Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Life in a Religious Cult

I have studied the Bible my whole life. I believed that Jesus died for my sins and that without his sacrifice I had no hope. I was baptized in 1990, symbolizing this belief and dedicating myself to doing the will of His Father. I acknowledged that baptism identified me with “God’s spirit-directed organization”. I was told that my religious organization was the only group of True Christians who worshipped correctly. I really thought that everything they teach is based on the Bible. I worked hard trying to prove my worthiness to God so that I would survive judgment day, spending much of my time on Bible study and preaching. In fact, since I was taught to put God’s Kingdom first, I felt guilty when doing anything else. 

While in the organization I felt so low and full of inadequacies... My mom would send me emails twice a week telling me she feared for my life because my meeting attendance wasn’t good enough. At meetings we were admonishment to do more, more, more and to make kingdom preaching a priority no matter what your circumstances. We were told that we might not make it through the  the Great TribulationF if we miss one meeting, or if we weren’t regular in kingdom preaching, which is considered “faithful in least”. One little girl said she wouldn’t play with my daughter because she didn’t see her attend meetings often enough. I suffered from health problems and depression, and had babies with special needs. I just couldn’t perform for them. We had no friends.

Eventually we were tired of being alone and have decided to make friends elsewhere. My mom was very upset with me for having friends who are not part of the organization and allowing my daughter to have them. She says I will fall away to Satan and God will destroy me in Armageddon.6 I tell her that I don’t see any bad influence from our new friends, (which means they are not bad association) and I don’t listen to her.
I noticed that some Christian friends of mine were praising God for answered prayers. I thought that they must be deluded. Surely God wouldn’t answer their prayers, I was taught that they don’t pray to the true God, and besides, He didn’t even answer mine. I was taught that we should “work in harmony”2 with our prayers, and of course, I was always failing, so I stopped praying altogether, knowing that I didn’t deserve God’s help. So you see I was both humble and proud, that is how cults work. Proud that I was in an elite group, the only ones with the truth, but humbled because I was never good enough for God’s approval. Fear and shame keep people in the cult. But you would never know that when I would argue my faith, with a scripture for every question, sure that I was right and everyone else was wrong, so sure that they needed the "truth".
I found that many within the congregation influenced us to be judgmental, causing unloving actions towards others, calling those outside of the organization “worldy”, “dead”, or “goats” and those within the organization “weak”, all of which are “bad association”.3 I was thinking that maybe the problems I have seen are just in the congregations that I have attended. I thought that perhaps this was a test of faith. If God has a people then surely he wants me to support them, and the new literature printed by the organization was impressive. I decided to strengthen myself and my family to withstand the destructive influence of the congregation. So I started doing more Bible study and concentrating on that first. Then when we were ready I would be sure to comment, always pointing to God’s personality; I thought maybe I could be a good influence, help to readjust the congregation’s thinking.

Gradually I started to see holes in the cult’s theology. One of the first things I noticed was the emphasis on fear of the great tribulation and armageddon, and gradually I saw that this did not just come from the congregation, but from the printed literature, especially the picturesF. I kept thinking that surely God is in control of the end times and doesn’t hate me enough to destroy me. I would read over the accounts of God's judgment and see that He stays in control and saves His people. The Jews that obeyed and fled Jerusalem were not involved in the suffering of the great tribulation.

Later a Christian showed me 1 Thessalonians 1:10. This scripture planted a seed. “To wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” I realized that the Bible says that there is no reason to fear the great tribulation. Later I found 1 John 4:17-18 and sent it to my mom when she told me that she was afraid that my family would be destroyed.By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” She told me to be careful. Using scripture to argue is exactly what apostates do.
I was always confused about Old Earth and creation so I did some research on these topics so that I would know how to teach my kids. I was warned by friends not to read anything written by Christians. These writings are a part of Babylon the Great, so they preferred teaching their kids evolution from secular sources. They warned that the organization publishes everything I ever need to read.5 I did not let them stop me. I was impressed with what I read and began to believe that God uses these Christians too. I used to join in with the secularists who would attack and abuse Christians because Jehovah’s Witnesses strongly denounce all other religions and had taught me to hate them. But now I started defending them.

