Mark Sanderson makes an emotional appeal for inactive ones to return
Mark Sanderson makes an emotional appeal for inactive ones to return

Last night I was contacted by one of my Facebook friends who was facing a dilemma.

They had themselves been approached by a believing relative regarding the November JW Broadcasting episode, hosted by Mark Sanderson.

This new episode revisits the “Return to Jehovah” theme from the brochure release at the last convention, and beckons inactive ones to come “home” through a dramatic series of experiences and re-enactments – deliberately playing on the emotions rather than answering any intellectual concerns or factual objections.

Empowered by this overt propaganda, it seems some Witnesses are wasting no time in contacting their estranged family members to relay the Governing Body’s message, and this person asked me how they should reply.

I would never issue a script for this sort of situation, because I actually think it is far more compelling when individuals express themselves authentically on such important subjects. That said, here is how I would respond if I were asked to watch the latest broadcast and/or asked to come “home” to “Jehovah’s organization”…

I am touched that you have thought of me, but you should know I am already familiar with the latest JW Broadcasting episode and its message. My particular problem, shared by many who were raised as Witnesses, which this video does not address, is that I don’t believe the claims made by the Governing Body to be true. I cannot come “home” to any organization that teaches untrue things – especially to children. If you are convinced it is “the truth,” then please show me the evidence and I will request a bible study and start attending meetings. If you cannot show me evidence, or you tell me it’s all down to having enough “faith,” then you have to accept that your religious beliefs are no more substantiated than those taught by any other religion. I want to take this opportunity to let you know that I love you and think about you often and the happy times we shared together, and I hope that eventually your own hunger for truth will lead you to do objective research rather than simply accept everything you are told in one organization’s books, magazines and videos.

Obviously, due to the threat of shunning, most inactive Witnesses who are approached by family members will be prevented from being quite so honest. Any kind of statement such as the above that refutes the religious claims of the Governing Body would be responded to with severe punishment through shunning.

But if you are able to be honest with your relatives, perhaps because they already know how strongly you feel, or because you are, like me, disassociated (or disfellowshipped), I hope you will find the above response useful.

Harmful policies such as child abuse, shunning and blood transfusions aside, the reason we don’t go back is because it simply isn’t true. If we stick to that argument and refuse to be swayed or sidetracked by appeals to emotion, there’s a sliver of a chance that a friend or relative who is intellectually honest enough might start asking the hard questions themselves.









The emotional beckoning of the inactive was not the only disturbing feature of the November broadcast. I will be addressing other issues, such as the segment on the Typhoon Haiyan video, in my next JW Broadcasting rebuttal which should be available at some point over the next three weeks. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified about this and other new videos.

258 thoughts on “My response to Mark Sanderson’s “come home to Jehovah” November broadcast

  • November 9, 2015 at 8:51 am

    My family was excited to tell me about the convention release at the time and again with this November broadcast. Albeit via my believing non-DF’d wife.

    I happen to be DF’d you see. Not for any noble cause of my conscience mind you. Well I guess you could say that it was due to my conscience and in some ways noble but it just wasn’t regarding my feelings about doctrine but rather my own hypocrytical conduct.

    Nevertheless I find it interesting how my family would like to steer me in the direction of these “come home” messages and entirely miss the point that they are not directed a DF’d individuals. The fact is that WT and the GB do very little to help DF’d people because they do not feel responsible for them in the least manner.

    • November 9, 2015 at 9:19 am

      I hear you. My son was df’d 6 years ago and he has never seen hide or hair of an elder. Not that he is upset at this. One of the scriptures they throw at you about associating with df’d ones is 1 Cor 5. We all know it by heart. Someone on here kindly pointed out that it say ‘Quit mixing in company with anyone called a ‘brother’. On asking an elder if my df’d son is still a brother? he said no. So in that regard he is someone on the ‘outside’. Now Jesus himself ate with these ones and conversed with them so who are the GB and the elders to tell us to not. Are they above Jesus? Of course they would say it is the principal – ugh I hate that word.

