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The Watchtower

Why Many Still Serve them even After Discovering their Lies

 
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by  Chris Stevenson

 Conveying hatred toward the only people that showed any real concern or friendship, just because they were not of my faith, was pretty doggone coldhearted- Ritchie Mac

Once again I ask you all to send your children to their rooms or wherever you feel they are safe, I’m about to discuss the church. Former Watchtower Bible & Tract Society researcher and writer Barbara Anderson sent a message around to several ex-Jehovah’s Witness webpages a couple weeks ago updating us on the latest news on the highly-publicized Candace Conti case:

“The Candace Conti Appellate Court decision came in today. Yes, the Watchtower won – they don’t have to pay Candace punitive damages. Although many think that’s terrible, most of us who have been involved in the Watchtower’s cover-up of child abuse do not.

I’m speaking for the family now and asked to say that money was not what this case was about and Candace said that from day one. The Conti family and all those closely associated with the plaintiff (I’m not speaking for Rick Simons) are absolutely thrilled with this outcome. Watchtower lost on NEGLIGENCE and that’s what Candace wanted.”

For those of you who don’t know, Ms. Conti (29) won a record-breaking decision. In 2009 she went to the elders, the heads of her congregation in their local Kingdom Hall to report that she was raped by one of their adult members-Jonathan Kendrick-while only 9-years-old. They told her she had to prove it. His molestation of her took place during the late-’90’s, while it’s good to be cautious against false accusations, understand he was convicted of molesting another child in ‘04. She and her attorney Rick Simmons took them to court and won $2.8 million in compensatory damages and around $21 million in punitive damages. It is the punitive damages the Watchtower appealed, and won. On the upside Kendrick is on the sexual offenders list (I previously thought him to be behind bars, but it appears he only did no more than 8 months), on the downside in spite of the PR hit, the Slimetower didn’t take the financial hit I was hoping for. It was their policies (and good old fashioned cowardice) that prevented the Fremont (CA) elders from informing her parents that In fact there were two other victims he molested in her congregation.

Jehovah’s Witness Elders in every congregation worldwide adhere to a secret manual not officially accessible to the rest of the congregation that specifically instructs them in so many words not to be of any aid or value to victims of rape or child molestation. I can’t make this up. The name of this instructional rag is called “Pay Attention To Yourselves And To All The Flock,” (or “Shepherd the Flock of God” as it is reportedly called today) when it should be titled Get Over Yourself. The dangerous wording of this publication has created otherwise mostly ordinary unlearned men, into some of the biggest religious bullies around.

I wanted to see just how different Jehovah’s Witnesses were or were not from other religions. What I found actually allowed me to stop taking Prozac for depression because I would learn very quickly just how false and even dangerous this religion was and is and has proven to be- Ritchie Mac

This is the kind of splitting hairs decision I’m getting too used to seeing in court cases today, guilty of negligence, innocent of punitive damages. What kind of demonic hold does this demon-obsessed organization have on the courts and media even though they are outwardly so small a faith? Even worse, what kind of hold do they have on current members and how can they learn to break it?

Paying attention to yourselves is precisely the issue here. As of this late date the publishing company has it’s members wound so tightly, they won’t completely leave in spite of plainly knowing and admitting their glaring scandals. I will sight two different examples of Watchtower followers who discovered on their own, the truth about “the truth,” but went into different directions. The first is based on a texting-conversation I had with a longtime friend roughly a year ago we’ll call Jean. The next is based on excerpts from a new book by an author I recently met:

Me: I forgot to mention I heard a few weeks ago (The former City Overseer we’ll call DL) passed. Someone messaged me a newsclip on facebook. I kept thinking about his sneaking to college and then opening a private practice (as a Psychologist). I heard about how some elders became psychologists and some of their JW clients were made to sign a form waiving their client/doctor confidentiality rights (against the law btw) if their case involved breaking a congregation law so he could report them to the elders and immediately stop the sessions. The psychiatric community got wind of this and are really incensed by this.

