What Are the Best Arguments To Use Against Jehovah’s Witnesses?

A reader sent this email and could use your help. He’s a former Jehovah’s Witness who is trying to help his still-religious family members see the rational side of things:

Several of my family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as far as they are concerned, they are 100% right. I have tried talking to them about various skeptical things to do with religion, but they point out that most of the criticism is directed at Christians, and “Christians do not believe the same as JWs.”

I was a bit unsure about this, and having done a lot of research into JWs, it is actually true — a lot of what we ridicule Christians about is actually not believed by JWs. They do not believe in hell, or that Jesus is God, and some of them are fine with evolution (even though their website says they do not believe in it).

I am finding it very difficult to talk to them about my (lack of) beliefs because they seem to be impervious to criticism. They believe that you cannot read the Bible without their direct help, and any analysis of the Bible without their accompanying books is useless. They even have their own translation of the Bible. They believe that small inconsistencies with history are trivial — that it is all about the future, not the past — but they firmly believe the Bible is more accurate a historical record than anything else. They put up this huge barrier to entry and this stops anyone from criticizing them.

They tell me that any suffering on earth is Satan’s work, and God does not stop it because he “has given us a chance in the past and we ignored him so now we have to wait until armageddon before getting another chance.” They have an answer for everything I say.

What can I do to counter these people?

I know I should probably ignore them but I would feel so much happier if I could “save” them from this religion (how ironic).

Anyone is welcome to offer suggestions, but I’m sure advice from former JWs would be even more powerful.

  • http://humanistdad.blogspot.com HumanistDad

    What about starting with the story of Adam and Eve. Is it true? If so, how did Adam’s sons find wives?

    If it allegorical? If so, then how could there be original sin if Adam and Eve didn’t really exist?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    As a start, concentrate on the things that you and the JWs both believe that differ from what many other Christians believe. (like the belief in Hell or whether Jesus was actually God). Then kind-of push back on some of the other related positions.

  • mb

    I think it is generally useless to argue with these kind of people. It is unlikely that any clever polemic will change their minds. In fact, it may only harden their positions. When I was an evangelical, we were drilled on how to “defend the faith.” We lusted for a good argument with an unbeliever so we could nail him with the Gospel. Arguing with these people may be just what they want. Just demonstrate, through your life, that an atheist can be a loving, moral person. This may do more than any argument to undermine their confidence in the supreme rightness of their position.

  • Gonçalo Valverde

    Since they tend to try to sell religion based on what they consider logical explanations, it’s easy to deconstruct their argumentation.
    One that they tend to use is the “if you find a clock on a field you would think that someone made it and it was lost, so since the universe is so much more complex it needs to have a maker”. If you tell them the also logical argument that no, actually theres a probability (although very small) that the molecules just arranged by chanche on the shape of a clock, they will enter a logical loop and deny you.. I’ve had at least two jeovah witnesses give up on me when I used this argument, which it’s actually valid.. the proability is very, very low, but exists, hence you can’s say it’s impossible.

    You can also enter in the freedom of choice versus omniscience argument, which it’s also a dead end for them.. If God is omniscient, it knows everything that happens every time, hence it’s impossible to have free will. If free will exists, God can’t know everything because there’s this part that it’s unknown and will have unknown results, hence no omniscience.

    I don’t like that much of militant atheism (which tends to border religion), but if someone knocks on my door and continue to try to peddle me some religion after I tell them that not only I’m not interested but that I’m an atheist then I’ll confront them on my own terms.

  • sth

    I concur with mb. I was raised in the religion and left in my twenties. I am in my early thirties and was finally was able to come to the right conclusion a few years ago. The break from the religion was probably one of the most difficult happenings in my life (and I am two semesters away from a Ph.D. in engineering). My family still calls to try persuade me that the world is ending and this is my last chance to be saved. I respectfully listen but I know there isn’t a method I can use to change their minds. I just try to live my life as a moral person and I hope that does more talking for me than any conversations I have had.

  • Kaylya

    I think you need to plant the seeds of doubt and let them grow on their own.

    I think a discussion about the morality of the blood transfusion issue, for example, would be of interest. There was a post on it a couple weeks back. “Do you really think that this bible quote means that God wants children to die?”, etc.

  • gski

    I would have questioned the quote “has given us a chance in the past and we ignored him so now we have to wait until armageddon before getting another chance.” I would question them about the morality of holding the child responsible for the actions of the parents. ‘WE’ did not ignore him adam and eve did. Why are people held to a higher moral standard than god is?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-8922-Portland-Skepticism-Examiner Portland ME Skept

    One thing you could do is question the fact that every few years, the JWs have predicted it was time for the world to end. They were certain that the world would end in 1914, and then they engaged in some revisionism to claim they never actually said that.

    If they’re well entrenched, you’re not going to change their minds right away, but the seeds of reason that you plant may take root years from now. I’ve seen it happen.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    When they come calling at the door, I get quite far with the moral argument, basically my take on the Euthyphro dilemma, and going on about hardening of Pharaohs will which shows direct interference from God removing free-will for his own ends.

    I doubt it does any good, but while they’re arguing with me, they’re not trying to convert anyone else.

  • http://selfra.blogspot.com dantresomi

    1. like ME Skept said above, the JWs predicted the end of the world on several dates. NOthing happened, woops

    2. They haven’t proved or explained why they inserted “Jehovah” in to the Bible

    3. in the 60s, the JW’s stated in their publications that people of color were inferior.

  • Mike

    When I was young, about 12 or so, a Jehovah’s Witness came to the door and tried to preach as they try to do. She showed me a pamphlet which displayed a log home on top of a tree-covered hill with a large slightly-sloping front lawn. On the lawn there were two small children playing with a couple baby bears, while their parents watched gleefully. She asked me, “Wouldn’t you want to live in a home like this?”. I thought for a moment, then said to her, “Where’s the mother bear?”. “What?” she replied. “Where’s the mother bear? Bears are very protective of their young, when the mother comes back she’s going to see those kids and think they’re attacking her children, and is going to kill them. What kind of reckless parents are they? They should be arrested and their kids sent to a home without such abusive parents!”. Sufficed to say, the JW did not stay much longer.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596855566 Day Gibson

      The whole point of the image is to depict life in the new system of things. Animals and humans will co-exist without violence. 

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Ask them about blood transfusions. It’s obvious but worth bringing up once again. Why aren’t they allowed blood? Are they allowed to have bone marrow transplants? Is it just whole blood or is plasma OK? What about white blood cells? What about vitamin K or blood products? Are they allowed to eat Black Pudding (blood sausage) which is largely made from blood? Are organ transplants permissible given that the organs contain blood.

    Really though it is probably worth just arguing against every single point that they raise. Their beliefs deserve no respect at all so attack each point as they raise them. If they cite gospel then just dismiss it as an irrelevance that you don’t believe in. Ask for evidence. Scripture isn’t evidence.

    On second thoughts that’s just being mean. It can be fun but why stoop to their level. They need to make a compelling case, you have no need to defend an atheist viewpoint unless you wish to.

  • pete3x3

    I would just be honest with them. BUT only after they ask you, your thoughts. I wouldn’t try to convert any of them. A lot of sects like jw’s pride themselves on ignorance, and your probably not going to change there minds,but if they ask, be honest.

  • keddaw

    “any analysis of the Bible without their accompanying books is useless”
    Fine, but where are these books, who wrote them and where does their authority come from?

    “any suffering on earth is Satan’s work, and God does not stop it because he “has given us a chance in the past and we ignored him so now we have to wait until armageddon before getting another chance.””
    So God is punishing us for the sins of our ancestors. Is that any way for a moral being to behave?
    And if hell doesn’t exist why is there a Satan?

    If the Bible is an accurate historical record then why has it been revised and re-written dozens of times in the past two millenia? Why is the prevailing Catholic version the one they have decided is accurate enough for them to interpret? If Jesus isn’t the Son of God then why are his miracles and ascension and Mary’s virginity important to them or the Bible?

    Basically just get to the core of what they believe and why they believe over any other belief system. At that point you will have the core of their irrationality and you can take your argument from there.

  • Peregrine

    Don’t argue.

    At least not at first. If you want to engage them in discussion, you have to understand their perspective first. Listen carefully. Take notes. Try to understand why they believe what they believe. Take that information, look into it further on your own time, and prepare statements for the next time something comes up. Because it probably will. Discussions like these tend to get repetitive, unless they go unchallenged.

    But you’ve got to speak to them respectfully. I know, I know; “respect is earned”, “irrational beliefs don’t deserve respect”, yadda yadda. Maybe respect isn’t the right word, but if these people are your friends and family, and you want to maintain a relationship with them, then you’ve got to address them with something akin to consideration and kindness. If you show blatant disrespect, they will shut you out, and your arguments will fall on deaf ears. What’s the point of taking the effort to hone finely crafted arguments if they’re not going to listen?

