For whatever the reason you have decided to leave a particular faith/religion, is it that simple that you can just leave and carry on with your life without any consequences? For a current Jehovah’s Witness this is a particularly interesting question, and we are going to explore why.
To answer this question, let’s firstly look at what the leaders “The Governing Body” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have to say on the subject.
Herewith are a number of their quotes
“Where could we turn if we would leave God’s organization today? There is nowhere else! (John 6:66-69)” Watchtower 1975 Sep 1 p.531
“You can freely leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses freely, without any consequences. You will not be shunned and can still have the same relationship with your friends and family. Quote from one of the Governing Body” (Paraphrased)
“A heartrending experience for Aar- on’s family is recorded at Leviticus 10: 1-11. They must have been devastated when ﬁre from heaven consumed Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu at the tabernacle. What a test of faith it was for Aaron and his family not to mourn their dead relatives! Are you personally proving yourself holy with regard to not associating with family members or others who have been disfellowshipped?” Watchtower 2014 Nov 15 p.14
The interesting point here is, on one side the Watchtower Organisation say it is completely fine to leave, but on the other side ones that are “Disfelloeshipped” should be completely shunned.
Is this is a contradiction? The WT org would say NO, but the truth is, sadly this could not be further from the truth. Basically anyone that leaves, the congregation is at some point instructed to STOP associating with this one. In fact in the 2013 international convention, it basically outlined that there are only 2 types of individuals. Ones that feed from Gods table IE genuine Jehovah’s Witnesses and wait for this, absolutely everybody else is by default feeding from Satan’s table. The speaker then goes on to explain why it is wise to stand firm to Jehovah, by having no contact with these ones. Not having them in your house, even saying “hello” to them in the street.
So, if you want to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses it is clearly not that simple, and most likely you will lose contact/relationship with anyone you know that is a JW, irrespective whether they are family, and this could even include your Partner and children.
With this in mind, is there anything a person can do to help, if they decide to leave? Absolutely, and here we would like to offer some sound advice.
Do personal research. You want to be sure you are making the correct decision. Allow yourself the opportunity to research the faith from both Watchtower provided materials as well as reliable third party sources.
Decide how you feel about shunning and the announcement: “So-and-so is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
If you want to avoid being shunned, continue to live as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses while slowly fading. Fading involves slowly reducing your involvement over many months. Start by making fewer comments, going out in field service less often, declining parts on the theocratic ministry school, then finally reducing the number of meetings you attend. Be prepared to explain your reduced involvement to any Witnesses who inquire only in vague terms. As long as you avoid doing things that would qualify you for disfellowshipping or disassociation by action, many have found they can avoid being subject of a disfellowshipping announcement.
If you are not concerned about shunning, simply stop attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall and carry on your life in the manner that reflects your true beliefs. You are also welcome to write a brief letter of disassociation. Send the letter to the “Body of Elders” of the congregation you associated with, using the address of the Kingdom Hall. Once the letter has been received the elders may contact you to confirm your intention. Once confirmed an announcement will be made, “So-and-so is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” This announcement carries an implied command to faithful members to begin shunning you, not even saying “hello” if they see you.
- If you are not baptized, under current policy, you can leave without being subject of disfellowshipping action.
- Some have viewed the disfellowshipping announcement as either slander or invasion of privacy. If you want to pursue the issue in civil court, contact a lawyer. Keep in mind Jehovah’s Witnesses are protected by freedom of speech and freedom of religion laws in most areas.
- Some have found joining face-to-face or online ex-JW meet up groups to be helpful.
- The shunning policy is not as strictly applied within a household. Thus if a disfellowshipped member lives with their family some communication will continue. Likewise Jehovah’s Witnesses are instructed to provide needed help to family members, even if they are disfellowshipped.
- Some attempts at fading fail. If two witnesses testify that you no longer believe the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are used by Jehovah you can be disfellowshipped for apostasy. Likewise any thing you do that is against the faith, such as celebrating a birthday or Christmas, voting or joining the military or another church can result in disfellowshipping action. This is true even if you have had no contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many months or even years.
- If you want to rejoin after being disfellowshipped a reinstatement process is available. However this process can take many months to over a year. During this time you will be expected to be a regular meeting attender while continuing to be shunned.
