Letters from Jehovah’s Witnesses

Apr 16, 2013 by

mailEver get a letter from a Jehovah’s Witness you didn’t know?

Read the following exchange from a lady that did!

I recently lost my Mother. Several months later our family put an obituary in the newspaper.


Within a few days I received a letter from a Jehovah’s witness I have never met, who lives in my city saying she’s sorry for the loss, Quoting scripture & inviting me. Is this seriously a recruitment process from them? Is this practiced to read obituaries & then send out letters like this?


I am so offended by this & want to know more about this. Weird.




My response:

Sadly (and morbidly) that is the case.


Many of the Jehovah’s Witnesses read the obituaries religiously (excuse the pun) and then do a Google search to get the addresses of extended family. They will then write individual letters to each person. This is usually done ostensibly to comfort them in their recent loss but the hidden agenda is that they are recruiting.


They know that at times of extreme loss, people are more susceptible to their message than at other times of their lives. I’m reminded of movies like “Wedding Crashers” and “Cadillac Man” where the actors attended a funeral to pick up women or sell a used car. Both carry pretty much the same motive: Targeting emotionally vulnerable people in order to manipulate them.


I witnessed this tactic on many occasions while growing up in the cult.


The reason they write these letters is that they get to “count their time” while composing and writing them. This activity is extremely popular with Jehovahs Witness shut-ins and those who can’t get around very well. It is also employed by those who are full time pioneers (those who put in 80+ hours per month in the preaching work) and are having trouble getting all of their “time in”.


Counting time is what Jehovahs Witnesses do. They do this because they have to report (honestly and on the honor system) the amount of time that they spend each month in preaching to others. This time report is of tremendous importance to individual Jehovahs Witnesses as well as their leaders. It is one of the most important factors in the “pecking order” i.e. how much influence and popularity they have with the group and whether or not they or their children or other family members can “qualify” for “privileges” like being appointed as an elder or ministerial servant in the congregation.


I hope this explanation has helped you to understand the Jehovahs Witness mentality and why they engage in this questionable activity.


Yours in Christ,


Doug Shields

This was Melissa’s recent response:

Here’s what I sent tonight:


Dear Nancy,


I might be able to appreciate that you were trying to offer comfort in time of grief. But that is NOT what you were doing. You were proselytizing during my grief. And yes, I am DEEPLY offended with the tract you sent.


Firstly, because you sent it to a church, where clearly, there are comforting words of Scripture that I happen to believe in my OWN faith.


Secondly, because said church has now spent TWO DOLLARS in postage to forward your letter and another annoying JW letter to me! I suggest you pay them back. Actually, I INSIST that you pay them back.


Thirdly, because the pamphlet you sent contradicts MY beliefs and tells me my mother is NOT in a spirit world with her Lord. And you think that should give me comfort? (Yes, I did read every word of it—including its laughable dated sexism about how “mothers grieve especially for the loss of a child”).


What is the matter with you? OH, that’s right. You’re in that miserable cult that has caused misery to SO many, including my best friend in high school. No team sports, no celebrations, no singing liturgical music, no studying the great stories of Greek mythology….just endless, mind-numbing, anti-intellectual, anti-educational time-wasting as you bide your time, don’t reach your potential (because Armageddon is any day now) and churn out little obedient automatron children who are kept busy at your nightly meetings by being told to “count the number of times you hear the word ‘Jesus’”—now that’s a great way to stimulate young minds, isn’t it? You sent a letter to a church…a place that you would not even set foot in, because you believe it to be of the devil and it has all those evil symbols all over the place, like crosses.


Good luck trying to be one of those 144,000 saved Witnesses some day. In the mean time, stay away from other grieving TRUE Christians! How would you like it if I sent you a tract that basically told you that you would go to hell if you didn’t believe as I do? I would never do that. I have more compassion for you and I believe that our loving Lord will make room for all of us. So does my denomination. Yours, not so!


Imagine what our world would be like if Jehovah’s Witnesses had predominated over the last few thousand years? No great works of art, no profound poetry, no operas, oratorios, or other music of profound depth.


