16th November 2000
Some six years past when my daughter Louise was 14, her mother Jane and I separated and subsequently divorced. The divorce was reasonably amiable. Some years later, Jane and I remarried different partners, we all get on very well. One of my sons chose to live with me, my other son and Louise chose to live to with their mother Jane. To begin with, even though are children lived apart, we all enjoyed a very good relationship and regularly saw one another. This is still the case with our sons.
When Louise had just turned 16, she met a new boyfriend John, who I understood to be 18. Some months later when I discovered that John was really 26, I spoke to Louise about it and told her that I objected. Given that she was only 16, I felt the age difference was too great. Unfortunately, we fell out over it and for the best part of 18 months, we had an uneasy relationship. I have to accept some responsibility for that.
Jane and Carol, John's mother, also felt the age gap was too great, but did little about it. After about 18 months, they broke up - Louise was devastated. I was then told that John was a Jehovah's Witness (JW). Louise told me that whilst she was seeing him, he was not a practising JW, although his mother was. Mysteriously, when they separated, John became a practising JW again. Louise has always felt uncomfortable discussing this, so I have not pressed her further.
Jane subsequently told me, John's mother Carol, had spent a lot of time having cosy chats with Louise about the merits of the JW faith (although Jane did not know about it at that time). She blames his mother for abusing the trust she had placed in her, and for "sewing the seeds". During the 18 months Louise and John were seeing one another. Jane regularly spoke to Carol, at no time did Carol tell her that she was a JW and that she was attempting to convert Louise.
About 3 months after they broke up, Louise started to attend JW meetings (without telling any of her family). She attended the first meeting having been invited by her driving instructor (we later discovered a JW), who she had met whilst she was seeing John. John played in a band and amongst other gigs, they played a fair number of JW venues (No - the band wasn't called The Rockin Jehovah's). My sons reckon they should have been called The Living Dead. Apparently, when Louise's driving instructor invited her to the JW meeting, he told her "everyone was talking about these new people who had all the answers to some amazing things - loads of people where going to the meeting".
About 6 months before she was Baptised a JW, Louise told her mother what she was doing. Jane was not best pleased as she is a practising Christian. For my part, I was more relieved that my relationship with my daughter was much better. In essence, I was glad to have her back. Apart from which, I have always respected people's right to follow whatever faith they chose to believe in. (at the time, the blood issue and door-knocking trying to convert people to their quaint beliefs, was more or less all I knew about JWs).
About then, Louise left her mothers home and started living with JW friends and their family (sounds familiar) in a large house - she had a flat within it. I am told, they do not send their children to the local school. Apparently, they are educated in the house because their parents don't want them mixing with non JW children. All JW meetings are held there. It's worth mentioning that she was paying almost double the rent for that type of accommodation - exactly!!
Louise and I, were then enjoying a good relationship. She used to come and stay at my house and I visited her at her flat. She was seeing her mother on a regular basis, visiting her grandmother and seeing the rest of her family. On occasions, when Louise stayed at my house for the weekend, I drove her to the local Kingdom Hall. She dressed like an old woman of times past. All her clothes were black and she wore a skirt and coat to her ankles, with no make up - all that was missing was the broom. When I picked her up, I noticed that all the women leaving the hall, more or less dressed the same way, I joked with her - " is that a coven in there - you all look like witches", we both laughed. The other thing I noticed, was how somber everyone was, nobody smiled. I had never seen the like before, the exception being a funeral.
After a few months, I began to notice that Louise's outlook towards life and things in general had become quite bleak (doom and gloom) - she seemed unable to see all the good things that went on around her and in the world in general. She was always tired, looked ill, and was unable to focus and concentrate, which was most unlike her. She gave up her normal job and started to work part-time. At the time she lied about why (it was to do more door-knocking for the JWs). Even though she had become quite self-righteous, arrogant and a regular know all (who knew little) about religious matters. She seemed such a lonely and lost soul.
I am a lapsed Catholic. Given that during my schooldays I was required to study the Bible and other religious maters for at least 90 minutes a day, I knew a fair bit about the Bible. I also knew much about indoctrination techniques. When I went to school in the fifties and early sixties, the norm was fire and brimstone - it would be fair to say that you were constantly threatened with the wrath of God - the smallest indiscretion was met with - God will punish you for that - The Devil is everywhere. The Rod was not spared, in order to ensure you towed the line. But then, I grew up in a different world. It struck me that whilst the rest of us had moved on (including Catholics - my mother being one) to more enlightened times, and now talked about the love of God. Unfortunately, some groups are still stuck in the same old groove. I do not profess to be a scholar with regard to religious matters. However, when you talk to these doom mongers (JWs), apart from losing the will to live, you discover, that invariably, they are scriptural illiterates. Because they have no understanding of Biblical rudiments, they are incapable of interpreting the context in which many things within the Bible should be viewed. They are Biblical Dyslexics.
