Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Did they convert him?

Religion is not for me and almost definitely never will be. I say almost definitely because I might go senile. If others need it, want it, socialise through it, have it in their very core, cherish it, are guided by it, are comforted with blind faith in it, depend on it, live it, respect my personal choice not to partake in it, don't spend time telling me my life would be so much better with it, don't legitimise judging others with it, don't start wars in the name of it, then it's fine but it's not for me in the same way as horoscopes aren't.

Anyway when I got home last night I found a leaflet asking me, 'would I like to know the truth?' The leaflet then prophetically asked my next question - so obvious, I said it aloud as I read it,

'the truth about what?'

Well, in fact, some pretty heavy duty questions like:
*Does God care about us?
*Will war and suffering end?
*What happens to us when we die?
*Is there any hope for the dead?
*How can I pray and be heard by God?
*How can I find happiness in life?

(It turns out all the answers are in the bible and you don't need to go to the library, the internet or a bookshop.)

And then it dawned on me. Andy's let the Jehovah Witness' in again.

He explained that he was cleaning the front room, all curtains open, when he became aware of a man and a woman peering in through the front door and being the sweet not-wanting-to-offend man that he is, he opened it. He gave them five minutes too. Apparently the devil is running amok on earth and God isn't paying any attention.

I asked, 'is that it?' How is that meant to convert, help or come to that inform anyone? I pried further. He explained that the two of them had become a little tongue-tied and didn't really put their message across very clearly. Perhaps Andy was the first person to listen - ever - and they therefore had not ever got as far as thinking about what they might actually say.

It reminded me of the time my sister and I let the Mormons in. It was 1987. We were only young and oh-so-whacky and we giggled a lot. There was certainly wasn't any conversion happening.

I know their religion binds these people to go forth and convert - but are they doing so with absolutely no expectation of any success?

I wonder what the door-knocking conversion rate is. Have they got a good sales department that researches this stuff? Better conversion from terraces than semi-detached, better in a clean house than a messy one - that kind of thing. And what would the conversion scenario be? The Mormon/Jehovah/? knocks on the atheist's (or perhaps agnostic's - give him/her some outside odds) door and says,
'the devil has taken over, you need to convert if we are to stop him.'
'Ah you have a point, I had never thought of it like that, count me in.' And what happens then exactly? I bet they don't have a welcome and initiation speech prepared (if their recent performance is anything to go by). What would happen if everyone said yes? Have they got adequate gathering accommodation for mass chatting about these important questions? Is the aim really to convert everyone - even the Archbishop of Canterbury and Paul Merton say? Are the Mormons racing with the JWs (perhaps a tally chart exists somewhere)? Would they ever reconcile with half each? What would they do with the time they formerly spent converting? Sit in over-crowded buildings wistfully pining for the good old days when they had space?

I don't think they have thought this through.

So less time trying to work out the truth and a little more on practicalities and realistic marketing I'd say.


  1. I am wondering about the hope for the dead now.

  2. If you look carefully at our front door you'll notice that it has a big deep ledge over the top, very high up. The door is already above three steep steps. The ledge is very handy to keep buckets of ice cold water in, or, if we know they are coming, pots of brimstone and treacle.

  3. As a non-religious person myself, I can't stand it when someone tries to shove their religion down my throat...who says their religion is better than anyone else's views and opinions?

    It used to infuriate me in Thailand...you would have a situation where girls have been exploited for sex, they are desperate to find a way out of their current predicament and some Missionary comes along and says I'll help you but only if you convert to my religion...erm, is that not just exploitation of a different kind? And who are you to come into a country that is 98% Buddhist and tell them they are wrong?

    I'll stop there...before this really turns into a rant...

