Shit Jehovah’s Witnesses Say #1: “Keep Records on Your Neighbors”

Posted by Bridget R. Gaudette on November 13th, 2012 – 25 Comments – Posted in atheists, blog, Faith hurting, Jehovah's Witness, religion, Scientology the cult

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~Bridget R. Gaudette

You read that correctly. The leaders within the Jehovah’s Witness (JW) religion tell the members of their congregations to keep records on their neighbors. If a Jehovah’s Witness has ever knocked on your door, they have kept an accounting of it, even if you didn’t answer. If you’ve been curious enough to actually speak with them, they’ve kept notes on any details that they deem relevant. Your name, sex, religious affiliation, approximate age, whether or not you were busy or receptive, etc. They’ll even note if you have children or a dog or a locked fence. The person visiting you will note the date and time and how long they spoke with you… all next to your address.

To the right, you will find a  copy of the form they use. I bet you didn’t know that when they walked away they were tracking your demographics and even the safety features on your home? If they spend an hour or two knocking on doors, this would be full of addresses and the residents’ details.

 

This is the first in my new series: “Shit Jehovah’s Witnesses Say”. Lots of people know that JWs don’t celebrate birthdays and that they go door-knocking on Saturday mornings, but they aren’t as harmless as they might seem. Some of the things I will post will be funny and some disturbing. They have weird beliefs and activities that the average person should know about since this group insists on stepping onto your private (and public) property, attempting to convert you to their way of thinking.

This shit should be exposed.

Wikipedia gives a decent historical background if you’re interested.

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What you see here is part of their system for tracking who they’ve spoken to. It’s a section of a map in a city pasted on a “Territory Map Card”. The states are divided up amongst the various congregations. Each congregation is responsible for preaching to people within their assigned regions. Their regions are then broken down into smaller territories and pasted on to these cards. As far as I know, the entire U.S. is broken down into these little cards and kept in locked boxes around the country in the Jehovah’s Witnesses places of worship, Kingdom Halls. The territories are broken into various sizes depending on the population density, but I’d guess they are around a square mile each on average. Usually at the beginning of the month, a congregation member asks for one of these cards and is expected to return it in a month or two. The goal is to cover the area represented on every card about once a year. The person given the card is responsible for ensuring that every house (or apartment or business) on that map is visited within that month by any means necessary. Ideally, at least one person from every household is contacted. If you are marked as an “NH” or Not Home, they are supposed to keep visiting until they speak to someone. That means, if they missed you on a week day, they’ll try again on the weekend. They won’t let you get away too easily. If you are “B” or Busy, no worries, they’ll assume you would have wanted to talk to them  if you had more time and they will come back soon. If a child answers “C”, they will come back because they need to speak to an adult. Where is the “NI” for Not Interested? Even if you tell them that, or even if you try to bar them from returning, you can rest assured, that they’ll be back in 6-12 months to try to change your mind. They use every excuse they can to peddle their beliefs and return to your home repeatedly. They are professional salespeople.

I was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness religion and at the time it made perfect sense to do this: keep records on your neighbors, even if they were a little intrusive. Now, as an adult female, I find it incredibly creepy. The information they compile could be used as a detailed directory for sex offenders and burglars. Think about it: they are recording when you are not home, if you are a female or if you are a child home alone. Isn’t that what “casing a house” essentially is? I’ve even heard that they have been sued for improper behavior during their door-to-door evangelizing.

If you accept a bible study or even something resembling one, more records are kept with this form:

They have made proselytizing or door-to-door conversion into an art form  They track their members, too. At the end of the month you have to turn in this form: —————->

Individual JWs have to report how many hours they went door-knocking (what they refer to as “field service”), how many magazines they left with people and how many times they checked back on the people who took the magazines (aka “return visits”). By the way, all good JWs should get at least 10 hours a month  in “field service”. Having under ten hours means that something must be wrong and maybe the person probably needs to meet with the elders to figure out why they aren’t making more time for this most important life-saving work.