Heaven help the next Jehovah’s Witnesses who show up on my doorstep. Your letters have emboldened me to speak my mind.

Bravo Melissa! I have to say this was one of the most well worded retorts to Jehovah’s Witnesses that I’ve ever read!

Thank you for sharing your displeasure with all of us and please let me know if you get something back!

Doug Shields is an activist against religious oppression, control and abuse. He has a lot of experience dealing with these issues because he was an active Jehovah’s Witness himself for over twenty-three years. Doug has been privileged to help elders, ministerial servants, full time pioneers and even a circuit overseer to find the strength and determination to face the painful truth about the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society.

If you would like to have Doug speak at your church, meetup or other event you can contact him here.


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  1. Pamela

    I’ve also always thought it to be rude (and selfish) to “get in our time while comforting the grieving”. They have even recommended going to cemeteries and preaching the “good news” to those that are there or have just attended a funeral…but being very careful of course not to offend. It never sat right with me. This was a great post and a very well written letter in response to that Witness!

  2. Anonymous ex JW

    My adoptive mother is one of those JW shut ins. She writes these letters every week and expects me to take it to the mailbox. I now throw them in the trash. I also was guilty of writing these letters when younger and in the clutches of the cult. I wrote so many to the Columbine victim’s families. My deepest apologies go out to them and to anyone else I offended. What a great response that was, particularly the not reaching their full potential.

  3. Sounds like you’ve made it past the “learning curve” there K! Congratulations!

    I hope you have found some healing here. You are welcome to post anytime.


  4. I wrote letters too when I was an Auxiliary Pioneer back in my teens.

    I remember suggesting in the field service group that we use a typewriter instead of writing the letters by hand. I met with extreme resistance.

    I asked: “Well aren’t we trying to comfort and help all that we can?”

    The retort was: “Typing letters doesn’t take enough time…”

    We weren’t after helping as many people as we could. We were after being able to report “time” in the field to the Mother Ship.

    Almost sounds like a government job doesn’t it?

  5. Anonymous ex JW

    I have found this blog to be very healing and I thank you.

  6. I’m so happy for you.

    That is the reason that I write and your words encourage me to continue.

    Thank you!

  7. Bernie

    My father-in-law died recently and the local JWs looked us up and sent the hand-written letter. I found it insulting and presumptuous. What a horrible practice to target people who are grieving. The obituary made it obvious he was a very active member of his church. I don’t understand why they target Christians. The success rate has to be pretty low.

  8. It is low Bernie. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t that focused on recruiting. The conversion rate is ridiculously low around the world. Yet, because they are working for free the cost / benefit ratio is sky high for the leadership that sends them out to sell magazines and books.

    On a personal note: All the time I spent over my twenty-three years of going door to door in the Jehovah’s Witnesses never amounted to ONE SINGLE person being recruited into the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet I sold TONS of magazines and books for the organization. Did they ever once give me a lecture because I failed to recruit anyone? No they didn’t. They were perfectly happy with me selling their magazines and working for free.

  9. Hi my name is bukurie and i want to ask you something because you ae an ex jw , i live in kosovo and lately here the number of jw is growing so they came to me a few times but now i want to get rid of them but i dont know how , they invited me to join their asably each week to hear the presentations but i never went .I always felt not ready to join is that a good behavior, they sometimes insist but i always find an excuse hahah, so far im ok but im scared if they are going to do this all the time can you please share whith me a few triks that may help

  10. Tell them you want to study the book “Crisis of Conscience” by Raymond Franz with them first before you will go to an assembly with them.

    That should do the trick. They’ll never come back.

  11. Has anyone else noticed a common theme among those who are easily manipulated by Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    They don’t like confrontation and they are unable to just come out and tell someone “NO! GO AWAY!”

  12. My family received one of these letters, and I wasn’t as diplomatic as the folks above. This is a crappy way to spend your time. I’m so glad I am a happy and fulfilled atheist.