    C x

  4. If you examine why JWs do it, it's because it guarantees them a place in the queue after the 144,000 have got in upstairs, it's not altruistic behaviour, they're sales people and it's all to do with conversion rates by doing doorstepping. I have first hand experience with this bunch of deluded fools, so trust me. Interesting to note that according to the Lancet (via a mate who reads it) JWs have one of the highest rates of illnesses such as ME, no disrespect to those with it, but it's a hard illness to define or prove, how convenient. Of the witnesses that I had contact with most of them were involved in trades such as cleaning, maintenance and window cleaning, which allows flexibility in mission work, or "lead generating" as we called it for part of the big Time-share upstairs. Most of them relied on the benefits system to top up, which really annoyed me, as there were people with a genuine need who should be getting it, rather than part time "me" botherers. surely they weren't available for work whilst banging on doors, grrr...

    Within JW society, the amount of bullying that went on shocked the shit out of me, also the way the Elder system works is largely nepotism and corrupted, disfellowship happens to those who Elders didn't like, whilst those who they did got away with, drug taking, excessive alcohol consumption and affairs. they may have eaten black pudding too for all I know.


    The conclusion I came to eventually, with a couple of exceptions who were nice people and didn't bang on about their tooth fairy, was that when I died, If heaven did exist, which it doesn't, it would be full of boring, externally morally clean but deeply corrupt and in some cases quite offensive people with very narrow minds, I would not want to share it with them. the good thing that came out of this contact was that one chap left his local hall, saying he suddenly realised that most people were fundamentally morally decent and :you're proof of that" which was a nice thing to say.

    I'd also like to add I'm an Atheist, i don't bang on about it (although I did revel in the bus campaign a bit) I pretty much always have been one, the contact with Witnesses was an odd period, I was never remotely tempted and not something I particularly enjoyed. basically it's another story really.

    be spiritual if you want, but generally organised religion = avoid...

  5. It was touch and go, but Nick...you've put me off.

  6. And my tooth fairy is still alright yes?

  7. Most of the Religions are to my mind based on Fear and Control. They play up the biggest fear being 'death', let's face it they know absolutley nothing and neither does anyone else. Then by keeping people afraid they have control over their lives and encourage the followers to pay them!

    Spirituality is quite the oppositte to religion.

    Here endeth today's sermon :-)

  8. Tooth fairy safe, will exchange for 2 pints of wherry and a couple of rollups.

  9. I do actually know a christian who really does try to live his life according to the principles of that religion. Only one, though. I think they must be quite rare.

  10. James who is actually Claire said...

    Don't even get me started!

    I do bang on about atheism and want to drive my own bus (!) as I am surrounded by christians. One recently asked me, genuinely intrigued, so, "If you don't believe in god, how can you have have a moral code?"

    The brainwashing of kids is the bit that really does my head in. Faith schools...aaagghhh...education is about teaching kids to question and think for themselves. Religion teaches kids to not question or think for themselves.

    My 3-year old daughter even gets it. She said recently, "Some people think god made the world, but you think, da-na, the world made itself." Actually, I think she thinks the god-made-world is more plausible! At least I tell her about the other way of thinking. The christians I meet don't tell their children about people like me!

    Oh, you got me started. I'll stop.

  11. Actually I think Molly posted this on purpose, she knows you and me get a bee in our bonnet about it, rant away Claire, I think you've got 800 words, do it in sections, I'll join in later.

  12. Sometimes people proselytize atheism, which seems very annoying to me. Those types should let people have their beliefs, unless they are just into controlling others, which reminds me of something Voltaire said.

  13. I met a woman in the street and she told me that God wrote the bible, so I retorted saying he must have had a very long arm - strangely she avoided me after that!

  14. I often visit church schools. I do think teaching children to question and form their own individual moral framework from self-understanding and religious dogma don't marry well. I genuinely don't undertsand why religion is so prevalent. I knoe fear drove it in history and it was the social norm then....but is it now?

    Is that all a tooth fairy costs these days? Tart.

    'Da-na' really? Wow

    No Nick - I definitely posted it by accident. I had meant to write about Andy's marmalade but it came out all wrong.

    Is proselytising atheism not just the same as proselytising religion....? The latter certainly happens, so for a rounded and well considered viewpoint I guess a counterargument needs to be sent out...yes? I am for free-thinking above all!