      • November 11, 2015 at 8:31 am

        Flawless reasoning and very practical.
        Even modern WTS publications admit that we as humans have to show normal human kindness/decency to ALL individuals. The WTS however, generally limits that to exceptional circumstances unfortunately (like a D’FFED person whose car has broken down in the rain and needs a lift, is the example that comes to mind).
        Last time I looked (although this could vary from country to country), it was common human decency (or manners) to say “hello” to someone as you pass them in the street. It’s absolutely ridiculous for the modern WTS to expect ‘avoid total eye contact’ and not to even say “hello”, especially when we know the context of ancient Hebrew/Arabic greetings and how drawn out they were.
        I prefer to use my own God-given criteria of human decency and manners on the subject. Plus a great WT to use to help ‘over-zealous’/self-righteous individuals on the subject is one that you can still find on the latest “WT Library”: w74 8/1 pp. 466-473 Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint
        Toward Disfellowshipped Ones.
        “there is a parallel danger… of going too far in the other direction, going from laxity to rigidity and hardness… elders, as well as individual members of a congregation, therefore, ought to guard against developing an attitude approaching that which some Jewish rabbinical writers fomented toward Gentiles in viewing them as virtual enemies. It is right to hate the wrong committed by the disfellowshipped one, but it is not right to hate the person nor is it right to treat such ones in an inhumane way.
        …not all who slip into a sinful
        way become ‘deceivers and antichrists.’ …
        What, however, of the one who has been disfellowshipped for being that kind of person but who thereafter, either at an early point or at a later point in time, gives consistent evidence of discontinuing such wrong practice, stopping it? Can it be said that he or she still “is” a fornicator or whatever type of wrongdoer such a one was that caused him or her to be as “leaven” toward the congregation?…
        Since blood and marital relationships are not dissolved by a congregational disfellowshipping action, the situation within the family circle requires special consideration…
        As to disfellowshipped family members (not minor sons or daughters) living outside the home, each family must decide to what extent they will have association with such ones. This is not something that the congregational elders can decide for them. What the elders are concerned with is that “leaven” is not reintroduced into the congregation through spiritual fellowshipping with those who had to be removed as such “leaven.” Thus, if a disfellowshipped parent goes to visit a son or daughter or to see grandchildren and is allowed to enter the Christian home, this is not the concern of the elders…
        Holding to the Scriptures, neither minimizing what they say nor reading into them something they do not say, will enable us to keep a balanced view toward disfellowshipped ones.”

        I thought the penultimate paragraph was very insightful. The elders do NOT have the right to tell anyone what to do within the family circle, full stop, end of!

        • November 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

          Thanks Joe :) I’m going to go look that article up. I love spending time with my son now. He is a wonderful son and human being. I no longer care what the WT says. He has more humility in him than most of our elders put together.

  • November 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Great Point Tara

  • November 11, 2015 at 2:20 am

    The “principle” subtitute my belief, my opinion,(pious of course),my right to tell you you are wrong. All coded speech jdubs use. We are seasoned travellers in jw dictionary land.rl

    • November 11, 2015 at 9:06 am

      remember those cads we used to play with as kids…. this card trumps yours etc etc. The word ‘Principal’ is used in the same way by the WT. Principal trumps your logic. End of conversation.

  • November 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    [off-topic/evangelical comment removed, visitor blocked]

  • November 12, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Hi guys,

    I haven’t worked my way through all the 250+ responses, so maybe I am being redundant here:

    Has anyone noticed Sanderson’s “impossible” exegesis (which, in fact, is JW.ORG-eisegesis instead of exegesis) of John 6,44 around minute 23?

    “By means of the preaching work …, Jehovah draws us to his son AND TO HIS ORGANIZATION.”

    Yeah, of course, here we go again: The golden calf / the holy cow ORGANIZATION.

    For the life of it, I cannot perceive even the slightest hint in John 6,44 pointing to an “organization.” Can you, dear fellow critical thinkers? Where does it say this? Am I blind, dumb, stupid? Out of which thin air, which vacuum, is Sanderson cutting this “organization”-idea? Ooooh yes – of course, I am not part of the only chosen ones, God’s only channel of today, the 7 divinely inspired excellences by their own graces. Only THEY can interpret the Scriptures, and have special insights (New Light) that is hidden from the eyes of us non-inspired blockheads. Only thei can read – all others are illiterate.

    Next: The same applies to “the preaching work.” All I know is that Jesus Christ / the Scriptures do teach this:

    “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14,26. It is by means of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit ALONE – not by some manmade, org-propaganda canvassing, or by an org, that The Almighty is teaching humans. I do know about an entity called “The Body of Christi”, of which it is said JESUS (not an imperrect GB) is its head.

    Mr Sanderson: Keep on dreaming. We critical thinkers rather go by what the Bible REALLY teaches. As to your phantasy-theology: Read 1 Cor 4,6, and think about it.

    A free thinker.

