A Common Bond

Rev. Frank Maitoza, August 7, 1937 - July 3, 2018

I first met Frank in 2006 in New York City. I liked him from the moment I met him. He had a way of making you feel amazing. During a group therapy session in 2007 in Chicago he was able to break down all of my emotional barriers, and help me through the pain of being disfellowshipped and shunned. Even though we hadn't seen each other in person since then, we still interacted online. I looked forward to his posts in various groups that we were members of. The world is truly missing a great person. Frank I'm reading your poem as this: Don't ever doubt your importance in this world. Be the person, who upon your death, the world realizes something is missing.

The eulogy from his son Joel Maitoza is below.

What can I possibly say about my Dad that everyone he came into contact with doesn’t already know? He was a beautiful, loving spirit with a kind heart who was compassionate and always available to help his fellow man. He had a smile and laugh that were infectious, a brilliant and educated mind that had no boundaries or limitations as he was always on a quest for knowledge, while constantly searching for the next adventure.

Frank was an exceptional father. He had the patience and soul of a saint, the wisdom of a professor, the philosophy of a Buddhist monk and a sense of well-being like no other human I’ve ever met to this day. During my entire life, I honestly can’t recall a time when I’ve ever seen him extremely mad or angry. When I was a little boy, anytime I would get upset and cry, he would squat down so he could be eye level with me and say in a calm, soothing, loving voice, “There’s no reason to cry…everything is going to be okay.” Just like he would talking to another adult. My father had a wonderful, slightly off-kilter sense of humor which he passed down to me. As a little boy, I was raised on a pretty strict diet of Benny Hill, The Carol Burnett show, I Love Lucy and The Three Stooges. At times, my wife Bella will look at me and say, “Where did you get that warped mind of yours”…it was Dad. He raised me to never judge people based on their race, size, gender, religion, color or disability. It was always about authenticity and integrity…to be true to ones self. At an early age, he taught me about drive, motivation, ambition and excellence. To strive to be the best version of myself I can possibly be and provided me with the tools for success. He empowered me to shoot for the stars, follow my dreams and to live life to the fullest. To ask the universe for help when I needed it. He would tell me…Do it today, because there are no guarantees there will be a tomorrow. These experiences and advice shaped me to be the person I am today. Yes Dad, I was listening.

I can’t even begin to tell you about all the amazing times we spent together over the years. He loved to explore and experience new things. Places, cultures, music, food, people…there was no limit. If there was something you’ve never experienced before and were skeptical about doing it he would say, “How do you know you don’t like it if you won’t try it at least once?” In some ways, it was a lot like having you’re very own, personal Anthony Bourdain by your side. Thanks to Dad, I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age as we traveled throughout Europe, Finland, Russia, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and all over the US on family vacations. Remember when you got lost in the subways of Moscow and jumped on the wrong train or when we stood in line outside for 2 hours in 30 below weather to see Lenin's tomb? How about taking in a show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris to see the dancing girls and sip champagne when I was under age or peacefully gliding down the canals of Venice in a Gondola while being serenaded, or grandma sneezing so hard that she almost fell off the edge into the Grand Canyon? Remember me getting chicken pox during our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming or digging for clams together on the beach in Mexico and steaming them in our hotel room for dinner, attending the big Luau in Hawaii, going to the Rose Parade or all the trips to Vegas and laughs with the family over the holidays? These are just some of the beautiful memories that will be etched in my soul for eternity.

My Dad was all about research. He read hundreds of books over his lifetime. As he grew older, his passion to research our family’s history became a high priority. Constantly entering information on Ancestry.com and connecting with newly discovered long lost relatives as recently as last month.

Frank loved to dance, swim, hug, laugh, sing, eat good food, visit with his family and share stories. His motto about his time here on earth was “Just passing through…” Although he struggled with Neuropathy in his later years, he would always write at the end of his daily Facebook posts: Life is good and getting better! As we aged together, we would talk about life, it’s experiences, high points and low. Once I became a young adult, he shared with me a quote by Hunter S. Thompson that stuck in my brain throughout my lifetime. “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
That you did Dad…that you did.

