritism was a real issue in the congregation. We were invited to a few “get togethers” early on, but soon seemed to be excluded from these social events, probably because we didn’t really fit in – we didn’t drive BMW’s or own yachts and we had no family connections in the congregation.
These things never really concerned us, we knew that all congregations were different and we would just get on with what we had to do, and fit in as best we could. This was one of the first things I put to the back of mind.
Within our first couple of months in the new congregation we were invited to a wedding of one the congregation royalty. When we arrived at the reception, held in a beautiful parkland setting, none of the ushers seemed to know who we were. Did we misunderstand? Were we just expected at the Kingdom Hall ceremony? Eventually someone did find our names - we were on a hand written list “c” just to fill numbers. God we felt special! So we didn’t stay and went to the local coffee shop for Tea and Cake instead.
We did eventually find our place in the congregation, more by geographic necessity rather than choice. We live in a rural part of the territory and our group is like a “mini” congregation. We had our own territory about 10 maps, this isolated from the rest of the congregation by geography. The group comprised of about 30 people some of which became our close friends. Our group leader for many years was dear old brother and his wife. They had been in since the early in 1950’s, I’ll call them Roy and Polly. Over the years they had developed many calls in our territory were always happy to give calls to others so everyone in the group had a large magazine route thanks to their efforts. Roy and Polly’s Son (Mike) lived in about a mile from us, married with at the time 2 teenage kids. Mike is quite wealthy but is a lovely guy with no pretensions. There was the Smith family, fairly new in the “Truth” had a daughter, who got married just after we moved in and two teenage boys. There were a few single sisters, including one who become a good friend of my wife and a self centred froglike creature who spends her whole life planning where her next lift to the meeting was going to come from. Also in our group was Mark Neilson and his wife, he was officially the group assistant and he took his responsibilities very seriously indeed.
It was events around people in my group, the body of Elders in the congregation as well as what happened to my best friend from my childhood congregation that would seriously undermine my faith in the organisation. But It was a doctrinal issue that would eventually make me realise this not the “Truth”.
Doubt No.1 Appointment By Holy Spirit?
I had never, before met someone quite like Bro Nielson. He might as well have worn a badge that read “I wanna be an Elder”. He was highly ambitious. He had been a Pioneer and was the congregation “golden boy”. He also showed no respect, whatsoever for Roy (who at this time was n his late 70’s). He would criticise Roy openly, during meetings for field service and during the Group. He made it clear to me that although I was an MS I did not have any responsibilities in the Group.
At the time Mike (Roy’s son) was working full time, he missed quite a few meetings and because of this he was no longer an appointed man, but he was when he younger and used to be a circuit speaker. Brother Nielson (who was in his mid 20’s) treated Mike like he didn’t exist. This was a one proud, arrogant ambitious SOB. Of course someone like that would not be appointed as an Elder, since appointments were made Holy Spirit. WRONG!!!!! Despite his attitude his wish was granted, the Holy Spirit could obviously detect qualities that no one else could see. His appointment meant that our large group could be divided and a second group was formed. Guess who’s group we ended up in? It was in our home and which was nice, but Nielson tried his best to make it as unpleasant as possible.
He made it clear to me that he felt I shouldn’t be an MS and that I wasn’t a spiritual person. He was pedantic over silly things and made hard work of everything. For example when it was our turn to clean the KH he would make us stack all the chairs and move them before we could vacuum the carpet. Everyone else just vacuumed between the chair legs.
When he was appointed an Elder there was a reshuffle of the elders and he was given the Service Overseer role, a role that no one ever seemed to want, and as I was later to find out, always ended up on the new boys lap. The Neilson’s were renting a small room in a country cottage it was on short term lease and we knew they would probably move closer to his dad at the end of the lease, so we weren’t too concerned as we saw his leadership of our group, as a short term inconvenience.
