Why I Left the Watchtower

By Cynthia Hampton

Cynthia HamptonMy first introduction to the Watchtower organization was in 1970, when my mother began to study with an old friend of hers who had become a Jehovah’s Witness. I was in the 8th grade at the time. Soon my mother began dragging us all to the Kingdom Hall and had stopped going to our church. We had been raised in the Roman Catholic Church up until then.

After going to several assemblies and through heavy indoctrination, I decided the Watchtower was the truth. I was baptized in 1972.

We all believed that Armageddon was coming in 1975. Everyone was speculating as to when it might arrive. Some even speculated that it might be 1974 instead of 1975. I remember the District Overseer, Brother Sales (I believe it was him, but not entirely sure), giving a talk at the International Assembly in Oakland in 1973. His actual words were, “When an alarm clock is ready to ring, just before it rings, there is a click and just a split second before the alarm actually rings. Well we are in that time period between the click and the actual ringing of the alarm clock.  That’s how much time we have left before Armageddon!” All everyone talked about was how little time we had left before Armageddon.

Because there was so little time left, many teenagers began to get married quite young. It is traditional and typical for a Jehovah’s Witness to marry young.  Since one is not allowed to date unless you intend to be married, anyone who dates is expected to get married. However, since Armageddon was so close, it just seemed like there was a frenzy of young teens getting married.  We had been told that we didn’t know whether there would be marriage in the new system. Since it wasn’t for sure that we might be able to get married in the new system, many decided that they would be married before Armageddon, rather than have to remain single for eternity.

When young hormones are raging, this thinking is dangerous. Many young people ended up in very unhappy marriages, including me. I  married another young Jehovah’s Witness in 1974 at the age of 18.   It was the worst mistake of my life.

This guy was a wife beater and got away with it.  He began to hit me exactly one week after we were married.  When I approached the elders with the fact that he beat me, their response was one of disinterest. They said there was no WT policy on this, and it wasn’t a “disfellowshipping offense.” It was to be considered a family problem and they could not get involved.

Well that family problem translated into a lot of physical and mental abuse. I always carried bruises all over my body and no one cared. I was told to not to discuss this with anyone and to quit nagging.   Apparently they thought that I nagged my husband too much and that was the reason for the beatings.  He was eventually disfellowshipped in 1976 for smoking. So I began to think, is smoking a worse sin than beating up your wife?  I knew something was wrong with this picture! When he was disfellowshipped, I was pregnant with my son at the time.

In 1976, after my son was born, I decided I could no longer take the abuse, so I left my husband, moved out, and went back to live with my parents.  I subsequently divorced him after a year went by.  The elders told me that I wasn’t  “scripturally divorced” and was not allowed to date.  I was only 20 at the time.

A year later, I enrolled in community college and decided I liked going to college – after all I hadn’t studied as well as I should have in high school. What for? Armageddon “was just around the corner.” So here I was and I had no means to get a job, and I certainly didn’t want to be a cleaning woman or do janitorial work, as I am not cut out for that type of work and prefer working at a desk.  I knew I had a brain up there and it was time to put it to use by going to college.  It was already 1977 and Armageddon still hadn’t arrived.

After a while, it began to seem to me that those in the Kingdom Hall were not as intellectual as I was becoming. I was learning how to use critical thinking and believed in asking questions at a time when independent thinking was starting to be frowned upon.

I remember talking to an “elderette” (an elder’s wife) one day and telling her that I was taking a psychology class and that I was enjoying it. Do you know what her response was? She actually had the audacity to tell me that I was studying “doctrines of demons” and that I should get out of my psychology class immediately. I didn’t listen to her – I did my own thing.

By 1979, I had all but quit going to the meetings. I think I went to one day of the district convention that year in Tucson, and I did not go out in field service at all by that time. I’d had it by then! In February 1980, I wrote a handwritten letter to the elders letting them know I wasn’t going to any more meetings and not to consider me a Jehovah’s Witness any longer. I gave the letter to my brother to hand deliver to the elders.

