I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. When I was about 14 years old I got baptized. When I was around 20 years old I was appointed as a 'ministerial servant'.
When I was a child, long before I was baptized, a disfellowshipped man attending our congregation for many years. He was always dressed in a suit and sat in the front row. No one would talk with him. I knew this was not right. I knew the Watchtower Society Society was not God's organization and I vowed to leave as soon as I was old enough.
When I was 9 year old I was attending a book study. The book explained how things that happened to JW's in 1918 were foretold in the Bible thousands of years ago. After several weeks of listening to this religious propaganda, I put my hand up and said, 'Do you really believe this? This is crazy. This is not true.' To my surprise the 20+- adults in the room didn't say a word. I'm sure everyone was thinking the same thing. No one ever said anything about my comments.
Even though I didn't plan on getting baptized, I changed my mind . My family and friends were Jehovah's Witnesses so getting baptized seemed like the right thing to do. Also prior to 1985, the Watchtower Society Society's baptism vows were only to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit .
I left the Watchtower Society somewhere between 1976 and 1980. It was a gradual process. Why did I leave?
Armageddon didn't come in 1975 like the Watchtower predicted. This was not the first time they made date predictions for armageddon and were wrong. They've done it over and over again since the 1880's. See Watchtower Predictions
This proved to me that they don't speak on behalf of God, they are not His channel of communication, and they are not God's organization. They are a false prophet. I took God's Word to heart when I read Deut 18:14-22. They were using Jehovah as a tool to command loyalty. My friends and I had be deceived and used. We had wasted our time.
In addition I saw that many 'worldly' people were just as loving, kind, and God fearing as the JW's. Most were just as moral and in fact some were even better examples of love than my JW's friends.
I knew I had to leave but wanted to do it quietly. I stopped going to meetings, door to door, reading Watchtower magazines, etc. I literally disassociated myself from all Jehovah's Witnesses because I could no longer pretend to be a believer. I'm not good at being a hypocrite. However even though I left the organization I was officially still a Jehovah's Witness for several months before being disfellowshipped.
This made things a bit easier for me I think because by the time I was formally disfellowshipped, I already had a support network of friends outside of the organization.
Even though I was almost certain about the Watchtower Society, there was still some concern that I might be wrong. What I learnt through attending numerous judicial committee meetings was that I was on the right track.
Leaving the organization was the right thing to do. In fact the moment the Elders said, 'You are now disfellowshipped and no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses', a sense of peace and happiness came over me like I had never felt before. I was free! Now it was just me and Jehovah. I didn't need to obey the Watchtower anymore and pretend to be something I was not.
Why did I get disfellowshipped? I was having marital problems. I had separated from my wife and people were talking. My wife was still attending meetings and going door to door promoting the Watchtower's Happy Family Life book. I was not. I wasn't happy. My wife had the same marital problems I had. She was unhappy too. Did the Watchtower Society give us any comfort? Why would I go door to door and tell people lies?
I was done with the Watchtower Society but was keeping it a secret, partly because of the stigma attached to being disfellowshipped, and partly because I was curious about what would happen if I kept my personal life to myself. What would the Watchtower Society do?
I was hoping that they would forget about me and the whole thing would blow over with time. What was going against me though was that my wife and other relatives were still going to congregation meetings. People wanted to know what was being done and who was to blame for the marriage breakup.
Even though being disfellowshipped has been a blessing, at the time I didn't want to go through the process. It's kind of like going to heaven. Everyone wants to go there, but no one wants to die.
I knew my former JW friends would judge me as an evil person even though I wasn't. I knew it would be uncomfortable running into Jehovah's Witnesses who wouldn't say 'hi' to me. But the other part of me knew I was no longer a Jehovah's Witness anyway and I had no intentions of ever going back.
So what did I do? I played with the judicial committees of Jehovah's Witnesses for a few months because it was a fun thing to do. They invited me to meetings and I graciously accepted.
The entire concept of a 'judicial committee' to judge people on behalf of God seemed crazy to me and I wanted to study how the Watchtower Society teaches elders to do their job. Are they really God's organization? Do they really know what God knows?
I was amazed at how unqualified the elders were to judge my guilt or innocence. Several judicial committees heard my case because after all the facts were heard and questions answered, one of the Elders would always step down. I didn't feel it was ethical for Elders to pry into my personal affairs and then bail out after three or four meetings.
I found it interesting to observe the elders fumble around trying to figure out what to do with me. It was intriguing to watch a process that Jehovah's Witnesses are never exposed to unless their loyalty to the organization is in question.
It became obvious that God was not helping the elders decide if they should disfellowship me or not. Gossip within the congregation was driving Elders to pin the blame on me but in good conscience, some of them couldn't do it. They knew there wasn't enough evidence so they stepped down instead of ruling against me.
In the end it became clear that my guilt or innocence was not important. They wanted me out because someone needed to take the blame for the marriage breakup. I was the logical target because I was no longer attending meetings and going door to door. Had I continued to be faithful to the Watchtower Society, I would have lost my ministerial servant position but judicial committee meetings wouldn't have been necessary.
