Tag Archives: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Serena Williams and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Serena is a joy to watch. Her passion and determination together with her execution on court make her one of the greatest atheletes sport has ever seen. 22 Grand slams, and decades of competitive tennis. Remarkable, and the achievement should be belittled by no one. 

When Serena Williams thanks Jehovah for winning a grand slam, I cannot help but be reminded how as a child elders banned us from competitive sports. Chess was banned as too violent by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tennis took away time preparing for the end of the world. The spiritual must come first. 

Above Serena mentions the “many, many hours on the court working for my one moment.” This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach children regarding taking up a sport.

How much you play. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.

You need to set your priorities; spiritual things should come first. Most games can last several hours, whether you are playing or just watching. “I used to have conflicts with my mom over how much time I spent watching games on TV when that time could have been better spent,” says a young woman named Daria.

To emphasise that several hours playing, let alone watching, a sport is spirtually unhealthy, they use this analogy:

Putting too much emphasis on sports is like putting too much salt on your food

I remember we had one social outing as a congregation (at my mother’s urging). One kid had brought an American football. An elder insisted we could play throw but we should not form teams. Competition was not to be tolerated.  

This was the only social outing we had as a congregation in the about six years we studied with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our social company was to be enjoyed in a new paradise earth – till then it was study the bible together and save as many people as possible before the end of this world. The apocalypse was coming, maybe tomorrow, so prepare for it. Pick up the bible, put down that racket. You could not waste several hours.

The homeschooling experience and isolation caused by Jehovah’s Witnesses insistence that children outside the faith are “bad associations that spoil useful habits” robs a childhood. Being told Satan uses other people to tempt you to leave the faith means you never switch off, Jehovah must be with you at all times. 

Even now what I write would be dismissed as that of an apostate trying to stop people seeing the light which Jehovah’s Witnesses want to share. One that should be dimmed by their failed prophesising that the people who saw the events of 1914 would be alive to see the end of the world. Apparently this does not make them false prophets that the bible warns about; it’s just more light they have now to share! They say it with a straight face while they ban children from reading books and playing games. 

Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses two things helped me find a social group, giving a sense of personal fulfilment having binged on spiritual food for so long. Becoming chess captain having gone back to school and playing LTA tennis club tournaments as a junior. 

Serena Williams is not just exceptional. Her experience studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses is an exception. Children need to be encouraged to play sports, not told that they risk undermining their salvation and perishing forever in the coming apocalypse if they do anything but read and learn about the bible.

This is child abuse – and it needs to be called out as such without the collusion of society that tolerates the social isolation of children because of religion. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Child Abuse and The Jehovah’s Witnesses

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How child abuse happens within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as the Royal Commission in Australia goes public with what too many growing up in the Society experienced. They will continue to, until the public outcry causes Government to change the law.

From the age of nine to 14, once a week I had an hour bible study with an Elder, or a ministerial servant (one down from an Elder) from the local Jehovah’s Witnesses. We discussed bible stories, and as I neared my teens masturbation, sex before marriage, homosexuality, abortion, wet dreams, morning glories. These discussions happened on a one to one basis.

What should shock you, is that no background checks of the sexual offenders register were carried out by the organisation on people giving such bible studies to children. Nor are they required by law in the UK (I am happy to be proven wrong if it has changed), because they have been “invited” into the family home. As to training, this amounts to theological ministry – that is the art of recruiting, retaining and indoctrinating people in the faith.

The bit that should be making you shout far and wide. Child abuse is only recognised at the congregation level if there are at least two people to witness when the crime takes place. This is based on Deuteronomy 19:15

15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.

Further, they might be prepared to hold their own investigation as a spiritual matter, and feel no obligation to report concerns or allegations to the appropriate authorities. For the supreme authority is God, and the number one concern is the spiritual welfare of everyone while maintaining the word of God in this world.

The Royal Commission in Australia into sex abuse highlighted these particular concerns about the Jehovah’s Witnesses:

  • The two-witness rule. A rule within the religion that states officials cannot accept an accusation of child abuse unless there was a second person who also witnessed the abuse – something that rarely happens.

  • Women’s role (or lack of) in the congregation and judicial committee process. As a patriarchal religion, women are to view men as their head. They cannot be part of a judicial committee. In practise this means a young female victim must go into graphic details of her abuse alone in front of three older men.

  • The expectation that the victim confront the perpetrator as part of the process.

