Jehovah's Witnesses - a religion of displaced people?

by slimboyfat 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    I've had a theory for a long time that JWs historically have appealed to people who have been displaced or find themselves in a new environment away from family and friends. I also read an article recently that suggested that internal migration in Italy was a big boost for JW growth. More generally it has long been theorised that new religious movements are a phenomenon particularly associated with disruptive features of modernity, including the hyper-mobility of people in the modern age.

    When I think about JWs locally, having recently moved to a new location accounts for most of the people who were converted to JWs that I know about, from the 1940s up to the 1990s.

    There was a sister who had moved to a naval base to be with her husband. Away from family and friends she got a knock on the door in the early 1970s and became a JW. Her husband followed her and gave up his job.

    Another sister arrived in London as a refugee from Austria in the late 1940s. JWs befriended her and she became a JW and pioneered for 50 years.

    Another brother moved from the north of England to Scotland in the 1960s with his new wife. He was a bus driver and extremely busy with work so he had no time to be lonely. But he caught a bad illness and was in bed three weeks. The JWs knocked at the door and left some books. He read them, got to know the local JWs and became a JW elder for 40 years. (He died a few weeks ago)

    I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Most of the older JWs I know became JWs shortly after moving to a new country or to a new town some distance away.

    Even JW leaders like Fred Franz converted in similar circumstances. I think Franz was at university and away from home for the first time when he became a Bible Student. Similarly Rutherford bought Russell's books in his hometown in the 1890s, but it was only when he moved to a new state that he got seriously involved.

    Plus more recently JW targeting of foreign language and displaced people is well known and seems to have some success.

    I wonder if other people have noticed, in their family or old congregations, that older JWs tended to come into the religion when they moved to a new location?

  • Finkelstein

    This happens to a lot of people who have gone through an dramatic change in their personal lives, moving into different country with a different language and culture , divorces , deaths in the family and so on.

    Or sometimes its just out fear and ignorance where the apocalyptic Watchtower Publishing house emotionally effects people consciousness.

  • Landy

    There are exceptions that prove the rule but generally they fall into several categories;

    Born ins

    People who's own life was that unhappy they embraced tne love bombing of a congregation as a new family

    People who have 'lost' something or someone and are looking for 'answers'

    People who like to be big fish in small ponds and lord it over others.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    I think the religion appeals to people who are disenfranchised.

  • Crazyguy

    Since other religions have always had more to offer I always wondered why anyone would join the jws? I think the fact that they go door to door has helped to convert these ones before they joined a better church.

  • scratchme1010

    I wonder if other people have noticed, in their family or old congregations, that older JWs tended to come into the religion when they moved to a new location?

    My take, I think that many people move for a fresh start and too look for new beginnings. They are in a place where they have hope that new (and good) things will start coming their way. So I can see how they may be more welcoming of some stranger visiting and offering them something that resembles their new hopes for their new lives.

    I think it will be interesting if there was some kind of study to quantify the number of people who join based on the factors that compels them to become part of that organization.

    @Crazygyu, what I have heard is that there are different reasons for people to join, some are things that range from being in a vulnerable time in their lives when they have lost something or somebody, or the JW message speaks to them because they are very disappointed with the state of their lives or life in general or the world, or maybe they think that joining them will help them find a suitable decent mate.

    If you look at the makeup of the JWs, and ex-JWs we come from all walks of life, so though there are more vulnerable populations in society, there are other things that appeal to many different people in many different ways.

  • LisaRose

    I believe there is some truth to that. People who are lonely or struggling are probably more likely to listen to a Jehovah's Witness who comes to their door. They are friendly, many are personable, they will come to your house and study with you, someone struggling in a new area might be vulnerable to that.

    After I left the religion my daughter started studying with some JWs that came to her door. She was a new mom and was just lonely. Fortunately she came to her senses and started looking into things more and realized it was not for her.

  • Dunedain

    This makes perfect sense. The WTBS bull crap will appeal to people that are being displaced, or going thru any turmoil.

    When people are new to an area, or forced to go somewhere that they have no friends and family, they may be desperate to meet new people. They may be looking for friends, or a new social group. What easier than having someone show up at your door, and invite you to a "meeting". Once they go, they are love bombed, and coddled.

    Then they have the one on one with their study conductor. The study conductor is always looked at as a "friend", and vice versa. This is just the amount of social contact they may need, to fulfil their loneliness, and lack of family close by.

  • prologos

    very good point slim. I would never have become religious in my birth city, where religion is a joke. That is why Jws keep calling back, because as they say: "people's situations change"--, they become vulnerable,

  • stuckinarut2

    Great thread!

    Landy summed it up very well!

    Ask yourselves, when was the last time a well educated, dignified, problem free person with no emotional baggage or issues, perhaps a professional business person or business owner, walked on into a Kingdom Hall and chose to just join up?

    No, usually the society appeals to people who are "challenged" in some way....

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