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Jerry Minor – From Jehovah’s Witness to Comedian

August 22, 2019

This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes actor, comedian, and former Jehovah’s Witness, Jerry Minor. Minor has been a cast member and writer on Saturday Night Live and appeared on HBO’s Mr. Show and various other television and film spots throughout his career. He joins Jim Underdown to dive into his life during and after being a Jehovah’s Witness. They also get into how the Jehovah’s Witness religion drove Minor to attempt suicide, the different Christianity sects and how Minor views them as cults, and how his past faith has shaped his career as a comedian and entertainer.

Together with friend, Tony Ortega, Underdown and Minor host their own podcast, The Cult Awareness Podcast, where they explore the latest in cult news.

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What was that great music you heard?

“Wahre” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Building the Sled” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Horizon Liner” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0


A couple clean-Cut kids came early, Amblin up my wee Jehovah’s Witnesses are knocking on my door now that I’m awake, I just can’t take it anymore. Help somebody else. I’m feelin fine. And you know that knocking on my door is a waste of time. 

How do I wanna seem like I’m on hand? 

But won’t you please, please, please leave. 

That was a song I wrote for The Heathens, my band, The Heathens, a long time ago, inspired by Jehovah’s Witnesses as well, which is what we’re gonna be talking about today. Jerry Minor is joining us at point of inquiry today. Jerry is a writer, actor and former Saturday Night Live cast member who is a friend and has some real horror stories to tell about Jehovah’s Witnesses. And this is Jerry Minor. We are here with Jerry Miner today and the secular sacristy, which is my name from my office. 

But anyway, welcome, Jerry. Thanks for being here. Thank you for having me up today. We’re going to talk about you and we’re going to also talk about the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because we’re an equal opportunity critic. All religions. OK. No, I don’t want them to feel left out. Well well, first of all, where are you from originally? 

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but I was raised in Flint, Michigan. 

So where were you very young when you moved to Florida? 

Yeah, I was, um. Yeah. I don’t remember, you know, under one when my family moved to Michigan. So I was basically raised in Michigan. And is that that’s. Where is Michael Moore from? Charlotte. Mm hmm. Yeah. And my first first Helvetia job. Ask you if I remember. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. The Bravo show. My first television job. Far from that. But yeah, I was a correspondent for one of his shows that was on Bravo called The Awful Truth. 

Oh, cool. Yeah. What did they do on that show? 

Yes, he does. Same thing. Same thing he did on the. Was called Nation forgot the NBC show Nation. 

So. OK. So you grew up in Flint. You went to high school there. Grades in school. All right. Yep. 

Graduated, graduate high school, even. What’s a few years of college? We can get into that later on when I actually did go to college, but yeah, did. 

All in Flint and relatively normal life there besides the Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. 

Let’s listen to that. So, no, not normal. 

That was my whole life. So, yeah. When did you become a Jehovah’s Witness? 

Well, my mom became one when I was around seven. 

But that is like right around the age when kids start becoming aware of religions and, yes. 

Beliefs. And so when mom was really religious, I could go into her background. I won’t. It’s a long story. But before then, she was just always seeking something, whether it was religion or self-help. We lived on the north east side of Flint, Michigan, where there’s a still there a public housing development there. And I remember when the day when the Jehovah’s Witnesses came in were evangelizing or whatever proselytizing in that in our neighborhood. And it was a big deal because this was a fairly new housing development in Flint. And all these white people came because that housing development happened to be in the in a rural area. You know, I didn’t know at that time. In the late 70s, they started to figure out that maybe we should put these housing developments, maybe not not build them all in the middle of the city and Polish people on top of each other like a Cabrini Green. And so I think in the 70s, in the 80s, you start to see public housing developments more in rural areas and suburbs spread out, spread out more. And this was one of those. But so the surrounding area was like farmland. And so the people who came to talk to us about being a Jehovah’s Witness were the people who lived around us. 

So. So we had all these white people come in to talk to us. 

And it was just sort of a weird, crazy shack. Yeah. Yeah. I remember I gave the whole neighborhood stopped and he saw these people going out, as you know. 

And, you know, and this was the 70s, too, you know. So you didn’t see a tour of a group of white people going through a public housing development. 

You know, did say, oh, that might be a little out of the ordinary. 

Yeah. Yeah. You know, back then and only thing that we had and quite a lot I remember a lot of the stuff we did have a lot of things that would come to the neighborhood. Just take advantage of us. And here’s a weird thing. I am told the story we used to have a chiropractor that had an RV that would come to the public housing development. Get all the kids in the neighborhood, give them candy, get all the kids to come into this RV, which was a E, which was a mobile medical or whatever, that medical a mobile care chiropractic center. 

So he had a table, a bed and all this stuff, an x ray machine in there. 

Take x rays while the neighborhood kids and then go around to the houses of their parents and say, you kids got a spinal whatever. Went to every kid’s house. Wow. Yes. 

Dr. Crib’s was the name and other all the kids loved Dr. Critz’s here. Like, got Candy hereunto. That’s all I have to do it. I got it. It was like he’s like, oh, yeah, it is. One leg is longer than the other one, you know. 

And he had all the cures for all the problems. Of course he had all the adjustments. Yeah. And then also, you didn’t have to necessarily go to his office. He’d be there next week in his RV. I don’t know what happened to that. 

I hope that there was some official said that I’m out. 

But I remember happened for a few years. But that was the kind of thing I feel like that would happen all the time, like in public housing and nobody even like, you know. And I was like, yeah, yeah. 

That’s I mean, my cousin’s own a glass business open door county in Wisconsin that I always imagined, you know, business was slow. They could always hire someone to run around and throw rocks through a window. 

That’s not the same thing. Well, I mean, he wasn’t injuring kids and then tell him no. Well, maybe. Yeah, I might know. 

Some people would disagree. 

Right. Yeah. You know, I mean, he well, he wasn’t supposed. He wasn’t doing adjustments. 

At least I don’t remember him trying to do an adjustment on me is just give me an x ray chair, get an x ray to my mom. But that’s the kind of thing that you could do, you know, in a neighborhood like that. And, you know, there was always something like that going on, you know, whether it was somebody selling tires or somebody coming by and and evangelizing, you know. 

Well, in a lot of people, too, I think, you know, throughout the ages one, you know, a good chunk of the country did not have proper medical insurance. Chiropractors were always a legitimate second go to. They were cheaper than proper. 

Sorry. Sorry for your town. Right. So this is what we got. Take it or leave anyway. 

OK. So this herd of white people descend upon Flint, Michigan. And one, what gets in your house and talk to your mother and she says, mom, give this a try. 

Yeah. And she said, you know, I have a sister, this one, and, you know, I’m interested or whatever. So she takes some interest. The same person that came to our house kept coming back and she started to study, quote unquote, study the Bible with my mom, which at that time meant that they studied. And it still means that they studied the publication of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And at that time, it was something called the truth. The Least. Everlasting Life is a blue book, really popular book. It might still be a record holder with its publication. I mean, it was just they just printed. Millions of copies of the stupid. 

The two big ones are awake and wake and watch. Those that a magazine. So those are periodical. This was a book. And obviously, they know at that point in time they were. I mean, the religious. The biggest religious religious publisher in the world by far. And that’s obviously gone down a lot because we don’t use paper anymore. 

But, yeah, they have they have been historically the biggest publisher of religious material. And at some point time, it was this book either or the truth book, which they were really pushing. And it just basically whenever a basic Jehovah’s Witness doctrine for a newcomer, basically. 

