You bring up a lot of really insightful and valid points. I do agree with you that there is a better existence for many than the Way and it's offshoots (or fundamentalism in general). I do not agree with you that the TWI/offshoot experience is simply wrong or bad. I think that the best life someone can live is just to be happy, love others, and help man kind. I don't believe that there is one simple right formula in life that produces good. It is not as simple as just finding the truth and then living by it. You see, the truth can be very elusive, and truth can be very depressing. A person can live their whole life believing lies (we all do) or even being part of an evil organization and still be happy, love others, and help mankind.
In fact, I think every church is based on a hodgepodge of truths, half-truths, and lies. Since being part of something bigger than ourselves is necessary for most people to be happy, i don't think it's as easy as saying that if people left the way they'd be happy. Most people would have been part of some other organization that possessed many bad attributes too. Take the catholic church, for instance. They also require adherence to prescribed dogma. IMHO, the catholic dogma tends to breed guilt and shame. Many people may find more peace and happiness following the catholic church, with its lies, truths, and half-truths than they would in the Way. Other Catholics found more value in TWI and were very glad to leave their church for the Way. Furthermore, I know believers who left a life of crime, hatred, and despair to follow TWI. Sure there could have been better alternatives for these people, but I don't think that we should discount the efforts of those in the Way who helped people find a BETTER life, even though it may not have been the BEST life.
As for me, I spent my whole life in "the Word". I can't rightly say that I would have been better off without the "Word" and the "Ministry" (whether TWI or the many other fellowships that taught the Word. I can pick out doctrines and practices that I really hated. It's been great to share those frustrations here. I can't renounce my whole experience as bad though, it's shaped my entire experience in life and i've gotten a lot out of going to fellowship. I've grown closer to family members because of our common faith. I've been able to meet a huge range of people at fellowships and I was able to practice compassion and charity to a lot of people. Likewise, I've received unconditional acceptance and love. I can't count how many times believers have helped me move or given me great advice. I've learned to work in small groups while witnessing. I've learned to give speak in public at days in the Word and advances. I've learned to control my thinking in a renewed mind classes (no not WC's). I've learned to overcome fear by facing problems. I've learned to deal with rejection while witnessing.
So, I'm looking forward to moving on with my life, but I can't say that I would have been better off without my experience as a Way believer. After all, my choice might have been between being a druggie and being a "believer". I wouldn't have been able to make a clean cut with dogmatic nutjobbery if I hadn't been gone through the whole TWI experience. I'm glad to be moving on, but I know that I'm leaving a lot of great memories in the past. The "ministry" is part of my heritage and I'm ok with that. I guess I'm an unbelieving believer now . . . .