The year was 1919. He was seven, the oldest of four surviving children. He was his immigrant father’s workhorse who was ordered to do man-sized jobs. Therefore, to keep the family warm, the child, not the father, often walked the long, wind-whipped city blocks carrying a heavy burlap sack of coal on his back which eventually bowed his developing legs.
Barbara Anderson is an unstoppable advocate for child protection and outspoken critic of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s doctrines that “unduly influence” Jehovah’s Witnesses and protects sexual predators. She is an expert on the Watchtower’s history. She has been interviewed on major TV and radio programs because of her extensive research on child sexual abuse.
As an advocate for child protection, Barbara aids lawyers suing the Watchtower about child sexual abuse and media investigative journalists as an expert on the cover-up by the Watchtower of child sexual abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses molesters.
Interviewed on major TV and radio programs about the Watchtower’s policies and litigation.
Researched child sexual abuse by Witnesses for the Watchtower’s Governing Body.
As an Advocate
Since June 1999 to the present in Tennessee:
In 1999, because of conversations with former-Witness friends about child abuse, Barbara and her friends become convinced that the Watchtower and its policies were culpable for covering up the crime of child sexual abuse by Witnesses. They decided that they must make the world aware of the Watchtower’s irresponsible and negligent behavior and to convince the Governing Body to change their policies. But how?
In early 2001 Barbara flew to New York to be interviewed for NBC’s “Dateline” documentary about the Watchtower and how it handled child sexual abuse perpetrated by Witnesses. The broadcast of the program was planned for some time in November of 2001, but because of the terrorist attacks on September 11th in New York City, it was delayed until May 28, 2002.
On May 19, 2002, the Watchtower disfellowshipped Barbara for causing divisions in the organization. Her son and his family and many of her Witness friends began to strictly shun her. It was a cunning move by the Watchtower to disfellowship her before the “Dateline” show aired because Witnesses view disfellowshipped persons as unrepentant sinners who lie about their former religion.
Her husband, Joe, was subsequently was disfellowshipped in July 2002 for (1) not having his wife under control; (2) causing divisions for defending her, and (3) for expressing his personal views about how the Watchtower handled child sexual abuse committed by Jehovah’s Witness molesters.
Interviewed on NBC’s “Dateline” which aired on May 28, 2002, regarding the Watchtower’s child sexual abuse problems. https://vimeo.com/160789542
Barbara and Joe Anderson interviewed on WKRN-TV News 2, at 6 PM on September 5, 2002. Also appeared twice on WSMV–TV News 4, September 5, 2002, first at 5 PM and at 6 PM. https://youtu.be/seUMzyekbJI
Radio interview on the Mark Furhman Show, Spokane, WA, October 17, 2005.
January 1993 – June 1999 (6 years 6 months) Tennessee
Even after leaving the Watchtower’s Bethel Headquarters in 1992 to help take care of her parents, Barbara continued doing research for the Writing Department from her home in Tennessee. Among other things, she studied child sexual abuse problems in other religions and amongst society at large. She felt that she could help to change the Watchtower’s child sexual abuse policies to protect children more. It was learning about child molestation in her area congregations and how Watchtower policies flip-flopped that removed all doubt from Barbara’s mind. Overcoming the Watchtower’s mental manipulation and coercion has been the most difficult challenge Barbara has had to overcome to promote child protection.
After fading for about a year she left the organization in 1998. She knew for certain that her family and friends would strictly shun her in accordance with the Watchtower’s shunning doctrine because she would be considered a threat to the religion. In 1998 she was able to overcome the Watchtower’s indoctrination against higher education by going to a local community college. Going to college was how she discovered what life was really like outside of the Watchtower and what she read in its propaganda literature.
As a Jehovah’s Witness at the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
June 1982 – December 1992 (10 years 7 months) Watchtower Bethel Headquarters, Brooklyn, NY
She worked at the Watchtower’s headquarters in Brooklyn, NY from 1982 to 1992. From 1983 to 1989 she was assigned to the Construction Engineering Department’s staff as part of the secretarial pool and later advanced to researching zoning issues. Because of her demonstrated research accomplishments, she was transferred to the Watchtower’s Writing Department in 1989.
From 1989 to 1992 she researched the Watchtower’s official history as well as wrote a number of articles for its Awake! publication. While working for the Writing Department she discovered numerous documents that were not included in the Watchtower’s history book, Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom because the Watchtower’s image could be tarnished. It was not in her nature to admit to nagging suspicions after seeing some of those documents. It was easier to believe in the Watchtower and make excuses for its leaders as being “imperfect men.” It took Barbara a while to overcome the Watchtower’s mind manipulation.
It was in 1984, while she was working in Watchtower headquarters Construction Engineering Department, that she first heard about a Witness sexually abusing children. By 1992 she was more concerned about following the Watchtower’s problematic procedures concerning child sexual abuse than admitting the obvious. The Watchtower’s leaders were treating accusations of child sexual abuse as a sin (and protecting the Watchtower’s image), instead of as a crime. Law enforcement is funded and responsible for investigating crimes – the Watchtower and its elders are not.