    Heronster... heathen flippancy with arm jokes....shocking

    Nick - your head must be full up by now. Do you have interesting stuff on everything? I am pretty sure few people could write than much about JWs. Might you burst?

  15. Nick, I think you're right about Molly posting this to set us off...and I tried so hard to bite my tongue!

    Eric - I have christians proselytizing christianity at me all the time so I think it is acceptable that I "present" the counterview!

    Molly - "da na" - well that sums up the Big Bang theory nicely doesn't it?!

  16. So much so - it should be called the da-na theory. I like that.

    First there was - well no one's really that sure, but then

    da na

    and it all kicked off. Lols is a genius.

  17. @James, well sure, that's been going on for 1700 years with countless lives lost in the process even. Hopefully, no one we know will be subject to an inquisition, crusade or anything.

    Isn't it kind of bad form though to go off ruining someone's childlike magical belief in anything as a counter to 'well, I've been wronged by some'?

  18. Probably a lot more dangerous to allow someone to have a belief which is fundamentally unproven or basically untrue, and then let them build a set of value around that core belief system.
    Like Mayans, Incas, Aztecs and Toltecs all sacrificed people, mainly children in the case of the Aztecs who believed Tlaloc would then order up some rain, this was based on a belief, only not a belief we believe in anymore.

    I'm with Claire, I have four inquisitive kids, all of whom have been bought up to question anything they doubt, the older two are Atheists, they've decided that, not me, they have been exposed to the usual everyday mumbo-jumbo at school through our rather archaic policies on religious indoctrination, I'm not talking RE here - it's that daft Blair-ite Christian worship thing, I'm all for educating children about religion in general, also from various sources in our family and via the TV (what is songs of praise about?).

    As for no Crusades, um, I'm almost afraid to say this, but did President Bush not blunderingly use the word two years ago, certainly a lot of Afghans, Pashtuns et al see what is going on in their country as nothing better than a crusade. It's fair to say it is in some ways, what with the bible sniper sights (google it if you're interested) the general Bush/Blair religion thing. There are so many places in life where factions are still fighting over stuff, Sunni/Shia, Irish Catholic/Irish Protestant, Serbian Christians/Bosnian Muslims, Greeks/Turks, Jews/Palestinians, Even the Buddhist are at it in Sri Lanka against Hindus and of course Celtic/Rangers... The Abrahamic religions have all got a lot to answer for.

    When I was a kid, I used to believe our immersion heater was an evil robot, it was really out to get me, my mum would ask me to go upstairs and turn the hot water on, I hated doing it, that thing could have your hand off...

    The point of which is I'd rather make sure people had an open education about religion and what belief actually is and be given a choice, because a staggeringly large amount of people worldwide don't have the understanding of either to make that simple choice.

  19. I remember a brief flirtation when I was seven. If religion exists to fill the gaps in knowledge for people who just won't take 'We simply don't know' for an answer then I can see why some children may be drawn to it. Shame on religious institutions for exploiting this vulnerability. I thnk it's immoral.

    I have a story worth a new comment (I BELIEVE it's worth it so you're not allowed to disagree)

  20. The best debate I ever had about religion took place while I was in what we now call Year 8. I don't know how we got so deep but I found myself standing on my bed-head, back against the wall saying "God! Strike me down if you exist!" Nothing happened for a moment and then a slipper came flying through the air and caught me in the midriff. By some miracle I stayed upright. I like to think it was an outraged proto-Christian resorting to violence in the name the Lord. More likely I was just too good a target to ignore.

  21. who is Claire said...

    Thank you Typejunky. You're much more eloquent and able to draw on "stuff" than me on this matter!

    Eric - a magical child-like belief I have no problems with. But I do object to having that magical child-like belief (which of course in my view is nonsense for which there is no evidence) thrust down mine and my children's throats and a whole moral/educational/etc system built around it.

