Wondering who we are and why we’re here? Check out our somewhat condensed stories or feel free to contact us at WitnessesforAtheism@gmail.com …
George – My Short Story
So here I am again and I figured I would provide at least a little background on who I am and where I came from, at least concerning my religious and philosophical journey. I’ll be posting a more thorough story of how I ended up here later, but I figured a condensed post is much better for now. Who has time to read my boring long story anyway…
You can say I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness (JW), technically my parents didn’t fully convert until I was 4ish, if memory serves me right, but I don’t ever recall truly celebrating any holidays, birthdays, or any holiday for that matter. As you can imagine, being raised in a fundamental religious cult has its issues (I will post more information on what’s involved in being a JW on this blog for those who are unfamiliar). Needless to say, the beliefs that were instilled in me at a very young age rooted in my heart quite deeply. I was a very passionate and zealous christian, in fact a little too much on occasion (I once spat at a virgin Mary; you can imagine the sacrilege in a very Catholic country). I was taught and trained to speak in public from a very young age, to preach door-to-door, and be effective in having biblical discussions. I read, analyzed and instructed myself in the bible and all that goes along with it. Sadly all my information came from one source, the JWs, and although I grew quite a bit within those boundaries, I hadn’t realized how much I needed to grow in other ways.
I have always been a sharp kid (yes I am bragging a bit), intelligent, quick-witted and always questioning and pushing the envelope. I received good grades and read a substantial amount of books, starting in middle school. I have an insatiable appetite for information. During my high school years, I started reading things that conflicted intellectually with my set of beliefs. Unfortunately, being a good member of the JWs, you do your best to shrug those off. What I couldn’t quite shrug off was the hormonal impulses of a 17 year old, and girls proved to cause me some issues with keeping my so called Christian integrity (if a god did exist, there’s no need for a hell when sexual frustration exists). After being in trouble (unlike most other religions, fundamentalists take those sins very very seriously) for the normal issues a teenager has, I eventually balanced out my Christian life and continued to be a good preacher, apologist, recruiter, and formidable speaker in the congregation; I tried to be a good Christian.
It wasn’t until some personal issues affected me (the woes of the heart and the usual family problems) so much that I decided to take a break from the strenuous and rigorous routine of a JW. It was that crucial break that allowed me the opportunity to breathe, for my brain to jumpstart completely, and for the haze and darkness of being a prisoner of a cult to finally clear. I was finally, for the first time in my life, able to question my beliefs objectively, to finally answers questions I had not had time to answer.
It all started with an old friend who contacted me out of the blue with some questions he had regarding the bible. He had been a JW and had stepped away years before, and uncannily, at that same time, he had started to finally inquire the same issues I had had all along as well. He brought up issues and contradictions, asked me to back up my beliefs and to prove my reasoning. I was certain he was wrong, that he was mistaken, and I took the challenge and started to research. I wanted to prove him wrong, I wanted to show him that my God, my Jehovah, was real and alive…
It took about one weeks worth of research to see problems and incongruencies…thats all, one week to see flaws. It didn’t take one week to disprove God, or believe in evolution, to see moral and ethical issues in a completely different light. It took a while, hundreds spent on books, nights reading until late at night. I dug to find people, scientists, scholars, reason and proof to back up my side. I approached this honestly, initially with prayer, then with honesty and objectivity, thats what I strove for. Unfortunately my god never answered my questions or came to the rescue, all the proof I had been told was there really didnt exist. The reason was gone and the stupidity and hollowness of my beliefs came to light, a punch in my gut and a bucket of cold water to my head. I cried, I felt ridiculed and mocked, and my god, my life and everything up to that point had been a lie…all I had known had melted away and at that point I wasn’t sure what I had been left with…
Eventually, with time, I was able to find myself again. Im still finding myself. I have grown tremendously since then. I am finally happy of who I am and I am rebuilding my life. I am struggling like everyone else to make my way in this beautiful and brutal world, but I am finally in control of my own life for the first time…
Jesse – My story
I like George, was indoctrinated into the Jehovah’s Witnesses from an early age. My mother was brought into the organization by my aunt when I was still in elementary school. I can even vaguely remember the day that my mother was baptized. I remember it happened at a district convention at the Hawthorne Race Track in Cicero, IL. The only thing that I remember from the day was wondering where my mother was for the first half of the convention. I remember standing by the baptism pool with my aunt, yet I had no clue why. Little did I know the profound affect that this event would have on the rest of my life.
