My name is John. I will not state my second name as at the moment, I am still officially one of Jehovah's Witnesses and do not want to be disfellowshipped as I still have relatives that are JWs.
I was born on 15th October 1967 somewhere in East London UK. I was to be the oldest of seven children. My mother became a JW when I was five and my Father followed suit about a year later. He only went to the meetings for about three years and then stopped and has not been back since, apart from a few memorials and meetings occasionally. I got baptized just before my 15th birthday. I was the classic JW youth. I used to auxiliary pioneer every summer holiday, even before I got baptized. I had a few privileges in the congregation, went on quick builds and helped on the reconstruction of the UK Bethel and an Assembly hall. There was no doubt in my mind that I had the truth.
When I was 18 years old I met a lovely sister named Hazel and we fell in love. Despite being very young (I was just 19 and Hazel was 6 weeks off her 18 birthday.) Lots of Jehovah Witnesses in my congregation did not attend our wedding as they did not agree with us being married so young. We did not know this at the time but found out a few years later. But it did not spoil the best day of our life.
We settled down to family life and unlike the others who got married at around the same time as us, we had bought our own house. I had built up an Industrial window cleaning business, which was doing well. In 1989 I was appointed as a Ministerial Servant [Deacon]. After being married for about 2 years we found out that Hazel was pregnant and on August 24th 1989, Luke was born. Luke was doing well up until he was about 2 years old and then we noticed that he was different from other children. By this time, the recession had begun in the UK and I had packed up my business and had joined HM prison service as a Prison Officer. We decided that Luke needed to interact with other kids and we started taking him to a playschool [pre-school]. He had been going to the Playschool for about 2 weeks when I came home early from work and Hazel was sitting on the stairs crying. She had been told not to bring Luke to the playschool again as he was biting the other children and was dangerous.
To cut a long story short, we took Luke to a Pediatrician and he was diagnosed (after a 2 year battle) as "having Autistic tendencies". He was a handful. We could not take him anywhere as he would smash the place up and destroy everything that he could get his hands on. I went to the Presiding Overseer and asked to be relieved from my duties at the moment as Hazel was finding him very demanding at the meetings. It was at this time that I noticed a lack of love in the congregation. Everyone knew about Luke but comments were made behind our backs regarding our not smacking him to keep him quiet at the meetings. Anyone who knows any thing about Autism will know that there is no point what so ever in smacking an Autistic child as he is not being naughty, but is ill! Hazel wanted to stop going, not because she did not believe it but she felt it was a waste of time as she did not get anything from the meetings as Luke was so noisy.
Social Services were gob smacked when they discovered that we did not get any help from the congregation, or from our mothers (who were both witnesses). So they employed a lovely person that Luke could go to every other Saturday so that we could have a respite. Hazel's mother said that she would have Luke for one night so that we could go to a hotel (60 miles away). But we had to leave at 5 p.m. and be back before 9 am the next morning as she had to go on the Field service. I remember thinking then that the people on the doors were in her eyes more important than her own flesh and blood.
Luke went to a special school. There were 9 children in his class with 2 teachers and 3 helpers. It was at this school that he made incredible progress and after a year we were told that he might have made enough progress to go to main stream school, in the year below what she should be and with a full time helper. We had a few days to make a decision. We were told that if we decided yes and it did not work then he could come back to the special school but if we decided no and then later on decided that we had made the wrong decision it would be too late as Luke would have been institutionalized by then. So we decided that we would go for it and he has made fantastic progress. He is now totally different from what he was 5 years ago. Last week he started senior school with the other kids his own age. He still is a bit immature but he is getting there and he can control his emotions and behavior. He is a credit to us both, especially Hazel as she put the most time in with him.
While Luke was growing up, I had left the Prison Service and join the Fire Brigade as a Fire fighter. We also changed congregations at this time. I was never re-appointed as a ministerial servant at this congregation. I will come back to this point later.
