When you first find information disproving Watchtower teachings, you will be eager to share it with your family, thinking it obvious they too will accept the volumes of proof Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the truth. Slow down. It is not easy to change a person’s belief, no matter how many facts you show them. The opposite is likely to happen, your family will become more entrenched in what they believe, and reject you instead. As shown at https://jw.support/can-you-convince-your-parents-their-religion-is-wrong/ cognitive dissonance prevents people giving up what they are comfortable with. No doubt, you are still going to want to try, so here are some tips and things to consider.
In order to understand how to help a person, it is critical to know why they believe Jehovah’s Witnesses are the truth. What you may feel as indefensible in proving it is not the truth may mean little to your family. To determine what is going to be effective, find out why they believe it to be the truth. The key reasons are usually one or more of the following:
- Only the Faithful and Discreet Slave is directed by holy spirit.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are unique, such as being the only loving religion, the only ones that preach, or the only ones that do not participate in war.
- It is the only religion with true doctrine.
For others, they belong simply because of family and friends, and do not want to consider whether the teachings are true.
Once you know the important areas, you will be able to research and then respond to those. At the same time, attempt to determine what doubts or disappointments they have with the Organisation, as these are topics to build upon.
Directed by Holy Spirit
To show the Governing Body are not directed by the holy spirit, ask if they know the history of the religion. Most do not know all the failed dates, or the early teaching about pyramids and the world ending in 1914. Direct them to look for themselves in the Watchtower’s own Studies in the Scriptures, which can be downloaded for free at Historical Publications.
You will encounter the excuse that “light gets brighter”. What you are showing is that it isn’t brighter but changed and even reversed. Holy Spirit would not direct the Governing Body to preach untruths.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are by no means unique. There are religions with similar doctrine to the Watchtower, groups that don’t go to war, and many that are more effective in preaching.
Arguing doctrine is not a good tactic, particularly at first. As the Bible does not clearly outline doctrine, Christian religions arrive at different interpretations based on which Scriptures to take literally and which to dismiss as figurative. All that happens is that you will end up in a doctrinal tennis match, lobbing different Scriptures at each other. If you do manage to show a doctrine to be wrong, a Witness will blame their lack of knowledge rather than admitting the Organisation is wrong. Until a Witness has accepted the Governing Body makes mistakes, debates on doctrine are rarely productive.
If you directly attack the organisation or its teachings a Jehovah’s Witness will get very defensive. You will quite literally see their eyes glaze over as they start reciting Watchtower justifications by rote, which reinforces their indoctrination. Nor will you be able to get a Witness to look at information on the Internet, as they have been conditioned to believe it is all lies from bitter apostates.
The most effective approach is the Socratic method of asking questions. Ask a question on an interesting topic, listen to their answer and offer an alternative point of view. If they are unaware of Watchtower history or doctrine, show them directly from a Watchtower publication.
Stick to a single topic per discussion. A Witness will side track the discussion when a difficult question is raised, so stay firm in keeping the conversation on track. If a statement is made that you know is not true, ask for evidence. You are not trying to win an argument, but to make them think.
If your family were born into the religion, most important is to make them recognize that the main reason there are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is because they were raised as one. If they were raised a Mormon, then they would be equally convinced that Mormons are the truth. Ask them to imagine being raised a Mormon. Do they think they would have ever changed to being a Witness? If they were studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses and found out that the Watchtower falsely taught that the end would be in 1914, or that Abraham was going to be resurrected in 1925, would they have converted?
You will get very emotional during these discussions, as a Witnesses stubborn refusal to accept logic is infuriating. Becoming upset just reinforces the Witness notion that you are unhappy with where you are. Try to stay light hearted and calm. If things get heated, walk away and save the conversation for another day. Nothing good will come of an emotional outburst.
The Risk You Take
People belong to a religion for the community it offers, and the hope of an afterlife. If you prove to your family the Watchtower is flawed, they will ask Where Else Would I Go? Take away their belief, and they lose hope for the future, and their entire group of friends and family. Many will admit they don’t care it the teachings are not true, they are happy where they are.
Before choosing to confront family, be aware you risk destroying any relationship you have left with them. Test the waters by being subtle in your initial approach. If the discussions become heated and unreasonable you are unlikely to be successful and it may be more important in the long term to try and retain some form of relationship instead of proving the religion to be wrong.
You are attempting to assist a person that is constantly being subjected to standard mind control techniques. A Jehovah’s Witness is inoculated against criticism of their religion. They are constantly warned against apostates and are always on guard. As soon as you make known your doubts, or mention anything negative about the Watchtower, their defences will immediately spring to action. Logic is not effective to a person that fears criticism as an affront from Satan.
- Do not be critical of Jehovah’s Witnesses as people. It is Watchtower teachings and practices that are the issue.
- Do not present “apostate” information. Discuss topics for research and consideration, using neutral sources such as Watchtower publications and encyclopaedias. This will require preparation and knowledge on the subject matter.
- Be respectful of the other person and their beliefs. Heated emotional discussions prevent logical thinking. Leave the conversation for another time if either party becomes angry and aggressive.
- Use questions in preference to statements. People are convinced by conclusions they have reached themselves.
- Be patient, as it can take weeks, months or even years for a person to change.