The Orlando Sentinel blog posted a tiny blurb in their “Religion World” section about Jehovah’s Witnesses called Jehovah’s Witness magazine is world’s most widely read. What makes the blurb interesting? Post number 1 was by someone called LeavingWT. It was a short comment about things he (or she) doesn’t like about Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society. Just three days later, and there’s already a full page of comments far longer than the original blurb, with Witnesses and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses debating about the organization and it’s practices. None of these comments have anything to do with the Watchtower magazine’s readership, of course. Soon, there will probably be pages of comments unless the web site cuts them off. But the thing I found really interesting (and worth mentioning here) is the debate tactics used on both sides.
(BTW, you can read the full article the Orlando Sentinel was referring to here. It is really, painfully long. If you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it will probably bring a tear of pride to your eye. If you’re an exxer like me, you may feel tempted to roll your eyes and wonder if the claim to “most widely read magazine” is actually held by the Watchtower magazine or not. If it is, fine, I just want to know if it’s really true or if it’s just one of the things the Society thinks is true. I suspect this claim is based on the number of “lands” the magazine is being distributed in rather than the actual number of readers. But then, I couldn’t get through the whole article, so…what do I know?)
The first post, from LeavingWT, follows:
Their message, in 180 languages, is the same: God is soon going to execute every living person on the planet, except Jehovah’s Witnesses. They also actively encourage people to reject life-saving medical treatment involving some common blood products such as plasma and red cells.
Then someone calling himself Jono posted this reply about 6 and half hours later:
The first comment here is obviously biased. Jehovah, the God of the Bible promises Armageddon do destroy a wicked world and Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that we are God’s people because we undertake the spirit directed world wide preaching work hence the success – it’s spirit backed. read Matthew 24:14 – . As regards blood refusal any Jehovah’s Witness will explain this to you FROM THE BIBLE. So Jehovah destroyed a world in ancient times but save 8 including Noah and his family…….why should he tolerate the murders, hatred, violence, pornography, war etc etc etc in our day? Please listen to the Witnesses and as regards salvation that belongs to Jehovah to decide but as a former Irish catholic that was lied to about Gods Kindom, where the dead go and their blessing war including priests involved in the IRA etc etc. I am proud to be a Witness of the only true God JEHOVAH.
LeavingWT’s comment was a lot better than Jono’s response in my opinion. Not because I’m an ex-Witness and I automatically favor comments by Watchtower critics (honest!) but because LeavingWT gave us the facts and allowed us to draw our own conclusions about the Society. To be fair, there was some bias in how his comments were worded. LeavingWT used words like “execute” instead of “kill.” But this is nothing compared to the bias in Jono’s response. And LeavingWT’s comments were all factually true. I’m not so sure about some of Jono’s.
First, Jono tells us that LeavingWT is biased (implying that we shouldn’t listen to LeavingWT at all) then more or less agrees with the first fact LeavingWT gave us.
The first comment here is obviously biased. Jehovah, the God of the Bible promises Armageddon do destroy a wicked world and Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that we are God’s people because we undertake the spirit directed world wide preaching work hence the success
So Jono merely rephrases LeavingWT’s comment in a nicer way as if this is actually a correction of LeavingWT’s original statement. But it isn’t. Not factually, at any rate. In reality, Jono simply doesn’t like LeavingWT’s characterization of this doctrine and chose to restate it his way, which is what many Witnesses do in my experience.
“No,” they’ll often say, “it’s like this…” and then they’ll rephrase the exact same thought you just told them only they’ll try to make it shine a little brighter somehow. (Let’s get that turd polished, people!)
Note: When Witnesses do things like this, it’s always good to call them on it. Ask them what the factual difference is between your statement and their rephrasing of it. Then wait for them to admit there isn’t any.
Then Jono asserts that the magazine’s wide distribution is proof that the worldwide work is spirit backed. As if that had nothing to do with the fact that the magazine is produced and distributed with free labor, or that many of the 180 countries cited are populated by nothing more than a handful of Jehovah’s Witnesses who can only canvas a tiny fraction of that nation’s people. Yeah, God is the only reasonable explanation for that. Personally, I think you need more than 1 subscriber in an entire country before you can say you’ve truly spread your publication to that “land.” Don’t you?
If Publisher’s Clearing House sent one salesman to every country in the world and only sold one copy of one publication to one person in that country, they could still also claim to have the most widely distributed publications on planet Earth with this sort of thinking. I’m not so sure that’s the way to go.
Anyway, back to Jono’s comments.
As regards blood refusal any Jehovah’s Witness will explain this to you FROM THE BIBLE.
Once again, Jono hasn’t contradicted anything that LeavingWT said. Instead, Jono is trying to excuse the policy of blood refusal by turning to the Bible (or should I say THE BIBLE…hello!) as a source of authority. But so what? Millions of Christians disagree with the Society’s interpretation here. And who said the Bible is an authority on reality or morality? Jono assumes everyone will agree with his belief that the Bible was inspired by God and carries the weight of godly authority. As an atheist, I don’t believe it is. So his assertion doesn’t impress me. All I see are people being denied life saving medical treatments on what-to me-is little more than a whim.
Jono then returns to the subject of Armageddon. He now assumes that he has successfully convinced his readers that Armageddon is imminent and moves right on to making excuses for God’s decision to kill billions of people. How? By citing the global flood in Noah’s time. Because doing it twice is twice as nice, I guess?
So Jehovah destroyed a world in ancient times but save 8 including Noah and his family…….why should he tolerate the murders, hatred, violence, pornography, war etc etc etc in our day? Please listen to the Witnesses and as regards salvation that belongs to Jehovah to decide but as a former Irish catholic that was lied to about Gods Kindom….
Yeah, so what if Jehovah did kill nearly every living thing in the world. I mean, hey … there was pornography. And murders. And stuff like that. (I’m wearing my smarmy hat today…) Then he hits us with the big sell and asks us to listen to Jehovah’s Witnesses so we won’t be executed killed by God. Oh, and the Irish Catholics are a bunch of liars. Amen. Thanks for the warning, Jono.
There were more comments after these. I even made one. (Tee hee hee.) The point is that if you have to defend your decision to leave the Watchtower Society against Witness friends and family, it helps to be on the ball. Listen to what they’re saying. A lot of it is just rhetorical smoke and mirrors. Sometimes, they’re literally trying to correct your view of a doctrine or policy by simply rephrasing it their way. So when Jehovah’s Witnesses use lame tactics in a debate, call them on it. Interrupt them if you have to. Make them aware that what they just said failed to make an impression on you instead of allowing them to assume you agree. Sometimes, they already know this. You just have to make sure they know you’re paying attention.