You taught me so many life lessons Dad. Please know that you were a stellar role model in raising me. I know when you are blessed with a child, an instruction manual is not included, but as far as I’m concerned you could have written and published it. I hope I made you proud.

I will conclude with a poem he shared with me just before he went into the hospital last month…

I love you so much Pop,
Your son,
Joel

If not for you, then there would be a place of emptiness in the heart of God. If not for you, all the good that you have done would still need doing. 
If not for you, the spark of your ideas would not have ignited a fire in others. If not for you, the key roles that you have played in life‘s drama would remain unfilled. 
If not for you, at least one person would not have awakened to his or her dreams. 
If not for you, your triumphs could not be examples to inspire others. 
If not for you, someone who needed love would not have received it. 
If not for you, life would have been shortened or never existed.
If not for you, the song of life would have missed a beat. 
If not for you, your gifts would remain ungiven. 
If not for you, another might have suffered in your place. 
If not for you, someone would have no path to follow. 
If not for you, there would be one less smile, one less laugh, and one less hug. 
If not for you, there would be less mystery. 
If not for you, an animal might be homeless and a garden left unplanted. 
If not for you, something would be missing.

You have always made a difference. Who you are is important every day. You are the face, the heart, and the soul of God.

The 5th Annual Midwest ApostaFest

Midwest Aposta Fest.jpg

Saturday, August 4 at 10:00 aM
Pleasant View, Indiana

https://www.facebook.com/events/540550899663991/

The 5th Annual Midwest ApostaFest is upon us! I can’t believe it’s already been five years, but each one has been just as unique and enjoyable as the last! I can’t wait to welcome back old friends and meet new ones! 

Our style, as usual, is “pitch-in” picnic open-air (weather permitting). Brandy and I will be creating a food thread in the weeks leading up to the ApostaFest and welcome volunteers! We’ve had great success with this over the years and nobody has left hungry! 😊 

We may have a few light games set up, but as always it’s really the conversation that provides the true zest for the ApostaFest! So set your calendars for the first Saturday, August 4th and invite all your friends! This is an opportunity to network and connect with amazing and diverse people and each year always proves how much better life has been outside the Borganization! Everyone is invited! 😃

Jim's Annual 4th of July BBQ for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses

33985670_10156407826396944_3921192454191054848_n.jpg

Wednesday, July 4 at 1 :00 PM
Fritztown, Pennsylvania

https://www.facebook.com/groups/xjwbbq/

After taking a year off for health reasons, I'm resuming my annual 4th of July BBQ for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. The BBQ is located approximately 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia. About a 3 hour drive from New York City and Washigton DC. The nearest airport is Harrisburg PA (MDT). If you need my address and/or phone number, please post something here or PM me and I'll get back to you. We may have a July 3rd evening pre-party. Not sure yet. Hope you can come. I really missed everyone last year!

-Jim

This American Life - Episode 624 - Kids in the Hall

Will McMillan found a home in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses when he was a teenager. Ultimately he was kicked out of the church. Disfellowshipped. But he can’t help himself. He still believes. Producer Neil Drumming, who was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, talks to Will. (20 minutes)

Listen to the podcast here

4th Annual Midwest ApostaFest

It's already that time again! Mark your calendars for August 5th, 2017! Brandy and I will host the 4th Annual Midwest ApostaFest in Pleasant View, Indiana and we look forward to meeting and reuniting with our wonderful Apostate Community again!

The 1st Annual ApostaFest is where Brandy and I met, at the 2nd Annual we were engaged, and on the 3rd Annual, August 6th 2016 we were married! Each year at the ApostaFest has been better than the last, and we hope that you can plan to attend! (Who knows, maybe you'll find the love of your life there like I did!) 

The Midwest ApostaFest is a great opportunity to meet and connect with your friends separated by hundreds of miles! We've had people travel from very far to attend, and hope you can join us this year! Where it is possible we will try to offer space to sleep at our house if you cannot otherwise afford lodging, because we want everyone to attend and feel welcome!

