You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 27, 2010.

Kenneth Guindon explains how the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ (JWs) door-to-door approach works in his article for Envoy magazine, ‘How to Become a Jehovah’s Witness’.  What follows are excerpts from his article (emphases mine):

Step One: The JWs visit your home and offer you literature. And you take it.

This is the first step, the place where the separating of the “sheep from the goats” begins. Sheep are those who are willing to listen to the JW presentation at the door. Goats are the door slammers, the “I’m not interesteds,” the “get off my propertys” — those who won’t give JWs the time of day. My first point of advice: Be a goat … How do Jehovah’s Witnesses find the sheep? They divide the neighborhood — your neighborhood — surrounding their Kingdom Hall into parcels called “field territories.” Your home or office is located in one of these parcels and is targeted for an eventual visit. Jehovah’s Witnesses “check out” a territory, much like checking out a book from the library, by obtaining a little card with a map glued to it from the local Kingdom Hall. The territory typically encompasses between four to eight suburban blocks. Often the one who takes a territory is a “book study overseer.” JWs meet in groups of a dozen or so in a nearby home where a book study overseer has been appointed to conduct studies of the Watchtower Society’s publications. On weekends, he leads the group in door-to-door “field service.”

…  By accepting their literature, you give them a handy pretext for a second visit to your home. And they will return if offered the slightest encouragement. Door-to-door work is drudgery. I’ve seen Jehovah’s Witnesses walk down the street as slowly as possible. They appear to not be in a hurry to visit the homes. At first, though, it’s kind of fun, and the conversations can be exciting. When I was new to door-to-door work, I enjoyed trying to pick a fight with whoever answered the doorbell. I would tell the householder straight-out that priests and ministers were lying to people about hell. Hell was my favorite topic. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in hell. No one was prepared to argue with me on this. I had four or five Scriptures marked and chain-referenced in my Bible, so I could “prove” that souls who died were unconscious. Clearly they couldn’t suffer torment in hell. 

Step Two: The JWs return to your home and ask to talk more. You let them in.

Returning to the territory, the Witness takes out his House to House Record and begins visiting the people who previously accepted literature. His new goal is to get the householder who has taken the first step (accepting literature) to take the next step, by agreeing to let the JWs hold a weekly “Bible study” in his home.  Witnesses carry a little book called Reasoning From the Scriptures whenever they go door-to-door. It’s a little encyclopedia of information and answers to just about any objection or argument that could be thrown at them. Little does the householder realize that he is not dealing with an individual JW who is speaking on his own, but with the Watchtower Society, who has prepared in-depth answers to any conceivable objection. Reasoning From the Scriptures has quotations from many sources, biblical and historical, all intended to bolster the arguments JWs use to promote their bizarre mix of doctrines. This little book usually enables the Witness to take charge of any discussion about religion … We’re now approaching the shoals that will tear his faith apart.

Step Three: The JWs ask if they can conduct a Bible study in your home, and you let them.

This isn’t really a Bible study. It’s a study of Watchtower publications. In my case, I took this third step when I was sixteen and still, barely, a Catholic. A Jehovah’s Witness lady gave me a book called Let God Be True and told me that if I really wanted to understand the Bible, I’d need to devote one or two hours a week going through the chapters in the book with her. Every paragraph in the JW book has numbered questions at the bottom of the page to guide students through the subject matter … These are the subjects JWs want to teach you. They have one goal: to break down and obliterate your faith … Like millions of others who have taken this step down the road to becoming a JW, I naively thought I was going to learn something about the Bible. At the very beginning, I had no intention of becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. I wanted to prove them wrong. I thought I was smart enough to do it. What happened was that I became more and more impressed with what I was learning and my confidence in my Jehovah’s Witness teacher and her organization grew. Little by little, much of what she said was becoming clear; everything seemed so rational, so logical …

Douglas, a personal friend of mine who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, describes his first encounter with them:
At this stage of my life I was really confused. I had no God, no hope, no security . . . Then one day in the summer of 1970, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door and I was willing to listen to the views of this group. Soon we agreed to a Bible study with this impartial (in terms of my wife’s Catholicism and my agnosticism) third party who represented an organization that held some of the same political and social views we did . . . In the course of our three years with the organization, we were taught doctrines and ‘truths’ from the Watchtower publications in a clear and logical manner.” You can see that for the person who is searching, or is even mildly curious about religion, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have great appeal.

Step Four: The JWs invite you to the “neighborhood book study.”