    Of course, there’s always the option of finding other non-religious topics you have mutual interests in, like sports, video games, movies, TV shows, music, books, and so forth.

  • http://falterer.blogspot.com falterer

    There’s no magic-bullet argument to “save” someone from their religion, especially from a high-control group like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It takes significant exposure to well-respected authorities that contradict Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings. I blogged along my own path away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and although it seems from the blog that the whole thing happened in a short number of months, there were many years of research and wavering that came before the first post at Falterer.

    The first real problem I had was with the physical impossibility of a peculiar teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses’: a water or vapor canopy that surrounded the earth before the flood. (I blogged about it, too.) Quite a few other ex-Jehovah’s-Witnesses I’ve met had similar problems with the global flood. One person even shared online all the correspondence they had with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses’ main organization) concerning the flood. After that, I began to have more serious doubts about the age of the Earth and other questions in Genesis, until I began to doubt the existence of God entirely. After a talk with some elders in my congregation, I decided to stop researching Genesis and instead concentrate on a Bible prophecy: Daniel. There, I found more conflicts between what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach and, this time, history. (Again, I blogged my findings.)

    Of course, once I became more confident in my atheism, I was disfellowshipped from the church for it!

  • Eddie

    My brother was a JW. He is the one that taught me most everything I know about the scientific method and rational thought.

    He had told me that the whole reason behind the JW church was that they had questioned some of the early christian era’s beliefs.

    You know the truly pagan worshiping stuff. The fact that Christmas was celebrated on the 25th of December. The fact that Jesus was the same as God. Oh and the big one that God has no name in the new testament.

    Most of the core beliefs that JW’s have is the reason that they are not associated to the basic christian beliefs or churches.

    What they did was start the research and didn’t go far enough. Meaning that they realized that the religion had some conflicting problems with being pagan. If they had gone further they would have seen that most (if not all) of the christian beliefs are based mostly around pagan beliefs so that things could be reconciled to make peace between the religions. (Also to be accepted as a religion by the government.)

    I would go and use that angle. Start with Christmas and work your way around the holidays. The one they still except is Easter which if you look at the actual meaning it is believed to come from the fertility goddess Estre.

    12 apostles? well the sun gods at the time had the same amount. Probably due to the 12 constellations.

    There are many but the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to take out the pagan worship so they could have a more legit religion is a good place to start.

    Remember the hardest thing about leaving any religion is taking away the everlasting life. Most people that can’t or won’t leave religion comes down to that one thing.

  • http://personman.com Danny

    Failed prophecies! The JW have made many over the years. Point those out to show that their organization doesn’t know what they’re talking about:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/witness8.htm

    http://onetruegod.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/failed-prophecies-of-the-watchtower-society-of-jehovahs-witnesses/

    Also, point out that like all religions, JW makes claims for which there is no evidence.

  • http://thehappyhuman.wordpress.com John

    I have no JW-specific advice but my unbelief more or less started when I began to think about why I believed what I believed. Peeling off the layers, you find there’s no there there.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    You could also ask them “Didn’t you guys say the world was going to end in 1975? What ever happened with that?” That was a bit of a fiasco for their group.

  • Don Y.

    Technically, “trying to help his still-religious family members see the rational side of things:” makes him as evangelistic as his family. Why does he bother? There is no right or wrong here, except insofar as religion intrudes into his life. If it doesn’t, let them be. If they bother him, nod politely and let it go at that.

    What’s the point of being an atheist if you act like a missionary?

  • J. Allen

    Tell them that you once caught a fish as big as Jehovah.

    Otherwise morality arguments might be useful to cast seeds…Satan was created by God, etc.

  • Jude

    My greatest personal argument is that a friend of mine, as a female, was encouraged to drop out of school at age 14, and thus she was killed in a car wreck. They are so negative towards women and education. In general, I slam the door in JW’s faces, but upon occasion I ask female proselytizers why they stay in a religion that’s so negative towards women (and *then* I slam the door in their faces). I have no interest in talking to anyone who’s so into proselytizing. Years ago, my dad was dying from leukemia, my first ex-husband was paralyzed in a car crash, both were sick and some kids threw eggs at our door. Then the JWs showed up to proselytize. Did they offer to help clean up the mess or care for the sick? Heck no. So i ordered them off the property.

  • James Koran

    Any attempt to dissuade them about the intentions of the Watchtower and their governing body will be viewed by any sophisticated JW as an apostate attempt to turn them from their faith. For me, It was the failed prophesies and former Jw’s experiences leaving the organization that helped me to leave the society. I had to be convinced that they only “love” you because you believe like they do! There was a huge fear at that time of being viewed by God and former friends as a casualty of the condemned world! A big fear of mine was leaving all the relationships that I had developed over the years. There is a strong familial pull on a person’s emotions. The barrier will be hard to break, but try your hardest to get them to read about the experiences of former JW’s and their struggles to get out! Looking at old copies of the Watchtower and Awake confirmed, for me anyway, the wild and irrational views of the organization over the years.

    Take care, James

  • ATL-Apostate

    Since telling them they are fucking nuts is probably not going to work…

    You might start with pointing out some inconsistencies in their beliefs:

    If problems are caused by Satan, who is Satan? If there is no hell where does he live?

    You could also discuss the whole no blood transfusion thing with them.

    Truth is, nothing is going to “work” until they are in the right frame of mind to critically analyze their beliefs/superstitions.

    What worked for you (assuming you were JW at some point)? If you are like most de-converts, I would guess that yours was a more gradual chipping away. Different things you read and people you talked to probably planted seeds of cognitive dissonance that eventually lead to your deconversion. But that’s all speculation on my part.

    It will likely be a long process – if it happens at all – (deconversion, that is), and won’t be quite so climactic as the tent revival revelations.

    Your best “witness” is to continue being a good, moral person and gently discuss differences whenever the right opportunity presents itself.

  • Ulrich

    I was visited by a JW proselytizer once, and out of politeness and curiosity listened to what he had to say and took one of his pamphlets. After that, I (already pretty much atheist back then) opened my New Testament and read in the Gospels, comparing their message as I understood it with what the pamphlet claimed, and came to the conclusion that JWs have it completely backwards.

    The Witnesses claim that to obtain God’s grace one has to follow his commandments absolutely. This is not what the NT Jesus says at all. The most notable verse for me in this regard is Matthew 12.7ff: “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” I take “sacrifice” to mean “adherence to commandments” in general, because it would not fit the context otherwise (he says that to justify his disciples’ breaking the Sabbath rule, which has nothing to do with sacrifices, but is a fairly high-ranking commandment in Judaism, being in the Decalogue and all.) So according to Jesus, human well-being should take precedence over divine commandments, not the other way around.

    Only a few verses later he makes the same point even clearer: ‘He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”‘ Now, why should this statement only apply to the Sabbath rule and not to others as well? Seriously, if the NT Jesus knew that JWs are forbidden to receive life-saving blood transfusions just for the sake of some vague and obscure quote in Acts, I think he’d be rotating in his grave :D

    I understand very well why JWs try to protect their teachings by allowing only “Safer Bible Study” using their own commentaries, but maybe your family could still see the glaring discrepancies between the teachings and their supposed source.

  • Christy C.

    “I know I should probably ignore them but I would feel so much happier if I could “save” them from this religion (how ironic).”

    I don’t think you’ll get anywhere with changing their beliefs, just like they won’t get anywhere with changing yours. What I think would make you feel happier is to do what you can to “move on” and establish boundaries between yourself and members of your family. I suggest talking to a counselor about it.

  • J B Tait

    The JWs at the door seem non-plussed by my declaration that their God is too small.

    When they ask why, I tell them that their concept of the Universe is extremely limited and that any Creator wondrous enough to have put the whole thing together and get it working as well as it does, certainly wouldn’t be as petty and contradictory as the one portrayed in their Bible.
    If there is a God or Supreme Being, and if s/he cares enough about the trivial details of their amazing Universe to interact with us, religious writings are so parochial (in the sense of being narrow-minded) they only serve to belittle and defame his/her character.

    I have read your Bible (I tell them), and I would not want that angry, vindictive, sectarian, capricious sociopath in charge of my Universe.

  • Brian

    The Watchtower Society from Brooklyn NY is the organization that leads the JW’s. JW’s have been heavily indoctrinated to believe that this society is the faithful slave, Matthew 24:45-47. And that the bible only can be understood under the light of the watchtower publications.

