Sunday, April 13, 2014

My History with Jehovah's Witnesses by Babs Mason

When I was born, I almost died, but when the Elders of the Mormon religion I was born into gave me a blessing I lived. Of course, this story was shared with me as a child and it made quite an impression on me and convinced me that I was born into the correct faith. So at an early age, I became very spiritual and remember thinking of God when I was two years of age.  Some really horrible things happened to me, because my mother was involved with Satan worshipers and I was forced to do things as a child that really messed with my moral compass.  Through all of this, I kept my relationship with God.  

I was very zealous in the religion that I was born into, as my father faithfully took us children to church. He did not know what was going on with my mother and I never told him, because when you are a child you assume everyone has the same kind of life and you assume that both parents know what was going on.  At the time, my mother was an alcoholic.

When my parents were separated and divorced my mother sent me to live with my Aunt and my Uncle, who did not know that I had been abused and were not very understanding.  It caused me to be disillusioned by the former faith and I went from being very devoted as a child to being agnostic and mad at God for six years. I was a Mormon and quite discouraged with my faith because of the abuse I had suffered as a child, while a Mormon.  I was in a difficult marriage and just had my first child. I was also suffering from post partum depression and did not know what was wrong with me. I was so sad that I felt suicidal.

Before I became a Jehovah's Witness, I had been involved in drugs and all sorts of negative things.  When I was twenty years old, my daughter was born and I was very depressed and, in desperation, I prayed out loud to God for help.  The reason I prayed to God for help, was because my mother had been suicidal and there was no way I wanted to do that to my daughter.  I prayed for God to send someone to me to help me spiritually.  I promised him that if he did I would raise my daughter to believe in him.  I assumed that Jehovah's Witnesses coming to my door was the answer to my prayer to God, although I realize now it was demons who heard my prayer and answered it.  

The next day the witnesses came to my door.  I took that as a sign that this was the true faith, and let them start a Bible study with me. The road to hell was not paved with good intentions from them.  Right from the start, they informed me to expect persecution and influenced me not to tell my husband I was studying with them. Very quickly, they made me aware of the bedroom rules and that caused my husband to look elsewhere for affection.

We did stay married another four years, but my husband eventually left me for another woman. He was the love of my life. I was married at age sixteen and our marriage lasted eight years.  It is horrible when you lose your love and your child, because of faith in a cult. If only I had not been so naive and had not been deceived. What kind of religion seeks to destroy a marriage?

The year was 1975 and the Watchtower Society was ablaze with new Bible studies. I was a pioneer's dream come true, because I was so hungry for Bible knowledge I wanted to study twice a week and they were long three- to four-hour sessions.  What a dream for a pioneer in cold Alaska to have studies several hours long and be invited in from the cold weather!  The person who studied with me told me years later they could hardly keep up with me as I was such a sponge.

It took about six months of intense studies and I studied the "truth" book.  Because I was born into the Mormon faith where there was not much Bible instruction, it was easy for the witnesses to indoctrinate me with false ideas.  I had been a very zealous Mormon and had even done temple work for them as a teenager.  There were some strange things that happened in the temple when I was 14 and that along with my experience with my relatives led me to be disillusioned with the Mormon religion.  I am convinced that, because I prayed out loud, the demons heard and they were the ones who directed the witnesses to me when I prayed for help.

Then began the dark ride of hell and there are no other words.  Issues were made about sexual practices and that did my shaky marriage in.  My husband left me with our four-year-old daughter and no money.  Actually, none of the witnesses really helped me, but for some reason God watched out for me and things always worked out over the years.  I had to move because my ex-husband was in organized crime and that took a toll on me.  Then, when I found out he was really sick, I felt morally obligated to move back to Alaska so he could be around his daughter.  

Eventually, the stress took a toll on me and when my daughter needed me the most, I had a nervous breakdown.  I went to the Jehovah's Witness elders about the things I had suffered as a child when I was a Mormon and all of the abuse and they said to me that God had forgiven me for the sexual abuse. This really did a number on my head.  How in the hell is it the fault of the child who was abused?  I was a mess and the doctors put me on so much medication, I did not know which end was up.

My daughter, Tanya, moved out at age 18 and started her own life. She continued as a witness and ended up marrying someone on the rebound after a broken heart. Soon after she got married, I got married for the second time. The elders did not warn me that the man I was marrying was a pedophile they were harboring.  He had only been baptized for a year and was a very abusive man.  He did things to cause a rift between my daughter and me.  She did not speak to me for a year before she died.  I will always feel that if we had been speaking, she would still be alive and we both would have left the organization in 1998 together, although "what ifs" can only drive you crazy.  My daughter's husband was unfaithful and he abused her. Things happened and the elders told her she had to go back with him and make it work or be out of the congregation.  On March 26, 1998 she supposedly killed herself.

