Who Is Barbara Anderson?

I have a new hero and her name is Barbara Anderson. In addition to being a prolific writer, she is a tenacious investigative reporter, a meticulous researcher and a modern-day vigilante fighting for truth and justice. She is unrelenting when it comes to helping victims of child molestation, exposing policies that protect pedophiles and reporting acts of religious tyranny.

Barbara is not at all unlike John Galt, Ayn Rand’s mythical hero, in Atlas Shrugged. In Rand’s story, Galt is a principled counterpoint to a failed society with out-of-touch leaders, who embrace unjust policies.

Barbara Anderson

Rand does not introduce her hero in the first part of the book, but promotes him by continually asking, “Who is John Galt?” Toward the end of the story, Galt appears and delivers a scathing manifesto condemning the inept society that he has abandoned.

Today, I can hear Barbara’s Galt-like voice condemning the Watchtower Society with, “You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that my words have no meaning. You cry out that man’s sins are destroying the world and you curse people unwilling to practice the beliefs you promote. Since belief, to you, consists of sacrifice of this life for a promised better life in a new world, you have squandered precious life now. In the name of a return to a theocracy, you have sacrificed all those evils which you hold up as the cause of the world’s plight. You sacrifice justice because you don’t want to bring reproach upon a God you believe directs your activity. You sacrifice individual thinking skills for top-down group think with no accountability for your poor decisions. You sacrifice reason for faith. You sacrifice self-esteem for protection of failed church policy. You sacrifice happiness for a ‘Let us wait on Jehovah. He’ll resolve the problem in His own due time’ mantra.”

While Barbara may not have literally said those words, her actions validate them. Go to www.watchtowerdocuments.com to learn more about her and her causes. If you can’t wait, you can read the following bio.

Barbara was born in Long Island, NY in 1940 to Polish Catholic parents. The church gave her a sense of community while she was growing up, but she wanted more. Social justice was important to her and all too often, her priests and their theology were at odds with that passion. She also wanted to understand the Bible, thinking it would help her cure the world’s problems. She tried reading it several times but would get lost in the minutiae and give up.

At thirteen years of age, she met one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their mission to save lives before our wicked world was destroyed appealed to her. A Bible study was started and she remembers how well JWs could explain good and evil. They had answers to everything and could find sound bites in the Bible to support what they believed. She was made to feel welcome, that she could belong to a worthy cause.

1957-First year living in Miami, FL

In less than nine months, she became a convert and an active participant in the door-to-door ministry. She married Joe Anderson, a Bethelite, in 1959 and the two of them moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, totally committed to JW beliefs. Their son, Lance, was born in 1961.

In 1982, Barbara and Joe went to visit Lance, who was then a Bethelite. During the visit, they were asked to join the Bethel family. Joe could help restore old run-down buildings the Society was purchasing and Barbara could work in the secretarial pool. Joe cautioned Barbara that life at Bethel for a married couple was not going to be easy, but they decided to make it work.

1992 Andersons with daughter-in-law and son Lance

When I lived at Bethel in 1962, Don Krebs told me I would see a lot of shit there. His advice for a successful career was, “Never step in it.” That’s how Joe and Barbara could make it work.

They were at Bethel for almost seven years when Barbara was asked to work in the writing department. She was both the research assistant for senior staff writer, Karl Adams and a writer for Awake! Editor Harry Peloyan. Karl’s job was to produce a new book about the history of JWs. Under Harry’s tutelage, she wrote seven magazine articles. She spent four years in the department and discovered many new things about the history of JWs, including who really was the first president of the Watchtower Society. But more disturbing than that was the total disconnect from the group’s history and social justice. Pointing out past presidential cover-ups and flagrant lies to the men she worked for was an exercise in futility. Anything that brought reproach on God’s organization was best left unreported.

1983: Joe and Barbara’s fiirst winter in Brooklyn

But the most troublesome for Barbara was the Society’s policy on child sexual abuse. In 1985, the Society acknowledged the devastating effect that child molesting had on JW families, and that was good. However, their position to not report such crimes to the police and that there had to be two witnesses to the act to make it a crime flew in the face of common sense. In the cases she was familiar with, and there were many, the Society’s decision to protect the abuser was onerous. When she’d complain, it was rationalized that a balance had to be struck between helping the victims and forgiving offenders. That did not sit well with her.

Barbara and Joe decided to leave Bethel at the end of 1992 and go back to their home in Tennessee. There Barbara continued to work for the writing department as one of its outside researchers. For four years, she tried to get the Society to change its failed policies on child molestation, but with no success. In 1998, Barbara resigned as a JW. In 2002, she went public about her knowledge of JWs and pedophilia. Two weeks before she appeared on NBC’s Dateline, she was disfellowshipped for “Causing Divisions.” The trumped-up charges about Barbara that were reported in congregations worldwide angered her husband Joe so much that he resigned as a JW. A few months later, he was disfellowshipped.

