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Lloyd Evans on ‘Aftermath:’ The most significant TV journalism ever done on JW

 
We finally got a chance to catch up with Lloyd Evans to ask him about his appearance on Leah Remini’s special Aftermath episode about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Lloyd was understandably grateful for the opportunity to appear with several other ex-JW activists in a 2-hour show in an Emmy-winning series. But we had to ask, how significant was this program in the history of the subject?

Lloyd: I think many ex-JWs are still trying to process this, but I think the Aftermath Special is the most significant piece of TV journalism ever done on Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’re just not used to this level of exposure in the movement. Every now and then there will be a news program (like NBC Dateline and BBC Panorama in 2002) but this is the biggest and most comprehensive exposure there has been so far. And thanks to A&E’s reach it’s being shown in multiple countries. I’ve even seen a version of our show dubbed into Italian, which is surreal! Leah and Mike have really done us a huge favor. I’m still getting messages about the impact it’s having.

The Bunker: What else would you have liked to see in the show? Some people were telling us it only scratched the surface, but it sure seemed pretty packed.

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Lloyd: We hit all the main issues. Child abuse, shunning, blood transfusions, domestic violence, treatment of women, doomsday fear-mongering. But there is so much more to go into in each of those subjects and the impact the policies are having. There’s enough material, not just victim’s stories but actual policy documentation, court cases and Watchtower propaganda video footage, to sustain an episode on each of those subjects.

The Bunker: We went to the JW Broadcasting website and watched some video — wow, JW is grim. At least Scientology has some wackiness and craziness. These JW guys are so monotone and one-note.

Lloyd: Yes, Scientology is super cheesy and quite duplicitous. What you see and the reality of Scientology are so different that it’s almost comical. You do get a bit of deception in JW propaganda but mostly they’re very up front about how manipulative they are and how much they expect from followers. They’re so deluded that it all makes total sense to them.

The Bunker: When it comes to Christian preaching, we’re used to the charismatic preachers, so the JW stuff was just so determinedly dull. Keep calm while you wait for the world to end.

Lloyd: Yes. Interestingly these people were raised in what was called the “Theocratic Ministry School,” which was supposed to hone their skills as teachers and communicators. But frequently we’re finding through the propaganda videos (which are a relatively new thing, mostly since 2014) that the men who rose to the top are terrible speakers and orators. I can only imagine that they’ve succeeded due to being yes men.

The Bunker: Most ex-Scientologists want the government to investigate and prosecute David Miscavige and even shut down Scientology (at least the current organization), and they would like to see the IRS remove Scientology’s tax exempt status. But Scientology is a tiny organization, and the FBI has raided before, so these things might be possible. But JW is 8 million people. What do ex-JWs talk about what they would like to see happen?

Lloyd: You will get different reactions based on who you speak to. Some ex-JWs are so embittered by their traumatic experience in the religion that they would happily see a mushroom cloud over the Warwick headquarters. These tend to applaud the actions taken by Putin’s regime in banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. My own view is that bans are undesirable because, apart from infringing on freedom of worship, they only serve to stoke the JW persecution complex which is a key part of the religion’s narrative. I would personally like to see abusive groups like JWs and Scientology held accountable for specific areas of abuse, whether this is financial corruption, or harrasment, or (in the case of JWs) covering up child sex abuse. If leaders of groups that are abusive were actually prosecuted for the pain and heartache they are inflicting on people (rather than the ordinary followers/worshipers suffering), I think fewer would be looking to pursue the nuclear option.

The Bunker: Thank you, Lloyd. We’ll probably be hitting you up for more words of wisdom soon.

Lloyd: If I can help you with anything, just reach out! Take care!

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on March 6, 2019 at 19:30

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects such at the Underground Bunker. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT gmail.com (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)

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