    JW’s believe that this society is the “channel of communication” between God and his people. They won’t dare to question this authority that is the worst thing one could do. The chain of command is one vertical line.

    Their bible, the new world translation, has been modified in a lot of parts to fit their doctrine.

    Most of you know the story about Jephtah’s daughter, well the JW’s bible changed a few passages so it looks like this girl was never killed and she was going to be serving in the temple. That was the sacrifice. When I showed my family the same verses from different bible translations they had no response.

    Then, my dad showed me Joshua 24:15,”.. but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”

    A few more points to consider:

    - If a jw questions the organization then he/she gets expelled and shunned even by his/her close family members and he/she get demonized as an apostate. (I have seen this in my own family).

    - They think evolution is evil and Darwing was satanic, they are big supporters of ID (I still read their magazines).

    - They don’t like when kids go to college. they encourage full time service (I almost got baptized, thanks to University out of town I escaped)

    - They “rat out” members when they question something about the society.

    Sorry for the long comment, but there are so many things wrong about this cult and it gets very personal. They destroyed my family when I was young and I could not do anything. I will be visiting my family next month and I know there will be more proselitizing, thank you for this timely post.

  • numsix

    I have Blood Donor stickers on my doors.
    It repels JW’s.

    According to my older brother (11 years older); when I was born I needed blood transfusions – yes plural; The JW’s came to the house. My dad chased them away with a shovel. My dad was a peaceful man; he avoided conflicts. This no blood transfusion policy/belief of theirs was like telling him to kill his son – me. I am happy about that meeting :)
    - As an aside; I use the ‘;’ to much.

  • SWED

    My in-laws are JWs. Proud to say my very brave and intelligent wife left the cult at 16. She paid a fairly heavy price for her actions.

    Anyway, her family is of the rural/undereducated variety and an intervention of this sort would be a disaster with them. Due to past threats of familial excommunication, Wifey has decided that everyone will be happier without having this talk. I suggest you at least consider the “ignorance is bliss” approach if your family is anything like hers.

    However, we have noticed that all the repressive JW rules are starting to wear on her mom – to the point that she has started to break them. Should her mom ever broach the religion topic with us we would gladly discuss it. I would probably explain my own atheism first. I would explain how studying mythology in elementary school did me in. How I need proof to believe in anything, and how the magical stories in religious texts don’t do the trick. Science. The teapot. Etc.

    If your family is receptive, and it sounds like they are at least willing to listen, you could then try to poke a few select holes in their faith. As Eddie explained up above, you could start with the pagan stuff. The JWs are actually knowledgeable about the pagan influence on the Christian religion. Try to explain that the new testament is just another pagan story. Show them Zeitgeist part 1. Sure they’ll argue, they’re fundamentalists, how could they not? At least you’ve planted the seeds of freethought.

    I would avoid trying to convince them of anything, especially avoid trying to talk them out of their god belief. Rather, just try to gently undermine organized religion, JWism, and any unfounded claims of supernatural activity. All the atheists I know rejected their own bs religion before rejecting belief in a god.

    Good luck.

  • Dan

    There’s really no way you can reason with them in just a few conversations. I’ve tried this with my family, who are all Seventh-Day Adventists, and all it does is generate hurt feelings.

    The approach I’ve found that works best is wait for them to initiate the discussion, then calmly and rationally explain the way you feel. Avoid judgments and criticisms about their beliefs and instead focus on discussing why you believe the way you do.

    It will take some time, if ever, for them to truly understand your position. These religions are based on very legalistic dogma, which has a brainwashing effect on followers. The longer they’ve been in the religion the longer it will take to get through to them.

    My parents are in their 70′s. They’ve been in the SDA church all their lives and that’s all they know. To upset their belief system at this point is counterproductive, so I don’t even try. But I do engage my siblings in occasional discussions with positive results.

    If you don’t succeed that’s fine. Family is still family, and not worth alienating. At least you made the correct decision and have the chance of influencing your children and grandchildren.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    If they ever tell you stuff like this,

    They tell me that any suffering on earth is Satan’s work, and God does not stop it because he “has given us a chance in the past and we ignored him so now we have to wait until armageddon before getting another chance.”

    You should respond, “Or!… None of that is true. How do we know which is the case?” Anticipated responses: faith, the Bible, personal experience. Make sure to know counter-responses to each of these.

  • The Other Tom

    Why is everyone going on at length about fighting the details of the JW religion?

    You only need one set of arguments against any religion. All religions are subject to precisely the same arguments, because all religions have precisely the same largest flaw: belief in a god. That is in itself so absurd and so discreditable that attacking other details is a waste of your time. It’s like swatting flies in your living room while ignoring the horse taking a dump on your sofa.

    Learn some good arguments against belief in the existence of a god, and use those. It doesn’t matter if they believe in hell or not, believe in the divinity of Jesus or not, believe god forbids blood transfusions or not, believe the Harry Potter books are evil or not. They believe in a god, and that right there is the root of the problem. Go after that.

    If you don’t know any good arguments against the existence of a god, or more importantly, arguments against their counter-arguments against your arguments against the existence of a god, then I suggest you go get a copy of The God Delusion and read it, it’s really quite thorough.

  • TXatheist

    As someone who studied with the JW’s for over a year you are f*cked, seriously. Until they want to see anything other than “the truth” you are never going to change their mind. If you are labeled an apostate you know the consequences. I’d avoid the topic personally and just let it be known you are not going to join or come back to the watchtower. Then if one decides to question they know they can come to you. If you push you are arguing against their ego and that’s a lost cause. md457@hotmail.com if I can help.

  • MrMarkAZ

    The Second Amendment?

  • stephanie

    How about the fact that they can’t even take their own communion because that random 144,000 number has been reached?

    The JWs come to my door every month or two. I love talking to them because they always leave less sure of their religion than when they came up the steps. It’s amazing what friendly conversation can accomplish that shouting from the rooftops can not. :)

    • Jmcneill

      Hi

      Having been a witness since birth until I grew up and found my life. Being given no real opportunity to grow up and mature to make a real decision based on living my own life. Forced into baptism and basically losing most of my beautiful family because of my later choices! Having gone through a bad marriage from 19 and divorced at 22. Also seeing elders be reprimanded for sexual indiscretions both with minors and other women whom were weak without it being taken outside the faith to authorities even when rape occurred.

      Seeing others repent without ever really meaning it! I have massive issues with this sect?

      I’m a good man with a beautiful wife and 2 fantastic children whom are being raised as morally good humans.

      I know that JW keep changing their beliefs when it suits them. Also every congregation deals with things differently and applies their belief as they feel fit (which should not be).

      Yes for those whom wish to know the 144,000 were meant to be of an age to understand prior to the first world war. You will find these are all dead now and the world was meant to end with these as they would be the guardians in heaven for those whom lived on earth.

      As this prediction has passed they again like always have changed the reading of the scripts to suit the doctrine.

      A sect and no question!

  • Feshy

    The Jehova’s Witnesses that come around to my house are very difficult for me to talk to, because they so thoroughly lack an understanding of science or logic. They claim to have re-examined the Bible critically, but what they really mean is that they assume that The Watchtower organization has done that for them. Pointing out even easily demonstrated falsehoods or contradictions published by TW is taken as a personal assault on their faith. My effort to discuss the a-historicity of the early bible was met with the implication that all scientists and historians in the world were lying for Satan’s benefit. That is essentially the hurdle I was facing discussing with them: If reality and their beliefs conflict, they assume reality has been distorted by Satan.

    While I’m sure not all JW’s are as distanced from reality as the ones that regularly knock on my door, they do all face some strong hurdles — such as extreme ostracism from family and friends (and given the cultish nature of the group, this may be the majority of a person’s close ties!) if they leave the fold — or even raise too many questions.

    The closest I came to making a dent was when I pointed out that their own literature told them that taking things out of context (though they assume it will be biblical passages) to distort their meaning was wrong — and then pointed out several deceptive quote mines of scientists in their Watchtower pamphlets and books. After that it was six months before they came knocking again.

    I don’t know how it is with family discussions, but when they knock on my door unsolicited they view their visits as entirely one-sided. Ask them for all the pamphlets you can carry, and they’re happy to oblige. Offer to give them a single photocopied article, and just try to get them to take it.

    Lastly, if you do want to discuss their faith with them, take a bit of time to read up on their beliefs, and how they differ from the typical Christian set. Read some of their free Watchtower literature to get an idea of the things that they are likely to believe and the modes of thinking that lead them there. If I hadn’t done that I would have been at a complete loss to understand some of the responses I got to various questions and discussions.

