First Proper Chat With the JWs in Almost 11 Years

by passwordprotected 19 Replies latest jw experiences

  • passwordprotected

    Since disassociating in October 2008, I've had little to no direct contact with the JWs, apart from immediate family members (ie my parents).

    I've lived in my rented flat since May 2014 and haven't had a knock on the door in that whole time. Until Saturday morning. I was awake early (5:30 am), had coffee, been to the gym, done some work and was chilling on the sofa. Around 11 am or so there was a knock on my door. Through the glass panel in the door, I could see someone standing, facing the door at a 3/4 angle, which always suggests the presence of another person. Classic JW-at-the-door stance.

    And yes, when I opened the door I was greeted by two female JWs, neither of whom I recognised, even though I live in the territory of the congregation where I served as an elder.

    Here it was, my opportunity. The one I've thought about often over the last 11 years. What I'd say to the Witnesses should they call at my door.

    So, how did I handle it?

    Not the way I anticipated.

    You see, I don't see myself as an ex-JW or an apostate as much as I see myself as an atheist who was once religious.

    So, I handled it that way. I spoke to them the same way I'd speak to any religious person who asked my opinion on god, holy books etc. I gave them no indication that I used to be a Witness, although I did tell them I used to be very religious and that I had extensively studied the Bible and was aware enough of their beliefs to know about the Paradise Earth doctrine.

    The younger of the two Witnesses opened the conversation by telling me they were visiting all the homes in my area asking if it's possible to have a personal relationship with god.

    I replied, "Which god?".

    That led the discussion onto their belief that there's one true god, to which I asked about the 1000s of other gods, gods they don't believe in. I explained my stance as an atheist and ran the Dawkins line (also used by Ricky Gervais) that I just disbelieve in one more god than them.

    The lead Witness then showed me a "verse from the Bible" on her iPhone (I was appalled by this), Ps 83:18, which of course, proved not one single point she was hoping to make. The other Witness, an older lady, chipped in with the comment "surely if god has revealed his personal name to us, this means he wants us to have a relationship with him".

    My reply to this was, "but if I believed in Vishnu I could say the same thing". To which they both conceded the point. The younger Witness said that religion is often cultural, to which I agreed, adding "it's an accident of birth".

    I explained that I hadn't always been an atheist, and they wondered if it was "the church I'd gone to" that had put me off the idea of god. I outlined that all Christian sects essentially believe the same 4 things:

    - god created the earth

    - man sinned

    - Jesus was sent to earth

    - Jesus died to save mankind from sin

    The Witnesses agreed to this. I told them that I once believed those things, but upon further research, I came to the conclusion that "we're probably the product of evolution, the earth's probably older than the Bible would have us believe, there's probably no afterlife and Jesus probably didn't exist."

    I was very careful to use the word "probably" as I deliberately wanted to leave the discussion open to debate and not appear closed-minded. I told them that I had learned that I had to choose to believe in myself and base as many of my beliefs on facts, logic and reason.

    The younger Witness agreed that it's important to believe in ourselves but they also carefully study the Bible to make sure of their faith. I countered that by gently pointing out what she was doing was confirmation bias: choosing to look for evidence to back up what she already believes.

    I told them that I don't fear death, don't believe in an afterlife and I'm absolutely fine with that. I told them that I know people who hold out hope of seeing dead loved ones again in heaven or on a Paradise Earth, but that's all it is: a hope. And if they want to believe that and get comfort from it, that's fine. But that's all it is, it's not an evidence-backed philosophy, it's just something to get comfort from. I no longer need that.

    On the subject of Jesus, I told them I'd extensively researched whether Jesus actually existed or not - to prove it to myself -and that I couldn't find any tangible historical proof outwith what's written in the Bible. The older Witness said, "well, Muslims believe in Jesus and call him a great prophet". This just showed the Witnesses have poor skills as Christian apologists as my reply was "but the Quran was written around 600 years after Jesus is supposed to have lived, so it can't be considered contemporaneous historical evidence." Again, she had to concede the point.

