I've been living in my hilltown home for about 32 years. In that time, Jehovah's Witnesses have been coming to my door at least once every three years, usually in the spring. I suppose the reason for such frequent visits is that there is a Kingdom Hall less than half an hour's drive from here.

I'm not at all adverse to inviting them in for a discussion on religion, especially since the visitors are different people each time. Over the years, however, these discussions have gotten rather boring and offer little that's new or challenging. By and large, JW's are the most closed-minded, intellectually illiterate theists I've ever encountered. During the early 1990's I took to issuing this caveat to them before entering into any discussion: "You're not qualified to witness to an atheist because neither of you (they always come here in pairs) understands what atheism is, nor do you understand atheistic or humanistic philosophy."

My questions for atheists in this forum are: How often to Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door or canvas your neighborhood? How do you deal with them? Do you converse or correspond with them? Do you tell them to take a hike? Do they know that you're an atheist? Have they ever simply walked away upon finding out you're an atheist? Do you have any interesting anecdotes about your encounters with JW's either at your door or elsewhere?

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Thanks for mentioning Ray Franz's book. I have many books on the JW's in my library, but not that one.
I've had a few--JW's AND Mor(m)ons--come to my door proselytizing over the years. I used to enjoy engaging them and challenging their "knowledge" of scripture with my own, but then I realized that I wasn't going to change their minds, and because I'd usually fluster them with questions they weren't accustomed to being asked, I started to feel like a bit of a bully. So I changed my tactic: When I see them at my door, I tell them that I'm an atheist and that I'll be happy listen to their "testimony"--just as soon as I tell them about why I DON'T believe. Invariably, hey thank me curtly for my time and walk away...
Messing with them or sparring with them may seem fun at first, but if you think you're going to truly rattle their faith, you're generally wasting your time (in much the same way their visits to my door are a waste of time for them).
"Jehovah's Witnesses have been coming to my door at least once every three years, usually in the spring. I suppose the reason for such frequent visits is that there is a Kingdom Hall less than half an hour's drive from here."

Once every three years is actually very INfrequent. Congregations are supposed to "cover" their territories every six months. Obviously not all of them are able to do so, so every once in a while they'll bus in JWs from all over the U.S. to help with these "unassigned territories." So you're actually kind of lucky to see them that seldomly.

"I'm not at all adverse to inviting them in for a discussion on religion, especially since the visitors are different people each time. Over the years, however, these discussions have gotten rather boring and offer little that's new or challenging."

That's because they're reading from a script, essentially. Some of the sharper and more experienced will formulate it in their own words, but they're essentially just parroting the party line. Interesting factoid: back in the 30s they carried sermons on portable phonographs and basically just sat on people's porches playing a recording to them. Anyway, they're like those Indian tech support people. If you say something that isn't on their script, they have no idea how to respond. It quite literally does not compute. So all they can do is keep reading from the script, completely ignoring what you say.

"By and large, JW's are the most closed-minded, intellectually illiterate theists I've ever encountered. During the early 1990's I took to issuing this caveat to them before entering into any discussion: "You're not qualified to witness to an atheist because neither of you (they always come here in pairs) understands what atheism is, nor do you understand atheistic or humanistic philosophy.""

They really don't understand, nor do they understand basic Christian beliefs such as the trinity concept (which is far more complicated than the "three-headed monster" explanation), nor do they understand Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim philosophy. They are essentially run by a group of old men in Brooklyn, NY that haven't interacted with the real world in any meaningful way for decades. It's essentially 9 Jack Chicks who are running the show.

"My questions for atheists in this forum are: How often to Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door or canvas your neighborhood?"

Since we moved to our home my wife and I have received 2 JW tracts in our door and 1 anti-JW tract (we weren't home for any of them).

"How do you deal with them? Do you converse or correspond with them? Do you tell them to take a hike? Do they know that you're an atheist?"

I've toyed with debating them, but honestly after hearing that crap for 25 years I've had enough, and usually I just give them a polite "no thanks" and move on. Maybe some day if I happen to be feeling "chipper" I might pull some wise-cracks on them or trying to spin a logical trap, but honestly tripping up a JW logically is like beating up a three-year-old, it ultimately proves and accomplishes nothing.

"Have they ever simply walked away upon finding out you're an atheist? Do you have any interesting anecdotes about your encounters with JW's either at your door or elsewhere?"

A JW is way more likely to walk away if they find out I'm a former JW than if I'm an atheist. I do remember one time while I was still in the religion and we got an atheist at the door. I was with an older JW who apparently was still living during the time JWs stuck their feet in doors and were more...forceful, but years of mental diarrhea had rendered him pretty much useless (the script stuff I was talking about). Anyway the atheist basically said "I'm an atheist and I'm not interested, so please leave." Well that response isn't covered in the "overcoming objections" section in the manual (yes there is a manual, or sorts), so the old guy tried to ad-lib one. His selling point, "well we leave our literature with lots of people and lots of atheists read it." I hadn't made my mental break yet, but I was leaning toward it, and in my head I did the most forceful facepalm I could muster. Yeah, like they guy was going to read a religious pamphlet based on the "everybody's doing it!" argument.
I met some Jehovah's Witnesses today, kept them on my doorstep until it started raining on them, while I was all nice and dry in my porch. I was actually a bit worse for wear, having downed several large whiskeys (single-malt, no rubbish!), but I managed to comport myself well.