Researched a Watchtower approved project about child sexual abuse by Witnesses for the Watchtower’s Governing Body. Each Governing Body member received that research in early January 1993.
Researched the Watchtower’s history for its official 750-page chronicle, Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, published in 1993.
Wrote seven articles for the Watchtower’s Awake! Publication
Jehovah’s Witness (Early Years):
June 1954 – June 1982 (28 years 1 month) various locations
After being baptized as a Witness in 1954, Barbara’s life’s focus was to dedicate her life to Jehovah (translation – obey the Watchtower’s doctrines and its leaders without questioning why). She put aside her heart’s desire to study archeology, because of the Watchtower’s ban on higher education for Witnesses. Distributing Watchtower publications and prophesying door-to-door as a pioneer for up to 100 hours per month took priority over education. She obeyed the Watchtower doctrines to limit associations with non-Witnesses and chose to marry a Witness. Why would a fourteen-year-old teenager agree to allow her life to be so controlled? Not only was she idealistic but she was bored, inexperienced, naïve, and gullible. She desperately wanted to cure the world’s problems and to be respected but was too inexperienced to make any valuable contributions. Her attitude left her vulnerable.
She obeyed the Watchtower doctrines to limit associations with non-Witnesses and chose to marry a Witness. Why would a fourteen-year-old teenager agree to allow her life to be so controlled? Not only was she idealistic but she was bored, inexperienced, naïve, and gullible. She desperately wanted to cure the world’s problems and to be respected – but was too inexperienced to make any valuable contributions. Her attitude left her vulnerable to mind manipulation through methods of indoctrination skillfully crafted and honed over decades by the Watchtower. Barbara’s experiences were fairly typical for a “spiritually strong” Witness. She did not question the Watchtower’s changing doctrines because it was “new light” which must be better than the old. During the mid-1960’s the Watchtower’s leaders promoted the idea that 1975 would see the “end of the present system of things.” She and Joe were worried that maybe they weren’t doing enough for Jehovah so in 1968, Joe quit his job with Florida Power and Light Company to spend 100 hours per month in the house-to-house ministry work. Both Barbara and Joe worked part-time to support themselves. Although the Watchtower’s “Apocalypse” did not occur in 1975, Barbara and Joe were not disillusioned because they had too much of their lives invested in their religion.
Barbara’s experiences were fairly typical for a “spiritually strong” Witness. She did not question the Watchtower’s changing doctrines because they were “new light” which must be better than the old. During the mid-1960’s the Watchtower’s leaders promoted the idea that 1975 would see the “end of the present system of things.” She and Joe were worried that maybe they weren’t doing enough for Jehovah. So in 1968, Joe quit his job with Florida Power and Light Company to spend 100 hours per month in the house-to-house ministry work. Both Barbara and Joe worked part-time to support themselves. Although the Watchtower’s “Apocalypse” did not occur in 1975, Barbara and Joe were not disillusioned because they had too much of their lives invested in their religion.
By Barbara Anderson When my husband and I left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), we, like countless others, lost family members and friends because of the Witnesses shunning doctrine. Each of us has a story to tell as to why we left. Some of us have stories that are similar; others far different. . .
Yes, a Bethelite woman provided “spiritual food” to Jehovah’s Witnesses…
Over the last couple of years, many people have asked me to share my Writing Department resumé and basically that’s why I’m writing this. I hope that the knowledge of what I did at Bethel helps Jehovah’s Witnesses to understand that the Watchtower organization misleads the flock by inferring that all “spiritual food” somehow emanates only from men and particularly from the Governing Body.
Oh, by the way, I know without a doubt that while I was in the Writing Department, none of the Governing Body members researched and wrote any articles and books that the Society published. From information I received from insiders, this continued up until at least until the end of the 1990s.
The last thing I remember hearing was the “click, click, click” of the left turn signal when he hit us.
The back seat of the Karmann Ghia was cramped so I sat sideways, with my legs across the bench seat. The instant we collided – as our car turned left – I clearly saw the yellow and black State of Florida Highway Patrol car and the trooper’s hat. My last words were, “Oh my God!”
I knew I was in danger. As the pitch of the woman’s voice was getting higher and volume louder, a creeping, nervous feeling was moving along my whole being. Without a doubt a physical attack was next.
That bright spring Saturday morning, I was with my African-American friend Rose in the Flatbush Avenue section of Brooklyn to interview John, a young man from Kenya.
Twenty years ago, Flatbush was a Jewish area, but now it is black, with most of the people living there coming from Africa, Haiti, and other areas of the West Indies. That day, hip-hop music, mixed with rap and reggae, boomed from open apartment windows. It was easy to imagine that this was a foreign country.