    I offered that if there's little to no evidence in Jesus, then the whole idea of the Christian faith is simply a subjective experience not based on objective evidence. And, I said, that's absolutely fine, as long as you recognise your faith is just your subjective experience, something you want to be true, even if it isn't and there's no evidence to affirm it.

    Of course, this notion directly applies to their faith in a "faithful and discreet slave" chosen by Jesus in 1919...

    As the conversation wound up, I told them that I'm perfectly happy in my life. I don't need answers as to why bad things happen, what happens when we die etc. I'm perfectly happy not knowing these things because we can't know these things.

    The younger Witness ended up not having much to say, and the older one politely conceded much of what I said. We ended the chat amicably, I thanked them for their time, they thanked me for mine, and I wished them luck.

    Afterwards, with adrenaline pumping, I spoke with my 15-year-old daughter. She asked me who had been at the door and, giggling like a kid, I told her. She started giggling too and said she heard me "running Ricky Gervais patter" about believing in one less god than them.


    I'm glad I handled it the way I did. I know enough about the cult mindset to realise that to attack their governing body is seen as a direct attack on them and they would have left immediately. Instead, I was able to position myself as someone who was once like them, but was now happy and content in life without the mental gymnastics blind faith requires. I deliberately came across as respectful but knowledgable which helped them lower their guard. And by gently undermining the foundation of their Christian-based ideology I hope I got them both to think.

  • All or nothing
    All or nothing

    Great strategy! My husband and I had many conversations thru the years we were pioneering with logical thinking people who really did make us think. We usually agreed to disagree. Mentioned it to a CO once and he refuted with the 3 H JW thing. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a version of Jehovah draws us, that says the householder has to be Humble, Hungry, and Honest to be "rightly disposed to the truth" 🙄

    I felt I was all three of those qualities- so if I am humble, I don't believe I am better than my neighbor, if I am hungry, then I am open minded to others beliefs, and if I am honest- I don't agree with the GB lying to I guess that's why we faded from this high control group like many others here.

  • Phizzy

    Well done PWP ! that is the only way to treat JW's fairly, with respect, and gentle words that may reach their hearts. Looking back over the years it took me to wake up, and finally leave, I realise that it was people who treated me as you treated these ladies, that made me think, and gave me stuff that nagged at me.

    A seed planted often takes a while to start to grow, but you never plant such a seed if you attack, or come over as feeling superior to them, the empathetic " I was once like you" is what works.

  • snare&racket

    Well handled, with so much respect displayed, it's difficult for them to dismiss you. It may change that young JW's life..... one never know. At the very least it may contribute a tiny seed of contemplation.

  • Still Totally ADD
    Still Totally ADD

    Great job! I wish I would have came to your door many years ago and heard your reasoning it would got me thinking sooner. Still Totally ADD

  • WTWizard

    I wonder how they would handle it if I told them how I feel about the religion, and the whole bible, in German (which is almost unheard of here among the jokehovians, partly because of its reputation of being such a hard language to master that no one wants to take in school, and partly because there is no use for it around here in field circus). If not German, then Sanskrit (Satan's native language). I bet that, in either case, they would waste more time trying to figure out what I said and not be coming back.

    And if they did come back, they would be wasting more time trying to decipher German. I doubt they would have the resources to learn it--they are too stupid to research it online, they do not have the time to properly go through it, and whatever Rosetta Stones they might purchase (besides being prohibitively expensive) do not work well (I simply used the Internet, along with books bought from Amazon and videos downloaded from YouTube). And that is time they would not be able to hound someone else.

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    very well handled. I like that one god less thought too.

    the last time they came to my place was years ago too... I was no where as diplomatic.

  • Biahi

    It’s good to get them to think and not run away, if you say you’re an apostate. I noticed my Hindu next door neighbor was getting called on by the dubs. I talked to him, and apparently he took the magazines to be polite, now they kept calling back. He was not interested, but they kept calling. I had him bring up on his phone, told him to bring up this website next time they called, and show it to them.i haven’t seen them since. 😀

  • tiki

    Impressive enlightening encounter! You certainly gave them food for thought.

  • truth_b_known


    Your arguments are wonderfully bright, honest, and intelligent. I really appreciate the "one less god than you" line of thinking as well as pointing out the conformation bias, which is huge.

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