Over several meetings I learned a lot about how the organization operates. In my mind, I was no longer a Jehovah's Witness and the questions they were asking was none of their business. The Watchtower Society dispenses information on a need to know basis  and I was following their example. They didn't need to know and my job was to be 'mysterious'. If they had evidence that I was an evil person like Paul described in 1 Cor 5:11, let them present it, and if not, then let me live my life the way I want to live it.
Of course I knew even at that time that the Watchtower Society could disfellowship people, - not because they committed a sin, but because they weren't loyal to the organization. Thus I wanted to know what they knew. Did they know about my new life outside the Kingdom Hall? Did they know I didn't support the Watchtower Society anymore? Did God tell them? I dragged out the disfellowshipping process as long as possible to see if God was guiding them or not.
Even though I learned a lot from attending several different judicial committee meetings, after a while it was getting old. I didn't feel they had a right to pry into my personal life. After all if God was on their side, they would obviously know what he knows. Right? The truth was that they didn't. They were not channeling any information from God. Absolutely none at all!
Of course I now know that Elders do their job based on secret organizational guidelines. Today it makes sense that they keep this book under lock and key so Jehovah's Witnesses can't read it. The Watchtower doesn't want JW's to know that a few men of questionable character in NYC are using the name Jehovah as a tool to command loyalty. Because this Watchtower book is a secret, JW's wrongly assume that God is in direct communication with the Governing Body and it's Elders. They believe they are loyal to Jehovah when the truth of the matter is they are loyal to men who have no divine inspiration whatsoever.
God doesn't tell Elders or the Watchtower Society who needs to be disfellowshipped. In fact God does not support the practice of disfellowshipping and shunning your family.
What the Watchtower Society is doing is morally and ethically wrong. When someone leaves they punish everyone. Those who leave and those stay. It's like everyone getting a speeding ticket even though only one person was going too fast. The Watchtower breaks up family relationships and friendships because they're afraid of being exposed as imposters. They take what doesn't belong to them. They take your relationships. Then they offer to give them back to you, if you return to the organization and start working for them again.
No wonder why so many JW's become atheists. If God thinks like the Watchtower Society thinks, ... we don't need him in our life!
Since the Elders in my congregation could not make a decision, an Elder from a different congregation presided over the final meeting. He laid down a list of accusations against me without asking any questions or hearing my side of the story. The other two Elders just sat there without saying a word. They knew none of it was true.
In my defense, I quoted Proverbs 12:15 which says, 'Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.'
This didn't go over well. I damaged his ego in front of his peers and he became angry. I questioned whether anger is a good quality for an Elder to have. This angered him even more.
His reason for disfellowshipping me didn't make any sense. I didn't understand it, nor do I remember what the reason was. However it immediately became clear that the reason for disfellowshipping wasn't important. They wanted me out and there's no way to win in a kangaroo court.
That was 35 years ago. I can still remember his final words, how he said it, and how I felt. It was the confirmation I needed that God is not supporting the Watchtower Society and it's Elders.
When I questioned how he could disfellowship me 'for such a stupid reason', he shoved his finger in my face and said, 'If we don't get you on this, we'll get you on something else, but WE WILL GET YOU!!!'
Since I knew it was my last meeting, I decided to make it memorable and go out with a bang. I threw a little more gasoline on the fire. I calmly leaned over and said, 'I had a lot of respect for you before this meeting. Now I see who you really are. You're a fx?!in' a%^hole.' He couldn't believe I swore at him. The look on his face was priceless. He said, 'What did you say?' I said, 'You heard me. You're a f*/$in' a!*hole.'
Today I can quote scriptures showing that judicial committees, disfellowshipping, and shunning is not what God expects of us, but I don't need to. Anyone who loves God, surely must know this is wrong. I knew it as a child.
Right or wrong, being formally disfellowshipped turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Disfellowshipping forced me to make a clean break from the Watchtower Society. It drew me closer to God and I've never looked back.
Even though I've lost most of my family, I thank God every day that he led me out of the Watchtower religion when I was young. It was like getting out of jail early instead of serving a life sentence. Happiness comes to people who have their life in order. Here's what's important to me today.
Love of God and knowing His intense love for all people regardless of their beliefs.
Love of family and friends. (I still love my family even though I haven't seen them in decades. Also I've made new friends over the last 30+ years who have become like family and just as dear.)
Religion is optional. I'm indifferent. I'm not for it and I'm not against it. I know that every religion is doing their best, but none are perfect. They can't save me. Only God can do that. My personal relationship with God is far more important. God knows me by name and loves me more than any human is capable of. I'm an important person in God's life and we talk all the time. I feel God's presence in all churches, but prefer not to 'belong' to any religion because I see a tendency for religions to separate people from their neighbors who have different beliefs, rather than bring them together.
Disfellowshipping and shunning started in 1952 and continues even today. However there were a few years where the Watchtower Society relaxed the shunning requirement somewhat. You couldn't associate with disfellowshipped people, but you could be humane. You could say 'Hi. How are you?' and you could be polite. When I saw their willingness to change and be compassionate, I decided to get baptized. Also my baptism vows were to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Later in 1985 the baptism vows of the Watchtower Society changed. JW's are now baptized in the name of God and their religion. Baptismal Vows of Jehovah's Witnesses
the Watchtower Society proved from the Bible that hiding the truth from those not entitled to it is scriptural. See Watchtower quotes on 'Theocratic War'