And I think she did that for maybe a year to. 

And, you know, during that time, she became more familiar with more members of the congregation of that area congregation. She started going to the services. 

I think it’s something they call the kingdom hall. She wasn’t far from us. And then soon enough, she was a member. She she baptized what they called dedicating your life. 

And she did that dedicated her life 77. 

So, like I think they said, don’t they believe that if you had an early baptism, that doesn’t really count? 

Yes. Yes. And they don’t really count any other baptisms outside of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. So if you’re baptizes child or even if you were baptized as an adult somewhere else, they were over Evren. 

Yeah. I should say I was also I also took the step when I was 17 that the the whole ceremony, what takes place during a baptism has changed throughout the years. But when I did it and when my mom did it, we did take a vow to the organization also, or I guess basically the vow is that we somehow recognize the Watchtower Bible Tract Society as God’s messenger term, not use it. You’re not using the right words because they don’t use the words inspired. But it is God’s organization basically to the exclusion of any other Christian. Yes. 

I mean, there there’s they consider themselves Christians, right? They do. They consider themselves the only true Christian. The only true Christian. OK. Yeah. I think every Christian sect sums up, you know, ness and they don’t. 

And that’s what’s interesting is that they don’t necessarily. 

Yeah. They’re a little more liberal in terms of. 

Yeah. And especially, you know, you know, when you break it down within sex, but, you know, within religious orders, you know, no, they wouldn’t require you to get baptized again. 

You know, even even even Protestant, some Protestant churches coming from Catholics wouldn’t look even if you got baptized as a child. There are certain process process churches that will not require you to get baptized again. 

Yeah, I guess some would someone I what what I’m thinking is that at least deep down inside, every individual sect thinks that they are with us. That’s why they’re. 

This what you’re saying. Right. At some point time to disagree with somebody and became their own thing. 

Others like I don’t know how Christians reconcile in places like five, at least 500 versions of Christianity just itself. 

God’s not very good at communicating. 

Well, I think also people have you know, it’s been so long and people don’t even know why, you know, why am I Methodist as opposed to Episcopalian? Well, you have to go back. 

And then this happened and this happened in this happened. And this is the history. This is why this happened. For people like Jehovah’s Witnesses and maybe save Seventh Day Adventist, they may be a little bit aware of that history, since it’s newer, since that kind of stuff happened during the Great Awakening and whatever. But. But if it happened before, then, people just they don’t buy my Methodists instead of Catholic born into it. 

Yeah. Yeah. Jehovah’s Witnesses. I mean, it’s it’s a 19th century religion. It was started by this guy, Russell Charles. Russell Charles Russell. Mm hmm. I mean, and he just sort of was someone who had some different ideas about how the Bible should be interpreted a little bit. 

And there was a group of people, you know, well, I mean, it’s also the turn a century. So there was a lot of people who were it was popular then and a lot of his ideas were ideas that were kind of going around and were at the time, you know, were popular with Bible enthusiast. 

So it wasn’t even necessarily that he was like, I have this thing that I’m inspired by and it’s so different from everything else. It was more of I’m a Bible student and I’m kind of digging this. And these other people are kind of digging it, too. 

And I think that if you go with the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I think that he would be well, obviously, he would be really surprised at what the religion is now. That is nothing has changed. That has changed completely. Yes. Nothing like the thing that he started. 

And I think this whole idea was that he was called the Bible student, that actually the name Jehovah’s Witnesses was started by the second president of the Watchtower. 

And who I would say I’m skipping ahead a little bit, is the person who is more responsible, who is really responsible for what Jehovah’s Witnesses are today. In fact, the Bible students themselves still exist. They split off from the job as witnesses. So it’s a much smaller group, but they still adhere to a lot of the things that that the founder created. But the the group, the. Energy. The power went into what became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Wow. That’s such a typical story. It’s always a second one, right? 

I mean, you can say Joseph Smith, you know, like he started something, but Brigham Young was the one that really, really put the Mormon Church where it’s at today. You know, I mean, kind of say that about Scientology, too. 

I mean, the power and the money that they have and the organizational things that they’re doing right now is Mormons coverage. And it was L. Ron Hubbard. 

In fact, the more they try to stick to what L. Ron Hubbard says, it seems like that’s the hard, hard stuff because he wrote that stuff in the 50s. And, you know, they try to keep up with these policies. Tired of the just like dump some of that stuff. 

Yeah, it’s the marketing genius that gets it. Yeah. Moves along to the Apostle Paul. The Saint Paul is the one who spread Christianity when Jesus was around. So, yeah, that’s taken. They got an idea and run with it to the extreme. When you start having this interest in acting and comedy and all that. 

Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, growing up, I if I did have any interest in it, it wouldn’t have been, you know, cultivated at all. So I couldn’t tell you when I was interested. I mean, you know, like, I always thought I was funny and I was always performing for my friends. 

But as far as I could be in a career was something that I could never even imagine until I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness or wasn’t growing up in a household. 

Well, and even beyond that, I mean, it’s it’s the secular world is something to stay away from. Right. 

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for me, it was, you know, I mean, there are people who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. And I’m sure if you said that to a Jehovah’s Witness, they go like, well, we have, you know, Jehovah’s Witnesses that our entertainers and singers and things like that. Then when I was told when I was growing up and if I want to become an entertainer and I said, hey, there’s all these people, there’s famous people who are jobe’s witnesses, I was told that those people became jobs witnesses after they were famous. 

Oh, they couldn’t go back. 

That’s what I was told. Obviously there’s that’s not necessary or options. They obviously is not necessarily the case. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are encouraged to spend all their time doing work for that religion. So and that work specifically being evangelizing in preaching. 


Well, yeah, we talked about that in our the other podcast, the cult awareness podcast. A basketball player. Right. Right. Quite successful. Indiana Pacers. Yeah. What’s his name. Darren Collison. Yeah. I went to UCLA, so. Yeah. He was talking about giving it all up to go be a part of the church. 

Yeah, we were talking about that. I just noticed too. And I’m sorry to bring something up to complete another conversation that we were having, but I mean, it gives you a little background, says Darren Collison, apparently grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, had a 10 year career in the NBA and then decided to give up playing in the NBA to go back to be a Jehovah’s Witness. And part of thing that we talked about is that why does that have to happen? Why does he have to give up his career? And I kind of explain well, you know, I’m sure he felt like he was, you know, unduly pressured. He said that he wanted to spend more time, give more time to to evangelizing. And so that’s what he’ll be doing. He’ll be out in the street. You know, you see Jehovah’s Witnesses on the street with carts. That’s what he’s going to be doing, are coming to your door and talking about whatever their publication is to talk about that month. That he’s going to be spend his time doing that, not playing basketball. And our point was. I’m not if he would get a lot more people if he kept playing basketball. 

He’s a much bigger arena in that world than he would be sitting on some street corner. 

Right. But that’s part of the thing is that, you know, it’s part of the culture and not being not draw too much attention to yourself. That’s another thing. But also, you know, anything that has to do with what they would call this world, which is anything that’s apart from the Jehovah’s Witness world, is of Satan is run by Satan. And so, you know, you’re sad. You’re leaving yourself susceptible to Satan’s designs. If you were involved in anything that’s outside of jobs, what they would call Jehovah’s Organization. 

