JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES & EDUCATION


Indoctrination in Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs is harmful to children because of the attitude that the Watchtower Society has towards education. The Watchtower Society teaches that Jehovah will soon destroy all non-Witnesses and that Witnesses will be the only ones left on the planet. They believe that the earth will be transformed into a paradise populated only by Jehovah's Witnesses. This theology is the basis for their belief that it is not a good use of time to pursue a college education or pursue a career. Since their beginning in 1884, Jehovah's Witnesses have believed that the time for the destruction of the world is just a few short years off. Therefore, throughout their history very few have sought an advanced education.

The Watchtower policy until 1992 is shocking, and has been cited often by non-Witness parents to obtain custody when challenged by Jehovah's Witnesses.

Here is what the Watchtower Society's position on education was up to 1992: "Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them brainwash you with the Devils propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. This world has very little time left . . . make pioneer service, the full-time ministry, with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service your goal."

Another publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses said this: "In view of the short time left, a decision to pursue a career in this system of things is not only unwise but extremely dangerous . . . Many young brothers and sisters were offered scholarship or employment that promised fine pay. However, they turned them down and put spiritual interests first."

The result of the Watchtower Society's antipathy toward education is that today, Witnesses suffer the economic disadvantages that you would expect of a group that eschews education. Witnesses have a double disadvantage because in addition to generally avoiding college education, it is against their basic beliefs to plan for the future. As a group, Witnesses are generally the least educated and the poorest of the poor.

There is quite strong scientific evidence to support this. In 1993, two researchers published the result of a massive survey to identify trends within the major religious groups in the United States. Barry A. Kosmin and Seymour P. Lachman called their project the National Survey of Religious Identification. The survey had a sample size of 113,000 people, including 900 Jehovah's Witnesses. Of the thirty religious groups included in the survey, Jehovah's Witnesses had the lowest percentage of their members graduate from college.

Educational Rank - Religion - Percentage of members that are college grads
1. Unitarian Universalist: 49.5%
2. Hindu: 47%
3. Jewish: 46.7%
7. Agnostic: 36.3%
18. Catholic: 20%
19. Mormon: 19.2%
20. Lutheran 18%

21. Seventh Day Adventist: 17.9%
27. Baptist: 10.4%
28. Pentecostal: 6.9%
30. Jehovah's Witnesses: 4.7%

In the last few years, the Watchtower Society has started to relax their rules and now some Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to go to college. However the anti-education attitudes persist, and very few Witnesses go to college. Why do so few Witnesses still not go to college, despite the softening of the Society's official position on college education?

It is because the Society continues to warn of the dangers of college and remind followers that college education will not be necessary in the soon to arrive paradise. Note these recent quotes from the Watchtower: " In the present system of things under Satan's control, there are many things that may seem to promise fine benefits but can actually be damaging to our relationship with God. Such things as climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing higher education to advance one's position, courting unbelievers, or engaging in questionable business schemes can easily lead to a loss of faith and an eventual fall from Jehovah's favor. We must carefully count the cost when confronted with such temptations.

A few years ago, a young Christian man in a large city in the Far East had the opportunity to go abroad to further his study. Though he already had a good secular education and a well-paying job, he felt that this was not enough; he wanted to better his lot in life. Fellow Christians tried to reason with him in line with the Scriptural points we have just considered, but he was adamant and went ahead with the plan. Though he tried to hold on to his faith at first, gradually he lost his appreciation for Bible truth, and doubt began to set in. In just a year or so, he lost his faith completely and claimed to be an agnostic." Instead of encouraging young people to plan for the future, the Watchtower Society encourages people to seek part-time menial labor so that they are more free to spend time pioneering, that is, knocking on doors 90 hours a month.

Typical of the advice that the Watchtower gives is this: "Many pioneers support themselves financially by means of part-time jobs. To sustain himself in the ministry at Corinth, Paul worked as a tentmaker along with his fellow believers Aquila and Priscilla. Today, spiritual brothers are often happy to offer pioneers part-time secular work. Other pioneers obtain such work through employment agencies that offer temporary jobs. Faith in God is essential, and so is earnest prayer for his guidance in making employment decisions."

