KNOCKING: A New Pro-JW Documentary

Randy Watters says,

The following was posted at my guest list the other day, by a producer of a new documentary that is pro-Witness and may go out on PBS. We need to write these people!
28 Jun 2005
Remote User:


Subject: "Knocking" A Documentary Coming soon to PBS "I emailed the producer of "Knocking" and received this (thought you might be interested): Thanks for your interest in the KNOCKING documentary on Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm Joel Engardio, director of the project. Since the web site went live a few days ago, I've been hearing from Jehovah's Witnesses like yourselves from Arizona to Arkansas and everywhere in between. Some have commented that the film clip downloads don't work. The site is brand new, and is still a work in progress. Check back from time to time to see new bells and whistles. Also, please note that my email address will change in a few weeks to It's been great to hear from so many Witnesses around the United States. Hopefully word will spread to other countries in Europe and beyond. Please feel forward the link to all your friends far and wide.

Beyond a national broadcast on PBS in the United States, my goal is to make the film available to international audiences with language subtitles. Indeed, Jehovah's Witnesses are in more than 200 lands, and their story about blood, the Holocaust and preservation of civil liberties resonates around the globe. The aim of KNOCKING is to give a general, non-Jehovah's Witness audience a fair look at a religious group that has long been misunderstood and relegated to cartoonish stereotypes. KNOCKING uses the real life stories of real families to humanize Jehovah's Witnesses. We show both the ups and downs, including what it is like to have unbelieving or opposing family members, and how divided families can find common ground.

For instance, the young man who does a groundbreaking bloodless liver transplant has opposing family members who come to the hospital to see first-hand that the new bloodless technology works. I think KNOCKING will be educational and illuminating for a non-Jehovah's Witness audience, affirming for those who are Jehovah's Witnesses, and compelling and entertaining for all. I imagine Jehovah's Witnesses will enjoy the film and will want their extended family, neighbors, co-workers and classmates to take a look as well. We will eventually offer DVDs for home and school use. There will be a special introductory rate for Jehovah's Witnesses. I'll be sure to send more details on that later. In the coming months, I'll send periodic newsletter updates on the film. If you don't want these updates, just write back and tell me to take you off the mailing list.

As of June 3, 2005, the film is being edited in San Francisco. We finished production earlier this year. Throughout the course of the project, we filmed in California, Georgia, Ohio, New York, Nevada, and Texas as well as Austria and Poland. We may have filmed in your congregation or at one of your conventions! Throughout the summer we will continue to edit, crafting more than 200 hours of footage into a 60 or 90 minute final film. Thankfully, the DVD will be able to retain all the wonderful additional scenes and interviews that end up on the cutting room floor.

The film will be delivered to PBS in the fall, and it will be entered in film festivals such as Sundance. In early 2006, we hope the film will premiere at a prestigious film festival. The national television broadcast on PBS would follow later in 2006. Between a film festival premiere and the national broadcast, we hope to bring KNOCKING to cities throughout the United States for special screenings in community event theaters. This will be a chance for you to see a sneak preview and perhaps meet some of the film's subjects in a live Q&A session. The KNOCKING web site and messages like this email to you will provide information about where and when the sneak previews will take place.

If you are interested in organizing such a screening in your city, please contact me directly and we can talk more about how to make that happen. I plan to use local volunteers to organize these screenings. Please keep in mind that every Jehovah's Witness who has contributed to this film, either on camera or behind the scenes, has done so by their own personal choice. There is no official connection to Watchtower, though the Bethel organization in Brooklyn, Patterson and Wallkill, New York has been cooperative with the producers of this film. It is important to know that this project is independently produced for public television, using public funds. We feel this lends added credibility to the film when viewed by a non-Jehovah's Witness audience. No one on the production staff is a Jehovah's Witness. The director's mother, however, is a Witness in Michigan.

I look forward to seeing the positive impact this film has in telling the untold stories of Jehovah's Witnesses. I hope you do, too. Thanks again for contacting us, and the KNOCKING staff will be sure to keep you up to date on the latest progress.

