The treatment of women, child abuse and how to prevent being visited by followers of the religion are among topics confronted by ex-member
A former Jehovah’s Witness has offered a rare insight into the religious group, describing it as a cult that “tries to control emotions, thought, information and behavior of a person”.
The man, who did not want to be formally identified, shared his experience of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness in Poland in an Ask Me Anything post on Reddit.
Using the username “Ohmyjw”, the former Jehovah’s Witness (JW) elder speaks out against the group’s rules, such as prohibiting blood transfusion “even if that costs them their life” or believing the world “will end in Armageddon ‘very soon'”.
However, he said he tried to “never give an impression that JWs are dumb or intelligent”, adding that “many of them are actually quite intelligent, albeit deluded people”.
He also described how his family now refused to acknowledge him and his wife after they left the group.
Those who leave the faith are called “apostates” and are “disfellowshipped”, a term for formal expulsion and shunning, where members are “prohibited from talking, and even from saying ‘hello’ to them”, according to Ohmyjw.
In one situation where an elder started to lose his faith and challenge the group, he said they allegedly denounced him and spread gossip about him, pressuring him “so much he jumped into a river and killed himself”.
When asked how women were regarded in JW society, the former elder said they were thought of as “a complement for a man”, adding: “She should be submissive to her husband, who is the head of their family and it is he who makes all the important decisions.
“Women cannot teach in the congregation, they cannot deliver public talks or say public prayers. When they conduct a private Bible study or say a prayer with another person, while a man is around, she has to wear a scarf on her head as a sign of being submissive.”