Jehovah's Witnesses are trained to fear apostates. They are instructed to throw away any literature that is critical of their religion and to shun dissidents. When I was growing up in that religion, the word acquired a certain frightening mystique. Prior to the Internet, apostates and apostate literature seemed to be in rather short supply. There weren't many real world examples to compare to the prejudiced ideas that were encouraged by the leadership.
There is a great irony in this. The ranks of Jehovah's Witnesses are overflowing with apostates. An apostate is simply someone who disagrees with or leaves a certain religious tradition. Apostasy is actively encouraged by their literature and door to door ministry. They want everyone who isn't a Jehovah's Witness to leave their religion and become an apostate! They promote challenging religious authority, as long as you don't challenge their authority.
There is another type of apostate that features prominently in their membership. Many Jehovah's Witnesses disagree with at least some of the official Watchtower teachings. These are apostates and can be expelled and shunned if they are found out. Some of these apostates want to leave, but don't want be shunned by family and friends. Others are still loyal to the Watchtower Society. They realise that Jehovah's Witnesses periodically "refine" their beliefs, so it only makes sense that some of their current teachings are incorrect. They may even feel a sense of satisfaction when they anticipate a change in doctrinal understanding. They probably don't think of themselves as apostates, but if they ever let anyone know about their doubts or differences of opinion, they could find themselves facing a judicial committee.
I was an apostate when I was a Jehovah's Witnesses. I just didn't realise it. I find it liberating to get acquainted with my inner apostate and to declare my apostasy to the world. Being an apostate can be a very good thing. We don't usually deserve the scorn that is placed on us. I view being an apostate of Jehovah's Witnesses as a kind of badge of honor.
Sorry for the long introduction, there's a point to all this. Even though "apostate" is usually meant as a derogatory term, more and more people are realising that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe, it will become socially acceptable some day. In any case, I would like to introduce you to another blogger who doesn't seem to mind the apostate label. Please visit his blog I'm an Apostate of Jehovah's Witnesses-so WHAT?