(Investigator 138, 2011 May)

Did he touch your breasts?  Did you kiss?  Where else did he touch you?  Did you have sex?

A 17-year-old girl interrogated by three male elders with questions like these would feel intimidated and humiliated. Yet it happens in the Jehovah's Witness sect.

The interrogation is a scene in the 1½-hour Danish movie Worlds Apart (released 2008) which aired on Australian television on March 28, 2011.

The story, which is based on real-life people, centers on JW schoolgirl Sara (played by Rosalinde Mynster) whose worldview based on faith crumbles when she falls in love with 23-year-old Teis, an unbeliever.

She tells him she doesn't celebrate birthdays or Christmas and that everyone except JWs will die at Armageddon. Angrily Teis points at individuals around them in the shop including a baby in a pram and loudly asks whether these will die too?

Sara's older brother, Jonas, has been expelled from the sect, attends University, and is shunned by his own family who won't talk to him.

Her father commits adultery, resigns his eldership, but can remain a JW because he admitted his sin. The wife can't forgive him, however, and moves out of the family house. She later admits she does not believe in the faith but stayed because: "I was afraid of being expelled."

Sara's younger sister Elisabeth (a year or two younger) is a staunch JW, and their younger brother August, aged about 8 is well indoctrinated.

It's not an overtly anti JW movie — in the scene where the three elders question Sara on sex they show nothing but concern and are merely doing what their religion requires. The movie portrays JWs with dignity and none of the elders are presented as hypocrites.

Virtually all the dialogue (in the English subtitles) throughout the movie is spot on. The only exceptions are minor:
Sara hopes to convert Teis and he attends at the Kingdom Hall and at a convention. It's unclear whether a genuine convention was filmed or whether about 1000 extras were recruited to represent a JW audience — although normally convention audiences have chairs and don't sit on the grass which part of the audience does in the movie.

Teis invites Sara to meet his parents, and his mother immediately goes on the attack: "You preach the end of the world with dates grabbed out of thin air."

After the elders' interrogation Sara repents of her physical intimacy with Teis. At the convention an elder announces her decision to leave school and become a "fulltime pioneer". Her father later tells her "Everyone at the rally was so proud of you" and praises her skill at talking with householders.

Teis attends meetings and seems to be converting but decides he doesn't believe the teachings, at which stage he and Sara break up.

Their relationship resumes and Sara moves in with Teis but tells everyone she's living with her mother. Teis and Sara share one bed but keep another bed prepared so they can pretend to have separate rooms if anyone inquires — "I'm not the first one to do this."

Younger sister Elisabeth observes "You don't attend meetings or go witnessing" and discovers the deception.

After doing some "spying" the elders confront Teis and Sara and declare: "Whoever chooses lust over Jehovah chooses eternal death."

At the Kingdom Hall the elder announces: "Sara is no longer a Jehovah's Witness."

Sara now gets shunned by friends and relatives so that she'll "hurt", repent and return.

Her father tells her, "I can't see you any more…" Her girlfriend Thea, a JW, turns her back and walks away without greeting or reply. Elisabeth too won't talk to her. Younger brother August hides from Sara and when found says, "You'll die in Armageddon." Sara replies: "They've been lying to us; it won't happen."

At least Sara can now talk with her expelled older brother, Jonas. But he now decides to return to JWs because it's "too hard" to be "on the outside."

Sara realizes she's given up everything to be with Teis and "It won't work" and so she separates from him.

 But will she go back to JWs?

At this stage girlfriend Thea has an accident, rejects blood, and dies. The elder announces in the Kingdom Hall: "Thea never deviated from her decision not to have blood… What good is it to save one's life here and lose eternal life?"

This settles Sara's doubt. She tells her father "Goodbye dad" and leaves home. On the train we hear her thoughts: "God Jehovah, this is the last time I'll talk to you. I don't believe in you any more."

[On the train at the end of the movie another girl smiles at Sara; apparently she is Tabita Broener, the real-life former JW on whom the Sara character is based.]

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