Children

Brave Young Girl Tells the Truth About Jehovah’s Witnesses in Her High School Class; Even the Media Listens In

If you haven’t watched the 15-minute video above, you must. A very brave high school student stands in front of her class and talks about the importance of thinking for yourself so that you never become the victim of a controlling, abusive religion that threatens rape victims with shunning and that forbids children from speaking to their own mothers if they should disagree with that religion. Yes, she is talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As of this writing, the YouTube video above has over 600,000 views, and it was even mentioned in a news story by The Independent in the UK (here). Her words and her actions are important to me for many, many reasons, as an ex-JW and as an activist.

Telling the Truth

Everything this girl says in her video is the truth, and unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. She talks about a woman she knows who was raped while working for an insurance firm, and who needed to report this incident to the elders in her congregation. The elders chastised the woman for how she dressed and demanded she change her wardrobe and even quit her job in order to avoid being disfellowshipped (excommunicated) and subsequently shunned by everyone she knows.

Think seriously about this. The woman worked in an insurance firm of all places; she wasn’t working in an especially dangerous environment, yet the elders said that she needed to make changes in her life or be punished for the horrific crime of being the victim of a horrific crime. She brought it on herself by daring to leave her home in order to go to work in an office and for not draping herself with a bed sheet when in public, according to them. If she didn’t make the changes that they demanded and which had nothing to do with her rape, they would punish her with banishment from her entire family and circle of friends.

Many former elders who are active in the ex-JW community have come forward to note that this is not unusual for how they approach rape victims. There is no help or sympathy for them, but instead their entire approach is that the woman probably sinned herself, and she now needs to prove her case in order to avoid punishment. Pick apart her life and find something questionable or that you can criticize, is what they do.

There is no scripture that says that a rape victim needs to justify her career or wardrobe or otherwise prove to three untrained men that she was really raped by a complete stranger and didn’t somehow “consent” to the violation by working in an office alone or daring to flash a knee. Yet, that’s what JW elders do, as they’re instructed by their governing body (see this post).

It’s so important that this girl told the truth about this situation because far too often, Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse every ex-JW of being some rogue, angry, bitter person who is talking about some isolated incident of pedophilia, domestic violence, grilling of rape victims, and the like. Every time another person comes forward with a story like this, especially from an innocent and sincere young girl, it helps to get the real truth about this religion out to the general public. I would hope it also helps to open the eyes of some JWs as to what really goes on behind the closed doors of their own Kingdom Halls and the sick, twisted, practices that are not only hateful on their own, but which aren’t even supported by scripture.

As an Activist

As an activist against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other such high-control, abusive environments, I found it especially touching that this young girl did nothing but speak from the heart and tell the truth, and her speech was so important that even the media picked up on it. This is important because most activists are not trained public speakers or writers; there really is no school you can go to or degree you can get in activism, and not always a lot of guidance on how to go about it.

This girl shows that none of that is even needed, if you simply speak from the heart and tell the truth about your own story. She spoke with genuine, pure emotion, her voice often shaking and cracking as she related her stories, and as she concluded her speech and encouraged her fellow students to protect themselves from such influence and control. Her sincere, real nature is no doubt what caught the attention of so many, and what makes her a real, incredibly effective activist.

Even at Her Young Age…

10365822_691231167580149_7421026125726478311_nOne thing that really touched me about this posting was a comment left on YouTube, noting how someone at her young age could see the real truth about this religion and isn’t afraid to speak up about it. So maybe the adults could take a lesson from that? If a teenage girl, under the threat of being cut off and shunned from her religion, is brave enough to speak the truth about its hurtful, hateful policies, what excuse is left for the adults in that same religion?

It’s true that many rank-and-file Jehovah’s Witnesses are left in the dark about how elders grill rape victims and hide pedophiles in the congregation, but what about those elders themselves? What about those who do know that a child molester is sitting right there in the congregation, or that an elder routinely beats his wife and gets away with it because the other elders tell her to be “submissive” and “silent” and blame her for “provoking” her husband? What excuses are you left with as to why you continue to be a part of this religion, silently supporting its horrific and abusive policies rather than speaking up and warning others, or at the very least, leaving and protecting your own children and families? Every person that sits in the audience of the Kingdom Hall validates and enables those horrific policies, whereas every person that leaves is one less endorsement, one less person that can be added to their statistics, one less dollar in their contribution boxes that can be spent defending themselves in court when accused of hiding pedophiles.

If a teenage girl can understand and open her eyes to the obscenities of this religion and refuse to ignore the hurt and pain it causes, and then take a stand against it in front of her peers, what excuse is left for the adults? Good for this girl and what she did, and hopefully her example means as much to others as it did to me.

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10 replies »

  1. Hello Rena…….I should have read more before I wrote a comment to you. I was 16 when I was first contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was approached at a time in my life when I was very, very vulnerable…..not much older than you. Since I was always a pretty good kid and wanted to serve God all my life, everything sounded really great and everyone was very nice. After I was baptized, everything changed. And it changed A LOT. You will NOT be allowed to have any further questions or freedom to use anything other that what is provided to you by the Watchtower organization as “approved” for spiritual research because “you may be misled.” And that’s forever. If you do, like being on this site, and an elder finds out about it or someone tells an elder, you WILL be reprimanded, maybe disfellowshipped, then no one will even talk to you. If you do actually make some sort of mistake and ask for help, that will remain on your record. It doesn’t go away (they say it does, but it does not). However, our Heavenly Father DOES provide means to be forgiven and the sin to be forgotten by Him by repentance and changing our lives. Our human imperfections, that happen just because we are imperfect humans, are covered over by the sacrifice Jesus made for us, as provided by God. All He asks is that we do our very best in this life. Jesus sacrifice takes care of the rest. And “examining these things to see if they are true” doesn’t just mean only what is provided by the Watchtower organization. I hope the very best for you and pray for your safe journey. May your steps be guided by God and your eyes and heart open by His light.