  • Helen

    I agree with the post calling to your attention that it’s enough to debate the existence of god.
    Basically I find it’s a huge waste of precious time to study the details of an tehology whose basic statement you don’t accept (ie. there is a god). It’s just not worth it. Instead, go out and enjoy the beauty of a sunrise or anything.
    Usually, I rather avoid discussions when I know they will lead nowhere. If they insist, you may want to accuse them of being atheist themselves, as they don’t believe in, let’s say, the great Astarte, heavenly mother of all life, and if they object, use all agruments you usually get from theists.
    The only “attempt” at conversion worth making is to kindle any sparks of rational thinking you come across during family meetings (there may be some left especially in the kids).

  • ErinM

    I don’t care what faith someone is, all I have to do is keep asking, “but how do you know that?” (or some contextually appropriate variation thereof) over and over again, like a toddler. They eventually get to a point where they have no answer.

    • LANDIS3705

      thats the case with any subject you idiot…HOW DO YOU KNOW KRAFT MADE YOUR MACARONI

    • CryforHelp

      Exactly, that’s why I am so unconvinced that someone can knock at my door during dinner and not provide the answers from the truth and not from the Watchtower

  • http://thenaturalbuddhist.blogspot.com JohnFrost

    It’s like swatting flies in your living room while ignoring the horse taking a dump on your sofa.

    Best. Metaphor. Ever.

  • beanfeast

    We seem to get JWs knocking on the door every couple of months or so. There are usually 4 of them, 2 pairs, going door to door. If I have the time I will engage them in conversation and run through various reasons for not believing in a God, asking them about failed prophesies and doctrinal changes.

    I do not expect to deprogram them but I suspect that is why they come in pairs, so that they can ensure neither of them strays.

    I can usually keep them going for 30-45 minutes before the other pair turns up and reminds them of an appointment they have to go to, but as far as I am concerned that is my job done. At least I might have prevented them from getting their claws into some of my more naive neighbours.

    I also use a similar tactic with telephone cold callers. The longer I can keep them on the phone, the worse their sales figures will. Once I managed to string it out for an hour and 15 minutes with someone from an Indian call centre trying to flog me a mobile phone package. If enough people adopted this tactic then the cost of the wasted telephone call minutes would also build up.

    With junk mail I remove any identifying name/address details and make use of the freepost envelopes some of them include. They have to pay for the postage and waste time opening it. The more people that do it, the more it costs them.

  • NowAHappyHumanist

    Now who was it who said “you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into”?

    I wouldn’t bother trying to find the best argument, because it won’t work. I think any change of heart in a true believer has to come from inside their own head.

    However, I think there is a sneaky way to nudge the rational part of the brain awake. Talk about skepticism, not with relation to JW beliefs, but find out what that true believer is skeptical about and chat about it. What are they skeptical about? Bigfoot? Alien abduction? Psychics? 9/11 conspiracies? Ask lots of questions. Why are they skeptical? What is a good reason to believe something? Maybe (eventually) start to talk about religious belief. Why are they skeptical about other religions? Why do they think you are no longer a JW? Just keep the conversation open.

    Religious belief is so insidious – and circular. It does no good to talk to a JW true believer about blood transfusions. Life (& yes, even the life of a precious child) isn’t all that important in comparison with ETERNAL life. Once you truely believe in an afterlife and truely believe that god requires certain rules to be followed in this life for you to enjoy the afterlife then really, everything else is just a test of faith.

    I think the secret to helping a true believer out of this vicious mind trap is to talk about skepticism and credulity and also really support them, emotionally & practically, while they are on their “spiritual journey”.

  • GreyTheory

    the 144,000 “survivors of the end times” is my favorite part.. they have (conservatively) 7.1 million members. So how do they choose? Talent show? Bake sale?

    • Amanda

      No, they believe the rest will be on a restored paradise earth. —i’m a former j- dub.

      • CryforHelp

        CRAZY!!! I am Anglican and we believe EVERYONE goes to a beautiful place : )

    • CryforHelp

      Pretty much and again is that not judgemental…and if JW believes in all good
      “why” isn’t everyone going to this promise land.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Coincidentally, I had two JWs come to my door today. I decided to spend a few minutes talking to them since this post was fresh on my mind. I told them that I agreed with them about there not being a hell and that Jesus wasn’t God Himself. I said the bible doesn’t even mention the trinity and if some of the 1st century Christians were to visit churches today, they probably wouldn’t even recognize the theology being taught. They became very excited that they might have a potential convert. They gave me a bunch of religious materials. But then I told them I didn’t view the bible as being the word of God. I told them it was just a bunch of stuff written down by people back then just like people today can write stuff down. I brought up transfusions and the past end-of-world predictions that didn’t come true. It was funny, they guy doing most of the talking started looking at his watch. I guess he figured he was not now effectively using his time spreading the word. After a few more minutes, I finally let them go. I probably will thumb through the material they left me. I’m kind-of curious what crazy things they believe (that are different than the crazy things most other Christians believe). They probably will be back since I did bother to even talk to them. Perhaps over time I’ll wear them down and convert one or two ;)

    I do give them one bit of credit. The JWs are probably closer to the original Christians than any other denomination. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t crazy, though. The original Christians were bat-shit crazy with their end-of-days prophesy.

  • Theresa

    I know what you’re feeling. I too was brought up as a JW and I have many family members who still attend. I found that there is no point in trying to “save” them. They have been brainwashed. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I state that as a fact. I have been down that road of trying to show them the MANY errors of the WTBTS, but to no avail. I found the more I argued, the stronger their belief got. I came to the conclusion that you just have to let ppl be who they are. This is the path they have chosen for their lives, respect that. The best thing you can do is be happy that you found your way out and can now live a happy, guiltless life. When my family tries to “save” me, I listen, then decline their invite telling them that being a JW is not for me and if that means I have to die because I don’t follow their man-made rules, then so be it.

    There are many publications written by ex-JW’s who have found their way out, and while most active JW’s won’t read them, you might find them helpful for your own peace of mind. One in particular is “Crisis of a Conscience” by Raymond Franz – a former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Always be peaceful and peace will be with you.

    • Sendtrishmail

      My mother has refused to speak to me for almost two years now.  She has tried to convert me since I left at 18.  She has tried to convert my children which I won’t allow…When she begins her bullshit about how she is sad I will die if I don’t except Jehovah again I just listen and make some excuse to get off the phone or hang up on her or tell her mom I am done so your wasting your time. I am being truthful and honest in saying this.  If you grew up as one of them and then you decide to leave and go out into the world you will find the world a confusing and fright filled place…where you have no skills or education etc…many kids around age 16 were told to leave school I refused thank God!  I refused to get baptized like my brother did…I held out and left at 18.  I simply knew this was not for me.  I watched young children being married off at 15.  Small kids being beat for picking up a rock in field service…they were not even allowed to be children…they had to sit through two hour boring meetings and when they cried they were taken to the restroom where they were beat…And I mean beat mothers carried wooden spoons and paddles and one mother and I kid not brought in a plastic baseball bat and hit her kid with it…I told on her and was given a talk by the elders on how I should mind my own business.  Women had no rights and could not speak at all…we were slaves to the men who constantly told  me how to dress and what makeup and jewelry to wear.  And who to marry…ugh I did not want to marry a Witness boy and refused any  boys advances…I still resent my mother for raising me this way… she raised us in this faith with our father who was not a witness and she allowed him to beat us with belts and race car tracks and other items…she never did crap when my brother molested me except read us both the bible…she allowed the abuse and still today sits at her church putting on her fake act…she makes me sick.

  • DHL

    my advice would be to simply ask them to agree with you for all dialog to stick to the observable facts about life. you and they disagree on how the source of some things (where god is perceived as causal for them), but you can all agree on what you can together observe if you characterize without any subjectivity or beliefs. Since they are family, you’ll need to get along and the best way to allow people to discover anything is with patience. The biggest deal will be when, over time, they see what a valuable human you are, with such great qualities. How on earth did you do that without God’s help? How is THAT possible. :^)

  • Dan W

    It seems to me that these particular Jehovah’s Witnesses are a waste of time to argue with. They’re dead set in their delusions, and they’ll come up with any bullshit response to whatever logical arguments you throw at them. People like them will simply ignore whatever logic or evidence you use, and I’d say the best thing you can do is show them atheists like yourself are just as (if not more) moral and ethical as they are.

  • chris

    My mother-in-law is a JW and gave me a book called “Is there a Creator?” It attempts to show evidence for god as JWs see him. I went through it and wrote a detailed response that counters what the book says. It’s way too long to paste here. I’ve shared it via google docs: http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0ASo4CVnraH7BZGdzMjliZ2pfMTJoazN3eDI&hl=en but if you don’t have an account and are interested in getting it, let me know and I’ll get it to you some other way. I’ll warn you there are some pictures of suffering children at the bottom, which I use to ridicule the statement that god made the world to be a pleasant environment. Since sending her this, she hasn’t raised the subject.