They don’t consider themselves. I think it said on their website they don’t consider themselves fundamentalists, but they do believe in Satan. They believe in Garden of Eden. They believe in all these 6000 year old earth. Yeah. Really sort of hardcore Christian belief. 

Why would think and this is again, why they consider themselves not fundamentalists is because they they consider anything else other than Jehovah’s Witness false religion. 

So and this is the difference in some other churches. 

They don’t necessarily think that, you know, other Christian denominations are false religion. Not necessarily some of them, I think. They may think that about Mormons or whatever, but if you’re in there, you’re in Nair’s and especially if you’re a fundamentalist. 

So if your fundamentals, Baptists, as opposed to fundamentalist Methodists, which is against is not really a lot. But, you know, or the suppose to say a Southern Baptist as opposed to a Baptist, which there are differences, but with them, you’re still good. You’re still going to go to heaven. You know, you still saved blah, blah, blah. 

And that was with a lot of evangelicals or or people who are in that movement. And Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves completely a part of that, even though they still might be considered fundamental. I mean, in terms of what it means. Fundamentalists. Yeah. There they are literalist like, you know, with most of the Bible. 

But there is some allowance for interpretation. 

And this thing maybe some a little bit more than some fundamentalists, but not much, you know. 

I always wondered how they how people drew the line. They say, oh, that’s a metaphor. That’s an analogy for something. But that really happened. I mean. Right. Who’s making this decision? 

Well, I would think that they all think, well, the Book of Revelation obviously is some kind of this. They would say it’s like obviously this is a it was a vision by John. 

These things didn’t really happen. You know, he didn’t really see dragons and fire coming out of people’s eyes and stuff like that. And then. But with Jehovah’s Witnesses, anything of that is literal. So it hadn’t. Talking snakes, Jowhar, all that. Oh, that’s all. That’s it. Yes. And so you would consider that fundamental and, you know, fundamentalist. And because there are Christians that will like those stories and and they’re meant to be interpreted. And now Joe’s witnesses believe that those things happened. Jonah was eaten by whale. 

No. Did start working on the ark when he was six hundred, six hundred years old. 

He died when he was nine hundred, I think. Yeah, good. 

Well, log on at 900. I mean, I’m not even 60. My body’s like, oh, shut up the ship. 

So you might have these little inklings about performing even though you consider yourself an active J.W.. 

Yeah. I mean, you know, this is an interesting topic, but I feel like when I was in school and a lot of. 

Jehovah’s Witness kids and kids grow up like this may feel this way. 

You know. 

I didn’t necessarily want to be a Jehovah’s Witness when I was at school. I just want to be kid, you know, so my way of dealing with everybody else, you know, and I couldn’t do a lot of the things that other kids could do, a can hang out with, like kids couldn’t take place in a lot of can take part in a lot of the extracurricular activities and sports and stuff like that. 

No Christmas celebration, no birthday celebrations. 

No. If they’re doing something about Christmas or any holiday in the classroom, I have to go outside of class. Can’t. Can. Can’t repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Cancel the flag. So I really set apart the school. I didn’t want that. So my way of dealing with everybody else was to be funny, you know? And in a day I might develop some skills from that. 

So I became class clown. 

That is just what I did. Well, I. I mean, I imagine you would have to do something to deal with this separateness. These kids must feel I mean, they’re just not getting a lot of the some of the fun things that bring kids together, bringing bring kids together, help them form identity, you know, like, you know, your kid, you. 

What am I. Well, you try out those things. You trial out playing on the school team. 

You try being in debate team and you try swimming and you try all these things, you know, and it kind of helps you to form a personality. 

Well, my my personality is being formed, become a jobs witness. So those things are, you know. 

Bad for each other. They’re incompatible. They are compatible. 

Yeah, in a lot of ways. And so I know I had other kids and I went to school with high school with that. We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses that did different things or some kids that were just complete outcast. And then talking about and there were kids like me who were just high class clowns or whatever, and it kind of shift. And, you know, I’d be a good Jehovah’s Witness kid when it was time to go to what they call the meetings or services. But then I was a clown at school. But but it made school survivable for me. You know, even in the password, like, I’m so bored or I can’t do the things I want to do, I can still have a good sense of humor and get friends and. 

But did you have to hide that sort of stuff from your Jehovah’s Witness people? 

I mean, yeah. Yeah, I guess so. You know, I mean, I was definitely didn’t wasn’t open with the kind with the person that I was. But I’m kind of happy because it gave me something to cling to when I when I did leave a Jehovah’s Witness and just skip ahead. I left a, you know, a fairly early age as 20. But at that point I was out of school and didn’t have any friends. And the one thing I started to I mean, the week that I work, after I left, I was in a comedy club and that was my way of getting friends, you know, of meeting people. And I was a young kid and a lot of my friends were gone and they were away at college and stuff like that. And so, you know, for me to learn how to to do something for me was a good way of meeting people and find out who I was. 

And some you liked doing it anyway. And I think I like I like to think I got develop a talent for this so or so. 

So when does it come to a head? You’re 20. You’re. Are you out already at this point. 

Yeah. Well, it came to a head for me really. It was just kind of. I did. There was no way of me getting out. You know, I was I was working for Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m still living at home. I really didn’t have a good foundation to even be able to leave home. And their safety net for sure. No safety net? No. I did have a relationship with my dad who wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. But the more I started becoming involved with what the witnesses and after I got baptized at 17, it became more a part of my life and the less time I spent with my dad and last time I saw him and then our relationship is just, you know, kind of deteriorated. The more I was doing with the witnesses. 

And that’s by design, too. 

Because you’re not meant to be socializing with the secular world much. 

I really did. Did think that nobody else in the world cared for me the way that Jehovah’s Witnesses would care for. Right. Yeah. Probably because they kept they kept telling you that. Well, yeah. Yeah. And those are the people I spend my time with. So you and I don’t really have an idea of who else would you know. But my idea of the world outside world was that it was really bad out there. And it was just full of drug addicts and people who just meant to do harm, satanic influences. And yeah, they’re all influenced by Satan. I mean, even my dad. So, you know, how much time do I want to spend with them? Yeah. Wow. An actual say. Not just medical. No, an actual Satan. Now, they did not think that he had horns and a pitchfork and a tail because that’s not in the Bible. That’s the only reason. So he could look like, you know, Hugh Jackman or somebody. They they would say that he was he was the most beautiful creation in heaven. That’s supposedly in the Bible or something like that. So they were like he is very pretty. Yeah. 

Whatever he looked like juror will be, whatever he looks like. All of humanity down the wrong course he did. 

Now, they do think that he. 

Cause the snake to talk. So they think that was a literal thing that happened. So they don’t think that, you know, the snake was didn’t Herrick was himself inherently talking. 

They do think that the devil got inside the snake and made snakes and gotten such a bad rap after that day. That’s so unfair. 

Well, I mean, there was a big deal. And I don’t know how Jehovah’s Witnesses change their philosophy with that, because, you know, there was the idea that, you know, all snakes were lizards at one time. And part of the curse after Eve at the fruit was that the snake, you know, it says slide in your belly for the rest and you have to eat dust. So people thought that, well, the lizards, they were all snakes were lizards at one time. But then he went, oh, you made that woman eat the apple. 

So now you lose your legs. 

Does this punish a stupid snake? If there’s any DNA evidence to back that up? Probably not. Yeah. I think a problem with the other way where people like, what is that slithering thing? Probably something to Mickey do some you don’t want to do. 

