Ex Jehovah's Witness Converts

As a companion question to my other one about Catholic and Protestant converts, I also ask here: is there a study that shows how many converts to being Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually lapse or leave it altogether after a few years? If so why do they do it? If they converted to being JWs then I would assume that they wanted to join said religion; why would they eventually leave it? Any thoughts?

My SO was raised Catholic with his 7 siblings and 3 of them converted to be JW and two have since left. He said they left because they had been promised that the end times were near and near never really happened in their opinion. They left after about 10 years of being in it.

I appreciate the response. Question: what do you mean by SO? Significant Other? Also did he say why 3 of his siblings converted? I ask this because I was a friend of a family of Catholics (not especially devout though). The one devout Catholic there was had been a church lector on Sundays. However he eventually became a JW himself. I won’t bore you with all the details but what his brother and I believe is that the bottom line was that he couldn’t find any cute Catholic girls that wanted to date him, and when he met the JWs who promised that “we don’t care what you look like or how much money you have” and let him know that “several young JW ladies would certainly be interested in meeting a nice young man like you,” well…you get the picture.

I don’t know if you’ve count them as converts since they initially had no choice in the matter but I do know a few who were converted as kids (parents decision to convert the whole family) and then left when they came of age.

Yeah, it’s my significant other’s family. My SO was raised in a Catholic family in rural Wisconsin and he’s still a practicing Catholic. His oldest sister was the first to convert about 20 years ago. She’s in her 70s now. The next two siblings in birth order followed suit. The sister converted as she was told the end times were coming. Apparently, that’s a good selling point for some. The younger siblings believed that what their older sibling said was correct and they became heavily involved in the JW church. I’m sure there’s a little more to it, but that’s what my SO said.

We were visting his (Catholic) mother on her birthday last year and she got a casual call just “checking in” to see how her day was from one of the JW siblings that left the church. They still didn’t want to acknowledge the birthday though.

The oldest sister is still involved in the Church and in fact just had a Pacemaker put in which worried my SO since the sibling still believes in not taking blood so if something went wrong…well you get the picture.

A friend of mine way back when complained that the JW heirachy started in on his mother (a staunch convert). She approached one grown son and asked him to corroberate her contention that the 70-yo father was “erratic” so that she have him decalred unifit, could take title of the family house and sell it, to give the money to the church since the end of days was near and there was no need to hang on to property. That was in the late 1970’s. They’d still be homeless and waiting if one of the sons had agreed - none did.

I was a convert to the JWs as a teenager and left in my late 40s. I left because I found out many things about their history that they generally don’t tell you while recruiting, such as their long history of failed predictions of the end of the world, their history of bogus medical advice and their associations with occultism.

There’s an interesting study of the statistics pf people who leave their organization at http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/statistics.php

No studies, only personal information: I know three brothers who officially converted to JW in childhood, but it hadn’t been their choice any more than getting baptized Catholic had (Catholic is the dominant denomination here). It was a PITA when we were teens, as they were supposed to dress like bank cashiers and weren’t even supposed to talk to the rest of us except to try and convert us (yeah rite). The two eldest were part of my group of friends; they’d leave the house every Saturday dressed up in ill-fitting suits and change into jeans, sneakers and tees borrowed from friends who were the same size; change back once the “junior disco” closed (at 9pm), be back home in suits and ties by 9:30. The rest of us had 10pm “return hours” - for us it wasn’t quite a curfew, more a guideline, but for them it was hell and damnation if late. Eventually all three reverted to Catholicism, which anyway they hadn’t officially left (there actually is a procedure to do that). Talking about it, one of them once said “I don’t think I’ll ever be great shakes as a Catholic, but I feel less bad about being a so-so Catholic than a so-so JW*, plus this way I’m not supposed to treat the rest of the world like they have cooties and none of that no-blood shit.”

  • From clarification, as in “nobody gives me the kind of shit about being a so-so Catholic that I’d get about being a so-so JW”.