  2. I have a grandson who is being raised as a JW. My son was raised as a Christian but his wife was raised as a JW. Do you have any suggestions for helping my grandson. He is 6. His father/ my son refuses to believe his children are in danger. He says he is watching. Yet my grandson is forced to walk the streets recruiting, among other things help!

    • The best advice I can give anyone in your situation is to strongly encourage your son to read this website and JWfacts.com so he can see how dangerous the religion truly is. Outsiders rarely know, as JWs are told to keep up a good front and are supposed to make the religion seem loving and benign. Encourage him to read about cults and how damaging it can be for a child to avoid socializing at school and pursuing their education and own interests. Be sure you provide a safe place for your grandson if he should ever question the religion too; let him know that he can ask questions and there’s nothing wrong with that. He may see how dangerous it is himself, after so many years.

    • Your son has a little bit of an edge because he is an unbaptized MALE. The day he becomes baptized, if he ever leaves the religion, it will probably break up the marriage. It will become a big, public issue with lots of verbalized sympathy for the spouse that remains in the religion for the misfortune of being married to “an apostate.” If the child ever becomes baptized (usually as young as possible) and doesn’t something stupid as young teenagers sometimes do, he will be disfellowshipped and shunned. The wife will be expected to shun him too. If your son is baptized HE will be expected to shun him as well. That’s a cold, hard fact. On the upside, being a male, she pretty much has to do anything he wants her to do, no matter how absurd. She’s ALWAYS wrong and the son will be ALWAYS right. However, if they ever have a girl, she’s going to be taught that being a doormat is normal. Don’t expect the grandkids to get a college education either. That’s highly frowned upon.

  3. Hi, I’m 12 year old Rena Vickery currently in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses and I truly disagree that we are a cult because cults are secretive, but as I can see we have public meetings unlike cults. I would like to also inform you that we don’t go to a church, we go to a Kingdom Hall.

    • Hi Rena, thank you for your comment. Please remember that at age 12, you might still need to do some research on what defines a cult. It’s not about secret meetings and such; many cults are very open, they sell flowers in the airport or actually try to recruit others. Cults are defined by how much control they have over their members and their everyday lives, and if you need to obey the leaders of the cult rather than being allowed enough personal freedoms to make up your own minds about things.

      Remember too that while Jehovah’s Witnesses have public meetings, you’re not allowed to know everything about the religion itself. The elders use a handbook that no one is allowed to see, the Watchtower Society never tells you how much money they bring in or where it goes, you’re not allowed to sit in on elders’ meetings or even record your own judicial committee meetings. There are also letters to the elders that the congregation is not allowed to see, so there are a lot of secrets that go on in the religion.

      Also, I understand the buildings are called Kingdom Halls; the word “church” is often used in conversation just to describe a religious group or congregation.

      I hope you do some research on your own about the religion and not just the information they provide you, since that wouldn’t really be fair research, would it? If you wanted to buy a new cell phone, you wouldn’t just look at the brochures the cell phone company provides. You would find out what other people say about the phone and company to make a fair decision, so do the same with this religion and you’ll make the right choice.

      Thanks again for writing.

      • Hi Alexandra, this is Rena again, thank you for the advice. Have you ever been to one of the congregation meetings? I’m just asking because I’m curious. When I’m at school there aren’t any other kids, that I know of, that are studying to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. thanks again for the advice and it was nice to be able to talk to you.

      • Hi Rena, sorry it took so long to answer. I was actually raised as a JW and became inactive as an adult so I’ve been to many, many meetings. I’m happy to answer any questions you have and please continue your research about Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion and not just what Jehovah’s Witnesses tell you. If you do, you’ll see how they’re very inaccurate about a lot of bible matters and have a very horrible track record when it comes to child sex abuse, domestic violence, and lots of other issues. I wish you the best!

    • Hello Rena. I admire you having the strength to search for knowledge……be careful though. If the elders find out your on this site you will be marked (maybe disfellowshipped if your baptized and have any questions to clarify that just don’t sit right with you or you find conflict with what they say and what the Bible really says. Contrary to what some think, cults are NOT necessarily secretive…..they are sly and manipulative to draw you. Once in and committed, it’s not so easy to get out. Then, when you are in, make you feel guilty for not following ONLY what they direct you do do, say, believe, feel, act, wear or pretty much make you feel guilty and fearful if you don’t, to the point of giving up your family, livelyhood, and home. A Kingdom Hall is still a place of worship of a deity, just like a church, a mosque, synagogue or temple. Nothing more. You can even worship in a tent or in someone’s living room.

    • Honey, wait until you get to my age. I am now 34, my mum became a witness when she was mentally ill. They told her because our dad was not a witness, we were not allowed to see him. I’m now trying to leave after being told at 14 o had to be baptised. Thankfully I have family and friends that are none witnesses. I wise I never got baptised. The nightmare they have put me and my family though.

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