According to an estimate, at least 70,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses leave that religious group annually.
Some of them are disfellowshipped for flouting their by-laws while others simply walk out of the cult due to a number of issues, such as the prevalence and cover-up of sexual abuse within the organization and spiritual emptiness.
Like most heretical sects, the JW belief system is a house of cards. If just one card falls, the entire structure crumbles. Interestingly, for each individual JW, it’s a different card which falls first.
For some, they find inexcusable errors in Watchtower teachings, some witness the injustice, others walk away when they can no longer stomach the Himalayan hypocrisy and the cruelty embedded within the system.
Janja Lalich, a professor studying cults and totalitarian leadership, made some statements regarding cult groups. “There’s this intense devotion and the inability to question or criticize or doubt,” Lalich told The Daily Beast. “They seem to be in a state of what we call cognitive dissonance, where what they believe doesn’t match reality,” she said.
Once the seed of doubt is sown into the heart of the Witness against his/her authoritarian leadership, the structure of their beliefs begins to crumble. It takes just one weak link to break a chain.
In the testimonies of former Witnesses who have come to know Jesus Christ, one can see various ways the Watchtower chains of deceit holding them down were broken.
“Between the two of us, we conducted ‘home bible studies’ with dozens of people, and we brought well over 20 of them into the organization as baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses,” says David Reed an ex-JW elder and his wife, Penni. “We weren’t stupid,” he continues, “but we were totally ignorant of the Bible. Besides, the Jehovah’s Witness program of indoctrination is so cleverly put together that it appeals to intelligent people.”
JWs will not come to your doors to talk about their most absurd beliefs, but would rather start out teaching things that most people agree with and gradually introduce the more absurd beliefs as time goes by.
“When I think of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I recall a lifetime of bondage to a cult which I served for the first 28 years of my life,” wrote Paul Blizard, who was a third generation JW.
“I was taught that Jehovah’s Witnesses had the only true religion, a religion governed from Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. The governing body controls 2.3 million people. I use the word ‘control’ because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that everything written by the Watchtower is from God and is not to be questioned,” he wrote.
In Tammie’s case, she was “a religious zealot and looked scornfully at anyone too lazy to pursue the ‘Truth’ as we called it.” She adds, “I was persuasive enough to lead five people to the point of baptism. I reported a monthly average of 10 Bible studies and [gave out] hundreds of pieces of literature. I read and studied the organization’s materials to the extent that I was able to argue doctrine better than any elder I knew, and this by their own admission.” Yet, “I was desperately lonely and empty.”
An online Christian ministry that evangelizes JWs notes that:
“There are two types of converts. Those who joined this religion because it met an emotional need and those who converted because it gave them ‘answers’ to the questions they were facing in life. While the second group is easier to reach through logical reasoning about doctrinal inconsistencies, the first group is the most difficult to reach.”
What attracts people to the group usually keeps them in it. Penni recalls, “We were at a Witness convention and a handful of opposers were picketing outside. One of them carried a sign that said ‘READ THE BIBLE, NOT THE WATCHTOWER’.”
That night, she and David decided to follow that instruction. They read their Bibles and their discoveries eventually led the couple out of the cult.
Paul Blizard was given a book titled ’30 Years a Watchtower Slave’ by a fellow JW. The book was authored by an ex-JW who had found the truth by reading the Bible without Watchtower materials:
“I knew that my duty as a good Witness was to turn in my friend to the elders, for we were forbidden to read any anti-Witness material. But in defiance, I read the book. It disturbed me very much, for the author was a former worker at headquarters, and I could relate to many of the things he was saying.”
Then the Watchtower fancy cards came crashing down:
“My wife and I secretly studied our new Bible long hours into the night, discovering that many of the major doctrines that we had been willing to die for were false. I confronted my father about some of these issues. Being an elder, my father saw that I was questioning some of the main teachings, and he reported my wife and I to the elders, to stand trial for apostasy.”
Tammie, had her doubts when she met true Christians:
“I wondered why I had been warned all my life not to read other people’s religious materials. I observed these people’s lives and how they really lived what they believed and I began to wonder why a God of love wanted to kill these people at Armageddon. Was God so cruel to want to destroy these people who obviously love Him, just because they were not Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
Cynthia Cooper questioned the JW religion when her sister married a non-JW man. “My parents had literally thrown all of my sister’s clothes out on the front lawn.” She wondered “this is your child, how can you say you love your child and you love God but you are treating your child this way?… This is not the love of God.”
After Cynthia left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, she was shunned by her family and nearly committed suicide. But with the support of her Christian friends and pastor, she regained her feet and is still in the Lord.
Daniel Rodriguez, who has led many JWs to Christ observed that:
“Many who exit the Watchtower on their own never again involve themselves with “religion” of any kind. Many become agnostics or atheists. Many have suicidal thoughts. Some succumb to those thoughts. Thankfully, there are those who, in time, work out the trauma of leaving the Watchtower organization and live meaningful lives. Many publications deal with ministering to Jehovah’s Witnesses; but very few address the trauma of those who exit the Watchtower organization (Winning the Witnesses, Chick Publications Inc., 2007, pp. 75-76).
Raymond Franz, a former member of the Governing Body of JWs and cousin to a former President of the Watchtower Society, Fred Franz, provided some interesting insights into the hermetic mind control operating in this cult
“Sadly, in the case of most Witnesses, the organization has so persistently pushed its own self to the fore, has occupied such a large place on the spiritual scene, focusing so much attention on its own importance, that it has kept many from the closeness of fellowship with the heavenly Father that should have been theirs. The figure of the organization has loomed so large that it has overshadowed the greatness of God’s own Son, has clouded the vision of many from appreciating the warm relationship he invites persons to share with him, has distorted their perception of his compassionate personality.
“It is not surprising, then, that many persons, if expelled from the organization feel a sense of aloneness, of being adrift, floundering, due to no longer being tied to some visible authority structure, no longer having their lives channeled into its routine of programmed activity, no longer feeling the restrictive pressures of its policies and rulings” (Crisis of Conscience, 4th edition, Commentary Press, Atlanta, 2004, p. 397).
“When I told my parents that I had accepted Christ as my Savior, my mother cried and said she would never speak to me again,” recalls Tammie. “They believe Satan has blinded my mind so I can’t see the Truth anymore but I have discovered that the Truth is not an organization or a religion; it’s a Person, it’s Jesus Christ.”
After Paul Blizard and his wife were expelled and shunned, “Christians came to our home and helped us with food and money … The living testimony of these people affected my wife and I so much that we decided to start again studying the Bible.” From their study, “one night, my wife and I held our hands and gave our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, it is not in a religious organization.