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 my religion 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 Society 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 Society 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.
Also I was baptized as a Christian in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit prior to 1970. Before 1970 JWORG said baptism was dedication to God alone. It had nothing to do with religion or membership in an organization. So I reasoned their was no harm in baptism because I loved God and still do. In 1985 JWORG began baptizing members into their religion.
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.
UPDATED: Dec 29, 2018. My spiritual beliefs are still the same but there has been unexpected information given to me. In the last year I've had the opportunity to watch the amazing work God is recently doing through one of the largest churches in the Phoenix area. I'm not promoting any church. There must be others.
It's interesting for me to see God working through people at this gigantic church. It's given me so much encouragement because now I don't feel the constant pressure I should be doing more to get his message out. They are doing much more than I could ever do.
In contrast before that (about three years ago) God sent me to a local Christian church and wanted me to get involved with some of their small group ministries "to get to know the people". I told people what I knew about God and how uncomfortable I am in Christian churches because of what they teach. Repeatedly I asked them if they knew why I was there. God wouldn't tell me. I sincerely didn't know. I made it clear I felt I didn't belong and yet I was led by God to be there. Many of my ideas seemed to clash with what is 'required' by Christian religions.
After several weeks and many small group discussions one of the church leaders told me I was there to teach them something. He was fascinated but his buddies were not. He noticed my ideas were very much the same as what Jesus taught but my 'terminology' was different. It was unknown to me at the time but church leaders were praying for answers and about to make important changes to their church at exactly the same time I arrived. Their membership dropped from 5000 to 1000 over the last 50 years. They wanted to know why and what they could do to turn things around. The church's final solution to declining growth was to go back to the things they did 50 years ago. LOL.
I wish them well and pray for the people but when I drive by their church I don't see they're doing any better. They still seem to be in decline. On the other hand the church I've been visiting regularly this year is opening new locations every year to accommodate new members. I'm so thankful God's work is being done in this church and hopefully many more I'm unaware of.
Why are some Christian churches growing and others are not? There could be other reasons but this is one explanation. Jesus said the path to salvation and life is love of God and neighbors. So simple. So easy sounding. Yet it's an incredibly narrow path. Few find it easy to truly love enemies, people who are different, and people who are not like them. Many people have problems loving themselves, their families, and even their friends! They resort to drugs, alcohol, tobacco and other strategies to cope. If a church is able to convey God's message and God is able to change lives through a church, people would likely want to give back to God and others who are lost. The obvious way to do that it is to give to their church so it can grow and prosper.
God bless all of you.
Founder of thejehovahswitnesses.org