Do's and Dont's on debating JWs online

by Emery 37 Replies latest jw friends

  • Emery

    Recently I have seen an increase number of former members trying to argue TTATT with JWs on YouTube, news articles, facebook and public forums. For the most part, i do not see a lot of vicious or hostile debates when former members are trying to show TTATT, but I have seen some arguments and approaches turn out very ugly, to the point of many face palms.

    I remember there were several instances that completely turned me off towards TTATT as a believer because "apostates" would be entirely reprehensible and would fit the bill of what the Society termed "mentally diseased". I cannot fault ones here who have gone on a similar rampage now that I understand how people lose everything and everyone they love. However, I want others to know of my experience and how certain people delayed my awakening to the TTATT.

    There was one person in particular who seemed to fish for everything and anything JW on the web, a Danny Hazzard. I found his strategy (if there was one) to be incredibly hostile and unbearable. I'm sure he frequents this board and is well known, I have no issues with the guy now but I will say his approach during my indoctrination heavily delayed my awakening, it reinforced the idea of persecution. Also, I remember when the online video of the Bulgarian kingdom hall attack by thugs hit the net, just from reading the comments by "apostates" I was appalled by the nature of the comments. I remember reading horrendous things like, "Brainwashed cult deserved it" and many other negative comments, this delayed and almost cost my objectivity toward "apostate" arguments. My persecution complex only hardened and made the "Truth" more real to me when love wasn't used. I think this topic needs to be analyzed more to educate anyone going into debates with JWs with the best and most effective ways to apporach TTATT. So my questions are:

    • How many here have woken up to TTATT because of an "apostate" debated you on it?
    • If so did their attitude play a huge part in it?
    • What ways can we improve the approach?
  • jgnat

    I find the you-tube videos of preaching outside the conventions to be off-putting. My JW husband looked over my shoulder and said, "apostates". If this is all Witnesses ever hear, of course they would ignore them.

    What I seek is dialogue, a meeting of minds. That means earnestly listening and responding.

    No-one responds to a bull-horn shoved up their nose.

  • Apognophos

    Thanks, Emery, I was thinking of starting a topic like this for the same reason, that I find a lot of arguments to be ineffective, or even worse, counterproductive. When I was a believer, I expected that all apostate arguments would be based on unfalsifiable assertions and ad hominem attacks, because I was taught that apostates were tricky and deceitful, so I figured that's all they could rely on for arguments, as opposed to arguing from scriptures or documented evidence.

    What seemed to play right into my expectations was that any time I got anywhere near an apostate's words on the Internet, it was "Rutherford" this and "Russell" that. I had no interest in hearing smear campaigns about people who were long dead anyway, so I believed for many years that apostates had nothing important to say. Now I can appreciate a little more the importance of what those men did and said, but I still believe that it gives the impression that apostates are like a dog with an old, nasty bone that they refuse to let go of.

    And frankly, the 1975 issue was the same for me. "I wasn't even alive then, who cares about that? The Society hasn't predicted any end date since then, and barely published anything explicitly naming 1975 at the time, so why is this relevant to me as a Witness who is keeping up with new light?"

    I'm sure some people will want to argue the value of discussing the above topics, but all I can say is that those two topics completely mis-represented what I eventually found when I dared to actually read something intelligent that could be considered "apostate" (JWFacts, to be exact). I had no idea that there were even any cogent Biblical arguments against most Witness beliefs, and I've been amazed at how much I've learned about the Bible and scriptural context these last few months by reading different sites and some posts here. But if you'd asked me two years ago what apostates had to say, I would have dismissed it with, "Pssh, they're all stuck in the past, embittered over stuff that has no relevance now."

  • Ding

    Granted, we can turn JWs off if we are totally obnoxious and offensive. It feels good to vent, but a diatribe hurled at a loyal JW doesn't help them see TTATT.

    That said, we also need to recognize that even if we are very tactful in suggesting to them that the WT religion is wrong about ANYTHING, we may be branded as persecutors because that is part of the WT indoctrination. That's a risk we have to live with if we are going to talk with them. Certainly, if we are tactful, we shouldn't feel guilty if we are rejected. We can't control their reaction.

    Listening is very important. Deep down, many JWs know something is wrong, but if someone else verbalizes the problem in so many words, they will defend the organization to the death. Again, that's a part of the indoctrination. We need to give them a safe place to talk and then encourage them to check things out for themselves.

    Understatement often works best.

    Telling them that we also found a particular matter troubling, puzzling, perplexing, disquieting or that we were "stumbled" by it (WT lingo) is more effective than telling them bluntly that the WTS is a cult, a false prophet, etc. Let them draw their own conclusions.