Young Jehovah's Witnesses are given this model to follow: "Whenever I read about pioneer experiences in the Society's publications, I found that my desire to become a full-time servant of Jehovah was aroused. . . . I was working full-time, and this provided the extra income needed to maintain us. I realized, however, that unless I also obtained a part-time job, full-time service would not be possible . . . Success in pioneering is mainly a matter of faith that Jehovah will care and provide for us. So he suggested that I resign from my full-time job." The anecdote goes on to say that she did get a part- time job, and that she is now very happy pioneering.

Jehovah's Witnesses are subjected to this kind of propaganda regularly. The result is that Witnesses tend not to put much value in establishing a career or working up to their full potential. The National Survey of Religious Identification found that Jehovah's Witnesses rank second to last in the percentage of their members that are working full time.
Percentage of members working full time:
1. Hindu: 64%
2. Agnostic: 63.5%
4. Muslim: 62.5%
11. Unitarian Universalist: 52.7%
13. Baptist: 52.3%
28. Seventh Day Adventist: 46%
29. Jehovah's Witnesses: 44.1%
30. Christian Science: 40.1%

Closely associated with the Watchtower's disdain for education and the institutional discouragement of establishing a career is their view of money.

The Watchtower states: "Many people want a substantial bank account, feeling that this will give them security. Yet, recent history shows this not to be so. In the Great Depression thousands of banks closed all over the world, with severe loss to depositors. And an economist recently stated: "The banking system . . . has shown a continued deterioration since the end of World War II." Also, the value of money has been eaten away by inflation, just as a block of ice melts away in the sun. Truly, the history of money is summed up in one word: insecurity. For no matter what actions authorities may take to patch up today's economic systems, the fact is that soon they will all totally collapse, and this time forever. The day is fast approaching when, as has happened before, "into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become."

Therefore it should not be surprising that according to The National Survey of Religious Identification that the annual income of Jehovah's Witnesses ranks 24th out of 30 religious groups surveyed. According to the same survey, Jehovah's Witnesses ranked last in aggregate social status.

Aggregate Social Status (Rank)

1. Unitarian Universalist
3. Agnostic
5. Episcopal
11. Buddhist
13. Catholic
17. Mormon
26. Baptist
28. Seventh Day Adventist
30. Jehovah's Witnesses

The negative attitude of the Watchtower toward education extends to High School education as well. Among Jehovah's Witnesses it is socially acceptable to drop out of high school, since they view high school education as merely a means of getting a job and supporting themselves as pioneers. The National Survey of Religious Identification found that only 67.6% of white Jehovah's Witnesses graduate from high school, compared to 80.9% for other religions surveyed.

The Watchtower admitted that it was common for Jehovah's Witnesses to drop out of High School in the same article that they announced new rules allowing followers to go to college. They said: "It has been reported that in some countries many well- intentioned youngsters have left school after completing the minimum required schooling in order to become pioneers. They had no trade or secular qualifications. If they were not helped by their parents, they had to find part-time work. Some have had to accept jobs that required them to work very long hours to make ends meet."

Even those students who do stay in high school, do not get the same well-rounded education as those not controlled by the Watchtower Society. The Watchtower Society prepared a booklet for Witnesses to give teachers to explain what they could and could not do in school. The list of prohibited and cautioned activities is quite lengthy, and in aggregate serves to severely restrict the quality of education. The booklet says: "Yet you may have noticed that most Witness youths do not participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by the schools . . . 'Bad associations spoil useful habits.' And, as noted before, we try to comply with Christ's statement to his followers: 'You are no part of the world.' These principles shape the view of Witness families toward the school's extracurricular activities, including the following": Then the booklet goes on to list all the activities that Witness children may not be allowed to participate in: Sports, cheerleading, homecoming, school dances, dating, school clubs, school plays, blood donations, raffles, patriotic music, religious art, combat instruction, birthday parties, Christmas activities, and national holidays.

In summary then, another major risk of indoctrination of Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs is that teenagers are bombarded by the Watchtower Society's negative view of education. As a result, the education level of Jehovah's Witnesses is very low, and the high school drop-out rate is very high. This leads to poor career prospects, lower social status, and poor self-esteem. This is another important way in which Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs are unhealthy for young people.
Peace
Ralph

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