I always had a few doubts about the Watchtower organization and I think that made it easier to leave.  For example, I never truly believed that it was wrong to get a blood transfusion, so I never carried one of those “No Blood Transfusion” cards.  I always knew that if I were looking death in the face, I would accept a blood transfusion to save my life.  Another thing that always bothered me was that the Watchtower made an issue out of whether or not a woman screamed if she were being raped.  The Watchtower rule was if a woman did not scream, then she must have enjoyed it, and therefore was committing adultery or fornication and would be disfellowshipped.  How could any woman in her right mind agree with that kind of thinking and that policy?

I never looked back, although I did attend the Memorial in 1980 and made the decision then to never set foot in Kingdom Hall ever again.

In 1982, a good friend invited me to his church and I accepted the invitation. (You know nothing in life is ever a coincidence, it’s a “God Incidence.”) I went to his church and discovered that Christians were warm and caring people who loved Jesus Christ. But I was still scared. Did I really do the right thing by going to this church? Would something bad happen to me because I dared go into what the Watchtower calls “Babylon”?   As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we were always taught that demons were present in the churches of Babylon.

Then I received my answer: After the church service was over, I looked around and saw a familiar face – I thought. “No, it couldn’t be,” I’m thinking. But I thought it was another ex Jehovah’s Witness! I did a double take and yes, I did recognize this lady. I went up to her and asked her, “Didn’t I used to see you at the assemblies?”

Her eyes were wide open as she asked me, “Did you just leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses?”

I said, “Yes!” I left 2 years before and this was my first time in the church since leaving the JWs. It turned out that this lady, her name is Mary Kling. Her husband is the first cousin of M. James Penton, author of the book, Apocalypse Delayed! I was just so thrilled to know that I wasn’t the only person who left the JWs who decided to go to church!

Mary took me under her wing and began showing me what was wrong with the Watchtower organization. See, at that time I knew that there was something wrong, I just didn’t know how to prove it! She showed me old literature and how the WT taught that Jesus was the mediator for only 144,000! When I read that I knew that the Watchtower was a false organization and that the truth could only be found in Jesus Christ. Shortly thereafter in May, 1982 I gave my life over to Jesus Christ.

It was no coincidence that out of all the churches in Tucson, Arizona, I happened to visit the one that Mary had been attending. I knew that God had His hand in this the whole time. However, it was not without a price. I told my father, who was not yet a baptized JW, about my experience. He told my mother – and my mother and I had the biggest, most awful blowout. It ended by her telling me that I was not welcome in her home ever again! She shunned me for 17 years.

At the end of the year, I moved to Los Angeles, CA and began a new life away from my old friends and family who were shunning me. I met Randy Watters of Free Minds and began attending his quarterly potlucks. I eventually volunteered to help him in his home/office for his ministry, which was called “Bethel Ministries” at the time. (If I refer to Randy’s Free Minds site frequently in my posts, it’s because I used to type a lot of those articles that he wrote). I learned so much from Randy Watters and will be forever grateful that he was my friend and teacher.

In the summer of 1998, I found that one of my JW cousins, Andy Burns, had leukemia at the age of 39.  I’d heard through the family “grapevine” that he had not been feeling well and suffering from some migraine headaches.  After some tests and a diagnosis of acute leukemia, he was hospitalized for some intense chemotherapy.  He lived another six weeks before he died.  Of course, he being a JW elder, refused all blood transfusions.  His blood count became so dangerously low that the chemotherapy treatments had to be discontinued.  He is now memorialized on AJWRB’s “Watchtower Victims Memorial.”

In 1999, for some reason my mother decides she is speaking to me again. In 2000, she and my father come to my house and visit. They even go out to dinner with my husband and I. I don’t know what’s happening there, but I think they are tired of not knowing their grandchildren. You see, my brother is the only one of us kids in the family who remained a JW, and of course, he had been an elder. He and his wife never had children and ended up divorced.