  13. Thanks for weighing in on this Robin.

    While your choice is quite popular, I wouldn’t ever use the thoughtless actions of religious zealots as an excuse to choose not to believe in God. I respect your choice, don’t get me wrong. However for me that isn’t an option. I also don’t believe in “bashing” those who choose to believe anymore than “bashing” those that don’t.

    The stupidity and idiotic actions of religious zealots and their charlatan leaders sickens me every time I observe it. However for every “insane” and unreasonable Christian I have met, I’ve been able to connect with others who are totally sane and reasonable.

    People are people after all, and religion doesn’t really change that. I DO avoid organized religion like the plague that it is.


  14. Doug, I congratulate you on the work you have done and hopefully continue to do. I too was a JW for many years, my wife remains blind. In short.. I was out knocking on doors about 35 years ago, with a Pioneer Brother who is now a Bethelite. His Dad now deceased, an Elder, his mom a FT Pioneer. He has spent his entire adult life at Bethel. While out in service, we met a man named Steve. We battled with him hour hours regarding Trinity.. Etc.. I felt defeated when we left. I continued to be a somewhat good JW. Had some responsibilities, mics.. etc. never became Servant or Elder.
    Many years and many tragedies later, loss of my beautiful, sweet Melissa, my 19 year old daughter. I battled Cancer, loss of long term job and income, my baby daughter diagnosed w/breast Cancer, my son an alcoholic. I began to question basic doctrines and “founding fathers.” I met with local Elders a few times, wrote to WTBTS and received very poor answers. I stopped attending KH. After many years of associating with “dear” Friends and Brothers, not one ever came by to see me. If they truly believed my life was in jeopardy for not attending KH, why didn’t they come by to “save” me?! As you know, I lost ALL my Friends.

    Remember Steve? He is now my Pastor! I have been attending a local Church, North County Christian Fellowship. I never forgot him! I remembered his name, looked him up and told him my story. We are now very dear Friends. He is a true Christian who loves me regardless of my faults. Although I am doing my best to live as a Christian, there is friction in my home since my Wife is a very stubborn, blind JW. I pray my daughter, her husband, my precious Grandkids will not drink the WT cool aide. They attend the KH, I believe to appease my wife. My daughter is an intelligent, university grad. Yet she will not listen to me. I remind her of how miserable her children will be. No birthdays, holidays, higher education (fortunately she attended Cal Poly) what’s the point the end is near!

    I have much more to tell you. Keep in touch my Friend!


  15. Wow! Your story is fascinating and sadly not typical of those JW’s who have run ins with people who actually KNOW their Bible. When you meet someone like that they begin telling you a completely different story. A story of redemption. A story of love. A story of freedom. Most JW’s will walk away and claim that the guy is “reading apostate material” or “has a hard heart” or “is just another goat.”

    That story of redemption that Jerry Hunsinger shared with me rings true in my heart to this day. It is the story of God’s true love for all of us and for what He did for all mankind on the cross at Calvary.

    That story makes me get chill bumps just thinking about how great God truly is and how tragic it is that so many are deceived. Of course Christ foretold this. He knew that there would be groups like the JW’s that would seek to mislead and enslave those who seek God. I was one. Yes I was pretty much a poster child for the JW’s. I was extremely knowledgeable and articulate being taught from the age of three. I made the same “mistake” you did. I started a dialogue with a seminary student and he was sincere, kind and knew the Bible like I know myself. I didn’t make my decision for Christ for a very long time after that but what he showed me that the Bible really says versus what the Watchtower leadership SAYS that it says haunted me for years.

    Guess what? Not only is your friend a true Christian who loves you in spite of all your faults but guess Who else does? You can’t earn it. You can’t be good enough for it. It just IS! God’s love for you and I just IS!

    I’m so happy for you Ed and I’m so glad that you found this blog. Yes please stay in touch.


  16. Margaret

    My mother just died and we got a letter too. Just despicable.