Sure enough within 18 months he moved, but was still Service Overseer. I maybe reading too much into this, but what he did next, indicated to me that he was trying to get rid of me and my family. A neighbouring congregation, that had a number of pioneers needed more territory and our congregation covered a very large geographic area. So the boundaries were redrawn, I find it strange to this day, that our house was included in territory given to the other congregation. It would mean an extra six miles travelling to the KH and all their rest of their territory was in a completely different town. So we refused to move on the grounds of inconvenience.
I have subsequently been told that whenever my name came up for appointment to elder during that period he raised this fact, among other things, as a reason for me not qualifying, I didn’t follow theocratic direction!!
By this time Mike was attending meetings regularly, had excellent Field Service and was obviously “”reaching out” for appointment. His father Roy said that his appointment was constantly blocked because of Bro Nielsons protestations. In the end Mike was appointed, after a CO stayed with him and basically told the BOE that his name was going to be out forward to the Branch office.
In 2003 Bro. Nielson Stepped down, apparently because he didn’t agree with the rest of the Body Elders on some Key issues, never found out what they were, but coincidently Mike and I were both appointed Elders.
So my first issue was, If the appointments are made by Holy Spirit, why does it get wrong so very often? How can 1 person effectively block the HS direction? Why does Jehovah use such a stupidly flawed system for appointing those who are entrusted with the care of his precious sheep?
Doubt No2 – Shunning and Being Judgemental and Breaking up Families.
The third part of my story is demonstrates what a cult personality can do to someone who is a relatively intelligent and generally a quite caring individual. This is about two individuals who were treated quite shabbily by me because of my own supercilious self righteous attitude, an attitude I despise in others but was blind to in myself, and the subsequent realisation of this when I saw a close friend behaving in a similar way with his daughter.
I have mentioned in part 1 that I developed a very close friendship with a brother in my childhood congregation. I spent much of my youth round his house, we had way too much in common, we went on hiking holidays together and he was my best man at our wedding and I was his when he married a few years later. To be honest he was more a brother to me than my own genetic brother. We should have been friends for life. I will call him Jerry.
Jerry started courting Jenny a couple of years after nugget and I were married. Jenny appeared to quite introverted and although quite humorous seemed quite rigid in comparison to Jerry’s very laid back attitude to life. The romance between Jerry and Jenny progressed very quickly and they were soon engaged. To start with the four of us would see a fair bit of each other even going on holiday together. But within months things changed. We seemed to do less and less together. When we were together conversation seemed somewhat stunted, Jerry was definitely less open than the guy I grew up with. Jerry and Jenny were also started taking a lot of holidays abroad together, which in itself isn’t unusual but I knew Jerry well enough that he was happier climbing up a misty rain soaked mountain in Wales, than on a beach in the Canaries. But the Mediterranean beach holidays were what they were off too.
Nugget and I assumed that they were building a new life together and we were not as integral to that life as we had been before Jerry was married. Life moves on and people change. In addition we were in different circuits and it seemed whereas I was reaching out in the Congregation he was content to do as little as necessary. I would phone him occasionally and have conversations but felt that what we had was now gone, I wanted to associate with people who had a zeal for the “truth” not with those who were spiritually weak.
In the 8 years that followed their wedding my association with had dwindled to about 2 or 3 visits a year. In September 2001 I received a phone call from Jerry telling me that he and Jenny were divorcing, they had a miserable marriage more or less from day one. They had tried so often to make it work, taking the holidays to try and work things out. The Elders in their congregation had tried to help them but just made things worse by taking sides. He told me that he had had an affair with a colleague at work and was about to start living with her. His Judicial Committee meeting was to be that that night and he would be disfellowshipped. I listened said I hoped he would be happy, but he had made his decision to leave Jehovah and that this would be the last time we would talk unless he came back in the truth. I felt really sad, I had lost a friend, but it was his fault not mine.
I didn’t consider that he was trying to find happiness for the first time after nearly a decade of misery. It never occurred to me that I could now rekindle a friendship from someone who was always going to be loyal to me, someone who even after I shunned him kept the photos of our holidays together and resolved that he would always be there for me if needed. But I wasn’t there for him when he was in turmoil, I was more concerned that he wasn’t going to all the meetings and was not out in field service.
