Seattle PI article on Jdubs

by jimbob 24 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • jimbob

    This article is in today's Seattle PI. Some of it is a joke, cause they say the JW's are a fast growing religion...I'm sure the author of the article only talked to Dubs and not ex-dubs to find out the REAL "truth"...]

    The article can be found at this link:

    Below is the article:

    Wednesday, August 27, 2003

    Changing tactics speed growth of Jehovah's Witnesses


    RENTON -- The next time you feel down about rejection, consider Sheryl Brown and Helen Schwerdtfeger. As longtime Jehovah's Witnesses, they have knocked on hundreds of doors to promote the benefits of studying the Bible. Along the way, they've weathered insults, slammed doors, growling dogs and aching feet, and come away with just a handful of converts.

    And yet, here they were on a sunny morning in summer skirts, Bibles in hand, ready for more. But instead of ringing doorbells, they circled bus stops and parking lots, in search of lone commuters -- and anyone else, really, who looked available. No one escaped their eagle eyes -- not drivers, joggers, baristas or construction workers.

    Scott Eklund / P-I
    Helen Schwerdtfeger, left, a longtime Jehovah's Witness, shares some Scripture with Tyler Moore, 17, of Renton.

    "Wherever the people are, you have to go. We really try to find people," said Schwerdtfeger, 58, after trying to entice some people waiting for the No. 111 bus to read an Awake! magazine.

    Jehovah's Witnesses once conveyed their message almost exclusively door-to-door. But the increase in high-rise apartments -- coupled with a declining chance of finding anyone at home during the day -- has prompted new tactics. People now are as likely to hear about the coming kingdom of God at a gas station or Laundromat as they are at their front door.

    The group's aggressive methods have helped propel them into one of the nation's fastest-growing religions. They've also irritated some people.

    The city of Stratton, Ohio, fought to keep an ordinance requiring Jehovah's Witnesses and other door-to-door groups to get a permit before knocking -- until the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional last year. In Blainville, Quebec, city lawyers have been trying to reinstate a law restricting when Jehovah's Witnesses can knock on doors.

    In Renton, where Brown and Schwerdtfeger preach, the mayor's office has not had complaints about Jehovah's Witnesses. But that doesn't mean the work is easy.

    Jehovah's Witnesses follow a literal reading of the Bible that compels them to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and spread the "good news" about God's earthly paradise. But because they can't enter many apartments and condos, they often resort to thick reverse-directories for hours of "telephone witnessing."

    Some members, such as Maggie Wood of Issaquah, like to write letters. "Dear Neighbor," Wood writes on flowery stationery. "I try to pay a visit to every person in town with the best message ever."

    And at the airport and in downtown Seattle, Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally display "The Watchtower" magazines for passersby.

    But face-to-face visits are still preferred.

    That is what propelled Brown and Schwerdtfeger to meander through Renton in a gray minivan recently, searching for people who were alone. They spend 70 hours a month preaching, and have become adept at reading human dynamics and body language. People who are alone and aren't too busy are the most receptive. People in groups are the least.

    Brown, who is 46 and was raised a Jehovah's Witness, spied a young man waiting for a bus on Sunset Boulevard Northeast. She parked, threaded her way down a cracked, weedy sidewalk in her nice pumps, and yelled over the roar of traffic. He didn't want any pamphlets, but took a Bible tract.

    "Oh, good! A thought for the day!" he yelled back, voice slightly off-kilter. "I'm going to kill you! Ha ha ha ha!"

    Brown's face froze into a stiff mask. "Well," she said. "That's not a good thought."

    Effective methods

    To outsiders, the group's methods might seem sure to produce failures, but researchers say they're effective.

    "It is extremely difficult. It's not like handing out free samples of some product everyone wants. ... so you're inclined to think this whole system is some dismal failure," said Laurence Iannaccone, an economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. He and Rodney Stark, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, published a 1997 study on the growth of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Scott Eklund / P-I
    Cheryl Brown, left, and Henry Schwerdtfeger, both Jehovah's Witnesses, go door to door spreading their message.