  17. “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”


  18. Saved by Faith

    Here is an another example of JWs sending letters. This time to a family who had just lost their six year old daughter to cancer. http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/08/26/artisanal-bereavement-spam/

  19. Brenda

    Hi Doug,
    My mom passed away a few months ago from Lewy-Body Dementia. Her care, and the sussequent loss, has been very hard on us.
    I received a typed letter from:
    (Address, name and phone number deleted for legal reasons. – Doug)
    The header read “In memorium of: Dorothy Corderman”
    Then she went into a speil of how she has “also felt a similar loss of a loved one”. Then she added some scriptural passages.
    I cannot express in words how upsettjng and offensive this was. How dare she write about our mother, track down my private address (which is even more upstetting as I have a public business!), and proselytize on behalf of the JWs!
    Who DOES THAT?!?
    I notice how she very cowardly uses a PO Box for her address, and doesn’t answer her phone.
    So upsetting. So invasive and inappropriate.
    And, by the way, I’m Christian. Always have been, always will be. Take that, JWs!

  20. Creepy too!

    I agree. Sadly, JW’s know that people who are going through a major loss of job, family member, or are experiencing serious health issues make for the best chance of recruitment.

    That’s why you were targeted.

    Thanks for sharing Brenda!


  21. petra perez

    to all of you who bothers so much the work of jw is so easy to stop them to trying to confort you.just let them know u dont want to be conforted aand thats it.who ever tell it takes more is lying,also id like to mention mr.shield i read ur post trying to find god knowledge and i see none.just attacking jw but no one bible verse to explain why u so opponent to them or why they “wrong” according to you.at least no one can denie they know the bible and they use the bible when they explain their believe,everybody did mention the letter have bible verses and if u no agree with waht the bible says then ur wrong and thats it,simple as that

  22. Petra I’m so traumatized by your eloquent rebuttal! Pray tell, where did you learn to write so well?

    Next time feel free to just pull your kindergarten crayons out of the box and draw a picture for me.

    Please keep the cards and letters coming. I know I’m relevant when I receive “hate mail”. At least I think that was “hate mail”. It was painful to read so it must have been.


  23. Edward

    Dougie, Silly Boy! Petra has been taught by WTBTS via Theocratic Ministry School.

  24. ROFL! Edward you kill me!

  25. S.L.S

    My dad passed away just in the last month, and I’ve received at least 10 of these letters. I think it’s intrusive, and honestly they just go right in the trash at this point. How do I get them to stop?

  26. Anon

    My father passed away and we received a strange letter full of Bible verses and we couldn’t think of anyone we had crossed paths with in life, by that name. So I Googled the address and it was a “Kingdom Hall.” I further Googled JW and obituary and that’s how I landed on your blog. These people are totally despicable. There are a million ways to help your fellow man, this is hurtful and angering, not loving by any stretch. This crap needs to stop. I’d love to spam every JW online with your insightful blog if I had the time. It looks like you are doing great work an I hope you continue to enlighten those who are seeking it. I literally cannot wait until I see them around the neighborhood again. I will not be rude, but it will be made clear that this letter business is totally vile. I will also direct them to this website.

  27. Thanks Anon! Sorry you had to encounter this terribly inappropriate practice.


  28. Denice

    I would think that people who claim to be Christian would welcome encouraging words from the Bible. You people sound nasty rude and insulting. Jesus was not this way. Shame on you. Like the kkk burned crosses and claimed to be Christians. Jesus himself said you will know them by their fruits. Which since you don’t read the Bible means by their works or the things they do and say. What you have said is hateful. Think about it…..

  29. What we don’t welcome, Denice, are blatant religious solicitations with the aim of recruiting converts while using a death in someone’s family as your way inside!

    It’s a lot like lawyers chasing ambulances. Totally disingenuous and to be frank, quite creepy.

    Ever seen the movie Cadillac Man where the guy goes to a funeral and ends up trying to sell cars graveside?

    Yeah, a lot like that.


  30. Edward

    What they (JW’s) are primarily interested in, is counting time! Pile into a car, 4-5 per vehicle, drive around, find someone vulnerable or simply leave mags in laundry mat, under door mats, make return visits.. Actual time speaking with anyone? 15 minutes. Time counted? Two hours x 5 people= 10 hours!!! REDICULOUS!!! Ive, been there, done that.. and felt great doing it!