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, the fact that we have these sort of innate revulsion to certain animals is a are dangerous to us. It might be a good idea. OK, so one does the proverbial shit hit the fan with you and the church? 

So you do. So after I’d been out for a few years and I was what they call pioneering is a full time minister for the church, I just start to fall apart. My friends start to fall out. I had a friend who died from not having a blood transfusion or after not having a blood transfusion, I should say, not from he had he died from brain aneurysm, but his family refused a blood transfusion for him. He did, too. And he died and then had some other friends who just fell away in spectacular ways, whether it was I had a friend who had had an overdose and another friend who got his girlfriend pregnant. So I just started to lose even, you know, my my friends, the people, my my support group. And. And I felt like it just started to start to become more depressed. I wouldn’t say I was. Question the religion is questioning more my life and how hard it was. 

But but your friends are now no longer part of the church. Yes, but I lose complete contact with them. You do? OK. So that’s silly. 

Yeah. I don’t know what happened to him. And this happens a lot. You know, when people fall out or whatever, for whatever reason, you don’t know what happened to you. What happened? It’s gone. And it’s good. The official name for that is what the official name is disfellowship in it with my friends. This didn’t even get that far. They just wall they just walked or whatever. Something bad happened. I don’t even know if they got disfellowshipped. They might may have been. 

But just the fact that they weren’t doing the things that they should have been doing his job was when they come into the meetings or whatever, was enough for me to just lose contact with them. 

And I, you know, happened to him just that the fact that or the fact that I got had a friend who got his girlfriend pregnant. I don’t even know if what happened him judicially, whether they kicked him out or he had, you know, something happened. He was punished somehow. I don’t know, though. 

I just stop hanging around. So they’re not coming to the meetings anymore. But, I mean, can you call them or are you all right? 

I mean, if I wanted to but, you know, at that point, they were doing something wrong. And so, you know. 

Sure. Yeah. And it was and for me, it was kind of like. It was even like a. 

Thing that I contemplated or thought about, it was just like, oh, I heard my friend did this. Guess we’ll be talking to him anymore. That’s it. 

Like it was his fault. 

Yeah. As far as I knew, it was his fault. He’d send something. Some happen. I don’t know. 

And I’m sure at this point, now that I’m out there, unless they’ve watched Leah Remini or something or listen to Sparkasse, have no idea why I was disfellowship now not getting to that this fellowshipping, then what happened to me was I committed a sin. And you can kind of say I did it on purpose to get out. But if you commit a gross and so as far as Jehovah’s Witnesses concerned are concerned, it could be smoking. It could be having sex before you’re married. It could be adultery, having sex with somebody else. You’re not married to any of their rules. They’re. There are big rules that you break. You can be disfellowship celebrating a birthday. Any any rule actually you can. You could be kicked out for. And and so that’s what this fellowshipping is. It’s basically the person is kicked out. You’re not talked to. You shunned. Now, with most Jehovah’s Witnesses, for them, that is a disciplinary action. So just to get them to line up and fly in the lineup. So, for example, what happen to me is I I had sex outside of marriage, I fornication. And how did they find out about. I told them immediately. 

Oh, because you felt guilty. They needed to. 

Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean I was always always confessing on my own myself. Didn’t get the idea that a lot of people don’t do that because with Jehovah’s Witnesses you do pay a price for doing that. And I never got that. 

I know that there’s a lot of those witnesses are like, what are you doing? Telling on yourself? Don’t do that, because a lot of times people just they’re more. 

More often than not, they’re encouraged to tell on each other, to spy on each other. So a lot of times people who end up in a situation like that, most time it’s somebody else saying like, hey, I saw so-and-so smoking or assault with another woman. 

Is that a worse situation to be told on and not get it out on your own accord or not? It doesn’t matter the matter. 

So, yeah, I went to them, you know, feeling guilty and said, hey, I did this. 

Committed fornication. I had sex. Girl, you know? And I and I really didn’t. 

But that. But I thought I did some serious brainwashing, but it had they had to get into. 

Well, what exactly did you do? You were kissing and hugging and then what did you touch? And then you put your hand under her blouse and did you do all this stuff and all that? So, you know, voyeuristic. And for me, I was just like all I need to tell you is that I did some bad. I feel guilty about it and I need to get myself right. So I’m a guide. But just imagine if a woman came in and there are no women in leadership in there in the organization. So there are women, children, young girls telling these men these details. And these men are not trained in any way. I know that there are churches out there. They do train pastors. I my my dad is a great pastor at their church who also has had some training in sociology and psychology and counseling and things like that. These men do not. They have absolutely no training in psychology or counseling or anything like that. 

So, yeah, they don’t have the chops to hear what’s going on and what the you know, the disarray in your own mind about what’s happening or what you as a person needs to hear yet to come out of this situation. 

To make a long story short. I was so guilty I tried to commit suicide. 

And so and for me, that was a part of part of it was me feeling that I did want to leave this world and go into what Jehovah’s Witnesses call the new paradise earth. And so part of the reason I tried to commit suicide was that I believed in the theology. 

And their theology says that, you know, if you die before Armageddon, which is when God ends the world, you have a chance to be resurrected into this new world. 

And so I thought I’d rather take my chances. I know I’ve sinned. I did bad. So I’ll punish myself and I’ll take my chances and hopefully go. We’ll bring you back. And also, I want to say anymore. I don’t wanna do this anymore. So I’ll just punish myself. I’ll do I’ll get it over with. 

And now hopefully I’ll wake up in the new paradise and be able to make up for that. Well, I felt like now I felt like making up for it. I was also taught that surfaces the wages, sins, pay, pays his debt. So I’m like, well, I’ll pay my time off my sentence. I’ll get it over with, I’ll die. But don’t they think suicide is a sin? Well, yeah. But then that’s two and one. Right. That’s the price. So you can find a loophole. This is a loophole. So, yeah. So after that, after the suicide attempt, whatever. And also I did it because I thought, well, I mean, there’s no way another way, better way to prove God than I’m sorry than to take my own life. 

But I survived by a couple of suicide attempts. 

But it was an overdose. And my stomach pumped up and all that stuff. Long story, but I survived after that was when I went to the elders and said, hey, this is what I did, obviously. And I tried to kill myself and all that stuff. And then then I was kicked out. I was disfellowshipped. 

And as part of that, because you were not contrite about that, you were. I was contrite. Well, you were. Yeah. And they still kicked you out. Yeah. Aren’t they supposed to map some path for you to get back in their good grades? 

Yes. And that’s what I thought. And there was absolutely no path. And I think a lot of Joe’s witnesses don’t know this, but I thought that if, you know, this is a disciplinary thing, because there I knew tons of Joe’s witnesses that that had happened to the good disfellowship. They still show up at the meetings. They have to sit in the back. 

No one will talk to them when they do that for, I don’t know, a year, two years, whatever. And then from my knowledge, at some point they come back. And what I thought is, well, the only people that will talk to them are the elders. The older people in the congregation, the people that kick them out, you know, they’ll they’re the ones. And so they can get some kind of, you know, encouragement from them because these people are strong enough to to deal with, you know, my sin in our nature. Right. No, that will add with surprise is not the case. I was told you’re disfellowshipped. And if you want to get back in. You can write a letter in the year. 

And we’ll take up the case and see if you know. And they just decide whether they want to let you back in. 

Well, I wonder. During that year, probation, such as it is, what percentage of the people after actually show up in a year and say, I want it back in, it’s got to be tiny. 