It doesn’t stop there. JWs have a series of weekly sermons dedicated specifically to making their members better Watchtower magazine peddlers, called the “Theocratic Ministry School”. Cute, huh? They even spend part of the night doing skits on how to handle questions that people might ask while they’re out in the neighborhood being pushers of their dogma. They don’t play around either. Each week 3 or 4 people are assigned to be critiqued. The males give sermons and the females (who are not allowed to give sermons) do skits instead. A week or two before the participants are to perform, they are given a topic and they have five minutes to demonstrate for the congregation how this topic would be sermonized or in a role-playing scenario. I remember when I was about 8 I received the topic, “Why Masturbation is Wrong”. I didn’t even know what that was! If you did your skit badly, they make you re-do it in another week. They rail against word whiskers like “uh or umm”. If your dress is too revealing they note that. If you ramble, speak too loudly or softly, don’t have proper posture, etc. you are critiqued in front of the entire congregation. I now know this was just a combo course on selling techniques for their magazines and an introduction to brainwashing others. I will say, though, that I’m probably a better public speaker because of this, but at the same time it could be humiliating. I don’t know if other cults are this sophisticated when it come to teaching their members how to convert, but I imagine Mormons and Scientologists get similar instruction.

One of the things that didn’t bother me at the time, but does now is the fact that children would sometimes be paired off and expected to go door-to-door. These young people where also expected to keep records of their neighbors. This was seen as normal behavior. As a young woman I would have men hit on me, invite me into their homes and I could smell alcohol on their breaths. I even had a guy answer the door naked and another with a naked woman splayed out on the floor. Also, we visited all parts of town, even the rougher neighborhoods. We were expected to always be polite and generally entered the homes when invited. I wonder how many girls have been assaulted while doing this. JWs also have “evening witnessing” too so it’s not uncommon to go door-to-door at night.

So, there you have it. JWs are told to keep records of their neighbors. They practice what they’ll say to you weekly in their meetings where they are also critiqued. They use all of the information you give them to convert you and draw you into their high control group. They have little regard for the safety of their young and female members, nor the potentially vulnerable householders.

It’s really shitty that they say to “Keep Records on Your Neighbors”. You never know if/how that information could be used for harm.

Check back for more Shit JWs Say. I have also started a twitter account @ShitJWsSay, let’s use #ShitJWsSay to come up with more ideas. Lastly, find me on Facebook!

Update: I haven’t been a JW for about 12 years and after publishing this article I’ve been told that some things have changed. For example, they no longer “grade” the skits in front of everyone, it is done privately. Nevertheless, the bulk of the statements still hold true. Jehovah’s Witnesses are a high-control group with plenty of shit to spout.

~

Also, check out my other blogs at EmilyHasBooks where I talk about being an ex-JW, Black female atheist and orgasms, yes orgasms.

  1. David C says:

    True story:
    *Knock at the door
    Obviously I know what to expect, so I strip down to my boxers.
    *Hello, are you familiar with Armageddon?
    Yes! With Bruce Willis and and….
    *Ben Affleck?
    Absolutely, I LOVE THAT MOVIE!
    *Very good, but we mean the Real Armageddon, in which yada yada yada…
    I’m sorry, but I’m an atheist and I don’t want to waste yours or my time.
    *Ok sir, we would like for you to have a copy of The Watchtower…
    I LOVE ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, JIMI HENDRIX IS MY FAVORITE! Then I started singing the chorus after thanking them, but before shutting the door.

    I wish I could get my hands on that recorded document.

  2. I am also a former jw of 20+ years, I started going door to door at age 3. I grew up thinking I was doing something good and filling out the paperwork mentioned above was pleasing to jehovah and it made my parents happy too. At age 13 1/2 I had a pump-action shotgun put into my face after knocking on a gentlemen’s door. At that moment I realized that all the persecution I was taught to expect was about to happen. We kindly stepped away from the door and moved off the property, the whole time knowing there was a gun pointed at my back.

    It was shortly after this event that I started to question even more if what I was doing was the right thing. Unlike Bridget, my family stepped away from the “truth” for a time and went back only to leave again, get divorced and my father has returned again. My mother remarried a few years ago and became a baptist. All of us kids are no longer ostracized, as the congregation who have us be, as we have moved on and made a go at making it in the real world.