  • Not making it mandatory for elders to report accusation of abuse. While not being obliged to report accusations may be legally acceptable in some states, the Royal Commission identified that the judicial committee process meant that often elders would uncover actual proof of a crime, even a confession, but still not report it. At this stage, where it had moved from an allegation to proof of a crime, there was a legal obligation to report.

  • Not reporting allegations to the police. This practise was to protect Jehovah’s name, and was due to a general mistrust of people in “the world”. According to Watchtower: “While some contact with worldly people is unavoidable – at work, at school, and otherwise – we must be vigilant so as to keep from being sucked back into the death-dealing atmosphere of this world.”

  • Fear of psychologists, based on the belief that they may give advice that is not in line with Watchtower principles.

I have written a number of times about my childhood in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mercifully, that does not include being abused. But it so easily could have done. Too many have written about their abuse, and the trauma they went through within the organisation.

They are a cult, one that destroys childhoods and families through abuse of all kinds. My hope, is when reading about our experiences, the cycle can be broken and no one else has to go through what we have.

Cartoon from this tweet.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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When An Apostate Eats Blood

  

Blood is a life force that belongs to Jehovah. You might be under the impression as it whizzes through your veins it belongs to you. That giving some of the red stuff to save another’s life was a good thing. 

Not if you are a Jehovah’s Witness. Obeying God’s command not to eat blood, would mean better dead than have a blood transfusion. The loop hole is the courts ordering it; Caesar has spoken and must be followed. The important thing is to relent before the law rather than consent willingly – and to do so hopefully in time. It is that farcical. 

I have broken plenty of taboos of the old faith from my childhood. I’ve thrilled to holding chess pieces, or other exciting things in my hand which were frowned upon. Mating, in every sense, is not approved of. 

Unless your destiny is to be a serial wanker or fornicator. Then marriage is the lesser of two evils. Ideally nothing should distract you from saving others. As ever, Paul’s letter to a congregation suggesting to eschew marrying has become the gospel. Regrettably. 

Anyway back to blood …

Attending the Hay Festival this year I spied a pizza called Magna Carta. Among the various ham toppings (read Alom Shaha’s excellant Young Atheist Handbook for eating bacon) there was black pudding. Why I waited so long to try, I will explain later.

Now though was my chance to eat blood. Blood no less commemorating the idol that Magna Carta has come to be revered as. Man’s law is nothing compared to the divine. Handy, if you do not want to stop sex offenders knocking on doors and giving bible studies. Nor reporting such to the authorities. 

I looked at the pizza, like Christopher Lee at a white virginal neck. I sunked my teeth into it. The similarities ended with a vampire. It was agreeable, but overwhelmed by the sensory taste of other things. 

My quest for blood not sated, the morning after I went to town.  I had breakfast where black pudding was served, round the corner from an ISIS coffee shop. A fundamentalism of a different kind; if only they just tried to flog a magazine sending people door to door, not shore to shore killing people.

This time eating the black pudding was wonderful – this should have been my first time moment. What fans of this dark food had told me on twitter made sense now. I licked my fangs clean with relish. 

This ended a journey of a chess captain, a lover, a blood donor, a Darwinist, an onanist, tree decorating gift wrapper. The Birthday cake, Christmas pudding muncher had now feasted on the black pudding. Ingesting blood – the last of the taboos that made no sense.

I had enjoyed it. Not because I was now dammed, or because it was two fingers up at a past childhood.

Rather because the act felt normal. Unlike all those other times, when there had been an illicit thrill at the breaking of a taboo, the act was enjoyed as part of dining. A culinary experience.

I had waited this long to see if I had got over how I felt about my childhood in a cult. To not feel anger or sadistic joy at doing things once proscribed. 

What I had hoped for with this taboo was an experience never experienced before. Feeling normal.

That is what I longed for as a child apostate. 

Kid, I only wish I could have whispered in your ear: one day you will feel normal doing these things.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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(Unpdate: thanks to Robert McLiam Wilson have ironed out a few grammar issues in original piece) 

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PREVENT and Religion

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The UK government has announced, as part of its Prevent strategy, that even toddlers at nursery need to be watched out for in case they are groomed by others towards Islamic extremism that would make them susceptible to terrorism.

The boy went to school, and the teachers noticed something different about him. He did not sing at school assembly, not even join in happy birthday, and would not bow his head during school prayer. But he would pause before he ate anything. Eagle eyes would have picked up he was praying.

