Understanding the Root of the Problem
A person under the influence of mind control might be likened to someone secluded in a high-walled fortress. Con-siderable effort must be exerted in climbing the walls (or breaking them down) before any meaningful dialogue can be conducted. He or she is in God’s organization and is walk-ing in the truth–anyone outside is under the influence of Satan and is not to be trusted.
Again, a victim of mind control could be compared to a small boy whose mother has been convicted of first degree murder. If the boy loves his mother and has been the recip-ient of the mother’s love, it will be nearly impossible to convince the boy that his mother is a murderer. No amount of factual evidence or methodical reasoning will be of any use. The child has placed all of his security and trust in his mother; the possibility that his mother committed murder is a thought too fearful and devastating to consider. He must therefore reject the evidence as being a lie.
As already demonstrated in the previous chapter, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to regard Jehovah as their father, and the organization as their “mother.” The average believer is incapable of developing a personal relationship with God; he or she must rely on the Watchtower for guidance and instruction. The Jehovah’s Witness is reminded repeat-edly that “mother” can be trusted and that she only has members’ best interests at heart. Anyone criticizing “mother” is to be looked upon as a dangerous enemy.
This type of indoctrination prevents the Witnesses from thinking objectively. It also stirs up strong emo-tional reactions whenever they sense that “mother” is under attack. Questioning the motives or truthfulness of the organization is a frightening and unthinkable option.
“Bible Ping-Pong” Will not Work
Many well-intentioned Christians, desiring to help a Jehovah’s Witness, will engage in what is often referred to as “Bible Ping-Pong.” This “game” is typically character-ized by two individuals smashing Bible verses back and forth at each other across a table of argumentation. Though it may be of some value in the area of mental calisthenics, rarely does a heated game of “Bible Ping-Pong” result in any penetration of the armor of mind control.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses generally have answers to all of the “proof-texts” used by Christians. Though their rea-soning is faulty at best, for them that is not a problem. It is “mother’s” explanation, and they believe it to be true. As long as the Christian quotes Scripture, the Wit-ness will respond by quoting organizational doctrine and Bible verses taken out of context. They are, simply put, not in an information-receiving mode. In the words of for-mer Governing Body member Raymond Franz,
A Witness may, in conversation with a “worldly” neighbor or fellow employee or business associate, steer discussion into religious topics but, as I know from experience, the thought is always “how to give the per- son a witness.” There is concern that the direction of the conversation will be one way and one way only. It is not to see if the Witness might learn something from the other person or to have any genuine interchange of thoughts and ideas. After all, that would be useless since the other person is “not in the truth!”1
Critical Information Can Shorten the Conversation
The power of mind control is weakened and objective thinking is made possible only to the extent that the indi-vidual loses faith in the claims–or nurturing ability–of the mother organization.2 Seeds of doubt sprout up in a number of ways: a negative experience in the group; physical or mental fatigue; contact with critical information about the group. Of these, critical information often has the most dramatic impact–if the individual is willing and ready to receive it.
Here again, uninformed and overzealous Christians can do more harm than good in their efforts to reach Jehovah’s Witnesses for Christ. Acting on the false assumption that all Jehovah’s Witnesses are objective enough in their think-ing to examine and weigh critical information about the Watchtower, Christians will begin to expose the false pro-phecies of the organization, point out contradictions in Watchtower doctrine, or appeal to examples of people victimized by an inconsistent organizational policy. The Christian’s presentation may be faultless in logic and even be solidly supported by copies of Watchtower literature. However, if the Jehovah’s Witness is not prepared to reex-amine his or her view of the Watchtower, the information will be regarded as merely an attack on “God’s organiza-tion,” the Christian will be seen as an enemy, and the conversation will come to an abrupt and unpleasant conclu-sion. Encounters of this kind may actually result in the strengthening of the Witness’s faith. The Witness has been taught by “mother” to expect opposition and “persecution.”
Opening the Closed Mind
Any meaningful dialogue with Jehovah’s Witnesses must begin with non-threatening discussions that cause them to open up and think for themselves. The key is to enter into the heart and mind of the Witness and plant seeds for thought without tripping off the mental defense system. There must be no direct reference made to the Watchtower, unless it is in a positive note. Ideally, the name “Watch-tower” or “Jehovah’s Witness” should not come out in the conversation at all.2
One effective method of conversation might focus on characteristics of other cults which can also be seen in the Watchtower organization. In this indirect approach, infor-mation about other groups is presented, and the Jehovah’s Witness is left to see the similarities with his or her own group. There is no pressure; individuals are free to draw their own conclusions.
