Never let anyone tell you thinking is bad. Critical thinking is essential. Never blindly follow authority; that’s how the worst atrocities in the world were committed. You have a right to ask questions, and if someone tries to convince you you don’t, that’s a serious red flag
If your beliefs are well founded, then asking questions and getting answers should reaffirm them, not threaten them. If all it takes to topple your belief system is actually sitting down and thinking about what is being said, then maybe those aren’t really your beliefs. You need to be able to ask questions
Its currently (3/31/19-4/19/19) what JWs call “Memorial Season”, which means you’re likely to find an invitation in your door. Let me remind you that Jehovah’s Witnesses are harmful fundamentalists at best and a cult at worst. This is a cult service that they hold once a year used to lure people in to their religion! Please don’t support them!
You’d think after 13 years… you know I can’t even think of a thing to call it - because I joke a lot about being raised in a cult, and how that makes me a bit clueless sometimes about pop culture, and social norms.
It’s true, and it’s a nice distraction from the fact that I’m essentially an orphan because a group of hatemongers who call themselves “christian” basically tell my family that god is going to kill me for not believing what they say, and that if they maintain their contact with me, god might kill them too.
Joking that I never saw Star Wars until I was 19 and house-sitting so I could sneak-watch it, is a nice distraction from the days-long anxiety attacks that feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest, because they’re having their religious convention this week and teaching even more people to hate their families for disagreeing with their church leaders.
Making cracks about my mother being so afraid of demons that she’d put garage sale purchases in the garage so on the chance they were demonized, they couldn’t infest the house, is a nice distraction from the nightmares and night terrors I have about feeling a total lack of control over my future or my finances or my body, regardless of the actual status of each of these things.
Telling “funny stories” about how slow we’d walk in the door-to-door work, so we’d cover the least amount of ground possible, and talk to the fewest people, is a great distraction from the fact that all of my friendships are fraught with fear that any disagreement will lead to a permanent estrangement, that every single time I stand up for myself I have to prepare myself for a battle and remind myself that it’s okay to prioritize my own feelings and emotional safety.
Religious abuse and religious trauma syndrome is a real thing, whether or not anybody lists it in the DSM. It’s as real as C/PTSD or domestic violence or sexual abuse. It messes up the way you think about things; sometimes it’s so subtle you don’t even know it’s completely distorted thinking, except that you know it feels awful, and makes you not want to leave the house, or talk to people… I don’t know if it ever goes away. You get better at managing your bigger stressors, and you get better at hiding your bigger signs and symptoms most days.
The next time I have a big reaction to something you think should have been trivial, I’m asking that you consider this.
Dealing with religious acquaintances as an atheist.
Some of y'all know I periodically get this bug up my ass to write something to help atheists become less obnoxious people and this topic came up in a Facebook group I belong to.
I don’t think the person who posted is an atheist, but the topic itself got me thinking of all the atheists I know and how they’d react. A lot of them would be rude and there’s just no need for that. For every annoying Christian out here trying to save the souls of the nonbelievers, there’s an equally annoying atheist who just can’t help reminding everyone they don’t believe in god or, worse, that they’re smarter for not believing in god. If someone says “God bless you” and your first response is “God isn’t real,” that makes you an asshole atheist.
In an office setting, talking about your religion all the time is unprofessional and I highly doubt a Muslim in the same situation would be afforded the same leeway at work. It should be pretty easy to scoot out of the conversation without offending anyone though. Say something positive and then nicely decline, all with a smile and a pleasant demeanor.
“Thanks for the invite, but I’m content in my spirituality.” “No thanks, but I’ll let you know if I ever decide to look into your faith.” “That’s nice of you, but I’ve actually been an atheist for quite some time.”
The last one sometimes results in a “Well I’ll pray for you,” which is fine with me. Pray your heart out, girl. I’m lo-key offended if you’re deeply religious and you’re *not* praying for my soul because that would mean you don’t think I’m worth saving in your worldview. You praying for me does not decrease my quality of life in any way but it gives you peace of mind, and that’s how I interact with religious people. If what you’re doing doesn’t bother me but it makes you feel better, then please keep doing it. That’s a net gain of positivity and I’m about making the world better on all fronts.
When I was 17, my parents found out that I had a boyfriend from school. To say the least: shit hit the fan. After 3 hours of what felt like an intense police investigation at the dinner table, my parents made me call my boyfriend and break up with him while they sat in the room watching and listening. Then I was told to go to my room and collect anything I could use to communicate with someone. While I was in my room, I heard footsteps on the stairs and my heart started pounding. Not again. I don’t want another argument. I want it to be over. My father came upstairs and calmly told me he that was going to give me 2 choices. “Are you going to do what’s right like Jehovah wants, or keep on doing what you want to do?” I told him I wanted to keep doing what I was doing (having school friends and a boyfriend, go to college, play sports, normal teenager things). I still remember the look on his face and the fear I felt when he yelled at me. “Nope! Wrong choice! You’re stupid, Lanae. So stupid! You think you’re going to keep doing what you want?” The next few days were awful. I actually believed that I was wrong. I believed I was stupid. I prayed all day, begging for forgiveness, asking Jehovah to help me change. I thought I was undeserving of every friend I’d ever had. I promised to devote my life to Jehovah. I told my parents I was so sorry to disappoint them and Jehovah and everyone in the congregation. I really thought I was just a lost sheep who needed her shepherd to come find her. It didn’t help that every time I cried, my father would tell me that it was okay because in ten years I would look back and realize how stupid I was being and that I made the right choice. A few weeks later, after my emotions settled and the anxiety attacks became less frequent, I realized there was nothing wrong with me. I realized that I wasn’t the one who needed to change, I had done nothing wrong. I realized if anyone was at fault, it was my parents, for letting their daughter believe that she was a worthless piece of shit just for not sharing their religious beliefs. I then made it my goal to get out of that house, that congregation, that organization. I faked my faith for the next year, counting down the days I had left. I commented at the meetings, I gave talks, I went out in service, I studied for the meetings. During the summer I spent time with my “worldly” boyfriend and friends after work. Nobody in the congregation, not even my parents, expected a damn thing. Then, the day after I turned 18, I left. It’s been a little over a year and a half now, and I don’t regret a thing. I made my choice and I stick by it. Why on earth would I return to an organization that made me hate myself? Why would I put myself down to praise a god that hasn’t done a thing for me?