The second example concerned the youngest son of the Smith family, mentioned earlier. Here I was partly responsible for breaking a family in order to ensure the congregation was kept clean.
As previously mentioned the Smiths were “new in the Truth”TM when my wife and I and I joined this congregation. The youngest son got baptised at quite a young age. By the time he was in his late teens his meeting attendance was extremely poor and although he was still living with his parents it was well known that he had faded. In his early 20’s he started dating a “worldly” girl and had moved out of his parents home. I was a relatively new elder and he was in my group. By this time Roy was in his late 80’s and so I felt it was my responsibility to Shepherd hound this chap.
I raised at an Elder’s meeting that this young man was still a baptised brother and we needed to know whether he is living an immoral life. My reasoning inactive publisher + worldly girl must = Sexual Relations. This was my opportunity to be seen as a morally upright person, following theocratic direction, and to protect his family from an immoral influence.
We asked his parents what there views were and they agreed they would talk to him. He was adamant with his parents that he wasn’t leading an immoral life, in fact his girlfriend was Christian. He had even attended her church. Unfortunately he was so unaware of the seriousness of what he had just admitted and his parents didn’t realise the implication when they spoke to us. They were just delighted that he hadn’t been having sex.
Of course attending a church is classed as disassociation by your actions. We wanted to meet with young brother Smith as a matter of urgency. We left numerous voice mails on both his home phone and mobile and he didn’t answer them. I saw this as a rebellious spirit.
Mike and I decided that we would find out where he lived and visit him. He had moved to completely different area but we were new elders and determined to get our man. We confronted Bro Smith on his doorstep after establishing where his house was and waiting outside long enough to ensure that he was in. There was no evidence of a girlfriend, but that didn’t matter we had a case of apostacy. When we asked about the confession he made to his mum, he freely admitted it. He didn’t go to church but respected her faith and therefore was willing to undertake this vow.
It was pointed out to him that his actions aligned him with Babylonish religion, and he was in effect despising the table of Jehovah. He couldn’t see the issue, so we showed him some scriptures and pointed out that he had made a big mistake in Jehovah’s eyes. He told us he could see that now and was very sorry.
We stated that we were looking for signs of true repentance and that an excellent demonstration of repentance would be to return to meetings and dump his girlfriend.
To our shock and surprise he told us that he would rather be DF’d or DA and take the consequences rather than give up the girl who he loved very dearly.
An announcement was made shortly afterward that Bro Mr. Smith is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. Since then he has been shunned by his Mother, Father and siblings and has to start his married life without their help and support. A close and loving family split up. But of course it is his fault for displaying such a stubborn attitude.
The Final example in this section concerns Mikes own daughter. Her name for the purposes of this account is Pat. She married a really lovely guy, Steve from a neighbouring congregation about 10 years ago. Steve and Pat got on really well. They lived pretty much a JW ideal life. He went out to work she stayed at home did the housework and doted on him when he came in at night. This continued for 7 years and then something changed, they had two kids in quick succession.
The problem was Steve couldn’t see why, with 2 toddlers to look after, Pat was no longer so attentive to him. She started to suffer from something called tiredness, and this prevented her from being as subservient. She tried her best to be the perfect wife but couldn’t. He did nothing around the house to help, but then why should he? That’s her job. He was bringing in the cash and was a MS in the congregation. Eventually so she left him. In her mind take the 2 kids and leave the third kid to fend for himself.
Unfortunately she was seen by most of the congregation as a bad wife, and was pretty much outcast for it. In the end she went of the rails and had a couple of affairs, which she confessed to.
In the JC she was truly repentant, but had to demonstrate this by returning to her husband. She didn’t want and was disfellowshipped.
