This is one of the most interesting and well written emails we've ever received. This person really understands the JW's even though she's never been involved with them before. She brings up a moral dilemma about helping them. Should we provide JW's with evidence that what they believe is wrong? Should we convince them to leave? Might we be doing more harm than good?
Here's the email. Our reply is at the bottom of the page. We hope you enjoy this. It's very good.
Over the past few months I've been talking to Jehovah's Witnesses about a number of subjects, and would like to thank you for your website, which has been invaluable in providing me with accurate information about Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm particularly impressed by how you present information fairly and objectively through the expression of love on your site.
As an English Literature graduate and an aspiring writer, I'm naturally curious about other people's views of the world and always looking for material to use in my writing. What "hooked" me into speaking with Jehovah's Witnesses initially was an article in their magazine that casually implied that Jesus was Michael the Archangel. As a critical thinker I couldn't resist getting into a discussion with a particular young lady (around my age) about why they believe this.
She provided some research for me in the form of a letter and I eagerly replied. After writing around three letters each, over about 8 months and - to my surprise - the last time we spoke, she stated that: "we no longer believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel". It wasn't really my intention to persuade them that Jesus was not Michael the Archangel, but merely to explain why most Christians such as myself don't believe they are the same individual, using evidence and critical-thinking techniques I learnt at university to provide them with an alternative viewpoint. It's clear that Jehovah's Witnesses can think objectively when approached in the right way.
After finding out so much about Jehovah's Witnesses though, I feel like I have a moral dilemma. I'm not saying I could persuade them that all their views are wrong/incorrect and convert them, but it seems that this woman and her friend are open-minded enough to take onboard what "non-believers" say. The woman I speak with most has only ever known her parents, having been estranged from the rest of her family from a very young age, as there was "trouble" between both sides of her family when her parents converted, and they haven't had contact since. I was distressed to find that this is common among the Witnesses. If I did persuade her, then her entire life and belief system would go up in smoke, and she would most likely be shunned by everyone, even her parents. She seems to depend on her routine and role within the Watchtower organization as it's all she's ever known.
This has got me thinking about the moral implications of trying to convert Witnesses, depending on the situation. To everyone outside the organization it seems obvious that they would be better off if they left, but is it still right to actively try and convert them? The woman I speak with seems pretty convinced it's "The Truth" but at the same time doesn't seem particularly happy a lot of the time. The problems with depression particularly resonate with me on a personal level as I share similar problems. I recognized a very negative view of other people and the world expressed in the magazines, which I used to have when I was depressed, resulting in feelings of guilt and isolation.
After finding a wealth of information on many sites including your own, I am truly shocked and saddened by the plight of Jehovah's Witnesses at the hands of what I can only conclude from all the evidence as a very cruel and backward organization, which has deep control over their minds and families. They seemed so progressive on the surface, but the deeper I look, the more it feels like they're trapped in a vicious circle. It seems that they are oppressed because deep down, their leadership knows they have made - and continue to make - mistakes, but are too proud to admit them and correct them, and this attitude is then transferred onto their followers, causing much unnecessary suffering.
If my JW friend is not having doubts, should I continue to discuss things with her if she wants to? Is it my place to continue to encourage her, even if it results in her losing everything she has ever known, or should I leave her well alone? Is ignorance bliss for Jehovah's Witnesses in situations like this? It would be nice if one day she and her parents could be reunited with their real family, but I know this is unlikely.
Despite all the controversial issues and problems, your website and others have actually helped me to have a higher opinion of Jehovah's Witnesses than I had before. Before doing extensive research, I always felt uncomfortable about Jehovah's Witnesses and disturbed by their worldview that is encouraged by the Watchtower Society, but like most people, I only half understood why.