Most, most go back in. Really? Yeah, just just like Rhum spring. You know, with the Amish that most of those kids go back. 

Most most just because their whole social lives and maybe life is in lives or I’ve had relatives. 

They’ve gone back. I had no friends. No. And I know tons of people that have gone back. I know people have gone back after years, 20 years. And most of that is to have some kind of relationship with your family, because after you are disfellowshipped, nobody can talk to you. Everybody shuns you, including your family members, which is one reason I’m here to talk to you about it. But it was one of my biggest problems with the with the religion itself. And that’s why I consider it a cult. 

Well, that I mean, that’s an earth shattering thing to do to someone’s interpersonal life with your family and friends. And of course, we know that Scientology and other codes do this right of people. It’s it’s a horrible thing to shun. Yeah. 

I thought, you know, for me that was the aspect. That was when the House of Cards fell for me. But also it fell because I wasn’t going to the meetings. I was sick. I was in hospital and I was in the hospital for a month. 

And so for that month after I tried to commit suicide, I didn’t get had that influence. But I also I you know, I will say if hopefully it is Joe’s witness that listen to this. Also didn’t have any Joe’s business influence. The only influence I had was the doctor. But at that point time, all I was trying to do was get out of the hospital. So I was just trying to. 

I was in a psych ward and that got me straight immediately. I did not want to be there anymore. So everything that they wanted me to do on my. Yes. Yes. No, I’m not depressed. I feel good. 

You know, I’m getting out here, you know, everything’s positive. The theology just fell away. It just fell away. I mean, it was kind of remarkable. How is this like you don’t really believe this. And the one thing I said to myself was that if they’ll do this to a 19, 20 year old kid who’s suicidal. They will drink Kool-Aid. And that wasn’t too long after the Jonestown incident. And and I remember there were some witnesses who would like to joke around a guy. Well, what’s it tell us to go and move to another country. That’s when I’m out. 

It’s not. They didn’t all go there. They’re already there. They were already there. Or, you know, whatever did the Jonestown thing, you know. 

But and also, they do have a compound. They have it headquarters. Because I wanted to work. They are similarities. Yeah. A lot of people’s idea of like a cult is that, you know, people have to be in proximity to each other to have to live in the same place. Going to come there. The idea of is an Acom, you know, an. Most of these groups that we’re talking about, most cults don’t do that. Most of them don’t. And most of them that do didn’t start out that way. 

They don’t start out that way where everybody live and you come and live here. Right. That becomes an eventuality. 

Yeah. There’s a lot of psychology going on. Way before you’re in close proximity to each other. 

Yes. So you and you don’t have to be that way to, you know, to shun people to have this closed off community. 

So you’re on a fast fade then. Yeah. This. 

And yeah, the fast fade. So, you know, obviously I, I’m working for Jehovah’s Witnesses. I get fellowship so I lose my job. I lose all my friends, my. I’m living with my mom at that point time and she asked me to leave. I lost everybody. I had to start all over again. I had to like not only come up with a a person who I was, but also get another job, figure out what I was gonna do with the rest of my life. I had the idea that the world was going to end within a year was another reasons why I try to kill myself. Like, why? Stick around. World’s going to be over. 

Well, this hour, let’s talk about Armageddon for a while, because that’s sort of central to J.W. belief. And in fact, at least three times in their history, there was big announcements about the end of the world is imminent. Yes. And prepare now for it. Can I just add that they were wrong all three times, three times as agile as we are still here. We’re having this on top of everything else. The whole world is going to end. 

Yes. And I was in a constant fear of that. And not only that, but that isn’t what’s in here on this, too, by the way, because it’s so yeah. This was like this was nineteen eighty nine. So I don’t go into this. 

Berlin Wall has fallen. 

Berlin Wall has fallen. We’re just getting to the point where the Cold War is ending. So that stuff is just starting. But on a world scale, things are changing and. As far as Joe’s witnessed theology, those changes for them was like, well, we’re really close now. And I remember in publications that being really stated that this was going to end before the end of the century. It had to end before the end of the century. And I forgot I forget now. And I can tell you, if I had one of the publications or some other stuff in front of me, exactly what they were saying then, obviously they had changed that because the world did not end before the end of the century, before 2000. But that was definitely what I was told. 

It’s got to end before 2000 and all this big flocks with the Soviet Union collapse fed. 

And that was fed into it. And then I started change. And then that was that also fed into it because they’re part of their thing. Was that well, when world there’s a scripture that says when when the world leaders say peace and security, that’s when the end is imminent. And so any kind of declaration of peace is secure. And I think like nineteen eighty nine, I think Bush made the year peace and security as if that meant anything. 

So this has got to be the low point of your whole life. Yeah, I know. Most definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So you’re out on your own, your you’re disconnected from your family. You’re disconnected from your old friends and you’re starting. What what brings you out of it? 

Well, my dad, again, I saw I want to go live with my my parents. 

My my parents weren’t Joe’s when this is my step mom and my dad. And then it was a slow transition to trying to find who had been up until today. And so that building another person then a lot of ways I felt like. You know, I I’m only 20 years younger than I than I really am, because that was the real life. That was when I really started living and I had to develop a personality and to figure out what I liked, what I dislike. And it didn’t go along with everything I felt. And everything I did was in reference to being a Jehovah’s Witness, you know, and started doing comedy. 

I immediately started doing that. 

And one of the reasons why is because of the only thing that I could remember is that could relate how I could relate to people in school was being funny. So the same week I got this fellowship I went to, I heard there was a talent show at a local club aimed nowhere. But I I’ve always wanted to come. I want to do comedy, standup. I liked like Saren alive and stuff like that. Eddie Murphy, something like I could sneak and listen to like his albums and stuff and especially so I, I went to the club and said, hey, I want to do comedy. I just looked in the club and they were like setting up for the night that the employees are like, you know, setting up the chairs and tables. And what did your forum like? All want to get into the talent show. What do you do? I do comedy and I like will do some for us. 

So I remember doing standup for for the way it’s the aunt of the waitstaff and they were going to read it like, yeah, you’re funny. And I don’t think I actually got into the comedy competition and it was rough. 

I mean, I remember going up on stage and getting booed and I didn’t know to comedy clubs and I was in Flint. There weren’t a lot of actually at some point time I learned where to go work meetings, actual comedians were in and picked up from them some knowledge of where other clubs to go to and stuff like that. But before then, I was just walking into like, hey, you know, there be a dance going on. 

Hey, do you mind if I get on the mike and do some comedy for a minute? Yeah, I get booed. That takes a nerve and didn’t know any better. I would not do that today. Yeah, it would not do it. But it was you know, it was great that I didn’t know any better phrases like I figure this out, you know. 

Also another thing I did was start going to school with the college, which is something I was discouraged from. I was discouraged from doing what I was Jehovah’s Witness. They discouraged their young people from seeking higher education. Why do you think? 

Why do you think? 

Yeah, well, right. I wish I could play a tape for you. 

Is something I just recently saw was a guy who had been a Jehovah’s Witness and some of the elders, the older men that come by his house to see why he wasn’t coming to the meetings, you know, obviously had fallen away, had some doubts. 

