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He invited me into his densely furnished office, where a fan barely dispelled the wafting smell of cat food.He pulled an envelope from the Priority Mail box and passed me its contents, a mixture of typed and handwritten letters discussing various sins allegedly committed by members of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Massachusetts.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.It insinuated that the man had agreed to, rather than initiated, the sexual contact with his stepdaughter.
(Recently, he has begun using his own name.)When I first met Mark, in May of last year, he appeared at the front door of his modest home in the same outfit he nearly always wears: khaki cargo shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, white sneakers, and sweat socks pulled up over his calves.
On Saturday mornings, he joined his parents in “field service,” knocking on doors in search of converts.
He was taught that most people outside the organization were corrupted by Satan and, given the chance, would try to steal from him, drug him, or rape him.
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.In recent decades, much of the world’s attention to allegations of abuse has focused on the Catholic Church and other religious groups.