Being a JW virgin, as it were, I didn't actually know the extents or limitations of their particular form of insanity and so some broad-shots at religion in general didn't hit home with quite the thunder I had envisaged.

I was quite blunt, told them I was an atheist upfront and a scientifically minded one at that. Usually I use the term agnostic to prevent door-to-door evangelists from immediately going on the defensive. But today I was busy and tipsy and in no real mood for protracted front-door debate and so they invited me to come along to their little club this weekend, to answer some more of my questions about Jehovah. Any advice people?
You might gain some insights, but keep in mind that they consider beforehand that their word is the truth and your beliefs are false. They are adept at switching their minds off to any counterargument you can mount against their doctrines and/or dogma. Any JW who betrayed the slightest inkling that he/she was even considering your claims would be immediately disfellowshipped. I've often said that it would be easier to teach your cat how to play checkers than to get a JW to think rationally. One thing you will quickly discover if you meet with them is that no factual statements or arguments can ever penetrate JW's thick skulls. They're the most brainwashed theists I have ever encountered.
Though I believe this is generally true, I've known of Jehovah's Witnesses who actually have left as a result of discussions they've had with people in their homes. One of them was even a church elder who left because he was told not to spend any more time with an atheist whose questions he was unable to answer.

The funny thing is that when you're a JW there are a lot of appeals to logic in the religious publications. The Witnesses are ruthlessly skeptical of other religions, and this attitude can be prevalent in the rank-and-file members. In some ways, the brainwashing actually works against them. The organizations gives its members every tool to discredit their own religion, but keeps the majority of them from doing this with a few safeguards. The principal safeguard being the idea that once someone has studied with the Witnesses and was convinced they are the true religion, there is no further need to continually challenge that conclusion. The only approved areas of inquiry are those that arrive to the same conclusions the organization does.

I think the difference between the Witnesses who can be convinced through reason and logic and those who can't is the question of whether or not they care if their beliefs are true. To many JWs, "the truth" (this is how they refer to their religion in private) has a very subjective meaning. To them, it's a lifestyle, a social network, a particular set of teachings that may or may not be "adjusted" in the near future. They are not Jehovah's Witnesses because they necessarily believe the Watchtower is always (or even usually) right, but because they literally have no idea how to be anything else. It's not just a set of beliefs for them, it's a lifestyle. But there are others who actually believe because they are convinced of the truthfulness of the dogma. They are kept in the cult simply because they don't have all the information available to them. It is possible to convince a JW that they're wrong, but they A) have to be in the right mindset (in it for factual reasons, not emotional reasons), and B) have to be alone. If they're with another cult member, it is highly unlikely they're going to express any kind of agreement with you. If they did, it would be reported to the congregational authorities and they would get in trouble.
oh boy... I'm currently friends with a JW, and its been a bit weird. She's completely awesome, and beautiful, we talk about everything and she told me that I make her feel more comfortable than anybody she's ever met. Sparks started to fly and I ended up having a crush on her, as did she, but then the JW bomb went off. Due to her trying to be an active JW, she has denied me because I'm an Atheist. She hinted around about converting "somebody" then it would be ok, but I'm not ok with that on so many levels. So now, even though we would have a kick ass relationship, it has no chance to take off. What kinda bullshit is that?..ok i'm done venting..heh
I had experiences with a couple of girlfriends like that, but they were both Catholics. In each case, they were super-religious, wanted kids and no sex before marriage. As a result, I haven't even thought about dating a Catholic for over 35 years. The only JW women I've ever met were the ones who came knocking at my door.
This is for humour value only. What If atheists acted religious?

I realize that this is an old discussion, but I thought you'd like to hear of the experience I had several years back with the local JW's.

A JW woman and her young son came knocking at my door. She introduced herself and was very nice and pleasant. I find it hard to just turn nice people away, so we engaged in very vague, non-religious talk for a few minutes and then she left. A week later, she and her son returned. This time she dropped off some literature. Asked me to read it in my spare time, which I completely forgot to do. This went on for a couple more weeks, until I finally had the time to sit down and read the pamphlets. The final time that she and her young son stopped by, she asked me again if I had a chance to read the literature. I said that I did and that some of the stuff I read had really bothered me. I told her that if there really is a god, I don't think he really could give a hoot whether or not we decide to get our ears pierced or get a tattoo. She went on about our bodies being temples or something along those lines. Then I jumped in with what seriously bothered me. I said, "So you are telling me that if your son came down with some kind of disease, and the only thing that could save his life is a blood transfusion, you would refuse the transfusion and just let him die? Your god wouldn't want you to try to save your son's life?"

And this is where the funny part comes in. Now, remember that we had quite a few nice, friendly weekly chats. She seemed like the sweetest woman in the world up to this point. She turns to her son and says right in front of me (like I'm not even there): "Witness this - The devil has brought a veil down over this woman's face, so that she cannot see the truth!" Then they walked away, never to come back again.
Thanks for sharing that. The JW's brainwashing is completely debilitating when it comes to rational thought. They have a repertoire of programmed responses to which they resort whenever they're confronted with something which challenges their faith. Obviously, she couldn't answer your question because that would have involved THINKING.

they came knocking one day looking like FBI and I told em' go to the house down the way w/the flag; that's the head xitan. actually it was the head atheist of florida the time. they spent an hour debating and when the atheist offered them some material they were not allowed to take it because they 'have' the truth?...

sigh, c'mon jehovah, put em' up, put em' uuuup.... : P

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