He had been in town telling people that this evil impure world was going to end, and that only faith in the one true God was going to save them. Death was certain for the unbelievers, and deserved. Asked whether that would require the faithful killing other people, he replied that God had ordered unbelievers to be killed before by man, and his judgment was beyond the question of anyone. His divine law was the thing to pray and live for. No one would want to witness the end of this system of things. Better to be dead before seeing that horror.

World governments were but puppets of their master, Satan. Politics were the machinations of the evil one. It should be no surprise that the faithful would be oppressed and despised. For they obeyed God first, and death held no fear compared to that devotion to him. The world was nothing to be a part of, it offered trifles compared to what God could.

Yet no calls were made to alert the security services. That if God commanded he would kill, as had holy men before, was not cause enough to concern anyone. For it was common knowledge the stories he referenced of death and destruction.

He slipped under the radar, even leaving school for some years.

However, he ended up writing a blog about religion and fundamentalism. Including what it was like as a child being indoctrinated in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

You have just read his post.

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Dead To You and God – Shunning By Jehovah’s Witnesses

How Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to treat the disfellowshipped as if dead by God, but publicly play this down.

Imagine you gave a gift to your grandfather, but wrapped it in such a way it displeased him. So much so that he kills you, and your brother who is with you.

Your father is then told that his sons dishonoured their grandfather. While his nephews take their deceased cousins (ie you) for burial, the father and surviving siblings are told not to mourn. Grandfather will be angry if they do. Obey him, or else the community will suffer, this is the law they are told.

This is fictitious – unless you read Leviticus Chapter Ten as literal. The father is Aaron, the high priest. Moses is laying down the law, and the particular homicidal grandfather is the loving creator Jehovah. The gift was burning incense.

I burn with indignation that such horror stories are used to endear people to God. In a recent Watchtower magazine this above story is used to encourage Jehovah’s Witnesses to treat the disfellowshipped as … dead.

A heartrending experience for Aaron’s family is recorded at Leviticus 10: 1-11. They must have been devastated when fire from heaven consumed Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu at the tabernacle. What a test of faith it was for Aaron and his family not to mourn their dead relatives! Are you personally proving yourself holy with regard to not associating with family members or others who have been disfellowshipped? —Read 1 Corinthians 5:11 ~ The Watchtower November 15 2014, p.14]

The bible quote at the end is part of “The Expel The Immoral Brother” passage. It reads:

11) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.

This is not a new thing – the practice of shunning even family members where you would not even say “Hello” to them. For example how to react to your son having sex, but he lives under your roof:

“Suppose, for example, that the only son of an exemplary Christian couple leaves the truth. Preferring “the temporary enjoyment of sin” to a personal relationship with Jehovah and with his godly parents, the young man is disfellowshipped. … the Bible says “to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator. … They also realise that the word “anyone” in this verse includes family members not living under their roof. … Our hearts go out to those parents. After all, their son had a choice, and he chose to pursue his unchristian lifestyle rather than to continue to enjoy close association with his parents and other fellow believers. The parents, on the other hand, had no say in the matter. … But what will those dear parents do? Will they obey Jehovah’s clear direction? Or will they rationalize that they can have regular association with the disfellowshipped son and call it, “necessary family business”? In making their decision, they must not fail to consider how Jehovah feels about what they are doing. … Today, Jehovah does not immediately execute those who violate his laws. He lovingly gives them an opportunity to repent from their unrighteous works. How would Jehovah feel, though, if the parents of an unrepentant wrongdoer kept putting Him to the test by having unnecessary association with their disfellowshipped son or daughter?” ~ The Watchtower 2011 July 15 p.31, p.32 [my emphasis]

Jehovah does not immediately execute those that displease him now. What a mercy. But he still gets angry if you say hello to those disfellowshipped by congregation elders. Probably wants to kill you, every word you say testing his divine patience. Jehovah comes first, not your child – especially if fornicating.

What if the son is a minor living at home, but becomes disfellowshipped?

If the child is a minor and is living at home, you will naturally continue to take care of his physical needs. He also requires moral training and discipline, and you have the responsibility to provide these. (Proverbs 1:8-18; 6:20-22; 29:17) You may want to conduct a Bible study with him, involving his direct participation. You can draw his attention to various scriptures and to the publications provided by the faithful and discreet slave. (Matthew 24:45) You can also take the child with you to Christian meetings and have him sit with you. All of this can be done in hopes that he will take Scriptural counsel to heart.

