To Jehovah’s Witnesses: Our Experiences At Our Kingdom Halls Aren’t About You

I've never seen a yellow Kingdom Hall in real life before. It just goes to show you that all Kingdom Halls are not alike.

I’ve never seen a yellow Kingdom Hall in real life before. It just goes to show you that all Kingdom Halls are not alike.

Some Jehovah’s Witnesses assume that former Witnesses like me are lying when we talk about our old Kingdom Halls. If you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who has read an experience at Atheist Geek News (or any other ex-Witness site) that doesn’t agree with your experiences at your own Kingdom Hall, please try to remember the following:

Our experiences at our Kingdom Halls have nothing to do with your experiences at your Kingdom Halls. And no, believe it or not, we aren’t lying about our experiences. We don’t have to.

If it’s hard for you to believe that our bad experiences with “the truth” really happened, then consider this: some ex-Witnesses suspect that you guys are the ones who are really lying to us. That’s because many of us had it so bad at our old Hall that we can’t believe you had it so good.

Never seen a Kingdom Hall like this either...Whether you’re a Witness or a former Witness like me, this should tell you something about the range of experiences that are possible at a Kingdom Hall. Even your Kingdom Hall. 

If you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, try to remember that “the truth” is a fairly big place to live in. The religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses may not be as large as many other denominations, but there are Kingdom Halls throughout the United States and abroad. Is it really so hard to believe that some of us … well, a lot of us … have had very different experiences with “the truth” than you have? It really shouldn’t be. Especially when you consider the range of experiences people have had working for  the same place of business or even other churches. As Witnesses, you meet lots of people who are happy with their religion and who don’t want to change, despite the fact that others do and are willing to convert.

Is this really such a strange concept? I just don’t see how it could be.

Still another design I have never seen before in real life.I think some of the sensitivity may have something to do with an aversion to criticism. But not all of the Society’s critics are out to demonize the organization or want to hurt Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some of us just wish it could be a better place to live than it already is. Maybe our idea of what’s better doesn’t work for you, but that doesn’t say anything about our motives. And yes, some ex-Witnesses really have an axe to grind and want to hurt the thing that hurt them. But that doesn’t mean we’re all alike anymore than all Jehovah’s Witnesses are alike. To assume otherwise is prejudice. Not to mention an unbalanced view of fellow human beings who once believed as you do.

I've never seen a blue Kingdom Hall before either, let alone one that looks like someone's house!

I’ve never seen a blue Kingdom Hall before either, let alone one that looks like someone’s house!

Getting angry at ex-Witnesses who share their experiences at their Kingdom Halls because those experiences were very different from your own makes about as much sense to me as getting mad at someone because they’ve never seen a Kingdom Hall that looks like yours. What does your Kingdom Hall have to do with someone elses Kingdom Hall? Is it so impossible that one Kingdom Hall could be made from brick while every Kingdom Hall you’ve ever seen had siding on it?

Does the anger even make sense? Why take it personally?

Guys, it isn’t personal until you make it personal. Try to be better than that and you’ll make a better impression on ex-Witnesses. Why remind us of the very behaviors we wanted to get away from when we left your organization in the first place? If you feel a need to make an impression (and you are every time you talk to us or leave comments) why not make it a good one?







About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah's Witness turned secular humanist. He's a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.
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3 Responses to To Jehovah’s Witnesses: Our Experiences At Our Kingdom Halls Aren’t About You

  1. Milton says:

    I think that there are a few reasons for the reaction from active JWs to the experiences they read or hear about from ex-JWs and non-actives. Probably the main reason is that they’re approaching it with a very large bias based around the belief that those telling the stories are apostates with an axe to grind, and the belief that they are in “the Truth” and thus have a balanced view of the issue.

    Due to that bias, any experience that they have along those lines will be minimized and rationalized, while those they read/hear about “must be an exaggeration.” I would never even have dared to visit a site like this when I was an active JW, or read or pay any mind to such talk. If I had, I am sure that I’d have found a way to make it fit the narrative (“they’re making it up” or “they’re exaggerating” or “they’re magnifying someone’s faults” and so on).

    Being deeply involved in a group like the JW is mentally crippling. You are programmed to start from a bad premise (The WTS is God’s organization and cannot be wrong) and are willing to shape your reasoning to conform to it in any way possible. Even after I’d drifted away, even after I came to grips with my lack of belief in God, I still felt that reflexive urge to defend the Society from its critics. It gets its hooks very deep into a person.

    • I think you’ve made good points, Milton. If you search other comments I have received from active JWs on the site, you will see a certain amount of this at play. The phrase “mentally crippling” is, I think, totally applicable. The issue is that they think everyone else is mentally “crippled” (or diseased?). I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a real conversation with a JW under such circumstances.

      Some of them even think that’s a good thing.

      • Milton says:

        I think it’s because of the effect of the teaching. You come to believe that you are part of a small and exclusive group that knows the real, 100% pure, no-doubt-about-it truth through some insight that others must lack, since the truth is so simple and clear. People who believe differently are not only mistaken, they can’t even seem to grasp the obvious. This breeds an arrogance that I can recall very clearly now. One of the things I felt most keenly after coming to grips with not being a JW was a sense of utter embarrassment– that I was so smug and arrogant while being so clueless. It is humbling.

        I also think that it is one of the more insidious aspects of the inculcation that the WTS performs on its followers. When you’ve built yourself up and are quite impressed with your own superiority, it becomes that much harder to accept that you were just another of those ‘ignorant schmoes’ that you looked down on for so long. Since most of that process is subconscious, it’s very difficult to understand it and fight against it. That subliminal manipulation is both very effective and very, very immoral in my opinion.

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