Thanks for the link. However I was unclear about what exactly occurred in 1995 that caused the declines.

My ex converted to JW in his mid teens. When his family moved back to Australia from the US, he had a hard time making friends. A JW girl befriended him and introduced him to the religion. Everyone was welcoming and friendly and he felt like part of a community for the first time since leaving the States. Also, he had a huge crush on the girl and lived in hope that she’d see him as more than a friend.
He threw himself headlong into it, got baptised and mailed his Catholic baptism certificate back to the Vatican, forced his mum to sign a pledge that she understood he would refuse a blood transfusion if he could speak for himself and that she would abide by his wishes if he couldn’t.
In time, the girl went on a vacation to England, met someone there and married him. She never came back.
He stayed involved with the JWs for some time after that, until some members approached him one day and told him he ought to be attending the congregation nearer his home, not the one he’d been introduced to by the girl. He said ok, but he only attended a couple of times, found the members there to be snobby and unfriendly, and what with being busy starting his own business and all, it was easy to find excuses not to go. When I met him six months later, he had already realised he was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness and he never went back.

Man, the Internet has everything: Ex-JW Message Board

It doesn’t say. It’s just that the predictions were made in 1995 based on the data that came before that date. The graph I assume you are talking about merely shows the difference between the prediction and what actually happened.

Also, all of my JW aunt’s children left and I see no sign they are returning. She did finally convince my uncle to join, though. All of the kids left due to problems with how controlling the religion was. Some discovered this after being exposed to other Christian sects. (I’d say denominations, but JW’s don’t consider themselves a denomination, if I remember correctly.) Others just due to typical teenage rebellion.

1995 was the year the organization changed the teaching/meaning behind the term “Generation” - as in doing so negates the previous 100 (or so) years of teaching that the Generation of 1914 would be ‘the last’. They’ve changed the teaching a couple of more times since then to be even more nebulous, but 1995 was a very abrupt change of the prior teachings.


For about 50 years, the Watchtower Society had taught that some people who had seen the events of 1914 would also live to see the end of the world. Obviously, by 1994, someone who was even born in 1914 (much less remembered what happened then) would have been 80 years old, so the “generation” of 1914 was getting pretty thin. In 1995, they officially abandoned that teaching and reinterpreted the Bible texts that they had used to teach it. There was considerable disappointment among the rank and file who were now being told they might not live to see the New World after all, but would need to rely on the promise of the resurrection. As a result, not a few left the organization. It was sort of a confirmation for me, too. I had long before decided that they were not teaching truth, and I knew that eventually the 1914 business would need to be reinterpreted. Then, in 1995, there it was. My activity as a JW slowed down considerably thereafter, and finally stopped completely.

That was a very interesting story about your ex. It’s amazing the decisions that we humans often make when sexual desire is involved; I’m all for sex but it does tend to cloud our decision-making processes more often than not. Did your ex eventually return to Catholicism or leave religion altogether? I ask because the situation appears to be one where he left one religion in hopes of sex and romance (like my friend did although not for any one particular woman) and then when that didn’t go very well he left after meeting an unfriendly and unwelcoming congregation.

My activity as a JW slowed down considerably thereafter, and finally stopped completely.
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That’s an interesting story as well. Did you join a different religion thereafter?

I consider myself an evangelical Christian. I’m not necessarily committed to a particular denomination, though I am a member of an Alliance church in my town. I’m there because it’s a good church, not because it’s an Alliance church.

Do you know why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Halloween?

Because they hate the idea of strangers knocking on their doors!

He did not return to Catholicism. He still thought a god was the most likely origin of the universe, but had no belief in a personally involved creator.

He would never admit to anyone (including himself) that he was only in the JWs for the girl’s sake. He was always offended by the suggestion.

How about Jehovah’s Witnesses dating sites? (if there are any, I don’t want to know about it - the Christian Mingle ads are bad enough).