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A Quick Word About The Jehovah’s Witnesses In My Book

Hi all, I’ve had enough people write to me about a particular passage in my book that I wanted to write a post about it, just so I can refer people to this as the emails come in.

When describing my mom and her unwavering faith (Mormon), I (briefly) contrast her lightheartedness with the relative grimness of the only Jehovah’s Witnesses I had ever known (maybe a dozen–people I met while serving as a missionary, and in discussions I’ve had with them since).

I’m paraphrasing, but I essentially say, “Even though my mom believed with all her heart, it wasn’t oppressive and life was joyful. She was the opposite of the Jehova’s Witnesses I had known.” 

This was totally accurate when I wrote it, based on my admittedly limited experience with the JW religion. The JW’s I had met were bullies and they were mean and I don’t care if they believed what they were doing or not, their demeanor made it impossible for me to ever hear one word of their message.

Now that people from the JW faith are writing to me saying “That’s not accurate and that’s not how we are at all,” that’s fantastic. If it’s not accurate, then my opinions should change with new information, and I’m allowed to be wrong. I’m open to being called out and if I’m wrong I certainly don’t need to argue so I can feel secure.

So if you’re a JW and you’re a happy person trying to do good work, I’m thrilled that you have something you care so deeply about. I wish you well.

I’d have to care a whole lot more than I do to be anti-religion. Any religion.

Also, this isn’t an apology. I think most people are in way too big of a hurry to apologize for every little thing they say or do. But this is an acknowledgment that I don’t know everything and that what I write accurately reflects whatever my perceptions are. When my perceptions are based on false assumptions, I want to change that. So thanks to everyone who’s written to me on this matter.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lori August 8, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Josh, you are amazing.
    We all base our opinions on the knowledge we have. People do it to those of us with Tourette’s all the time!
    I hope you meet some of us non-bullying Jehovah’s Witnesses one day. You probably have, but just don’t know it, as you would have met us under different circumstances than in your missionary work.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 8, 2013, 5:09 pm

      I’ve met some outside of the mission as well, with similar results, but the total number is very low. Come meet me!

      • Lori August 8, 2013, 5:28 pm

        Would love to! Bring your book tour to Canada! We have a sweet little library here in Paris, Ontario.

  • january August 9, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I’m new to your website, and what an interesting post to find in my inbox. I’m a recovering J-dub, and I’m just back from spending a week with my “God hates you” family. I grew up in a rural area of Missouri, and my youth was spent in a hole of negativity and fear. From my understanding of other Jehovah’s Witnesses, the ones that live in cities are a little more laid back and cheerful. But that wasn’t my experience, nor is that my current viewpoint. I think your observations are spot on. Sure, there are exceptions to everything, but I like your unapologetic stance.

    Thanks for the awesome posts. They’re like little jewels in my inbox.

  • Lisa September 5, 2013, 11:54 am

    I’ve met JWs that were more liberal and nice people. And then I met others who policed their family members. I think their beliefs are stringent, but there are people who follow them regardless.

    Believe it or not, I dated a JW a few years ago. He was laid back and never ‘witnessed’ to me. When it came down to us dating (a non JW and JW) someone from his church stalked his house and reported it when I stayed the night. It might have been his brother. Who knows? That boyfriend was brought before the church and reprimanded. He was told he had to give a public confession and could be ostracized for dating me. The JW version of being ostracized (according to him) meant that his friends and family members could not (and WOULD not) speak to him. I found that incredibly disturbing.

    Since blogging about my former religious group I’ve met a lot of ex-JWs who have had similar experiences as January (above). There’s an indie film out now called TRUTH BE TOLD that looks interesting.

    Whether all JWs are like that or not, I don’t know. It’s like anything else–there are definitely nice people in any religion. But admittedly there are also some jerks.

    • Josh Hanagarne September 5, 2013, 11:55 am

      Any group of any kind is going to have some jerks. Even librarians!