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Chapter One

1958 was a very eventful year in my young life. It
was the month of June and I had just celebrated my
seventeenth birthday and, with my mother's written
permission, I had joined the United States Navy. In
June of the previous year I had quit school and
found that jobs were not very plentiful, so the Navy
seemed like a good opportunity for excitement and
adventure and the means to earn a livelihood.
Almost two years later, in 1960, while on military
leave in my home town of Indianapolis, Indiana, I
met and just three months later married my wife, the
former Linnie Jane Gilreath. After being transferred
a number of times, I was assigned to the Naval Air
Station at Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the early summer of 1963 and Linnie and I
were now the proud parents of two beautiful blond
headed boys: Daniel Patrick, age two years, and
Anthony Scott, age five months. My family and I had
transferred to Jacksonville from Long Beach,
California, where I was stationed on board the U.S.S.
Bayfield, a Marine troop transport. We had just
moved into a newly redecorated home located on
Lavin Road, not far from the Naval Air Station. The
house was an FHA repo that we were able to
purchase with no money down and small affordable
monthly payments. My wife and I were very elated to
be moving into our very own home. During our three
years of marriage and nomadic military lifestyle, we
had always lived in apartments or government
housing with very little room for our growing family.
We had been transferred and had to change
residences four times thus far, and we were looking
forward to an assignment at a shore installation,
where I expected to be stationed for at least two
years. We were very happy at the prospect of a
comparatively normal lifestyle, where I would be able
to come home almost every evening and spend time
with my family.

However, we wouldn't have been so happy if we
had known what the future held for us. We didn't
know it yet, but this was to be our last duty station
and the end of my promising career in the U. S.
Navy. It was also the beginning of problems and
difficulties that would plague our entire family for the
next thirty years.

I returned home one day after work at the Air Base
and was advised by my wife that there had been two
women there earlier in the day who professed to be
ministers. They had told my wife that they were
engaged in a "great separating work" for God,
informing people about an impending disaster that
was about to come upon the entire inhabited earth.
"Armageddon," they called it, "the War of the Great
Day of God the Almighty." They told my wife that the
only way to be saved was to become a member of
God's organization, which was the Watchtower Bible
and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. Everyone
who didn't belong to the organization, they said,
would be destroyed. I could tell that this revelation
frightened and intimidated my wife. At the insistence
of these ladies my wife had invited them back the
following week to study the Bible with us, at a time
in the evening when I would be home from work. I
objected to this Bible Study that was being imposed
on us as neither my wife nor I had any experience at
all in religious matters. Linnie and I were both just
twenty-two years of age at the time and had never
read the Bible. We had received a King James
Version of the Holy Scriptures as a wedding gift and
it was sitting on the coffee table in the living room,
gathering dust. Neither of us had come from families
who placed much importance or emphasis on going
to church, or were what you would refer to as
"religious." We both believed in a Supreme Being of
some kind. However, like a lot of other people, we
just didn't give it much thought.

I didn't want to be disrespectful or unkind to these
women representing themselves as ministers of God.
But I also wasn't interested in studying the Bible. I
informed my wife that she could do whatever she
wanted to. However, if she elected to study with the
women, she would have to do it without me. I would
see to it that I wasn't home.

The following week, the day arrived when the
ladies were to study with us. Just before the
designated time for their arrival I went outside to the
car to leave. It was pouring down rain and, as luck
would have it, my car wouldn't start. I was still in
my automobile trying to start it when the two women
pulled in behind me, blocking my route of escape. I
decided that I was trapped and might as well make
the best of it. I cordially greeted the ladies and
invited them into the house, where my wife
introduced us. One of the women was a very elderly
person, with white hair and I would guess her age to
be in her mid seventies. Her name was Emily
Sassard. However, she said that everyone just called
her "Sassy." The lady accompanying her was rather
matronly looking and appeared to be in her late
forties or early fifties. Her name was Una Fremont
and she was obviously the one in charge of the two,
as she immediately took control of our study.
We informed the ladies that we had our own Bible,
the King James Version, and we would use it to
study from. Una replied, "That is fine." However,
she was quick to point out that there were many
better translations of the Bible, explaining that the
King James Version was written in archaic English
and was difficult to understand. However, Una did
concede that you could get the truth from any Bible,
as long as it was interpreted properly.