    • Haydensimper

      i would like to see this. haydensimper@yahoo.co.uk

    • Duncan

      Thank you for this. Some of my family have recently become JWs and it has raised some tension between us at times. Often through my frustrations when they want to ‘discuss something’ and then poo-poo any other opinions and always fall back on the ‘unknown must = god did it” argument. The truth is that I don’t mind what anyone believes so long as it makes them happy and they do not try and force their beliefs on others but it is very difficult to have such codswallop forced on you and not even be allowed to respond! I think I’ll find it easier to ignore it now. I’ll just retire to by room, have a read of your paper and chuckle to myself!

  • http://carriertom.typepad.com/sheep_and_goats tom sheepandgoats

    I’ve long entertained the (probable) illusion that there would be far fewer agnostics, or even atheists, if only Jehovah’s Witnesses occupied the religious camp. As observed in the post, many atheist arguments against the religious position are invalid with them. They don’t beleive the nonsensical ones and don’t practice the violent ones. It leaves mostly philosophical differences, with few practical consequences, and no violent ones. Easy to live and let live, under those circumstances. Frankly, the world would be an exceptionally peaceful place were everyone Jehovah’s Witnesses. That can’t be said of many groups. It can’t even be said of atheists.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    the world would be an exceptionally peaceful place were everyone Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I’ve got to disagree. If everyone were a Muslim the world would be a peaceful place. If everyone were a Hindu the world would be a peaceful place. If you remove all the differences between cultures then the world would be a peaceful place. It would still be wrong though.

    Even if the world were transformed into a paradise on Earth through the wishful thinking of JWs it would still be wrong. This peaceful society would be based on a false premise and would be fundamentally flawed. Eventually it would collapse either because reason took hold and rejected the religion or because reason failed to take hold and the society failed to adapt.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    the world would be an exceptionally peaceful place were everyone Jehovah’s Witnesses

    Read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

  • Philosos

    JW’s are a little culty and pompous because they think they have it ALL figured out. I’d just leave ‘em alone for now.

  • TXatheist

    tom sheep, are you lying or incorrect with this statement? “As observed in the post, many atheist arguments against the religious position are invalid with them. They don’t beleive the nonsensical ones and don’t practice the violent ones. ” You see, they do push Armageddon is near and have predicted the end of the world and new converts are lied to by different elders because it’s true and each elder has to lie. The JW’s do interpret Acts to mean no blood transfusions and some do not agree and may get one if their life depended on it. They do think 144k will rule the earth with jc and jehovah, which they KNOW, is a false translation over the rest of the JW’s when this world ends(their phrase). If we all were JW’s there would be no politics as they don’t vote and that would mean the whole world would be run by….the Watchtower and they are far too ignorant to run anything except a irrational cult.

  • Bobby

    Well, I don’t know if it is actually effective, but I prefer basic epistemological arguments when having discussions with the faithful since they like to put so much stock in personal revelation and “faith.”

    Christianity is a minority religion (1/3 world wide)

    JW’s are a minority of Christians.

    Thus most people’s faith tells them to be non-Christians.

    So, if the JW’s form of Christianity is true then Faith steers people wrong the vast majority of cases. Therefore faith cannot be relied on, and, in fact, should be eschewed since it is more likely to steer you false than true.

    So, JWs should abandon their faith, since by their own admission it is most likely going to lead them wrong.

  • http://smilechurch.blogspot.com James in Spokane WA

    The factors that make JWs often harder to deal with is because they want to be considered both a Christian faith and at the same time rise above it by not believing in a fiery hell or some irrational non-Biblical concept of the Trinity doctrine.

    I used to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for over twenty years. Seven years ago I left the organization. I sent out personal letters to all of my friends and relatives telling them that I am in effect just basically changing political party affiliations, as it were, and not leaving politics. The point of the analogy was to convince them that I valued their love and friendship, as I would hope they value mine, and we could somehow stay connected. I knew this was a tall order to ask for because their cornerstone doctrine clearly states that those who leave their faith are to be viewed as someone who is worse than dead, and not to be dealt with at all. It’s called shunning, and it applies to those who leave on their own volition or are kicked out for reasons fair or not.

    I’ve used so many reasoning points to talk to my former friends and relatives still in the church (they hate that term and prefer to use the term “The Truth” or “the organization”). I’ve told them countless times that I really did not leave their faith because of major doctrinal issues. On the contrary I enjoyed believing in what I considered to be a clarified, loving form of Christianity that precluded an unjust God who would punish people forever in a fiery hell though that person only sinned for at most several decades. I took great comfort in the fact that ours was a sincere form of worship that was doctrinally consistent in any part of the world, across millions of adherents, in over 200 countries. I served for several years at their world headquarters in NYC printing Bibles and Bible-based books and magazines for worldwide distribution. Even today I honestly have few regrets about my life as a Jehovah’s Witness, because I felt I was sincere and a force for good. So if I felt that way, why would I want anyone telling me, rationally or otherwise, that what I believe is wrong and I should change my life to accomodate a different path and/or set of beliefs and values? I hope you see my point.

    One of the great illustrations that I learned as a JW involved a glass of fresh, pure, refreshing drinking water that had one drop of a virtually undetectable poison in it. It was enough to kill you if you took a sip, though you could never tell by just looking at the glass or even drinking out of it until it was too late. They used this to illustrate other religions, ironically. Their thinking was that what most religions taught was 99.99% good. It was the 0.01% that would kill you. Yes, you should believe in and love God, be good to your neighbor, spread the good news found in the Bible, yatta yatta. But that 0.01%, well that would do you in. And what was worse, you wouldn’t know about it until it was too late.

    JWs like to use, and fairly so, a scripture found at Matthew 7:16 where Jesus tells his disciples that “by their fruits you will know them” when discussing how to identify true believers. This is, on paper, an excellent way to differentiate those who believe what is positive and wholesome from those that don’t and yet may think they do. Just look at their works, their behaviors, their life output, and you will know right away if they are on the right path or not.

    I could spend a few thousand more words delineating all of the beliefs of JWs that are not just fallacious and irrational but often downright dangerous and potentially deadly. Take a look at the most recent objective studies done on religions around the world from respected folks like the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. They just released their latest findings a few days ago, and Jehovah’s Witnesses did not come out looking too good at having only a 37% retention rate compared to other fundamentalist evangelical religions. Other studies around the world have shown that the divorce rates among JWs are in fact the same or even slightly higher than other religions and the general population, despite claims to the contrary. The rates of suicide and depression are significantly higher. On this note, I knew personally of literally dozens of folks who took their own lives out of feeling locked into a system of belief and even outright hostility. Some were gay, some had differing views on doctrinal or life./social matters, but all of them had one thing in common: they valued too highly the price of membership. They knew that if they expressed their opinions on how they really felt, they would be necessarily excluded and possibly kicked out of the organization, along with having a “living death” of being shunned by their own family and friends who were still in the organization. To be honest, I did the same when others left the faith when I was an active Jehovah’s Witness. I did this because I was taught that if I even so much as spoke a word to them, this would open up the possibility of being poisoned by their unholy mind and thinking. And secondly, it was an act of tough love. It did not mean I did not love them, but in fact I loved them more because this would let them know what they are missing out on and would in fact motivate them to return back to God’s people. In reality, however, they often killed themselves, fell even deeper into depression and despair, and often succumbed to horrible addictions such as alcohol, drugs, unhealthy sex, etc. to numb their deep pain. I know, I did the same. Matthew 7:16 – “By their fruits you will know them”. Well, this represents a lot more than just one drop of poison in a refreshing glass of water. Perhaps it is time for them to turn this lens inward.

    The bottom line here is that by attempting to talk to them about doctrinal matters or other matters including some of the topics I discussed earlier, it only serves to even further catalyze them in their faith and make you look foolish for even bringing up a dissenting (albeit healthier) opinion. Live a life of rational thinking, compassionate action, and mutually-beneficial relationships. Be well, be healthy, and be associated with those who value debate, intellectual rigor, and at the same time do so not because they feel they are necessarily better than others, but because they are better than the person they once were or could easily become.

