What is the Watchtower Victims Memorial Day?

July 26 marks our annual Watchtower Victims Memorial Day. This is a worldwide day of mourning and respect for all victims of the hurtful and hateful policies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, commonly known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The idea for the Day was conceived because the shunning experienced by many former Jehovah’s Witnesses is so severe that they often feel as if their family members have died, yet these ones have no grave site to visit, no day for mourning their loss and separation. The Day was then expanded to honor and respect all victims of this religion, including those still trapped within its walls or who have officially left, and those who have lost their lives due to its policies.

UNDERSTANDING THE VICTIMS

What is meant by victims of the Watchtower Society? Note some general information about their policies and practices to better understand why those practicing their religion, and those who have left, could rightly be called “victims.”

Pedophilia

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses adhere to a “two-witness” rule in cases of child molestation or pedophilia, demanding that the victim in these cases produce a witness to their molestation before they are heard by elders and their molester is removed from the congregation.¹
  • Until their official policy was rewritten in 2010, parents were outright forbidden from filing police reports in these cases so as to avoid “bringing reproach” on the organization.
  • Confessed pedophiles may be put into positions of authority over others, including children, without parents being warned of their past actions.¹
  • Parents and others who know of a pedophile’s behavior are also forbidden from telling other congregants, so as to protect the confidentiality of these ones.

Domestic Violence

  • Women who are victims of domestic violence are encouraged to stay with their husbands in the hopes of converting them. They are also told to “be more submissive” and “be more loving” to their abusive spouses. See this website for more details.
  • Little to nothing is said in the pages of Jehovah’s Witness publications about the effects of this home environment on the women or the children.

Rape

  • Rape victims are required to scream, fight, and resist during an attack and if not, they may be disfellowshipped (excommunicated) and subsequently shunned for “consenting to the violation.”²
  • Elders are told that “discernment is needed” in considering claims of rape, taking into account the “mental disposition” of the woman, circumstances surrounding the incident, and any “delay in reporting.” Note that these elders have no training in psychology, criminology, post-traumatic stress disorder, or rape counseling.³

Shunning

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a severe form of shunning, forbidding members to speak to non-family who are excommunicated and also being told to “not look for excuses” to communicate with excommunicated family members, not even through email.*
  • This shunning includes children, parents, siblings, and grandparents, and even “young ones.”
  • A person may be excommunicated and subsequently shunned not just for “immoral” behavior but also for disagreeing with the religious teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses or speaking out about their practices and policies. They are also shunned if they officially and formally leave the religion.³
  • Many excommunicated members have been lost to panic, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even suicide because of being cut off from family and friends.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not allow blood transfusions even in emergency situations and even for children. See this website for details.

Children are often disciplined severely, and even infants are expected to sit quietly through long sermons and may face physical punishment for simply acting out. Congregants are encouraged to avoid anyone, including teenagers, who do not live up to harsh, dogmatic standards that include constant preaching and bible study.** This can lead to a sense of isolation even for faithful congregants.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have strongly encouraged members to forego higher education in favor of preaching work during what they have called the “last days,” making it difficult for many of their followers to support themselves financially. Many have also given up the privilege of having children, believing the world was soon to end based on these promises. See this website for details.

The Watchtower Victims Memorial Day is meant to honor all these and other victims of the hurtful and harmful policies of this religion. The Day is a peaceful sign of respect for all those who have suffered because of this religion, including friends and family members and those still inside.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

To participate, on July 26 it’s encouraged that you leave a flower, small teddy bear, or another memorial along with a card or note at a Kingdom Hall. For those who do not wish to visit a Kingdom Hall, you can leave a memorial in a public park, at a bus stop, or on the beach.

Sample cards have been uploaded to this page, however, participants are certainly free to create their own note or memorial. It’s encouraged that you include this website so others can know what this day is about, and if possible, take a photo of your memorial and share it on Facebook.

