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.
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.
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.