Or As I Like To Call It, “Guilt Much?”
Few former Jehovah’s Witnesses have managed to sneak out of their Kingdom Halls (or even stomped out biting and scratching all the way!) without being asked a question like this several hundred times–give or take. It’s one of those guilt-inducing questions, the kind that bullies and other controlling people like to fling your way every now and then. All ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses know that any answer we give–no matter how justified–will sound something like “a dog ate my homework, teach!” And that ain’t good enough. So your brain just sorta locks up. Suddenly, the best thing you can come up with is a few mumbled words about Elders or the Creation Book or whatever. Then they’ll just rake you over the coals for being a total lame-o before marching off in an indignant huff of superiority.
Then, two minutes after they drive away, the answers come flooding back. You know exactly what to say–but they’re gone. Well, you’ll show’em the next time they pretend to care about your feelings! Won’t you? Then it just happens all over again anyway.
Sucks, don’t it?
But wait! Old Isaac is here to help you stand up for yourself and your hard-won freedom of choice. Sure, you could just glance innocently around the room and then sucker punch them before they know what hit’em. (You’d be surprised how often this works on Elders. They should really know better by now) Yes, we all know how smack-worthy they can be, but I suggest learning from the Atheist Geek instead of resorting to violence against the meek.
Let’s get one thing clear first. These are just short summations of very basic motives. I will include links to more information as I find them, but the entry you see below is meant to be the gist of it all. As I talked about at the end of my About.com article for my man Austin Cline, “Coming Out as an Atheist to Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society” you do not want to make your responses to their questions very long. If you actually try to convince them that your views are correct (which you probably are doing if you give a lengthy response) then you are only empowering them to pass judgment over you. Power is a big factor in these encounters. You don’t want to give them any more power than you have to, so keep it simple and avoid using reasons you don’t genuinely agree with from the list.
Perfectly Honest Reasons Why People Leave
For exxers who feel that…
The Society is too controlling
Diplomatic response: “I understand that you think the Society is God’s True Religion, but I just don’t agree. Maybe Jesus did delegate his authority to the Governing Body or maybe he didn’t. All either of us really knows is that they seem to think he did and there’s no way anyone can know they’re right. I know you’re going to refer me to the Bible or try to prove they are, but most of your hard evidence actually comes from the Governing Body itself. Even the Bible you’d quote from was translated by members of the organization. (They know this even if they pretend they don’t, so don’t let them deny it.) The fact is that every religion on Earth has a reason to think they’re ‘the one true religion’ and none of this makes the Society unique. You’re welcome to believe what you want, but I need a better reason to obey them than anything they’ve given me so far. Now I really think we should drop this and talk about something else. Okay?”
From here, you can easily shrug off anything they say without much comment by just pointing out that you’ve heard it before or that it isn’t very convincing. If they demand more details so they can argue with you about it some more, tell them you don’t want to deconvert anyone and you aren’t interested in convincing them your views are correct. They have their answer and that’s as far as you want to go into it. (The less you feed the beast, the weaker it becomes) Many of them will become visibly perplexed and frustrated as you employ this technique. Good. That means it’s working.
It might also be a good idea to avoid Watchtower buzz words like “Jehovah.” That’s the sort of language they use, and it makes you sound like you’re still one of them at heart. This only encourages them to keep trying to “save” you. Try talking like a normal (so called “worldly”) person instead.
Hit-em-over-the-head response: “Do you even know how superior you sound right now? If I want someone to tell me what friends I can have, what tv shows I can watch, what movies I can see, what music I can listen to, what books I can read, what holidays I can celebrate, what jobs I can have, what kind of medical treatments are okay, how to vote, what to say, what to do, what to think, or even what kind of sex I can have with my own spouse, then I know where the Kingdom Hall is! Okay? I’m through putting up with the arrogant superiority routine. Really. So can we drop it now or do I have to ask you to leave?”
The Society is too hypocritical
Diplomatic response: “Don’t get me wrong here. I know you think the Society is the one true religion. But when I step back from it all, it seems like spin to me. Like most people, they’re a whole lot better at noticing the flaws in other religions than their own. It’s not as if the Society hasn’t had its share of pedophile scandals or isn’t raking in lots of cash from the work you’re doing for free. If you asked all those televangelists and other churches where their millions are going, I’m sure they’ll say something like ‘the worldwide work’ or ‘serving God’ or whatever, too. But that could mean anything. How do I really know they’re sincere? I’m sorry if this upsets you, but the Society has one viewpoint among many. That’s not an unreasonable thing to say. I’m going to make up my own mind about that viewpoint. And I’m asking you to respectfully let me do that so we can still be friends. If not, then I wish you’d leave before someone says something we’ll both regret. Ya know? Can’t we talk about something else before this goes too far?”
