Gary Busselman(Investigator 81, 2001 November)
I am a former Jehovah's witness. I represent no interest, religion, sect or institution. I have no hidden agenda. I do not wish to harm anyone. I am not advocating practicing JWs to leave their organization, although apparently quite a few have and still are.
Many current JWs (according to my mail) have serious questions about their organization. Some who have contacted me were rushed into the Watchtower organization, brought up on charges by the elders when they went to these JW leaders for help with personal problems, and then rushed out the back door (disfellowshiped). One poor woman did all this – indoctrination study, baptism, three judicial meetings, and disfellowshipped within ten months.
My goal is to be helpful, supportive and a resource. My offer of help to people whose lives have been affected by the watchtower organization is my living amend for the things I did while involved with the JW movement.
I was involved with the watchtower organization from age 7 to about 30. I had a "crisis of conscience" that started after I encouraged my wife to follow watchtower policy and reject an organ transplant that doctors said would be required to save her life. With the transplant doctors gave her a 50% chance of recovery. Without the operation they gave her a 0% chance.
The Watchtower forbade organ transplants in 1967.
My wife, Delores L. Busselman died on January 12, 1971at 26 years of age without a chance to recover.
At the time 1975 was looked to by me and other JWs I knew as the likely date for the long-awaited Armageddon.
launched in 1966 with
Fred Franz's book, Life Everlasting In Freedom Of The Sons Of God,
be for Jehovah
God to make of this coming seventh period of a thousand years a sabbath
period of rest and release, a great Jubilee sabbath for the proclaiming
of liberty throughout the earth to all it's inhabitants." Page 30
followed by a
chart showing early autumn 1975 as the:
"end of the
6th 1,000-year day of
After Delores' death I remember thinking to myself if the Watchtower organization turns out to be wrong about 1975 then they were probably wrong about the cannibalism (organ transplant) doctrine too. I decided this 1975 doctrine would be the final test of myself.
While the clock ticked off to 1975 some other things happened to make me question myself in following the practices and teachings of this organization.
A principle event for me was the realization that as a JW in good standing I could not engage in honest recruiting practices. I was instructed to go to homes of strangers and tell them I was a "Bible Student", even though I knew their second president Joseph "Judge" Rutherford had purged the real Bible Students out of the organization in 1917 or 1918 and labelled them as evil slaves. I was instructed to falsely present the Watchtower and Awake! magazines as non-denominational, and I was told to represent myself as a minister even though I knew that to be false. I was directed to deny that I was there to change householders' religion, while I full well knew that, in fact, was my mission.
Some other events and realizations I had were:
#1 I became more and more aware that in The Watchtower and other Society publications that when a point needed to be made or a question answered in print, often points were stated in the form of a question or I was simply led in my mind to a conclusion. Too often, for my comfort level, sources that had been taught to me by the Watchtower organization to be part of Satan's visible earthly organization were quoted to make the point or offer proof of a point of view taken by The Watchtower.
I realized that if I had been able to ask the writers of the Watchtower publications to explain their stand they could say we didn't say that, we merely quoted Johannes Greber or whoever.
would talk all around
the issue without actually saying it but when I left I took the covert
message with me. If I had a problem with the message I heard spoken but
that I knew wasn't spoken I must never have heard it. Right?
#2 I began to doubt my acceptance level of the doctrine of the "theocratic war strategy" [the doctrine that it's OK to lie when the interests of the Organization are involved].
My wife and 2 small sons were at a district assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses in Bismarck N.D. I took most of the responsibility for my oldest son (about 2 ½ years old) so my wife could devote her attention to the little guy. At breakfast I had picked up a roll of rainbow lifesavers for my son. Early in the afternoon they ran out. There was a candy vending machine at the convention site – I was saved.
The second day I forgot to buy lifesavers in the restaurant. I told my 2½ year old son don't worry we'll get some at the assembly but when I caught up with him at the vending machine there was a roll paper banner (the paper looked an awful lot like the paper on the temporary JW cafeteria tables) covering the machine held on with scotch tape that was hand lettered with a magic marker that said "OUT OF ORDER"..... This is a crisis.
