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Jehovah’s Witnesses

(147 Posts)
Mixington Wed 30-Sep-20 12:02:10

Just found out that the tenants in one of our properties are JWs. They are super nice, lovely family and have always been a pleasure to deal with. We have met some two sets of friends of theirs too, in passing, who also seemed really lovely too. All JW too it turns out, active members going to meetings serveral times a week etc. All run cleaning or window cleaning businesses which I was intrigued to find out is very common for JW.

A girl at school was also JW, she was really funny, cool, nice, bright, but somewhat removed from everyone else - ie didn’t socialize with us outside of school, was a bit of a floater with friend groups, didn’t join in with the usual Christmas and birthday stuff. I recall various brief teenage style basic conversations about it and we all just kind of shrugged and accepted it... Then I had read up on JW as an adult ago so looking back it all made sense.

This new info of our tenants being JW has made me curious again about it.

Now, overall I take the approach of live and let live. I have zero religion in my life but have often thought the community side of it must be great and that in times of need I can see any religion could offer comfort.

That being said, from what I’ve read about JW, it feels to be more of a sect or cult, with pretty strong rules and beliefs, with the potential for significant emotional and psychological repercussions. It just seems so severe and I’m struggling with reconciling these lovely people with such an extreme organization.

Clearly it’s not mutually exclusive to be a nice person and a JW. That is not my point. But I can’t get my head around these people believing in Armageddon and The Truth and “shunning bad associations” etc etc. They seem so normal yet I can only assume they are totally indoctrinated given they are still clearly active JWs.

I know that in most day to day interactions people don’t preach their beliefs, it just doesn’t come up in conversation.. but with something like JW that is seemingly quite strict, I am fascinated to think that these people who are really cool/normal/nice have this massive thing going on in their life and probably hold quite strong views which Judy colour the way they look at the world.

I found the past AMA in here and other articles on JW so interesting, and distressing in places (lack of blood transfusions, child abuse, domestic violence) though obviously horrid stuff can take place anywhere religion or not.

So I don’t know why I’m posting really. I guess I’m totally intrigued by this way of life and trying to understand how it fits in with or views the rest of society? Do they think I’m awful because I don’t live in The Truth? Are there different shades of joe much you can join in or follow as a JW? Or is it all or nothing? Do these people I know want to convert me? Do they talk about Armageddon with their kids like it’s a normal piece of life? So fascinating......

OP’s posts: |
RLOU30 Wed 30-Sep-20 12:06:20

My first boyfriend (me aged 15 He aged 19) was a JW. I couldn’t escape him for ten years. He and his family cut me off from everyone and everything I knew and my life was governed to the point even my body wasn’t my own. We were unmarried and sleeping together so it wasn’t exactly “text book” 17 years after I met him I’m still struggling to move on emotionally. Perhaps I’ve been unlucky.
I did during this time got to many meetings and a huge convention where young children no older than 8 spoke about daily struggles at school keeping non believer friends at a distance.

Sunnydaysstillhere Wed 30-Sep-20 12:08:51

I have nothing but high regard for JW.. In a time of dire straits my ndn helped me pack up and leave my abusive exh... They were the nicest family I have ever known.
I was invited to a few meetings as a special guest - ie not a JW... Very welcomed.. Even though ndn knew I had no intention of converting we were still friends!!
What upset me and had me biting my tongue was when their ds 'came out' and they had to shun him.... Can't imagine doing that..

KurtansCurtains Wed 30-Sep-20 12:22:22

I know a JW. She is a lovely person. However, she very coldly cut out her daughter who was disfellowshipped when her husband had an affair and she wanted to get divorced. She didn't speak to her for years. She's also never been properly accepted into the JW's, despite being a JW for nigh on 50 years, because she didn't manage to convert all her family (her son and husband never joined).

JW's will be absolutely lovely to you, right up to the point that they've 'got you'. When you've been accepted into the fold is the point when they turn. And it's not a secret that they prey on lonely and vulnerable people. They will try every tactic in the book and go to great lengths to get you to join their cult.

nosswith Wed 30-Sep-20 12:42:12

I worked with a JW who was respectful more of me for being religious than others who were of no faith.

I have different beliefs which is fine, but there are two things about their faith which I disagree with more than anything else- the way someone who leaves is 'sent to Coventry' even if in their own household, and their non-participation (even privately) in democracy.

Sunnydaysstillhere Wed 30-Sep-20 13:09:42

My ndn never once suggested I join. They welcomed my dc ad a friend for their ds. Day to day I wasn't reminded of their beliefs... Their dc have a 'present day' that my ds went to and also received a small gift...

Dreading2020sSeasonFinale Wed 30-Sep-20 13:39:07

My gran was a JW (not that good of one apparently as she failed to convert her DH and any of their 5 children or 10 grandchildren - whoops!) and she was the loveliest person you could meet. Really, she was THE BEST. No one who met her didn't love her straight away. No matter what she believed, there's no way that woman isn't looking down on us with her wings and halo now!

