How to Rescue
Your Loved One
from the

an online guide
to helping
Jehovah's Witnesses
escape from bondage

also available as a
paperback book

How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower 2010 edition
Buy printed book from publisher
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"Rescue" from a Religion?
Don't Delay--Act Today!
Overall Strategy
Techniques that Work
Tools to Use
Step by Step
God's "Prophet"
A Changing "Channel"
Doctoring Medical Doctrines
Strange Ideas Taught in God's Name
"God's Visible Organization"
Providing an Alternative
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
When Children Are Involved
Warning: The Life You Save May Be Your Own
Afterwork: Gradual Rehabilitation
Appendix: Resources & Support Groups

How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower
Home | Preface | Introduction | "Rescue" from a Religion? | Don't Delay--Act Today! | Overall Strategy | Techniques that Work | Tools to Use | Step by Step | God's "Prophet" | A Changing "Channel" | Doctoring Medical Doctrines | Strange Ideas Taught in God's Name | "God's Visible Organization" | Providing an Alternative | Can This Marriage Be Saved? | When Children Are Involved | Warning: The Life You Save May Be Your Own | Afterwork: Gradual Rehabilitation | Appendix: Resources & Support Groups
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In the summer of 1968, when I had just turned twenty-two years of age, a Jehovah’s Witness was assigned to work alongside me at my job. In the course of our introductions I let him know right away that I was an atheist, having decided at the age of fourteen that God was a figment of adult imagination. But I hid from him the fact that I was now re-thinking that position. Existential humanism had already failed me as a philosophy of life, and I found myself forced to think about God again.

Since God was on my mind, I began asking this Witness questions about his beliefs. I expected to hear the same “blind faith” story that had made it easy for me to reject religion eight years earlier. But, instead, his answers amazed me. For the first time I started to hear religious thoughts presented in a tight-knit logical framework. Everything that he said fit together. He had an answer for every question, and so I kept coming up with more questions. Before long he was conducting a study with me twice a week in the Watchtower Society’s new (1968) book, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.

In no time, I became a very zealous Witness. After receiving my initial indoctrination and getting baptized, I served as a full-time “pioneer minister.” This required that I spend at least one hundred hours each month preaching from house to house and conducting home Bible studies—actually a commitment of much more than a hundred hours, since travel time could not be included in my monthly “field service report.” I kept on ‘pioneering’ until 1971, when I married Penni, who had been raised in the organization and who also “pioneered.”

My zeal for Jehovah God and my proficiency in preaching were rewarded, after a few years, with an appointment as an elder. In that capacity I taught the 150-odd people in my home congregation on a regular basis, and made frequent visits to other congregations as a Sunday morning speaker. Occasionally, I also received assignments to speak to audiences ranging in the thousands at Jehovah’s Witness conventions.

Other responsibilities included presiding over the other local elders, handling correspondence between our congregation and the Watchtower Society’s Brooklyn headquarters, and serving on “judicial committees” set up to judge cases of wrongdoing in the congregation.

Penni, of course, enjoyed the prestige of being a prominent elder’s wife. Besides that she was also an excellent teacher in her own right. Although her parents had joined the Witnesses while she was still in grade school, they were “weak in the faith” to the point of sending her to college. (Strong JWs regard higher education as the devil’s classroom, as well as a sinful waste of time.) Penni majored in sociology and minored in psychology. After earning her degree at the University of Western Michigan, she went into elementary education. But her talent for teaching applied to adults as well, and she was often used at Kingdom Hall to demonstrate the “right” way to call at homes with the Watchtower message.

Although we were not able to continue “pioneering” after our marriage, Penni and I remained very zealous for the preaching work. Between the two of us, we conducted home Bible studies with dozens of people, and brought more than twenty members into the organization as baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses. We also put “the Kingdom” first in our personal lives by keeping our secular employment to a minimum and living in an inexpensive three-room apartment to be able to devote more time to the door-to-door preaching activity.