    I am still in touch with both my parents although more limited when it comes to my father, I believe he hides the fact that he is still in touch with all of us. I love them both and miss them just the same. I have been slowly and carefully been planting seeds of doubt in their faiths and hope one day they will see things for themselves how wrong they are about religion.

    Thank you for this article Bridget, It has encouraged me to continue writing my book and to post more about the things I have endured through in leaving the truth.

    • Just remember, you didn’t leave the truth, you left a lie.

    • Portia says:

      Ey Nathan. There is a true and just God. he is dying to have you serve him with the same passion that you had when you thought you were doing whats right. he has a calling for you in his real kingdom. Jesus Christ is Lord and I know that he is the one that lead you to leaving the J W religion. Seek his and his truth. I am going to pray for you by name that he opens your eyes even more. Get a real Bible and read it from the New testament. The whole truth about Jesus will come to life in you and desire to establish a relationship with him. The real God. The father, The Son and The Holy Spirit all equal as God.

      • Portia,

        Please save your prayers intended for me and direct them towards the millions of other people your god has neglected and let suffer daily. I would gladly sacrifice my chance at salvation in your eyes and rather see you take up good works and helping those in need and ease their suffering.

        There are food drives, clean water stations and medical needs that are in need of your time and monetary donations rather than giving your time and money to a gold sink that evades taxes and hurts humanity in more ways than many wars or natural disasters has in the past.

    • chimezie says:

      you all should stop saying shit about Jehovahs witnessess.. are you all out of yur mind?

      • Jim n says:

        Coward, chimezie. Is that all you do, pee and run. Please tell us of your fantastic and enlightening JW experience!

      • Phil Ferguson says:

        Thanks for reminding me that I have not pointed out how stupid this little cult is! I will get you up a new post soon! Stay tuned!

  3. pangolin says:

    This does explain why my ignoring them for six months didn’t work but the moment I opened the door and before they could get a word out asked them their opinion of gay marriage and then told them I was a married lesbian and they could go ‘expletive’ themselves… they never did come back. Literally. I was put on a black list and it was the best day ever. I no longer live there and sometimes wonder if the new tenants have reaped the benefits of me cussing in front of a 6 year old.

    I did feel bad, but at the same time, I don’t go knocking on their doors bothering them and telling them their way of life is sinful and they aren’t going to heaven.

  4. Brian says:

    This article does a good job outlining the steps JW’s take when going “house-to-house” or preaching.

    However, it does carry some negative bias. I myself was brought up in the JW faith. Although I currently do not participate in meetings or going on a structured “house-to-house” outings I do still attend the yearly memorial with my family.

    All faiths require structure. All faiths have certain steps to abide by so there is a level of governance. Jehovah Witnesses are taught to speak with other people, regardless or creed, gender or race. To give them a perspective that most likely is different from their own. And that is the extent of it, or at least it should be.

    From my own experiences, I have met very kind people willing to talk about the bible and their beliefs, and I have likewise met people who were very angry that I knocked on their door.

    The JW faith has many good things about it. It taught me from a young age how to carry myself and be respectful to others. To empathize and understand why someone acts the way they act before you act on judgement. It gave me a sense of community different from what you get at home, school, or through a sports team.

    Yes, there exists a hierarchy between men, women and children. And for many people, it is a now antiquated structure. But in many places around the world is provides a system that promotes community and well being for everyone associated as well as those near a congregation. JW’s are humble people that do not take a side in politics or government. And their faith leads them.

    The unfortunate circumstance may come when someone who is of high standing in a congregation abuses their status. This is an event that happens in ALL faiths.

    Getting back to the note taking, the structure in place is so that a witness is better served in speaking with you and developing a relationship. It also serves as a warning when they come across a hostile residence. The internet tracks and keeps records of what you do far more than any individual or religious organization.

    The Jehovah Witness faith ultimately did not fit in with my perspective. But as I get older, and as I reflect back, there were many positives that came from it for me. Its easier to highlight the things that may have pushed you away, but the heart of it are people, abiding by a system that they adopted. If it didn’t mesh with how you want to live your life, thats perfectly fine as it is common amongst all beliefs.

