The Watchtower Society has a long history of petitioning governments for religious freedom. Unfortunately they don't believe their own members are entitled to the same religious freedoms, liberties, and rights.
Here's what it's like to be a JW and why so many are leaving their religion.
JW's cannot tell anyone they have serious doubts about being God's only organization. They can't say other religions are just as truthful or good. They can't debate and question what the organization says, including their right to have a blood transfusion in life or death situations.
Disagreeing with the organization is not allowed. Speaking up and trying to make the organization better is impossible because the organization claims to be God's 'spirit directed channel of communication'.
JW's believe rebellion against the organization is the same as rebellion against God
In spite of lofty claims of religious superiority over all other faiths and being 'spirit directed' as God's ONLY channel of communication, the organization disclaims having any divine inspiration. Since they have no divine inspiration, they can't be spirit directed or God's mouthpiece. Some or all of what they teach could be incorrect.
The organization says JW's are 'free' to leave their religion and join another. No one will stop them. This is partly true. What they don't say is if you leave, they will hold all your friends and family inside the organization hostage until you 'return to Jehovah'.
The only way to get your loved ones back is to repent of your sin of leaving the organization and plead to be reinstated. If Elders are convinced of your sincerity, reinstatement means going door to door, pushing magazine carts around, attending meetings, volunteering, recruiting new members, etc. and of course being loyal to all the requirements of the organization.
Therefore JW's are NOT FREE to leave and join another religion or have no religion at all. There is absolutely no way to leave on friendly terms. The price of leaving is very high. You can put a price on the loss your car, house, and personal belongings. You can't put a price on loss of your parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, ... perhaps your spouse will reject you, ... certainly all your close life long friends will have nothing to do with you any more.
The practice of judging and disfellowshipping (excommunicating) JW's means families and friendships are destroyed. All JW's are told it's 'God's command' to have absolutely no contact or communication with anyone who is disfellowshipped or 'disassociated'. Disobedience is a serious sin that leads to being disfellowshipped and shunned.
Thus some JW's obey and support the organization - not because they want to, but because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't.
JW's are told that God's enemy is everyone outside their organization, - especially anyone who says anything negative about the organization or simply leaves because they no longer believe the organization is 'the truth'. JW's are told that their enemies include parents, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, ... all friends and loved ones who leave or say anything negative about the organization.
Since 1925 the Watchtower Society has been teaching there are only two choices, God's organization, and Satan's organization, everyone else. They teach that they are the only true religion and all others are false. Not only are other religions false, anyone who belongs to a 'false religion' will 'soon' be destroyed by Jehovah at Armageddon with no hope of eternal life.
Therefore if a JW leaves their religion and joins another one or simply leaves because they don't want to belong any more, they are discriminated against and shunned for the rest of their lives. Isolation and the sudden loss of everyone you've ever cared about can lead to depression, mental illness, and suicide. That's why critics call the organization a dangerous cult.
Truthful but negative outside information is censored. JW's are not allowed to consider anything that hasn't been approved or authorized by the organization. They are repeatedly told that the beliefs of outsiders, worldly knowledge, and higher education is foolish, inferior, 'false', destructive, harmful, a waste of time, influenced by Satan, etc.
JW's are admonished to consume as much 'spiritual food' as possible from 'Jehovah's organization' so they remain 'spiritually strong'. They are kept busy doing organizational activities and associating only with other JWs. Since 1879 and still today, there is a sense of urgency to work hard. JW's are constantly reminded that 'Armageddon' is 'right around the corner' and Watchtower is Jehovah's only path to salvation.
You cannot leave the organization without losing family members and friends inside the organization. They will hold your loved ones hostage until you 'return to Jehovah' (which might be never).
You will be treated as if you're literally dead for the rest of you life. They will avoid eye contact. They will walk right by you as if you're a ghost. They won't even attend your funeral decades after you leave.
In all religions, teachers, ministers, and leaders are respected. Some take on the title of 'reverend' or 'father'. In the JW faith, Elders and the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses do not have the title of 'reverend' or 'father' but that doesn't mean they can be disrespected. JW's must not only respect 'those taking the lead', they must also 'be in submission'. Obedience to Jehovah AND the organization is required.
Christians do not need to obey their religious leaders because Jesus is their only authority. Matthew 28:18. Jehovah's Witnesses must obey the Governing Body and Elders.
Christians respect their ministers and honor them sometimes to excess but they are free to make their own decisions, say whatever they want, attend any church, have a blood transfusion if they need one, and control their own life. Christians are free to follow their conscience, attend any church (Christian or not Christian), and put God first.
JW's are not free. They give up some very important and basic human rights. Some JW's do not fully comprehend what it means to 'belong' the JW religion and be a Jehovah's Witness.  In their baptism vows to God, JW's unwittingly agree to be in submission to Elders and the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses without even realizing it. Read their baptism vows and see that this is true.