It would be fair to say, that a significant amount of what Louise was now saying with regard to scriptural matters - was not as I recalled it. In a considerate manner, I frequently corrected her misunderstanding of scripture (sometimes using the Bible), and tried to explain to her the basics rudiments. This just irritated her, so I stopped. Because of what I was experiencing with Louise, I thought it would be useful to check out the Watchtower, at first using the Internet - I guess I don't need to tell you what I found and how I felt. When your kids are growing up, you worry about drugs, the wrong company etc, but them joining a cult never enters your head. Before speaking to Louise further, I gave the matter some considerable thought and amongst other things, I read a fair bit of Freeminds material. It was clear to me, that with regard to the Watchtower, I was not dealing with a religious body.
I asked Louise ( in a relaxed on non threatening manner), to explain to me why she had become a Witness, she was so incoherent, I don't believe she truly knows why. I also asked her to explain JW doctrine and what made them so special. I was astonished to find that on balance, she was clue less. I asked her to show me, where in the Bible did it say you can't have a blood transfusion - she didn't know. I joked with her that it was as well that she did not have to sit a Test on doctrine to join them. We also joked that the only reason she became a Witness was to avoid Xmas shopping and that she didn't like needles anyway. Interestingly, she did tell me with a bit of venom, " We (Witnesses) are all hated by everyone - they all hate us." I asked her why that might be, she was somewhat incoherent, the gist being that they were persecuted for their beliefs . I asked her is that why you joined them - to be hated, she did not respond. At no time did I put any pressure on her. Louise did not seem to be totally following the standard JW pattern I had learned of. Unfortunately, this was soon to change.
I lent her a book called The Bible Code, explaining that it wasn't about religion as such and suggested she read it. I wanted to see the response - as I expected, a week later she returned the book unread. She had been told by other JWs "anyone can write a book about the Bible, it does not mean it's true - it's probably rubbish". I asked her, why don't you read it and make your own judgment - I quickly got the drift that this was not allowed. She sheepishly looked away.
In October 1999, she was Baptised a JW (she only told me about it some weeks later). She relayed details about the party that they had held for her and all the presents she got. I asked her why they gave presents at that time, but not for birthdays etc. She more or less ignored the question, so I changed the subject. After she had been Baptised a JW, there was a marked change in Louise's behaviour towards most things. It was particularly obvious that the local JW management, were now turning the screw, ensuring they had her total and unquestioning obedience. I sensed our relationship was under pressure. The same was true for her mother and the rest of our family.
Louise told me that as she had been Baptised a JW, she had made a pact with Jesus Christ - Seemingly, the pact included carrying a card that meant she would rather die, than accept a blood transfusion. On hearing this, I sort of fell over inside. I said to her - Do you have any idea of how preposterous that is.
I explained to her that matters relating to blood (in that context), could
not be found in;
The New Testament - Jesus Christ's Testament.
I discussed with her, an item I had read by Martin Kelly which I felt best dealt with this issue;
"Witnesses argue that the ancient Jewish laws which forbade the eating of blood, also rule out transfusions of blood, which they claim nourishes the body. However, this would be stretching the true meaning of the law, even if it was still in force to the outer limits; The first Jewish laws passed away with the new Covenant which Christ Introduced; The first Jewish Christians kept the observance of the old laws because it was part of their lives. The first Gentile converts were asked to do the same, out of consideration for the feelings of their Jewish colleagues; but as more and more Gentiles became Christian, the old Jewish dietary laws had far less relevance to the life of the church and became extinct".
Louise looked blank, as you would imagine it fell on deaf ears. Seemingly, this was not in any of her Watchtower material - so it must be untrue. I had began to discover that it was impossible to have a sensible and logical discussion with a JW.
Because she was only working part-time, she was having severe difficulties with money. On a number of occasions I paid her rent and other important things. Her family gave her money, and her mother Jane paid off her credit card debts (a significant amount) when she received a court summons. Her family discussed this and we made a collective decision to stop giving Louise money. We felt in doing so, we were indirectly helping to fund the corrupt (as we saw it) Watchtower organisation. It was hard for us to see her struggle financially. It genuinely hurt us. However, we thought that if she wanted to be a JW, then she had to experience what it was like, warts and all.
Last Xmas, I invited Louise to my house, with the premise that no one talks about religion. She refused the invitation. She later told me, she had spent the time by herself reading JW material. Her so called JW friends had gone to visit their respective families and left her alone.
In January this year, Louise phoned me and told me how ill and tired she felt, and how all her ministry work (door-knocking) was getting on top of her and she was finding it difficult to cope. Amongst other things, I told her that I believed she was being used as a means to an end, and she should tell them that she needed a rest. Someone entered her room (another JW), her voice and tone significantly changed, she became quite uncomfortable and panicky about continuing the call.
