1954 QFR regarding debates
Note how the WTS differentiates past debates conducted by the WTS officially with others outside the WTS. In 1954, they said this:
Regardless of prior promises to the contrary, debates may lose restraint and mildness on the part of those not having the spirit of Jehovah and may degenerate into unbecoming quarreling and strife and emotionalism by such.
Hence the Watch Tower Society does not now adopt debating as a means of preaching the good news of the Kingdom. One of its representatives may be a guest speaker before a different denominational group, when invited, and may entertain questions afterward; but it is understood beforehand the session is not a debate and will not be allowed to deteriorate into such.
(does not now, or its representatives may be a guest speaker, when invited, and may entertain questions afterward. Understood before (by both sides) that it is not a debate, not be allowed to deteriorate into such.)
(I will add, individual jws are not supposed to do this independent of the WTS knowledge and oversight. No loose cannons allowed. Many people do not understand what a formal debate is, the intent is that one side wins and the other side loses. I see what the official intent of the WTS is to inform people about a specific topic, not to persuade them to their belief. Of course the WTS may use a weasel attempt in this matter. But I have found that many people loose cool and the presentation becomes attacks on person not an open presentation of both sides).
What are the formal rules of debate (I will add that I have had training in this and have been part of several debates conducted according to these rules, none were about the WTS and I was not representing myself as a jw. These occurred while I was in college talking a class called forensics (not not dissecting a body).
The rules for a debate, by and large are the same everywhere
- Always have a clear idea about what you're having a debate on and pick a stance and stay put ( sounds like a redundant point, but many a times, have people stood still in the middle of a debate thinking which side they're on)
- A formal debate clearly expects professional behavior, so at no point, lose your cool and maintain a clean language ( no swear words)
- Always allow the other person to speak and never be reluctant to accept their point of view if you indeed agree with it. A formal debate is not a heated argument but a place to p... (continues, I invite you to read the rest. I found it eye-opening and you might see some things that should not have happened during the 2016 US presidential debates.)