When a Family Member Outright Chooses Ignorance
When it comes to my family, I’ve been very quiet about my activities online as an ex-JW as they would be required to shun me if they knew I spoke out openly about the religion, and as I’ve mentioned in another post, I don’t want them to feel embarrassed or hurt because of my activities. However, as often happens with many inactive and faded Witnesses, this game has gotten old as I’ve become bolder and more determined to reveal the truth about the religion and its hurtful, harmful practices.
Recently a conversation I had with my brother demonstrated to me just how far their prejudiced thinking goes, and how strongly they will defend the religion at all costs and even against logic and reason. I was reminded of similarly hurtful conversations I’ve had with my mother over the years, and to put it mildly, it broke my heart.
Keep the Congregation Clean of Rape Victims, But Not Child Molesters
One of my favorite hypocrisies of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses is how elders demand two witnesses for cases of child molestation before they take any action against the accused, and yet will simply use “discernment” when a woman claims to have been raped, threatening her with excommunication and subsequent shunning for “fornication.” Elders base this discernment on a woman’s “mental disposition,” the circumstances surrounding the incident in question, and if she delayed reporting it.
As I’ve brought out in other posts on this site, this type of thinking is nothing short of obscene. Elders have no training in criminology, psychology, post-traumatic stress disorder, or rape counseling. It’s also incredibly hypocritical to assume they can “discern” a case of rape but won’t “discern” cases of child molestation, no matter the “mental disposition” of the accused molester, the circumstances surrounding the accused molestation, and how soon or how old a child was when he or she reported it.
This was the context of a recent conversation I had with my brother; I was telling him about the Watchtower Victims Memorial Day and he couldn’t understand how someone would protest their “peaceful” religion. Try being a molested child whose family is prevented from going to the police and who needs to provide a witness to their attack before that person is even accused, I told him. He defended this “two witness” rule, saying that if he was accused of something like that, he would expect to be able to question the accuser and that there would need to be more evidence against him before anyone took action.
Which is why you go to the police, I responded. Police know how to question children to help determine if they’re just making up stories, are trying to hurt someone, or if they’re being coached by a parent such as in the case of custody battles. Besides, I pointed out, it’s hypocritical to demand two witnesses to accusations of child rape but then to turn around and accuse a woman of lying about being raped without those same two witnesses.
His response? They need to keep the congregation clean from fornicators, they can’t just let someone fornicate and then cry rape and get away with it. My frustration was building; yes, you need to keep the congregation clean from fornicators but not child molesters? Jehovah’s Witness elders are told point-blank that if an accused molester doesn’t confess and there are not two witnesses to the molestation, they should “leave it in Jehovah’s hands” and supposedly Jehovah will take care of things, when he’s ready. Why not leave this fornication/rape claim in Jehovah’s hands as well? Why apply it to one and not the other?
My brother openly admitted that he didn’t agree with that policy, but then fell back to the typical regurgitated Jehovah’s Witness sayings; “I hope one day they’ll get new light and change that policy, and holy spirit will guide them to make a correction…” And on, and on.
Pointing out that they prayed for holy spirit before writing that policy on rape victims didn’t seem to change his mind, and neither did any other subjects I brought up. Deuteronomy 18 says that a man who makes a prophecy in Jehovah’s name is to be stoned to death if it doesn’t come true, but JWs have made many false predictions, yet people still follow them, going against the bible’s directives. Elders hide their serious sins and there is no scriptural basis for that; they are to be disciplined and excommunicated like any other congregation members, according to scripture. As is typical when trying to reason with JWs, I had hit the wall. He didn’t want to think about any of it, much less talk about it.
Well If the Bible Doesn’t Say You Can’t, Then Go Ahead and Rape Little Children!
Please understand that my brother doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body; his mentality is simply one of not wanting to “rock the boat.” His wife is a Witness, her family are all Witnesses, our mother is a Witness, and this is the only life he’s known. He won’t put himself out there to investigate or think any deeper about the religion, and his defense of it is just bland, repetitive garbage.
My mother is another story. She will defend anything and everything that Jehovah’s Witnesses say, forcefully and assertively. She gets angry when they are maligned in any way and will not abide criticism of them, even if it means crossing the line when it comes to her own reasoning.
In 2002, when former elder Bill Bowen came forward to talk about the problems with pedophilia in the religion and was featured on Dateline, CNN, and many other news outlets, I remember telling my mother how shameful it was that this was happening in the Kingdom Halls. Her angry, defensive response? “Well there’s nothing in the bible that says that they can’t.”
Well. There you have it. Note, my mother was not necessarily saying that it was okay to rape little children; her response was saying that because the bible doesn’t come right out and say “thou shalt not,” then apparently there’s some grey area here. The bible doesn’t outright list child rape as an sin, so of course it’s only reasonable for elders to sit around and scratch their heads, trying to decide if they should actually remove pedophiles from the congregation.
In all truthfulness, there is a part of me that feels pity for my mother. She was raised in a very abusive home and the victim of sexual molestation and neglect herself, and Jehovah’s Witnesses caught her attention by promising a future paradise full of love and peace and justice. She has suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies over the years, and is not mentally or emotionally healthy in any way. Being a Witness gives her a sense of purpose and belonging that she doesn’t have anywhere else in her life.
However, there is another part of me that refuses to feel sorry for her. No one forced her to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses; she was not raised in the religion and did not face shunning from her family if she were to have left. She chose to join, she chose to never research the religion or any other, she chooses to shut her eyes to their hateful and harmful policies against women, children, and nonbelievers. She chose to remain isolated in the religion and to continue following its policies even at the expense of her own mental health, and the safety and well-being of her children. She also chose to defend the religion and pedophilia itself with those vile words.
I don’t know my purpose in writing this post except to tell other ex-JWs whose families are so fully indoctrinated that they spew mindless, vile hate, that you’re not alone. I get it. To ex-JWs who share their stories of elders blaming them for being molested and abused, and who turn their backs on these victims, I get it. If the elders talked to you the way my mother talks to me, I get it. It’s insulting and infuriating, and at times even baffling.
To Witnesses who say that you’re guided by holy spirit and are a religion of love, I vehemently disagree. There is no love for the children being raped, no love for women who are victims of rape, no holy spirit guiding these hypocritical decisions or writings. Your followers obviously refuse to think for themselves and don’t care what they’re defending, as long as it’s done within the Kingdom Hall walls. You’ve turned my own mother into a thoughtless, mindless, angry robot who will actually defend hiding pedophiles if it’s committed by Jehovah’s Witnesses simply because she can’t bear the thought of someone criticizing her precious religion.
Yes, my mother and my brother choose to be ignorant, but then again, you’re the ones who forced that choice upon them. That makes them stupid, but you a bunch of manipulative con artists. I can’t decide whom I’m more angry at.