My mother believes she found the truth when one of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on her door, thinking that that knock and the subsequent message was God’s response to her prayers. Unfortunately for her, I could never believe that intellectual certainty about God, life-after-death and how to please God—the truth—was within the reach of any human being. My mantra was that it’s cool to look for the truth, but to avoid people who find it. Faith and reality are two totally different experiences.
My beliefs about Mama’s truth have put me at odds with her and other JW family members and I’m shunned because of that. However, I’m not alone. I am a member of an active, conscientious group of people, modern-day vigilantes, who are using the internet to make people aware of the dangers of “JW truth” like shunning. Our goal is to take the Watchtower Society to task for its bad information and unjust policies, especially those related toward women and children.
The grandfather of the vigilante movement is Randy “Free Minds” Watters. In 1996, he went live with a website, www.freeminds.org, exposing JW doctrines, policies and failed prophecies. On his site, Randy encouraged readers to tell their stories about before and after their JW departure. Contributors shared wide-ranging experiences from evangelical to atheists, with no judgments from Randy. Those bios have helped thousands of people stake out new productive lives as ex-JWs.
Barbara “Justice” Anderson is the matriarch vigilante and a one-person-wrecking crew exposing JW policies related to pedophiles. Her research skills are second to none. She’s an excellent writer and her stories about Bethel life and its leaders at www.watchtowerdocuments.com are eye-opening and gut-wrenching. For Barbara’s bio, go to http://richardekelly.com/blog2/jehovahs-witnesses/who-is-barbara-anderson and you will find that she is a very caring people-person.
Another compassionate fighter for how best to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, is John “The Watcher” Hoyle. He is an unassuming man who doesn’t like the limelight, preferring to work behind the scenes to help the internet vigilantes use e-media wisely. John is an excellent journalist, but as a Web Master he has no equal. He is currently working with Randy to help Freeminds readers’ access classic posts, timeless bios. John has also unleashed the ultimate in websites, making it easier to surf the net. You can check it out at www.watchtowerwatch.com.
A relative newcomer to the vigilantes is John “Zorro” Cedars. He attends occasional meetings and his real identity is unknown. As with many so-called “faders”, the only thing keeping him from revealing his identity is the fact that his family will shun him if they learn of his activity. In 2011, he published a survey and asked JWs to express their concerns. He thought the responses would help the WT Society see the error of its ways and make the necessary changes. When he realized that JW dogma was carved in granite, he decided to fight back with hard-hitting stories on failed policies and poor decisions. Zorro is also one of many well-informed articulate contributors on www.jehovahs-witness.net, a first-class Chat Room. John Hoyle has helped Cedars turn his jwsurvey.org, into an informative and visually attractive JW-related website.
While there are many vigilantes fighting for truth and justice, I would be remiss if I didn’t share Paul “Factoid” Grundy’s story. Paul figured it out while serving at the Australian Bethel. His circuit overseer parents were paying homage to the Wizard of Oz and Paul wasn’t willing to accept a lifetime as the no-brain Tin Man. But he wanted to do more than just leave; he needed to share facts, facts about the air balls coming from the WT Society. His posts at www.jwfacts.com are well-written and thoroughly researched.
But some may say, “Why are the five vigilantes so resolute? After all, this JW religion gives millions of people comfort and it doesn’t hurt anything. Can it really be that harmful?”
I’m not sure how each vigilante would respond or why each of them is so dedicated to exposing the Watchtower’s failed Armageddon-will-happen-in-your-lifetime prophecies and loveless policies. But my guess is that they might say “Okay, other than demonizing non believers, cherry picking the Bible, shunning family members, suppressing women and gays, paying out millions of lost-law-suit dollars, ridiculing good science, misusing financial contributions, messing up the minds of impressionable children, teaching that a good liberal arts education is the Devil’s workshop, not reporting pedophiles to the police, re-writing JW history and allowing children to die when a blood transfusion could save a life, where would you like us to start?”