As I recall, we proceeded to take turns reading,
starting in the Old Testament with the book of
Genesis. Una explained the creation account to us,
stating how God intended for mankind to live on a
paradise earth forever and what God purposes to be,
will ultimately come to pass. When it was Una or
Sassy's turn to read from the Bible, they read from a
modern English translation called the New World
Translation of the Holy Scriptures. After they had
read several times from their modern English
version, I had to admit that it was easier to
understand and I asked Una how we could get a copy
of this Bible. This seemed to please them a great
deal and they told me that when they returned the
following week they would bring us each a copy.
After several hours Una concluded the study with a

After Una and Sassy had left, promising to return
on the same day and at the same time the following
week, my wife and I talked about how nice they were
and how knowledgeable concerning the Bible they
seemed to be. Una especially impressed us with her
enthusiastic and articulate manner. She was very
encouraging, complimenting us often on how quickly
we learned and how smart we seemed to be. Una
made over our babies, lamenting that she only had
one grown son and that she seldom even saw him.
Una also related that her husband was now deceased
and that they had not had a good marriage. She
further stated that her husband had not been one of
Jehovah's Witnesses and that he had been an
alcoholic and very abusive of her.

Una explained that she was a "pioneer" for the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. She voluntarily
put in many hours going from door to door 'just as
Jesus and his disciples had,' doing this great
separating work for Jehovah God and the Society.
Una further explained that the work consisted of
separating the "sheep" from the "goats." The
"sheeplike ones" were God's people who were
teachable and would listen and respond to the
Society's message and join the Watchtower
organization. The "goatlike ones" were those who
would not listen or respond to the Society's message.
These were "worldly people," or Satan's followers. We
were told these goatlike ones were to be destroyed at
Armageddon in the very near future.

Very punctually, the following week, the two nice
ladies appeared at our door, Bibles in hand. Just as
they had promised, they brought us each a brand
new copy of the New World Translation of the Holy
Scriptures. Also, they had brought us each a copy of
a book entitled Let God Be True. Una explained that
this was a "Bible study aid" written and published by
the Society, which we would be using. She further
explained that the Bible was a very complicated book
and that no one could understand it without help
from the organization. The only cost to us was a very
small contribution to the Society, just to defray the
cost of printing. I gave Una two dollars for the four
books and thought it quite a bargain.

Over the next several weeks we learned many new
and exciting things from our Bible study, about God
and what his purpose was for mankind and what he
expected from us. We learned all these things from
the Society's "Bible study aid," occasionally looking
up scriptures in the New World Translation of the
Bible, which supported what they were teaching us.
Some of the things that we learned were that God's
name is Jehovah and that his true followers always
call him by that name. This was also part of the
proof that Jehovah's Witnesses were God's only true
people. No other religious organization called God by
this name, we were told. Linnie and I also learned
that there were two classes of followers in Jehovah's
organization. There was the "anointed class" or the
144,000 who would go to heaven to rule with Christ,
and there was the "other sheep class," the millions of
other followers of the Watchtower Society who would
be permitted to live on a restored paradise earth,
forever, after Jehovah cleansed the earth by killing
off all the wicked. The wicked, we were taught,
consisted of all those who were not part of God's
organization, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
of Jehovah's Witnesses.

It was further pointed out to us that the wicked
included all of the religions of the world, together
with all of the churches of Christendom. The
churches of Christendom were especially evil in
Jehovah's eyes, because they were teaching the
people "God dishonoring" doctrines such as hellfire
and the Trinity. Una and Sassy also taught us that
the churches were responsible for the majority of the
wars that had been fought in history and that
Christendom has always supported the evil
governments of the world, prostituting themselves in
an effort to gain favor and power. It was also shown
to us from the Scriptures, how all of the world's
military forces would be bought into direct opposition
to Jehovah by Satan the Devil and would be
completely destroyed at Armageddon. Needless to
say, this information made me feel a bit uneasy,
since I had intended to make a career of the military.

During the course of our studies, with the
coaching of our teachers, we determined that we
were of the "other sheep class" who would inhabit a
restored paradise earth after Armageddon. After all,
Linnie and I reasoned, we had no real desire to go to
heaven, a place that we knew virtually nothing
about. The mental picture our teachers gave us of
what the earth was to be like was magnificent. No
more wars, sickness or hunger, and even death
would be done away with. Everyone would have a
beautiful home of their choice and man and animals
would live in perfect harmony together, under one
world government. I remember thinking, "Who
wouldn't want to live in a wonderful world like that?"