- Family and friends who see you leave will often have very negative reactions, even if you are not disfellowshipped or disassociated.
- Adjusting to living outside the organization can take time. If you have trouble coping you may need to seek the assistance of a mental health professional.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses view their faith as the only true Christian faith and the only means of salvation through the impending Armageddon event believed to be in our near future. Members are taught there is no legitimate reason to leave the faith. No dignified resignation has been provided that does not imply one who leaves is making a grave mistake and is wicked (1 Cor 5:13).
As a ministry here at UK Partnerships for Christ, we offer help & support to anyone that is considering leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore please do contact us and we will more than happy to be of assistance, and will of course treat the matter completely confidential, Bless
Sources and Citations
-  Monticello Times – April 9, 2009 – Faith divides former Monti/Big Lake family
-  Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Website – Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?
-  Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Website – The End of False Religion Is Near!
-  Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses on meetup.com
-  jwFacts – Facts about Jehovah’s Witnesses
Today is a very special day if you are a Jehovah’s Witness in Cyprus. It’s the annual ‘district convention’! That’s right, three long days of being bored to death listening to drivel about how you aren’t good enough and should be doing more for the organization. Thank goodness I am no longer in the cult and have to subject myself to such torture.
And that’s what I want to talk about – life after leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was a JW, I heard so many stories about how lucky we were to be in god’s organization. It offered protection from the evils of the world, a moral barrier that stopped you getting in debt at christmas or getting some sort of sexually transmitted disease from going on an unchaperoned date. To leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses was to will unhappiness, stress and problems upon yourself.
What I am about to say may sound over the top, as if I am exaggerating, but believe me, I am not at all. I can not state this clearly enough – since I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have never been so happy. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. No more constant stress worrying to make sure you’re still thinking so that the demons don’t possess you, no more sleepless nights apologising in prayer for being human. I was a slave to religion and false ideas, and now I am free. To be in service to god is to wish to be an abject slave.
I imagine some Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saying, “Yes, but your happiness is only temporary,” or that I am only happy because I am part of the materialistic and evil world. My happiness is only temporary in that one day I will die. The whole idea of god allowing this ‘system of things’ to carry on as it is, is just wrong. Immoral even. I know… I know… Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that everyone suffering is all part of a master plan to clear god’s name because god just loves us all to little pieces. Just think about that for a minute and you see how abstract and vile the whole idea is.
I have also heard it said that people who don’t believe in god have no purpose in life or do not feel fulfilled. That simply isn’t true. My own mother in law, a Jehovah’s Witness, once told me that there has to be a god, otherwise there’d be no purpose in life. She gets irritated whenever something anti-god or anti-JW comes up, but thinks I am unreasonable if I do the same when I hear something pro-god or pro-JW – but I digress and that story is for another blog post.
The simple fact is that life without god is good, but I realise not all of you dear readers are atheists like I am. Life without the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though, is fantastic. I get to re-explore the universe as if for the first time, free from the shackles of the cult. I get to re-evaluate my life goals and priorities, and I tell you – without the promise of everlasting life and the excuse to fall back on that god will fix things, I have found myself much more pro-human. Where before I would hear things from my father-in-law like, “Doctors shouldn’t bother trying to cure cancer – they should spread gods news because he will heal cancer in the new system,” I now realise how precious human life is and that we should do everything in our power to alleviate the pain and suffering that others are in. I realise what an amazing species we are, with our ups and downs. I realise, much to the chagrin of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that life is valuable, not mere dust, and that something real has to be done to help people rather than just knocking on doors and leaving tracts. My purpose in life, then, is clear.
Guess what? The world outside the JWs isn’t all doom and gloom, wars, murders and greed. In fact, humans are doing quite well for themselves – we are living in a time with less violence than any other time, people live longer thanks to medical advances, and we’re in a golden age of scientific research where we are gaining the same amount of knowledge every single day that we have ever learned in all the years of our past. I’ll blog about that in a future article – the fact that things are getting better, not worse as the Jehovah’s Witnesses would have you believe with their ‘last days’ nonsense.
How about you? Are you happier since leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses? How have you changed?