    You ask “what can I do to counter these people”? Ask a better and more realistic question, such as “what can I do to continue living a good life without judgment of others”? I know it is hard that these folks are your family. But you’re in a good positon in that you were never in the church to begin with so they are not Biblically-obligated to shun you or turn you away. Win them over by kindness and compassion, and don’t bring up what are “incendiary” topics that will only have them seeing red. Once they start seeing red, all reason goes out the window. This applies to anyone, be they JWs or not. Life a good life, just as they are doing what they firmly believe in their hearts is also the best for them. It’s not for you, but it is for them. Perhaps they will not always feel that way, but that is not for you to decide or impose upon them, because then you are really no better than they are. But there is no reason to come across as being any better, smarter, or more enlightened somehow than they are because in their minds you are only being as good as what they believe in what is written in Proverbs 26:11, that you are “a fool who wallows in his own stupidity, just as a dog that has returned to lick up its own vomit”.

    The reason I ended up leaving the church was because I felt claustrophobic in my circles of association. I was a professional, and yet could not have clients or colleagues to my home on a regular basis for close association since that was to be had only with other church members. Sure it was fine to knock on anyone’s door and cold-call on them into a guilt trip about what will happen to their lives, present and everlasting, if they don’t listen to my Bible-based message about salvation and happiness. It was fine to turn my back on others who leave the church, because being that way only protects myself from these dangerous dissidents while at the same time sending them a clear message that if they want to hang out with me, they better come back to my faith. I got tired of having to explain to others outside my church why I could not do more things with them, or not entertain with them certain opinions or viewpoints because doing so would only jeopardize my standing and relationship with Ultimate Spaceman. It was a very exclusionist way of living, not unlike what M. Night Shyamalan was trying to get across in his 2004 movie “The Village”. I yearned to look beyond the walls of my confined life, and felt there was more. More opportunities, more and different ways of thinking, more friends to be happy with and grow together with. I was right. The world, LITERALLY, opened up to me after my disassociation from my former church. However it came at a very high price initially because it in part cost me my marriage to my first wife who was a fourth-generation JW herself, my social and even financial relationship with other members of the church, and the cold-hearted reality that I was suddenly enduring a living death. So after I left the church, I moved away from the area to start fresh. The pain was still fresh and strong, and I slowly descended into the very pits of despair, and succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse. I later learned that this is extremely common among those who do leave a group as insular and controlling as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve since found help, and along the way have met an amazing woman who is now my second and hopefully final wife. I have the life I’ve always wanted and thought I could have, and my journey has only begun. I’ve dived into secular humanism, Buddhism, and a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I am happier. And along the way, I’ve discovered intrinsically that I no longer need to hold on to the belief of being made perfect, of living in a paradise earth with panda bears and lions in harmony, etc. I’ve learned some valuable things, not the least of which is that panda bears are in fact still bears, and quite potentially dangerous. Just a thought. :-)

    By the way JWs do NOT believe in any form of evolution. They also do not believe in Creationism or Intelligent Design either. They acknowledge scientific data that the earth (“creation” as it were) is far older than 6,000 years, but still firmly hold on to their teleological lynchpin that complex creation mandates a complex and intelligent creator. Since leaving the church I now consider myself an ignostic humanist after doing some further research, but this again illustrates how JWs are so mainstream and yet so different in other ways. I’ve always said that if Christianity is a valid system of belief, then the JWs do it right out of all the other factions and groups that I’ve studied or come across.

    You need not concern yourself with what the JWs think, even as they don’t necessarily concern themselves unduly or even care what you think so long as they have the opportunity to proselytize to you. They come with the best of intentions, and for the most part are sincere, kind folks. You be the same. Some day your example of a happy, integrated, healthy life may be just the spark that is needed to start a forest fire of cathartic change to help them understand that they need not live a fear-based existence, and in fact that if there is indeed a God, why should we not assume that he would not want us to be happy and play well with others?

    Best wishes to you, my friend.

    • Michelle970

      Wow, amazing…I was so ingolfed with this comment it was as if it was sent to me to read. I am living with a JW whom just became JW in the past 3 years, I am at my wits end on fighting about who and whats right and wrong in my life, and pressure on my son to attend, it’s contridicting if you cannot provide your blood to our son how am I suppose to let him study a religion or cult that doesn’t believe in it! grrrrr I live a happy fulfilling prosperious life, I don’t need JW to help me with that. I am so angry and feel betrayed from my husband, but yet on the other side I feel sad and that I shouldn’t feel upset for him believing in something that gives him strength. I’m at the point where I am going to leave him, I am very outgoing with alot of friends and socializing is comforting to me, when I met him he was the same outgoing, social person that I fell inlove with. Now he has only friends from his bible study, that happens 3 times a week, it started once a week now 3 grrrr. I am an angry wife and have a hard time to whom I can turn to for answers, and that in itself is frustrating. I liked your comment and thought maybe you were the person I need to speak with. As you have been through this for a long time, am I over reacting?
      michelle970@hotmail.com

      • Tim

        Michelle, you are absolutely not over-reacting.  Jehovah’s Witnesses will pull your son in, block his critical thinking, encourage him to drop his non-JW friends and family, and get him to start thinking of THEM as his family.  The worst part is, these people are acting out of genuine intentions so it’s difficult to see what’s really happening.  You have to get your son to remember that, like anything else, the less-than-glowing reviews should be considered as well.  He would be foolish to buy an expensive product due to the salesperson’s recommendation alone.  Get the other part of the story.  Do research OUTSIDE of the publications that come from those who have a vested interest in that particular faith.  Unfortunately, he’s already been instructed to shield himself from negative views of JWs so it will be difficult to reach him.

        I was born and raised as one, believed it and was completely devoted for the first 26 or so years of my life, before I came across a single discrepancy that set me on a trail of questions and doubt.  The JW faith is NOT benign.  Devout JW’s must put their “relationship with God”  (ie, the “organization”) above that of non-believing family.  What Mencken said about religion applies 10-fold to Jehovah’s Witnesses:  “I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.”

        It’s a major psychological challenge to help the JW mind see the issues that plague their thinking.  Defenses go up at the first sign of attack.  In fact, an attack on their faith only makes it stronger, by design.  The assumption is that Satan is trying to undermine their faith.  Logic and reason are rendered nearly useless.

        My suggestion would be to avoid a direct confrontation.  FIRST get his critical thinking faculties working… if he can agree that the traits are absolutely critical to clear thinking, perhaps that will lay the groundwork to help him see the JW organization for what it really is.
        (http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/valuable-intellectual-traits/528)   After all, in a high control group like this, members rarely are awakened by someone else.  In many cases, they have to discover issues on their own.

        Best regards and I hope you’re able to strengthen your relationship with your son.

        • Rosst88

          the bible doesnt tell lies!silly people

        • CryforHelp

          Thank you, I have placed the website clearly on our desktop for my son to view at any time. I am now separated living with my son, but he is confused when spending time with his father who does nothing but preach and badger people.
          And without my consent because I do not have full custody, he makes him attend Kingdom Hall.
          So separating my son from the negative situation only brought abit of confusion to what my son wants to believe. Because being a boy is not as simple as his father makes for him, too many rules.

        • Bible Thumper

          eactly, why would satan denounce himself, this is a satanic religion , wisly strewed to draw you into lies, the first thign a Jw says to you is Gods real name is Johavah, a lie , His real name is I AM, EXODUS 3 ; 6 , so the first lie shut the door on them unless your really knowledgeable and you can stir them away from ocult truths

      • Edrpotter

         Hi Michelle,
        My single mother became a JW when I was 7. I became a JW by default from that time on.  I was told from when I was 7 that what JW’s believed and taught was the only truth and any other religious or secular point of view contrary to there beliefs were lies from Satan and his followers. Lies meant to mislead me from the truth JW’s taught. (they are a Cult) I was a very faithful active witness till I was 32.

        Till one day…two years ago. I realized it was all bull shit. When say all, i mean all. Unlike other former JW’s, I think what JW’s believe is all BS. Including the bible all Christians religion hold so dear. That being said, I disassociated my self with a letter. So I am considered dis-fellowship-ed now. By doing this I lost all of my friends and most of my family who are still JW’s.

        You can imagine how much of a challenge this creates for me being, I am married to one. Yes my wife of 15 yrs is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have three children 10, 7, 5. Of course she wants them to be JW’s I want them to have nothing to do with there ass backwards beliefs bat shit crazy beliefs. (of course I refrain from using these words when I talk to the kids.) The compromise? She can take them to meetings and share her beliefs with them and I get to share with them my beliefs in an open, honest, considerate way. We decided that the kids can choose to go or not to go  meetings (church) when they turn 12.

        How have my wife and I compromised? We don’t talk about religion! We had to learn this the hard way. I had to decide, if she was ever going to come over to the light of truth and freedom from religion. Then its going to have to be through my example. By being a happy, loving, good father and husband with out religion.  Also I have to accept, she may never change. But for now that is my decision. You all have to make your own.

        Best regards.

        I welcome comments.