So we have a single mum, with two small children, living on her own, racked with guilt, needing help and support more than ever. After all she was just getting out of marriage that wasn’t working for her. Her father a good friend of mine provided this support by disowning her. He was willing to write her out of his will, removed her phone numbers form his and his wife’s mobile phone and only contacts her children through the ex-husband.
I could see the injustice and wanted to scream at Mike. I have tried to reason with him, but as he tells me it is her choice. We are told that Jehovah is the personification of love and that Jesus is a prefect reflection of the love. Would Jesus abandon someone in their time of most need? Would he allow rules to split up a close and family?
Can you imagine Jesus judging a lifelong friend because they no longer do 10 hours in field service or miss meetings? Can you see him breaking that friendship because his friend decides the only way out of an unhappy situation is to leave the cause of his misery?
The second reason for me leaving the “Truth” is because it breaks up families and friends and promotes an unchristian culture of Judging the spiritual motivations of fellow members. The excuse of keeping the congregation clean falls apart when you see the misery that is left in the wake of Judicial Decisions.
Reason Number 3 – Should this happen in God’s Chosen Organisation?
My previous 3 posts dealing with this subject have discussed some incidents that played an important part in my waking up to the fact that I was part of a high control cult ,called by its members “The Truth”.
These events were not entirely responsible for my exit, but they added to a portfolio of doubts that I had subconsciously filed away in the “wait on Jehovah” drawer. Doubts such as, 7000 years of human existence, a worldwide flood, the legitimacy of a 150 year old religion, the killing of everyone except JW’s at Armageddon and changes in policies and dates.
It’s interesting that when a list of the concerns is written down on piece of paper it is very condemning. It’s amazing I didn’t see the fallacy of my belief system sooner. But I theorise that the subconscious part of the brain seems to be able to allow you to believe what you want to, it segregates everything and prevents connections being made. That is until the conscious part starts ringing the alarm bells.
Suddenly everything connects and the light turns on. You may not like your conclusions, because they force you to make a choice. Either ignore what you have learned, file everything back the way it was and continue to live how you were. Or dwell on the connections, ask questions and allow the security of what you previously believed in to crumble away. High control groups are very good at making you take the option of ignoring the evidence, they use tools such as guilt, fear and social stigmatism. The events I am now going to described rang the alarm bells for me. Others involved, saw the same evidence as me, but they just added it to the “wait on Jehovah” file.
Like my previous accounts, there’s nothing here that will rock the world and bring the witnesses down, but hopefully active JW’s and “lurkers” on this site, will relate to or recognise similar situations in their lives and start to make connections and ask question for themselves. Most people who know me don’t know that I have self esteem issues and cope poorly with too much pressure. I believe these issues stem from my Mother’s neurosis and the undermining of confidence that comes from trying to meet the impossible high standards imposed by WTS.
The result of this lack of confidence has been that during periods of change I can hit the self destruct button. One example of this was when my daughter was born, I suddenly could no longer cope with working for an organisation where I felt I owed them, and they were expecting too much in return. After 12 years working for the same company I changed direction completely and eventually started my own business where I could be in control of everything from my working day to the type of work I took on.
The downside of working for myself, is I didn’t always know where the next project is going to come from and I was vulnerable to economic downturns. At the end of 2008 I could see 2009 was potentially a very difficult year and the first last quarter was going to be extremely tough since the contract work I was doing came to an end in October.
The last thing I needed at this time was additional stress. In order to make ends meet I was travelling a great deal on business and I was missing quite a few meetings. This resulted in me being criticised by the COBE (Bro. Slimeball). Brother Slimeball did not like me because I was not a member of his family or close friend and I didn’t always agree with him (in fact I nearly always disagreed with him). He also felt I had previously conspired against his best friend (Bro.Lapdog ) when I relinquished the Service Overseer role.
Bro. Lapdog wanted a role on the service committee so that Slimeball and lapdog could rule the congregation with an iron fist, and SO was an ideal post for him. Unfortunately his wife has a reputation as a trouble maker and the CO blocked Lapdog’s appointment on the grounds that she would spend more time upsetting rather upbuilding the groups. Both Bro. Slimeball and Bro. Lapdog knowing I had a good relationship with the CO assumed I had influenced him on this decision.