I suppose it depends on the individual Jehovah's Witness but as a whole? Culty as fuck. Sorry.

I used to attend the meetings/Bible studies with grandma and I found it quite disturbing. Afterwards I thought I'd go play with the kids but Rod and Todd Flanders sprung to mind. And the girls were worse. They reminded me of those 'sister wife' traditional Mormons you see on telly with their long skirts, covered ankles and braided hair, huddled together whispering if you approached.

Gran was always being encouraged to cut her family off and berated over them not seeing her husband at Kingdom Hall with her. She was encourage to donate her income to them and leave her family out of her will and it was to go to Kingdom Hall (she didn't comply with those and Grandad wouldn't let her hand over their pension money)

In her 80's they would escort her round to knock on doors. It took everything out of her but a sweet old lady was good for not getting abuse and doors slammed in their faces.)

Last straw for me was when we attended a JW service as a second part of her funeral and the speaker gestured at my brand newborn sleeping in my arms and said how babies of us sinners will die and not be resurrected etc. Fuck off mate.

DizzyPigeon Wed 30-Sep-20 13:50:07

There's no way I could have 'nothing but high regards' for someone that disowned their son because he was gay.

They didn't 'have' to shun him. They chose to.

Dreadful behaviour. I don't care if they would have had to leave their church in order to be decent people towards their own son. What they did is not okay.

ZeroFuchsGiven Wed 30-Sep-20 13:57:13

Its nothing but a cult. I know someone who's life has been totally ruined being brought up JW. I have zero respect for anyone who would bring their Children up in that way of life.

MulticolourMophead Wed 30-Sep-20 14:01:35


There's no way I could have 'nothing but high regards' for someone that disowned their son because he was gay.

They didn't 'have' to shun him. They chose to.

Dreadful behaviour. I don't care if they would have had to leave their church in order to be decent people towards their own son. What they did is not okay.

I agree with this.

Roomba Wed 30-Sep-20 14:13:09

My colleague was brought up as a JW. She was married off at 17 to a 17 year old boy she'd never spent time alone in a room with before and met 4 months prior. He was a nice lad, but they were fundamentally incompatible and they divorced ten years later, both leaving the church at the some time in disgust at the pressure they'd been put under to stay together and the control exerted over how they brought their two kids up.

Both are remarried happily now. My colleague was shunned by her entire family, particularly hard as it's a small town and you bump into people everywhere you go. In recent years, her mother has reconciled with her - her mother has to lie and sneak out to meet up with her once every few weeks. Her father once hit her mother for even considering speaking to my colleague again, so she hides it. Very sad.

I know several other JWs and they are all lovely, kind, helpful people (ideal tenants I should think!). I always wonder what happens behind closed doors though.

Alexandernevermind Wed 30-Sep-20 14:16:56

The thing is about religion, there is always extremism - the second largest religion in the world whose teachings are interpreted as condoning honour killings, or stoning to death women for having affairs, executing gay men and publically whipping women for wearing trousers in public or "allowing themselves" to be the victim of rape. Even the "nice passive" Christian extremists will lobby outside abortion clinics. I worry that JWs are seen as a bit of a soft group to have a pop at because they are a minority.

showmethegin Wed 30-Sep-20 14:32:08

Has anyone got the link to the AMA? Would be interested to read it

Pericombobulations Wed 30-Sep-20 14:48:58

My grandparents were JW and I am on the culty as fuck side. My dad (not their son) was brought up a RC and would constantly challenge them as their version of the Bible was heavily amended, gran would check the King James Version and sadly admit my dad was right.

A great grand daughter of theirs was described as a bastard by them, probably the only time I heard her swear. A child in their cult had a disorder and they all said they would rather he died than have life saving treatment. Gran had to stay in hospital six months to get her bloods up to have a hip operation as she refused any blood transfer.

I can never think of that religion positively after all I saw and heard from them growing up. As individuals some are lovely and some are not like any others but as a group I have no love for them.

FrankiesKnuckle Wed 30-Sep-20 14:55:47

An ex colleague was an excommunicated JW.
He left when he was old enough to form his own view of the 'cult' as he called it.
It was sad at times as he really struggled being cast from his family and when he had children of his own it was bitter sweet. He was glad they would not grow up with such restrictions but sad that his family just didn't want to know.
He's now a GP.
A perfect two fingers to that particular establishment.

LiveFromHome Wed 30-Sep-20 14:58:06

I worked and shared an office with a JW, just me as a 19/20 year old woman and he was in his late 40's early 50's, in a tiny office together.

It was a male dominated industry full of alpha male types, at the time when patting your secretary on the bum would have been acceptable.

He was the loveliest, most respectful man I've ever worked with in my life. He has been my only experience of JW's.

scissy Wed 30-Sep-20 14:58:43

We "adopted" an aunt who was shunned by the JWs (well, I suppose technically she would have been a "great aunt" to me). I was too young to find out her back story but I suspect it was either she got divorced or stopped believing. Either way my grandparents felt sorry for her and let her into their lives as family instead. I'll admit that's always coloured my views of JWs as a group.