  • ABibleStudent

    Hi Emery, I agree with you that confronting JWs on line is not productive. In my thread Gone Fishing . . . I search the internet for WTBTS informercials and post comments to them. I have read Danny Hazards comments to the informercials and do not find them offensive but I can understand how JWs might react to them based on my experience with Mike McPherson on line. I did not feel that my comments were that offensive, but Mike McPherson an exJW did. I carefully chose my words in my response to dispell his WTBTS indoctrination and hopefully encourage him or JWs to use the weblinks that I provided.

    Protecting Americans from Dangerous Orgs This article by Jennifer Davidson sounds like an informercial for the Watchtower. If you want to learn the "Truth" about the Watchtower visit and, or visit to learn how the Watchtower uses BITE control techniques to victimizes JWs. Reply · Like · Follow Post · Wednesday at 6:43am Mike McPherson · Macon, Missouri I was a witness for 20 years and all your accusations are bunk or sour grapes. People who have been decieved feel the need to get back at the org. Even though they're beliefs are wrong it's not from any desire to deceive, but from honest belief. They are no better or worse than any muslim, jew, or christian. If there is an entity it's not the spoiled maniac god of the hebrews. Reply · Like · Thursday at 12:09am Protecting Americans from Dangerous Orgs I invite you to visit to meet other JWs and exJWs who love JWs and awoke by doing independent research about the Watchtower. Many felt the same as you did until they started thinking for themselves instead of giving into Watchtower induced phobias. My user name is ABibleStudent on and look forward to your visit. Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago

    After posting my first comments to WTBTS informercials, I toned down my comments to leave just breadcrumbs for JWs to follow like the following comment.

    Protecting Americans from Dangerous Orgs If you want to learn more about the Watchtower visit,,, and, or visit to learn how BITE control techniques are used to victimize JWs. Reply · · January 31 at 1:15pm

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,


  • Apognophos

    In line with Ding's comment (ha, this is sounding like a WT study), name-calling is probably the worst thing an apostate could do. Witnesses want to believe that all apostates are people who were disfellowshipped for naughtiness and are humiliated and bitter over it. So you would expect that an apostate's words would be vitriolic. Peruse the posts on this forum, and what do you find? "Cult" this, "LIE-ble" that. Lots of anger. I get that people need to vent, but a Witness who is weary and curious, but still believes it's the truth, will click away from this kind of talk very quickly. Silly expressions like "Gibbering Buddy" only make posts harder to read and more likely to turn off lurkers who are in-but-doubting.

  • Emery

    Apognophos, I agree 100%

    When I see a few posters use middle school insults or language like that, I can't help but shake my head. Some do come across like a jealous ex who can't seem to move on, desperate and always venting. I think people should be more self aware of their negativity or anger. It does nobody any good and it will certainly rear its ugly head in any online interaction with active curious JWs.

  • gingerbread

    The thinking process that is developed as a JW encourages that we are right about our beliefs - biblical & world history, prophecy, science, biblical applications, the universe, the future, etc... And, we had an "it's us against them" judgemental attitude. There are former JW's that have been treated very badly in their congregations and by their family & former friends. Their comments express the anger. And, unfortunatly I think, all too often they become bitter people who are determined to show how they are now right. Sure, we all began to question our beliefs - for different reasons. Some have reacted in anger, argued their points and were disfellowshipped or chose to disassociated themselves. My observation - in the US at least - is that considerable numbers are still "in" but quietly exiting - especially folks between the ages of 20 and 40.

    It's a big mental step to just look at this forum. I lurked for some time before becoming a member. If was full of rage and anger, I would have never returned. Fortunately I found encouragement and practical advice.

  • Londo111

    Good points, I agree! Sometimes I have been guilty on this forum with liberally using the C-word. Sometimes I feel that on this forum and elsewhere we need to be more mindful of lurkers who are looking for answers. Our tone could be the difference between that person being liberated or many more years of slavery. We have to be mindful that these people are stuck in a mental loop of mind control, as we once were.

    It wasn't apostates debating me while still a believing JW, but rather, I got jarred awake by the elders. Even so, it took me six months to start looking for answers. I basically believed that everything out there not on the official website was lies, half-truths, and misrepresentations. It took me three months for me to trust sites like JWFACTS.

    Tone was a huge factor. I remember stumbling across a Rick Fearon video on Youtube years ago, and being scared off. However, what impressed me about Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom was the loving, humble manner that the information was presented. Sites like JWStruggle continued to strike the right tone for me: not wanting to beat our JW brothers and sisters, but rather reach out to them with love.

    We can only control ourselves, nobody else--and sometimes that is a losing battle. We come from so many backgrounds, have so many views. We are not a united people. I wish there was a way we could en mass unite in tone, but there will always be some angry soul out there who is the poster child of the "mentally diseased apostate".

  • perfect1

    I thought this said

    dos and dont of dating JWs online.

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