My father never became a Jehovah’s Witness and was in and out of my life so the only parental influence I really had was my mothers. Throughout most of my life we stayed somewhat regular with spurts of irregularity due to my mother’s health. At around 15 I started “making the truth my own.”
When I was 16 and halfway through sophomore year I started homeschooling. This gave me the free time to regularly read the bible, prepare for all the meetings and exert myself in the field ministry. This combined with a large group of “spiritually-minded” youths at my kingdom hall motivated me dedicated myself to Jehovah and follow that dedication up with baptism in Dec, 2000. As soon as my head came up from that water I was ready to start pioneering. Of course I needed to wait six months first, so I spent the next six months as an Aux pioneer.
Serving as a Full-time minister
Pioneering was mixed with some of the best and worst memories that I will ever have. I remember once a month on Wednesdays, in an effort to get more people out in service we would have a lunch at the kingdom hall. This involved people bringing all kinds of delicious foods to the hall to be enjoyed after a morning in the ministry. It became very popular and resulted in groups of 30 to 40 people out on a weekday. It was during these months of pioneering that I met AtheisticTartarus my best friend, I also got to know my wife and another friend who was my first roommate who were all pioneers. My roommate and I even developed a reputation at our kingdom hall and were called “the sons of thunder” because we were always looking for battles in the field ministry. We were so arrogant and disrespectful that we would even go into churches looking for fights. It seemed like years that we all were on a spiritual high. And, that’s exactly what it is we were “high” on religion because life was easy and problem free. Eventually real life started and things changed forever.
Real Life and my eventual inactivity
At 21 I married a pioneer sister and shortly after, I was appointed as a Ministerial Servant. My life should have been great. We were living a simple life in an attempt to serve Jehovah better. We were both extremely busy with spiritual things, work and our relationship. Unfortunately, life was quickly becoming depressing. Because I was dedicating my whole life to Jehovah I assumed to he would continue to provide for me. But, he did not. My talks were becoming a chore rather than a joy, I was starting to despise the field ministry and meetings were beginning to bore me. I was quickly becoming sick of the organization and longed for a chance to leave. I was tired of the same old talks, I was tired of the dominating judgmental personality of the elder body, I was tired of the constant gossip, and most importantly I was tired of how I was becoming just like the elders that I couldn’t stand. Meanwhile I still continued to give outstanding talks and comments. I would even occasionally conduct book studies. Then something shocking happened, something that eventually would result in the best decision I have ever made.
The Shocking event that changed everything
My close friend and former roommate was disfellowshipped. I knew why he was disfellowshipped and I knew well before the announcement that it was going to happen. This was a golden opportunity for me to leave the organization without completely isolating myself socially. So, I told the elders that I was resigning as an MS and that I was going to stop attending meetings and go inactive. For the next few weeks I was bombarded with phone calls and text messages. Some were positive and offered encouragement and some were negative and condemned me. Everyone cut me off, even the people I had known since I was 11 years old when I moved to the kingdom hall, and I wasn’t even disfellowshipped or disassociated. The next couple years were lonely and depressing. I was constantly tempted to return to the organization to reclaim my lost associates. But, I held strong and I refused to return. Eventually, I made new friends, real friends. At that point I still thought the JWs could have “the truth” but I didn’t care because I was finally, completely happy. I had no desire to ever return to the organization. In the end leaving was the greatest decision that I have ever made.
Within the past year I have started studying world religions, science, archeology, anthropology, textual criticism, psychology and the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now I can say with conviction and evidence that the Jehovah’s witnesses DO NOT have “the truth” and they are in fact a horrible cult that destroys families, leads to depression and have caused thousands of innocent people their lives. My purpose of this blog is to stand against this disgusting organization. Hopefully someone will be able to use what I have learned to prevent them and/or their family and friends from dedicating themselves to the Watchtower Society.
A side note about my atheism
In my quest for knowledge regarding the “truth” claim of the Jehovah’s Witnesses I became an Atheist. I am not an anti-theist but I do think religious fundamentalism is slowly leading our world down a dangerous path. I plan to also devote a large portion of this blog to my belief that there is no god and why I feel that way.