    • November 12, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Have just sat looking at the scripture from my ‘old’ NWT waiting for the hidden words to appear – like those pictures you stare at and something emerges…. nope nothing, and I’m usually good at them. This is ‘hidden’ proof that the numpties are clutching at straws… maybe it’s all the hidden gas under the new HQ that is getting to them.

  • November 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

    This is the letter I’ve composed for my former mother-in-law (former because I’m widowed, not divorced). I’d welcome any comments or feedback or suggestions for improvement. It was, to a great extent, the heartless way I was treated as a widow that helped to open my eyes. Many, many thanks for Cedars’ posting of the training video for elders who were dealing with a young widow – it was one of the last straws for me! (I bit the insides of my cheeks so hard while watching it, years ago, that it took them three days to heal.) And now I’ve managed to find truly supportive people and heal greatly, but that’s beside the point. Here is my letter, so far:

    I appreciate your care and concern in suggesting that I listen to the November JW Broadcasting episode. I listened to it, but as I expected, it did not address any of the reasons why I stopped going to meetings. Quite simply, I did not drift away. I did not stop going to meetings until Jehovah very clearly answered a prayer in such a way that I could not deny that the indication was that I needed to stop (I was actually praying for the strength to keep going). It was a conscious choice, to humbly follow the direction I’d been given, even though I didn’t understand it at the time. It was difficult to stop, it felt so strange to not be there! It was months before I could bring myself to do anything else during the meeting times. But stepping back and reexamining everything objectively helped me to recognize that my way of life for the last 20+ years had not been living up to its promises and had, despite my best efforts, only served to make my life (and my family’s lives) worse, not better. I began to see that almost everything I’d ever been taught was a lie and I began to have hope that, despite what I’d been told so many times, there simply had to be something better. I gradually began to venture out, and found that, truly, there is! I slowly began to lose all of the fears and unfounded prejudices about the world that I’d been taught from childhood on, and began to see people for who they really are. I began to learn about the psychological techniques of “undue influence” and to recognize how they’d been used on me by the organization my entire life. The process of unraveling that influence on my thinking and personality took a lot of work and effort, but it has been well worth it. So many others I’ve talked to who have gone through a similar process have described it as “waking up”, and that’s truly what it feels like. I’ve experienced an incredible amount of healing, an incredible amount of personal growth, and I feel as though I’ve finally healed my relationship with God and deepened it in ways that would not have been possible within the organization. I would never now go against Jehovah and deny all of the many blessings I’ve received since I stopped attending meetings and become more open to His directions in my life, no matter what it is. I’ve met truly wonderful people whose friendship I never need to worry about losing due to something so minor as having a different experience or belief about life. I am thrilled to be with people who embrace differences and diversity, rather than those who enforce conformity in thought and behavior. I am thrilled to be completely accepted for who I truly am, and to know that I have the support of loving friends to grow to be the best, most fulfilled version of myself possible. I can’t even tell you how joyous it is to know that I never again need to feel pressured to somehow make myself smaller in order to fit into someone else’s box. Because that’s what the thought of “going back” feels like to me, and I can’t imagine ever wanting to make myself smaller ever again!

    • November 12, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Or maybe I should make it much shorter and simpler? Something like this?

      I appreciate your care and concern in suggesting that I listen to the November JW Broadcasting episode. I guess I just can’t see why I would ever want to go back to a system/organization that failed me so badly on multiple occasions, nor why I would ever want to go door to door recommending such a failure of an organization to other people, especially since I’m so much happier and more fulfilled in my life as it is now.

      • November 12, 2015 at 2:16 pm

        I understand this. I have gone over and over in my mind what I was going to say to the elders when confronted by them about attending my df’d sons wedding. I had scriptures rehearsed etc etc. In the end I said ‘My conscience is clear’. They had little to come back on. I learned on here that the less you give them the better it is. The more rope they have the bigger the noose around your neck. I’ve leaned that I do not have to explain myself to these men. Jesus is my mediator not 7 men in New York.

        • November 12, 2015 at 2:33 pm

          Mind shadow 71,

          What a beautifully written, heartfelt letter. Whether you send it or not, it helps verbalise the feelings of what some can’t put into words.

          I’m glad you posted it.

        • November 13, 2015 at 8:16 pm

          “My conscience is clear”. – How simple! I love it, this will be my response to any questions or off comments directed my way regarding the fact that I no longer attend meetings and refuse to agree with any statements said that back god’s so called organisation.

