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.
Kyria has also posted plenty of YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure and writes for a website called Street Carnage. Check’em out. They’re worth your time. (I’ll be adding links to them on my blog roll soon enough.)
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?
Just a quick note, guys. If you are a Canadian ex-Jehovah’s Witness willing to do an interview about how the Candace Conti case might affect Witnesses in Canada, the Toronto Star would like to talk to you. The contact information is in the picture below.
Let’s try to get an ex-Witness in there to talk with them who really cares about the problem more than the Watchtower Society’s reputation. Actually, I’d even take an active Witness who felt the same way at this point. The issue is raising awareness about problems within the organization. Whether you hate the Society or simply want to see it reformed, raising awareness is one of the best things you can do by far!
Expert opinion is, at the end of the day, still opinion. But why would you not want to know what experts have to say? When you make a dental appointment, do you want your dentist to be an expert or not? If you build a house, do you want a professional architect or your next-door neighbor to draw up the plans? One might be tempted to say that in the case of the historical Jesus it is different since, after all, we are just talking about history; experts have no more access to the past than anyone else. That, however, is simply not true. It may be the case that some of my students receive the bulk of their knowledge of the Middle Ages from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but is that really the best place to turn? So too millions of people have acquired their “knowledge” about early Christianity—about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicaea—from Dan Brown, author of the aforementioned The Da Vinci Code. But at the end of the day, is that such a wise choice?
NOTE: This is how I feel about apologists and creationists and those who take their word above that of real experts. Why would you ignore the word of experts unless you simply don't want to have your views challenged?