Once the personal home Bible study has progressed this far, it is time to introduce the “Bible student” (as the JWs now refer to you among themselves) to the “organization,” meaning other JWs. It’s time for you to attend the Neighborhood Book Study on Tuesday evenings. The Witnesses introduce you to the book study overseer and to other “friends,” another name JWs use for their fellow JWs. Most students are impressed by the friendliness, the JWs’ clean-cut looks, the suits and ties and modest skirts. The method of study is just like the one he has been following at home, but the group dynamics have changed. Even more friendly attention is focused on you as a prospective convert

Like water in a windmill, you’re being steadily pulled away from your … Faith without fully realizing it.

Step Five: You’re invited to visit the Kingdom Hall on Sunday.

It may not be apparent, but things are now progressing at breakneck speed. You realize, or maybe you don’t, that you have very little time for your former friends. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are now swarming, dominating your time and energy. You are reminded repeatedly that your non-JW friends and family are in the world — they’re deceived by the devil. But you’ve come to know the truth, and don’t you want to be in the truth?

Now you receive an invitation to visit the local Kingdom Hall on Sunday where, you’re assured, a very interesting lecture will be given … They never take up collections like the churches of Christendom. Everything here is voluntary; no preaching for money and no salaried clergymen, like in the world. Jehovah’s true followers work for free. Once you become somewhat regular at Sunday meetings (this means you’ve ceased attending your own parish), you’re ready for the sixth step.

Earlier in the article, the author describes this meeting:

I was warmly greeted, politely encouraged, endlessly patted on the back and repeatedly told how very glad everyone was to see me and to hear of my “progress in the truth” … At first, the name “Jehovah” was strange to me, but I quickly became accustomed to hearing it and even began using it myself. Within a short period of time, I wanted very much to become a true worshipper of Jehovah God.

Step Six: You accept the invitation to attend the “Ministry School” and “Service Meetings.”

You will be asked how you liked the public talks on Sundays and the study of The Watchtower that follows. If you’re coming along nicely and enjoying your new friends (by this point in my case, I was dating Jehovah’s Witness girls), you’ll be invited to attend the Ministry School and the Service Meetings on Thursday evenings. You’ll be told you can enroll in the school and receive in-depth training in the Scriptures. The Service Meeting is designed to teach you how to be a witness for Jehovah, how to talk to others about JW beliefs, and how to answer objections. Lectures, role-play skits, informal talks and question-and-answer sessions make up the program. You’ll be impressed with how well the respondents — folks just like you — seem to know the Bible. You won’t realize at this point that the questions are given out to chosen individuals ahead of time … By now, all of this seems perfectly reasonable to you. It makes sense. It’s very attractive, almost exhilarating. So you accept the invitation to go out door-to-door. At the moment you knock on that first door, you’ve crossed a crucial line. You’ve bought into the JW ideology. It’s now your ideology, and by going door-to-door to spread that ideology, you have become a Jehovah’s Witness.

Step Seven: You agree to be baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness.

This is the final step. Since you are now a Jehovah’s Witness in spirit, you must symbolize your dedication to Jehovah God and His organization by being immersed in water and, in so doing, officially become a Jehovah’s Witness. Being baptized doesn’t mean you will be born again (cf. John 3:5). That is reserved only for the 144,000 who will be in heaven for eternity (cf. Rev. 14:1-5). For you, baptism means only that you are following Jesus Christ and promising to be obedient to the organization that Jehovah directs through Christ and the 144,000. You agree to accept all the directives coming to you through Jehovah’s channel, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Congratulations! You’ve become a statistic, part of a carefully scrutinized Watchtower report showing new converts. Now it’s your turn to go out into the field service and remit a monthly report to your local Kingdom Hall. As a full-fledged Jehovah’s Witness, you will be expected to begin immediately leading others through the seven steps that brought you to this point. You’re warned by the local elders to never entertain negative thoughts about the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, but to banish them. You may never talk to ex-Witnesses or anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor are you to read any of their literature. These people have turned their backs on the truth and are considered “worse than pigs, who having once been washed, have returned to wallowing in the mud; yes, they are like dogs who have returned to their vomit” (2 Peter 2:22). Jehovah will soon destroy them forever!

If you should ever turn your back on the truth, you will be shunned. No one at the Kingdom Hall will be able to talk to you because you will have become a traitor. If you’re ever disfellowshipped (ie. excommunicated), your spouse or your children won’t be allowed to converse with you on any Christian matters, nor will they be permitted to pray with you, because you will have turned away from Jehovah’s organization. If you ever leave the Watchtower, you will become a “dog,” a “Judas.”

This article is a perfect illustration of why biblical literacy is so important!  Know what to say when these folks come to your door.  Please don’t invite them in or even, just to be polite, take their literature.

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