Jean- “Understand I really liked DL, he was very shrewd and insightful. He did not speak any limits on his life, like a lot of African Americans set limitations on ourselves based on the faith That is so true, I was quite aware of DL’s college ventures. He taught me to keep my personal business to myself and not to ever talk to the friends about things that I was doing because of the jealousy factor. I feel that African Americans in the faith are the only people that are trying to play so super righteous they have been placed on the back seat and sometimes are the smartest people but they would never seek higher education. I always felt that was so ignorant. The whites in the faith always did whatever it was that they wanted to do, but they would never talk about it. Go figure that out.”

Me- I liked DL too. It was his right to keep his classes a secret, but I heard about friends in (my former congregation) white and black recalling his standing on stage at an assembly specifically saying not to seek college education. He had no right to do that.

Jean- “Once again like I stated, he was calculating. He knew exactly what to say and how to say it, but sadly enough black people were so gullible they fell for it all. I am not mad about it because I blame them for being so needy, looking for someone else to be a demigod for them. Remember, there’s only one God and that is Jehovah. That’s why I continue to go on with this enlightened attitude which I have gained only through experience.” The ‘new me’ “enlightenment” self-description she claims to have adopted is a manifestation of the elders in her congregation almost pushing her over the edge due to constant harassment based on their being unable to understand she was an educated and gainfully-employed single black woman living in a nice home without the aid of any man, while sharing Kingdom Hall space with members of a fundamentalist male-dominated cult, and an unwillingness to receive even worse targeting and ostracization from the Kingdom Hall in the form of being outright shunned. No matter how advanced a woman is in the real world, once she decides to join the JWs her life inside that church is now on a much slower timeline of decisions made by some very naive, inexperienced, and cognitive-challenged men. It is her determination to rationalize why she-an otherwise highly intelligent woman-stays that’s most disturbing.

Her statement “Remember, there’s only one God and that is Jehovah” is the same ‘it’s the brothers, not Jehovah’ that’s being floated around as an excuse to continue on in spite of the blows to their dignity and self-esteem. They been inundated with scriptures emphasizing “long-suffering” and the importance of “humility” over the years, not realizing how this has served to compromise their common sense and eventually sense of self-worth. Though she continues to espouse great admiration for the late-DL, while he was present during some of the elder meetings where she endured open verbal attacks and character-assassination, she never once told me of a time where DL (then the highest ranking JW in the city) ever stopped the other elder(s) and told him he was out of line. According to her he would approach her at some point alone and tell her how he felt one or some of the other elders were wrong for speaking to her that way, and compliment her on how strong and smart she was. Although this guy has since deceased, I believe it is past compliments from him that is a major reason why she not only stays in, but feels she’s ahead of the curve for doing so.

 They always told me how proud I made Jehovah by shunning my father. They made me feel validated for all the wrong reasons, but as sure as this organization had molded me into the robotic follower I was trained to be from infancy, was as these same men would cause me too, initially, second guess the religion- Ritchie Mac

We now turn to the 2nd example of a Watchtower follower who discovered what she followed was anything but “the truth,” Ritchie Mac. Like Jean she too is an African American, only  significantly younger. She is also the author of a new book; “Holy Terror: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Watchtower” (Freedom Underground Publishing). As you may have noticed in her above quotes I posted from her book, she was raised in the Watchtower organization and at some point lost important contact with her dad due to his being shunned  (disfellowshipped), and her mother’s overzealous behavior after he left. The two factors, combined with the Watchtower’s already-stringent rules took quite a toll on her health, until she became fed-up and began doing her own research. Many of us raised in what calls itself “the truth” don’t have that level of depression at this late date, whether we are still in it or not… even with the guilt trips from an extremist parent. Time brings a lot to the table for the subconscious mind, time and common sense. At some point we reconciled Armageddon as ‘if it ain’t here, it ain’t comin’,’ and moved on in some form or another. When Ritchie decided it was time for her to officially move on she told her mom first, after which her mom immediately called the elders.

One of the most irritating aspects of the Watchtower is the brainwork done to JW parents, especially black parents, many of whom seemed to drank their Watchtower Kool-Aid by the gallons. It’s the parent’s job to teach and enforce right and wrong to their children, not construe normalcy, independence and achievement as wrong. When the elders departed, Ritchie’s mom would be left standing as the most surprised in the room.

