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Updated: Aug 10, 2023

For those of you that were either born into a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or were converted, you decided, at some point, that enough was enough, and you left.

Maybe your exit was precipitated by excommunication (disfellowshipping). For the uninitiated, any infraction against the ever-shifting system of rules can lead to a Witness being summoned to appear before an ad hoc judicial committee made up of local elders. That committee can make a quite subjective decision to expel a member. Did a Witness informant rat you out for smoking a cigarette? Sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend? You might be disfellowshipped. Did you accept a life-saving blood transfusion? Read and discuss a blog (like this one) or any book or article penned by a former Witness? These are all offenses that can result in your being summoned to a committee meeting that leads to disfellowshipping.

And, yes, the public- facing statement is that disfellowshipping only happens to the unrepentant, but I challenge anyone to show me the objective standard that constitutes “repentance.” Often, whether a Witness get disfellowshipped for an offense has a lot more to do with whether he (rarely she) has any influence in the congregation and whether the elders in the judicial committee like or dislike the person that they are judging. Once disfellowshipped, a former Witness’ is red listed in the congregation so that she will be shunned by all current Witnesses. For persons who have been conditioned to limit all association to members of their faith, disfellowshipping constitutes a sudden, jarring loss of community and family.

But for many of you, after getting disfellowshipped, you decided Not to grovel and not to petition Witnesses elders to reinstate your membership. You decided not go back.

Then there are those who, like me, quit before we could be fired, either by formal or constructive disassociation.

Was it one thing or several that raised the cognitive dissonance (that phenomenon that occurs when spiritual beliefs conflict with objective facts) to an unbearable decibel?

For me, it was the hypocrisy-the stark disparity between the appearance that the religion projects and the reality that exists for its members.

Since I was reared by Witness parents, I had developed a very high tolerance for religious hypocrisy. For me, managing the cognitive dissonance required to keep my sanity during the decades that I was a Witness was an everyday struggle.

I was a Black Jehovah’s Witness in a white-centered religion that boasted about its lack of racial prejudice. Best not to ask why in 100 years, the Governing Body leaders have (with one token exception) always been white men. And the segregation that permeated my Georgia city was just as prevalent in the top-down, white-centered leadership in every JW congregation that I visited and, in my circuit, and district. Hypocrisy.

As a Jehovah’s Witness woman, I was inundated with ideology that described me as a weaker vessel from childhood through adolescence and adulthood. Weaker vessels were to be protected. Men are ordained to be the protectors, the head of their households and leaders in the congregation while women are destined to be submissive appendages. Neat and tidy, except that the patriarchal dynamic fosters misogyny – the type of casual misogyny that leads to tone deaf warnings in mid- 20th century Awake magazines that put the onus on women to avoid rape by dressing modestly and closing their blinds at night. Later, for me, the misogyny rankled when Witness women confided that they sought counsel from congregation elders after being battered by their spouses, they had been advised to return to the abusive spouse and to be more accommodating because God hates a divorcing. Again, hypocrisy.

Like the frog that is boiled slowly in water that is gradually heated, I continually made allowances for and internalized the belief system that told me to live up to white centric standards in an organization that touted its lack of racial bias. I ignored my discomfort with the dogma that gave me no autonomy as a woman and allowed men to dictate how I should dress and when and how I should speak. But once I summoned the courage to research the doctrine and history of my religion using objective sources, I discovered even more hypocrisy than I could overlook. Here are a few examples of my discoveries:

· In numerous sermons from the platform and mandated study sessions, the Governing Body propounded the audacious evils of the United Nations. The UN mission to facilitate peace and security made it the disgusting thing standing in the place of God’s Kingdom.

"The United Nations is actually a worldly confederacy against Jehovah God and his dedicated Witnesses on earth." Watchtower 1987 Sep 1 p.20

"Human governments have schemed to form the most brazen and defiant conspiracy against divine rule that has ever existed. (Compare Isaiah 8:11-13.) They have done so, not once, but twice, creating first the League of Nations and then the United Nations." Awake! 1990 Dec 8 p.24

Imagine my surprise to learn that the Watchtower was an Associate NGO (non-governmental organization) with the United Nations between 1992 and 2001.

· I was well aware that Witnesses youths are strongly discouraged from attending college because taking the time to get an undergraduate or graduate degree is denounced as morally wrong, selfish, and materialistic. It was jarring for me to learn that the donations that I and other Witnesses had provided had been used to educate the privileged few, allowing them to attain the degrees that I had longed to pursue as a teen. It also did not help that those Watchtower leadership-approved scholarships were awarded primarily if not exclusively to white men like Judah Ben Schroeder See also A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

· Even now, however, decades after leaving the religion that I was born into, I am still capable of being astonished at the breathtaking hypocrisy of Witness leadership. For example, on February 22, 2023, it was announced that Anthony Morris III had been removed as a Governing Body member. This is a rare occurrence as most Witness men who are selected (through a top-secret process) to join this highest level of Witness leadership treat it as a lifetime appointment. However, Witnesses have strict rules. Violation of those rules often leads to internal censure. For most Witnesses, this judicial action leads to ostracizing as the congregation is warned to stop associating with the transgressor. Censured former Witnesses are abandoned by friends and family. But that was not to be Anthony Morris’ fate. It turns out that he received the JW golden parachute. After being removed from the Governing Body, those donations to the Watchtower leadership were used to purchase a brand-new home in Lumberton, NC. Morris and his wife were given a life estate interest in that home.

He got free housing for life.

Yep, the blatant and pervasive hypocrisy was the dealbreaker for me. What was the dealbreaker for you?

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susan currie
susan currie
Aug 17, 2023

OMG,OMG,OMG, your are the 1st woman of color dare I say the 1st BLACK WOMAN who told my exact story so brilliantly. Listening to your interview with Vivian made me yell out "YESSSSS THAT'S HOW I FELT" I know you are a very busy woman but I do hope we get to cross paths one day. I want you to know how empowered I felt hearing your personal experience. Thank you thank you thank you.

Call Me Vashti
Call Me Vashti
Aug 19, 2023
Replying to

It feels great to be able to tell my story, unfiltered. Knowing that it resonates with someone else makes it even more rewarding. I am happy to chat anytime.

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