My missing some meetings gave Bro. Slimeball an opportunity to get his own back. During our last quarter elders meeting He got Bro. Lapdog to propose that I should be taken off the “Away Speaker list” since I was having problems getting to our meetings. He did this because he knew visiting other congregation to give public talks was the only thing that I really enjoyed doing as an Elder and because my friend Mike was the “Public talks coordinator” I got more than my fair share of away talks.
During the meeting when this proposal was made I robustly defended my position, and to my delight all the elders disagreed with Lapdog’s proposal and it was denied. Victory was mine!! The trouble was it made Slimeball even more determined to hassle me. Stress that I really didn’t need, especially as I was also landed with the 2009 memorial talk which would take place at the same time I would be working in London for very intense four week period of 14hr days. What happened when I was working in London, a week before the memorial talk , would be the absolute waking up for me, a blatant example of double standards and nepotism endorsed by the whole body of Elders and covered over by a bare faced lie.
I have always considered myself to be quite approachable, I try to be non-judgemental (although Part 3 showed that isn’t always the case) and I do my best to listen to people’s problems, and give honest, practical advice. These characteristics made me a popular choice for outpourings and “sound boarding” from congregation members. Whilst working in London I received a phone call from a Sister. Her daughter , Emily, was friends with Bro. Slimeball’s daughter, Tasha (an attractive and rather tarty, baptised 15 year old). Emily had an incriminating printout of a Facebook Wall conversation regarding Tasha and another Elders son in a neighbouring congregation. Emily was very sensitive to sexual misconduct, she had been abused when she was younger and felt that Tasha was being stupid especially as the boy she seeing was quite a few years older. She felt she was doing the Christian thing by reporting her friend.
Emily’s mother had spoken to Slimeball about this and he had demanded that she hand the evidence over. She was reluctant to do so because she didn’t trust Slimeball, she felt he would cover things up to protect his family, which she said she had seen happen before. When she expressed her unwillingness to Slimeball he got very angry with her, she didn’t know what to do and thus the phone-call to me. After establishing what the nature of the evidence was I suggested that she post the information in a sealed envelope through my letter box. I would take the train home that evening and look at the information.
I phoned Mike told him the situation and I that I would come over to his house we would open the envelope together and read the content to Bro. Slimeball over the phone. I did this for practical reasons. I wouldn’t be back till gone half past midnight, Mike lives 3 minutes down the road as opposed to Slimeball living 30 minutes away.I had to be up at 5 O’clock to get the train into London next day. Mike spoke to Slimeball, who told him this wasn’t acceptable we should not open it but pass it straight onto him. Mike pointed out that as long as it got to the body of elders Emily’s mother could use any route she wanted.
To be honest I knew a little of what was in the Facebook messages certainly none of the Detail. When Mike and I read it we discovered pretty much as full description of a night of passion in an elders house. Dave and I rang Slimeball read the content and waited for response. Absolute silence for about 30 seconds, followed by “it’s probably just a teenage girl’s fantasy”. I left the printout with Mike and said that the Boy’s father would need to know first thing in the morning, but as it was nearly 2 in the morning, better wait till he gets up.
I left the situation in the hands of the Mike, Slimeball and Father of the boy involved.
After the Sunday meeting there was an elders meeting to arrange a Judicial committee. The meeting was being chaired by Bro. Lapdog at Slimeball’s request since it was slimeball’s daughter involved. We were told there had been a confession and that it would be straight forward meeting. Mike suggested that I be on the committee since I was involved from the beginning and being the only elder with knowledge of facebook, I could do a thorough investigation. Mike was told by Lapdog there would be no investigation, there has been a confession and the result would probably be just restrictions (not quite the way things should be done). I wasn’t even allowed to put my hand up. The committee was chosen it comprised of Bro. Lapdog (chairman – best mate of slimeball), Bro. Really nice but dim (who always looks for the very best in absolutely everyone) and Bro. Remembers the days of the Congregation servant (who thinks Slimeball is god’s spokesman for the congregation).