      • November 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        @Mindshadow71, I think both your replies to your former mother-in-law are perfect. Maybe some day you will tell us what happened in your case when you lost your husband. You’re talking about that horrible elder’s video was telling when it comes to just how clueless the Watchtower Society is when it comes to dealing with our human emotions. The elders are not therapists and they are led to believe from the Society that all they have to do is repeat a few scriptures that we all know from rote and that is supposed to “fix” us and they can walk away with a clean conscience and not look back and then wonder what they might have done differently when we either walk away or commit suicide.

        What it did for me when they ignored what I was going through, was for me to search for some kind of “help” on the internet and that is when I first stumbled onto jwsurvey and Lloyd’s videos, which opened my eyes and freed my mind of Watchtower indoctrination.

        In a way, I am glad that the elders didn’t help me in my worst time of need because if they had not ignored me like they did, I might still be entrapped in the lies of the Watchtower Society, suffering from a guilty conscience because no matter how much I did, I never felt good enough.

        I remember several years ago in service telling an older pioneer sister that I suffered from depression in the winter and she suggested I get one of those lamps that is supposed to help with depression but I came right out and told her that the only time that I feel depressed is on Thursday night because I knew that I would have to get myself dressed and go to the meetings and that was the honest to god truth and I wasn’t ashamed to say it.

        How many of us suffered from depression because of always having to get ourselves dressed and having to go out again and again with no let up and then having to sit through those long boring meetings where they would always be hammering away at how much more we should be doing than what we were doing and never having a week-end where if we didn’t go in service, we’d suffer from a guilty conscience? I felt pity for the Watchtower Society thinking they weren’t getting enough money either and now I am glad they aren’t getting enough money so hopefully it collapses on itself one day.

        Since I left all that, I finally feel good about myself. I love being able to do what I want to do and when I want to do it and not having to worry about how I am dressed or what movie I want to see. I have told several people that since I stopped going to meetings, I am the happiest I have been in 50 years.

        One time the presiding overseer said to me (when I believed) that the only reason people don’t become Witnesses is because they are too lazy and I agreed with him. I am sure that is what they think about me now, but I don’t care what they think. I know it’s not because I am “lazy”.

        The Society wants everybody to think that if we stop going in service or meetings, it’s because we are lazy but the fact of the matter is, they who are fools. They are spending all that time and money for a publishing company and not for God like they think they are. They are working hard for sure, but for what??? Can you imagine going to work for a company for years and years and never asking for a paycheck? How stupid can you be? Their paycheck is the New World.

        It’s just as Satan said to God about Job, that the only reason people would serve God is for the reward. Satan was so right when it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

      • November 19, 2015 at 4:42 am

        To Mindshadow71. Those are both great letters. I think it depends who you are talking to and the person you are sending it to as to which one is the best to send.
        I can relate to the very thoughts you express especially why would I go back to an organization or religion that has failed me and so may others repeatedly and does not allow any free expressions of thought and How could I go door-door and recommend this religion to others. Besides all of this NOT ONE prophecy in 125 years that they have uttered has come true not one?

    • November 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind feedback and responses! Tara makes a great point about not giving them any more rope than necessary. And Grace is right, whether I send it or not, it was very therapeutic to write. Possibly partly prompted by the fact that I was supposed to have dinner with an old friend, an elder whom I haven’t seen in years, who would be passing through town last night (his plans changed and the dinner was canceled). I suspected that he’d try to persuade me to “come home”, too. Ah, well – I think maybe I’ll send something even shorter than my short one here to my former mil, mainly to thank her for her concern! I got engaged in August to a wonderful man whom I’ve been seeing for a while (previous husband died 5 years ago). They don’t know of him yet, I think. (The engagement is plastered all over my FB page, but as good Witnesses, they’re not on FB.) Wondering what they’ll think or do if I invite them to my “worldly” wedding next summer. :-)

      • November 13, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        Congratulations on your engagement! It’s so nice to hear of another happy couple :)

  • November 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Speaking as a “lifer” (first convention age 3 New York 1953, baptism 1962); fading fast though quietly.

    When we ” in good standing,” needed and requested help and justice; the most memorable counsel from a local elder was “Just get over it !!” Famous last words always “Let me read you a scripture.”

    When you compare the words of the org and the elders; with the actions of the org and elders one must question what possible benefit could be gained by returning.

    Return to what ??

    Nonexistent compassion for the sick, the children, our adolescents, the widows, the depressed, or the nonstop mutual admiration of the elite in “good standing, for themselves.”

    I have a daughter in “good standing” fighting cancer for 6+ months; brother in law & grandfather are elders, uncle is M.S., common knowledge in at least 4 congregations in our area. No phone calls…Not even a get well card…..from JW family members or any one else in the paradise called JW.Org.