I met someone who was raised in the cult, but was never baptized, so there wasn't a rule keeping me from talking to her. She was becoming a Christian after years of angry atheism. I was trying to convince her to come back to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We talked about the Trinity and she says that the ransom means so much more to her since accepting it, and she never felt close to God with the teaching of Jesus as a separate created being. She is now drawing close to God and no longer an atheist. Why would I weaken her faith by talking her out of a doctrine that has helped her see God's love? I start to think that the Trinity doctrine isn't as evil as I was taught. (see 1 John 2:23 and John 5:23)

I know that going to the meetings just makes my depression worse and I can't bring myself to do it. My mom and her friends wouldn't leave me alone. Here is an email that I received during this time:

“Are you guys having trouble getting to the meeting,etc.? I'll tell you, from our own experience that the longer you stay away,the easier it is to not get back, and, like I've told you.....your kids will get where they won't want to go, and, that ought to scare you,thinking about that, cause I know you do know it's the truth and you surely want life for them, if not yourself. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you 'still' are a Witness,if indeed,you don't attend our 'training sessions' at the Kingdom Hall for survival.

This is a good reminder from my notes at a meeting, read it and meditate:
"Then the brother said, "It is hard to catch a fish that is full". - Why?
Because when they are full, they are not as interested in the bait. Spiritually, if we stay well-fed, prepare, meditate, attend our meetings, and participate in the ministry whole-souled, we will be spiritually full and therefore Satan's enticements will be less alluring."
You know,by not doing anything,if that's the case,you are showing Satan and Jehovah how little your relationship with Jehovah and being 'a part' of his organization means to you, and that's a scary place to be in,anytime,but,it's suicide,now!!!! But,even scarier is the fact that it's not just you and your husband who are going to lose your lives,if it continues,but your precious children, too.....who are a part of you and him,and,who look to you for direction and to lead the way. I love you and your family, and just wanted to share a lesson that we learned the hard way..............if you don't go to the meetings and participate and be 'a part' of it, then, Satan will move in and influence you, him and the kids,too! Don't doubt it!" I don't want anyone to have to learn that lesson ,and, maybe even be too late for your kids and husband ,if you come to your senses!

Interesting. Now as I read this I also see her referring to the organization as “the truth”. Didn’t Jesus say “I am the truth”? Going to meetings is going to give me life? Didn’t Jesus say “I am the life”? I also notice that I don't see personal Bible reading and prayer in this quote from a meeting. I think of two different points about this, and write a reply to the email:

I know of people who did all of the above as evidenced by their participation at the meetings and they were enticed by Satan's bait. Let's see I can think of 5 pioneers, one of which was an elder.
I pray and read my bible a lot more when people aren't scaring me with doom and gloom predictions of the Great Tribulation that Christ died to save me from. You are going to assume that I have a bad attitude... but I have a closer relationship with my heavenly Father right now than I have had in years.

Me, follower of the faithful and true witness.

I began to question why I should listen to uninspired men on these matters.8 I have been taught that they were chosen by Jesus to be the “faithful and discreet slave”. I decided to find out about this.

2. see Watchtower 7-15/1997 Prayers Require Works
F. see one example in the Watchtower 2/15/95Saved Alive Through the Great Tribulation
The great crowd must maintain their righteous standing before the Son of man without letup, which requires staying watchful right up to the end.
To succeed in standing before the Son of man, we must have his approval, which we will not have if we allow ourselves to be influenced by the thinking of this world... or to become so weighed down with life’s problems that he no longer keeps Kingdom interests first. He could become inactive (this means missing a month out in door to door publishing) or jeopardize his place in the congregation (notice the emphasis on the congregation, not God) by committing serious sin, perhaps even displaying an unrepentant attitude.
To that end, Jehovah has provided what we need by means of his Word, his holy spirit, and his visible organization. We must take full advantage of these. Further, we must be prayerful and obedient to God if we expect to have his favor. For one thing, we must develop a strong hatred for what is bad... limit association with those not dedicated to Jehovah. Thus, we will be assured that at Armageddon, Jehovah will not sweep us away in death along with the ungodly.
It is exciting to contemplate survival of the end of this system of things and the possibilityof never having to die. By serving Jehovah faithfully now, we have the assurance of life everlasting in his new world.
Watchtower12/15/1962 p.763 The person who permits a seed of discontent against Jehovah’s organization to grow until it becomes a poisonous root puts himself in a dangerous position… The loyal “sheep” see that the way to life is with Jehovah’s faithful organization.
Watchtower9/15/51 p. 556 “So work for salvation.”
6.  "Did not Jesus speak of worldly people as being spiritually dead when he said: "Let the dead bury their dead"? (Matt. 8:22) All who have begun walking the narrow way to life are spiritually alive in God’s eyes; whereas those walking the broad way to death are spiritually dead while they live. Why, then, should the living seek close association with the dead?"
"Seek right associations by staying close to the New World society."
"It is not the person whose mind is on the things of the world that can help you to be among those who will survive the end of this old world. He will hinder, not help you walk the narrow way that leads to life in God’s new world. If you maintain close association with such persons this side of God’s war of Armageddon, you run the greater likelihood of not reaching the other side of it... Why seek as friends persons who will have no place in God’s new world? Do not endanger your future with such bad associations." -- Watchtower 7/1/1961 p. 403

