A lot of people tell me I should write a book about my life. I was born and raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith and stayed in it for seventeen years – half my life. My family got started in the faith because Jehovah’s Witnesses prey on the poor and uneducated and we lived in one of the poorest sections of Milwaukee.
This guy Joseph Rutherford did some calculations based on the bible and determined that at the end of times 144,000 people would go to heaven. Most of that 144,000 would be comprised of Jehovah’s Witnesses that had been saved, but those that didn’t go to heaven would get to live on earth forever in a perfect paradise with perfect bodies. The animals would be perfect too. It would basically be a utopia. So if you are a Jehovah’s Witness you are saved either way – you end up in heaven or in this utopia on earth. Some people who aren't Jehovah’s Witnesses can be saved if they are pure of heart, but mostly if you aren’t a Jehovah’s Witness God will spite you. There is no hell, just nonexistence, which is worse than hell because at least in hell you are conscious. If you are spited you never have another thought. It’s just over. So the mission of the Jehovah’s Witness is to save people so they don’t suffer this fate at the end of time.
There are four important days in the Jehovah’s Witness practice. Tuesday was book publication study day. There were thousands of books we were supposed to read. We’d read whatever chapters were assigned that week and then discuss the questions. They’d randomly call on people to see if they knew the right answers, so you really had to study. Thursday was bible study day. We’d have to read chapters of the bible and then talk about it. It wasn’t always the elders (senior religious leaders) talking, sometimes other men would lead the discussion. It didn’t matter how old or young the male was, but it was only males that spoke. The women would never lead discussions, they’d break off into their own group and practice role-play for when they went door to door. Saturday was the main day we went out into the community. First we’d meet at the ‘Kingdom Hall’ where elders would give talks and then we’d leave for the door to door visits. Sunday we discussed ‘Watchtowers and Awake!’ which was a little booklet – maybe twenty or thirty pages – that came out every other week.
It took a lot of time to do the door to door visits, not to mention the meetings on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. As members of the Jehovah’s Witness we were told to have a job to pay for food. We weren’t supposed to have a ‘career’ or anything that would detract from our focus on the mission and as a result most of the people were poor. But no matter how little you made you were expected to tithe 15% - 20% of your salary to support the organization (and more if you could).
It was a racket. They would get these poor people and make them give money. Even if you didn't have money you were expected to give money. They told us that if we gave money it would allow them to build congregation halls and also help ensure we were part of the 144,000 that was saved. There were elders that would go from congregation to congregation and live off the donations from Jehovah’s Witness members. They always had a nice car and a place to stay. One time I saw an elder wearing a $20,000 Rolex.
Aside from not wanting us to have a career they also didn’t want us to have an education. After high school you weren’t supposed to go to college. You were supposed to go into field service or become an elder. I thought to myself: If I’m not going to college then why apply myself in high school? So I did just enough to get by, I was a C student. I think I could have been an honor roll student, but I didn't have the drive. My last year in high school I really applied myself and had a 3.98 GPA – I wanted to leave on a high note.
Things started going sideways when my mom was ‘disfellowshipped’ for having an affair with my sister’s fiancé…
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“Any crazy stories from when you were doing the house to house visits?”
“Sometimes we'd go to a house and the person in the house would invite us in. They’d listen to what we had to say and then start dissecting our talking points. But we weren’t informed enough to engage in this sort of conversation, we only had our talking points, so we’d need to tell them we didn’t know the answer but we’d get the answer from one of the elders and come back the next day. Also, sometimes people would see us coming and they'd let their dog out. We were always preaching in a bad part of town on the South side of Milwaukee. People had Rottweilers and Pinschers dogs. We’d just mark down the address and come back later.”
Follow me on these social media sites:
- Facebook – Goose Chronicles
- Twitter – @goosechronicle
- Instagram – goosechronicles
- Tumblr – Goose Chronicl