    The next time a JW comes knocking on your door, perhaps empathize with their perspective first. They are taught to see this as a good thing for their neighbors. They do this with deep heart bearing goal of teaching you something about God. Anything beyond that is a matter of the discussion between those two people.

    It wasn’t for me, but many in my family are still witnesses, and they, as well as their friends, remain good honest people. I’m sure people come across the pushy evangelicals, but again, they come in all faiths.

    • Darrel says:

      Brian: “JW’s are humble people that do not take a side in politics or government.”>>

      Give me a break. I grew up with, and escaped from this bunch and would have been a 5th generation JW (which is far back as they go). And my family was hardcore. I stood up and said it was time to put an end to this idiocy. Practicing JW’s are mental zombies. They are an astonishingly totalitarian cult right in our midst. The Watchtower magazine is brainwashing and programming written by idiots and intellectual cowards.

      Contrary to the notion that they are “humble,” they actually think they are God’s gift to the universe. Remember, Jehovah made this all for them. That’s why he gave them his name, “Jehovah,” in their title. They are his “Witnesses.” While everyone else is going to be destroyed in Armageddon and be thrown out with the garbage, only the JW’s and those in God’s one true religion will be saved. So as to be expected, along with all of the ignorance you will find with this bunch there is a strong wiff of arrogance with them. They are God’s chosen ones after all.

      Oh, and after their God kills you and all the rest of the non-JW’s in that great day they are all looking forward to? Then they are going to get your stuff.

      D.
      —————–
      “I was involved with the watchtower organization from age 7 to about 30. I had a “crisis of conscience” that started after I encouraged my wife to follow Watchtower policy and reject an organ transplant that doctors said would be required to save her life. With the transplant doctors gave her a 50% chance of recovery. Without the operation they gave her a 0% chance. The Watchtower forbade organ transplants in 1967.
      My wife, Delores L. Busselman died on January 12, 1971at 26 years of age without a chance to recover.” –Gary Busselman (The ban on organ transplants was lifted in 1980)

      • Jacqueline says:

        Darrel I am so sorry to hear what happened to you at such a young age. My father disobeyed them in 1959 and took blood transfusion as he knew it was a doctrine made up to make JW look different. And he knew Rutherford changed all the doctrines to scare people one of them is Amageddon, I call it Jehovah witnesses hellfire doctrine. Read the truth of what was taught before Rutherford and what the Bible really says about armageddon.http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/category/armageddon-2/

        • Darrel says:

          Thanks Jacqueline,

          I got out of the JW’s in the mid-eighties as a teen and helped several others out on the way (a dad, brother and two sisters). I am very familiar with their old nonsense versus their new nonsense and all of the silliness in between.

          D.
          —————–
          “A long acquaintance with the literature of the Witnesses leads one to the conclusion that they live in the intellectual `twilight zone’…. Whenever their literature strays onto the fields of philosophy, academic theology, science or any severe mental discipline their ideas at best mirror popular misconceptions, at worst they are completely nonsensical.” [Alan Rogerson, _Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses_, 1969, p. 116]

          “Thinking people would rather have smallpox than vaccination, because the latter sows seeds of syphilis, cancers, eczema, erysipelas, scrofula, consumption, even leprosy and many other loathsome affections. Hence the practice of vaccinations is a crime, an outrage, and a delusion.” – “Golden Age” (1/5/29, p. 502) (Golden Age is a predecessor to “Awake” a Jehovah’s Witnesses publication)

          “Vaccination is a direct violation of the everlasting covenant that God made with Noah after the flood…. Vaccination never saved human life. It does not prevent smallpox.” — “The Golden Age”, (predecessor to “Awake!”) Feb. 4, 1931

          “The blood in any person is in reality the person himself. … poisons due to personal living, eating and drinking habits … The poisons that produce the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood. Moral insanity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes, petty crimes — these often follow in the wake of blood transfusion.”
          – Watchtower September 15, 1961, page 564

          “There can be little doubt that vaccinations appear to have caused a marked decrease in… contagious diseases,” including “smallpox” and “polio.” — Awake! (8/22/65, p. 20)

  5. Jacqueline says:

    Candace Conti was actually made to have oral in field service on the porch of “not at home” houses. So I agree there is no protection for it”s children or female population.