Everyone is invited, so please feel free to bring along and invite your friends and family... the ApostaFest is designed to be welcoming for everyone regardless of politics, religion, nationality, gender, sexuality, or whatever... we all left a cult and we can all proudly stand together! So please plan to come this year, won't you?

4th Annual Midwest ApostaFest this August 5th, 2017!

Are we Living in the Last Days?

“The World is so evil that it cannot grow any worse. A child 7 years old knows more about wickedness than old people did before. Fidelity and love exist no more. The signs in the Heavens cannot be misunderstood. There is blood, pain, suffering, devils and demons everywhere.” -Bishop Olaus Petri in 1550

Many religions have said we are living in the last days. Some have been saying it for over 450 years as evidenced by the quote above.

The website Cult 101 used freely available public data to discuss whey they believe that the world is no worse off than it was in 1914.

Check out their post Are we Living in the Last Days?

Did Jesus Exist?

Mythicist Milwaukee and Buzzed Belief are hosting a debate on the existence of a historical Jesus Christ. The debate speakers include Dr. Robert Price and Bart D. Ehrman

Dr. Price will make the case that Jesus is a mythological figure. Dr. Ehrman will make the case of a historical Jesus.

The debate will occur at Turner Hall in Milwaukee on October 21. Full details and tickets can be purchase at the link below. If you can not make it to Milwaukee you can purchase the live stream feed for $9.99.

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 6-9:10 pm
Did Jesus Exist?
Dr. Robert Price and Dr. Bart D. Ehrman

The Ninth Annual Summer Ex-JW Meetup in London

There is a summer meetup in London being planned on facebook. The link is below and a short description is listed here.

Saturday, August 27 at 2 PM
The Riverside Bar Vauxhall
Hamilton House
5 St George’s Wharf
London, United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/events/1234122709973634/

It's here again! Every Summer we have a big meetup at the Riverside pub in Vauxhall, London. And these events get huge! So make sure you are there!

This year will be no different.... Earlier in the day if you want to join Ste and the gang, there will be a British Museum tour which is hugely popular and definitely worth attending. That usually finishes around 12pm or just after....

Then meet us in the pub after. The pub serves food all day and night, and is reasonably priced for London. Drinks are also usual London prices.

There is a beautiful view of the river and the London skyline. If it's a sunny day, we'll sit outside and enjoy the sights.... If it's not sunny, it's pretty darn cosy inside too..... :-)

Previous years we've had as many as 80 in attendance and people come from all over the world to attend.

I'm also going to make this open to ex Muslims, ex Mormons, ex Brethren, ex cult members and others. But it will probably be a lot more exJWs.

Partners welcome, or if you need to bring a friend, that is also cool. Parents who have children in the religion who want to come, feel free too. Over 18's only.

We have one rule only in the exJW meetup group: NO preaching! lol I'm sure we can understand that one! So that means if you have a new religion, great for you, but don't use our event to try to convert people. And if you are now an atheist, great, but don't use our event to get people to think like you. Other than that, enjoy yourself!

3rd Annual Midwest Aposta-Fest

3rd Annual Midwest Apostafest.jpg

Mark your calendars all you terribly wonderful heathens! The 3rd Annual Midwest Aposta-Fest will be here before you know it! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016 promises to hold within it moments to be enjoyed by all who gather with us outside of Indianapolis. Experience has shown that each and every Apostate/ex-JW meetup has its own flavor. I am certain each one is great in its own right. At these events we truly feel a sense of family that many of us are missing and long for.

Come join us in all our glorious bad assocation! Ethan and I would like to invite everyone with a teeny tiny bit more urgency this year then perhaps even the 2 previous years.

At the first Annual Aposta-Fest I drove 5 hours and met my Ethan. Meeting the Mr. Anondude and the rest of the Amazing Apostates was all I had hoped for.....what a sweet suprise when I discovered Mr. Anondude was my soulmate!

At the second Annual Aposta-Fest he got down on one knee.....

So, it seems natural that the arrival of the third Annual Aposta-Fest would bring with it further devolpments in the relationship of your Hosts!

Would you honor us with your presence this year as two apostates join together as one?