I couldn’t believe it, a hand picked Judicial Committee. I was livid, but then it got worse. Bro Slimeball took over the chair and said
“we have another serious issue to discuss, a complete lack of judgement of one of our body. An elder in this body has deliberately coerced a sister to pass confidential information onto him for the purposes of discrediting another elders family”. This matter needs to be investigated and in the meantime I suggest we suspend Bro. Cantleave of his duties.”
WTF!!!!!!! I was being investigated?……..showed lack of jusdgement?............Duties suspended? Who did this guy think he was? What I did next was not the best move I could have done.
I stormed out of the meeting shouting “you nepotistic hypocrite” and slamming the door behind me. Of course 5 minutes after a Sunday meeting the hall was pretty full.
You can imagine the reaction of the people who saw me storm out of the hall – but what happened in the elders meeting after I left was even funnier. Mike told me that there was stunned silence for about a minute. Then Bro. Slimeball said “we’ll take that as his stepping down!”. Apparently 8 of the 9 other elders all simultaneously said - “NO!”. They all felt that I was provoked and although the reaction was over the top it did not constitute my stepping down.
I was really pissed off, so much so that when I got home I called the CO. He was to his credit he was excellent. He listened and gave me strategy. First of all to make sure that the societies procedure was followed. Bro Slimeball’s daughter was still living with him, so after the JC and investigation as to whether he still qualified was needed. If Slimeball refused the CO would chair it personally. Because the incident involved a 15 year old girl it should be reported to the legal desk. He added that I did nothing wrong and in his opinion there was no reason to investigate my course of action. He told I should call Slimeball and apologise for the walk out and make clear that I had no intention of stepping down or relinquishing responsibilities, I would do the Memorial Talk the following week. He told me not to mention the conversation we were having to Slimeball!
I made the phone call, during the conversation I said I was surprised that I was not considered to be on the JC, Slimeball said he had told Lapdog not to choose me as he felt I was too biased. I repeated back what he had just said “so you gave an instruction for me not be chosen?” “Yes I did”. This conversation is very important, because no one should be able to influence the make up of a JC. It should be appointed by the whole body of elders. My wife was in the room whilst I was having the conversation and can vouch that this indeed was said.
I spoke to Mike about the need for the investigation into whether Slimeball was presiding over his household in a fine manner. This is a requirement laid down in the “Flock Book” so Mike said he would ensure this happened. I told Mike that I had spoken to the CO and stated that if it didn’t happen he would do it himself, but not mention this to Slimeball.
The next day Mike told me that he had spoken to Lapdog who was chairing the JC and he was going to arrange a “special elders meeting” to undertake the Review of Slimeball’s qualifications and at the same time investigate Bro. Cantleave’s actions over the last 2 weeks. Mike said he couldn’t believe that this was still on the agenda, but apparently my storming underscored my lack of judgement, and Slimeball and Lapdog felt the matter couldn’t rest. Two brothers were selected to speak to me about my behaviour before this meeting.
The brothers looked at the policy files and came and saw me. At the end of the meeting they accepted that I had done nothing wrong except breaking elders meeting protocol by Storming out. They also warned that accusing Slimeball of nepotism could easily become “ smiting with words” and slander, but as it was a one off, in the heat of the moment, they didn’t think this was the case and they weren’t going to take it any further.
The special meeting was to take place the week after the memorial. Whilst preparing the memorial talk I thought I would undertake some research on the “partaking of the emblems” as this was a big part of what the outline focuses on. The more I researched the more uncomfortable I became about what my personal relationship with Jesus was. One the Watchtowers I read on the subject made it pretty clear that the great crowd had a relationship not with Jesus directly, but by proxy through the F&DS. So what did Jesus mean when he said “no one comes to the Father except through me”?