What interrupted this life of full dedication to the Watchtower organization, and caused us to enter a path that would lead us out? In one word, it was Jesus. Let me explain:

When Penni and I were at a large Witness convention, we saw a handful of opposers picketing outside. One of them carried a sign that said, “READ THE BIBLE, NOT THE WATCHTOWER.” We had no sympathy for the picketers, but we did feel convicted by this sign, because we knew that we had been reading Watchtower publications to the exclusion of reading the Bible. (Later we actually counted up all of the material that the organization expected Witnesses to read. The books, magazines, lessons, etc., added up to over three thousand pages each year, compared with less than two hundred pages of Bible reading assigned—and most of that was in the Old Testament. The majority of Witnesses were so bogged down by the three thousand pages of the organization’s literature that they never got around to reading the Bible.)

After seeing the picket sign Penni turned to me and said, “We should be reading the Bible AND The Watchtower.” I agreed; so, we began doing regular personal Bible reading.

That’s when we began to focus on Jesus. Not that we began to question the Watchtower’s teaching that Christ was just Michael the archangel in human flesh! It didn’t even occur to us to question that. But we were really impressed with Jesus as a person: what he said and did, how he treated people. We wanted to be his followers.

Especially we were struck with how Jesus responded to the hypocritical religious leaders of the day, the scribes and Pharisees. I remember reading over and over again the accounts relating how the Pharisees objected to Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath, his disciples’ eating with unwashed hands, and other minor details of behavior that violated their traditions. How I loved Jesus’ response: “You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines’ ” (Matt. 15:7–9 nwt).

Commands of men as doctrines! That thought stuck in my mind. And I began to realize that, in fulfilling my role as a JW elder, I was acting more like a Pharisee than a follower of Jesus. For example, the elders were the enforcers of all sorts of petty rules about dress and grooming. We told sisters how long they could wear their dresses, and we told brothers how to comb their hair, how short to trim their sideburns, and what sort of flare or taper they could wear in their pantlegs. We actually told people that they could not please God unless they conformed. It reminded me of the Pharisees who condemned Jesus’ disciples for eating with unwashed hands.

When my fellow elders stopped a young man from doing the door-to-door preaching work because he had grown a goatee, my conscience would not allow me to continue giving tacit approval to such “commands of men.” But, rather than get into a battle of words, I decided to imitate Jesus’ example of healing on the Sabbath. I chose to break the tradition of the elders by combing my hair over the tops of my ears.

Penni became frightened and upset. Even if she no longer believed that my relationship with God depended on having an approved “theocratic haircut,” she knew that others in the congregation were bound by the traditions I was challenging. And she knew that the organization was very powerful.

Penni was right. I soon found myself on trial before the elders for the half-inch of hair over the tops of my ears. The Circuit Overseer who prosecuted me brought in congregation members to testify as eyewitnesses to this “sin.” As my trials and ensuing appeals dragged on for weeks and then months, I had to sit down with Penni many times to discuss with her what I was doing and why. Grooming was not the real issue. It was a question of whose disciple I was. Was I a follower of Jesus, or an obedient servant to a human hierarchy?

The elders who put me on trial knew that that was the real issue, too. They kept asking, “Do you believe that the Watchtower Society is God’s organization? Do you believe that the Society speaks as Jehovah’s mouthpiece?”

At that time I answered Yes because I still did believe it was God’s organization—but that it had become corrupt, like the Jewish religious system at the time when Jesus was opposed by the Pharisees. Soon, however, I began to realize that the Watchtower Society never did represent God as his organization on earth. Then I had to help Penni step-by-step to reach the same conclusion. It seemed that I was always a few steps ahead of her in this process. But I was careful not to move ahead so fast as to let her slip behind. (When one mate leaves the JWs and the other remains in the sect, the result is often a bitter divorce.) Close daily communication was essential.

