We’ve been creating this social impact project since 2016: the Witness Underground documentary feature, crowd-funded in part by an international community of former cult members, and the ongoing Witness Underground podcast. These are the evolution of the XJW Coming Out documentary series (4 seasons), following people who’ve left this high-control group, and how they have landed in the real world. The film will be released in March/April 2023. [Pssst, it's on Patreon!] We will need your help to share the news of the film release for maximum social impact. (see ‘The Film Release Plan’ below)
Ballet Dancer Exposes the Jehovah's Witness Darkside
Witness Underground Podcast
XJW Coming Out Documentary Series Teaser
Ballet Dancer Exposes the Jehovah's Witness Darkside
WItness Underground Documentary Trailer
We believe that through artists we have a refreshing, powerful, and entertaining path to healing. Musicians especially have a gift to communicate emotionally, direct to the heart, important information in an entertaining and moving way. Talented artists who have gone through an exit from a cult and made music about their journey, are the highlight of the film and a focus in the podcast.
Through these three forms of journalism, we demonstrate real life, humanizing examples of individuals around the world, who are healing and have built an inspiring life, showing what’s possible and what works. The intention is to join and help build the resistance movement, to expose the long lasting traumatic effects of one of the most dangerous aspects of this group, shunning - complete family and community isolation. The film deeply focuses on this. The podcast covers many topics depending on the experiences of the individual.
So now, which cult are we focused on? The Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are amazing people trapped inside of this community, and there are millions of people on the outside who are disconnected from those they love, through social control mechanisms, enforced by the congregations. We offer many examples of the inspiring lives of those who have gotten out of this trap, and are on a path to healing.
The Film Release Plan
The film is now streaming on Patreon!
We plan to also make it available on TUBI later this year, with ads.
Starting in Hanoi Vietnam and Munich Germany, in my 6th year of living abroad, I, the director, Scott Homan, started to interview people about this topic wherever we found each other, often while doing what we loved in the most random of scenarios and places, enjoying freedom. For me, this process was a fascinating, healing, and deeply important. It feels like meeting long lost family members.
This is a fully global group of disconnected former members in part, because the religion has focused for over 100 years on international expansion through requiring 10+ hours monthly, of promoting the faith system to others, in an official capacity, and sending missionaries to every country who do this proselytizing full time. When people realize they: don’t believe in the supernatural, simply can’t stand to have their life rigidly controlled anymore, slowly walk away for any reason, or get kicked out for breaking a rule, they usually lose all or nearly all contact with family for the rest of their lives. This practice of shunning is one of many reasons why in Europe, they have been banned as a extremist group (Russia), officially defunded by the government (Norway), and lost a supreme court battle in a criminal court case and thereafter officially labeled a hate group (Belgium). Iceland and other northern European nations are in discussions about de-funding them, in short, because they negatively impact society and offer no recognizable benefits. The “hate group” legal designation will likely rise to the European supreme court.
People take many paths after their traumatic exit or escape moment. In a social sense, they are immediately treated like our worst criminals in prison, sent to solitary confinement by their entire community, with no dignified path out or to redemption, resulting in irreparable damage to families, PTSD and/or RTS (Religious Trauma Syndrome) for all involved, and other traumas. These social losses take a huge toll on a person. A common path, for people who go through this, is to travel or move far away, live abroad, try new things, find a healthy community, and reinvent themselves. The focus of our project so far has been with those who have done so and/or are also active artists.
Extremism in Australia
An intense example of how extreme this religion is, from only one country, Australia, on a topic which this project doesn’t really touch, but is really important, was the official investigation by the Australian government into a shocking, criminal coverup by the religion. ARC (Australian Royal Commission) found proof of 1006 known and protected rapists (usually of children, CSA (child sex abuse)), with records going back decades. Over 2500 records, from victims who reported the violation(s) themselves to the religious leaders, were uncovered. The religion successfully covered up these crimes, protected the rapists’ and the corporations' reputations, and put the victims and other countless people at further risk in and outside of this community. This criminal revelation has sent ripples through the religion and has woken up a lot of members to this extremely dark aspect of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are continuous court battles every year in many countries, usually for child sexual abuse within the religion, and often perpetrated by the leaders and covered up. The religion prioritizes their reputation at all costs and often settles out of court for tens of millions of dollars of hush money per case.
It’s common to hear an average member defend this by saying something like, ‘God’s true people aren’t perfect. All religions have pedophiles.’ This is from my own father. I have yet to hear from anyone, who didn’t know of sexual abuse in their own congregation. It’s a deep problem within this cult systemically and it's very much a global problem. These pedophiles are walking to your door.
This might not be your fight but we hope you value the art that's coming out of this struggle. If $3.00 is too much, please watch the film on an add based service like Tubi, when available, and share it with those who you think would appreciate it.