  31. Anonymous

    Reasons for writing. Titus brought Paul a favorable report. The first letter to the Corinthians had awakened in them sadness in a godly way, repentance, earnestness, a desire to clear themselves, indignation, fear, and a righting of the wrong.

    Paul responded in his second letter commending them for their favorable reception and application of counsel, urging them to “kindly forgive and comfort” the repentant man they had evidently expelled from the congregation. (2Co 7:8-12; 2:1-11; compare 1Co 5:1-5.)

    Paul also wanted to encourage them to proceed further with the relief work for their needy fellow believers in Judea. (2Co 8:1-15) Then, too, there were persons in the congregation who continued to challenge Paul’s position and authority as an apostle, making it necessary for him to defend his apostolic position; really, it was not for himself, but “it was for God,” that is, to save the congregation that belonged to God, that Paul spoke very strongly in his letter and ‘boasted’ of his credentials as an apostle.—2Co 5:12, 13; 10:7-12; 11:16-20, 30-33; 12:11-13.
    .Paul wrote to the different congregations in Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica: Gross immorality was practiced in Corinth, and in time it even affected the Christian congregation in that city. Paul found it necessary to rebuke the congregation in a letter because among them arose a case of “such fornication as is not even among the nations,” for a certain man had taken his father’s wife. (1Co 5:1-5)

    Love for humans characterized Jesus’ ministry. From the very start, he made it clear that he had come to earth to “declare good news” to those in need. (Luke 4:18) But Jesus did more than talk about helping people. Time and again, he demonstrated his love for humans. For example, when a large crowd gathered to hear him speak, Jesus “felt pity for them, and he cured their sick ones.” (Matthew 14:14) When a man with a grievous disease expressed faith that Jesus could heal him if he really wanted to, Jesus was moved by love. He healed the man, compassionately telling him: “I want to! Be made clean.” (Luke 5:12, 13) When Jesus saw his friend Mary mourning the death of her brother, Lazarus, Jesus “groaned within himself,” “became troubled,” and “gave way to tears.” (John 11:32-36) Then he did the unimaginable—Jesus brought Lazarus back to life although Lazarus had been dead for four days!—John 11:38-44.
    Jesus, of course, knew that the relief he offered then was only temporary. He realized that sooner or later, all whom he healed would get sick again and all whom he resurrected would die again. However, Jesus also knew that God’s Kingdom would bring a permanent end to such problems. That is why Jesus did not just perform miracles; he also zealously declared “the good news of the Kingdom.” (Matthew 9:35) His miracles demonstrated on a small scale what God’s Kingdom will soon do earth wide. Consider what the Bible promises regarding that time.

    Keeping the congregation morally clean (5:1–6:20)
    Disfellowship any who become fornicators, greedy persons, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or extortioners
    Better to be defrauded than to take a fellow Christian to court before unbelievers
    Moral uncleanness defiles God’s temple, prevents one from entering the Kingdom

    In carrying out this ministry, they do not adulterate God’s word but preach Christ as Lord; such good news is veiled only among those blinded by the god of this system of things.

    Thank for my time!!!!

  32. And another mindless copy and paste from the not so faithful or discreet slave masters.

  33. Anonymous

    The only thing I can say about all this people is .I am so sorry for them. They are rude disrespectful and full of lies. They dont know nothing about JW they guide their lifes day by day by God’s principles and laws and gove glory and honor to his name. Jehova is his name , instead of be judging and talking with out knowledge spend some tome reading and learning from God’s word. You have all the rigth to show your incomformity for what you think is and invasion of your privacy ( talking about the letters) but showing respect and not talking about something you dont know. True cristians reflect God’s image.do you think that you are doing that with your hate comments is that what your church or religion teach you? What kind of cristians are you? I am a 100% you will never hear a comment like that from a JW and i am sure those letter never said nothing offensive all what they say come from the bible I guess God’ word result to you so offensive that you feel agreded..

