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Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses/Whether to Go Back to a System of Lies?


I raised my children as witnesses and recruited my mother.  Now I am disfellowshipped and have communication only with one child.  I have become aware of their cult techniques, but I feel compelled to return because of this great personal loss and deep feelings of personal responsibility for my children and my mother.   What reason do I have to suffer the loss, possibly forever?

Dear Chris,

Thank you for not making your question private, so that others can benefit from your experience.

No one can make such a personal decision for you but you yourself. I can understand why you might choose to go back to the Witnesses so as to be able to reunite with your relatives. The threat of exile is a powerful motivator that all cult organizations use.

Are the disadvantages worth the advantages? That is a value judgment for you to make. All I can help you do is gain greater clarity about what those potential advantages and disadvantages are.

That which has escaped from Pandora's box can never be put back inside. Once you have learned that the Jehovah's Witnesses use reprehensible cult techniques, you cannot "unlearn" it. You will always know, at least in the back of your mind, that their system is corrupt. So while you can go back and pretend not to know that, you will not be able to achieve the fresh-faced innocence and sincerety that you may once have had. That may or may not matter to you.

While you retain your freedom of mind, you have an opportunity to set an example for your children and grandchildren. I understand some of them want nothing to do with you today, and their minds may be closed. However, as long as you retain your freedom of mind, there is always the future possibility that you can show them the door to freedom, and some of them might walk through. Does the freedom of your children and grandchildren matter? Only you can decide. Having to walk a hard road for an abstract benefit to the self and a potential benefit to others is not for everyone. Your life path is yours to walk.

There are benefits associated with freedom of mind that one does not discover until one's recovery from a system of mental enslavement is well along. What does freedom of mind mean? How does it enable your spirit to soar? How can one find inner peace or true spirituality? How does one create a new truly integral and sound worldview? Can I really start a new life, with new friends, and create a family of choice? These are beneficial prospects that may yet be ahead if you were to decide to remain free. You cannot know that potential until you experience it. There are no guarantees. It all depends on how hard you work your recovery.

If your focus is on "forever", as opposed to the relationships you will either have or not have in this lifetime, it's important for you to be clear about what the potential of "forever" means. I would not presume to tell you what to think about the nature of God. Every being should discover that for him/herself. However, I hope you are not telling yourself that you are an enemy of God because the Witnesses say so. That is a very common lie which entraps former Witnesses. You are not an enemy of God by choosing a path apart from the Witnesses. If you know that they are using deceptive cult techniques, then you know that they are not unique representatives of the God of Truth, as they claim to be. By discovering a broader truth, you are logically closer to that god, not further away.

Another perspective on "forever" which you may or may not have considered, and may or may not be relevant to you. Again, you decide if this matters to you: Many people believe in some kind of afterlife, either resurrection to a paradise earth or a place in heaven or reincarnation to a new lifetime or living through the end of an old world into a new world. If EVERYTHING changes from one life to the next, and we progress from one life to the next, then would you really want to abandon freedom of mind now for a short term benefit, where freedom of mind and spiritual growth may be a long term benefit? Your decision based on your values and perspectives.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Take your time deciding. Please make sure whatever you decide, it is your right life path.


Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses

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I don't object to Witness theology, but rather their use of social pressure & deceptive manipulations to undermine family ties and control minds. (This may seem contradictory to Witnesses, who draw no distinction between spiritual belief and organizational policy.) I do not engage in theological debate. I support persons impacted by an experience with the Witnesses and advocate early education for everyone so that they can protect themselves from cults by understanding what to watch out for. (It's not what most people think.)

(Ex-)Witnesses: I know how upsetting it is to experience doubts (or anger) about your experience. Time does not heal this wound until you first remove the splinter, which takes more time and effort than you may realize. So, unless you have already put in that time and effort, don't be surprised if you are deeply affected long after the experience. But there is good news! You're NOT an enemy of God for doubting or for failing to meet the requirements of a human organization. An organization that lies cannot be the exclusive spokesman for the God of Truth. Tell me where you're at. I'll understand. I can show you how to begin or continue your recovery and make a life for yourself worth living.

