I posted this picture on a Facebook forum October 26, 2013. The first response I received 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.
For those of you who are curious, I must explain that my extended family began shunning me a year ago after I questioned the authority of the Watchtower’s Governing Body. My family’s unanimous well-meaning response to my doubts was by expressing their opinion that I “must be an apostate” and “severe shunning would surely bring me to my senses.”
After my mother died eight months ago, my dad, being all alone, went to the elders in the congregation he attended to see if he’d be allowed to visit with me. They said that since I was his son, he could visit with me at his house. But he could not discuss religion – nor could he share a meal with me at the same table.
Two weeks ago, I called my dad and asked if his grandson and I could visit him. He said “yes” and even offered to make lunch. But shortly before serving the meal, he said that he wasn’t going to sit at the same table with us. When I asked why, his reply was, “The organization says so.”
That confession allowed me to vent my feelings for maybe thirty minutes, describing to him about the harm caused by shunning and other Watchtower policies. He listened politely. But I could see that he was not in a “cognitive dissonance mode” – so nothing I said registered with him.
After I spoke my piece, he served a nice meal to me and my son. Then he chose to sit alone in a small area of the kitchen with his back turned to us while eating his lunch. I sat there speechless, trying to figure out what was going on in his mind. That’s when it occurred to me that I had to capture this moment on my camera phone.
As I nibbled on my lunch, a feeling of pure sadness engulfed me. But as bad as I felt, I had this gut-wrenching feeling for Dad. This had to be much harder for him. Here’s an 80-year-old man thinking that he is doing this for God. He feels he has to suffer through this intuitively wrong act to be loyal to what he thinks is “God’s organization.”
But the story does not end here. My son is growing up seeing this silliness going on. Can the Watchtower be blind to the damage caused by their harmful policies, not just to us adults but to innocent kids who have “no dog in the fight?”
Tears were running down my face as I drove away from my father’s home. But I also realized that I was not alone in this situation. Today, there are thousands of us who no longer believe the Watchtower’s lies we used to feed on. We now know the truth about several Watchtower policies that sacrifice the civil rights of current and former members.
We can no longer turn a blind eye to the suffering and cries of others due to the Watchtower’s policy of shunning. I know that I can’t!
Extreme shunning is inhumane! It is a cruel and unjust punishment – a despicable act of a mind-controlling religion that’s afraid of losing its members and financial contributors. My goals are to make the non-JW world community aware of the emotional and psychological damage from shunning, for the court of public opinion to find the Watchtower guilty as charged, and to put a stop to this barbaric practice.
And yes – I think that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words – sometimes, maybe even more!
Update: November 14, 2013 – Thanks to an AAWA volunteer, Patrick Haeck, a dual language version of this article in English and Dutch is now available. A collection of our articles in various foreign languages will soon be online to serve our non-English speaking readers. We will provide more information on this new feature soon.Read the Spanish version of this article here…
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