Dear Sirs: After many years of service as an elder, and several decades of dedication I have decided to resign as an elder. My time as an elder was not troublesome. I was effective, well-respected, and used beyond the average uses that an elder can expect. I believe then that I have earned the right to speak my mind. Further providing some feedback should prove helpful. It may be that something that I say may help you to troubleshoot problems that I am certain you see in this organization. I would like to say first that this letter is directed primarily to the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body and secondly to the GB as a whole. I would really appreciate it if this letter is forwarded to them unedited. Anyone else reading this letter is, in my opinion, not primarily responsible for the problems that I describe here. I have served as an elder for nearly half of my adult life. I loved the job. It was a childhood goal, a dream come true. And I would have continued to serve till my dying day if certain circumstances had not caused my conscience to propel me in a different direction. My service was going well. But as time wore on it became increasingly difficult to balance congregation, religion and life demands. All of the activities in the organization (meetings, service, hospitality, meeting preparation, personal study, CO visits, circuit assemblies, district assemblies, Special Assembly Days, helping the weak...) plus the activities as an elder requires at least 20-30 hours a week. Add to that a forty hour per week job and it becomes apparent that the average Witness works a 60-70 hour week! No wonder we call ourselves "busy people."
After a time, when one works that much there are essential things that begin to suffer. Things like getting a good nights rest, taking good care of one's physical health, eating properly, and exercising, regular physical and dental checkups, helping our children with their homework, giving our children a well-rounded view of life, spending real quality time with our families; And doing things other than running between "theocratic" activities and work, paying our bills, staying out of debt and not living paycheck to paycheck. Particularly in a large city this way of living becomes unbearable. In our case our weight began to climb with no sign of coming down, and I was in danger of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. My wife developed numerous stress related illnesses. It became plain that the work would never end. The only way to deal with it was to "juggle." That meant practicing triage on everything, with never enough leftover time to go back and finish before some new "theocratic activity" was thrust upon us. This was becoming an untenable situation. Furthermore, articles that encourage "balance" and personal care only pour on more guilt, as Witnesses are encouraged to do this while conducting "theocratic" activities. Further these activities are said to MORE important than caring for one’s own family. (km 6/03 p. 1 par. 1 The Christian Ministry—Our Main Work) Never is there talk of shorter or fewer meetings, trading one activity for another, never allowance for people to "count time" caring for their family or the sick in the congregation. (w86 1/1 p. 19 par. 9 Building for an Eternal Future, w87 2/1 p. 15 par. 1 Doing Our Utmost to Declare the Good News) I knew that it would not be long before we would just "break down." So to prevent this I "stepped down." Now this in itself is not as bad as it sounds.
I could have slowed down, regrouped, streamlined my family's affairs and come back strong. In the publications there are many stories of Witnesses who "simplify" their lives for the "Kingdom." (w97 10/1 p. 26 Is the Spirit of the World Poisoning You?) Additionally many people run into similar situations at their jobs. But in the Witness case, unlike with a job, we feel trapped with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Further there is little hope of change because these demands are made by men (women are probably out of that loop) who have little concept of day-to-day living. They go about their lives in an ideal environment. Their meals are cooked, clothes are cleaned, suits are pressed, laundry is done, rooms are cleaned, cars are fixed almost for free, sundry and miscellaneous items are available at cost from a commissary, they have no commuting time or expense, vacation travel is discounted. Further they have the respect, and at times honor bordering on worship from their congregations, and most of this is paid for by the very publishers who they then ask even more from. (How such men can ask so much from ordinary people who are actually paying their bills, in my opinion, is "biting the hand that feeds them.") But I could have stayed the course.
However I then realized how systemic the flaws are. There is so much more that is wrong. Here are a few of the more egregious problems: For one, all Witnesses and particularly elders are asked to serve, on their personal time with no compensation. This hurts us and our families. Yet you tout this as proof that we are the "true religion" because it sets us apart from Christendom. (w03 8/1 p. 20 “You Received Free, Give Free”, w01 6/1 p. 16 par. 15 “If God Is for Us, Who Will Be Against Us?”) Yet Jesus, Paul and others in the first century made it clear that workers working this hard evangelizing, devoting this much time, were deserving of wages. (Matthew 10:10; 20:8, (Luke 10:7) Another issue is that elders are asked to deal with extremely sensitive problems with little training beyond repetitious doctrinal training. I could no longer stomach a system where I was asked to deal with problems so massive that I saw no hope of really resolving anything using the resources provided. Reading cutting edge, sound information in the areas of psychology and self-help is forbidden as it is not "Bible-based." Elders are forced to "wing it" with peoples lives.