In my first year of being a Fire fighter, the fire service chaplain came round to my station and my watch-group knew that I was a witness and tried to goad me into an argument with the chaplain. He had no idea that he had a JW sitting next to him and was going on about different things. My watch-group were waiting for me to "bite" but I did not. The following month, I decided to auxiliary pioneer. I needed an hour so I wrote to this chaplain and answered all his accusations. He replied and was really apologetic and said that he was sorry that he had offended me.
But then he went on about things that I had no idea about. How Russell believed in Pyramidology, Beth sarim etc,etc,etc. I was totally shocked. I threw the letter in the bin and walked away. Curiosity got the better of me and I went back to have a second look and hide the letter away. This started my doubts. The next month we had a shepherding call from two elders. I told them about these doubts and they told me it was apostate stuff and I should forget it. I went to another elder who I was close to and he advised me to read "positive literature", that is only that published by the Society. In put the doubts away and tried to forget about them.
Three years went passed and we have moved house. THEN at a family get together, Hazel's brother asked me to prove to him that 607 BCE is the correct date for Jerusalem's destruction. This started a 4-month research campaign. We are fortunate enough to live near the British Museum and I got suspicious when the Assistant curator at the Babylonian department asked me why I wanted to prove that 587 BCE is wrong. I replied that I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He responded: "Oh no, not another one. I get this all the time from your lot"!
I realized then that there must be more to this than meets the eye. In the mean time -- after reading Ray Franz's books Crisis of Conscience -- I went round to see the former elder and it was at this point that he told me that I had not been re-appointed a servant as Brother X said that I would miss too many meetings due to my shifts; and also that being a fire-fighter is not a job that a Christian should be doing. Interesting, because since then, Brother X has asked me to help his son in filling out an application form to join the police force. Brother X has lost his job and is now going to college to retrain, and the college nights are Tuesday and Thursday , which are meeting nights!
Well I told Hazel that in all conscience I could not attend meetings at the moment. She said that she needed to carry on even though she felt that 607 was wrong. I invited the Elders to come round and visit me to try to sort out my problems. They could not answer my questions so I wrote a letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding my research on 607. In the mean time it was going round the congregation that we had been stumbled by something that we had read on the internet. We invited our close friends around for dinner and the night before they cancelled as they said that they felt it was not right to associate with us.
Hazel went ballistic! Hazel stated that we have been friends for years, have been on holiday together a few times and I was master of ceremonies at their wedding, and they were going to throw it all away. Well in the end (after a call to the Book study conductor who said it was OK) they came round. We started talking and we told them from the start that we would not tell them what our doubts specifically were. He fell asleep and the three of us -- Hazel, myself and the friend -- started talking and I asked her when Jerusalem was destroyed. She did not know. I then asked her how we as JWs arrive at the date of 1914. She did not know. I asked her if the Bible was absolutely specific on the subject, but the GB said that they would overrule it, who would she follow? She replied the GB! She still had no idea that 607 was our problem.
I invited the elders around as I felt that there must be something that I am not seeing. We spent three hours going round and round in circles. Eventually they said that could not answer my questions so what did I want to do? I told them that I would be writing to the GB directly. It took me 20 hours to write the first letter. The replies that I received do not even touch the surface of the questions that I specifically asked. I was very disappointed.
Since then Hazel has stopped attending meetings as well. We have not been disfellowshipped and to date the elders have not been near. Our friends (especially 2 couples that we are especially close to) have not been near and one couple has stated that unless we "turn around", they will not have a lot to do with us as before. This hurts, as I love this man as a brother. This proves to me that our love was not unconditional.
We have now started reading the Bible and seeing what it has to say to us as a family. We are now coming to different conclusions than what the Watchtower Society would have us believe. We are annoyed with ourselves that we allowed an organization dictate what we had to believe, but we are to blame as well because we did not look at the facts fully. We will never have anyone dictate what we are to believe unless it comes from Jehovah, through His word the Bible. We are not bitter and twisted. We have a lot of friends in the organization that we love and miss and are not in the game of running them down.
If you wish to e-mail me please do so at
[Editors note: Brother John has some excellent research on the date 607 BC as well as several "answers" from the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.]