    Iannaccone said the Jehovah's Witnesses have grown about 5 percent a year since 1980, making them one of the fastest-growing denominations in the world. Their growth, which slowed in the 1990s, comes at a time when other evangelical denominations are booming, while many mainline churches are declining.

    Jehovah's Witnesses now number about 6 million worldwide and 1 million in the United States. There are about 30,000 in Washington, where new Kingdom Halls, as the faith calls its churches, are planned in Issaquah, Vancouver and Sultan, as well as in Rochester in Thurston County. In Puyallup, a new Assembly Hall -- a building for 1,700 people -- is scheduled to open soon.

    "It could be there are other more efficient ways, but in the final analysis, (the evangelism methods) have worked very well for a century," Iannacone said.

    The methods worked on 28-year-old Derseh Gizaw, who was in jail nine years ago, when a Jehovah's Witness gave him a book of Bible stories, which resonated with Gizaw, who was doing time for assault.

    He was baptized in July.

    "I changed my life around," said Gizaw, a heavy-equipment operator who lives in Renton. "Knowing all the truth, it straightened me up and brought me closer to (Jehovah). It gave me a conscience, basically."

    'Life-saving work'

    Back in the van, Brown and Schwerdtfeger met several people who politely took their literature. And on one day, Helen Schwerdtfeger dropped off magazines for a woman she had been visiting for nearly five years.

    "They've been life-savers for me," said the woman, Mary Rose, an unemployed mother of three who had gone through a difficult divorce. "Helen ran to the store for me when the kids had the stomach flu."

    But many people were more like a young man Schwerdtfeger spotted at Coulon Park. A former hairdresser with an easygoing charm and thick Brooklyn accent, Schwerdtfeger beamed at him.

    "Have you ever been bullied?" she asked, referring to a cover story in an Awake! magazine.

    Waves of apathy radiated from the man. Schwerdtfeger fanned them away.

    "How would you like to be remembered? Have you ever thought about that?" she said. The man stared at his cell phone, as if willing it to ring. Then Schwerdtfeger heard the phrase that terminates so many of her conversations:

    "I'm not interested."

    But rejection never bothered her or Brown. They figured they caught someone at a bad time, or that the person wasn't ready to hear about everlasting life. It was never personal. Schwerdtfeger converted more than 30 years ago, to join her husband in his faith, and she had met many people who appreciated her.

    "It's life-saving work," she said. "The goal is help people make changes for the better. Practical changes. You know, the Bible is very practical, and it's never out of date."

    And just the other day, Brown knocked on the glass-encrusted double doors of a new mansion, only to hear a dog bark and a woman curtly cut her off.

    But as she retreated down a lushly manicured front path, she remained upbeat and whispered brightly, "We get to see some beautiful landscaping."


    Established in 1872 in Pittsburgh, Jehovah's Witnesses believe the world, as we know it, will end soon and that God will set up an earthly paradise after the battle of Armageddon.

    They believe 144,000 people will go to heaven and serve as co-rulers in God's kingdom and that billions of people will have the opportunity to live forever in perfect health on Earth.

    A Christian denomination, they preach door-to-door to follow in the practice of Jesus.

    They believe they adhere to the oldest religion on Earth, the worship of Almighty God revealed in the Bible as Jehovah.

    Because they pledge allegiance to God's kingdom, they do not vote, salute the flag, run for public office or serve in the military.

    More headlines and info from Issaquah, Puyallup, Renton. P-I reporter Vanessa Ho can be reached at 206-448-8003 or [email protected]

  • acsot

    Must have been a slow news day for the editor of that paper. It's so sad, thinking of those two gals, I was just like them - get rejected at the door and them feel (pathetically) happy to see nicely manicured lawns. Yeah, what a great way to spend your time.

