Watchtower’s Shunning Policy

Eating with the family...

Eating with the family…

By Rick Gonzalez

This is a picture of my dad eating a meal. He had just made lunch for me, but couldn’t eat it with me. I had to eat it at another table with my then four-year-old son while he sat there looking away from me.InFrenchButton-2

Why? Because that’s what the Watch Tower Society tells him to do.InSpanishButton-4

I posted this picture October 26, 2013 on a Facebook forum. InGermanButtonThe first response was, “Don’t know what to say. This boggles the mind; mind-control

religion at its very worst!”

Minutes later a flood of comments and “Likes” followed, reminding me that a good picture can easily replace a thousand words.

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My Declaration of Freedom


A few years ago I needed to take stock of what I had left behind and what I now had. I was scared to leave the Witnesses but I knew I couldn’t stay. I spent most of my time thinking about dying. I had no education. No job. No money. But living free was more important to me than any of those things. The following is my list of the things I learned about what it meant to be free.

Please feel free to create your own list.    


My Declaration of Freedom

  • I am free to be more tolerant of the beliefs of others.
  • I am free to be more accepting that we aren’t all the same and are not at the same place in our lives. What I needed when I was 20 is very different than what I needed at 30 or 40 or 50 or especially now at 60
  • I am free to be more tolerant of others’ lifestyles (because they are none of my business)
  • I am free to be able to do things I love (lots more time because I am not out telling other people how to live their lives)
  • I am free to show my love and care for others without worrying that it takes time from the Watchtower Society
  • I am free to get an education that has improved my self-esteem, my career opportunities and my knowledge of the world around me
  • I am free to get the therapy I needed which took away my depression and improved my self-esteem
  • I am free to be really happy without guilt
  • I am free to live in a way that I feel good about and that enables me to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience
  • I am free to watch/read/listen to what I want without fear of being caught reading something I was told was bad or guilty
  • I am free to buy what I want without fear (especially at garage sales – no more fear of demons)
  • I am free to live without thinking the elders are coming to talk to me about some supposed infraction
  • I am free to let my children lead their own lives without preaching to them
  • I am free to live my life without preaching to anyone
  • I am free to live THIS life without worrying about getting into paradise at some mystical future time
  • I am free to publicly speak out against the things I think are harmful like abuse and cults
  • I am free to accept myself for who I am today knowing I am a work in progress
  • I am free to change what I don’t like about myself
  • I am free to not see anyone in my family who tries to make me feel like crap
  • I am free to leave an abusive husband, relative, friend. I don’t have to stand there and take it
  • I am free to see those members of my family that I care for and treat me with love
  • I am free to no longer be a victim (of people or of the Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • I am free to celebrate life and holidays, birthdays and even death
  • I am free to love God without being told what to believe and how to believe
  • I am free to sleep in on weekends (or any day now that I am retired)
  • I am free to spend my holidays on vacation instead of at a convention, assembly or meeting
  • I am free to write about what hurts me without fear
  • I am free to be honest – really honest – not false honesty
  • I am free to be happy – really happy – not fake happiness
  • I am free to talk to active Witnesses who come to my door (despite that I was told by the elders not to)
  • I am free to sing the anthem, salute the flag and be proud of being a Canadian
  • I am free to have pets instead of wondering what to do with them when I went to convention.

Life is what we make it. It isn’t directed by some external controlling business masquerading as a religion. I choose and if my choices aren’t always the best, I have the freedom to change my mind.

Here is picture of me at 8 years of age shortly before my mother left. It has taken me many years, but I am free at 60 years of age to have the life I need instead of a life dictated by others
I am free! 

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Happy New Year 2016

happy-new-year-2016This past year has seen so many people experience various joys and sorrows. Many have had serious struggles. It has been wonderful to watch the amazing support offered to all those who need it. I have watched as people have offered their time and energy and compassion  for those who needed it.

So many who have demonstrated the spirit of giving, not only once a year (as we were once told) but all year long. And the giving has been without any pressure from others or only directed to “deserving” ones or because it looks good and may credit themselves in some way.

My heart and thoughts go out to all those who are still struggling with problems. For some it is health, others it is family or legal issues. For many it is the struggle to become free of the WTS’ chains. And it is also the work of self discovery in a world without petty rules.

It has been wonderful to see so many people leave the ranks of the JWs and find a way to freedom. And they have been welcomed, their questions answered or they have been directed to places for more information. It has also been rewarding to see all the things individuals can do in their own part of the world to inform the public, professionals, and the media about the undue influence of the Watchtower Society over Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even those who leave.

The internet has been a home for so many of us over the years. It is a source of comfort, support and global friendships.

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AAWA Contributes Behind the Scenes


Since its start-up in March 2013, AAWA’s mission has been: To educate non-Jehovah’s Witnesses (those who are not JWs and not ex-JWs) around the world about Watchtower abuses. By working behind the scenes, we have seen steady progress from our efforts.

Before we share some of our successes, we would like to report what did not work for us.

In the beginning, the founders of AAWA thought that building a large social network made up with hundreds of volunteers would be the road to success. That did not happen.

However, with very little fanfare and some significant help from just a few well-informed and dedicated volunteers, AAWA has managed to produce some significant results.

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Opening Minds: A Book Review

Richard Kelly’s review of Jon Atack’s new book

Jon Atack's new book "Opening Minds"opening minds: the secret world of manipulation, undue influence and brainwashing

How would I describe Jon Atack’s most recent book, Opening Minds:…?

I could start with “totally engaging, thought-provoking, damning, and scary as hell.” Then I would add “brimming with mind-boggling facts” and “expertly written.”

Jon’s writing style reminds me of my grandfather, who was a very caring, wise and gifted story teller. Yes, Jon is blessed with that rare talent, as a storyteller, of being able to delightfully grab and hold your full, undivided attention and light a fire in your belly at the same time.

“Wow! So what is Jon’s book all about?” you ask.

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Your Biography Becomes Your Biology

Bonnie Zieman-2

By Bonnie Zieman

In a recent Facebook post, Bo Juel initiated an important conversation about how people leave the Watchtower, and whether or not they leave feeling sick, mentally and/or physically. The comments on his post demonstrated that everyone has their own individual experience while they are in the cult and when they leave it.

But having said that, there is an inordinate number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who leave the cult with a myriad of psychological and physical issues.

This post is about the many physical issues survivors can experience. One only needs to read posts and comments in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness discussion groups on Facebook to know that a lot of JWs are plagued by seemingly unexplained physical problems which run the gamut from aches and pains, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue, heart problems, etc., etc., etc.

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A Letter of Gratitude to AAWA from a Jehovah’s Witness


By Lee Marsh

We often think that nothing we do has any real effect on Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, just a couple of days ago, I received an email thanking AAWA for the work we are doing. According to the writer, we are definitely making an impact.

We aren’t the only ones. Other valuable websites provide information that people need to know to get the Watchtower Society out of their heads. Some may still be in congregations worldwide and may have decided – at least for now – to stay in the organization. But they also tell us that their minds are no longer deceived by Watchtower misinformation.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have “The Truth” – Do they?


By Richard E. Kelly

Jehovah’s Witnesses often refer to themselves as having “The Truth” – but they also believe that it is okay – and even appropriate at times – to actually not tell the truth. It just depends on who they are sharing that “truth” with.

One of those Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my mama’s door when I was four years old. Six months later, Mama was baptized and a dyed-in-the-wool believer and already teaching my siblings and me the loaded language that earmarks the cult-like life of good Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any cult for that matter.

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