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In fact, she told me, she had been only 8 when her stepfather had molested her.“He was the adult and I was the kid, so I thought I didn’t have any choice,” she said. “It took me two years to go to my mom about it.”Her mother immediately went to the congregation’s elders, who later called the girl and her stepfather in to pray with them. Her stepfather was eventually disfellowshipped for instances that involved “fornication,” “drunkenness,” and “lying,” according to the letters.In 1968, just after Mark was born, Jerry and Susan were group-baptized in a swimming pool in Washington, D. Mark was an only child, and he inherited his father’s peculiar love of record-keeping.Mark would show up to meetings at the Kingdom Hall with a briefcase full of religious texts.As in any religion, there’s some variation among Jehovah’s Witnesses in how strictly they interpret the teachings that govern their faith; Mark’s upbringing seems to have been especially stringent.As a child, he attended at least five meetings a week, plus several hours of private Bible study.
That effort has been remarkably successful—until recently.Mainstream books and magazines were considered the work of Satan.If he broke any of the religion’s main rules, he could be disfellowshipped, meaning even his own family would have to shun him.Slowly, over the past couple of years, Mark has been leaking the most damning contents of the box, much of which is still secret.
Among the papers Mark showed me that day was a series of letters about a man from Springfield, Massachusetts, who had been disfellowshipped—a form of excommunication—three times.All the letters in the box had been stolen by an anonymous source inside the religion and shared with Mark.