So what had happened was…

My childhood was spent among Jehovah’s Witnesses and while, in retrospect, it was a safe environment for the most part, it in no way prepared me for ANYTHING. At the age of 19 I knew so little about life that I thought a salary of $18,000 a year was good money. I had no real life skills beyond the basics (i.e. cooking, cleaning and laundry), no marketable skills and nothing to draw on in order to make solid life decisions. There was cultivated in us such a fear of “the world” that everything outside the organization was viewed as “wordly” and “demonized”. We couldn’t watch TV shows or “indulge” in anything that featured any undesirable topics including magic and wizardry. Therefore I had to throw away my Smurf toy and was discouraged from watching The Wizard of Oz….Yeah I know, right? These folks were hardcore.

Fear of “worldly” men was especially ingrained in the young women because, of course, they were all satanic and immoral and only wanted one thing. As and adult and a parent I have found that the best way to prepare our children for life is not to keep them away from everything, but to teach them to recognize and deal with things that can cause them harm. This didn’t happen for many of the Witness girls, nor were they taught about birth control, so they sometimes fell prey to men who knew of their naivete and took advantage of it. If you wanted a “clean” girl they could be found at the Kingdom Hall.

Then of course the girls were held up as examples of the dire consequences that befell those that strayed and shame was heaped upon their heads. (I always had visions of some of the older women fashioning big red “A”s in the back rooms of the building).They were ostracized or “disfellowshipped” for a time and then they, and occasionally an illegitimate child, were welcomed back into the fold and pitied. That is unless of course the boy could be convinced to marry her, never mind that they were only 16 and had no visible means of support. Parents of disfellowshipped kids struggled between taking caring of them and not talking to them. It was bizarre.

When I got older I realized that many of the methods and views espoused and disseminated by the leadership in “The Truth” were equivalent to brainwashing techniques. This realization, which came to me after taking a college psychology class in my thirties, also made it clear to me why education was viewed so negatively by the organization. We were taught not to pursue the knowledge of the world. Promoting and glorifying a lamb-like mindset among uneducated people is the easiest and best way to lead and control them. It’s actually as brilliant as it is calculating.

So it was in this environment that I came of age. They made sure I was baptized at 16. I believe they felt they were keeping me safe from the evils of the world. We really couldn’t go to proms or school events and careers were not encouraged. I really had no goals other than to graduate high-school, maybe get a job, go door-to-door and avoid immorality. Kids all around me were getting married because if you weren’t going to devote your life to the ministry what else was there to do? Between that and my home life, it was only a matter of time until I would do the same.