Oompah, also known as Eric Reeder, was a regular contributor to the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community. After losing all contact with his family due to being declared an apostate, he committed suicide. He was 51 years old.
***g7/09p.29 Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?***
“No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.”
Ironically, the religion and publisher of this statement is one of the biggest offenders with their shunning policy of its members who come to the conclusion that their form of worship is unacceptable.
For some, this severe shunning is too much to bear.
For anyone having problems leaving “the truth,” there are plenty of friends out there waiting to hear from you. Please consider reaching out to them. JWD is probably the biggest online forum for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses out there. There’s also Ex-JW Secularists and JWR.
Here’s an article about shunning for those who may have been told that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t shun former members, or that Witnesses only do it out of personal choice and not in compliance with Watchtower teaching.
As ex-Witnesses, we’ve all read about situations where the Watchtower Society (or its representatives) claim that shunning a family member is purely a matter of personal choice. That is to say that the family members who shun disfellowshipped Witnesses aren’t being forced to do so, but simply chose not to have any relations with that person for reasons of their own. This makes the Watchtower Society seem less cult-like to the public and may help the organization avoid certain legal issues for the practice of disfellowshipping in other countries. The video above shows us an example of a Witness downplaying the Society’s role in shunning disfellowshipped Witnesses in a court of law. Notice how he ducks questions relating to whether the policy of disfellowshipping is enforced by the Society or how such enforcement might happen.
There are other examples where the Society’s representatives seem evasive when it comes to answering uncomfortable questions in the media or in legal proceedings. The issue of blood transfusions is one that comes to mind. The claim, once again, is that the family is not being made to do anything by Watchtower policy. They are simply refusing treatment out of personal choice. Hence, it’s the family’s responsibility, not the Society’s.
But here’s the big question. Is any of this really true?
I’m sure many of you have heard of the hacker group, Anonymous, by now. I’ve begun seeing videos and news about attempts they have made to raise awareness about pedophilia going on in religious organizations, including the Watchtower Society. The hard thing about groups like Anonymous is that you never know when news is genuine or not. Is it really Anonymous, or is it someone else just masquerading as them? Also, it’s not clear how organized they are. Are there different factions within the group? No one really knows.
That’s why I haven’t posted anything about Anonymous until now. But it’s starting to look like these claims might be genuine. I will post more about this if solid news comes to light. For now, several fellow ex-Witnesses have asked me to post a link to this video claiming to be made by Anonymous. I have decided to grant their request.
The video pretty much speaks for itself. Stay tuned and we’ll see if anything more comes from this.
I have been advocating Gregorio Smith‘s Truth Be Told documentary about ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses since I first heard about it from a member of the production staff. So I was very excited when Gregorio emailed me with more information a few weeks ago. He even agreed to give me an interview.
If you’re looking forward to the documentary as much as I am and want to find out more about Truth Be Told, here’s a good place to start. If there are other questions you’d like me to ask Gregorio Smith, I will try to pass them along. (Just remember, he’s a really busy guy.)
Here’s a comment about the documentary from its creator that I thought was worth sharing. Especially in light of any criticism that may follow from the Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Per the official synopsis, TRUTH BE TOLD is not an indictment of religion but rather a retrospective. The purpose of the movie is to provide a comprehensive forum for anyone that has a story to share – to start a new conversation intended to heal, not hurt. And while the ultimate product may not be even-handed, it will be honest.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Director – Truth Be Told
I’m sure many of you were wondering if Gregorio had any personal experience as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or if he was coming at this completely from the outside. I asked him some questions about his background, and he was very open in providing details.
Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age.