Non-Witnesses: Describe your experience with your friend/relative who is (becoming) a Witness. I can help you understand the Witness indoctrination and social dynamics that are affecting him or her. I can help you put your options into perspective. Keep in mind that people do make their own choices (even though they may sometimes do so under outside influence) and you may not be able to affect this person's choices, even though they impact on you. After all, you do not have the arsenal of tactics that a cult does (and wouldn't want to). A few people manage to save their friend/relative, but don't count on it. What you can count on is navigating the maze more successfully by becoming more informed about your own options.


I was a Witness for 30 years, and a volunteer at their headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, for a year. I have attended meetings with many Witness congregations across the United States, a thorough cross-section, carefully observing patterns of behavior. Although being a Witness was difficult, and I gradually had more and more doubts about Witness teachings--I was a true believer, so I kept trying to make it work somehow. I stopped attending meetings in 1997 only after receiving an answer to a prayer about doing so, and have since been actively involved in recovery. This includes both my own and supporting others in theirs. Recovery can include reading books, communicating with others in recovery, and participating in support groups and/or therapy. It always involves reclaiming one's own mind and discovering the other sides of the issues that you have been blinded to in the past.

My gradual awakening was socially, psychologically, and spiritually tumultuous. I lost everything from my former life. My suffering was substantial.

But I have gained everything, so it was worth it. Only after beginning my recovery did I gain social, psychological, and spiritual healing and growth, peace of mind, and self-respect. Only then did I discover who I am; and--for the first time--the meaning of real brotherly love.

For more resources on this topic, try these web sites:

Like most Cult Recovery Counselors, I am a cult survivor. I have life experience, not professional training. Also I feel no need to apologize for that. People with professional training cannot understand what it is like to survive a cult unless they have been through it themselves, which few professional therapists have. Understanding what really happened and what works in this unusual social context is as important as psychological training. Most professional therapists are not specifically trained to support cult survivors. Those who are represent a rare and precious resource.

I sometimes refer people to professional therapists regarding deep personal issues. But surviving a cult is a broad experience with other dimensions. Professional therapy can be very helpful as part of your recovery process, assuming that you choose the right therapist. When choosing a therapist, remember that you are the client and they are a service provider. You are the one who holds authority about the relationship. You get to interview the therapist and decide which one to employ.

Be sure to ask what specific training and experience they have around recovery from cult mind control. Most therapists do not have relevant training. Some carry serious misunderstandings about what cult mind control is; and therefore will misunderstand your struggle. So it pays to be selective as a consumer of professional therapy services.

Past/Present Clients
The Witness organization is not like other churches. Most non-Witnesses really cannot imagine what it is like to be a Witness. The organization has unimaginably extensive rules and monitoring that affect every aspect of life, so there is no privacy and no sense of personal independence. "Independent thought" is considered their greatest "sin".

The organization insists on absolute conformity, and claims to directly represent God; so dissent is not tolerated, and authority is totalitarian. Being a Witness is more like living in China or the former Soviet Union than being a member of a religion as you know it. It was the research of Robert J. Lifton, who was studying--not religions--but totalitarian governments, who first began to illuminate the problem of religious cults around the world, which employ exactly the same tactics as totalitarian governments. His work remains a cornerstone for Cult Recovery Counselors still today. (This may be why many governments are tolerant of cults, to avoid exposing their own control tactics.)

Witnesses often experience unusually dysfunctional lives and an extensive array of personal problems stemming from broken family ties, stunted social development, inner unrest resulting from repressed doubts, inability to defend boundaries, and an extreme, persistent feeling of irrational shame. I can help people impacted by an experience with the Witnesses by revealing in detail the policies and social dynamics in the Witness organization that cause these problems.

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