My sister and I both have children, and my parents never got to know them until recently. Sad isn’t it? My two younger children were 10 and 13 when they first met my parents, their grandparents. I lost contact with my parents, because I know that the August 2002 Kingdom Ministry had once again instructed the JWs to shun the former members.  I no longer knew where I stood with my parents, except that I know my mother was very angry with me, as she did find out about this website.  She also refuses to acknowledge the recent issues regarding Silent Lambs concerning child sexual abuse in the Watchtower, and claims it is all just “baloney”.  I feel sorry for her because she does not know the real Jesus. After all Jesus did say at John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  My mother’s life is tied up with an organization that will NEVER show her Jesus Christ.  It is an empty organization with false promises and false prophesies. The Bible never talks about joining an organization for salvation.

Some people, after leaving the Watchtower organization ask, “Where else can we go?”  This inevitably comes up because the Watchtower has so effectively indoctrinated their followers that there is no place to go except the Watchtower organization.  For those of you who are at that point, I invite you to read this article:  Where Else Can We Go?

I’ve been a Christian now for over 30 years and have never been happier since becoming a Christian and knowing who the true Jesus Christ is. I’ve been running a support group for former Jehovah’s Witnesses since 2002 and do quite a bit of online ministry through Facebook and Yahoo Groups. I’m thrilled that the Internet and all the ministries here have been able to educate and inform so many about the false doctrines of the Watchtower organization. Praise God!

15 Responses to Why I Left the Watchtower

  1. Alfred Marquez says:

    My wife and I are fresh out of the cult. Thanks for sharing your story… If it’s OK with you, we’d like to know what religion you’re now in… we’re searching for a church but can’t seem to make up our minds and its driving us crazy.
    many thanks

  2. Hi Alfred,

    Thank you for stopping by to read my testimony. As I expressed in my testimony, I am now a Christian. I have attended several different churches in the past few years and have been in several different denominations. I think what is the most difficult thing for an ex JW to deal with is reconciling the old “which is the RIGHT GROUP to be in” when you leave the Watchtower. As JW’s that’s what we were continually taught, was being with the right group. The WT taught us that their organization was the mouth-piece for God and everyone else was the mouth-piece for the devil.

    Since leaving the Watchtower Organization, I have investigated quite a few different churches. I’ve been involved with Conservative Baptist, Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Calvary Chapel, Free Methodist, and the one I belong to now is the Evangelical Covenant Church.

    There are good things about all the churches I’ve attended. Because I believe the Bible is true and important in our lives, I tend to look for a good Bible teaching church where the pastor is very knowledgable about the Bible and has at least a Master’s degree from an accredited seminary.

    I tend to stay away from apocalyptic churches….or churches that constantly teach about the “time of the end”. I find that most Adventist churches seem to unnecessarily focus on that. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses are descended from the Adventist groups of the 1800’s. Adventists began with William Miller and his followers. Miller predicted that the “end” would arrive in 1843, when it didn’t come, then he changed it to 1844. That was called the “Great Disappointment of 1844”. Later on, groups who called themselves the 2nd Adventists came on the scene and that is how Charles Taze Russell began. Russell took his doctrines to the Watchtower….those doctrines came straight from the 2nd Adventist groups that he was involved with.

    My advice is to take your time about churches. Sometimes it’s better to just visit various churches and see what each one is like. You will find differences in various churches, but most churches will teach pretty much the same thing whether you are in a Methodist church or a Baptist church. Differences you’ll find is when a church has a “traditional” service or a more “contemporary” one. I tend to like the contemporary and more laid back style of worship. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of preference.

    If you would like to share, what kind of churches have you been to? How did you find these churches to be? Was there anything that you liked or disliked about their services?


  3. Karl Heppard says:

    Hello Cynthia,

    I just read your testimony and am fascinated by it. I was never a JW, but all through my life in the LORD Jesus Christ I have always been drawn toward JWs. I don’t really know why. I’ve read several Watchtower publicationsand have had about 4 JWs in my home in total.