    Also I have a grandson 8 months old, great grandma, and grandpa elder, along with great uncle M.S., live less then 10 miles away, and have never seen or even acknowledged the child’s existence. The child and parents are in “good standing.”

    The community at J.W. Survey displays far more christian like attributes then any elders we have interacted with. By their fruits you shall know them.

    • November 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      new carrion welcome to our little community. Yep we,ve all been there It’s when you are in good standing and doing all the right stuff and it still does not work just proves that it is all rubbish. However it still hurts If we do return then its just vomit with a bow wrapped on it. cheers to you ruthlee

  • November 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for the eloquent wording in your response to those who would ask you to watch the November jw broadcasting episode. I am inactive and had a family member ask me if I’ve watched it today. I used part of your response to let him know where I stand. I haven’t heard anything back, so hopefully that will be the last time he asks! I’ve tried to reason with my family and get them to do research, but they refuse. I am tired of trying and just want to be left alone to live my life away from the clutches of the controlling religion I had no choice but to be raised in!

  • November 19, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Your comments are spot on, Lloyd. .. It was just an emotional appeal to the lonely & sad ones who have “drifted away” with no real point of contention and failed to make social connections outside.
    Many years back, as a young man I was in that situation . I had lost my “zeal” but in those pre internet days there was not the knowledge of good reasons not to do it. So I was easily re activated ,new cong. new people – it was all great again.

    Now it is different . I know too much. The Org. is not reaching out to us to reason and discuss things they just want the easy ones…. Incidentally, no one has contacted me (not d/f’d) I guess they don’t care for me!

  • November 26, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Emotional pull indeed – totally devoid of any sound logical reasoning as to why you should return. It would appear that the only thing they can offer is fellowship & “brotherhood” , the warmth you used to enjoy as one of them (if that were the case) . I conclude therefore that they only want the ones who just slowed down and got lost and are now lonely, not the thinkers who have issues to raise.

    Incidentally, has anyone tried to reach me? No. I am only”inactive ” and they know me well. My wife’s group overseer enthused about how good it was that they reached out to lost ones, did he speak to me? Not a word .

  • December 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    The above response works well, if you’re done with religious nonsense and can afford upsetting the dynamics and equilibrium of your family or friendships.

    Others can take a more subtle approach–bringing the subject of the Return video and brochure into scrutiny as vague and indirect, which it is. For example, in some JW material, faded persons who can research, or have first-hand knowledge of, issues can easily pierce the shallow depth in the literature deposited with hard-hitting medical facts, history, or question the person to show proof that the Watchtower hierarchy and practices have “mellowed” and are not irrational domineering control. If you were abused, or had verbal abuse and harassment, point this out as something more than “hurt feelings” and inquire whether the organization–with its ‘human failings’–has instituted a checks and balances so that the “shepherds” who have become a wolves are no longer sheltered at the cost of victimizing the victim (they may get lost on those words, so trim it to ‘do the elders still make a raped/abused victim feel like they’re the blame?’ Should I pray away the scars of incest, rape or molestation?).

    For those who slipped away due to nature of being gay and not wanting a life-time of singleness or tortured existence, since some hint at an amnesty program, ask if your openness, obviousness and acknowledgement of being gay will thwart any progress toward privileged roles (a strong indicator that one is not stigmatized)?

    2 Kings 9:21

  • February 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve been outside the organization for quite some time…although it still manifests itself in my psyche from time to time, I have had to use some great techniques I’ve learned, especially cognitive therapy’s a retracing of thoughts associated with the feelings that develop and then being still with the root thought, examining the emotion and freeing yourself of the thought by countering it with a can be as vague as ” I’m not worthy” or “I’m unloveable”, all these thoughts have no real value when looked at. Running deeper with these thoughts are the feelings they perpetuate in our body, and the messages the organization utilizes is INTENTIONALLY cycling a person into these thoughts of unworthiness or undeserved love..pleading for them to “come home” without expressions of acceptance and unconditional love and a level playing field( i.e.we are all in the same boat and loved by God)..thus creating feelings of sadness and or grief and depression ..because they want us to feel worse than the lot of all mankind. their use of such techniques does not build in a person feelings of worth and joy, rather it reinforces the negative , holding people hostage to unhealthy and damaging cyclitic thoughts that manifest a deeper sense of despair. Often times the one who goes back is now living with the guilt of ever sinning, getting disfellowshipped and or disassociation or even a smaller infraction of drifting, because they will always be ” watched” and treated as one who has a blemish on their record.. The felon witness.

Comments are closed.