Book Title: The Reluctant Apostate: Leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses Comes at a Price
Author: Lloyd Evans
Themes: Religious freedom, cult indoctrination,
Goodreads Link: Click here
Star Rating: – Excellent read!
This is where my disclaimer always goes. Usually it says something like, I got this book from Netgalley, or the publisher sent it to me. However, this book needs a disclaimer that is a little more … involved . I was already a fan of this author’s YouTube channel, I am no stranger to the information in this book, and I am myself an ex-Jehovah’s Witness. That being said I guess I’m not exactly an impartial reviewer. However, I feel that what Mr. Evans has to say is of significant import and so it deserves an honest, forthright review. A loooong review. Here’s mine.
This book is of interest not just to fellow ex-JW’s (what we call ourselves), but also to those outside the faith. Maybe you have JW relatives. Maybe you pass a nice, smiling couple standing next to a literature cart on your way to work every day. Or perhaps, like most people, JW’s have come to your door in order to start a pleasant conversation with you about the bible. The Reluctant Apostate provides a comprehensive overview of the religion, it’s history and the issues surrounding it. There is a great deal of information in this book, and the author did extensive research into the facts presented. I’m impressed with the depth of understanding it displays. Even though I have spent 40 years As a JW, there are many facts about the religion that I have never known about. That is one of the problems.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult. There I’ve said it. I know that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not fit the idea we all have in mind about what a cult is. I wrote a post not long ago about another book Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan which goes into more information about the ways to identify a cult. Mind control is the way that a cult gets it’s fingers into you. I will list the 5 identifying marks of a cult, and give a brief overview of how Mr. Cedars shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be recognized as one.
- Behavior – The lives of JW’s are highly controlled. Their dress and grooming, what jobs they perform, their entertainment, the amount of time they spend studying Witness publications and witnessing to outsiders is all highly controlled. And then there is about their prohibition of holidays and their stand on blood transfusions (JW’s cannot have one even if they may die).
- Information – JW’s are not allowed to listen to any information about the Jehovah’s Witnesses unless it comes directly from Watchtower. This includes anything on the internet or from the news media. JW’s are not allowed to speak with people who have left the organization. You cannot even acknowledge that persons existence. Needless to say, lack of un-biased information is dangerous.
- Thoughts – All thoughts are to be regulated. Doubts about the religion are not tolerated. You can be brought before a Judicial Committee and expelled from the congregation for holding a different opinion from the Governing Body who controls everything. If you voice that opinion then watch out!
- Emotional – Guilt and fear figure mightily in this religion. No matter what you do in service of this religion, it is never, ever enough. JW’s are encouraged to spy and tattle on each other to the elders in the congregation for even minor offenses. JW’s are not allowed to speak with anyone who is expelled (disfellowshipped or disassociated), even if it is an immediate family member.
Lloyd’s book delves into the history of the religion, from it’s infancy in the mid to late 1800’s and the makeup of the men who founded it. The book tracks the development of it’s belief system as well as the source of it’s greatest perversions of faith. Including it’s inherent misogyny, it’s disgraceful refusal to address a serious problem with child molestation in it’s ranks, and using emotional blackmail to keep people in line by holding family members hostage to an publishing organization. I have to admit, seeing how these things came together over the years is fascinating to an outsider, and harrowing to anyone who has spent years inside. People have quite literally died in service to this organization. In the 1940’s Nazi Germany, in the 1970’s in Malawi, and in recent times due to the ban on blood. All of which is touched on in Mr. Evans book.
Leaving a cult is no easy thing. Mr. Evans details his own journey with painful honesty. You don’t just decide one day to do a thing like this. I woke up from my own indoctrination just a few months ago. It was a completely awful experience. Your mind tries so hard to force you back into your cocoon of indoctrination. The fight continues. I’m quite sure that no one ever really comes away from it without scars. I’m so much happier now, but it is an excruciatingly painful process. Thankfully, we have activists like Mr. Evans who is generous about his time, his compassion and his pain. He works to shed a light on the road, as we open our eyes and start to stumble out of the darkness. Because of this, and because of how much I’ve directly benefited from his activism, I cannot be a fully impartial reviewer of this book. But I can say read it. If you’re an outsider read it and wonder at how these things are possible. If you’re a JW, read it and weep, and then start living.
Bonus Link: Visit Lloyd Evan’s website, JW Survey for tons more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and videos.
Song for this book: I Get Out by Lauryn Hill