The Day is not limited to former Jehovah’s Witnesses but is also an opportunity for anyone who opposes their practices to show support and solidarity for the victims. We strongly encourage other churches and religions, rape crisis counseling centers, victim support organizations, and other individuals to become involved and show their support with a small memorial during this Day.

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Please share this video with others so that they too can participate in our special Day.

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Images from 2017

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Images from 2016

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Images from 2015

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Images from 2014

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¹October 1, 2012 Letter to All Elders worldwide
²January 15, 1964 Watchtower magazine
³”Shepherd the Flock of God”
*January 15, 2013 Watchtower magazine
**July 15, 2012 Watchtower magazine

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24 thoughts on “What is the Watchtower Victims Memorial Day?

  1. thinkngal

    I can’t make the images bigger to fill an A4 sheet of paper…last year I didn’t have this problem what am I doing wrong?

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    1. Alex James Post author

      What you might try is opening the PDF file and then doing a screen capture of the image. You can then save the screen capture as a JPG or PNG file, and enlarge or re-size it as needed.

      What most people do however is just print them off on regular paper and then cut them, that’s the easiest.

      Let us know if you still need help.

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  2. Sarah Frost

    My Mum destroyed this memorial information as a child. It however raised my curiosity to begin to question living within this harmful environment as an adult. If it was not for these efforts, I may of succeeded in ending my life. Eternally Thankful to whoever handed this information out at the kingdom hall, despite what trauma it may of caused them to do so!

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  3. Alex

    What about a map with places where the Watchtower Victims Memorial Day was celebrated?

    If you have the informations I can make the map. It’s worth sharing it worldwide. 🙂

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    1. Alex James Post author

      That’s a good idea but sometimes people don’t always note where they left their memorial. I’ll run it by the other volunteers working behind the scenes and see what they say.

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  4. allofbree

    I can’t believe I just found out about this a few days too late. I will participate next year to be sure. When I was disfellowshipped for my husband leaving me, I lost everything and everyone I loved. I was called “wicked, not weak”.

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    1. Renee

      As I’ve been reading several experiences and stories.. I too thought of my own experience when being disfellowedshiped..and to my surprise the same exact sentiments were stated..that I had a “wicked heart”..those words, even now plage my heart. My husband had also left me and our 3 small children for another sister in the congregation. I was abandoned, left to sort things out for myself..I can only remember a handful of “friends” who came by to check on me and my children..it was as if I already had been cast out..beforehand our home stayed packed with brothers and sisters..we even received the opportunity to feed our circuit overseer, who was of the “anoited” class for lunch! I was an axillary pioneer for years before becoming a regular pioneer, (with all of my children!), and when real trauma hit our family’s entire well being, no one was ever there! It’s possible that perhaps many of the “friends” didn’t know how to go about the situation; however, for the brothers, elders who were very aware of my situation and current circumstances did absolutely nothing to help. And more importantly they saw the damage that was befalling my children and instead of encouraging my son, who was the oldest and of course was going through emotional torture, the brothers didn’t allow him to be on the theocratic school any longer because “our home environment” wasn’t in “good standings”. Also I had no clue that children should have to take a fall for the actions of their parents, I know that point was stressed over and over again in the various articles and publications. Once I committed fornication, I immediately went to my elders, reaching out for desperate help, my heart had sunk to an extreme low, and I was devastated! My husband of whom I had known since 12 years of age was gone, the man I married and was baptized with was gone, and not with just any random sister, my closest friend! After, being privately and then publicly reproved, my spirit had given out, and although I begged and pleaded with same brother that said I had a wicked heart not to disfellowship me, I was ultimately disfellowedshipped in December of 2010! Although, I’m still battling the affects of being casted away, I’m becoming a better ME everyday. I still hurt as I sorely miss many of the friends. I won’t mention names, but there are a few who speak to me, more so in an attempt to get me to come back. At this point, unless some major things change, I won’t go back, I can’t and the crazy part is that I’ve tried to go back several times, being consist at the meetings and it’s just something in my gut that says, “You don’t belong there”. So, I haven’t attended services in awhile. My children, well my daughters, however still attend with their father as he is now back in the “truth” with his wife, the sister. My son is at the point to where he doesn’t even believe God exists. He now speaks to me about his feelings of the organization and how it made him feel. His exact sentiments were that he felt as though the congregation left him because of what his father had done and in all truthfulness, that is exactly what happened! I pray everyday for truth, I still believe in God’s word and know there are several things that need cleaning up in my life, I just do not believe my salvation will come through the organizations methods. I’m always praying that God will direct my steps in order to tell me what is truthful..for now I’m still searching!