P.S. This was my bashful, backhanded way of announcing our wedding. I'm going to marry Anondude! ♥

Independence Day Ex-JW BBQs

Celebrate your freedom from the JWs on the 4th of July in Tyler, Texas or in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania. If the technology cooperates the two group are going to connect with each other so you will be able to see many more happy smiling faces of Ex-JWs. I promise there will be no gnashing of teeth. Both BBQs are GLBT friendly. The events are being planned on facebook with links to the groups below.

Aposta Party BBQ, Tyler, Texas

BYOB. Side dishes welcome. SO, children, friends and canines welcome. Wading pool for cooling off. We will be cooking Brisket but if something else is preferred, bring it and we will throw it on the BBQ. Can't wait to meet more of my Aposta Family!! Also planning on connecting up with Jim Moon's Independence Day BBQ to say Hi!!! Bring lawn chairs please.

Jim's Annual 4th Of July BBQ For Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses

I was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses on July 4th, 1975. Each year, as my way of celebrating my independence from the JWs, I hold a backyard barbecue at my house in rural eastern Pennsylvania (about 70 miles NW of Philadelphia). I've been doing this for several years and each year it keeps getting larger and larger. Last year, we had close to 100 people. That's OK -- we have a big house and an acre in the back yard. We have parking enough for quite a few cars. We almost ran out of places to park last year, but there's plenty of on-street parking about a block away, and getting a volunteer to shuttle them to our house won't be a problem.

You're most welcome to bring something to the BBQ, but it's not necessary. If you do plan to bring something, I'd suggest posting what you're going to bring below so we don't have too many people bringing the same thing. Please keep in mind that your hosts (and a few of the guests) are in recovery, so please don't get carried away with the alcoholic beverages, and -- sorry -- this area of Pennsylvania is intolerant of illegal substances, so please keep those at home. We'd like the BBQ to go on for years to come and don't want it getting so rowdy clips of it show up on "Worlds Dumbest."

Come celebrate my freedom from the Witnesses since 1980, and bring your friends! Who knows? Maybe some day the BBQ will get so big we'll have to rent out Yankee Stadium!

The Story of God starring Morgan Freeman

Having been in a religion where they say there is only one true god, it is interesting to see such a broad range of peoples views of who is god.

Check out the trailer below, and if it interests you tune into the National Geographic channel on Sunday, April 3, at 9/8 Central.

2nd Annual Mid-West Aposta-Fest!, Fairland, IN

August 1, 2015
The 2014 Aposta-Fest was completely amazing! It was so wonderful getting together with so many Apostates and making new friends, and meeting old friends in-person for the first time! The food was also quite delicious and boy did we have a lot of it to share! The 2014 Aposta-Fest was also quite special for me because I got to meet Brandy for the first time, and now I'm in an awesome relationship! So you never know what you'll find if you decide to come. All are welcome to come join in the festivities, so tell your Aposta-pals!! 

We can all congregate as evil Apostate heathens gathered for licentious revelries against Jehovah! Bwa ha ha ha ha! <lightning crackles ominously in the background>

-Ahem- Anyway...

It's pitch-in style so if you can bring a small dish that would be great, but it isn't a requirement! Apostates don't often believe in compulsory service after leaving a cult! Ideally (weather-permitting) it will be in my back-yard, otherwise we'll bring it indoors. There is affordable lodging close-by near Indianapolis, but if you can't afford it I will try to accommodate a few houseguests! (Limited space available though, so first-come first-serve) 

Let's make the 2015 Mid-West Aposta-Fest an even BIGGER... BETTER... more Apostate-ier than EVER!

Gateway To Reason, St. Louis, MO

July 31, 2015 to August 2, 2015
When we stand together at events like this it gives a voice to people like us to the public and encourages others to stand up for who they are.We all have different stories and different views on just about almost everything. That is what makes atheist and non-believers so exciting is that we don't have a dogma to guide us but our own logic and reason. and to use that to see if it stands scrutiny and discussion to make us better people in the end.  When we work together we can all become the Gateway to Reason!