We were later to find out that the worldwide
government they were referring to would be the
Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Elders in
each congregation were portrayed as "Princes in the
Earth" who were preparing to govern and carry out
orders directly from the Society's headquarters in
Brooklyn, New York. Loyal followers, who would be
the survivors of Armageddon, would be expected to
take commands and direction from the elders or
'Princes,' without question. Those who opposed this
arrangement in the "New World Order," we were told,
would immediately be executed.

After studying with Una and Sassy for several
more weeks Una advised us that we should be
attending the meetings at the "Kingdom Hall," in
addition to our weekly home Bible study. She
explained that the "Kingdom Hall" was what they
called the place where individual congregations met
to study the Bible and the Watchtower publications
as well as worship Jehovah. Una likened the
attending of these meetings to "taking in spiritual
food." She said that there were five meetings a week
and that we should try to arrange our personal
affairs in an effort to attend them all.

Una explained that on Sunday mornings there was
a Public Talk that lasted for one hour. The second
meeting immediately followed the first and was for
the purpose of studying The Watchtower magazine,
one of the Society's monthly publications. There was
an article selected from this magazine each week and
everyone in attendance was expected to study the
article in advance and be prepared for the question
and answer session. This meeting also lasted for one
hour. On Tuesday evenings there was another Bible
Study that everyone was required to attend. The
congregation was broken up into small groups and
met at the Kingdom Hall, as well as private homes.

Each group had a study conductor who was either
an elder or some other "servant," as their leaders are
called. One of the Society's books was studied at
these meetings which lasted for one hour. You were
also required to study prior to this meeting and be
prepared for the question and answer session.
Everyone was expected to participate. Then there
were two meetings on Thursday nights. They were of
one hour duration each, one following right after the
other. They were called the Theocratic Ministry
School and the Service Meeting. Basically these
meetings were used for the purpose of teaching
Jehovah's Witnesses public speaking, and
demonstrations were given on how to effectively place
the Society's literature and solicit donations from the
public. Una taught us that to miss any of these
meetings, unless it was absolutely unavoidable, was
a sin.

In addition to all of these meetings, Jehovah's
Witnesses are expected to spend as much time as
possible in "service" to Jehovah and the organization.
This "service" is to be done to the exclusion of
secular work, such as overtime on your job,
extracurricular activities such as sports, Scouting or
hobbies, or even obtaining a higher education.
"Service" involves going from door to door, witnessing
to people about Jehovah and the organization and
placing the Society's literature, soliciting donations
and attempting to start Bible studies, in an effort to
gain converts. The donations received from the sale
or placement of their magazines, books and tracts
are sent to the Society's headquarters in Brooklyn,
New York. This procedure is still in effect today, just
as it was in 1963 when we first became associated
with the organization, only with a slight twist. The
Watchtower followers today are expected to donate
money out of their own pocket for the publications
when they first receive them; then if they are able to
obtain a contribution at the door, that is also
required to be sent to the Society. For persons going
out in "service," usually arrangements are made to
meet in car groups at the Kingdom Hall or some
other designated location.

There are maps available of the area to be
canvassed and this "territory," as it is called, is an
area within a specific circumference of the Kingdom
Hall. Detailed records are kept of interested persons
with the "territory." Interested persons were
basically defined as people who have accepted
literature and/or made contributions to the Society.
This is done so that some other Witness working the
"territory," perhaps the following month, might call
on that same person again. These records are also
used to make notations about problems at certain
addresses. For example, it might be noted that a
person is violently opposed to the witnessing work, or
that someone harbors a vicious dog that could pose a
danger. The next Witness working that "territory"
might wish to skip the house in question.

A record of the amount of time put in by individual
Witnesses, or "publishers" as the average rank and
file members are also called, is very important and is
turned in on a monthly basis to the Society's head
quarters in Brooklyn, New York. The Society suggests
that regular publishers should put in at least ten
hours per month. "Pioneers," that is, persons who go
out in "service" full time, are supposed to put in at
least sixty hours per month. The Witnesses teach
that the amount of "service" that a person performs
has a direct bearing on their eternal salvation. Even
though Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a type of grace
doctrine, through the blood of Jesus Christ, they also
believe that their followers must zealously pursue the
works program formulated by the organization.
These works must be vigorously and faithfully
performed in order to be worthy of salvation. Each
"publisher" and "pioneer" is required to turn in a
written report of all their activity each month: the
number of hours they have spent in the door to door
ministry, as well as the hours spent conducting Bible
studies and a detailed breakdown of Watchtower
publications they have placed. These individual
activity reports are compiled into a congregation
report by one of the elders and then forwarded on to
Society headquarters.

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