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      1. Chris

        Thank you for sharing your story, Renee. You and your children have been dealt with atrociously. It is good you know in your heart that you don’t belong with the JWs, though it does not make it any easier, I imagine, to deal with the shunning and loss of friends. It is so good you recognise that you are actually becoming a better person WITHOUT this abusive organisation. If I may, thinking of your son, it is not a disaster that he does not believe in God. As a former JW myself (elder, pioneer, etc), and now an atheist (in the sense that I see ‘God’ as something men create and, in reality, mediate for their own sense of power), I would simply say that there are alternative ways of building a future. I hope your son, and you too, find belief in yourself, first and foremost. It’s difficult to let go of the past. You do need new friends. They are out there. You can tell me to mind my own business; I won’t be offended. I just found your story very moving, and I wanted to say a few words. All the very best, Chris.

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  5. Leah Cochran

    Hi I greatly appreciate and support this so much, I did notice tho that there is not a section on here for suicides ….my daughter was 16 and a baptized jw and self harmed until she took her own life on march 1st last year ….she was so isolated,threatened constantly of disfellowshipping, and never felt good enough…she was not ever included in the clique at our hall and now i don’t have my precious sweet baby anymore its the worst pain in the world …and she was also RAPED BY HER BIRTH FATHER and its just a very long sad story that comes from being born into this Mucked up cult!…I as her mother was born into to this without a choice as well and since this was all i knew and was taught to never question anything i was preyed on by a much older man and married at 17…little did i know he was one of the most F***** up individuals there is…had no i idea he was bisexual and a pediphile he lead a double life the whole time and hid it so well …anyway its such a long miserable story that ill spare you the details…the point is….this organization is so bloodguilty and sooooooo EVIL….its literally SATANS ORGANIZATION!!!….i am trying to warn everyone I can…thanks for listening and letting me rant…i really feel for all the families on here and send my love and sympathy…

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    1. Alexandra James Post author

      Hi Leah, so sorry for your loss and pain. On our page for Cards and Flyers, there is one for suicide victims as we know that we have lost far too many victims of this religion to suicide. Please stay strong and hopefully you can participate this year.

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  6. Lynda Buckley

    I have placed memorials at all three of the Kingdom Halls in my town in San Diego County and well as bulletin boards at commercial establishments. This is in advance of July 26, 2016!

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  7. Czarli Rex

    Have you considered having this Day put onto the Earth Calendar? The website lists all holidays both governmental and religious throughout the world. There is information about how to get a Day registered into their website here: http://www.earthcalendar.net/_php/proclaim.php

    I thought about sending them the information myself but it would be better if it came from the ‘official’ WVM Day website. Just an idea.

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  8. Jennifer

    This movement is amazing! Alexandra James, you are a superstar! I was raised JW, 4th generation – my great grand parents were part of the beginning of the JWs. Some of my family are still in and my ex- husband and two cousins were victims of sexual abuse in this organization. My sister was not allowed life saving surgery due to the blood issue and she suffered greatly. I was raised without knowing my brother because he was df’d and the list of suffering could go on and on. Thank you for providing a real way to reach those still inside with love and for honoring those who have suffered. Illl be put out memorial offerings at every Kingdom Hall in a 10 mile radius of my home in Los Angeles. Thank You!

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