S: Do JW’s welcome non-baptized newcomers to meetings? I know that the Catholic Church for example welcomes anyone even if they are simply “curious”. Is it the same with the JW’s ? I imagine because it is a smaller tight-knit community that any stranger walking into the Kingdom Hall would be pretty darned conspicuous.
Absolutely – a new person is clearly obvious. Some people attend meetings for years before becoming baptized, so that isn’t so much the issue. But new blood – all right! Everyone is very welcoming and caring and lovebombs the new person, making them feel special. They also tend to let certain things pass without comment that would get people (oops, I mean “brothers” and “sisters”) in the congregation in trouble. Examples: facial hair, clothing styles, piercing – anything that would make you look outside a conservative norm for the culture. Everyone is welcome, very welcome. But only to the public portion of the meeting, usually held on Sunday. The scripts for those “public talks” are mailed to them from Bethel in New York (I know this because my father was reprimanded for making changes during delivery). Despite all the door to door preaching it is actually a little bit rare to see new people – very interesting to everyone. If the new person is single, there is an interesting dynamic because the selection field for potential mates is so small that all the members of opposite sex immediately take a serious interest, and yet there is always a danger involved with new people who are unknown quantities in certain ways, so the older members keep careful watch. Since the single biggest reason people are reprimanded or disfellowshipped is over sexual issues and actions – it’s all very interesting to watch.
Have you actually gone to a JW Kingdom hall ? I advise you to go to one of the public meetings! You would normally be brought in after a period of bible study, but it is a public meeting (check the times on the front door where they are usually posted) on Sunday. You wouldn’t be able to pass yourself off as a witness – but if you said you had heard about one issue upon which you agreed and wanted to check it out in other ways, you could pass muster. Recommended easy entry issues: You are wondering if saluting the flag is really right- it reminds you of Hitler; you admire that they don’t vote (ugh) or participate in the military (I like that one myself) ; things are so awful in the world now you’re starting to think things might fall apart completely and you knew a JW in high school who said something like that; maybe something about refusing blood transfusions, but I’d stay away from that right now – they are a little touchy. Don’t mention Michael Jackson or pedophilia – and you never saw any shows on tv about JWs (they might actually be paranoid enough now to ask) or anything about exJWs or current JWs freaking out and murdering their families.