Sincerely, Joel P. Engardio Producer/Director

AND she sent me this: I replied to the newsletter from the producer of "Knocking" and asked if he was a Witness, and if not, why make the movie. Here is his reply: I'm not a Witness, but my mother is. As a jouralist and filmmaker, I am moved by the incredible untold story of Jehovah's Witnesses. A good story is a good story, period. Joel


Barbara Anderson has two replies below it:

01 Jul 2005
Remote User:


Dear Sirs, I'm writing regarding your documentary, KNOCKING. I'm sure you spent a tremendous amount of time and money on this production, and I certainly wish that I could congratulate you on your efforts, but I can't. I'm so sorry that before you embarked on this project you were not privy to another viewpoint about Jehovah's Witnesses, the one that comes from those who know from first hand experience that what you have been told and what you presented about this organization is not 100% correct. Of course, many statements you made on your web site regarding the subject of your documentary are true. However, you have not been told the whole truth, but many half-truths. Also, as a professional researcher, I can prove that some of the things you think are true about Jehovah's Witnesses is revisionist history.

I know what I'm talking about because of my past 43 years as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, many of those years spent living and working at the world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn, NY. I have attached a transcript of a lecture I gave last year in Washington State to a group of people from many parts of this country who were deeply interested in Jehovah's Witnesses for diverse reasons. The attached transcript of my lecture explains who I am and what I did in the Watchtower Writing Department in Brooklyn, NY. It also explains why I'm embroiled in a lawsuit against all of the legal entities of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., the corporations representing Jehovah's Witnesses.

I'm not a disgruntled ex-Jehovah's Witness who has an axe to grind. I'm the foremost whistleblower who uncovered the massive cover-up of pedophile activities within the Watchtower organization. I spoke out in 1992 on the TV program Dateline and continue to do so even at great personal cost and risk. I can substantiate my claims 100% and I think it might be wise for you to consider to include in your documentary the story about the other side, the secret side, of Jehovah's Witnesses before you offer your documentary to PBS stations, or you will be very embarrassed in the future as the facts start to unfold in courts across this country.

Please, I beg of you, read my lecture, and let me hear from you. I will be most happy to kindly discuss this and other important issues that are bedeviling the Witness organization at this time.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.


Barbara Anderson
01 Jul 2005
Remote User:


July 1, 2005

Dear Sirs, I'm writing to correct a typographical error that I made in an e-mail which I sent you the other evening. In the third paragraph, I stated that I appeared on the TV program Dateline in 1992. Actually, it was 2002. I should know better than write a lengthy letter late in the evening after a very busy day. (In 1992, I was part of the Watchtower Writing staff in Brooklyn, NY and it was the year when I discovered the pedophile cover-up, so I guess I had that year on my mind as I was writing you.)

My reason for sending an e-mail to you that evening was due to the many e-mails and phone calls I've been receiving from people who are very unhappy about your documentary, KNOCKING. That particular day, KNOCKING was the subject of a lengthy conversation which left me feeling quite sad over the fact that the religion I followed for most of my life has caused so much unhappiness in the lives of too many people. In a letter you wrote to one of Jehovah's Witnesses, which was forwarded to me, you propose through your documentary to "humanize" Jehovah's Witnesses by presenting a "fair look" at a "misunderstood" group. That says to me you want to present this organization in a positive light, something I find offensive. Individually, most of Jehovah's Witnesses are good people, but together as a closed religious community, they have proved by their group actions to be harmful to everything our society holds sacred.

I know that you are still editing the documentary. I hope there is still time for you to do more research on your subject, and not from apologist sources, but outside of the Witness camp. The research I had in mind concerns more on Jehovah's Witnesses' "story on blood, the Holocaust and preservation of civil liberties."

Regarding blood, you have been told that Jehovah's Witnesses would rather die than accept a blood transfusion. The majority of Witnesses, including myself, before I looked carefully into the numerous changes in the teaching, have no idea that as of the year 2000 the Watchtower Society made two significant changes in its blood doctrine.(1)

I quote the following information from a friend of mine, a former leading Jehovah's Witness elder here in the United States, who has quietly slipped away from the organization rather than speak out openly and be disfellowshipped and shunned by his family. I believe he sent you this material on the matter of blood recently, but I'm sending it again to remind you that there is more to the story than what the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses let on.

In 2000, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society:

1. Dumped a decades old policy that blood completely removed from a person should be disposed of.(2)

2. It dumped a decades old policy that donated hemoglobin should be abstained from.(3)


Today it is a lie for the Watchtower Society (WTS) to claim that Jehovah's Witnesses abstain from accepting transfusion of whole blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets or plasma. Why? Because the WTS no longer forbids Jehovah's Witnesses from accepting transfusion of these so long as it is part of a “current therapy” and it is autologous blood. Examples of this include Jehovah's Witnesses accepting nuclear scanning of red and/or white blood cells. This process requires removal of a portion of red and/or white cells so they can be exposed to radioisotopes. The nuclear charged red and/or white cells are then transfused back to the patient for later scanning.