A week later she came to my house for dinner. She looked tired and worn out. I counseled her (in a relaxed way) about what was happening to her. For the first time - she responded in a positive way. She confirmed that she had to confess her sins to fellow witnesses and that she felt intimidated in some meetings. She also confirmed that at Kingdom Hall on a Sunday, everyone constantly repeated material that had been prepared for them in the current Watchtower publications. She agreed that this was indoctrination and brainwashing. I told her that over the coming weeks, I would show her the truth about the factual history of the Watchtower. I now know, this was my undoing with Louise. I later discovered, through her mother, that she had relayed this to fellow JWs. There are no prizes for guessing how they dealt with it.
Louise was aware, I did not believe you needed an organisation to have a relationship with God. He was directly available to everyone, and that I was not offering an alternative to the JWs. However, she was also aware, I struggled with "absolute faith". I guess, to a point, she could be forgiven in thinking, that being counseled by me with regard to religious matters, was a bit like being told by the Hunchback of Notre Dame, to stop slouching and sit up straight. I wasn't exactly a role model with regard to " faith". Having said that, she knew that I don't tell lies. The one thing that is not available from the Watchtower, is "the truth."
A week or so later, she phoned me and again told me how tired and ill she felt. I again attempted to reach her with counseling. At that point, her tone completely changed and she said "if you can't accept the fact that I am a Witness, then there is no point in us talking" - I politely pointed out that it was she who had made the call to complain about how she felt - she terminated the call and despite numerous attempts to contact her, she never returns my calls. Now, she simply ignores me, it's as if I don't exist. It was done in such a manner, I began to wonder - was I set up. At this point, it is worth mentioning that for the past 10 years, I have had heart failure, and at times been extremely ill. My health has deteriorated to the point that if I am to live further (in this body, at least), in due course, I will need a heart transplant. I don't need the stress, but then, who does. It would be accurate to say, that if I had normal health, none of this would have been allowed to happen.
Louise now refuses to go to her mothers home. She has told her mother that she objects to her having a picture of the Virgin Mary and a couple of other religious artefacts in her home. Addressing her mother in a very arrogant and hurtful manner, she said, "you should understand that my faith does not permit me to enter a room, where such things are displayed". She does not go to her grandmothers for the same reason. It's worth noting, when her mother remarried, she refused to go to the service because it was in a church. Jane told her to skip the service, but would she please go to the function afterwards. Louise refused, because the hall where the function was being held, was owned by a church. Apparently, Louise had taken the council of a so called local Elder on this matter. He had told her "it is a question of conscience and for each individual to decide" - exactly!! Her mother was devastated, as indeed were the rest of the family. It spoiled, what was supposed to be a happy day for her mother.
Louise has now got rid of her television and video player, apparently, they have the potential to corrupt. On the very rare occasions she ventures beyond the JW community and goes to the cinema, she needs to know in advance, in some detail, what the movie is about. Without wishing to appear sarcastic, anything beyond - Snow White and the Seven Elders - is out.
She has now been introduced to an eligible JW man, and an engagement is possible. This is what we have feared most. We believe (given the history of this matter), she is being set up to breed (sorry if that sounds offensive) the next generation of JW. I had previously warned Louise of this. I had told her that whilst she is single, she can walk away at any time. The same would not be true if she married a JW and had children. It would be far more complicated.
Factually, the Watchtower and local management now control, who she speaks to, what she listens to, what she reads, when she reads it, how she dresses, how she should view all matters, what job she does and how many hours she works - In a nutshell - they totally control her life.
Unquestionably, the JW movement is a cult.
That more than anything - is what we object to.
Louise joining any other (non cult) religious organisation of her free will - is not a problem.
When I first read material at Freeminds and similar web sites, I thought some of it was a bit far fetched and perhaps a little unkind. Not any more - My family's experience of the JW movement is proof, that today, in the year 2000 they are as bad as ever. The fact that they destroy families and individual's lives, is quite clearly of no interest to them.
In our view, the Watchtower organisation will recruit people by whatever means necessary, to ensure that the cash keeps rolling in. With regard to the Watchtower's leaders. Religion (and we don't accept that they are a religious body) is used as means to a very profitable end. Profitable for them, that is, not your everyday Witness, who like our daughter, is usually penniless.
I have kept this account of my daughters indoctrination into the JW cult, reasonably brief, factual and honest. There is significantly more that can be told.
They have turned a happy and carefree young woman into a morose robot.
If JWs approach any of your children, show them this article. It could quite easily happen to them.
Louise now shuns all of her family.
Phil Martin - Louise's Father
Note: Because we have not given up hope
of getting our daughter away from the evil grip of the Watchtower. The
names of all individuals have been changed. For the time being, we wish to
protect Louise's true identity.
We would welcome all suggestions on how we might get her away from the Watchtower.
e-mail us with your suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We live in England - United Kingdom.
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