You can meet them everywhere. Regardless of the season, day or even weather – they walk door-to-door knocking. Sometimes you can find them standing by a literature stand in the city. Always in pairs, sometimes with a larger group. The men wear suits, the women wear skirts, and by the side a briefcase or a bag for literature. This image cannot be confused with any other religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses –Who hasn’t heard of them?
They call themselves „the true religion”, „modern-day people of God”, „worshipers of Jehovah”, „preachers of righteousness” – but these are not terms you will hear at the first conversation. They believe in imminent Armageddon, or God’s war in which all people who do not belong to the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses will perish. To this end, they go out into the field, to our cities, to our streets and villages – to save as many people as possible from the crack of doom.
They have visited your home for sure. Even if you refused to talk to them, they will come back sooner or later. Their religion is growing worldwide despite the growing number of scandals (including sexual scandals). How does it happend? Do witnesses get paid for their work? Is it even possible to talk to a Jehovah’s Witness so as to get out of this discussion and save face?
I have managed to reach a lot of information reserved only for the ears of long-term members. It was possible thanks to the courtesy of Bartek – a vlogger from the channel of Świadkiem jehowy Być, a former Jehovah’s Witness who grew up in the organization since he was a child.
Bart, why do JWs go from house to house?
Jehovah’s Witnesses know that it is easiest to find people at home. This is how it is, that on Saturday or Sunday morning we are rather at home. The purpose of the witnesses is to reach everyone in the area. They do this because they believe that they are saving lives in this way. According to the witnesses, any person who does not serve Jehovah God (that is, God the Father in Catholic doctrine) is potentially at risk of losing his life in Armageddon. Armageddon itself is a war of God in which Jehovah will punish Satan and the people who serve him.
You don’t need to worship the devil during the Black Mass – just be a Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical or anyone else who is not a Jehovah’s Witness. According to them, all religions are subject to Satan. Witnesses believe that membership in their organization alone guarantees survival of Armageddon. They compare their church to the ark in which Noah and his family, along with the animals, survived the biblical flood.
A person who decides to join Jehovah’s witnesses agrees to accept the entire routine of witnessing life, which is quite specific by the way. However, when we strip the organization of the witnesses of all this romantic underpinnings, it turns out that their door-to-door preaching has very pragmatic, corporate motivations.
The truth is, witnesses preach from house to house so that YOU can witness and also be able to preach from house to house to witness others who will be recruited when they become witnesses. And so on and so forth. It is a snowball effect. You are recruited in order to recruit others. This is the secret of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ‚business model’. Although they do not run a profit, their methods of operation do not differ from distributors and sales representatives.
You grew up in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Have you also visited people at home? Did you have any plan? For example, did you write down the addresses of people who „bargained”? What was your house-witnessing ministry like?
Of course it is – I went from house to house, I was trained to do it for as long as I can remember. It was as natural for me as it was for other children to go outside to play. The plan was to bring someone to the church and make them one of the witnesses – simply put. In practice, it looks like leaving the magazine or showing a short movie that is to interest the listener. In a few days, you return and continue the conversation, expanding it with the proposal to start a Bible study. To do this, however, you have to remember what was discussed last time. That’s what the notes are for – I’ll tell you what they look like later. It was all my everyday life. My attachment to the witness routine was so obvious in my life that I knew no other life. When I learned as a small child that my kindergarten classmates did not attend meetings and „ministry” with their parents, I was deeply shocked.
What, besides preaching from house to house?
Go to a meeting at the Kingdom Hall twice a week. Until 2008, there were also small group meetings in private homes – so that was 3 times a week. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the gathering at the Kingdom Hall and some of the congregation set out to serve together. A Jehovah’s Witness has a weekly schedule filled with serving Jehovah. All his companionship are witnesses. It is not accepted to socialize with non-witnesses. For this reason, a witness’s entire life is subordinated to this religion, preaching, attending meetings, preparing to attend these meetings, and so on.
And who is the average Jehovah’s Witness knocking on our door?
The average Jehovah’s witness is just an ordinary ‚Smith’.
They are not any aliens, their lifestyle is slightly different, subordinated to a certain routine. This routine is imposed on them by the religious organization to which they belong. Their religion interferes a lot with the daily routine, this is what distinguishes them from Catholics. Where a Catholic can separate religion from private life, Jehovah’s Witness will see everything as a single block. For him, religion goes hand in hand with every aspect of everyday life. So they are a bit like Jews or Muslims who pray five times a day.
Besides, they are normal people.
You have no idea how often you meet them in your daily life without knowing that they are witnesses. In the West, for example in Ireland (where I live), window cleaning is a very popular profession among witnesses. I suspect most of the window cleaning companies on the islands are run by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why? It’s simple – this job enables survival (and therefore fulfills the basic task of the job) and allows for flexibility in time – which is what the witnesses need. Attending the meetings twice a week and going to the ministry several times requires availability, so witnesses often choose to work or choose part-time jobs. They prefer to earn less but have more time to preach and meet with fellow believers.