        • Dawn Nakamura

          my husband of 34 years started going to meetings but I wanted nothing to do with it.. I didn’t care if he went don’t talk to me about it..well its been 3 years and now he is out doing door to door. I want to talk to someone but don’t know anyone. I cant talk to him. he plays music and now he has told band members no swearing in the music.. no song about drugs.. I am a medical marijuana user he drinks beer and goes to meetings on sundays after a sat, night party..

        • Bible Thumper

          According to the bible, the Father is the leader you can show her she is to obey the husband , so she should therefore comply 1 Timothy 3:2-5 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? (NLT)

          1 Timothy 5:8
          But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (NASB)
          this is the leaders of church, you should find faith and take your children to hear another truth , i would not let them just go to the Hall as they call it and hear, her side, i was ata a hall, all they do is pump the children up to center stage to make them prideful, they give them the microphone to make them think they are the best, and i watched as the children were instructed to read, but never understood what they read, my daughter was raised Christian, i have 7 grandchildren threw her, and her new husband but they will nto let me be with them because i tell them about Jesus, becuase it thier way or the highway, The thing is their all on welfare, and the JW,S are givinging to her, she is selling her soul out for a lie , I am so glad you are away from them, u have a friend here sir, put your foot down, Jesus set us free of all the different demonitions, he was teachign love and compasion, not rule and control

      • Dawn Nakamura

        I feel like l wrote the letter you wrote… I been married 34 years and my husband has been doing this for 3 years and I feel like my life with him is a lie. He started the door to door thing and I am at wits end.. I don’t have any one to talk to about this and don’t know where to turn.. If I divorce him will he be shunned?

        • CryforHelp

          He would not be shunned, you will… its so sad how a religion such as JW is so judgmental, criticising, and unforgiving.
          I bet you feel betrayed, are you still together?

        • Bible Thumper

          Dawn , you have to fast and pray, this is what you shoud pray every day, 3 times a day 3 times is important,
          Jesus I come to you, i am asking you cover my husband with knowledge beyond human understanding, he is being controlled by a satanic occult, in fact the occult has a demonis spirit that controls lashes on and continues to blind them from the truth , pray this prayer every day, that God opens hsi eyes, ask Jesus to send someone to himt o educate him onthe lies the Jws suppress u can trun this around Dawn , the Jw s do not like crosses, because satan hates Jesu wear one put them threw out the house, , love your husband be a good wife, when he talks to you about a belief u go to the bible and study it together go to the internet and find the truth , , first thing to ask him, What is God;s real name, when he says Jehovah, then say well doesn’t jehovah mean God, he has to answer yes, then when you tell him God or Jehovah’s real name is I AM , show him Exodus 3 ; 6
          THEN SAY TO HIM WELL IF jw have this wrong couldn’t there be other things wrong ? they lie , if they cannot answer it they tell u u willhaven to wait for God, God gave us the answers in the bible u do nto have ot wait

  • http://carriertom.typepad.com/sheep_and_goats tom sheepandgoats

    Jeff and others:

    Yes, I have read Brave New World. It doesn’t apply.

    Armegeddon: Warning against Arm does not make a JW violent any more than warning against global warming makes a scientist violent, or nuclear proliferation a statesman.

    Transfusion: JW position on transfusion, against huge inertia, is slowly entering mainstream, and sometimes preferred status. New Scientist magazine ran an article entitled An Act of Faith in the Operating Room. The act of faith was not witholding a transfusion. It was giving one.

    Living forever upon earth is light-years more sensible than the notion of earth being a launching pad to heaven or hell, and is consistant with peculiarities such as our limitless brain potential, which one might not expect evolution to provide.

    The religions cited above generally do not unite against national, racial, social, education divisions, or at least do not do so sufficiently to prevent frequen conflicts, many violent. JW’s routinely enjoy unity and full cooperation in the face of these forces. An example is found in Katrina, in whose aftermath JW volunteers took care of their own, rebuilding/reparing all affected homes within months, whereas organizations specifically chartered for the purpose of disaster relief fell far short. At that time Watchtower did indeed prove itself capable of running things, in spite of TXa’s assertion. Folks tend to go with what works in such times, and do not quibble over “reason,” as Hfrog’s almost worshipful comments on the topic would have one believe.

    • Evan

      Why would you take my organs but not my blood? Refusing transfusions is not mainstream nor will it ever be and it is irritating that people can even think that way. JW’s are very wonderful people with some very skewed ideas. There are self evident truths in life. My son or daughter dying in front of me as I refuse him/her a blood transfusion is WRONG. My heart tells me so. 

      • Sendtrishmail

        I will never forget growing up a lovely lady in our Kingdom Hall.  Her name was Judy and she has bleeding ulcers.  She was bleeding internally and she has surgery.  But they just could not stop the bleeding.  They thought giving her blood transfusions would save her life and further surgery.  But her son just stood there and let her slowly bleed to death…it took days for her to die.  He was a elder and was advised to do nothing.  How can any family member do this?  I was asked by my own mother to do nothing if she ever started to bleed…she has gone through throat cancer and ever time surgery was done no blood was given etc…she once tore and the doctor stopped the bleeding with a laser.  I always thought to myself what would I do if I had to stand there and watch her bleed to death…I was given a medical card and a witness no blood card and instructed to call her witness friends for instructions…all the while I was just supposed to stand there and let my mother die…and if I did not obey her wishes and gave her blood I would cost her any chance in spending the rest of her life in paradise.  So I agreed to obey her wishes to this day even though I am not a witness…after all I may not agree but everyone has the right to make the choice.  I am sure if I am faced with this again I may have to walk out of the room crying while letting them handle her death…that way the blood is on their hands not mine.  

  • http://www,endoftheworld-signtopia.blogspot,com Signtopia

    I would suggest that anyone who wishes to “argue” any points of contention with a Jehovah’s Witness that they keep them out of their books while doing it. The JW will mainly parrot what they “study” from their own publications. Those publications also are a guide as to how each JW should respond to almost every possible rejection at the door. Nine times out of ten, they are more likely armed and prepared to deal with you more than you are prepared to deal with them. Try approaching them with non-biblical discussion which is somewhat a back-door way of making them realize the error of their ways. It is not easy to do but it can be done. Good luck.

  • K Lewis Clark

    Why bother arguing?

  • jon brown

    until we get rid of all religions mankind will suffer and be ignorant. I turned against my own mother because of her religious rantings. I am better off without her. The world will be better off without religion, religion is proof of our ignorance. No suicide bomber has even killed people in the name of atheism.

    • Naanaarhin

      Jon, believe it or not, there is life after death, there are certain inexplicable things in this world that points us to a supernatural being-God.

      The truth is that Christianity is actually no religion(set of rules), it is a relationship with God through Christ. You need faith but not the blinding faith. Dunno what’s going on with some of the christian circles, its all abt love. even while Christ was on earth, He was criticized by the saducees n pharisees (teachers of the law, lol) for healing someone on the sabbath day! Jesus was surprised. Rly it is all abt love to a lost world-no judgements, nothing, through Christ of course.

      Dont be swayed by laws of men. It is an individual/personal relationship with God through Christ-our saviour, our Lord

      • Edrpotter

         I see you are person that has faith.
        The definition:
        Faith= Pretending to know something you don’t.

        The problem I have with all religions, including JW’s is, they all think God inspired there scripture and they have the truth. If there is a God he wouldn’t have inspire all the garbage that is found in all the religious books. All one has to do is just read them with an open mind to know that.

        My advice to everyone that spews religious beliefs and have faith. Is, STOP BELIEVING BULL SHIT!

  • John Hoy

    James from WA. Excellent passage, very informative and balanced. As an ex member (although unbaptized), I can see it from both sides. Even if it’s nigh-on impossible to sway the mind of a JW “died in the wool”. Its great sport trying. Im absolutely sure that Ive given pause to at least three of them over the past year. Well, we all need a hobby dont we?

  • Adam Lowe

    “Why did God make me an Atheist?”

  • Michael

    Well I’m a kid who wants to be a jehovas witness in the future for now I’m just studying. And first of all if you. Were realy a jehovas wines before you would know that they NEVER say you can’t read the bible with out them. They actually recomend to read it so you shouldn’t be saying anything. And no god and Jesus are diferent people. If you don’t believe me oh well. And to the person that said relions should be gone don’t worry it says in the bible that it will. And to ALL people that don’t believe me wait to the grand tribulation the EX jehovas witness should know what I’m talkin bout.