So he’s just poured his heart out saying, like he’s these are all the he’s all these questions I have that aren’t being answered. You guys aren’t answering them. And this is why I’m not coming in. And these is the problem that I’m having. I’m sincerely, you know, perplexed by this stuff. Right. Nothing like, hey, what about this or what about this? Are you guys are wrong? And I’m you’re just wrong. And I’m I don’t believe it any more. Not is my question just questioning. So it goes away and left his recorder going. You can hear what they say when he goes away. And the first thing they go is I can hear that. Yep. Yep. He’s apostate, but they were called apostate, which is anybody that leaves a religion. But for Jehovah’s Witness, that really has a connotation, a negative kind of supremely negative connotation that is the worst person in the world. Yeah. Anybody who doesn’t believe it anymore and who preaches against it again wasn’t preaching against it, though. But the column apostates say he’s an apostate. He’s like, yeah, man. And education. I get the general idea of education, but that was something I was always told. So your education, if you’re getting a worldly education, wellness and education about Satan, my thought is that anybody who got any kind of decent education that would immediately bring in red flags as to what they were teaching, even if you got a seminary education, you would have a problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately, you know, because you’re going to learn some things that you know, that no other religions say and some things that are disproven by by not only science, but by other biblical scholars. 

So were two there were two GW pastors get their local education or is it on the fly Tom Flynn. 

There is no seminary, just as always say, because jobe’s witnesses at the time they were and I did it too. There were a lot of the janitorial business. 

They would say, yeah, I’m about to go into this meeting and get judged by a bunch ajan one to watch it or get advice from a bunch of window washers because that’s a qualification. 

There’s nothing else, there’s no qualification to be an elder. 

So when I was as good as anyone else then, you know, a lot of times they’re losing members and their memberships are aging quickly. So, you know, and since they only have males in the. Positions of leadership. They sometimes are scraping the bottom to build these young guys doing it. 

And that’s a that’s pretty sexist. There’s no women in any leadership capacity. 

Absolutely not. No. Very, very patriarchal organization. They really do believe that women have second place. They say that the man is the head of the woman. That’s the arrangement, guys head. 

Jesus, Jesus, the head man, man’s head, the woman. 

That’s her place. So she is not to pray in front of a man, even if a man is not a Jehovah’s Witnesses and not a Christian, whatever. If a man is present with a woman, if she’s praying out loud, she has to put something on her head that that’s their custom to some kind of head covering. And they say it’s to show submission. They’re very much into that. 

Oh, yeah. You guys are a lot of organizations that are run exclusively by men. 

The women submitted. Yes. 

I mean, this one, I, I even more so, you know, I. 

Just a. 

Just throw it out there. 

I mean, compared to a lot of other fundamentalist religion, I’d say it’s at least, you know, sometimes there’s some. 

Cursory? No. Well, women have the right to women can do this to, you know, women can preach to and is now a net net. Yeah, yeah. Well, definitely not take any kind of lead. Not preaching. Not doing anything with. 

They can talk to you, didn’t come and talk me one on one. 

But taking the lead and now about window washing are some mild Catholic church. There is no women priests, none. Know the nuns are clearly inferior in the hierarchy to any any man. 

Yeah, that’s it. I’m a little surprised that at that that has held on. I can see. And a predator like Hafiz will have a problem with this. I can see that one day that that could change just because I’m seeing a change in other denominations. My dad is Amy Church’s African Methodist Episcopal. And if anybody knows history at church and we talked about it before is very little. It’s a secular. This is a secular church, as you can do as it was. It was founded on the principles of more on politics. And it wasn’t religion was founded because black people could worship. So they had to build a church. And so it has much more to do than that. But they don’t know how long they’ve had women pastors. But my dad’s actual congregation has a woman pastor now. 

And Matt, she’s great. 

You know, that’s something I wouldn’t have seen five years ago. Oh, even I think I think it’s new in natural. Yeah. He’s doing it. 

Well, you know, it’s good to hear that religion is going to evolve, too. 

I mean, with, you know, in a lot of ways I have to. Yeah. You know, yeah. They’re shrinking Zosi members and so on. So and but I feel like in that way that it’s somebody smart goes like, hey, this is a revitalization. You know, we have what we can do and then maybe a lot of that other junk can get thrown out to, you know, like maybe throw the Bible. 

We’re working on it. We are it. You know, I do. 

I know some very. And I mean. I won’t even use the word progressive religious people or pastors or whatever and rabbis. I know some of them. And I know that they’re not in the. They’re not the norm. They’re not they’re not the bulk of what’s out there, but it’s good to see that there are some reasonable people, as I say, reasonable. There are some people that run suspect him. There are some people here who whose beliefs more closely aligned to mine right now. 

Yeah. What? What are your beliefs these days? What do you call yourself? 

I don’t like labels, so I’m an independent. 

Really? Really? 

Yeah. I mean, you know, I would call myself an atheist, but I’m willing to listen to anybody, whatever you got to say. You know, any kind of evidence about anything to me. I’m I’m. I’m open. So. 

But I do not believe that God as as constructed by religious people, the Bible or any of the current holy books, I guess even when the Detroit sports teams play, you know, the prayer. Now, I still do that and heard. Right. I caught myself yesterday because I got I got a job and I was like, oh, man. Because, you know, for a while, even when I after I left Jehovah’s Witnesses, I still believe in God. And at some point, it kind of kept me going because after I woke up in the hospital, I was still alive. I felt like. You know, something kept me alive and maybe it was maybe it was a guy and. 

I felt like, you know. 

God is telling me that this this religion isn’t right somehow, because SCOTUS will be all love in my. In my brain, my capacity for love and what I think of love, this isn’t it. And so I think if God is telling me something, he’s telling me to get out of this by another path. And then after a while, it just kind of fell away, too. OK, I don’t need Daddy, right? 

Yeah, but it felt good that maybe somebody maybe looking out for me is a bridge, too, to clean break. You’re having some success in comedy. Were you at Second City? Yeah. Yeah. So you were in Second City in Chicago? 

I started on Detroit not long after I got disfellowship, I. They opened up a second city in Detroit and I auditioned and got in. Before that, I start doing, like I said, standup guy. I was going around to local clubs. And what year was this? I wonder if we ever crossed paths. Ninety, ninety. Ninety one. I auditioned for a second city in 92. OK. I think I went to Chicago in 90. No. No, no, no, I’m sorry. Ninety four, ninety four was when I did Detroit. So before then we’d like from ninety one ninety two to ninety four. I was just doing like locals of Detroit. Everyone in Buffalo. That room. A new book. I did. Yeah I did that. It was like read a. Oh I was gonna say was it a Yoder. 

Yeah, it was a Yoda. We did the same room. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Did a lot of stuff like that. 

So did the new Buffalo show. Chesterton, Indiana. Yes. Yeah. Lot of stuff like these small clubs that were in in a rural area were like we’re like a resort kind of area. Whatever. 

Those gigs weren’t bad because people were hungry, man. They were looking drunk. 

Well, I always thought there was a pocket of drunk that was good. 

But there was a room in Naperville, Illinois. And Saturday night was three shows on Saturday night. That first show, seven o’clock, they were as stiff as board. They needed to drink some more. The second show, 9:00 o’clock, was perfect. And the eleven o’clock were sloppy. Yeah. They couldn’t. Hello. Guy up on stage. You know, they’re just falling all over you. 

I mean, no, you know, I did second city after that four years. And in any other live show I can tell you, Friday night’s second show always, always gonna have a problem. Always rowdy. People want to work. Yeah. And most of them in the second show, they drank until nine o’clock. 

Is that were you good tap for Saturday Night Live. 

