The Judicial Committee and Disfellowshipping Process for Ricky Gonzales (Watchtower Society's ex-communicating and shunning policy)
I am Ricky Gonzales and I would like to share how I came to be disfellowshipped (thrown out of the church or ex-communicated).
Earlier this year, just after the Memorial of the Lord's Evening Meal (Jehovah's Witness version of Easter without the eggs and rabbits), a comment from a co-worker rung a bell that could not be un-rung. He told me about a court case, Candace Conti vs the Watchtower Society. This young woman was awarded $28 million USD. Since the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and all of their corporations are claimed as non-profit, the money would have to come from donated funds.
The more I researched and read court documents, the worse it progressed. I did a lot of research on the molestation cases against the Jehovah's Witnesses. My wife began to inquire about my research, and I shared it with her. She had not been affected as I had, even refuting this case as any faithful, devout Jehovah's Witness would.
More investigation on my part led to the discovery of the membership of the Watchtower Society from 1991-2001 as a NGO (Non-Government Organization). Again, my wife asked about my research and I shared it with her. I could tell it bothered her, and she increasingly became more angry with me.
I began investigating more and more about the United Nations and it's NGO policies, which led me to visit what Jehovah's Witnesses consider "apostate" websites, former members who left the religion and are allegedly bitter, mentally-diseased, spiritually poisoned, and misled by the devil himself.
Eventually, after many heated discussions over my discoveries, discussions which I never initiated with my spouse, it came to a boiling point. My wife screamed at me that I was a filthy apostate and that if I did not go to the elders, she would, because it was her scriptural duty. We agreed on a date.
The date finally came and I sent a text message to one of the elders. We talked that morning and I told him about three of the issues that were affecting me:
1.) I am having a hard time believing that the Governing Body, are the faithful and discreet slave and are appointed by Jehovah.
2.) I found out about the Candace Conti case, and $28 million USD are supposed to be paid to her, from donated funds.
3.) The WTBTS (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) was a member of the United Nations for 10 years, contrary to their teachings that the U.N. is Satanic in origin.
The elder I initially talked to, Elder One, listened to me. He advised me to write a letter to the Society, or, the headquarters, as Jehovah's Witnesses refer to it. He then asked if there was anything else I wanted to talk about. I said that there was more research that I have been doing, but it is too much information for just one phone call. He asked if I would like to meet with him and another elder. I agreed. A phone call the following Saturday, confirmed a meeting with Elder One and Elder Two, for the following day.
So, we met at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on a Friday evening, which is the only night the Kingdom Hall (church building) is not used for worship by any of the congregations that meet there. It was quiet and private, which I appreciated. In the meantime, I wrote a letter as Elder One had advised. I gave a copy to both of the elders. Elder One began reading it, so Elder Two took the lead for the majority of this meeting.
Immediately, he expressed his concern, but began to downplay and ignore my concerns, stating that for him, these concerns were not enough to leave. He kept telling me that it was not enough evidence on which to make a decision. Finally, I told him that this meeting was about my faith, not his, and if he could not accept my feelings, then there was no need to continue this meeting. At this point, the atmosphere changed. He apologized, but was still cynical of the issues I brought out. In fact, he never read the letter.
Elder One began discussing some of the points I brought out in the letter. Eventually, he stated that even though he advised writing a letter, he would not send this letter, because it has a "finger pointing" tone to it, and that it was accusatory. I agreed, but I needed answers or explanations for it. I may be one sheep, but even one lost sheep was more important to Jesus than 99 who were spiritually strong.
The elders eventually asked if I had been sharing any of this information with anyone. I said that I shared it with my wife, but only when she asked me, never initiating the sharing of any information with her. I also shared some of it with my youngest sibling, but that was coincidental, not intentional. They also asked if I was visiting apostate websites. I admitted that I had, in fact, been visiting several apostate websites, gathering information and verifying whether it was false. I could not find this information on the Jehovah's Witness website, nor in any of it's publications, therefore I had no other choice but to go to "outside" sources.