    The reporter should have done a more objective job and interviewed others about the pedophile and shunning issues, as well as changing doctrines and the billions who will be bird feed at Armageddon.

  • Yerusalyim
    A Christian denomination, they preach door-to-door to follow in the practice of Jesus.

    Jesus preached door to door.

  • blondie

    Jesus went to a home and stayed there. He didn't go from house to house.

    Luke 10:5-7 (NWT)

    5 Wherever YOU enter into a house say first, ‘May this house have peace.’ 6 And if a friend of peace is there, YOUR peace will rest upon him. But if there is not, it will turn back to YOU . 7 So stay in that house, eating and drinking the things they provide, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not be transferring from house to house.

    or he stayed in a home and people came to him

    Mark 2:1-2 (NWT)

    2 However, after some days he again entered into Ca·per'na·um and he was reported to be at home. 2 Consequently many gathered, so much so that there was no more room, not even about the door, and he began to speak the word to them.

    Luke 10:38 (NWT)

    38 Now as they were going their way he entered into a certain village. Here a certain woman named Martha received him as guest into the house.

    Matthew 8:14-17 (NWT)

    14 And Jesus, on coming into Peter’s house, saw his mother-in-law lying down and sick with fever. 15 So he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began ministering to him. 16 But after it became evening, people brought him many demon-possessed persons; and he expelled the spirits with a word, and he cured all who were faring badly; 17 that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He himself took our sicknesses and carried our diseases."

    Matthew 9:9-10 (NWT)

    Next, while passing along from there, Jesus caught sight of a man named Matthew seated at the tax office, and he said to him: "Be my follower." Thereupon he did rise up and follow him. 10 Later, while he was reclining at the table in the house, look! many tax collectors and sinners came and began reclining with Jesus and his disciples.


  • Frannie Banannie
    Frannie Banannie

    JimBob, why don't some enterprising xdubs email that vapid reporter some "get a clue" emails re: JW policies on childmolesting, mind control, shunning, da-ing, df-ing, treatment of women, control-freakism....?

    Frannie B

  • Yerusalyim

    My above post..."Jesus went door to door." should have been a question not a statement. Jesus did NOT in fact go door to door in the manner of the JW's nor did the apostles...this was a marketing tool developed in the early to mid 1900's.

  • blondie

    I knew that, Yeru.

    My above post..."Jesus went door to door." should have been a question not a statement.

    Just wanted to give some support. I hated going door to door selling magazines/books and could never see where the early Christians did it. My goodness, few of them had the scriptures in writing in their homes let alone printed material to "place" with the people. It put more responsibility on the early Christians to be good readers, memorizers, and rely on the Bible not a publication to explain their faith.


  • Mulan

    That was a shocker to pick up the paper this morning and see this on the front page. I suspect there is a JW reporter or even an executive there. Too many things have been brought to the attention of this newspaper, that are negative to the JW's and they are never reported. Some things are stuck in an obscure area where it isn't likely to be read. This kind of confirms my thoughts.

    Front page? That is really a stretch!

    Thanks for posting it Jimbob. (by the way, I got a new computer and your latest email isn't on it.......still have the other one, so I will reply soon...............the hunt is on, isn't it?)

  • blacksheep

    Geeze, where has this reporter been for the last few decades? Thanks for the lovely little piece telling everyone the JW tactics. Dubs have become so well known (and avoided) by most people that they have been the subject of countless late night jokes. Can't recall who said it, maybe Letterman, but after the scandal disaster, he said quipped that he was worried that people might not want to talk to them now...(hah!!!).

    And the fastest growing religion? The dubs have been using the same 6 million figure for as long as I can remember. Sound like someone just the reporter a 1970 Yearbook as his source.

  • JeffT

    I live in Seattle. I think they PI is going to be getting a very long letter. Mulan, Princess there are a few more around here, we need to get the truth about the troof out there.

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