Further elders are entrusted with a lot of sensitive information yet many times are not even encouraged to pick up a pen and take meaningful notes as therapists and social workers are required to do. And the standard advice is pray more, attend meetings and go in "service." (w05 6/1 p. 29 Do Not Give Up in Doing What Is Fine; w05 7/15 p. 29 Are You Faithful in All Things?; w04 5/1 p. 14 Youths, Are You Building for the Future?; w04 8/15 p. 23 Tired but Not Tiring Out) Telling people with deep personal problems to take precious and scarcely available personal time, go out with literature and pretend that they can fix the problems of others made less sense the more I dealt with them. To insinuate that it is selfish for them to focus on themselves, but instead to focus on giving to others, solves nothing for them. In fact it just creates more problems. (g02 9/22 p. 22 Why Doesn’t My Parent Love Me?) And telling them that there are problems only God can fix deempowers them, making them even more vulnerable. Yet this is all that you effectively allow us to offer them. In some cases these individuals are known child molesters. Yet you reject known research in this area and insist that is God's Will for them to go to the doors of the public AND allow, even encourage them to talk to children! (km 11/88 p. 4 par. 4 Presenting the Good News—To Children) One day the lawsuits may very well banrupt you. And yet, for as bad as this sounds, it gets worse. As I mentioned I was willing to stay the course. I was content to try and either affect change from within, or at the very least continue to "walk the line" while helping those around me. If this had been the extent of the problem I was willing to continue to strive for "perfection," continue to hone my effectiveness. I was loyal. "This was God's organization run by imperfect men. They were going to make mistakes. My job is to work with them for they are "Christ's brothers." They have spent over 120 years perfecting this method of serving God. Their doctrine is sound. Did they not predict 1914?"
And it was that thought that prompted me to take a closer look at the doctrine. I was horrified. Even a cursory examination of WT doctrine shows it to be terribly flawed. It is a patchwork of illogical, conflicting statements all aimed at proving the world's end to be "at hand." Nothing holds, no statement can be taken at face value, for it soon changes. To give an example: Recently a James Rayford made the comment at an SAD that the prophecy of Matthew 24:14 has been fulfilled. But this claim had been made eleven years earlier in 1995! (w95 9/1 p. 18 Christian Witnesses for Divine Sovereignty) So what has changed? Were you wrong in '95? If so, how do you know that you are right now? Can you tell us? How do you really know that all other religions are about to be wiped out? By a liberal Congress and a Christian president beating the drums in the Security Council no less? You have been wrong so many times before, I think we are owed an explanation that makes sense beyond the usual "faithful slave" or "historical evidence proves" explanations? Present THE EVIDENCE. Another example: How do you explain this comment of Jesus? (Luke 21:7-8) "7 Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?” 8 He said: “Look out that YOU are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time has approached.’ Do not go after them." Your currently available publications do not even address this Scripture. It would appear to be urging alert Christians not to follow men who proclaim the "end" being near. Or do you consider yourselves exempt because you are "God’s Channel?" Then where is the independent proof, where is THE EVIDENCE that you are above this Scriptural standard? Oh maybe you are now thinking that you as the Governing Body are supposed to know because the "faithful slave" knows. But herein lies another problem: Direction by the "faithful slave" is little more than a fantasy! Why do I make such a bold assertion? The “faithful slave is defined by you as the remnant of the 144,000 who are left on earth. (w95 8/1 p. 16 par. 10 Taught by Jehovah Down Till This Day) We recognize them as the Memorial emblem partakers. I served as a Presiding Overseer for a while. And I know that no effort is made to contact or even know who "the emblem partakers," "the anointed," the members of this "faithful slave" are. Every Memorial the elders send in a little card with a count of partakers for the congregation. If someone partakes for the first time, elders who are not anointed decide if this person should be counted! Further, no data is sent to HQ on these people, no address, and no phone number. Just a little card with a total on it. The card is a postcard. It doesn't even go in a sealed envelope before it gets mailed. It does even have to be signed by the elders. More attention is given to a notification of disfellowshipping than to this most important piece of correspondence. Further there is no two way communication (or even one way) attempted with "anointed ones" when the Circuit Overseer comes for his congregation visit. He will have meetings with the elders, the pioneers, but not with the "anointed." If anything, you say that he (the CO) is your "direct representative." Yours, the Governing Body’s. Yet the CO is usually not a "faithful slave" member. Yet he tells "anointed ones" what to think and do. So the message seems to be that you do what you want with impunity. And you get away with this because you have made this organization afraid to question you. Even the "faithful slave" is afraid to question you. Rather than being humble servants you appear to be more like the ancient Pharisees who Jesus said had "seated themselves in the seat of Moses." (Matthew 23:2) Which brings me to my final point: When you read this letter my resignation will have been processed. A timeline will be hard to establish. And this letter's point of origin will not be my true location. Why would someone who has worked for this organization for so many years, well respected in his congregation feel the need for this kind of anonymity?
You say that Jehovah has allowed evil so that Satan could have a voice. That in so doing Jehovah's sovereignty would be vindicated. (w91 2/15 p. 11 par. 5 A Corresponding Ransom for All) Are you acting the way that you say Jehovah does? You are to be kings in "Jehovah's Kingdom." But you do not seem to act like it. You apparently dissemble about where the organization gets its direction since you could not honestly be acting as spokespersons for an entity you do not speak with. You do not honestly just acknowledge that the organization's direction really comes from a few imperfect men with some experience as elders. You silence dissent. You discourage questioning. Furthermore you refuse to openly and honestly discuss these issues. Rather you attack those who raise these questions, calling them apostates, traitors and generally avoiding the issues and questions raised. After realizing all of these things it became clear to me that I could not continue to perpetuate a system such as this by being an elder. Nor will I ever do so again as long as these issues remain undealt with. In many ways your work has done much good. I urge, in fact I beg you to consider these points. I am open to further discussion and can be reached at .................