Founder of thejehovahswitnesses.org
Hi, I'm Bill.
I created this website in 2009 to help unhappy Jehovah's Witnesses recover from religious programming and find the happiness outside their religion. Let me give you a little background about myself and why I left the Watchtower religion in the 1970's.
I was born and raised as a JW in the small town of Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada.
At the age of 7 or 8 I decided the Watchtower was an evil, mean spirited organization. I vowed to leave as soon as I was old enough. Why did I draw this conclusion?
In my congregation there was a well dressed man who attended every Kingdom Hall meeting religiously (no pun intended) probably for two years or longer. He always sat in the front row and no one ever spoke with him. I thought this was terrible. What could he have done that was that bad? There were times when I said, 'Hi. How are you?' When I did this, I was scolded by members of the congregation.
As I reached the age where there was pressure to get baptized, I spent several weeks researching what the Watchtower teaches. Of course the only research I did was Watchtower publications. Information outside the organization was censored in the 1960's just like it is today.
Not greeting disfellowshipped people was a deal breaker for me. That was the reason I didn't want to be a JW.
However at exactly the same I was making a decision about baptism, the Watchtower came out with an article that allowed JW's to greet disfellowshipped JW's. Later around 1980 the Watchtower changed their mind and started shunning again, but there were a few years when JW's could talk to disfellowshipped persons. I believe the reasoning was that if people can say 'Hi' to a dog, a human is certainly more worthy. I was touched by the Watchtower's willingness to be more loving and kind. Jehovah's light was getting brighter. Thus I decided to get baptized.
I left the Watchtower Society after the failed 1975 armageddon prediction. However the fact that the Watchtower is a false prophet and the 1968 to 1975 prediction didn't come true, didn't phase my wife at all.
Because of these and other differences, I separated from my wife and stopped going to meetings. I was hoping to fade away like my two uncles and mother had done years earlier. I didn't want to be a JW. But I didn't want to be shunned by my friends. Imagine living in a small town where you're going to see former friends almost every day. Take a look at the Watchtower's Shunning Policy
Fading away without being noticed was impossible because I was a ministerial servant (assistant to the Elders) and my wife continued to be an active, loyal JW. My marriage break up was a scandal and congregation members were talking. Elders had to do something. Since my wife was devoted to the Watchtower, I became the target for disfellowshipping.
While this was going on there were several judicial committee meetings. Three Elders are needed to make a decision. One of them would always step down and a new Elder would take his place. When there were no Elders left, they called in an Elder from another congregation. He accused me of many things that weren't true and made up a reason to disfellowship me that made no sense all. The other two Elders were silent. They said nothing. This was obviously a kangaroo court. When I questioned the Elder in charge, he pointed his finger at me in anger and said, 'If we don't get you on this, we'll get you on something else. But WE WILL GET YOU!'
Much later when reading the secret Elder's manual Shepherd the Flock of God (2010) and the Elder book before that, I realized this Elder was following Watchtower protocol. Back in the 1970's I was under the illusion that I couldn't get disfellowshipped unless I broke one of God's laws in the Bible I believed that I could defend myself using the scriptures. I was so naive just like 99.99% of active JW's today. I got disfellowshipped because I no longer believed the Watchtower is God's organization.
After leaving I legally changed my last name to 'Borden'. (My dad died in a drowning accident when I was three and I never knew him.) I was planning ahead. I wanted to graduate college with the Borden name and pass it down to future children I might have.
In 1981, I attended Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and graduated four years later with a degree in Education.
To give you an example of how messed up JW's can be when they first leave the Watchtower, I decided to write a paper comparing various religions and slant my article to show that of all the religions, the Watchtower is the best one. However as I researched in the University library, I came across a book written by the late Raymond Franz, former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, called Crisis of Conscience. This is a very thick book, filled with factual documentation and I was shocked at it's contents. I became very angry with the Watchtower for hiding the truth and wasting my life.
Years went by and I created a good life for myself. I was comfortable and forgot my life as a JW. It was like a bad dream.
In 1993 my grandmother, passed away. She raised me from 3 weeks old until the time I was 18. At the funeral, one of my cousins told me he was 'interested in joining the Jehovah's Witnesses'. I really didn't know what to say. All I said was, "Don't do it!'
