My time as a Jehovah's Witness
(1983-98) and correspondence with Watchtower Society
headquarters between 1992-1998
man is accepted into a church for what he believes, and he
is turned out for what he knows” - Mark Twain
“Life is too short to be
little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply,
acts boldly, and expresses himself with frankness and
with fervour” - Benjamin Disraeli
my own accord I became intensely interested in religion in
1983 during my second-last year in secondary school. Two of
my classmates happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses, and I soon
realised they were the only Christian group that took study
of the Bible seriously. Being academically inclined, I was
drawn to this scholarly approach.
I made rapid progress and before long I was out preaching in
public. I was baptised in 1985, appointed a ministerial
servant in 1987 (aged only 21), refused military service on
grounds in 1989 (served a 3-year Community Service
sentence) and was appointed an elder in 1993 (aged only 26).
I was as happy as I knew how during my time with Jehovah's
Witnesses, and made many positive changes in my life. One
thing that remained unchanged though, was my sense of
curiosity. After all, it was my curiosity and desire to
understand things deeply that had brought me to serious
Christianity in the first place.
I never stopped questioning things that didn't make sense to
The things that didn't make sense to me as a Christian did
not concern the Scriptures (which by their very nature are
vague and open to a dozen interpretations), but had to do
with science and the natural world. I noticed that many
aspects of the real world (eg. fossils, animal
characteristics, geology, etc) somehow did not match up with
the Bible's version of the world. I therefore gradually
accumulated many questions - and when dealing with hard
evidence and fact, it is reasonable to expect straight
So between 1992 and 1998 I engaged in correspondence over a
few such matters with the Governing Body of Jehovah's
Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York.
I directed my questions straight to the top from the word
go, as the 12 men who make up the Governing Body are the
only 12 Jehovah's Witnesses on the planet allowed to think
for themselves. All other Jehovah's Witnesses, including the
committee members of the international branches, will refer
any dilemma back to information published by these men, as
if no other knowledge exists.
Being young, naive and enthusiastic about my religion, I
sincerely believed they would take my carefully-researched
and respectfully-worded letters seriously (OK my final
correspondence may have been somewhat ‘disrespectful’ in
tone ... but by then I was sick and tired of being dismissed
as an idiot). Unfortunately (although now I would say
'fortunately') they did not take my letters seriously and
their unconvincing and watery replies made me progressively
I have reproduced my five correspondences with the Governing
Body in full below. Note how my first two letters received a
reply from Brooklyn, whereas the last three were re-routed
to the local branch office in South Africa.
In August 1998 I disassociated myself from Jehovah's
For 16 years I had been totally sincere and had played by
the rules - and all I asked in return was to have a few
questions answered honestly and directly. Instead, I
discovered that despite all the noise they make about
"truth", the 12 members of the Governing Body of Jehovah's
Witnesses are no different from all other religious leaders
[or people in general in fact] ie. they have a fixed
world-view and they will do anything (even resort to
dishonesty) to ensure the so-called 'facts' fit their
particular world view.
Clearly the truth concerning the real world and the actual
Universe we live in is not important to them.
Literally overnight, I lost around 400 so-called friends and
acquaintances. Individuals who for many years had been close
to me suddenly refused to look at me in the street. People
started to pretend I didn't exist (like the evidence for
biological evolution). It was a very painful experience at
the time, but ultimately very amusing.
Through all this I learned that true understanding can only
come from a completely honest and unbiased investigation of
the real world ie. a rigorous interrogation of Nature, with
a fearless resolve to accept whatever answers she provides.
This exciting adventure is called Science.
I’ve made my historical correspondence with The
Watchtower Society available here as a reference -
but also as an indictment - because by evading my sincere
questions and treating me like an idiot, they turned away a
‘true believer’. Lucky for them there is no god - because if
there was, they would have a lot to answer for.
letters appear in reverse chronological order
Dated 31 January 1997 This letter accompanied my critical
analysis of the Creation
guess it was only a matter of time before I spoke out
against the inaccuracies contained in the Creation
book. I had always known there were things wrong with this
book (published in 1985), yet only in 1996 did I came across
hard evidence with endless examples of errors. I felt
betrayed, hurt and of course infuriated.
Just so they wouldn't miss the point, I purchased a new copy
of the book and filled it with a paragraph by paragraph
commentary on the exact whereabouts and nature of many of
the errors. You can see this analysis in full here.
is the cover letter I included with the book (written on the
letterhead of the science museum I worked at), followed by
their response down below. Their insipid reply did not of
course come from Brooklyn, but again from the local South
Interestingly, about a month after sending them my first
critical analysis and letter, I sent them a second, more
’toned down’ critical analysis and cover letter -
apologising for my ‘cutting remarks’ and for being so
'incensed' the first time around!
Nevertheless, exasperated by their meaningless response, I
once more forwarded the evasive reply to Brooklyn,
accompanied by a short letter. Then - a year later - I
received a somewhat irked response from the South African
branch; which, for the sake of my mental health, I
immediately annotated in red - and you can see it below too.
Dated 18 April 1997
Copied to Windermere Congregation (where I was based)
Dated 05 June 1997
Dated 28 April 1998
Dated 14 March 1996
On accidentally learning about certain encryptions in the
Hebrew text of the Pentateuch (which everyone seems to know
about except Jehovah's Witnesses), I felt impelled to write
a third letter and enquire why we as serious Bible students
were never told of these intriguing inclusions. My letter,
with the enclosed reference, appears below, followed by the
reply I received.
I was so surprised by the reply (not only was it not from
Brooklyn, but it deliberately avoided acknowledging the
encryptions), that I immediately forwarded it to the
Governing Body, together with a second letter expressing my
dismay. My second letter also appears below - yet as you can
probably guess, I never received a reply from New York on
Dated 19 June 1996
Dated 27 June 1996
Dated 09 May 1994
wrote my second letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah's
Witnesses simply to point out the basic biological errors
contained in a number of their full-colour illustrations of
Paradise, and how such errors made it difficult for me to
preach to my scientific colleagues. My letter is below,
followed by their responses (oddly they replied twice, both
times including the same reference).
Dated 13 July 1994
Dated 09 August 1994
Dated 14 February 1992
My first letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
had to do with the so-called flood of Noah's day, inquiring
as to why we believed it to be global and not local. My
letter below, followed by their response.