Chicago. Yeah. Well, that was years later. But I start doing Second City I, I end up actually end up going to Chicago. I quit sigurdson in Detroit after a while and was kind of like kind of figure out what I was gonna do with my career. I was thinking about moving to L.A.. Wife didn’t want to do that. Chicago wife didn’t want to do that either. But Chicago was closer to Michigan where I was. But at that point, I had kind of moved out of standup and gotten to sketch Second City. And that was that to me was like that was my my thing was my groove. I felt comfortable doing it and I was good at it. So I want to do more that. And then Sara live was coming to scout people and they didn’t want to come to Detroit because they couldn’t get a flight out that same night and spent the night Detroit. So the owner asked me to come to Chicago. He’s like, you can come and do some stuff on stage and they can come and see you. And I did. But from there, they were like, well, want to come to Chicago and work. So I went to Chicago and Second City for a few years. And then long after that, I got an audition for Sarah Live. I got all the way to New York and at that point time had no money. This is years after I was Joe’s witness. I was already living in L.A. Then I get to the studio to do my audition and they find out that I’m already contracted to another show, which I had, and I had to sign a contract for another show like Kid Audition and then the next year. So I didn’t I didn’t audition for SNL. The next year I was working for Michael Moore Zoo doing that show, and he was based out of New York. And while I was in New York, Lorne asked to meet with me. So where’s that guy that was supposed to come out here last year? So I met with him. Just talk to him one night and he’s like, you want or would you consider writing? Because I don’t have any spots open for a performer. And I was like, Yeah. Do it. So I was like. And then left on like, did you just hire me? And he’s like, do you want to come on the show? And like, when he’s like, what does this show tomorrow. We do like. Yeah. Came the show, he hired me. And then next year I was in New York and then from a writer, from being a writer came a performer. 

So how many years total do you work one book. So you were writing. Did you get hired as a writer? I got hired as a writer. Yeah. Little Suzu. Who are the big names? 

You’re starting a year was me and Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey. We were the featured players that year and Will Ferrell was our unicast Molly Shannon. Chris Cotan ratio sanes. Tracy Morgan racialists. 

Yeah. Yeah. It’s too, too good. Too big. Well yeah. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of good people to compete against. 

But for me it was kind of hard and this goes along with the joke wouldn’t stuff. You know, I was already working so I wasn’t at the point where I want to necessarily listen to somebody, you know, and be patient. And also was kind of weird for me, like being in this in New York, crossing that bridge and seeing at headquarters again. You know, the joke is what does HQ’s in New York? Oh, right. And that was the only other time that I had been in New York was to go and visit the headquarters. So that was kind of an experience that I had to just. Get used, and it took me a while. I mean, years actually go to New York and get used to it, but live in there was it took me a lot. Also, being in a group, a high pressured situation with a charismatic leader. No, I rebelled against that. You know, that that was the first thing I would do. 

And I was like that with a lot of groups, you know, and charismatic leader Lorne. Yeah, I would have been here. Well, he is the man around, right? Right. That whole thing. 

Yeah. And so and I come from Second City, which had more of a democratic, you know, tradition. You know, the cast made all the decisions. We made some decisions. Who’s going to be in the cast with us? 

And then we wrote our own shows. And, you know, we’d fight with the management. You know, we want to get this in the show that that was just a tradition and then go into where and this is the law. And there’s one man that lays down the law even more than the network. 

Oh, that’s interesting. Oh, yeah. How your whole past sort of. 

Made a collision course. For that situation, likely, I had to learn how to be a team player. 

And a lot of ways. And. 

And being the right kind of team player, because I’m just learning that you don’t have to just give up all your control to be on a team, but you also don’t have to lead every team that you’re on. 

Well, I mean, we see that in the secular activism world. I mean, you know, the people who are around here, most of them have made a conscious decision to leave some big group at some penalty. And so you develop this armor and then have this screw everybody attitude. And, you know, it it helped them get out of a bad situation. And you’ve got to learn to play nice again with your own. 

Also learning that everybody isn’t going to agree. So you come in a situation coming from a situation where everybody had to agree. It’s a different thing of learning to like what you can be in a group and everybody doesn’t have to agree to all have to be the same. And you can still have a functional group. 

Yeah. And and disagreeing. Someone who disagrees doesn’t make him a horrible person. 

Not necessarily. Maybe it does. 

I don’t want to talk about one last thing as long as we’re a little bit of a celebrity engineer to famous Jehovah’s Witnesses Michael Jackson and Prince. First, let’s talk about Michael Jackson and the play. It looks like you’re going to. Yeah. In here. Oh, yeah. Yeah. 

For inquiry, I’m about to go down a street and do some fitting for the puppets. 

I’m not letting anything out by saying that it’s actual puppets. It’s something that I haven’t worked with before seeing. It’s really visually great. Well, what’s the show you described? It is a show about Michael Jackson’s glove, the writer to get around a lot of legal things that I’m gonna write this play about Michael Jackson, but it’s not really about Michael Jackson is about his glove. So don’t suit me. And it’s you know, it’s a comical take take on it as a little bit to do with the. There’s a little bit of that stuff there. Yeah. There’s a passage about, you know, Michael’s development and being a Jehovah’s Witness and stuff. But keep in mind, this is a very satirical show. So, you know, this it’s not serious. 

This is his. 

Relationship to the religion is something like for me was something I didn’t know about actually coming here. Coming to L.A. and talking to some people who grew up here, who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who knew more about it. Gave me a lot of insight that I didn’t know because for me, I was a grown up. And in Michigan, I had no idea what was going on. And I could ask my elders and I didn’t know either. I’d be like, what is the deal? Michael Jackson, his ego’s witness or not, or what’s the deal with this video? And then there was something that came out in the Watchtower when he disavowed any thing that had to do with the occult after the Thriller video. But that was the most officially that I’d ever heard anything about Michael Jackson being church related. StraighterLine. Yes, officially. Other than him saying, like, I’m Jehovah’s Witness or his mother or whatever, anybody who is raised in the religion would say that you’re trying to say that I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, even if you’re not a full fledged member. I don’t know if Michael Jackson ever became a baptized member. I’ve heard both. I’ve heard he has. And I heard he didn’t. But at some point in time, he did disassociate himself from being a Jehovah’s Witness. And he did that publicly. He did officially say, I am no longer I’m not I have nothing to do with jobs. And so he did this day go through the disfellowship official. People have thought that people have wondered about that. Yeah, I don’t. I don’t know. It feels like there was pressure on him to do that just because there was so much controversial. He was some biggest entertainer in the world. Right. So he was getting so much attention. I think there was some kind of pressure to go like, hey, if you’re not really a full fledged member, you got to tell people, because otherwise they would’ve had to take some kind of action. They would have had to say something publicly that he was not live in that life. Living a life now. Yeah. Now, Prince, I thought the same thing. I thought. He’s saying that. But he’s not really one because he’s prince. No. Like all that. I could tell you a number of things that Prince does that’s pop that would be problematic for Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I found out the true story of that, too. He came to religion. I think his mother was also affiliated with it. But he got into it through Larry Graham, who is the bass player for Sly the Family Stone, who has been a Jehovah’s Witness since the 70s and has been a very public Jehovah’s Witness since the 70s, but still plays, still tours and still does a lot of no back up stuff for people. And so he’s in the music or obviously he had access to Prince and. And that’s how he started studying the prince and brought him in. And as I became Joe’s with this. And I still think that he was, to a degree, a Jehovah’s Witness the way that he wanted to be. But he was a fully baptized. He did become baptized. Jehovah’s Witness. Full member went out and door to door and stuff like that. But I think he was still doing some stuff on his own. And I don’t know how much he was sticking with it right before he died. And there’s a really good story from Director Kevin Smith, who wanted to use one of princess songs in his movie. So he went to Minneapolis and saw Prince, which happens a lot to try to beg him to use me. That’s what you have to do. For anybody who doesn’t make movies like if you want to use somebodies music in your movie, it’s too expensive to just use it. So you’ve got to go to them and go like, Hey, man, I’m cool. I’ll use your mood music and the coolest way. And they go like now. So he took this trip to go see Prince, had his meeting with Prince that all of a sudden turned into Prince going like, you know what? I always wanted to have a documentary done about me. 