JW's cannot be members of the JW religion and attend other churches.
JW's cannot disagree with the organization. Independent thinking is not allowed. They must be like-minded.
JW's must not listen to what critics of the the JW religion say. Critical thinking and freedom of thought is not allowed. See these Watchtower Quotes
Leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses is not as easy as leaving most religions. There are many reasons. Here are two big ones.
JW's are indoctrinated to think non believers belong to "Satan's world". It can be scary making new friends with people you can't indentify with. People outside the organization celebrate birthdays, holidays, discuss politics, vote, and do all the things Jehovah's Witnesses can't do.
Leaving means the loss of their entire support network, including parents, children, and relatives who choose to stay inside the organization.
Trapped inside a religion that doesn't respect the free will and basic human rights of members, JW's know they will pay a huge price if they leave.
The organization says that leaving them is 'wrong doing'. They quote 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 in which the Apostle Paul tells early Christians "not to associate with sexually immoral people ... or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters."
It's unclear how this Bible verse or any other forbids Jehovah's Witnesses from associating with former members. Certainly the organization doesn't consider it to be immoral, a sin, or a crime to leave the Catholic Church and join the JW religion. Why is it wrong doing to leave the Watchtower Society and believe in something else?
In any event, those who leave the organization, are judged to be on the same level as 'immoral people', 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. They are disfellowshipped, shunned, and even hated. This becomes a warning to JW's who dare question the absolute authority of Elders and the Governing Body to control what JW's do and say.
They say, "Persons who make themselves “not of our sort” by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshipped for wrongdoing." Watchtower magazine, Sept 15, 1981, p 23, par 14-16
Watch the JW organization in action outside of an 'imitate Jesus' convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. 100's of Jehovah's Witnesses shun a kind, gentle, and peaceful Christian minister who politely asks Jehovah's Witnesses if they imitate Jesus. They walk right by without saying a greeting or making eye contact because he's not a Jehovah's Witness. They were told during the program he is an apostate. JW's are not allowed to greet former members even if they want to be kind and loving like Jesus was.
The price of leaving the JW religion is high if you have loved ones inside the organization and it may not be easy to make new friends if you've been a JW for a very long time.
The good news is it's much easier to leave today than ever before. There's absolutely no excuse to be lonely. The internet makes it easy to connect with other JW's who have left or are in the process of leaving. More people have left the organization than are currently active.
In addition to the support and love of EX-JW's online, you can also make friends with anyone you want. You won't be limited only to JW's. Some of your new friends will become like family. The entire world will become your playground. Billions of people and unlimited activities. You get to choose what you will do with your time and who you will hang out with.
You will be free. No more meetings. No more studying and preparing for meetings. No more conventions. No more obeying Elders. JW's don't realize how little freedom they have until they leave. Then it's like a heavy boulder is lifted off your shoulders.
You can choose to continue a relationship with God if you want. Leaving the JW religion doesn't need to mean the loss of Jehovah. You can still love God and depend on Him for your strength during difficult times. Or you can explore new spritual paths. You can learn about why Christians follow Jesus instead of Jehovah. You can go to a different church everyday. Or you can listen to church services on your computer. Many churches record all their sermons and put them on their websites.
You can also become an athiest or agnostic if you want to. Keep God in your life or not. In free western societies no one will judge you as good or bad because of your faith. Freedom feels good if you decide to leave.
1. Can you imagine what it's like when one parent is a JW and the other is not? A child goes to the Kingdom Hall of JW's and learns that the parent who is not a JW is mentally diseased and an evil, wicked person controlled by Satan the Devil.
Some adults are perceptive enough to see that name calling and attacking former JW's who leave their religion is a mind control strategy that creates irrational fear and hinders JW's from finding out the truth about the organization. But the brains of children are not fully developed at an early age. What they learn at Kingdom Halls can negatively affect their future.
It's young children who are harmed the most by mind control.
2. JW's dedicate their lives to God and their baptism identifies them as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Thus instead of following the Bible's instructions on baptism in Matthew 28:18-20, the organization has made themselves 50/50 partners with God. To JW's Jehovah and the organization are equally important.
Even though honoring humans and human organizations to excess is forbidden in the JW faith, this rule does not apply to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. They have appointed themselves as God's channel of communication
By agreeing to be identified as one of JW's in their baptism vows, JW's unwittingly agree to do whatever the organization tells them God requires. They are no longer free.
However the organization does not know what God requires. We know this because the organization does not claim to have any divine inspiration. Some or all of what they teach could be incorrect.
Therefore being baptized as a JW and believing the Watchtower organization is the only true religion and symbol for salvation like the ark in Noah's day, could be viewed by their God Jehovah as the sin of idolatry. 2 Kings 17:38; Exodus 23:13; Jeremiah 25:6;
3. Wikipedia says, 'Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof'
4. 'A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it.' Albert Einstein
5. VIDEO and article: Are Jehovah's Witnesses A Cult?