My Jehovah’s Witnesses are relentless. It began back in 2014 when I first moved to the town I’m in now. I wrote about it exactly four years less a day ago in How (Not) To Deal With Jehovah’s Witnesses At Your Door. The two young women who knocked on my door that day were eventually replaced by a lovely old lady, who I wrote about two years ago in Atheist Life Hacks: How To Find A Missing Jehovah’s Witness. By this time, I was being visited on the regular by a visibly unhappy, though affable, woman we’ll call Jennifer. She seemed to want to be my friend more than anything, her face washed with desperation every time we spoke. It became less and less about the Bible and more and more about what was going on in each others’ lives.
But then Jennifer disappeared, too. For weeks, I went without the expected knock on Friday afternoon. When it finally came back, there was a new woman on the other side of the door. She wasn’t nearly as friendly as Jennifer had been, and I could see right through her. Kate was her name. I asked Kate where Jennifer had gotten to, and Kate told me that Jennifer had had a mental breakdown. Kate and I didn’t have three visits together before I moved to a whole new neighbourhood. Months went by without any Bible chatter on my front stoop, but sure enough, one windy Thursday morning, there was a knock. I texted my husband after, “they found me!” and they’ve been here every week since.
You, like many other atheists who’ve heard me talk about my Witnesses, are probably wondering why on God’s green earth (no holy) do I bother. Why don’t I tell them to get lost? Slam the door in their faces? Why do I put up with it?
The reason is pretty simple: I don’t think they want to be doing what they’re doing. Sure, some Witnesses probably love it, and you can tell which ones those are, but I have my doubts about 80-year-old women in the heat of the desert sun and desperately sad and lonely housewives who suffer a mental breakdown after door-knocking for a few months. These people get doors slammed in their faces all day. They’re spoken rudely to; they’re called names, hidden from and verbally abused. Here I am, an atheist who talks about the arguments for god all day on the internet, and I don’t have time for a couple minutes of chatter about it in real life? With people whose day is going miserably and who will light up at the opportunity to chat nicely? Of course I do. Of course I will. And so, the saga continues…
One of the topics I love to discuss with a fresh set of Witnesses on my stoop is predictions. I love to ask them what they think of the many end-of-the-world predictions made by the Watch Tower Society. How am I to take the promise of God’s Kingdom here on Earth seriously, if all the other promises made by the Witnesses have failed? Do they know just how many predictions there have been that have not come true? Of course, it helps if you have specifics you can bring up, so I’ve put together a list. A list of all the instances the Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted the end of the world or similar events and failed miserably. Here they are:
1. 1877 – The Watch Tower Society believed that Jesus had been amongst us since 1874 working towards his kingdom on earth. The Watch Tower Society predicted that Christ’s kingdom on Earth would be complete in 1914, and the saints would be carried to Heaven. Essentially, the end of the world as we know it. Of course, 1914 rolled around and the closest we got to the end of the world was a world war. Perhaps the Society meant to say that the world would end for 18 million, but for the rest of us, it would be business as usual. We’d all go on living, man would keep ruling and Jesus would keep up his epic game of hide and seek.
2. 1916 – The Witnesses foretold that the first world war would lead to Armageddon and soon after, Christ’s kingdom would be established on Earth. Of course, I am sure many of the men who fought in WWI felt as though it was some form of Armageddon, but alas, it was not and mortal men continued to rule our planet after the war ended (albeit not so well).3. 1920 – In the wake of their first world war prediction failing, the Watch Tower society jumped right back in the saddle with a brand new prediction. By 1925, the kingdom of God would be established on earth. From Wikipedia:
God would begin restoring the earth. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful patriarchs would be resurrected to perfect human life and be made princes and rulers, the visible representatives of the New Order on earth.
I assume many Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs were born in 1925, but none of them turned out to be God’s little buddies. Whether the Society was wrong or Abe, Isaac and Jacob lost their invites, the prediction failed, and I could have predicted that.
4. 1938 – The Witnesses stopped conceiving children and getting married because they were told Armageddon was looming. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that premarital sex will jeopardize their friendship with God and that masturbation is a no-no, so I imagine there was a whole crowd of frustrated door-knockers back then. Either that or the Witnesses became one big sea of sin.
5. 1942 – The Watch Tower Society swore that Armageddon was just around the corner. Four years after the moratorium on marriages and babies – that’s four years of marital bliss (and god-approved shagging) some Witnesses missed out on.
6. 1961 – Armageddon was predicted to arrive before the year 2000. It must have been on the same flight as Y2K.
7. 1966 – The Witnesses predicted that the world would meet its “wicked end” and Christ’s kingdom on earth would be established by the year 1975. They believed that 1975 would be 6000 years of man ruling on earth and that the seventh millennium was for good ol’ Jeeboner to rule. Unless Jesus ruled with disco, this failed to come true.
8. 1984 – The Witnesses reiterated that the end of the world would come before the end of the 20th century. Although the world appeared to come crashing down around Big Billy Clinton, mere mortals have continued to rule down here on earth. Some of them better than others. *cough* Bush *cough* Trump.
And here we are, 18 years into the new millennium and there is still no sign of the big guy anywhere. Witnesses will tell you that their interpretation of Bible events, dates and names is not error-proof but that just leads me to ask them why I should believe anything they say? After all, they’ve been wrong more times than my husband. Not a track record I’m going to bet my life on.
If I may, I’d like to make a prediction of my own. Recalling this information and bringing it up the next time the Kingdom Haller’s come knocking may make them feel uncomfortable. They may recoil a little bit, a look of confusion might wash over their faces but that’s all good. It means they’re being forced to think about something they may not have thought about before. It means you’ve put a hairline fracture in their faith. With subsequent visits, that fracture could grow into an irreparable chasm and we could have one more heathen amongst us.
What are some of the things you like to bring up with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Or do you even bother talking to them? Let me know in the comments!