The episode of This American Life that aired this weekend included a gripping story by producer Neil Drumming about Will McMillan, a man who was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witnesses after he came out as gay (and sought a relationship). But in a troubling twist, Will hasn’t fully let go of his JW beliefs.
You can listen to the story right here.
Drumming is a former Witness who later became an atheist. Part of what makes this story so fascinating is hearing them wax nostalgic about Kingdom Hall meetings. I had never heard the “Smurf rumor” before — but I laughed out loud when Drumming realized that McMillan, who grew up in a completely different part of the country than he did, knew exactly what he was talking about. That’s at the 41:34 mark.
Will’s interview certainly demonstrates how pervasive the JW indoctrination can be. Here we have a gay man who has been ejected from his religion, but who continues to be “half in, half out” — still clinging to some of Watchtower’s beliefs and teachings.
This suggests that Will has not been able to bring himself to research his beliefs objectively, or if he has, his learned fear of “apostate” sources has been so thorough that the information has been worthless to him.
You really do need to be open to doing research when breaking free from cult-like groups, or their teachings stay with you. It certainly doesn’t happen on auto-pilot.
Based on what I’ve heard from other former believers, that certainly rings true.