Does the „Governing Body” also preach like this?
Well, apparently they preach. But no one has ever seen them. Occasionally you may see corporate illustrations in the Watchtower of a member of the Governing Body standing at a stand or knocking on a door. But these are photos taken on purpose – to spread propaganda.
To be honest – I doubt that they will engage in it as they expect it from ordinary witnesses. They are probably busy with other things, and besides, they are afraid of going out on the street. However, they are public figures and probably without the company of security guards, they would be in danger. There are many people who are furious with them for covering up pedophilia and spending publishers’ money on a developer (building halls for free, then selling to someone for a lot of money, etc.)
The Governing Body tries to imitate ordinary, normal bread eaters (which, of course, they are not). They have a lot of money, apartments, fly first class, and when they appear in public, for example at gatherings, they are received like celebrities. Therefore, I sincerely doubt that they go into service like any other witness. Well – maybe in a bulletproof vest, accompanied by a security guard dressed as an ordinary witness.
Many people wonder if JWs are getting any money for preaching or standing in the street with a literaturę…
No – those we deal with on a daily basis do not get any money, maybe only a few hundred people get paid for their work. However, this is not a salary in our understanding, it is not intended to earn or get rich. The amount that this small group receives is not a fortune – these sums are only to keep alive people who have committed to devote their lives to preaching.
However, when it comes to the people we see at our door, on the streets at the so-called „literature trolleys” – they are ordinary witnesses, i.e. rank and file witnesses. These are people just like us. They go to work, they have families, problems …
They do not receive any remuneration for it, they operate 100% non-profit. Not only that – they themselves financially support the activities of their organization. It is from their money that the several hundred people described above are sustained. The goals are different – building another kingdom hall, large congress venues called assembly halls, supporting fellow believers affected by natural disasters, and so on. Some of this donation goes to the maintenance of the printing plant where witnesses print their brochures and magazines.
It is an open secret that a large part of this money is spent on compensation for victims of pedophilia. This is a very big problem in the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses. The witness organization is legally bound to pay numerous compensation payments to victims of pedophiles. There are also numerous cases of pedophilia sweeping under the carpet, hiding pedophiles in congregations. The topic of pedophilia is completely ignored, so it is difficult to determine how much money goes into compensation. However, these are thousands of dollars a day.
And since they visit our homes on a regular basis… .. is there any sense to talk to them and what can you expect?
When speaking with witnesses, you can expect them to strive to start a “Bible study” with us and (thereafter) to make us Jehovah’s witnesses.
Such a study aims to model our mind in such a way that we begin to think in terms and values typical of a Jehovah’s witness. It is about instilling a fear of death in Armageddon, and awakening sympathy for those who are not yet witnesses and who are potentially dying at Armageddon. So as you can see, it is playing on the feelings, appealing to fear, terrorizing the mind and psycho-manipulation. The study usually takes place once or twice a week. It involves discussing one of the books of Jehovah’s witnesses. It is now the yellow and gold book What the Bible Really Teaches. It is a textbook introducing completely „green” people to the milieu of Jehovah’s witnesses. The book does not actually teach what the Bible says, but rather it imprints into the mind of the listener the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, most of which are merely free interpretations of the Scriptures. It is also worth mentioning here that the witnesses have their own translation of the Bible, adapted to their beliefs, modified to give credibility to their preconceived beliefs.
Does it make sense to pursue such a study? Personally, I strongly advise against it. Nobody who has not experienced psycho-manipulation techniques before will remain indifferent to their ‚magic’. Even if we consider ourselves immune to suggestion, I guarantee to everyone that contact with witnesses will leave a greater or lesser imprint on the mind. This is what the witnesses are all about – to sow the seeds of uncertainty. Often, when they return to their interlocutor after a few days, the seed has already sprouted. If we do not realize in time that we are dragged into the swamp, then we can get involved.
I definitely do not recommend contacts with witnesses to people who have undergone trauma, e.g. depression, death of someone in the family, loss of job, accident. Witnesses are taught manipulation techniques and apply them to vulnerable people, i.e. those who have recently experienced a crisis or are looking for a solution to their problem. Such people look for support, they easily believe what they hear, and often, when looking for consolation, they get drawn into a study with witnesses – later it ends tragically. Witnesses initially bombard with love, show interest, spend time, help, shop when the person is unable to do it alone. Everything lasts as long as a given person ‚prognoses’ to become a witness. The moment he officially joins the denomination (through water baptism), all these benefits disappear. From then on, she is to become such a cheerful and helpful witness for the next ‚lost sheep’.
…to be continued…
The Polish version you can find here
 Sorry, it’s not actual anylonger. in 2016-2017, there were as many as three record-low results of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland: the lowest percentage of publishers since 1989, ie a decrease of 2%;
lowest baptized publishers since 1989; the lowest place in the world in the history of Polish Jehovah’s Witnesses.(data from www.apologetyka.info)