Discussions About Cults
A Jehovah’s Witness will, without exception, readily agree that there are many false and dangerous religions (cults) in the world today. Quotes from the following Scriptures will be greeted with hearty approval:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.3
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even deny- ing the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.4
These and other Bible verses can be used as an intro-duction to a discussion of cult-related problems in modern society. Specific examples could be given of tragic inci-dents caused by the activity of cult groups (the Jonestown mass-suicide, the Aum Supreme Truth subway gas attack, etc.). The following comments might then be added:
As a Bible-believing Christian, I am very concerned about the destruction caused by cults. I am also deeply troubled by religious groups that twist the Scriptures and distort the good news about Jesus Christ. This has caused me to do some research about the characteristics of cult groups. Would you mind if I briefly shared this with you? I would love to hear your opinion.
The Jehovah’s Witness is not forced into the position of a learner (Members believe they already have the truth and are proud of the fact that they are responsible for teaching others.) but is asked to offer comment on or insight into the discussion at hand. The Christian may then proceed to give a brief summary of the distinguishing char-acteristics of a cult group.5 The presentation should be made in a casual and inoffensive way.
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses will totally agree with the conclusions that are drawn. As long as they do not feel threatened, they are capable of maintaining an objective point of view. While voicing agreement, however, they will at the same time begin to see similarities between cult groups and the policy of the Watchtower. Once the individ-ual begins to think, doubts begin to form. He or she has unwittingly started out on the road to deliverance from the bondage of mind control.
Discussions About Mind Control
“Mind control” is a term that has come to be widely used by the mass media. The average Jehovah’s Witness is also well acquainted with the expression. Though uninformed of specific details, he or she is not completely unaware of the general public’s fears about mind control techniques. The Christian might therefore start a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness in the following manner:
Have you ever come across the term “mind control?” It disturbs me to think that religious leaders can gain total control over the hearts and minds of innocent peo- ple. I’ve heard it said that some cult members lose the ability to even think for themselves–they become like robots. Have you ever done any study on mind control?
Again, the Jehovah’s Witness is asked to share infor-mation or insight on the problem. Any comments offered by the Witness can then be followed by a casual summary of mind control techniques as used by other groups.6 At certain intervals the Christian may want to actively seek a response from the Jehovah’s Witness in order to emphasize a specific point. This can be done by asking one or more of the following questions:
What do you think of a religious group that won’t allow its followers the freedom to read any material critical of the leadership? To me, that sounds a lot like what they do in communist countries. Don’t you think so?
Groups that use mind control say that doubting the lead- ership is a sin. Do you agree with that? Don’t you think that could lead to blind obedience?
I’ve heard that fear keeps a lot of people from leaving a cult group. Have you ever heard of any groups that use fear-control? Are you familiar with the term “love shower?”
Other Possible Topics for Discussion
Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves in the fact that they are not only students of the Bible but also “doers of the Word of God.” They are also thoroughly convinced, as a result of reading Watchtower literature, that Christians in general have no real respect for God’s Word; Christians believe in evolution, deny the accounts of miracles in the Bible, and spend little time studying the Scriptures or practicing them.7
This Watchtower propaganda can be used to initiate a thought-provoking conversation. Opening the Bible to a well-marked, well-worn page, the Christian might say,
I have been a lover of God’s Word for many years. God has spoken many precious truths to my heart from this book, and I have tried to live by those truths. Do you have a favorite Scripture? How many times have you read through the entire Bible?8
Along with “respect for the Bible,” the Watchtower points to its follower’s evangelical zeal as proof of divine sanction and blessing. Each believer is obligated to submit a monthly report indicating how many hours were spent in evangelism, how many magazines were distributed, how many Bible studies were started, etc.9 These figures are then released in the monthly Our Kingdom Ministry and, along with regular criticism of Christianity’s lukewarmness, serve to undergird the faith of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Watch-tower organization. The Christian can easily demonstrate, however, that that faith is built upon a shaky foundation of biased and fragmentary evidence:
I have always been very impressed by the evangelistic activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You must find great fulfillment in going door to door and sharing your faith with other people. It’s the same with me. Nothing gives me greater joy than preaching the word of God to people who have never heard the good news. I think that the Great Commission should be given first priority in the life of every Christian. How do you feel about that?
Testimonies of successful evangelistic endeavors can also be helpful in planting seeds of doubt. Any information of a non-threatening nature which contradicts the propaganda of the Watchtower will leave a lasting impression upon the Jehovah’s Witness.