Another ramification is that Jehovah's Witnesses can freely use hemoglobin based oxygenation therapies, which has already saved lives among Jehovah's Witnesses.

The average Jehovah's Witness does not realize these significant changes, and indeed every active Jehovah's Witness asked responds that if blood is completely removed from a patient it is a grave sin to transfuse it. When asked how they would respond were the WTS to jettison the teaching that blood removed must be disposed of, the universal answer is, “The WTS would never do that!”

Today there is no part of blood the WTS requires Jehovah's Witnesses to abstain from so long as it is sufficiently fractionated first.(4) This leaves important questions unanswered by the WTS:

1. Why does the WTS persist in teaching Jehovah's Witnesses and the rest of the world that Jehovah's Witnesses abstain from blood when it knows perfectly well that Jehovah's Witnesses use products from blood all the time?

2. Given that the WTS requires Jehovah's Witnesses to respect Jehovah's Witnesses for literally using everything from blood so long as it is sufficiently fractionated first, why does it impose any prohibitions on using blood under threat of congregational shunning?



1. See Questions From Readers in the June 15 and October 15, 2000 issue of The Watchtower journal

2. “…if blood is removed from the body, it should be disposed of, comparable to the Israelites’ pouring blood out on the ground.”—Anonymous, Questions from Readers, The Watchtower, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Inc., 1982, 6/15: 31

3. “It would be right, of course, to avoid products that listed things such as blood, blood plasma, plasma, globin (or globulin) protein, or hemoglobin (or globin) iron.”—Anonymous, Questions from Readers, The Watchtower, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Inc., 1992, 10/15: 31

4. An acceptable line item on the year 2000 Durable Power of Attorney provided Jehovah's Witnesses by the WTS includes this option: “I accept all fractions derived from any primary component of blood."


Additionally, on the subject of blood and regarding your advertisement for KNOCKING, exactly how does an instance of one of Jehovah's Witnesses utilizing the best medicine has to offer--your show's example surgical technique--address a religious teaching that in many cases forbids Jehovah's Witnesses from utilizing the best medicine has to offer? For your program to accurately illustrate the cause of complaint regarding the Watchtower Society's blood doctrine, it will have to examine one of the many instances where it leads to avoidable disability or premature death because this is the area where objections lay. No one objects to Jehovah's Witnesses or anyone else taking advantage of advanced medical procedures.

Regarding the Holocaust, please read, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND THE THIRD REICH, SECTARIAN POLITICS UNDER PERSECUTION by M. James Penton. The author, a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, speaks five languages and translated released German archival documents from the Nazi era. He proves without a shadow of a doubt that the leaders of German Jehovah's Witnesses, some of whom died in the camps, "were from the beginning quite prepared to support the Hitler government." The Witness propaganda has led people to believe that they "were united in their opposition to Nazism and did not collude with the Third Reich," but Mr. Penton proves otherwise. Jehovah's Witnesses' leaders were not politically neutral, and even the number of Jehovah's Witnesses that supposedly died in the camps was fictional.

And, last, but not least, if you read the attachment I sent along with my first e-mail, which contained a lecture I gave, you know that I complimented the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses for their fight for civil liberties for their organization, yet, they prohibit freedom of speech and freedom of religious thought for their members. It is this that causes divided families. There is no "common ground" when people are punished for disagreeing with their religion and when their families remain within the religion.

I'm sure after the release of KNOCKING you will receive many accolades from Jehovah's Witnesses. However, the negative publicity about this group is sure to come and it will be not be pleasant. There are just too many problems as of late connected with Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, there is the pedophile problem within the Witness group, but what about the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses and their hypocritical stance on the United Nations? Have you heard how, for many years, Jehovah's Witnesses have heatedly condemned the UN in their literature, portraying this organization as the notorious "Scarlet-colored wild beast" mentioned in the Bible book of Revelation, yet, in 1992, the Watchtower organization was accredited as an "associated NGO" with the UN's Department of Public Information? In order to gain this accreditation from the DPI committee in 1991/92, they "voluntarily" applied to the UN's DPI and voluntarily agreed to support the UN charter and disseminate UN information. In 2001, when this was made public, the WTS requested to be removed from the UN's DPI. Therefore, based on the WTS request, the UN "disassociated" the WTS from the DPI and thus, is no longer an "associated NGO" with the DPI. Since this information was made public in 2001, literally thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses have left the organization, many being disfellowshipped and shunned for "apostasy." And there is still an ongoing exodus because of the facts regarding Jehovah's Witnesses longtime UN association. Just this morning, I heard from a man who complained to the WTS about their UN association and the elders in the congregation where he attends were informed by headquarters to read the following sentence to the congregation, "John Doe is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses." Since March of 2005, this is the way people are disfellowshipped. Now my friend will be shunned by all Jehovah's Witnesses, including his large family and hundreds of lifelong friends.

