A young girl, who left Jehovah’s Witnesses after learning of the denomination’s alleged failure to shield vulnerable women, recently exposed the religious order’s negative aspects to her classmates in a powerful speech. With her eyes welling up, she recalled her own stint as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses and told her friends how the religious order taught her that every person outside the church, including her own father, would be driven away to fight during the Armageddon. She also spoke of the lowly position occupied by women in the hierarchy of the order and said that they are always viewed as inferior to men.
“They cannot teach men. They cannot even speak at a podium in front of men as I am doing now,” she said. “They are not to question any decision made by a men. That is slander.”
As part of Jehovah’s Witnesses, every member is forbidden from nonconforming to the orthodoxy that is promoted by church doctrine and practices. Those who choose not to conform still are shunned by religious leaders. Evidently, independent thoughts or actions are discouraged in members and individuals reflecting such attributes are often told that they have been taken over by the devil.
The most horrifying allegations made by the girl were related to women that she addressed in her speech. Those women continue to be members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so she chose to use pseudonyms while telling their stories instead of their real names.
A certain Jane, the girl said, was forcefully interrogated by church elders after she revealed that she had been raped while working as an insurance salesperson. The elders accused the victim of having tempted her perpetrator by the way she dressed and pardoned the rapist by calling him “only human”. The elders went on to force Jane to dress in a more conservative manner, quit her job and drop all charges against her attacker by threatening to excommunicate her otherwise.
Another woman she called Donna, was allegedly sexually abused by a man from within her own congregation when she was only a child, but the woman never spoke of her abuse with church elders because she knew that nothing would be done about the incident. It was only after her marriage that Donna decided to share her trauma with her husband, after which she was abused emotionally and physically by him for 14 long years. When she eventually approached church elders for help, she was told that it was all her fault as she had failed to be a good wife. Eventually, Donna filed for divorce and that is when Jehovah’s Witnesses decided to excommunicate her, which automatically meant she could no longer talk to her friends or family.
“To make matters worse her children were taught not to speak to her because she was evil, they were isolated by her ex-husband and know nothing other than this religion. They are also terrified of disappointing their father and their god,” the girl said. “The religion is separating a capable and loving mother from her children. Nothing could be more devastating for a mother.”
In the past, the church has battled several allegations of having silenced victims of sexual abuse in an attempt to avoid public embarrassment only to inevitably conclude that there wasn’t any wrongdoing on its part. Earlier this year, a court in California ordered the Watch Tower Society, headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, to pay a compensation worth $2.8 million for having failed to disclose the past abuse of a congregation member who eventually went on to sexually abuse a nine-year-old girl.
After discovering everything that Jehovah’s Witnesses has hidden from its members, the girl concluded her speech by reiterating she no longer wants to be part of it.
“It is a religion that preaches love and acceptance, but the reality is everything is conditional. Love and acceptance is only extended as long as members practice absolute obedience and question nothing, ever,” she said. “This religion destroys lives, destroys families; and they do it largely unchecked… because they are really good at silencing the people who leave.”
Obviously, Jehovah's Witnesses were not available for comment.
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