  34. Anonymous

    JW do not convert nobody, do not recruit nobody and do not force nobody to change their believes. The only thing they do is fallow Jesus example and command. he did the same thing ( luke 8:1) is your religion fallowing Jesus example? Well something about to think. And yes we are very few but remember what ( Mathew 7: 13 ) what that tell’s you? And also read what (Mathew 10: 11- 14 ) thats what we do. You sound so full of hate Mr Doug what happended to you why you are so angry , remember what ( luke 6:45 ) say.If you and all that people that post comments against JW believe you are true cristians remember what ( john 15:12) say. One way to show that love is doing what JW do spread Jehova word by going door to door sharing what the bible say exposing their self to people that dont understand what real love is..

  35. “A JW convinced against her will is of the same opinion still.”

  36. Anonymous

    Just got a letter addressed to my dead father consoling the loss of my live mother.??

  37. Yeah. That just stinks doesn’t it?

  38. Anonymous

    Doug, to be honest, sounds like you’ve been scorned in the past and are using this forum to spread your disappointment with other people in an effort to make yourself feel better. You pretty much bully anyone with an opinion aside of your own.

    It doesn’t seem like your one to reason with as you’re very set in your ways. Why you have an open forum is ironic. Arguing with a person like you is a giant waste of time.

    I don’t believe any of these letters are meant to be rude or intrusive. I also disagree a witnesses main goal is to count time. Their goal is to provide comfort through a message of hope.

    If it’s not agreeable, or upsetting, then just throw it away. But to be upset because someone took the time to try and provide comfort that may have kept them going during a similar experience (i.e. Death of a family member) is honestly quite ignorant.

    Sorry you’re so jaded.

  39. I totally disagree Anonymous.

    An open forum is the exact opposite of life in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. You aren’t allowed to speak your mind under pain of extreme punishment up to and including expulsion which alienates the offending JW from all family and friends in the organization. You’ll forgive me for saying that the Kingdom Hall is anything but a safe space for self expression, especially if it is regarding disagreement with anything the Watchtower teaches or says.

    That’s why I allow freedom of expression on this blog. Anyone can say what they want without fear of reprisal. I will mark something as “trash” and dispose of it if it contains abusive speech or threatens anyone (including me!)

    With regard to writing letters to families of recently departed and counting it as “time”:

    The target always is the grieving family and it isn’t to make them feel better. It’s to recruit members and these people are particularly vulnerable at such a time. If you’re really concerned, cook a meal and bring it over. Visit the funeral home and pay your respects. But don’t write a piece of religious spam on an 8.5″ by 11″ sheet of paper and send it to someone in mourning under the guise of “genuine concern” and think you’re doing anything other than recruiting for the “mother ship”.

    If you bothered to read the responses of those who have been “lucky” enough to be the targets of such an insensitive intrusion then you’d know that I speak the truth on the matter.

    Finally, if it’s a waste of time to argue with me then why the anonymous “drive by”? Is this your way of lashing out so that you can tell yourself you did “your part”?

    Well congratulations Anonymous! You have acted in a passive / aggressive manner which is part and parcel of JW methods. You get yours in but when the inevitable sane and rational argument comes, you disappear. You’ll forgive me for saying that your words seem, at least to me, to be disingenuous!

    Thanks for stopping by! Have a nice day!


  40. Edward Acuna

    Dougie, Well put, I applaud your writing and communicating talent. Its obvious you truly understand what lurks behind the mind and motives of JW’s.. “I tip my hat to you” Oh wait.. I don’t wear a hat! So I will “lift my glass to you” (fine Central Coast Cab). I’m certain there are some who write letters with good motive, most simply do it to count time. I also agree with Anon, those writing do not INTENTIONALLY “mean to be rude or intrusive” Yet, that is how perceived by most people receiving letters. This from someone who’s “been there, done that” Good suggestion regarding meal, perhaps a sealed, store bought meal. (ok, include a tract, I suppose) Or donate $$ on behalf of deceased to Cancer, Alzheimer, etc. .. organization. Unfortunately that will not happen, right?

  41. Edward Acuna

    Douglas, Where have ya’ been? Long time no hear from you!

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