July 8, 2005
Thank you for your reply of July 1st acknowledging the important issues I raised, although you did not address any of the issues I raised. Unfortunately, it appears to me that KNOCKING will not “tackle” even one of the issues that I brought up which Jehovah’s Witnesses “grapple with,” although you said “…we are sensitive to the valid criticisms of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” These valid criticisms, which you are sensitive about, must be the unreported and covered-up child molestation, the unfair disfellowshipping practices resulting in shunning, and the misrepresentations about the blood doctrine and the Holocaust. Apparently, you believe that these valid criticisms are too much “inside baseball” for the average viewer, so you will not touch them. Are you saying if the program was made for Witnesses or former Witnesses, you would discuss these valid criticisms? What is a documentary for but to inform the uninformed about critical issues. For the most part, Jehovah’s Witnesses and former Jehovah’s Witnesses know about the criticisms, but the general public does not. Accordingly, I believe you as a producer, who should be free from bias, must inform the public of the valid criticisms as well as “humanize” those who are criticized.
If you are not a follower of Jehovah’s Witnesses you sure seem like a supporter when you encouraged Witnesses to buy, at a special introductory rate, KNOCKING DVDs to show others, and said that you imagined Witnesses “…will enjoy the film and will want their extended family, neighbors, co-workers and classmates to take a look as well.” This does not sound to me like the film will take on the critical issues that we have pointed out to you, the ones that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want non-Witnesses to know about. From other things you said as well, I believe that you will present a “feel good piece” about Jehovah’s Witnesses because the film will mainly show the “ups and downs” of Witness families, such as “what it is like to have unbelieving or opposing family members,” or how divided families can find “find common ground.” I think that these are interesting aspects to consider, but they are not the critical issues we believe it is imperative to address in the film which might keep people from converting to such deceit.
It was never my intention to ask you to re-do the Dateline program. And I’m happy that KNOCKING will not “denigrate” Jehovah’s Witnesses. All I ask is that KNOCKING does not “promote” Jehovah’s Witnesses. That would be unfair journalism especially since you are using “public funds” to independently produce this film for PBS.
I will watch KNOCKING with an open mind and hope that my expressed opinions above are unjustified. It is my sincere wish that along with a compassionate film, you will also make a provocative one showing the non-Witness world the truth about the Witnesses’ world as it really is, one based on frequently changed fantasy beliefs, unfair treatment of critics, a child abuse mess, and misrepresentation in the matter of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ blood doctrine and organizational history, just to name a few.
Thank you for listening.