    • Evan

      Ill hold my breath. JW’s tried and failed to predict the tribulation (false prophets) several times.  They are fervent believers with good values so it is hard to criticize them, but they do shut them off from the outside world too much. And I don’t get the whole blood transfusion thing. Successful transfusions didn’t even exist until the 19th century, why would the Bible be against future medical advancements? (I think the passage they refer to should be interpreted as: “don’t drink other people’s blood)

    • ACN

      Borderline illiterate troll is obvious?

    • Sendtrishmail

      Sorry but you sound like the typical uneducated idiot they love.  I was told as a child to not attend college and instead become a full time door to door minister…while I stood and watched girls as young as 15 get married to men who had no means to take care of them.  These young kids started popping out babies right and left all the while living in their parents basements…I was sickened by this and left.  No way was I gonna give up any chance at making a living and taking care of my family that I wanted some day to be some uneducated moron going door to door…I left and I am glad I did.  The men controlled their wives and treated them bad…they beat their kids myself included…I hated growing up and now that I am 41 I am glad I am no longer a member of that cult.  What is sad is my mother is.  And has disowned me and my brother and my 3 kids…her own children and grandchildren.  What a shame she has missed out on our lives.  Just because we are not Jehovah’s Witnesses…such a crying shame.  But so typical.

  • Michelle970

    My belief,… I believe in myself, god doesn’t judge (jehovahs do!)  taking care of what I love, one thing I do believe is there is a higher spirit, something we can rely on. But I was never a hostile person on behalf of the JW until my husband became one 3 years ago, huge controversy now.  How does one cope with that, how can you just shut everything you had out of your life because jehovah says so??? this is such a slap in the face, it makes me feel as thou I am against the bible, and I sin because I swear or have  a tattoo. What kind of selfish religion is this if my son or I do not follow jehovah we just die in our grave with no soul, where he lives on..how selfish of a man is that. I will not become JW it’s not in me to study that type of belief if any it would be just attending a Anglicain church for some good old fashion bible reading. If he has been in it for 3 years am I a lost cause in this situation? will he ever stay with me and continue living in the now? 

  • Thomasomatic

    My favorite argument against the Watchtower Society is to start by asking a JW: how do you know when the WTS is speaking for God, and when they’re not?

    The society claims to speak for God, yet also makes mistakes… So if they’re only sometimes speaking for God, how do you as a Witness know which is which?!?

  • El indio

    I know this is an old discussion, and maybe none will read my comment, but I just want to vent my anger. I am a Mapuche, and those JW are trying to learn my ancient language to preach to my people, and change their minds, convert them to their beliefs. I am not sure by now what to do, that’s the reason I was looking for some tips in the internet. I’ll find a way to stop that, I hope.

  • Johannesvaneeuwijk

    Just shut the door.
    End of story.

  • Edrpotter

    I am a former JW of  25 years. I was very faithful and active the entire time. Till one day while reading Exodus. I realized the bible had to be bullshit. So bit by bit and piece by piece I broke it down the bible and come to the realization, on my own, it was bullshit.
    I then disassociated myself.

    I think the key point of my experience is, I did it on my own. Of all the people that I talked to door to door that tried to tell me that what I believed was BS, I didn’t listen. Because, I put up a big wall of faith and cognitive dissonance. (definition: faith = pretending to know something you don’t.  JW’s are experts at this.)

    That being said, I have yet to see or hear of a JW’s leaving there religion because they were  convinced by someone else in a debate to do so.

    I welcome your comments.

  • JBroere

    I can’t begin to tell you how much of a relief if it is to have found this post- So I don’t feel so alone. My father in law become a JW after investigating various conspiracy theories and found solitude in the JW faith as they seem to believe in the end of the world predictions ect (excuse me if I am incorrect, I am certainly not as well rounded with this religion as others here may be). Although I am completely fine with him believing whatever he wants to believe, he has started to grow more and more aggressive with pushing his believes upon myself, my husband (his son), and even making comments in front of our young children about pagan religion when he found they had a santa toy at Christmas. He knows I disagree with the beliefs he pushes upon us, so he has now turned to my husband asking him to come to kingdom hall with him behind my back, and even informing him that all belief in an afterlife or abilities to speak to spirits is demonic (this was after my husband told him since I was a little girl I have many dreams that have become true). Although I know or a fact that my husband does not believe everything his father is preaching he does not stand up about the beliefs in our home as he is scared to be stuck between his dad and his wife. All this has caused a very negative experience with the JW faith and I constantly urge my husband that this is not I want for myself, or our children as I refuse to live my life in fear. Although I went to an Anglican church growing up I don’t put myself with a direct “faith”. I do believe in god, and am also very spiritual but I don’t believe in pushing my beliefs on anyone else and I certainly don’t appreciate trying to be “saved” by a religion I don’t believe in.
    We can’t invite him over or have a normal conversation anymore with him going on a religious rant. I just want our family to be peaceful and to live a good honest life like what was talked about, even if we aren’t JW. When my husband talked to his dad about how his pushiness and how I for one don’t like it., He became very defensive and depressed. My father in law strives to have our family believe him and join him as a JW or he becomes depressed and threatens suicide.
    Help! This is becoming such a huge issue in our family life and our marriage.
    JBroere

    • JBroere

      Please excuse the typos I missed- I type way to fast. My apologies.

  • CourtSport

    Well I’m going to start with some history of my own, and first I don’t have answer to your question. But when I was young I met my future husband, and by young I mean 15. We dated for a couple of years. And the only family I had met if his was his aunts and uncles on his dads side, ( his dad was killed in a car wreck when he was just 3 months old) but I never met his mom or step dad. The fact he never really spoke of them was indeed a problem. But I never questioned it because I my self was trying to get away from my own mother. She wasn’t the best of parents. And my parents were devorced when I was 3 months old. After about 6 months he told me he was a JW who had left because if he had not he would have been kicked out, because he allowed a female friend to stay with him in his apt. He was older than me so this wasn’t an issue to me. But JW’s do not look kindly to this kind of thing. We married and had to amazing boys, after the birth of my first son I soon realized that his beliefs were still in favor of JW’s he wanted me to sign papers saying i would not allow a blood transfusion on my baby for no reason. Now my ex husband did not attend meetings. He was not part of the Kingdom Hall in any way shape or form, but because he was taught from age 5 that certain things are wrong he held the teachings with in himself so strong that he battled everyday on right and wrong! Or ( JW’s thinking and other thinking) we would fight allot over how to raise are kids. In the early years of are relationship I wanted to support him and his beliefs, I study the hundreds of books he had that were published by JW’s in New York! I learned as much as I could and even and one point I thought we could attend meetings! But the more I read and crossed reverenced with what I believed and was taught with other churches I found my self with more questions than answers. Like there while no blood thing! There bible days to abstain from from blood? Ok but my bible talks about drinking the blood of Jesus and eating bread as the body of Jesus’s and this was to wash away sins and so on! Okay that kinda creeped me out a lil. The argument wasn’t that I agreed with the drinking of wine in most non JW’s beliefs to represent the blood of Jesus but the fact that I was to make a choice of saving my child’s life if he were to ever need a life saving blood transfusion. Also all bibles say to not drink and get drunk! Yet every sibling he had were drunks, he himself was a drunk. And through are marriage he became so consumed with alcohol he became violent. He would even quote bible verses to suit his needs. Like if I said no to sex he would use the bible to make it ok for him to rape me. Saying that it was his right to take what was his. Also after he cheated on me, and if we had sex after I new about it, then that was me forgiving him an there fore I could no longer be upset or even bring it up again. An in gods eyes he was not at fault. I’m not saying that all JW are this messed up. But most are! And as for trying to change there minds ? I’m sorry but i do not think this is possible. Not if tere whole family is part of there system. They shun anyone that leaves and are instructed to not speak to anyone who has had a change of heart. Parents disown there kids and so on! I for one would not allow my children to grow up in this! The abuse the daily all around screwed up way of thinking is so messed up. My ex lived for the day, not for the future. He was taught that the world was gonna end very soon, so there was no need to plan for a future. His mother would walk right by her daughter and grandchildren in meetings and not speak to them becuse she became a nurse. This Cult is so messed up it would take me days to describe my 10 long years trying to understand it and even at one point thinking I could be part of it.

  • Bible Thumper

    Listen up all religions, ! I died I was with God and His, He said love show compassion, his notes to do so are in His word, to let the word teach you You have to have the power of the Spirit Jesus left it for us , talk to Jesus ask him to forgive your sins and let the Holy Ghost in, then you will see the truth, , stop trying to get religion, GET JESUS IN YOUR LIFE ! , now what i am saying is there are so many different churches, religion, are all right? , it becomes wrong when they order u to be like them, Jesus did not tell us to be like anyone but him, He ask us to pray for other , to heal other, to help other with love and gifts and caring, He did not command us to force our way of thinking on anyone


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