Jim's Annual 4th of July BBQ for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses

2014 BBQ Group Photo

One of the original founders of ACB, Jim Moon, has a yearly 4th of July BBQ to celebrate his independence from he JW religion. He has arranged a facebook group to coordinate this BBQ located in Reading, PA. The link to the facebook group is below.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/xjwbbq/

I was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses on July 4th, 1975. Each year, as my way of celebrating my independence from the JWs, I hold a backyard barbecue at my house in rural eastern Pennsylvania (about 70 miles NW of Philadelphia). I've been doing this for several years and each year it keeps getting larger and larger. Last year, we had close to 100 people. That's OK -- we have a big house and an acre in the back yard. We have parking enough for quite a few cars. We almost ran out of places to park last year, but there's plenty of on-street parking about a block away, and getting a volunteer to shuttle them to our house won't be a problem.
A few weeks before the event, once you've indicated you want to come, I'll send you directions to the house, or how to program your GPS. If you need directions sooner than that, PM me and I'll send them to you right away. A lot of you have been here before and already know the way.
You're most welcome to bring something to the BBQ, but it's not necessary. If you do plan to bring something, I'd suggest posting what you're going to bring below so we don't have too many people bringing the same thing. Please keep in mind that your hosts (and a few of the guests) are in recovery, so please don't get carried away with the alcoholic beverages, and -- sorry -- this area of Pennsylvania is intolerant of illegal substances, so please keep those at home. We'd like the BBQ to go on for years to come and don't want it getting so rowdy clips of it show up on "Worlds Dumbest."
The next day after the BBQ, we traditionally take a caravan of people to Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA (Google it -- it's incredible!) We have room in the attic for a few overnight guests. Bring a sleeping bag. We've also had people pitch a tent in our back yard. Plenty of room for that, too.
If you'd rather not go "native" here are a couple of links that you may find helpful:
Nearby Berks County Hotels/Motels: http://www.readingberkspa.com/hotels-motels-reading.html
Nearby Northern Lancaster County Hotels/Motels:
http://www.yellowpages.com/adamstown-pa/motels
Nearby Campgrounds: http://www.berkscountyweb.com/BerksCampsites.htm
If you're flying in, I recommend comparing airfares between Philadelphia (PHL), Harrisburg PA (MDT), and Lehigh Valley (ABE) Airports. I personally always fly in/out of Harrisburg. It's closer, quieter, and less hustle & bustle, although lately Lehigh Valley's been offering better fares and it's about the same distance, just a different direction.
Come celebrate my freedom from the Witnesses since 1980, and bring your friends! Who knows? Maybe some day the BBQ will get so big we'll have to rent out Yankee Stadium!

7th Annual ex-JW Christmas Dinner

Saturday, December 6at 6:00pm in UTC
The Riverside
Hamilton House, 5 St George’s Wharf, London SW8 2LE, United Kingdom

It's time to choose your meals for the xJW Xmas dinner and leave a deposit. The menu is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ysbeaa7i34enmai/ChristmasMenu2014.pdf?dl=0

Please send your meal choice and PayPal deposit of £10 to xjwmeetup@hotmail.com

I'll need these by at least the beginning of next week (24th of November)

I look forward to seeing old faces and meeting new ones for the annual festive fun!

Ste xx

Full details can be found at the facebook event page.

Truth Be Told Screening, Alton, IL

See the facebook page for the most up to date information.

November 15, 2014 at 4:00pm

Sponsored By: Life After Watchtower: 

 

Ex-JWs in Greater St. Louis, MO Area

“TRUTH BE TOLD is a feature documentary film about growing up in the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. The title refers to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ perception that their beliefs are ‘the truth’.

In this film, former Jehovah’s Witnesses candidly discuss the spiritual, emotional and psychological harm inflicted by the religion. They reveal experiences including the effects of proselytizing door-to-door, shunning non-observant family and friends, suspension of critical thinking, suffering the discouragement of pursuing dreams like gaining a higher education, and missing other societal holidays and customs.

Ultimately the film reveals why Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religion with only 37% of those raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses continuing their affiliation with the religion.

The abuses explored in TRUTH BE TOLD are part of a wider examination into the culture of undue influence within the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion that continues to violate the basic human rights of members and their families worldwide. “