Although I cannot possibly agree with their beliefs and worldview for many reasons, I have a much better understanding of them, and this clearly is the most important thing that your site encourages to help them. I can see that they're no different than the rest of us, searching for answers and looking to help others the best way they can. Most JW's are intelligent, caring people who are sadly misled and misinformed by the Watchtower Society. It's clearly very important to help JW's see that so-called "worldly people" genuinely care for them, aren't "deceived by Satan", and don't stereotype them as the Watchtower stereotypes us, so we can all work together toward building the free, loving world Jesus envisioned in the Bible.
Thank you for providing the information and experiences on this site and please continue to encourage freedom of expression and inform everyone (both JW and non-JW) about the serious issues surrounding Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society religion.
Thank-you so much for your observations. You've done a lot of research and you're right on the money. We struggle with the same moral issues you mentioned. However the information on this website is available only if people are searching for it. We don't distribute magazines door to door like the Witnesses do. That perhaps is one of the true dangers of the Watchtower. People cannot make an informed decision, based on the limited information the Watchtower provides.
This website is helping individuals who are unhappy with their religion and searching for answers. It also helps individuals who are thinking of joining. Those who are blissfully unaware, don't search for the information we provide and therefore they remain in the same state of unawareness.
You could take the same approach with your JW friend if you choose to do so. Most are convinced they have 'the truth', but deep down they have nagging doubts, because they know something's wrong. They need clarity, courage, and confidence in themselves to say, 'NO, I will not let the Watchtower control me anymore. I don't care what the costs are. I'm leaving.'
Your friend might be shunned by her parents if she leaves, but she might find something she's never experienced in her life, - unconditional love, - people who love her just the way she is regardless of her beliefs. That's what Jesus taught, - to love your neighbors and 'enemies'. Obviously neighbors and enemies might have different beliefs. If her parents only love her because she's a JW, is that the kind of love your friend needs? She needs to surround herself with people who are accepting, non judgmental, truthful, and unconditionally loving. That will bring her the happiness she's looking for. Of course, even though this is what would benefit her, it might not be her choice at this time.
Many JW's go through the motions of telling everyone they have 'the truth' and they support 'God's organization' fully. They might sound very convincing but they know it's a lie. They don't believe it, but at the same time something compels them continue the lie. It's almost like they're in a hypnotic trance or a dream and they can't snap out of it. They know what they believe doesn't make sense, yet they continue sayings things as if it's 'the truth'. In this way their beliefs limit their happiness, which can lead to serious depression, anxiety, isolation, loneliness and much worse.
It's interesting to listen to them talk when they first leave the WT. Most will fiercely defend the organization even though they left for a good reason. They will almost always say, they 'left the truth', instead of saying they left their religion because they no longer agree. They find themselves in a religious trap that's almost impossible to escape from even when they physically leave. Those who recover quickly, ask for help from professionals outside the organization. However because of their religious programming, most try to find happiness all alone or in association with other former JW's. With this approach it can take decades and even a lifetime to undo the damage.
You can save lives in many ways by sharing what you know. This is because you love people and are concerned about how your actions might impact their happiness. Your friend notices this and is attracted to you. Your love is causing her to question her beliefs, - even if you don't say a word. It's obvious that you're not part of 'Satan's organization', but that's what the Watchtower teaches. i.e. everyone who disagrees with them is controlled by Satan. See Two Choices
Love and spiritual healing is what the JW's need more than anything else, yet so many well meaning Christians try to convince JW's to leave by proving the Trinity, or that Jesus is God, or that more than 144,000 people go to heaven when they die. JW's are trained to overcome these 'objections' and they believe that Satan is trying to tempt them to leave their religion.
There's not much we can say to convince them of a different perspective. But there is one thing we can do. We can speak our truth and love them unconditionally no matter what they believe. This is the kind of love they aren't getting from the Watchtower.
Unconditional love is attractive and it changes people forever, 'People don't care how much we know, until they know how much we care.' When they know how much we care, we can help them to find the happiness they're looking for.
Thank-you so much for caring about our JW friends.