Sunday, August 5, 2007

A JW Describes His Life as a Child

A young man goes before the French government and testifies about his life as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. In an excerpt of that testimony he explains how ill equipped he is to face the real world outside of the JW community. Do you think this is a healthy environment for any child to be in? Read his testimony and see what your answer would be.

You can read the full transcript at this link.

President: Did you have time to play with your friends outside of the community? Did you participate to secular celebrations or events?

Nicolas JAQUETTE: Relationships with others are obviously something children are very sensitive about, mostly when it has to do with parties or celebrations which are, indeed, moments of social cohesion. To give a good image to the cult children are allowed to socialize with others but in a very limited and supervised fashion. Amongst what is repeated to them regularly we hear: "you have friends in the congregation, don't make friends with anyone anywhere else. Bad association destroys useful habits." In other words, seeing friends from outside will spoil your faith by allowing into your ideas that are contrary to what the cult teaches you and push you to leave your religion. People from the outside world are constantly demonized. Linguistically speaking we say that someone is "in the truth" to designate a Jehovah Witness. By constantly hearing this as a child we come to a point where we can't separate "Jehovah's Witness" and "Truth". Simultaneously,
people from outside are called "the world", which all the JW literature describes as nasty, possessed by the devil and bound to be destroyed. Demonization applies to friends at school of whom we learn to beware. We also learn, however, how to evangelize them while respecting the law imposing secularism at school. We are, therefore, prepared to consider them potential enemies. Thus, the child meets his\her friends at school with both an agenda to proselytize them and a fear of them. They'll push friendship only far enough to show that Jehovah's Witnesses are not a cult as evidenced by their ability to make friends.

Holidays are a particularly delicate topic for JW children even if we try to teach them that it's not the case. Each year, they see Christmas and the new year pass as if they were ordinary days and then hear their friends talk about their presents. As a
reaction to their pain they have to reply that Santa Claus doesn't exist, that they know the truth and that that is a lie. We are thought slogans to protect ourselves against the pain of such a discriminatory type of circumstance. Not being allowed to go to a birthday party and not even being allowed to have ours celebrated. I don't even know how old my parents are. They never celebrated their birthdays. To ordinary people that day allows them to see time as it goes by for others. I don't have that notion, even for those who are close to me. That can sound like a banality but if we think about it seriously, those situations piled up to one another become quite a heavy load to carry in the end. If we manage to leave the movement we
realize all the power we were subjugated by and how un-adapted we are to the real world. We have to learn to live a real life. for complete information on legal issues and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1 comment:

Lynella said...

Thank you for putting this out for me to find. I am reading this and crying because I know how it feels to endure this type of lifestyle. I was raised as a JW for all my formative years until I left home at 16. I grew up with only JW friends and influences. My father who was disfellowshipped when I was 2 or 3 was not allowed to see me. For many years when he would come for his visitation, my mother would hide me in the bathroom as we listened to his knocking on the door until he finally went away. In time he gave up and stopped coming. The congregation elders had said that seeing my father was a bad association and they advised my mother strongly against her allowing me to visit with my father. I was exposed to tearing up of all the family photo’s because they were demonized, the television being thrown out because a person on the TV may give the evil eye and you would be subject to a demon possession, any toys, clothes or object given by someone who was not a JW was thrown, torn or burned, we didn’t want anyone else catching a demon. When I was 9 we had a small exorcism to rid the evil spirits from our home and my mother, this was due to my mother post partum depression. To seek help and speak with a counselor or psychiatrist was not advised because they could make you lose your faith. As I grew older I was not allowed to read books that were not published by the JW’s unless it was a school textbook. I remember one teacher getting mad at me because when asked to bring a book from home to read I brought the little blue truth book, one of the JW’s study aides, I was asked to take it home and not bring it back to class. There were no social activities that I was allowed to attend via school or otherwise unless it was through the JW congregation. I was not expected to excel just meet the state requirements; I wasn’t even encouraged to graduate, to consider college or even a profession, why the world would be ending soon and there would be a new order where we were all to live in paradise. It was assumed I would be baptized, serve Jehovah and he would take care of the rest. In high school when driver’s education was being taught I was told that unless I wanted to become a pioneer for the JW's there was no need to attend or learn how to drive a car. I was forbidden. Any friend that I did make from school was done in secret. No one could call, write or stop by to talk with out severe consequences and privileges being taken away from me. Between the ages of 13 to 16, the friends that I could have were all being groomed to become baptized as JW's and to serve in the ministry. I was rebellious, I started smoking cigarettes and I did not lie about it. The elders of the congregation counseled me and said I had 10 days to stop or I would be disassociated. I chose not to stop and as promised I was disassociated, this meant that no one, I'll repeat because I am not sure anyone fully knows what this means, no one out side of my parents and the elders were allowed to talk to me. I was still forced to continue attending services 3 times a week and bible study 2 times a week, but I was to sit in the back and to have no communication with anyone. I was the bad association that could spoil the whole bunch. As a teenager I was ill-equipped to handle this ostracization. So I left home at 16, I had to make a new life for myself from a sheltered child to an adult. I am now 44, it has been a long hard road to grow up and face life without a family, I was fortunate enough to reconnect with my father, but that still never stops the feelings that you have had since childhood, the one that you are taught from infancy, you don't belong, you learn not to trust those around you, always holding back the parts of yourself that you think could be used against you or used to hurt you, you are a stranger in a strange land.