    There seems to be an underlying idea that belief in a god is harmless and not believing in a god is harmful - it appears to be OK for religious people to have their say - as they do in a multitude of ways all the time - but as soon as atheists pipe up, we are considered killjoys, zealous or just plain "bad"?

  22. hmm, I think you all raise some valid, logical, thought provoking and very interesting points and I am not alarmed, insulted, scared or threatened by any of them. I have been a member of an organized religion all of my life, which is how it mostly seems to work (i.e. born into it) and I don't thrust my belief down others' throats and don't know many others personally that do. I often think we should talk about it more instead of just paying it lip service but I don't agree with beating people over the head with it. I think faith or belief is something that is a gift and when you have it it leads you on and gives you strength. That's how it works for me though I understand that it's not the same for others and I can see how they come to a completely different point of view. I also realize that makes me sound smug or elitist but that is also not my intention. I am trying, ineptly, to explain that religion although mad, sad, complicated, and often bad, is, in spite of it all, a good thing (or should/could be) though I cannot explain it more. I couldn't knock on your door and quote the bible or the works of the devil. I couldn't convince you to join the crusade, change your mind or 'follow him.' I believe in God and that's it. Lock me up, but I believe in life after death, heaven and hell too. Sometimes it's very complicated, but really it's just THAT simple.
    I respect your point of view though and as I said before it is logical and reasonable where mine is not, so I can see where you are coming from.
    I don't think anyone who has commented is 'bad' or harmful in their belief, or non belief as the case may be. I think this was a good discussion.

  23. Interesting points, respectfully made Clippy Mat, cheers, us atheists do get sniffed at quite a lot.

    One question: do you think your beliefs are more watered down than your parents? it's just something I've noticed with children of religious families, although not in all generations and it varies a lot from family to family.

    I do have to add, though I do think that many religious people do tend to not understand belief, which may equally come across as me being smug (because I think I do "get it"), because i think belief is only that at the end of the day, it's almost like a desire to want something to be true, like believing that particularly attractive girl/boy at school secretly loves you (not that I've ever thought like that *ahem* *coughs* etc).

    One other thing I'll add to this, is I do think it's time we followed our French cousins and separated Church from the State entirely, that one really does annoy me. believe in what you like, but having a crafty backdoor vote on things from the sidelines, in a country that is largely secular these days isn't really on.

    I'll try and stop now, promise!


  24. Hear hear...separate church from state.

    i like the way you said what you said Clippy Mat. My experience of having it shoved down my throat isn't usually by individuals but by schools (big time!), groups, propaganda...though individuals' reaction to my atheism is often quite disrespectful!

    I think I'm right in saying that the "capacity for religious belief" part of the brain has been identified and in some people it is big/active and in some it is small/inactive so that having religious belief or not maybe something we have no more choice in than if we are gay or straight.

    I know a family of seven children (now adults) brought up "very religiously" - only one of the children is now an atheist and the other six are all "very religious". Only one case, but it makes me think how this theory of the brain bit all makes sense and it is all in the genes. One out of six is pretty low.

  25. I am totally irreligious and in fact the very topic has been known to bring out the worst in Mr FF. He hates it even more than I do.

    The best thing about Mormons - Brandon Flowers.

  26. As a Mormon I feel that I've more tolerance with the views of the world than the world has of my views. I do agree however that action in the name of religion has a lot to answer for. Even so, I believe that people should be allowed to worship who, how, what or when they will.

    On a personal note...you can be in my dream but I've been in yours and know the difference. Most people aren't interested in the concept of true religion or even scraping the surface and, if I'm honest, I can't blame them given the examples set before. I do know that only those who have managed to get underneath the superficial and have a good understanding of both can make a real choice based on knowledge. Once the choice is made, people should respect it.

    A missionary can raise a warning voice but the first move should always be from the inquiring mind. My advice to anyone is to be honest and say yes if you want to find out more, or no if you don't. Truly religious people are those you can deeply respect regardless of your personal viewpoint. If you don't then you haven't met one...and yes, there are some out there.

    I enjoyed the comments. Sorry I rambled on a bit.


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