My cousin didn't listen to my advice. Since I lived in Arizona and he was in Canada, I didn't find out until much later that he joined and eventually became an Elder. From 1993 to 2013, I was unaware that I was being shunned. My cousin brought his dad, mother, and some other family members back into the organization. For twenty years, I heard nothing form my family. Cousins got married. I was never told or invited. They had children. I was never told. There was never any communication. I spoke with my uncle Maurice on the phone in 2010. He was reserved but friendly. When I confronted him, he said that I lived too far away and they thought I wouldn't be interested or wouldn't come to weddings, so they didn't invite me. I thought this was odd but let it go.
In 2013, I took a road trip along the west coast of the USA, British Columbia, and Calgary (where I lived from 1972 to 1973). However I didn't spend too much time there. I was anxious to see my family and my home town Thunder Bay. I hadn't been there in 20 years. On the way I visited an aunt in Dryden Ontario. I also spent some time with one of my cousins and her daughter. They are not Jehovah's Witnesses.
When I arrived in Thunder Bay, I saw my uncle who is not a JW and stayed at his house. It was the same house that I grew up in. My uncle bought the property after his mother (my grandmother) passed away.
After about a week I finally received a return phone call from my other uncle who is a JW. He immediately announced that he 'could not associate with me unless I started going back the Kingdom Hall again.' That was his exact words.
I asked him why he was judging me because Jesus told Christians not to judge. He said he wasn't judging but I 'must have done something wrong to get disfellowshipped'. We had an interesting conversation, but he wasn't open to listening to what I had to say. A couple hours later, both uncles spoke to each other and I received a phone call to leave the house right away. My uncle was afraid he'd be shunned by his brother if he allowed me to stay at his house.
A couple weeks later I left Thunder Bay without seeing my JW uncle (who is now in his 80's) and any of his children. By the way, I've always thought of both uncles as my older brothers because their mother (my grandmother) raised me.
It was a disappointment not to see my JW uncle and my cousins. I felt so sorry for him and still do. He's trapped in a religion that controls what he can say, do, and even think. He feels there is no escape because in his old age he would lose his son who is an Elder, possibly his wife that he met in high school, his family, all his friends, and his religion. I thought about it later. I should have gone over there anyways. All I wanted to do is give him a big hug and say that I love him face to face. Then I could have left. There was no need to associate with him. I didn't think about that at the time.
In spite of this somewhat negative experience and missing out on a lot of things growing up as a JW, I have been blessed with a wonderful life. I am thankful.
After the leaving the Watchtower I spent several years searching for the best religion. I couldn't find one. Eventually I came to the realization that good people exist in all religions. Your religion can't save you. Only God can do that and he doesn't care what you believe. His primary concern is your capacity to love. Love is the path to eternal life. Also coincidentally, love is the common universal theme of all the world's major religions.
Here's what my new religion looks like. There are no doctrines. I have beliefs based on experience, but I know nothing for sure. I'm constantly asking questions and testing what I believe. I change my beliefs as I learn more. One question always leads to another. However beliefs are not my primary focus.
There are only three things that are important in my new 'religion'. Actually I don't have a religion. I only have a way of life.
There's one more thing. Give thanks for the little things. Appreciate everything. Take nothing for granted. Observe your self talk. Use words as needed to create the life you want. Nothing was ever created without the 'Word'. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Since the Word was God, the Word created all things.
If you want to create a better life, change your words. i.e. change your self talk, change the music you listen to if the lyrics do not resonate with the life you want, change the friends you hang out with, ... Take control of your life. Be aware of every Word you hear, think, and say.
My religion is simple but it's the narrow path. Loving people who love you is easy. JW's love other JW's and people who might be interested in joining. They are on the broad and spacious path, just like the majority of people are. Even gangsters are willing to die for their brothers. Jesus and other wise teachers explained that the narrow path is loving people who don't love you!
Love strangers. Love enemies. Love people who criticize your beliefs and don't agree with you. Love difficult people. Love people who hate you. Love people who shun you. Love people who are not allowed to associate with you. True love is the path to eternal life, - not true religion.
God bless all of you.
Founder of thejehovahswitnesses.org