I started to investigate how this was interpreted by other bible reference works. There seemed to be no other religion that didn’t take this statement on face value. Only JW’ s saw these words of Jesus as being aimed at a small group of special people. Normally I would have let this go. But I was under stress and was pissed off with the way I was being treated by my local BOE, I had to make sure that what the WT said was right, because if it wasn’t why should I take this crap. I did something that I was warned never to do. I Googled the subject. I couldn’t believe how much discussion there was on the internet about this subject and JW’s. I watched a couple UTube videos by Rick Frearon and Tim Gilgore. I didn’t want to believe what they were saying. They were both bitter and critical ex JW’s. What the hell does a professional wrestler and someone who obviously falsely claimed he was one of the anointed know about the Truth? They want to undermine my faith because they have lost the prospect of everlasting life and want me to share in their misery . I had to finish my preparing my talk, I didn’t have time to waste reading and listening to such apostate poison.
I completed my talk 48 hours before it was due to be delivered it to the congregation. It went down really well, I had so many people commend me for what was said by few to be” the best memorial talk they had heard in years”. I normally felt great when I got that type of commendation, but this time I had other things on my mind. Things to do with what I had read on the internet, the resurfacing of the doubt’s that I had filed away over the years and a special elders meeting in 2 days time.
The special elders meeting was a complete farce. Slimeball was asked loads of closed questions such as “do you study with your daughter?” “do you monitor her internet activity?” He could without any difficulty paint a picture of the perfect dad. I couldn’t concentrate and decided I wouldn’t ask any questions I just let it go, I wanted to move on. After the “investigation” Slimeball was asked to leave the room and all the elders unanimously decided that he was fit to stay an elder and continue as the COBE, I even voted in his favour.
After he was told the result he took the chair and asked the two brothers for the results of their investigation. When he was told that their was no evidence of me doing anything against theocratic procedure; he went ballistic. He accused the brothers of conducting a poor investigation and he started to conduct his own. He said the evidence was addressed to him, that I had told the sister not give it to him directly. He said I was wrong to open a document, that I knew contained personal information about his family, in front of someone else who had nothing to do with the family. He said I must have grieved Jehovah’s spirit when I stormed out of the meeting.
I went straight into defence mode and replied, “it probably grieved the spirit more that you hand picked your daughters JC, and told the chairman not to take my hand.”
One the Elders said “Cantleave that is a very serious accusation – is it true?” I said “Yes Slimeball told me himself he did that.”
At that that point Slimeball said “Well Bro. Cantleave –you have added Lying and slander to the list, I never said that because I never did that.”
One the other elders asked Lapdog if that was the case, “ I don’t remember if we discussed that”,
My response was “It is a very simple question – were you asked to not take my hand?”
After a pause the answer came back “No I was not asked to do that”.
I left the organisation in my mind at that point. That evening I trawled the internet, I spent a couple months reading websites like Silentlambs, and The six screens of the watchtower, I learned about the UN Scandal, the real history of the organisation, the scumbag that Rutherford was and in June I joined Jehovahs-witness.net.
At the beginning of this thread I stated that the WTS tells its members that anyone who leaves the Organisation is wrong. They are immoral, apostate, weak , bitter or don’t trust Jehovah to sort things out. I am none of those things.
Well I am not bitter, I am not weak or immoral, I haven’t left the wife (in fact she has left the org now). I trusted Jehovah to sort things out and he didn’t. I expected his method of appointing shepherds by HS to work, it doesn’t because he is not using this organisation.
If after reading this account you think you know who I am, you probably don’t, as I said before my experience isn’t unique. The same things are being played out in congregations throughout the world.
I wasn’t 100% certain that though until I read Crisis of Conscience. That book made me realise that what happened in my local body of Elders was a reflection of what happened in the Governing Body in the late 1970’s. The organisation is corrupt from the top down.
I implore any who haven’t done so to read Ray’s books. You won’t get possessed by Demons but you may free yourself of the Guilt and Fear that keeps so many people in the prison of the WTS.