Isn't the above information "educational and illuminating"? Perhaps you will make a sequel to KNOCKING and offer this other side of the story. Perhaps you will "humanize" me and my husband to Jehovah's Witnesses and also share with non-Jehovah's Witnesses how, after nearly a century of faithful adherence to every aspect of the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, we were punished for telling the truth about the pedophile problem within our religion. And tell them that we went public because it was the last resort since the leaders would not change their policies, and members' children continued to be sexually assaulted by Jehovah’s Witnesses’ molesters. Consequently, for speaking out, we have not seen our son (who is a Jehovah's Witness elder) and his family and literally thousands of friends for nearly three years.

If your aim "is to give a general, non-Jehovah's Witness audience a fair look at a religious group that has long been misunderstood and relegated to cartoonish stereotypes," why don't you also give a non-Jehovah's Witness audience a fair look at former Jehovah's Witnesses and interview some of the tens of thousands of us so everyone can hear what we have had to endure at the hands of "misunderstood" Jehovah's Witnesses because we either left their organization or were disfellowshipped for "apostasy" as I was.

Also, why don't you interview some of the thousands of husbands and wives of Jehovah's Witnesses who are in court fighting to see their children because Jehovah's Witnesses (and their Witness attorneys) don't want "worldly mates" to have any influence in the raising of their children. And, while you're at it, interview some of the thousands of relatives of Jehovah's Witnesses who watched their loved ones die because of the Watchtower Society's misrepresented blood policy. In addition, interview some of the 1,800 victims of child sexual abuse (committed by Jehovah's Witnesses pedophiles), who have approached just one Texas law firm. And how about talking to some of the over 4,000 people who have contacted about their molestation within this organization, almost all unreported to the authorities. And what about mentioning the over 20,000 files kept at Watchtower headquarters that describe each mostly unreported accusation of molestation in the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States and Canada. And, last, but not least, tell the world about the children of Jehovah's Witnesses who are emotionally pushed to baptism, some as young as seven years old, and, who, by the time they are teenagers, are disfellowshipped and shunned by their families and the only friends they ever had just because they committed some rebellious "sin." Let some of them tell you what their lives were like on the streets. And let them tell you about the psychological damage and need for therapy because of the self-loathing and guilt because they couldn't live up to the religion's demands. And, if the dead could speak, you could interview some who have committed suicide because they could no longer endure the isolation of shunning.

Joel P. Engardio, Producer/Director of KNOCKING, I dare you to expose your mother's and my mother's religion by telling the whole truth. If you are interested, I can help you by providing tens of hundreds of names and contact numbers of people more than happy to be interviewed for a sequel to KNOCKING.

Respectfully yours,

Barbara Anderson

RESPONSE July 1, 2005

Barbara -- Thank you for your letters. You raise some important issues, and I believe you do so with great agency since you spent so many years in service of Jehovah's Witnesses. The film KNOCKING will have criticism, organic to the unbelieving and opposing family members of the Jehovah's Witnesses our cameras follow. We interview both sides of the family in conjunction with the issues at hand. The intent of the film is to show a side of Jws that is not a cartoonish image. That means a full human treatment, including the ups and downs of day to day life of ordinary Jws put into extraordinary situations. This is the role of documentary film. Unfortunately, KNOCKING cannot tackle every issue that society in general, and the Jws in particular, grapple with. I understand your voice was heard on NBC Dateline in 2002, and that is a very far-reaching program to millions of viewers. Indeed, more than PBS. We cannot re-do the Dateline program. But we are sensitive to the valid criticisms of Jehovah's Witnesses. I encourage you to watch KNOCKING with an open mind. The program is not made for Jws or former Jws, that would be too much "inside baseball" for the average viewer. The program is for the public who only sees Jws on their doorstep from time to time, and might be curious about what is good and what is controversial about this group. KNOCKING takes a balanced approach. It does not promote nor does it denegrate.

Sincerely, Joel Engardio

UPDATE July 8, 2005 letter to Joel from Barbara

July 8, 2005


Dear Joel,


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 “humanizing” 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.

Barbara Anderson