The situation is different if the disfellowshipped one is not a minor and is living away from home. The apostle Paul admonished Christians in ancient Corinth: Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. (1Corinthians 5:11) While caring for necessary family matters may require some contact with the disfellowshipped person, a Christian parent should strive to avoid needless association.

When an erring child is disciplined by Christian shepherds, it would be unwise if you were to reject or minimize their Bible-based action. Siding with your rebellious child would not be providing any real protection from the Devil. Actually, you would be endangering your own spiritual health. On the other hand, by supporting the efforts of the shepherds, you will remain solid in the faith and will provide the best help for your child.” ~ The Watchtower 2007 Jan 15 p.20 [my emphasis]

You see the devil is at work on the disfellowshipped. Also via apostates like myself, and indeed non believers.

Try to square the above magazine excerpts from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their website FAQ on the subject:

Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.

We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped. The Bible clearly states: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”—1 Corinthians 5:13.

What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.

Disfellowshipped individuals may attend our religious services. If they wish, they may also receive spiritual counsel from congregation elders. The goal is to help each individual once more to qualify to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Disfellowshipped people who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a sincere desire to live by the Bible’s standards are always welcome to become members of the congregation again.

This is not the experience – just one example from a thread discussing:

I have a similar problem with my nana. She raised me for the most part, I left the religion when I was 18 and we remained close until this past year when they forced her to first only see me for business reasons so shed make up trips she needed my help with to see me then to I can’t even speak to her and my kids can’t either. Im 25 and my older son who is 5 asks about his nana all the time and im at a loss what to say. I cry about it a lot. I feel helpless because those awful fools have taken my only real family member I cared about. They are cracking down apparently on people with disfellowshipped family members, though I willingly disassociated and was not disfellowshipped they’re saying it’s no different now. If only I’d never gotten baptized, it was my ultimate mistake and cost me dearly.

This is about control, punishment and preventing challenge to the organisation. But it is also about demanding God is put before family. This is what you would be expected to do if you became baptized. Separating loved ones from each other because they lose their faith is cult like behaviour. It is abuse done in the name of the creator, sanctioned by the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I will always be grateful that before my life could be ruined as a child we left. That story can be read here.

Would like to acknowledge excerpts linked to above coming from JWFacts.com and Hemant Mehta “Friendly Atheist” site for bringing up the November 2014 Watchtower excerpt that started this post.

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The Rapprochement That Never Quite Comes

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How do you forgive a mother who blames your childhood self for the religious fundamentalism she had taught to you as a kid? Reminiscing on my childhood, reading the leaked Peter Clarke report on Birmingham “Trojan Horse”Schools”

Recently my mother asked why I am interested in, and write, about religion. I pointed out that us studying with Christian fundamentalists like the Jehovah’s Witnesses for six years helped. False religion needed to be understood. It was also grounded into me the separation of church and state – and for us to be no part of this world.

Her response floored me. It was apparently all my fault. I had asked, at the age of eight, why it rained in the UK but not in Africa. A question she posed to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their answer led to us studying with them.

By the time I was thirteen, she said she was having doubts. I told her demons were trying to take her away from the Truth.

How my adult self wanted to reply. It was not me that invited my personal weekly study with them for two hours each week from age of eight to fourteen at the family home. Or the other three meetings we went to each week. Where I was taught how demons can tempt you, and influence other people. That almost everyone, save us, were going to die.

End of the World

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A constant refrain: the end of this system of things would be soon. In late 1980s the people that had seen 1914 were nearly dead. Armageddon had to come in their lifetime. As the Governing Body proclaimed to the faithful. With a disabled brother, a paradise earth seemed the best chance for him. He was there automatically. I had to make sure I was with him. By following Jehovah to the letter, as dictated by the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society.

My mother pulled me out of school so I could study more. We watched the first Iraq War as a sign of the impending Second Coming. Elders saw prophecies of Daniel, and Revelation, in these unfolding news events. In the end, the aerial was pulled off the roof to protect us from satanic propaganda and evil broadcasts. We hankered down, calling on the name of Jehovah.

Indoctrinated

I know my mother regrets having studied with them. She romanticises the period. But I am blamed for believing everything I read and was told by the adults that had access to me. A product of my environment, I was the ultimate fundamentalist. The promise of a new world made me hide away from the outside world. My private study reinforced what I was being taught. Faith was absolute, dawn to night, by thought and deed.