So. So for a week, Kevin Smith is coming back to Prince’s house shoot and stuff. Should be a meeting with you. 

Just talking to him. He’s just trying to get his music. 

Prince’s like to do a movie about. We’re gonna do this. We’re going to dress. Well, how about that music? 

So, yeah. So Kevin Smith is just like human. I’m like, oh, God, this is crazy. This is crazy. This is Prince. You know, it’s like so much do a movie about me. Come back tomorrow. 

So he’s coming back every day and at one point in time, Prince is having a Bible study. So all these people are at his house. He pulls out a Watchtower magazine. This is a mountain. Okay, now we’re gonna study the Bible. I’m out of here. I know people stayed and there were some people there is a Kevin Smith. So there was some people there who were apostates who were trying to tell him like, hey, man, I got this literature to show you shouldn’t be a Jehovah’s Witness. Oh. And he’d be like, Now you’re out. Oh. So I think he was like doing his own thing. And for him. Probably we probably would doing that in lieu of going out door to door, because he’s Pratts in his heart. He’s on tour or whatever, so he’s like and you count your time as a jobe’s witness and you turn that time in to the officials. And it’s counted in New York at their headquarters. So every month, every Jehovah’s Witness is required to tell how much how many hours a week or how many hours that month that they evangelize. While some sure prince would be like, well, I got five hours and I brought people to my house. 

I got someone. I want it. It’s his way to do it. And they’ll listen to him because I’m Prince and I invite him to my house or leave it there is coming to me. 

And in a much and I would say a much better idea, a much better way to do it. I’m going to sit there and listen. I probably would listen to it. Yeah. Yeah. Are right. What song. 


But that that that story is actually in a it’s not a TED talk, but it’s something like that where Kevin Smith is telling that story. 

Yeah there is. Yeah. And for him he’s just like. There was this weird thing in a Jehovah’s Witness stuff. He doesn’t know what’s going on. 

But me, I know exactly what’s happening. Well, that was going on and he didn’t let him have music to buy with it for a week. He kept going back for a week. 

He filmed him. He did stuff. And he’s like, oh, yeah, how about that music is now. I think so. 

Wow. He went through a pain worse than death to get it to. She has paid the hundred. Just pay the money. Yeah, exactly. Well, and a blessing when I imagined what it was. Is there any truth to the. 

Blood transfusion. 

Contributing to Prince’s death, the lack of blood. I don’t know. 

Yeah, I don’t know. There’s a rumor that that because he was he needed an operation. He needed zip. Yes, that’s true. I know he did hurt himself and he had some kind of operation and he needed operation. And that’s why he had so much pain. And we wouldn’t have that operation because it required a blood transfusion. Right. So he was treating with. So he’s treated with painkillers. Yeah. Which I did get. Which ended up killing him. Yes. Mike Jackson to. Yeah. OK. There’s your lesson and hey, I mean, you know, I would always I would say this, too. I mean, what I was told is that being a Jehovah’s Witness was the best life ever. And I know it’s unfair. A lot of people die from from overdoses. People die from overdoses from or from just from adverse effects from drugs, not even overdose. All the time that doctors gave to him in the hospital. So I was so blat. I was told that being a Jehovah’s Witness wasn’t protection from things like that is the best life ever. We don’t have to worry about drugs and alcoholism and things like that because we live Christian principles. 

And that didn’t stop either one of those guys. 

Now, obviously, Michael Jackson wasn’t the child’s witness anymore, but didn’t stop him from being addicted to them. There’s a lot of those witnesses who are addicted to painkillers and things like that, you know, that don’t consider those things drugs. Yeah. And they’ll kill you just like any other drug will. 

And the rest of the world can find other ways to live a moral life and a clean life as best you can without all the other. 

You know, detractions that I have. 

I try to live as clean and moral, I would say necessary, clean as moral life as possible, try to treat my fellow man the best way I can. I try not to take advantage of them. And I don’t steal. I don’t cheat on my wife. You know, all those things. So would you have a child? I work for a living, you know. And if you ask me about like, well, what makes Worli people bad? Beforehand of person. It’s not a joke, but it is bad. I don’t know. I would have necessarily told you back then. They just don’t. You worship Jehovah. And the question would have been, well, then what’s wrong with that? Because they don’t know, you know. Does that make any difference? Should that make any difference? That person is living a good life, is treated as if he just doesn’t know your God. Did that make any difference if he’s still doing what your guy wants them to do? 

I don’t know. Right. So, yeah. I mean, I think what the nonbeliever world. Thanks. Is that, you know, lead a good life? Don’t hurt people. Try to be a good person. And, you know, if that doesn’t cut it, if there is a God and we really don’t worry about that. But if there is a God and I’m in front of the pearly gates and he says no to me for not. Being a believer in some particular type of religion after being a decent person school, you don’t want to be and I don’t want to be in. 

Yes. Like, if you couldn’t give me the proof that I needed when there’s all kinds of other proof of things that I need to know right then. Yeah. Sparkies. Yeah. This guy guy, he’s not really clear. 

Come down here to see if I and the secular or stay. 

Show yourself or give you know those words. 

Jerry Minor, thank you so much for coming in. It’s been great talk. Thanks. Tune in to our other podcast. The cult awareness podcast, Working People Fun. 

It’s Cult Awareness COK podcast dot com. You can just look up cult awareness podcast. And now I think you can just Google it. But it is on iTunes now. So you can look at it on items. 

Jerry and I and Tony Ortega from the underground bunker talk a lot about Scientology and JWH and other calls. 

We have some some other ones that we want to do real soon. There’s been some some news in Scientology as far as court cases, which those witnesses also. I also have got in touch with a former member of Nexium. And so I’ve been learning a lot about that and that whole story and Sagala whole thing that I’m going to be talking about with that, because it’s been a while since. I guess anybody that was involved in that case has actually talked. Yeah, I’m. I got in touch with Sarah Edmondson, who is the whistleblower. So I’ve been talking to her, someone to do an interview with her coming up soon to. So forward to that. Yeah. Last stuff has happened since then. Keep her there. And what’s a what’s a jail to prison? Actually, since she’s talked, you know, crazy. So we can get some stuff in before the movie’s start coming out. 

Yeah, it’s coming. You know that too. If you’re in a wacky religious cult, we’re gonna make a good movie. Thanks, Jerry. We’ll see on the cult awareness broadcast. I’ll see you then. Thanks. 

Thank you for listening. Point of Inquiry is a production of the Center for Inquiry. The Center for Inquiry is a five or one, two, three charitable nonprofit organization whose vision is a world in which evidence, science and compassion rather than superstition, pseudoscience or prejudice guide public policy. 

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Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown is executive director of Center for Inquiry–Los Angeles, and the founder of the Independent Investigations Group.