There has been a lot of press circulating lately over an public announcement from The Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses beginning construction on their brand new 1.5 million square foot media wing.
The reports state that much of it has to do with the children’s “Caleb and Sophia” videos the society has been releasing the last few years.
Based on that I would like to give some examples of why this concerns me, as well as what I was taught as a young witness growing up in the organization.
1.) Talk to strangers: The first time I can remember being encouraged to approach strangers and talk to them about the Bible was when I was about 4. However my parents had taken me out door to door with them since I was a small child. I remember clutching the Watchtower tightly in my hand as I recited my presentation. When the “householder” accepted I was filled with glee, but confused by the sad look they gave me as I walked away.
2.) Forgive your abusers: The first time I can remember forgiving an abuser was when I was five years old. I had been raped, and we were urged by the congregation elders to “seek peace and pursue it” with the offender and their family. We made arrangements to meet at their home and I hugged him.
For a long time I remember praying for Jehovah to forgive him for what he had done to me. I began forgiving and enduring abuse, and that cycle continued through my formative years.
3.) Report to your elders: Many times in my life I reported to the elders on various issues, from my first report which had to do with sexual abuse of a minor (not me), to disagreements with other members of the congregation, to R rated movies I caught people watching, etc.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, this disrupted our family unit because we never saw our fathers or mothers as our superiors, the society always ranked above them.
4.) Sacrifice to Jehovah: The first time I remember thinking myself a martyr to God was after my rape. I considered my pain a sacrifice to him, that I had endured this trial so that another child wouldn’t have to. How innocent in my ignorance I was, but at the time I was told “Jehovah never gives us more than what we can bear”, and that I was stronger for it.
5.) Beware the “Wild Beast”: In the Revelation book of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the worlds government entities are referred to as The Wild Beast. We were told that they would first attack “The Great Harlot – Babylon The Great” (Religion), and then they would turn on God’s chosen people (Us).
As such I was taught that all religion, media, and government was “lying in the power of the wicked one” known as Satan the Devil, and that if we heard negative remarks against Jehovah’s people in any shape or form that meant Armageddon was close at hand.
The first time I remember discussing what would happen when the world turned on the witnesses and we were to be persecuted as we had been in the Holocaust, that I would give my life for Jehovah and my brothers and sisters. I would never accept a blood transfusion, even if my life depended on it, to stay clean and sacred in Jehovah’s eyes.
I stayed silent about my sexual abuse for over two decades and was looked at as a “great example” of someone who didn’t risk forsaking Jehovah’s name by speaking out about what happened to me, but rather staying silent and dedicating myself into his service.
6.) Forgo Secular Education: Since the world is passing away, and all media, religion, and government entities are false, this is not the real life. As such, any investment or time taken away from Jehovah’s sacred service was obsolete and considered “mopping the floors of the Titanic.” I was told I probably wouldn’t even get to college age before the end came, and that pursuing higher education would save no one, while dedicating myself as a regular pioneer or bethelite would “save lives”.
I am now enrolled (at 30) in a GED program as of last week, and planning to seek higher education and attend college shortly after I get my degree.
While it can be said I learned proper manners, how to recite the bible forward and backwards, tolerance of others, modest dress and grooming, etc I find in my adulthood the lessons listed above were the ones that had the most impact on me as an adult.
What lessons do you remember?