In an earlier post, I gave you five reasons why I don’t like it when Jehovah’s Witnesses preach at me. Note that this was more than just a list of gripes. This was a list of major no-nos for any Jehovah’s Witness who wanted to talk religion with me. But you didn’t really think there were only five of them, did you? Behold! The Atheist Geek has five more!
Willingness To Deceive
“Is it my imagination, or
did this guy just let one?”
Like many evangelicals I’ve run into, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t mind using arguments they know are flawed. For me, this is the height of intellectual dishonesty (a point I raised in the last post). In other words, they know that the argument isn’t true but they’re willing to use it on you anyway. Why would anyone do something like this?
There’s only one reason that I can think of: because they’re hoping we don’t know the argument is a lie. They might as well be thinking to themselves, “Well, maybe this’ll fool them.”
Even worse is their willingness to throw more than one flawed argument at you at a time. They’ll keep lining them up so long as you keep knocking them down. When they switch from one deception to another without hesitation, it becomes obvious that they know their arguments don’t work. They’re just peppering you with machine gun fire until something hits.
Once I’ve figured out their game, I don’t need to hear anything else. If you’re willing to lie in the hope that you can trick me into believing your version of “The Truth,” then I don’t even like you any more. Much less trust you. I certainly won’t be impressed with a religion whose advocates have to lie to make converts
Presumption Of Authority And Entitlement
“If you think this is bad,
just wait ’til he’s tall
enough to kick you
in the sack!”
The Watchtower Society tells Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach with authority. They aren’t negotiating with “worldly people” or former believers like me when they go out in field service. They’re actually here to tell us the way it is and what we’re supposed to be doing about it. Case closed. It’s your job to figure out how right they are, not to point out the flaws in their reasoning.
This attitude really isn’t helping them to win me over. Even worse, when I tell them to back off, they always cry foul. “But Jesus commands me to convert others! I have to do it. It’s my religion.”
Sometimes they tell me this with a shrug, as if the matter is out of their hands. Many of them actually try saying it with an air of indignation as if their religion entitles them to nag me about my faith (or lack thereof). It’s as if I’m denying them their right to take a shot at changing my worldview and it’s cheesing them off. But the truth is that I have no obligation to put up with it if I don’t want to.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who hide behind this excuse really need to take note of the following: your religion does not grant you the right to impose your beliefs on others or absolve you from responsibility for your actions. You did it, so accept the blame.
Many Bible-thumpers like to use the old “Jesus is on my side” line so they can stand on a mountain of unassailable authority. But shifting the blame for your actions to someone else (like Jesus) is actually pretty low. I consider it a cop out. It may work on a lot of people, but not on me.
Much Of What They Think They Know Is Wrong (But It Doesn’t Matter Because They Don’t Care)
“I was not a Christian,
dammit, so stop
Almost everything a Jehovah’s Witness knows about the Bible or the evidence for its authenticity comes from the Watchtower Society. This includes all the “facts” that supposedly proves they’re religion is true. Problem is, the Society isn’t giving them all the information and a lot of it is simply wrong. So they end up with a very distorted view of the strength of their case.
Many Witnesses will hit me with some of the Society’s “facts” and wait for me to crumble. When I tell them that my own research contradicts theirs, their response is either 1) that evil apostates are filling my head with lies, or 2) they’ll just summarize the case again as if repeating it makes it true, or 3) they’ll shrug and say it doesn’t matter anyway, so let’s move on to something else…
So the evidence only matters if it supports the Society’s point of view? When the evidence disproves their beliefs, then it’s just not important. How does that make sense? Maybe I should have used a picture of Freud instead of Einstein? Hmm…
This is not how people with a real interest in the truth behave. If you can’t refute the points I raise, but I can refute all of yours, doesn’t that mean that I win? Besides, why doesn’t the Watchtower Society want you investigating stuff on your own? It’s almost as if they already know their arguments won’t hold up to scrutiny.
Hey! Wait a minute…
“Can’t you get any lower?
I don’t feel righteous enough yet.”
One of the worst things a person can do to another human being is to use guilt and shame to force them into submission. This is what bullies do to people they want to dominate. Sadly, many Witnesses use it repeatedly on former believers. It’s a cheap way of getting us to shut up and nod when they’re talking, even when we don’t agree with what they’re saying. Any Witness who pulls this one — especially when that person is the ex-Witness’s parent — is the one who should be ashamed.
Most Witnesses will step off their pedestal as soon as they see it isn’t working on me. But I find the attempt offensive. I don’t like being bullied and nothing can justify that. Don’t do it. It’ll only backfire in the end.
It’s All About Them
“It’s tough being so
right all the time.”
I’ve already talked about this in other articles here and here. But one of the reasons that Jehovah’s Witnesses can seem so desperate — even underhanded — in their attempts to convert us is that many of them have a genuine need to convert others.
Converting you reaffirms their beliefs and makes them feel like they’ve done something for Jehovah. It makes them feel like they’re more deserving of surviving Armageddon (which is coming any day now) and of living forever in paradise on Earth. That gives them an increased feeling of security. Even when they fail, at least they can say they tried. Besides, heavy resistance also feeds the beast. The harder it is to talk to you, the greater their ordeal in serving Jehovah. (Never mind the aggravation they caused you in the process.) Remember, the greater the sacrifice, the better the sacrifice makes them feel about themselves. Now they can pat themselves on the back for their efforts while looking down on you for failing to live up to God’s expectations. Hope you feel bad about it.
It may sound weird, but even failed attempts at evangelism can build up a person’s confidence and ego. Not that they’d admit it. They’ll swear it’s all about you. They’re just here to help you see the light and whatnot. There may actually be a grain of truth to that. But that doesn’t mean they’ve nothing to gain for themselves.
So What’s The Bottom Line? Easy: It’s All A Sales Pitch
“Wanna buy a Bible? Ok.
How about a watch?”
Aggressive salesmen often put a lot of spin behind the facts (which they don’t consider lying even though the customer surely would) while leaving out important information to manipulate you into buying. They often objectify people into targets while pretending to truly care about what you want. In the end, they’re really out for the big sale whether it’s right for you or not. If they can talk you into buying something you don’t want or into spending more money than you panned, they can actually say they did a good job. They love checking out their sales numbers and seeing how highly they’re ranked. The higher, the better they feel.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have a lot in common with this mindset and they don’t even know it. They will bend the truth, deny valid criticisms of their religion, and use other questionable tactics to make the sale. One more Bible study would be great, but they’ll take an extra hour or two on their field service report if they can get it. Whatever it takes to make them feel like they’ve done their duty. And why not? You’ll thank them for it in the New System.
Unless the New System never arrives, which is half the problem. How can I decide that for myself if they aren’t honest with me? Good thing I’ve been there before.
If my choice in religion is as important as evangelicals want me to believe, then I deserve full disclosure. Witnesses shouldn’t use arguments they know are flawed and they shouldn’t try to manipulate my emotions to convince me. I consider this sort of behavior unethical. If they can’t give me an honest, sensible reason to believe in their religion, then something is clearly wrong. Every single Witness that has tried to convert me has committed at least half of the problems on these lists. But why spin the facts if they really, truly have “The Truth?”
Unfortunately, these tactics can work on people who haven’t learned to spot them. That’s why salesmen use them. Now I know better. And so do you.