After less than two years of marriage, her death was listed as a suicide. There are many things that do not make sense regarding the situation she died in.  Her widowed husband ended up benefiting greatly financially from her death.  He did not take care of her ashes and he left the state. Six months after she died, I received a phone call from the wife of the elder who gave her memorial speech.  She was going to bring me my daughter's ashes.  I was going to take care of them.  The day the elder's wife came, she showed up with my daughter's personal effects that did not sell in her garage sale. When my daughter died the elders told me that I had no right to anything, because her husband owned her.  Imagine how I felt when this person showed up with the tattered remains of what she had not made financial gain on and this was an elder's wife. I quite lost my mind and was out of it for about four years, because this was my only child.

While this had been going on, my own situation was horrible, because the man I married in the faith was trying to kill me.  He slipped me drugs and was very abusive to me.  Although I sought help from the elders, they did nothing to help me.  I was a faithful witness and I had been to pioneer school and was pioneering most of the time.  I ended up in homeless shelter for domestic violence.  The brothers were helping him and they did nothing for me and told me I could not ask anyone for help. No money, no food, nowhere to go. Close friends offered to take me in, but I was worried that my soon-to-be ex-husband would harass them, so I turned their offers down.  God blessed me for my decision, because I got help immediately from the state and rental assistance.   Because he was trying to kill me, a nationwide restraining order was put in effect, so I hopped in my car and drove 4,000 miles to get away from him. I would have left the organization sooner, if I had not gone to a witness doctor, who over-medicated me for years and I did not know which end was up.  I was also very busy taking care of my mom, who was ill.  After she died my health went downhill.  

I questioned for years and kept feelings to myself and 18 months ago I really began questioning things. I walked away 14 months ago from the "Evil Slave Class" (Governing Body) of Jehovah's Witnesses.  I was on oxygen and walking with a walker. The elders never came by to see why I left.  They knew I was sick and all alone.  They were not really helping me anyway when I was sick.  They made sure the donation check was picked up every month and told me to connect to the meetings by phone.  I had no car and no one wanted to give me a ride to the meetings.  I guess poor people and spiritual widows are not important to them.  It was very hard to leave, because I was sick and had no car and knew I would have no help as my family lives out of town. But I put my faith in God and left. I ended up in the hospital very sick and almost died and had no one to help me.  Everything worked out for me and now I have a car that my family brought me on memorial day weekend in 2013.   They gave me a 2003 ford Taurus and it is in really good shape with only 76,000 miles.  I have been off my oxygen, after leaving the witnesses and no longer walk with a walker.  I walk most days for two miles in the morning and I am working on getting back to work for the first time in years. I got an energy grant for almost $500.00 dollars to help me with my electric bill. I realize many here are not believers in God anymore and I can understand.  As for me, I believe in God, because of all He has done for me.

I am convinced, in retrospect, if I had had any prior Bible knowledge, I would have quickly dismissed the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses cult.  Lately I have gone through quite a spiritual struggle inside with anger at God for letting this happen to me. But now I think he allowed it to happen so I can help people online who are trapped by religious cults.  Oddly enough, I now put in more time doing this than I ever did as a regular or auxillary pioneer.  I have found the training I got going through pioneer school twice has enabled me to be a better online counselor for depressed young people.  I do free online counseling in honor of the memory of my daughter, who, at the tender age of twenty-three, was a victim of the domestic violence supported by this cult.  The police report in Alaska said she took her own life, but I have my doubts after my own investigations.  The elders told her she had to go back to her husband or be disfellowshipped.  We lived in separate cities and I did not know what was going on.  Of course the witnesses had to tell me all the sordid details, after it was too late for me to do anything.

Tanya married in 1996 and I married again a few months after she did. I had decided a long time ago that I would finish raising her and keep her safe until I sought another mate. It was a lonely seventeen years and I kept busy by lots of ministry work, volunteer work and helping others. I did many things the witnesses never knew, as I knew they would not approve. I did volunteer work to help the handicapped and the veterans of Vietnam. I operated a nonprofit food bank in Alaska out-of-pocket for four years and fed many poor people in the Matanuska Valley. I fought for mental health rights in Alaska and kept counseling open for children.  I imagine there was a politician inside of me and it makes me sad to have not done more with my life.

There is so much to say here, but in the interests of getting this story out to help the Ex-Jehovah's Witness community, I have written a reduced version here.  I fear it will become a small book eventually, as I come back to edit and expand on my story.  Typing this has been difficult for me, because it has brought up all the pain in my heart that I have tried to bury.

And this is where Babs and others like her are today: 
Even though our stories here are fraught with the horrible things we endured as Jehovah's Witnesses, the following video by John Cedars shows exactly how we are today:  This is FREEDOM!