Hit-em-over-the-head response: “Look, I’m sorry but I really think the Society is full of itself! We’re always wrong, they’re always right, and if we disagree our families will never speak to us again. They make their millions and we do all the work. Well, I’m not doing it any more. I know you’re here to change my mind and all that, but all you’re doing is making me mad. So let’s drop it right now because I’m not going back to that Kingdom Hall again!”
The Society’s Literature Is Too Inaccurate To Be Seen As “The Truth” In A Religious Sense
Diplomatic response: “The thing is that I’ve started researching the Society’s teachings for a while now on my own, and a lot of it is pretty inaccurate or biased. If they were really God’s true organization, then I think the truth would mean something to them in every context. You know? Look at the Creation Book, for instance. People just keep ripping that thing apart. Yet they kept right on publishing it for more than 20 years! Who does that if they’re really concerned about their reputation over donations? The quotes are misleading, the science is all wrong… How can they keep doing that? You can tell me the critics are always liars if you want to, but the fact is you don’t actually know. You aren’t allowed to to even listen to stuff like that! But if the real goal is to please Jehovah, then we should be doing everything we can to make sure we’re doing things the right way. If the Society is wrong, then they’re just condemning us for trusting them too much. And that’s not right. So I’m just going to have to make up my own mind about it and that’s it. I’ve made my decision and I have to ask you to respect that so I can figure things out on my own. This really isn’t helping.”
Hit-em-over-the-head response: “Have you ever taken the time to actually check the information in the literature? A lot of it isn’t right. Not that most of us have the time to verify it with all the meetings and the field service and everything they make us do. I’m starting to wonder if that’s how they want it to be. I’m going to find out if they’re God’s true organization on my own and we both know you can’t give me an objective opinion. I’m sorry, but you just can’t. So I’ll ask you to respect that and leave me alone about it instead of making it any worse. Pressure from you is only pushing me away. We just can’t talk about this any more. “
The Society has made too many mistakes to be divinely inspired
Diplomatic response: “I know you think the Society has the Truth and everything, but to me, they’re just as flawed as any other group. The constant doctrinal changes and flip flops are a real problem for me. How can they say the light is getting brighter when they even reverse the changes they make back and forth? It’s like the light gets brighter, then dimmer, then brighter… I just can’t believe that Jesus is directing the organization this way. If all that is acceptable to you, then that’s fine for you. But that doesn’t make it seem right to me and my conscience won’t let me live a lie. I’m sorry if that upsets you, but that’s the way it is. I’ll understand if you don’t want to be my friend any more, but I don’t want to have this conversation again. So let’s just talk about something else. Okay?”
Hit-em-over-the-head response: “The Society isn’t any better than anyone else! They just think they’re better is all! I know you don’t agree with that, but I do. That’s all you need to know and that’s all I’m going to say about it. We need to change the subject now and move on or I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
As you can see, the real idea is to get them off your back. Remember to keep it short and to the point. And always end with a note of finality so they know you mean what you say. Make sure you refuse to justify your reasons to your inquisitor when they ask. This will make it harder for them to say something like “you don’t mean that” or “but we both know it’s the truth!” (Oh brother…let the eye-rolling begin.)
Leave them only one decision to make: to keep being your friend or not. Warn them not to pressure you any further or you’ll have to end the conversation. You’ll let them know if you want to talk religion in the future. Otherwise, this one area is off limits from now on. Make them this deal: if they don’t try to convert you, you won’t try to convince them that they should leave the Society. And it’s the truth if you think about it. You’ll start avoiding them if they badger you, and they’ll avoid you if you try to talk them into leaving. Right? So a violation of this agreement on either side will, in fact, end your friendship.
This is your life. Let them know who’s in charge of it.
And if that doesn’t work, try sucker punching them. Hard.
P.S. You may have to do it twice. Their heads are rather thick sometimes. All that extra bone matter just clogs up their ears when we speak, so you may have to try talking extra loud. Then hit them.
-the Atheist Geek-