My little son looked almost panicked when I told him what the sign said. I told him that if the machine was really broke that we would go back to the store and get some candy. He watched with big eyes as I carefully pulled up the corner of the out of order sign and snuck a quarter in the vending machine that I could now see had been freshly stocked. The quarter went clunk (sounded like someone dropped a manhole cover). Carefully I pulled the lever and out rolled a rainbow lifesavers candy roll. Hmmmm…..repeat above.
Oops! Just as the second offensive rainbow lifesavers hit the tray two JW assembly security officers (called attendants) were between us and the out of order machine. They physically pushed us back and said in a rather arrogant manner, "The machine is out of order, Brother." I said, "You are a liar brother."
One said, "You wait right here while we get brother ----." I indicated I would be glad to wait for brother ---- and that I was anxious to hear him explain this lie. Pretty soon they rushed back and asked me my name. I told them and they trotted off, apparently to see brother ----. Pretty soon here they come brisk walking back to confront the culprit (me) without brother ----. They said, "Brother ---- said you can use the machine just keep it to a minimum."
proof text at
a meeting once and being touched by the way Jesus treated the children.
This incident reminded me of others similar and in my mind I questioned
the principles behind the tactics and arrogant way my little son and I
#3 At the same convention, seated about 3 rows in front of us, a man was trying to quiet his small (about 3 years old) daughter after she had sat quietly for well over an hour. Her cries caught my attention but my eyes were glued on the father. He was being very rough with this cute little girl dressed up like a doll. He would pick her up and slam her body down on the chair. Finally she stood up and he started to hit her on the bottom and he wouldn't stop. I stood up, stepped down to him and he stopped hitting her. I told him if he needed to hit somebody he could hit me or was I too big for him. (This happens during a program lecture.)
reminded me of other similar
things I have witnessed in the JW organization.
#4 I reached a point where I had to mentally review the DRESS FOR SUCCESS or the theocratic-look doctrine.
I don't like neckties. I don't see any use for them. I don't care if you wear one, as long as I don't have to.
At a Sunday meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses an elder asked me if I would mind helping out taking one of 2 microphones around to people commenting at the Watchtower study. (No tie on.) I said sure I'll help out. I wasn't aware at that time that there was a waiting list for this job or a dress code. I really preferred to sit with my wife and 2 small sons.
About the third week of this microphone job we arrived a little early, me without my tie, and after, as was my custom, putting my books on a chair to ensure someone else didn't get the seat, I went back to lean on the literature counter. Up walks a young man, at that time serving the interests of the Governing Body as a special pioneer, with a big smile on his face and his hand extended. I reached out my hand to shake but instead of shaking my hand he flipped my collar up and out of my jacket and then said, "Where's your tie brother?" Then he walked away. (I never liked being called "BROTHER" like that.)
During the meeting I left my family and delivered the microphone to anxious watchtower study participants.
different elder came
up to me and asked if he could talk to me in private back in the
I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. I'd been going to all 5 meetings
again for some time now. (I had recently changed "secular" employment
I could work day hours.) I had been reporting my spiritual behavior and
literature sales on the monthly field service report-form provided
every month. I felt confident he was going to praise my efforts in
so the other microphone deliverers wouldn't get jealous. Oops!….. He
me in a rulebook the Watchtower Society had written that in order for
to deliver the microphones to my "spiritual" brothers and sisters I had
to wear a necktie. (The end LOOMS.)
At a circuit assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses in Sioux Falls S.D. in
spring I think) 1975, a district servant giving his closing comments
the end time expectations surrounding 1975, said in a loud and
authoritative voice, "BROTHERS IF YOU HEARD IT, YOU DIDN'T HERE IT
By this time I was pretty well out anyway but this denial was my answer to my fears about the cannibalism doctrine. In the March 15, 1980 Watchtower, transplants (formerly viewed as cannibalism and unscriptural) were once again allowed for Jehovah's Witnesses. (I was so glad.)
What are the consequences for being a false prophet? Are the International Bible Students Association, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, known as Jehovah's Witnesses calling themselves prophets? And if so are they true or false?I have quite an extensive library on the subject and am willing to share my experience to benefit others. Please let me know what your area of concern is.