Instead of being prepared for the real world, I was ready for the spiritual war that was sure to come. Absorbed in a monoculture doomsday cult, which I gave myself completely too. No one stopped me taking what these adults said seriously. Religious freedom seemed to allow my interactions to be almost solely confined to the Kingdom Hall congregation. As “bad associations spoil useful habits.”

I had the mind of a sponge, soaking up the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as proclaimed in their books and magazines. I broke myself free only by realising science and not the bible would have to prove a creator was necessary or not. Which led to reading old publications that showed the Jehovah’s Witnesses had regularly made up things which never happened. Or changed belief, while still quoting scripture to justify a position, now at odds with previous teaching.

Mercifully my mother was already of a mind to leave when I realised at 14 how duped we had been. So we left as a family. But I have to draw the line at a child being blamed for their own indoctrination. One that very nearly destroyed my life chances in a world that through it’s misery, conflict and strife, keeps turning.

Whatever our beliefs or none, we need to work together to make the world a better place to wake up to then it was when we went to bed. One aspect is the separation of church and state. I would add also, separation of church from classroom.

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Trojan Horse Plot

Reading Peter Clarke’s report into attempts to impose religious orthodoxy in state schools in Birmingham, I hear parallels with my upbringing. How women are seen as temptresses. Students becoming religious prefects of their own accord, a limited education on other faiths and promotion of their own.

[Peter Clarke] also found evidence of a “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”.

The agenda would have confined “schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain,” the leaked report says. [BBC]

No indoctrination should be happening to children. Nor can they be blamed as they reinforce what they are taught. They are a product of their upbringing. They are innocent. Needing an education, which includes academic religious studies to understand diversity, prepared to live as a well adjusted adult. Not religious instruction to reinforce a narrow understanding of the world to limit their interactions with society.

I have forgiven my mother – but I have not forgotten.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Jehovah’s Witnesses At Train Stations

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Knocking on a door, your senses try to pick up any vibration that someone is coming. Especially elderly; might take their time. Not just indicating to wait long enough, but to tailor your message. That article on crime in the magazine – yes that might start a conversation.

Ministry work – going door to door – is part of being a Jehovah’s Witness. Spreading the good news that virtually everyone is going to die in an apocalypse, you too unless heed the message. Though the end of the world was meant to happen in the lifetime of those that saw 1914. Those people I spoke to who had witnessed the Great War have departed before that promise of interpretation by the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society was shown to be a lie. One I shared with others.

Just as teachings change to circumstances that catch you out – or God revealing what we need to know at that moment if you prefer – so do methods. Door knocking and hoping someone is in has given way to trying to be where people are.

Volunteers are targeting train stations, as well as shopping centres and other busy places, in 14 cities across Britain and Ireland – Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield.

In London alone, the movement says it has 1,000 people giving away literature – and they get through about 6,000 brochures, 20,000 books, and 100,000 magazines every month. [BBC News]

Rather like a spider on a web, they stand there with a collection of books and magazines. Waiting for the fly to come to them. At least you can be sure they do not want your blood. Refusing blood transfusions is one thing most people are aware they do even for kids in critical condition. Just your complete obedience to what the Watchtower believes. They will do their best to assimilate you on that journey, gradually, starting with the offer of a bible study.

Sincerity is not something they lack. They really do believe God would be angry if you had a slice of birthday cake (it’s moon worship). That a child should not be playing with a transformer doll as it suggests life exists independent of the only creator, Jehovah (and magic powers a big no). Books to read on theology are by the Society; the devil’s work is false religion so beware of them. Those ancient philosophers will lead you to paganism, even to doubt. Probably best to leave well alone.

The relationship with Jehovah is that of a loving father who does not think twice at killing people that displease him. When the Israelites demand some variety to their diet in the wilderness, fish meat rain from the sky. It’s a test. Those that ate them die (Numbers chapter 11).

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You do get to read the bible at least with them. I still remember the audio tape dramatisation and the noise of those choking on the fish meat, dying in agony. And those stories – which are real to you as a kid – rather put you off birthday cake if Jehovah is like that. He is a jealous God – even his chosen people did not escape his wrath. And judgment day was waiting like a thief in the night.

At least at a train station you can escape them much easier than a knock at your door. Or a child finally reasoning this cannot be true.

I have written more on the past teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses here.

My childhood experience can be read here.

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