    I go to a Church with an X JW named Ernest Zenone. He is the one who forwarded me this link to see and read his testimony. That is how I stumbled across yours.

    All I can say is that you are so blessed of our LORD to have come out of the organization and be grounded in the Word of GOD. May the Father of mercies and the GOD of all comfort use you mightly in the lives of others like you who have come out of the Watchtower.

    Yours truly,
    Karl Heppard

  4. Dear Karl,

    Thank you for your comments. Does your friend know about the Witnesses Now For Jesus Convention that is held every October at the Blue Mountain Christian Retreat? Unfortunately, there was a fire in November, but hopefully they will rebuild in time for our next conference this coming October. This is their website which also has a link to their rebuilding blog. http://www.bmcr.org/

    Thank you again and may God bless you.


  5. James A. Davis says:


    I found a meetup group in the Carolinas thanks to you. Keep up the
    good work & May God bless you and your family.
    Take care,
    James A.Davis


  6. James A. Davis says:

    It is a relief to be out of that cult.

  7. Robert says:

    It is sad that once having the courage to leave a Cult like the J.w’s most are so brain-washed in to believing in any literal Supernatural god and they need that old J.w crutch to be replaced with another one?

    I have studied most western religions and even Islam for over 50 years and I can say with absolute confidence there remains zero legitimate evidence for ANY Supernatural god(s) literally existing.

    Most happy to discuss it anytime!

  8. Robert says:

    By the way Cynthia Hampton, I would really like the evidence supporting Child abuse within the J.w’s

    The BBC did a story a while ago but since then it has gone quiet?


  9. Hannah P says:

    Hi christianity is not religion but a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ….. God bless you follow Jesus Christ only…

  10. Paulesha Green says:

    I really loved reading your story, it really touched me. I have a 20 year old cousin who has been brained washed by JW’s. she is not a baptized JW but I was wondering if you would be willing to talk to her over the phone?

  11. rikos says:

    Hi every one. I was by hard a Jehovah witnesses for 25 years now I am in distains. all my years in this religion I was looking for real answers for god and life. I read many deferent categories of books like astronomy psychology history of Christianity from Jesus to this century, human behave, the spiritual mind, Buda, Islam can we be good with out god, the crises of conciseness, the originality of the manuscript of the bible, the early Christianity. part of evolution. finally I came to the conclusion. The only think is real, is the universe the matter and life on earth. the rest is works of the human brain. The human history and all of the religion believes through the centuries is the works of the human Braine . The subject of religion is the most complicate and unreal ensue. the question is this. why and from where the religion have be developed in humans life I believe is a developments of the human brain.

  12. Adolfo Costa says:

    Rikos. your opinion that religion is a product of the human brain is partially true. The human brain is the material condition for our spiritual soul to function while we are in this temporary and physical life. Since we come to this world as a creation of God, we have an inherent tendency to return to God looking constantly for the happiness that originates from his supreme goodness. So really believers are naturally born while atheists and unbelievers are man made. Since the very beginning of the human kind it is patent this tendency toward finding and relating with a supernatural entity not only by ignorance of the secondary causes of physical phenomena but also by the sense of a supreme something bigger than us.

  13. Adolfo Costa says:

    (To continue…) A brief comment about religion and punishment for our sins.
    When we Christians make reference to hell as a punishment for our wrong doings against our natural laws and the specific laws of the 10 commandments we project the concept of hell as a place of suffering by an eternal fire. The real suffering, though, is the eternal separation from God, not because He wanted but because we imposed such pain on ourselves by our free will. Sins keep us separated from God in this life and in the other after our death. I think that these words may help to think about these important concepts.

  14. Terrence Flynn says:

    @Karl Heppard
    I have also felt drawn to them because their good people who need the truth in their language. I have been speaking to two now for seven months.

  15. Darrin Hart says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My mother was baptized in 1972 and I was raised a JW, becoming the youngest elder in our area.

    Your story rings familiar on so many levels!!


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