Eventually, it was no longer my grooming but what I said at the congregation meetings that got me into real trouble. I was still an elder, so, when I was assigned to give a fifteen-minute talk on the Book of Zechariah at the Thursday night Theocratic Ministry School meeting, I took advantage of the opportunity to encourage the audience to read the Bible. In fact, I told the members that, if their time was limited and they had to choose between reading the Bible and reading The Watchtower magazine, they should choose the Bible, because it was inspired by God while The Watchtower was not inspired and often taught errors that had to be corrected later. Not surprisingly, that was the last time they allowed me to give a talk.

When they also stopped handing me the microphone to speak from my seat during the Sunday morning question-and-answer Watchtower lesson, I responded by publishing a newsletter titled Comments from the Friends. I wrote articles questioning what the organization was teaching, and signed them with the pen name Bill Tyndale, Jr.—a reference to sixteenth-century English Bible translator William Tyndale, who was burned at the stake for what he wrote. To avoid getting caught, Penni and I drove at night to an out-of-state post office and mailed the articles in unmarked envelopes. We sent them to local Witnesses and also to hundreds of Kingdom Halls all across the country.

Penni and I knew that we had to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But, to us, it was similar to the question of what to do in a burning apartment building. Do you escape through the nearest exit? Or do you bang on doors first, waking the neighbors and helping them escape, too? We felt an obligation to help others get out—especially our families and the converts that we had brought into the organization. If we had simply walked out, our families left behind would have been forbidden to associate with us.

But, after a few weeks a friend discovered what I was doing and turned me in. So one night when Penni and I were returning home from conducting a Bible study, two men in trench coats got out of a parked car and began walking toward us. When they stepped under a streetlight, we recognized them as two of the elders. They questioned me about the newsletter and wanted to put me on trial for publishing it, but we simply stopped attending Kingdom Hall. By that time most of our former friends there had become quite hostile toward us. One young man called on the phone and threatened to “come over and take care of” me if he got another one of our newsletters. And another Witness actually left a couple of death threats on our answering machine. The elders went ahead and tried us in absentia and expelled us from the congregation.

It was a great relief to be out from under the oppressive yoke of that organization. But we now had to face the immediate challenge of where to go and what to believe. It takes some time to re-think one’s entire religious outlook on life. Before leaving the Watchtower, we had rejected the claims that the organization was God’s “channel of communication”, that Christ returned invisibly in the year 1914, and that the “great crowd” of believers since 1935 should not partake of the communion loaf and cup. But, we were only beginning to re-examine other doctrines. And we had not yet come into fellowship with Christians outside the JW organization.

All Penni and I knew was that we wanted to follow Jesus and that the Bible contained all the information we needed. So, we really devoted ourselves to reading the Bible and to prayer. We also invited our families and remaining friends to meet in our apartment on Sunday mornings. While the Witnesses gathered at Kingdom Hall to hear a lecture and study The Watchtower, we met to read the Bible. As many as fifteen attended—mostly family, but some friends also.

We were just amazed at what we found in prayerfully reading the New Testament over and over again—things that we had never appreciated before, such as the closeness that the early disciples had with the risen Lord, the activity of the Holy Spirit in the early church, and Jesus’ words about being born again. In time, all of these things came to be reflected in our own experience, as we embraced genuine Christianity.

Penni went on to teach Fifth Grade in a Christian school that had students from about seventeen different churches. She really enjoyed it, because she could integrate the Scriptures with academic subjects. For some eighteen years I continued publishing Comments from the Friends as a quarterly newsletter for ex-Witnesses and persons with JW friends or relatives. Subscribers were found in a score of foreign countries, as well as across the United States and Canada. Many back issues are still available in web format at Besides continuing to write on this and other topics, I speak occasionally to church groups interested in learning how to answer Jehovah’s Witnesses and lead them to Christ.

Looking back, I realize that I was truly blessed in helping escape from the Watchtower not only my dear wife, but also her parents, my three brothers, and most of my in-laws—not to mention numerous other former JWs encountered since then in public ministry. But in all these cases I am convinced that I merely assisted as an instrument while the rescue was actually accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ of whom it is said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 niv).

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