5. "There are now more than 350 books in circulation setting out such "creationism" dogma. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the unreasonable theories of "creationism" in favor of what the Bible really teaches about 'creation.'"-- Watchtower 9/1/1986 p. 30 "Would you like to grow in knowledge, obtaining an education of even much greater value than can be received "in any college? You can do so by reading regularly this magazine and its companion, Awake! "-- Watchtower 6/15/1983 p.31
"This journal and other publications of the Watch Tower Society expose the unscriptural teachings of Christendom and the rest of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, while upholding the truthfulness of God’s Word, the Bible."-- Watchtower 9/15/1997
8. "Proving faithful, this "slave" class would be appointed by Jesus at his second coming over all his belongings. Yes, also by means of this "faithful and discreet slave" Jesus has been with his followers.—Matt. 24:45-47.... To stay with Jesus Christ is to stay with those whom he is pleased to use. Outside the true Christian congregation, what alternative organization is there? Only Satan’s organization consisting of his political "wild beast" and his Babylonian world empire of false religion.—Rev. 13:1, 14, 15; 17:3-6.
How can we give expression to our gratitude? In more ways than one. We can show it by cooperating with the ‘faithful slave’ in preaching and in making disciples. We can show our gratitude also by eagerly feeding on the spiritual food that this "slave" provides in the form of books and magazines, as well as by attending the congregation meetings. Nor to be overlooked is our privilege of praying that Jehovah’s spirit guide and strengthen that "slave" class for the work that He has for it to do. And according to our means it is also our privilege to contribute in a material way to help to defray the expenses incurred by that ‘slave’s’ worldwide activities. Yes, in all such ways we can show that we appreciate the way that Jehovah God is using and blessing the "faithful and discreet slave," thereby also demonstrating that we have a living, active faith that proves itself by its works.—Jas. 2:17, 26."-- Watchtower 3/1/1979 p. 23

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5


  1. Thank you very much for this post. For several years now, I have spent a lot of time talking with Jehovah's Witnesses. They seem to appreciate someone who doesn't close the door in their faces. I have come to have a real concern for them as precious individuals, although early on it was, you know, the thrill of engaging in spiritual battle with proof texts, etc.

    What you have shared as one who was inside the organization has my helped my understanding of my friends who still come visiting (but not as frequently as in the past.)

    Thank you. We will talk more.

    Craig Boyd

  2. Here is something I posted on my blog last year. I never followed through with a series on the subject, but maybe now I will since you have inspired me.

    Somebody Knockin on the door - somebody ringin the bell

  3. LOVE IT!!!!! Will post the link on my facebook page. Maybe it will get shared around.

    IF you are still talking to your mom, or any other J.W.'s could you ask her a question about the issue of Jesus being 'king'. Ask how this is possible when, in Psalm 10:16 and Jer 10:10, it says that 'JEHOVAH' is King Forever and Ever and the EVERLASTING KING.(See also: Deut 10:17, Dan 2:47) Yet, in Rev 17:14, and Rev 19:16, it speaks of JESUS being King. TWO Kings for ONE kingdom? How does THAT work?

    Great Testimony!

  4. Thank you Joanna. This is only part one. Next I will show how the Father drew me and then what happened after that.

    That is a point I haven't seen before. Thanks. You should post it in our facebook group too.

    1. Will do. Which one? The part about the two kings? Oh, sure! Matter of fact, I wrote a blog post about it. Maybe I can cut and paste or just add the basics.