  6. maksrage says:

    I just want to say that I may have come down pretty hard on StinkyPantz on http://www.reddit.com for what I see as inaccuracies and a biased writing style. I stand by that. However, I do applaud her/individual efforts to get the word out on the negative impact this organization can and does have on people’s lives. I hope StinkyPantz continues to write for that reason but I hope in the future she can do it in a more balanced fashion so as not sabotage her own efforts in this regard.

  7. Jim says:

    Honestly, this doesn’t bother me at all. There are far worse things about the JW’s than the fact that they keep notes on where they have been.

  8. Jim N says:

    I have had mixed experiences with JW’s. I had a girlfriend who had been JW. In 1974 her family sold everything for the second coming. She was quite socially damaged and was reinventing herself when I met her.

    In Mormon land, JW’s were a little more humble when they came around but then they had to compete with the constant retinue of Mormon missionaries–I could have a case full of Book of Mormon’s if I had taken every copy offered. Their noses had been bruised from slammed doors often enough and when I did talk to them they thanked me profusely for doing so.

    My last JW experience was more entertaining. I was building an art studio from a barn on the shore of Lake Superior on a dead end road. They walked up the long driveway to where I was working. We had a good old time debating what about the bible was true. They kept referring to their cheat sheets and I wanted them to find me the actual biblical page that supported their claim. The trump card I fought for was whether there were any inconsistencies in the bible–I know I picked a low bar,

    For them, being from another country, I used the conservatives-are-xenophobic-and-I’m-not approach to get them to relax a bit–I was no threat to their ethnicity. They didn’t want to come right out and say I was going to hell if I didn’t go through Christ but… We agreed that people who had never heard of JW’s, as in their friends and family back home, or in other countries never exposed to JW, might still be moral in that they didn’t want to lie, steal, and cheat. I had them at this point and we all had to agree that we, they and I, wanted peace in the world, wanted to relieve misery in the world, and were working towards a common good life for all. That I might not be saved or going to the next world but that I wasn’t by definition evil in this world. They were fresh JW missionaries as others with whom I have gone there had been more insistent that no one could be moral without being JW.

    But then another time a JW came limping n crutches to the door and assumed I liked him and would let him in the house. He had talked to the previous resident who had been welcoming but he put me off so much with his presumptions that I sent him packing.

    Tracking “sales” visits is common to field marketing. If you want to be afraid of privacy read about how Target tracks you and caters to you to get you to buy more stuff. More importantly how Google posts email responses. Hell, Facebook owns your photo’s and what you write. Now, you cant even quote an author, as in Faulkner without copyright infringement–the computer industry is running amuck in patent protection. Hard to believe the military like Petraeus didn’t get the old rule to not post, email, or share anything you don’t want the entire world to know.

  9. Jack Green says:

    Is there a blacklist for being chased from the yard by a 100 pound red Doberman? Because I’m pretty sure my house is on it.

    • Not a blacklist per say, but I have seen little notes mentioning dogs at certain addresses as a warning. They then can make the decision as to whether they want to approach that door or not.

  10. Paul says:

    I am an atheist who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness. I strongly disagree with this characterization. You have taken a fragment of truth and sensationalized it terribly. I am curious if you’ve ever actually used these forms. Your characterization is absurd.

  11. Sabine says:

    Thanks so much for this posting.
    I am endlessly curious about the details of religious communities, I think it’s the anthropologist in me.
    Also, the better I understand their motivations and their beliefs, the better I can debate them.

    About a year ago, I put up a notice on my front door, addressed to all proselytizers (I live near a Mormon temple, sandwiched among Missionary Baptist churches, and have a lot of JW missionaries here as well).
    Haven’t been bothered by ANY missionaries since I put it up, and now I’m thinking I’m blacklisted, lol.

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