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Literature Litter


I was born in 1977.  I am a fifth generation Jehovah’s Witness on my mother’s side. I’m a third generation on my father’s side.  This doesn’t include overlapping generations!

My great grandma’s uncle was of the “Anointed”.  He was a “Colporteur” of the tens and twenties of the 20th Century.  My great grandma died out in service in 1975. She was a “great example of a good Jehovah’s Witness”.  Both of my grandmothers married unbelievers, or non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.  However, my parents were both raised in the cult. 

My father went to Brooklyn in 1968. He served there until 1973.  My mother pioneered where the “need was greater” for three years in El Salvador. This was from 1970 to 1973.  They met each other at a international convention in Washington D.C. in 1968.  They didn’t get married until 1973.  Then they pioneered togethered until my sister was born in 1975. 

 I have two siblings: An older sister and a younger brother. We had a great childhood.  I used to think that we had such great parents who loved us very much.  We used to visit Bethel regularly. We would have hundreds of Bethelites visit our house over the years.


In 1989, my sister and I were both baptized in Philadelphia. I was just 12 years old.  My sister started to auxiliary pioneer right away.  I became a regular auxiliary pioneer in my freshman year of high school.  Once I finished high school, in 1995, I became a regular pioneer. 

My wife and I were married in 1997. We pioneered as a couple until our daughter was born in 2001.  My wife went back on the pioneer list in 2006 when our kids were a little older. 

 A disgusting thing that happened in a “Holy Place”

There were many things that probably should have woken me up to the reality that I was in a cult much sooner than I did. The following situation is probably one that will always stick with me. And you’ll understand why.

In 2004, my daughter, being only three years of age, was molested in the Kingdom Hall.  It was something that I could not believe could happen. Unfortunately, it did.  To make matters worse, it was the way in which the elders dealt with the matter. They just handled the situation so badly. They didn’t even call the Branch Office for direction!

Just six months later, the disgusting creep of a pedophile touched her again.  At this stage I was a Ministerial Servant. So I called the Branch myself.  Because I took matters into my own hand, as perceived by the elders in my congregation, I was treated worse than the pedophile. Yes! The elders came down harder on me for calling the branch than they had on Chester for molesting my little girl!

To add insult to injury, we were looked down upon by our extended family. We were viewed as the problem, not as the victim.  Though we could report the matter of molestation to the police, we were encouraged not do do so. What we didn’t know at the time was that this monster had molested other young girls in other Kingdom Halls before arriving at ours. He was only in our hall a matter of a few weeks when he attacked her!  Needless to say, we were not informed, nor were any other parents informed that he was a known pedophile. There is so much more I could say on this subject but it is just too difficult to discuss.

The Path to Waking Up

It wasn’t until I was 34 (2011) that I was appointed as an elder. Why it took so long was because I called the Branch without consulting with the body of elders on how to deal with my daughter being molested. Doing so is not following the direction of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

We continued being Jehovah’s Witnesses because we just thought it was the truth. We kept on going – serving Jehovah as best we could. 

Flash forward to 2013.

My congregation had sixteen elders. The Circuit Overseer asked if one of us would transfer to help out a nearby congregation.  I offered to help that congregation. Within a month of joining that kingdom hall, I was made the Service Overseer. 

Soon, a request for a bible study was received through the jw.org website. I asked my wife if she would take the bible study and she agreed.  From a Jehovah’s Witness perspective, this young woman made amazing progress with my wife.  Within a few short weeks, she began to attend congregation meetings. And within a few months she became an unbaptized publisher.

Yet, she kept on doing research. She would use both Watchtower and non-Watchtower resources. IN the Spring of 2015, she found out about the Watchtower being an NGO with the United Nations.  She showed this evidence to my wife.  This just rocked our world. 

My wife had been pioneering for 20 years. She lived for “the truth”. However, after learning about this, she did more research then ever. She would keep finding stuff and would show it to me.  We had more fights and arguments in 2015 than the previous 19 years we were married. 

She was awake and I was not.

I could not see it.  I was still brain washed. Not even the videos (part 1 / part 2) or transcript of Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse could wake me up. 

It was something else entirely that woke me up.

Waking Up

As the Service Overseer, the literature counter at the Kingdom Hall was my responsibility.  Because we had an old servant who could not handle a computer, I would put a list of the inventory up on the jw.org web site every six months.

In September 2015, I put the inventory listing up on the web site, as was customary.  A month later I received a letter from the Branch office within my jw.org inbox. I was instructed to discard all of the old literature.  I passed the letter over to my literature servant. He did not throw away the literature as instructed.  And I forgot about it. 

Six months later in February of 2016, I put the inventory listing up on the jw.org website once again.  Shortly afterwards, I received another letter from the Branch office.  I was directed to discard the old literature at the next meeting.  We were forbidden from handing it out to brothers and sisters at the literature counter.

The literature that we were instructed to get rid of was:

But why? What was so bad about having these books at the literature counter?

After the last Tuesday night meeting of the month of February we had an elder’s meeting. I got a hard time from the other elders for not discarding the old literature.  It was literature litter. This literature – that was once valuable “spiritual food” – was now only fit for the garbage. This was how I was directed. This is how we were directed. This is the direction given to all elders across the globe. It was with this realization during that meeting I woke up. It dawned on me that it was all a lie. I was working for a publishing corporation. We were all just publishers working for a publishing corporation.

This was not the truth. 

That was my last meeting ever. I did not go back.  I wrote a letter to the Coordinator of the Body of Elders (COBE). I told the COBE that I could no longer serve on the body of elders.  He did not want to hear any of it. He shut his ears. He shut his eyes. Yes, he shut his mind.

All of the things my wife was telling me over the last 11 months suddenly made sense. It all came together.

The shunning of a family member

After fading for a month, I could no longer live a double life.  I wrote a letter to my extended family in March 2016.

  • My sister, who has been residing in Walkill since 1998 has not responded. She even took the liberty of blocking my number. 
  • My aunt and uncle, who are missionaries in Kenya, had a mock funeral for my family. They have treated us as if we have died!
  • My dad, who is still an elder, did not even call me to discuss the matter. He did not even try to help.
  • My mom’s response was probably the most surprising. She is crazy. Yet, she did call and email me. Saying that, she still cannot see the lies and the cover ups. 

I cannot believe that my family would shun me. I have not taken up smoking. I have not become a drunk. I have not done drugs. I did not commit fornication, adultery or any other act that would constitute “porneia”.

My brother-in-law, an alcoholic, who has been serving at World Headquarters since 1991 is okay.  He is good company. But I am wicked?

I have lost most of my family and a lot of friends. But it is not all is bad.

The first Six Months of our Real Life

Despite being shunned by the above mentioned family members, things have been great. In fact, things have been awesome, amazing and so much fun these last few months.

I have done exciting things  that I would never have dreamed of doing before. I love video games. Previously, I would never play them too much because I would always feel bad. This year I bought a PlayStation 4. I love it!

I have watched R-rated movies for the first time! Oddly enough, it hasn’t changed me.

I have found my mom’s two brothers. They left the cult in the 1970’s. I also found out that I have a cousin that I did not even know I had. 

Fortunately for me, my brother woke up soon after I did. His wife is out as well. They are happier than they have ever been.  To add to that, my wife’s brother and his wife are also out. Their marriage was not going good, but now they are having the best life ever!

– Story kindly shared by Martin John Haugh with Avoidjw.org

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Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

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