The elders wasted very little time making their way over to my house… He seemed eager at this point and pulled out his bible as the others followed his lead. I told them to close their bibles because I’ve read it enough to know the meaning of any scripture they were planning to show me and that it wouldn’t help. As they closed their bibles, completely shocked, I felt a sudden sense of power. I just told some elders to close their bibles and without question  or debate they listened. Is this what freedom from the Watchtower would bring- Ritchie Mac

Sister Mac pretty much controlled her own JW court martial, at least that’s what it was supposed to be. Not only did she confiscate her executioner’s gun, she limited their visit to only a half-hour, and on her front porch. She went into great detail about how the Watchtower once approved of holiday celebrations and their 10-year-involvement with the hated United Nations (“The Wild Beast with seven heads and ten horns, grrrrrrrr”). Of course after a long silence one of the elders asked her where she got this information, and shockingly the word “apostates” somehow emerged. Take note dear reader, the Watchtower Society over the years seems to have added a few invisible lines to the dictionary for that word that only their followers are able to see: “I asked him to tell me what an apostate is. He looked confused and I intervened. I told him the dictionary’s definition… the shocking part happened at this point when one of the more silent elders suddenly said to me, ‘You know something? You are very smart.’ That statement was followed quickly by another elder agreeing that I am indeed very smart. I thought to myself, now wait a minute. I just blasted the organization to their faces and they in turn tell me how smart I am?”

They let me know immediately that, not only did they know that what I told them was true but they were shocked that a member of their rank and file would actually know all of this  hidden inside information… Then one by one I received what would be the only true loving brotherly hug I would ever receive from any elder, ever. They gave me a big and meaningful hug and walked away.” This is one of the most revealing ex-JW books I ever read. The immediate thought comes to my mind that if they hugged her like this throughout her years of struggle, she would probably still be in. Oftentimes love trumps truth. On the other hand her own discovery and the way she presented it to them quite probably did something for Ritchie Mac that may never happen to Jean; save her sanity. She refused to allow flattery to take her off-course and find her rationalizing excuses to stay in like a crack-addict in denial.

I asked Ritchie what her mother’s reaction was to her daughter’s exchange with those elders, since she was the one who felt obligated to contact them after Ritchie disclosed to her that she had enough of the Watchtower. She said her mom had a “blank look” but never revealed how she felt about it. But it had enough of an effect to decide not to shun her (Usually in these cases the parent will act strictly on the elder’s decision, in spite of the elders’ warm parting with her, and the additional concern they would show her later, they did confide to her that they still had to treat her as an “apostate,” in public) with the parent receiving credits by way of commendation from them for contacting them. I would love to have been a fly on the wall listening to those elders talking to each other after leaving Ritchie Mac. They all but confessed they knew their organization is based on long-held outright lies, but they are still there.

Then there are some that are literally so blinded that they don’t even care what’s wrong, they just want some belief. Life without belief in something that gives life a direct purpose is too uncomfortable for far too many people. They would rather live a lie than face any possibility of faith shattering truth- Ritchie Mac

Here’s my advice, believe in yourself and all those you love and things you hold dear. I am quite aware there will be trolls looking for a way to skirt around this article and still blast their trumpet for the Watchtower Society or organized religion in general. Candace Conti is smart as well, but because her case is a lot tougher, she needed more than smarts. Not many elders would be able to decipher what quality she needed to bring her through the ordeal with Kendrick and the organization they so worship because they themselves are lacking, but her attorney Simmons nails it in a 2012 JWSurvey.org article: “I cannot think of a single individual who brings to a case the inner strength that Candace found over the last couple of years. I find it difficult to say in words how much I admire her strength throughout a very challenging time of the last three years of her life. People who see the result I don’t think understand how much it takes to go through being the person who stands up first and confronts a powerful institution. And this is a very powerful, and very secretive, and very controlling institution.” Inner strength, i.e. strong will, determination, you can’t learn those things in their New System School Inc., classroom. No amount of money is worth what a very young Candace lost, and was forced to endure. What a blessing it will be for them to go from “very controlling,” to very broke. A $28 million dollar hit here would have created a dent. We already knew they were negligent.

Chris Stevenson is a columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog www.thebuffalobullet.com, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the comment link below or email pointblankdta@yahoo.com.

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1 Comment on "The Watchtower"

  1. since then the Royal Commission into the Institutional Reaction to Child Abuse has happened in Australia with some ghastly revelations suggest you look it up.

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