In 2007, Barbara appeared on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams to report on the Watchtower’s secret settlement of $12.5 million with sixteen victims of molestation by JW molesters. And, while Barbara has appeared on television and radio shows with Silent Lamb’s Bill Bowen, she is in no way associated with his organization. More information can be found at Barbara’s website.

I am currently writing a third book, a trilogy, which is titled, “Looking for the Truth—It’s Not at Mama’s Club.” Barbara’s story is one of several fascinating life journeys that I intend to explore. Look for the book in 2014.

Barbara & Joe in 1994

Barbara & Joe Anderson Today

 

Comments

  1. Did, what a surprise and a delight to find that you are writing a trilogy, to conclude what many of us already know: the truth is not to be found in Mama’s Club! This post is informative, and I’m one who has known about Barbara, but have not explored the details. That is about to change. Best wishes to you, my friend

  2. Richard Kelly says:

    Joanna, Did is not all that bad. It could be worse. How is your new book coming along?

    • DID,
      I am currently working with the editor, who teaches ESL and is a certified grammar snob, and our working relationship is fantastic. It’s all good so far. Thanks for asking.

  3. Goodness! What a remarkable story! Barbara is Catholic and wants to know what The Bible says: her search for truth. She can’t learn about the bible in her religion, so joins JW, who conduct Bible studies. She continues her search for truth, and uncovers a big secret that JW’s have been harboring. Barbara’s search for truth won’t be silenced; she now helps children who are being harmed.

    Those of us who have been raised in secretive religions (cults) know how difficult it is to ever learn the truth. But we are the Searchers. Thank you Barbara for doing just this – and thank you Dick for pursuing “Truth” and writing about it. I look forward to your next books. Esther Royer Ayers

    • Thank you, Esther, for your comments. I agree with you that it is difficult to learn the truth when in a secretive religion. Yes, I was searching for “truth” when, at twelve-years-old, two of my girl friends were molested by priests at afterschool church functions. These men went unpunished because the mothers of the victims did not report them to the authorities fearing Church reprisal. My questioning of the “Mysteries” of the Church went unanswered and the protection of pedophile priests through fear cooled my ardor for the Church as a whole, but some things never change for I went from the frying pan to the fire by joining another religion that had secret pedophile protection policies too.

      Of course, at that age, I did not have the experience or knowledge to recognize that the claims made by JW leaders of knowledge of things to come were “big winds that came from empty caves.” If I had only investigated in 1954 I would have learned from an available study made in 1950 that between 1260 and 1834 there were ten dates pointed to when a Second Coming of Christ was expected, at any moment, I might add. And if a diligent study had been made even then, one could add a thousand more dates.

      But that’s what cult leaders know—converts don’t do research! I learned the hard way and now that I’m out of a very slick cult, I do my homework, not only on everything Watch Tower, but just about everything else that catches my interest, not wanting ever again to be ensnared by cunning liars. Not only have I lived and learned, I use my freedom of speech to try to help others not make the same mistake I did. Barbara

  4. Norine says:

    Dick,

    Dean and I enjoyed your Blog on Barbara Anderson. We certainly understand her disgust on covering up child molestions to try to make their organization look pure and clean! They call it God’s only organization.

    Dean was an elder in our local organization in Holland, MI, and that was the reason he left JW’s. He wanted to turn child molesters into authorities, but the curcuit overseer and body of elders ruled against Dean, and wanted to handle it themselves. They did that by keeping it as quiet as possible with no thought about what was best for the children.

    Keep up the good work!

    Dean and Norine

    • Hi Dean and Norine. Yes, we have this in common – the knowledge of the cover-up of child molestation in the WT religion destroyed our faith in our religion, one that we believed had the “way and the truth.”

      Exiting the religion because of that knowledge unexpectedly brought with it freedom from mind manipulation which we didn’t even know we were being controlled by. Your experience Dean, seeing first hand the cover-up of child abuse by the elders along with the circuit overseer, validates what I’ve spoken out about for the past ten years. And sorry to say this cover-up still goes on since the “two-witness to abuse” policy is still in effect in the JW religion which policy continues to protect pedophiles. I’m happy to say though, from the emails I receive daily, good men like you Dean, are leaving the organization no matter what the cost to them is personally. Barbara

  5. Norine says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Yes, we did lose a lot of family on both of our sides. Getting out from under the mind control is very freeing. Now we have freedom to research and find out what we really believe without the influence of any man or organization. That does our hearts good!!

    Dean and his family did a lot of work on WT buildings in the past, and Dean feels that he might have crossed paths with you and your husband.

    Dean and Norine

    • Hi Norine,

      Joe worked only on Brooklyn projects from 1982 through 1992 on a wide variety of buildings, although he did work on the Jersey City Assembly Hall. His job was plumbing, nothing else. Dean can write Joe through Richard Kelly and they can compare notes.

      Barbara




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