DoctorYang Wed 30-Sep-20 15:00:21

My grandparents are JW and are absolutely lovely. I told them years ago I wasn't interested and they have never brought it up since.

CaptainMyCaptain Wed 30-Sep-20 15:00:42

My friend was publicly disfellowshipped when she split with her husband and disowned by her parents. She eventually lost her teenage children when they were lured back in. Imo it's a cult.

StormBaby Wed 30-Sep-20 15:06:08

I was married to an ex JW. His family were all still in it. He was kept at arms length. His child from his first marriage was abused and ran away from his mum at 9 so she disowned him and he came to us.

Think of it like a sales pitch. They’re getting ‘commission’ for converting you. Of course they’ll be lovely. They go to a school every Thursday to learn how to do circular arguments with you on the doorstep. Don’t ever think that by telling them you’re a devil worshipper they’ll leave you alone...they’re brainwashed to think that stumbling blocks are proof they are doing Jehovah’s work correctly. The more of a challenge you are, the more they want you.

goose1964 Wed 30-Sep-20 15:10:52

One of our gang at school was a IS along with her mum, her dad and brother weren't. She socialised out of the fellowship, if we were going clubbing we'd all go to hers so I could do her make up. The only thing she didn't do which we did was date. She was adamant that she would only date JWs and Mary one because they make the best husbands.

DrGachet Wed 30-Sep-20 15:15:35

I had an unpleasant time with a JW tradesman a while back, he found some weed in one of my kitchen cupboards and said he would tell the police if I didn't allow him to return with an "elder" the next night hmm. Why the keenness to convert everyone?

Purpledaisychain Wed 30-Sep-20 15:37:16

I'm not a JW, they are more of a cult. Some of the things they practice are not ok, an example being how they try to prevent their children having much needed blood transfusions.

I go to a Pentecostal church, I originally started for the same reason as you, community and them being lovely people. It was the best decision I ever made. They are very open minded people, they don't try to force God down people's throats, they are pro gay rights, treat everybody equally etc etc. I did start to believe in God, but there are people who go who don't believe or are on the fence about the whole thing.
The way they deliver the bible/sermons is done in a fun/enthusiastic/upbeat way. It is not somewhere at the front droning a load of rules in a "Do this, don't do that," kind of way.

DM me if you want a chat about this.

BiBabbles Wed 30-Sep-20 15:43:49

I think like with many religious institutions that there are issues of control, corruption, and ideological thinking of us good v them bad, but how much that impacts an individual JW or an individual Kingdom Hall varies widely. The more insular ones tend to have more extreme issues going on (and, from those I've spoken to, the US ones tends to be worst for the more extreme types of many similar groups especially in terms of the Final Days). That the abuses are not more widely condemned is a major issue with them and other groups, but how an individual JW feels about these things will vary.

My spouse's maternal grandparents were JWs. They converted as adults, though I've never been clear on when. None of their children or grandchildren to my knowledge belong to the faith. My MIL certainly wasn't. Other than copies of a JW book on marriage that my spouse and I were given several years into our marriage (in a 'I was cleaning out some things after your grandfather died and these made me think of you' sort of way), there being Watchtower publications in their home, and her birthday being referred to as 'cream cake day', it wasn't really noticeable.

There was no disownment or similar, though that may be because none of them were ever baptized. In JWs and similar, leaving after baptism is very different to before or never being involved at all. I never got the impression they hated me or wanted to convert even with my very obvious differences (we met while I was still wearing a headcovering). Really, I was more ostracised by some of my other in-laws for not assimilating into their British ways of doing things faster.

No one discussed Armageddon, during the funeral the afterlife was all discussed with the metaphor that they were in a sleeper car of a train together and would one day wake up together, whole, in the new Earth or something similar to that. I did find their attitude towards death was very different and more open to many other Brits I've met. Generally, I find Brits don't like to discuss it (and met more than a few horrified at the idea of discussing the inevitable with children), but literally our first conversation discussion included where various items in their house was going after they died. Not sure if this is a JW thing or just those two and some of their JW friends, because wider parts of my in-laws did not share that attitude in the slightest which made it rough with other deaths in the family.

Dontknownow86 Wed 30-Sep-20 15:49:28

I grew up in the Jehovah's witnesses. It is 100% a cult. Most of the people actually are lovely just sort of mindlessly brainwashed and incapable of thinking for themselves. They take everything in the bible completely literally and it is all clarified for them by the 'brotherhood' in Boston.

As with every religious group you get those that are 'holier than thou' who are total judgemental and horrid under a simperingly pleasant facade and unfortunately it's these people that are normally the elders and decide to disfellowship people etc.

They probably will try and talk to you about it at some point as it's one of their obligations.

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