In most countries Jehovah’s Witnesses have the legal right to go door-to-door for their preaching work. It’s not trespassing as you are allowed to approach someone’s front door if you have valid business, and they are not soliciting because they are not technically selling anything.
Legal rights aside, I’d like to discuss some personal reasons why I think Jehovah’s Witnesses have no business going in their preaching work, having public sermons from their podium, printing their literature, or even speaking to others about their religious beliefs.
Talking Without Listening
In my own home, there are actually very few rules to remember as a guest. Eat dinner in the living room, put your feet on the furniture; it’s pretty casual under my roof. However, one thing I insist on is that if you’re not going to listen to other people, you don’t get to talk.
I’m sure we all know that type of person, the one who monopolizes the conversation, interrupts, bellows, and talks over others. They may even put a hand in someone’s face or get up and leave when they cannot control what’s being said.
These types of practices are rude enough in everyday conversation, but when it comes to teaching people about the bible and telling them how to live, I don’t believe you should be allowed to talk if you’re not going to listen. You shouldn’t be allowed to teach and instruct and counsel, if you’re not going to take in a dissenting opinion.
Despite the hours they put into talking about the bible, trying to speak to Jehovah’s Witnesses and share your own opinion is a near impossibility. During their meetings held throughout the week, there is no room for a personal opinion. Written material is presented with questions and answers already spelled out for the audience; individual input is not allowed.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also do not entertain dissenting opinions online. Try joining a Facebook page set up by Witnesses and pointing out an error in their beliefs or raising an objection, and chances are you’ll be banned from the page within hours. I know because it’s happened to me many times over, despite being polite and respectful in my comments.
It’s also not possible to actually raise an objection or mention outright errors in their teaching when Jehovah’s Witnesses preach to people at their homes. If you ask about the qualifications of the men who translated their bible, about their changing beliefs, or object to any of their doctrines, they typically terminate the conversation or your bible study. Their reasoning is that they are looking for “honest-hearted ones,” but in my opinion, this is a cop-out and an insult. A person who objects to the JW interpretation of the bible may be very “honest-hearted” and may have very valid, sincere questions or concerns. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses typically dismiss these people when the questions or objections become too uncomfortable or when they don’t have answers, rather than actually listening to them and considering their words.
Guided by Holy Spirit?
Some Jehovah’s Witnesses might immediately object to this by saying that their leaders are directed and guided by god’s “holy spirit,” so it’s not up to anyone else to disagree with them. One problem with this thinking is that the information taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses has been outright wrong, many times over. They have predicted the end of the world as coming in 1914, 1925, 1935, 1975, then before the end of the 20th century. They have changed their doctrine on blood transfusions and their beliefs about homosexual acts being considered adultery when committed by married persons. Please see this website for a more detailed explanation of their changed teachings.
More and more cases of pedophilia are being revealed within the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even being committed by those who are elders and ministerial servants (like elders in training), despite the claims that these men are “appointed by holy spirit.” Domestic violence and child abuse is common in far too many homes. Many elders also endorse or hide these acts when committed by others.
The claim made by Jehovah’s Witnesses of being “guided by holy spirit” is flimsy at best. Holy spirit is not going to guide you to an understanding of a certain doctrine that is wrong and that needs changing down the road. You can’t tell me that the holy spirit is behind the appointment of elders in the congregation who are wife beaters and child molesters, and it wouldn’t help them to make policies and decisions that allow these practices to flourish in the organization. This excuse, that they should be doing all the talking while everyone else just listens because they have holy spirit, is absurd.
Dangerous Advice and Teaching
Another reason that I personally believe Jehovah’s Witnesses should not be doing all the talking is that often the advice and demands they make are shortsighted and even downright dangerous. However, they don’t have a process in place for anyone to point this out to them.
As an example, consider the articles I have posted in the Women category of this blog. Jehovah’s Witnesses have equated rape to fornication, insisting that women scream and fight even to the death; a woman faces the threat of shunning if elders decide that she did not resist enough during an attack. As I’ve brought out, this is based on a law given to Israel which Christians are no longer obligated to observe, and it even goes beyond that law. Have Jehovah’s Witnesses ever considered that this is not only hurtful to women but also a very serious sin on their part, in going beyond their god’s requirements?
Consider also issues of domestic violence; Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage women to stay with abusive men in the hopes that these men will be impressed with their submissive behavior and become Witnesses themselves. They don’t talk about the many hundreds if not thousands of cases where this never happens, and where women and children are horrifically abused every day for nothing. Those women and children have no voice, no way of expressing their own opinions about their situation, or their experiences with how things happen in “the real world” of domestic violence and abuse. The Witnesses who give this counsel have an idealistic, Utopian idea of what life is like for these women, ignoring the terrifying events they go through every day. They also never consider that this just encourages men to be abusive, as it simply rewards their abuse with a domestic slave who is powerless against him. If a woman were to die at the hands of her abuser, that would also make JWs blood guilty for encouraging her to stay, yet they still refuse to listen to any dissenting opinion about their teachings on this subject.
One of the most important reasons that Jehovah’s Witnesses shouldn’t preach to others is that they feel they’re the only ones who have the true religion, and will not hear anyone else’s views when it comes to god, the bible, and doctrine. They will gladly hand out literature and give presentations to anyone, even children, but don’t dare try to do the same to them! They will not listen to one minute of someone else’s beliefs, or even allow their children to be friends with nonbelievers in case these ones try to teach them something other than the JW doctrine. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses even homeschool their children so they can control the information and religious beliefs to which they’re exposed.
However, as I’ve brought out, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been proven wrong when it comes to their beliefs in many areas, so obviously they are not the end-all experts they would like to think. Perhaps if they listened to others, they might see their own mistakes before they put them in print, and might even avoid being blood guilty in so many areas of their adherents’ personal lives.
Consider if this happened with a person rather than a religion. If I gave advice to someone about their abusive relationship and they wound up being killed by their abuser, or if I were a doctor and I was consistently wrong with every diagnosis, do you think I would be allowed to continue giving advice? At what point would people stop making excuses for my errors, or at the very least tell me to sit down and be quiet and listen to others? I can’t imagine why it would be any different for Witnesses and their beliefs, and their preaching work.
Please share with others. Thank you.