A story about a Jehovah’s Witness who gets turned into a vampire but keeps trying to deny that she’s a vampire because the intake of blood is A Sin. The whole thing is obviously a thinly veiled metaphor, she gets disfellowshipped and kicked out of the house because that’s what JW parents do, BUT THEN she ends up in this sick af school for cryptids and chucks her childhood traditions out the window. Her roommates are a faerie and a ghost who teach her to accept and love herself
The more I look through posts and stories of other ex JWs that are dealing with life outside the cult thinking they were raised in, I’ve come to the realization of just how common my own issues are to them.
The lack of self esteem, the unwanted guilt, the anxiety, the feeling of ‘why even try, it’s not worth it’; all of that can be traced back to how the JW religion conditions and brainwashes it’s members. It’s both a cold comfort and haunting to me, knowing I am not alone in this.
I try not to think about it too much, but what I can’t stop thinking about is the ‘what if’. What if I wasn’t raised like that and was allowed to do normal things for a kid and teen? What if I was allow to focus on my own goals and dreams without having someone telling me it wasn’t worth it, because everything was going to be destroyed by God (Jehovah) in the end anyway? What if I was allowed to spend all the time I could on what I wanted to do when I got older without having unnecessary guilt and shame mixed in for no other reason then to control me for the cult’s own purposes?
The answer to all this is I don’t know. In fact, it’s more like I’ll never know, because that chance was taken from me. The best years of my life were stolen from me, all because my own mother couldn’t see the dangers of the religion she had decided was a good idea to become a part of, and in connection made her own children become a part of it.
It’s not as simple as getting over it as some might think, because like I mentioned before, it’s a form of brainwashing that starts at a young age, and it only gets worst as you get older. When you start to ask questions and see something was just not right, that’s when the guilt and shame begin, and you either fall for it and become trapped, or fake your way though until you have the chance to escape. It’s something I wish had more attention in media, because last time I checked there are over seven million JWs around the world, and I’m sure a good chunk of those people are children that have no say or choice in the matter; children who will be raised with a narrow-minded view of the world, and if they are lucky enough to escape, they’re going to spend the rest of their life just getting used to a world they should have been ready for by the time they were old enough to live on their own.
As cheesy as this might sound, they become like orphans to the world; having to get used to ‘normal’ ways of life, and thus being at a disadvantage overall.
getting constantly told to stop turning around during meetings
being younger than ten and forced to look up every goddamn scripture
if me or my brothers was disobedient or too loud in the meeting my mum would drag us out to the back hall and dispense swift discipline and that shit ruins your dignity in front of everyone so you gotta pretend you’re not getting told off and go willingly
“don’t play on the platform!”
those scandalous kids that didn’t refer to their elders as aunty or uncle. in fact we weren’t allowed to play with those kids cos they weren’t good examples
being told at like 9?? that it was inappropriate to hug this 19 year old guy in the congregation .what the heck .. I felt so guilty and uhh
my mum getting mad when i used “it’s against my religion” as an explanation at school even though that is a correct explanation and saying that’s why i can’t get baptized
that one elder who got mad if the kids held the door open for people coming in the hall from the foyer because it let the cold in
ha i turned the main hall light off once and then dived in the toilets and when i came out again there were like three or four elders there and i was like yeah i lent on the light switch despite knowing i am Not that tall
oh i stole a book once from a shop and had the privilege of being on the theocratic ministry school removed for maybe two months (i was like 8)
getting baptized at eleven, not knowing what the heck was the difference between the governing body and the faithful slave, and they were separate questions in the Organised Book, cos they said there was a difference but no one could explain it
no privacy boundaries? at home and also like at meetings everyone acts like they have the right to touch you?
probably less related but my dad used to lock me in my room without food or anything for aaages as discipline as well and hey dad whaT makes you think that’s ok
the massive age differences like i was meant to be “friends ” with adults that had kids older than me and no one understood why that was different to being friends with people your age
oh and the constant dysphoria of having to wear dresses as a trans guy
that was very long and i am totally projecting shitty memories so sorry about that lol
jehovah’s witnesses who claim what happened to them during the Holocaust is in any way comparable to what Jews and Romani people had to suffer through are completely incorrect and disrespectful.
They only want to add to their victimization repertoire. The false equivalency is mind numbingly gross and ppl who leave them have no excuse to feed it’s validity. Centuries of oppression is very different from an ideological difference.
i come go the meeting with the word HERETIC written on my face like prince wearing this:
i raise my hand to comment during the watchtower but in a shocking turn of events i usurp the stage and give a speech on the witnesses covering of child abuse and failed prophecies as well as contradictory teachings. from my bag i pull a several page report on the perils of the cult and nail it to the kingdom hall door a la Martin Luther before yeeting away in a black cloud of smoke and never come to a meeting again.