What I found was disturbing, and almost all of it was true. They counseled me on the dangers of these apostate websites, and that the decision to visit these websites was mine, and mine alone. They eventually stated that since I was not sharing my research with others, that I am not considered to be an apostate, but they also cautioned that I needed to be careful. They told me that I was going to be scrutinized and watched closely. They ended up asking for me to relinquish my position as a ministerial servant (a position of authority within the church). I agreed.
Two days later, after our Sunday morning worship, I get a call from Elder Two. He asks if we can meet again. I agreed and asked why. He stated that some of the rest of the elders are having a hard time believing that this is coming from me, because this does not sound like the Ricky they know. I agreed to another meeting for the following day.
Monday evening comes around and we meet at the Kingdom Hall (church building) again. This time there are three elders there, Elder Two, Elder Three (A newly appointed elder, within the past 2 or 3 months) and Elder Four (Biological Brother of Elder Two). I have been in this religious system long enough and been through other judicial committees (Jehovah's Witnesses own internal cult court system) to know that when three elders are together for a matter concerning a member of the congregation, a judicial committee has been formed.
So I ask if this is a Judicial Committee and, if so, why was I not informed the previous day? Condescending Elder Two, said that serious charges are now against me. At this time, Elder Three, the newly appointed elder who is a networking engineer, takes out a manilla folder from his bag.
He opens it up, puts a stack of 10-20 papers face down on the conference table. Next, he slides it to me and asks if I would take a look at the papers. It was classic FBI interrogation style. I refused to look at it, especially since Elder Two refused to look at my letter 3 days before.
I asked, "What is it?" The newly appointed Elder Three said that he seen a Ricky Gonzales posting things over the internet for a few weeks now. I asked if those were print outs of those postings. Elder Three said, "Yes." I became furious!
I am certain that Elder Three and I are not connected on any social networks. None of my posts would have been visible to him. It was a lie that he said he saw a Ricky Gonzales posting things over the internet.
Secondly, I already told them that I had been visiting apostate websites. According to Watchtower Society teachings, it was wrong for me to visit these places, but it is not wrong for them, when it comes to spying on MY privacy. I should have asked Elder Three exactly how he got all the information.
I felt like a child that was caught with a pornographic magazine, told his parents what happened, gave any other magazines he had, showed his parents all his dresser drawers, and yet his parents still go snooping around. But, I am a grown man, husband and father, not a child.
I told the elders, again, with open honesty, that I had already stated to them that I had been visiting apostate websites. I even told them this time that if those print outs were from such-and-such websites, with the user names such-and-such, then yes, that is me and my postings. So, since I expressed that I would like my wife to wake up and take her Jehovah's Witness lies in some posts, now I was causing divisions in the congregation.
This now warranted escalating into a judicial committee (Jehovah's Witness own cult judicial system), even though it was my wife asking all the questions. Elder Two told me that I was cunning and deceptive. I replied by asking what he called their means to get this information, pointing to the stack of papers that were still face down. Elder Three said that they were protecting the congregation.
I replied that I was protecting my wife, so there is no difference. If I was cunning and deceptive, so were they. Elder Four, biological brother of Elder Two, quickly ended this debate. I am grateful for that, because I was fuming out the ears with anger and wanted to tear these guys apart with the scriptures.
The elders asked if I would agree to a judicial committee (Jehovah's Witnesses internal cult judicial system) and I agreed, because, as I stated, I have done no wrong; I have committed no sin; I am not ashamed of who I am and what I have found because it is all truth, which I have verified accurately.
We agreed to meet the following Monday and that this would be my time to express any and all concerns. During the week, I prepared a 15 page letter, discussing all my research.
The following Monday arrives and we meet at the kingdom hall again, in the conference room. It begins with a prayer and I am read 3 bible scriptures, confirming my guilt. I ask if have already been found guilty, because this meeting is already getting off to a bad start. So begins 45 minutes of scriptural volleyball.
I won't get into the whole 45 minutes of that discussion. I will post this another time. I just wanted to let everyone know how cunning and deceptive the elders in the congregations can be, even ones whom you thought were your close friends.