In this article, I use the pronoun ‘he’ to refer to the defaulting Witness; but this pronoun is not in any way exclusive to the masculine gender
If there is one question that baffles many observers, it is this: “Why do many folks, after quitting being Jehovah’s Witnesses, turn atheist?”
It is indeed surprising that an individual, once so dedicated to teaching the bible would follow a path so contrary. However, the answer is apparently obvious to the Witnesses themselves; and even more so to one who decides to stop going to the kingdom Hall.
The answer lies in what differentiates Jehovah’s Witnesses from other denominations. It lies in the reason why Witnesses shy away from Interdenominational mingling. It lies in the reason why Witnesses spend hours trying to convert people.
A dedicated Witness believes that the organization is God’s visible organization on Earth. What that implies is that through this organization, God speaks to his people. This belief carries with it the strong suggestion that there is no other religious body on Earth other than that of Jehovah’s Witnesses that God uses to dispense spiritual food.
Therefore, a dedicated Witness believes that there is only one body of true worshippers on Earth today; and that, unlike what other Christians are wont to believe, such worshippers are only found among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Christendom (where, in this context, Christendom refers to all religions that claim to be followers of Christ), according to his convictions, unwittingly worships the Devil; and as such, are destined for destruction, unless they can be lead to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Witnesses are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they are the only true Christians; and that everyone else is false. A direct consequence of this is that Witnesses have become almost expert at identifying flaws in other religions. Herein lies the answer to the question: why do they become atheists when they quit?
When a Witness ceases being a Witness, something very interesting happens to him. This process is not only painful; but also highly disturbing. Whatever reason he has for leaving, the consequences are almost always the same. Remember, he was conditioned to believe that all other religions are condemned. He will therefore, naturally, reach the conclusion that if Witnesses can’t be right then nobody else can and lapse into a state of spiritual disorientation, which can be quite severe if not checked.
The treatment which is meted out to Witnesses by their own kind after they are kicked out or leave oftentimes serves to fuel this disillusionment. They are treated like outcasts, sinners of the worst kind, who do not deserve a greeting or any hospitality of any kind. This can have an adverse effect on an individual with a rather timid and weak personality. The agony of losing something which was once held in high esteem can be so intense; the feelings of abandonment and rejection so grave; that one naturally channels that into hatred towards not only his previous beliefs; but also towards all who claim to be Christians.
The most important point here is that as a Witness, he was trained to be highly critical of other religions, looking for and identifying weaknesses that confirm the truthfulness of his own religion; and consolidating the falsity of other religions. After leaving the Witnesses, he becomes, perhaps, even more sensitive to flaws; and he tends to see even more grave flaws in other religions. With such a mentality, how can he be inclined to go to any other religion?
The biggest cause of this disorientation is the belief that a human institution can be perfect; that it can speak for God. His mind is already conditioned, therefore, after leaving the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he presses on, perhaps subliminally, to search for that perfect institution; that organization that God uses. But after finding no such institution; he becomes disillusioned and begins to feel there is no light in Christianity. He sees the imperfections; the hypocrisy; the crimes being committed in the name of Jesus, more clearly now than before. He begins to see a certain futility in it all.
A defaulter will then have to make a choice based on the realization that no human institution that claims to be religious can ever be perfect. He may decide to live with that fact and return to the Kingdom Hall, and endure the irregularities he sees in the organization; or he may choose to go to another religious institution and endure the regularities there. But usually, he can’t go back because the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t tolerate dissenting voices. He may be inclined to tolerate them; but they will definitely not tolerate him. And on the part of joining another institution, he may find the paradigm shift totally confusing; because just to give an example, Pentecostal churches worship in a manner that is almost offensive to the conditioned Witness; and decide to just stay away from the confusion.
Disoriented by the hypocrisy of ‘Christians’, a Witness may seek other enlightening works, and learn of such intriguing concepts as the Laws of attraction; and the Laws of the Universe; and be made to realize that most times belief, even blind belief, begets results. He may actually discover that it does not matter in certain instances what your object of faith is; that if your faith and belief is strong enough, the thing desired may actually be realized. In such an instance, he may feel that it is irrelevant then to be so Christian or even Christian at all. He may begin to feel that Christianity is just like any other religion; a way in which man tries to satisfy the soul and find peace within; or just another myth.
Due to the above and perhaps more reasons, he may decide to be a free-thinker, or even an atheist, because it appears to be less of fiction; and less of the narrow-mindedness he observes in religion; and less of committing shameless sins in the name of religion.
Of course, not everyone who leaves the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses leaves out of conscientiousness, that is, because he has found something wrong with the dogma and or way of doing things. He may leave because of selfishness, or because he seeks respite from rules that seem to hem him in. Such an individual may inevitably follow such a pattern; though, most times, his course usually has more disastrous consequences.
I personally left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses and found myself confounded with such intriguing options. I felt the agony of rejection. I saw the folly of much of what is today called Christianity. However, I have never come across something as beautiful as the paradigm of Christianity; teachings so full of wisdom as those of Jesus. I have realized that I should never expect perfection in any human institution. I have realized that all that matters is to follow Jesus; follow his teachings; and one will experience an inner peace and fulfillment that he has never known possible. I have experienced this away and perhaps even while still in the organization. And so, ultimately, it is my choice to stay. It is a choice I smile at.
There’s plenty to say, but I can’t say it all. I will leave with an excerpt from my book, What if we are Wrong?
, chapter 8, Since we are Wrong, what next?
When I started asking the brothers certain questions; and they realized that they could not answer them, most of them started asking:
“So where the heck are you going to go? There is nowhere else to go.”
I chuckled at that question. I did not even say I want to leave the organization, nor imply it, and people where asking me where I wanted to go.
I would reply: “I do not want to go anywhere. All I want are answers.”
You see, after recognizing that certain things are definitely questionable, the only comfort zone for a Witness is the idea that there is nowhere else to go; that there is no truth elsewhere; that only the Faithful and Discreet Slave has the words of life (John 6: 68,69).
I think the question here is not which person, or organization has the truth. The truth is available to all—in that book they carry around every Sunday. All one has to do is search for it and he will find it. And above all, God himself will make himself manifest to us.
Therefore the question one should be asking is: “Where are you God?”
The important thing is finding God. When Paul went preaching, he did not go around trying to make people join him. All he desired was to declare the word to them and urging them to seek God.
Acts 17:26, 27:
26 And he made out of one [man] every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of [men], 27 for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.
Yes, people should search for God, not an organization or a church. It is this God who will show you were to go.
Photo Courtesy of: http://www.thinkatheist.com/
What if We are Wrong: http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/what-if-we-are-wrong/13043335