Ray and Marilyn had been in the Watchtower for 50 (!) years when they finally “escaped” in the early ’80s.
Below are a few excerpts to whet your appetite. Their complete story can be found at the link below.
Ray: Well, I come from a line of Witnesses that goes back into the 30s.
Marilyn: Back in 1911, my mother was about eight years old and she began attending what was called The Class. And my Great Uncle Ray was a Bible student. He wore a cross and crown pin [see cross and crown in heading of WTB&TS publication] in the lapel of his blue serge suit. This just intrigued me when he came to our house and I would touch this pin.
In the summer of 1931, Judge Rutherford was going to talk in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State Fair grounds. So Uncle Ray, in one of his frequent visits, came to see my father and mother and said, “You’ve to come and hear this.”
What I thought was going to be a lifetime commitment ended in December of 1981 when Ray and I walked away from the Jupiter, Florida, congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, never to return again.
They won’t let you just walk away, and our leaving was traumatic.
Ray: Uncle George came to our home quite a lot. He was associated with the Bible Students, the International Bible Students, and was of the heavenly class, “the 144,000.” At the time that he started talking to my folks, there was only the heavenly class.
In 1941, we attended the St. Louis Convention. Judge Rutherford was the speaker and it was one of his last conventions. He got the children together in the arena and we received a copy of the Children book. He let us know that we shouldn’t get married.
They said not to get married, we didn’t get married. They said to pioneer, I went pioneering. They said go to prison, I went to prison–for three years.
I met Marilyn in 1947 and we were married.
Marilyn: In 1979 I had been a real estate associate for a couple of years and I was doing alright. I decided I wanted to open my own business but I made a very bad theocratic mistake. I formed a corporation, and one of the corporate members was Jim Mort, a disfellowshiped ex-Jehovah’s Witness, and one of the other stock holders was my elder husband. Somebody turned my elder husband into the judicial committee. They called him in and they asked him some questions.
Ray: After several meetings on this matter, the judicial committee determined that we should either buy out his stock or we should sell him ours. We bought him out.
Marilyn: If they didn’t have enough evidence already to hang us, they brought out a picture of me that was in a real estate magazine and they said to me that it seemed I had a cross around my neck. It was just the way the design on my blouse looked inside my jacket!
And if you know anything about being a Witness and having a cross around your neck, is that not like getting caught walking into a church? It’s terrible, it was all right for my Uncle Ray back in 1930 to have a cross and crown but in 1979, it started to get us out.
Ray: At the time, we couldn’t recognize that Jesus was coming after us and rescuing us. So we’re really happy as to what took place and we’re happy about the way this brother treated us, because our children say the same thing, that injustice came out of that committee meeting of elders. Two parents that they knew better, they knew the truth, and so that helped in our getting them out. They read a letter on us. We went to the congregation that night and they said they were going to reprove us for conduct unbecoming a Christian and…
Ray: The letter was read in the congregation and we stayed that night. We listened to all the letter. They said, “Don’t you want to leave because we’re going to read a letter on you?” We said, “No, we are going to sit right here.”
Marilyn: I cried for a whole year. I sat in that kingdom hall and I cried and I cried and I would sit there and I would read the Bible. Then this brother talked to Ray in the [parking] lot…
Ray: We didn’t know we were still being pulled in by the pressure of the so called faithful and discreet slave who said, “we have only the words of life, to whom else can you go?” So you believe in these men out of Brooklyn, New York, who tell you that they are the faithful and discreet slave. They have the words of the Lord and they are the only ones that can understand prophesy.
So we figured all the rest of the religions in the world were of the devil and where else could we go? We had to try to come back, but they didn’t want us back.
So one Sunday morning after the Watchtower study–this was in the spring of 1980–a brother, whom I had known for a good many years, met us in the parking lot at the kingdom hall in Lake Worth. He said, “My wife and I are reading the Bible and our eyes are popping open at the things we are learning.” I said, “Really, Fritz, which one of the publications are you and Molly using?” [laughter] He told me, “No study book, no Watchtower, just the Bible. Come come over and we’ll show you what we’ve found out.”
We thanked him and declined because we knew we were already in enough trouble. Why should we get in further trouble and deepen our situation? So as we crossed the parking lot, we said to one another, “He wants us to read the Bible without the Watchtower helps?!” We’ve got to stay away from Fritz and Molly–they sound like evil slaves!” [laughter]
Marilyn: In September of 1980, we decided to try another congregation, so we sold our home and moved to North Palm Beach.
When we’d go to this congregation, I told Ray, “They treat us like visitors” and he said, “Yeah, visitors from another planet.” [laughter] It was just about true, but by that time we were down to only attending the Watchtower and the talk on Sunday morning.
We were sitting in a kingdom hall in Jupiter one Sunday and…
Ray: One day I told Marilyn, “I’m going home, do you want to go with me?” So she followed me out to the car and then I told her, “You can keep on attending these meetings if you want to, but I am never coming back” and we never did. [applause]
Marilyn: [Ray] will tell you what we did after we left because we were kinda lost after we left.
Ray: For about a month, we didn’t read a magazine, we didn’t go to any meetings. Our daughter wanted to get married–the one whose baby we just showed you. She wanted to marry this young man who wasn’t even sure he believed in God! But, he was absolutely certain that he didn’t believe in Jehovah’s Witnesses. [laughter] So we wanted to talk to him about God and about the Bible but he didn’t want to hear anything, especially from the Bible of the Watchtower.
Marilyn: So we went down to a Christian bookstore and bought a eight translation copy of the New Testament. We started to read with an open mind and, to our amazement, he started listening the same way. Fritz was right about it, reading the Bible, when you start to read it, it does make your eyes pop open. [applause]
I started just reading, reading, reading, and the only exercise I really got was going down to the Christian bookstore because I didn’t go to my office anymore. I just couldn’t figure how to walk around and read. Your eyes get on the wrong line or you stumble over all the books that are laying on the living room floor so I just sat there and I read and I read and I read and Ray used to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning.
Ray: Well, that’s true. I was the morning man and I had to get up early and Marilyn was staying up all night long reading the Bible. She was reading everything that she could and our mailbox was always packed with so many letters and tracts that we had from Joan Warren, Randy Waters and Bill Cetnar, Duane Magnani, David Reed, Ed Dunlap, and Ron Fry.
We were seeing the Bible in a light we had never seen it in before. The main thing we started to see is that Jesus had come into our life, Jesus had come into our soul! [applause] We love Jesus! [applause]
Our sons and their wives, and our daughter Susie, and yes, her husband the ex-Catholic, the ex-agnostic, is now a born again Christian! [applause]
Then [our children] started telling everybody else about what they found out.
We’re so happy about knowing Jesus. He has brought more joy and peace in our lives than the 50 years of turmoil and trouble that we had in the Jehovah’s Witness organization. All we ever knew was sorrow and anxiety. We had wonderful parents and they saw a lot of the hypocrisy in that organization because they used to come home and talk about it. But that’s as far as it could go.
But I like the scripture, and this is the one that always lights up my life and, yes, I’ve gotten over Revelation 3:14, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God. The one that lights up my life is Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name that‘s the name of Jesus under heaven has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Hallelujah, praise Jesus! [applause]
Click here to read Ray and Marilyn’s entire story–you won’t be disappointed! Plus, there are many links to Watchtower materials you probably have never seen sprinkled though out.