This post was actually written in response to this posting on the Watchtower's propaganda techniques during the days of Joseph Rutherford, the Watchtower's second president.
When I wrote that article on how I got my family out of the organization, I designed it to address general methodology only. For specific research information I referred everyone to Ray Franz's books and other material. My goal was to let each person decide on what research was best for their own way of approaching the problem of talking with their families.
However, given some requests by several interested individuals, I realized that at least one specific example may help. This way you can see how I utilize actual material and structure my questions for the family. The following is one example of the many ways I talked to the family.
One evening, during our family study, I asked the family something like this: "Okay, suppose you are an Elder and someone ask you a question that concerns them. Or maybe you are out in service and a sister asks you to help you with something that is bothering her. Or maybe you talk to someone who studied at one time and they bring out an older publication that confuses them. Having said that, here is an example of what you might face:"
Is the Watch Tower Governing Body inspired and given direction directly from Jehovah? The family in this case answered no. I said, correct. In fact the Society says that they have never spoken a prophecy in Jehovah's name. I said that some feel that they have claimed to be inspired. Now review the Society book, The Nations Shall Know that I am Jehovah - How?, Chapter 4. It is titled, Commissioned to Speak in the Divine Name. In that chapter the Society says they are a prophet the same as and even greater than the prophet Ezekiel. So, if a brother or sister or householder were puzzled over this chapter, how would you respond?
Before you review that chapter, let's make this a little tougher. The July 1, 1943, Watchtower magazine, pages 204-206 has an article called "Righteous Requirements." In that article the Society quotes the Lord as speaking directly to them giving instruction as to hourly requirements and number of times the territories are to be worked. The Society said that to fail to meet the Lord's instructions spoken through them would be an act of rank unfaithfulness. They capped this off by saying that the instructions they received had the same force and binding effect as when the Lord said to the Logos, "Let us make man in our image." How would you deal with this material in light of the Society's claims?
The responses were mixed at first. One of the children asked where I got these references. I said that when I attended the District Convention in 1971 the Society released the book The Nations Shall Know that I am Jehovah - How? And that this book still floats around. Also, the older 1943 Watchtower can be found by doing some research on various topics. I did not connect my source to Ray Franz. Also Ray did not mention the Nations book, so I was able to deal with it from my own research.
I asked them to review the material and decide how to reconcile it with what is said today by the Society and how they would help a householder or a friend from the Kingdom Hall. As they reviewed this material, they developed their own thoughts and doubts as they did with other material. I listened and followed as they worked through the issue and came to a conclusion. One of the kids said that they would not know how to deal with it and hoped they never got asked about it. I agreed with them and made no other conclusion.
As you are able to have these discussions, you are letting them have access to information. As they process the information, they will think about it and it will weigh on their minds and hearts.
Source Information: From time to time on various web sites will appear excellent material that can be used the same way to help you talk to your family. As you find these gems of information, get the references, and develop ways to ask about it without alarming your family. As they see more and more information, they will develop opinions and they will have to reconcile it within their own hearts.
This is the challenge: Find out through questions just what conclusions they come to. Ask more questions and listen. Resist temptation to make judgments for them, and most of all resist temptation to berate the Watch Tower Society. Be prepared for them to stay loyal to the organization. Yet, be prepared for them to reconsider the Watch Tower Society as the channel of truth. If they do develop doubts you will need to caution them about talking openly with other JWs and the potential consequences they face. This helps highlight the lack of freedom in the organization. Keep bringing up these contradictory materials in gentle discussions in family time, one-on-one private trips to get a hamburger or grocery shopping, or a family outing to do fun things.
THE dreadful question. Although non of my children ever asked this next question, a brother who is an Elder and a close friend asked the same question: Gee, you sound apostate? I asked him why he said that, and he said that the issues I am bringing up sound as though I am leaving the truth. As easily my kids could have said some Elder told them that. Here is my response:
"Whether I am apostate or not is not the issue. The material was printed by the Society and the questions are there regardless of who I am. I am a small person, nor a threat to anyone, and unimportant; but the questions will always be there even after I die. And they deserve to be answered. I am only asking the question, how will you answer it?"
I told my kids about this experience with the brother for two reasons. I knew that eventually the Elders would here of our studies, and so I headed the apostate issue off at the pass. I then told them that after I am gone these issues will still be there and they will eventually have to face them. So they need to get used to dealing with it now and be settled in their hearts early on, one way or the other.
All my comments allow for choice. I never forced an opinion or choice. I simply made an open door for them to choose either way, thus suggesting indirectly that one possible answer is that the Society is wrong in its teachings and history. Eventually, after 7 or 8 months of this, I took them each aside and told them my decision. This way, I set the example of how I was affected, what choice is available, that is, to leave Jehovah's Witnesses, and my basis for so doing.
It was a huge risk for me, and I was prepared for the worst. But I reasoned that at least they would be exposed to the information and have a choice. Well, the rest is history ...
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