What is the WTs latest stand on education/college?

by cyber-sista 25 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Honesty

    My ex and her 'anointed' sister are attempting to coerce my youngest son to abstain from an education and get baptized NOW before it's too late.

    He is resisting.

  • cyber-sista
    Think about it: They discourage higher education among the rank and file, but they use the donations of the rank and file to pay for college for the upper echelon of the WTBTS.

    I am thinking about it and it reeks of hypocrisy.

  • AndersonsInfo

    FYI, in 2007 I wrote an essay, Jehovah's Witnesses, Higher Education and Misrepresentation, which can be found at http://www.freeminds.org/doctrine/education_anderson.htm that shows the flip-flops in Watchtower teaching regarding higher education.

    Here's part of the essay:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses, Higher Education and Misrepresentation

    by Barbara J. Anderson

    It is my assertion that the publishers of the October 1, 2005 Watchtower, a Jehovah’s Witness journal, blatantly misrepresented statements from at least five well-known secular sources in an attempt to discourage their readers from pursuing higher education.

    While a religious journal may choose not to use secular sources for instructional purposes, if the journal’s editor allows its writers to do so, readers naturally assume that much care has been taken so that a quotation is not taken out of context in order to unfairly sway them to a certain conclusion not intended by the author.

    Usually authors develop their thesis in two ways: 1) by using various statements of facts; 2) by quoting statements of other writers. These statements could be likened to bricks that the author uses to build a logical structure resulting in a conclusion. It has been observed that many Watchtower writers take one or more of these “bricks” and then use them to build an alternate structure with a different conclusion than intended by the original source. Furthermore, to provide authority for these “bricks,” the references are cited not in just any of the massive amounts of literature produced by this religion, but in the Watchtower, the Witnesses’ number one policy journal, which would give the reader even more confidence in the validity of the statement.

    Before proving my claim of secular misrepresentation, which amounts to an abuse of context on behalf of the Watchtower, some background is useful regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses view of education.

    Prior to November 1992, the message in Witness literature from their leadership was unmistakable and absolute—university education was something Jehovah’s Witnesses should not pursue. Why not? Because higher education is the way to obtain a prestigious “worldly” career and the key to a prosperous, materialistic life-style in a world that God will soon destroy.

    For example, in 1969, the Watchtower stated the following with respect to how Witness high school graduates should view the pursuit of higher education:

    “The influence and spirit of this world is to get ahead, to make a name for oneself. 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 Devil’s propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. This world has very little time left! Any ‘future’ this world offers is no future!” [1]

    Further, notice what another Witness periodical, Awake!, claimed:

    "If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. ...as a young person you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way toward its finish, if not actually gone! This is why parents who base their lives on God’s prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling." [2]

    New Option

    As a whole, the Witnesses accepted this mindset until 1992 when an article appeared in the November 1st Watchtower, “Education With A Purpose,” that was construed by more progressive Witnesses as a considerable change of viewpoint toward higher education. However, rather than being a revolutionizing initiative taken by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in reality, certain economic developments forced a modification of their previously held opinion. As before, readers were admonished to continue to be “interested in education, not for its own sake, but in order to become more effective servants of Jehovah.” And the message set out for young Witnesses remained the same—find jobs that pay decent wages and ‘pioneer’ [engage in the full-time missionary service].

    Outlined in the article, the perceived advantages resulting from having a basic knowledge of history, geography, science, language, etc., usually obtained from finishing secondary or high school would still

    • make a young Witness more useful to Jehovah’s organization
    • help a Witness provide for one’s own household as the Bible commands
    • assist a Witness to support the Witnesses’ worldwide ministry work.

    With that said, the modifying of the previous position began. The Watchtower pointed out that what was considered as an adequate amount and level of schooling required to earn a decent wage a few years ago, had changed in many places of the world and it had become difficult to find jobs with only the minimum amount of schooling (completion of high school) encouraged previously by the Witnesses. Accordingly, “supplemental education or training might be considered,” states the Watchtower, adding in another paragraph that the “purpose of extra schooling … must not be lost sight of or change into a materialistic goal.”[3]

    Although the same old warnings of the dangers of higher learning were repeated, such as—secular universities oppose the teachings of the Bible and are hotbeds of lawlessness and immorality—for the first time the publishers of the Watchtower admitted “that nowadays youngsters meet up with these same dangers in high schools and technical colleges and even in the workplace.” Since Witness children can not be totally removed from such influences, parents were admonished to have their offspring live at home when taking additional courses, and also added other reminders with the hope that young Witnesses would continue to keep the interests of their religion first in mind.[4]

    To the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children, the article was realistic and liberating, and especially welcome were the following words:

    …when parents and young Christians today, after carefully and prayerfully weighing the pros and cons, decide for or against postsecondary studies, others in the congregation should not criticize them. If Christian parents responsibly decide to provide their children with further education after high school, that is their prerogative… If additional courses are taken, certainly the motive should not be to shine scholastically or to carve out a prestigious worldly career… .[5]

    One member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lloyd Barry, now deceased, attended university in his youth in New Zealand. In the early 1990s, he expressed himself privately to some members of the Writing Department at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization in Brooklyn, New York, about a needed change of attitude towards supplementary education, but not because he had attended university. Lloyd Barry was empathetic towards the low-paying job plight of Witnesses as expressed in personal letters received at headquarters, and from Jehovah’s Witnesses branch office communiqués from around the world. He said that in certain European countries jobs were not available to Witnesses, even in fast food restaurants, if they could not produce a resume which showed supplemental education after high school. Due to difficult economic changes in a world that Witnesses could not escape from, Lloyd Barry, along with the rest of the Governing Body, authorized the November 1, 1992 Watchtower article that changed the view of Witnesses towards higher education.

    Interestingly, another Governing Body member, Dan Sydlik, shared with a friend that the Watchtower Society was finding itself in a difficult position because this mammoth publishing company needed skilled technical people but couldn't find them in the Witness community. So it was decided to allow a somewhat more liberal attitude towards a college education, knowing that some percentage of students with the necessary technical skills would eventually volunteer to become part of the staff at headquarters.

    The Old Becomes New Again

    In today’s world, as prices climb, it is a challenge for everyone, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to provide adequate necessities, much less luxuries, for themselves and their families, so the value of higher education has become more of a necessity than ever before. Yet, in 2005, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses decided that parents should not be overly concerned about the ability of their children to support themselves in the future. In the October 1, 2005 Watchtower an article appeared, “Parents—What Future Do You Want for Your Children?which would alter the outlook of the Witnesses towards higher education once again. Why was another adjustment necessary?

    Basically, since the November 1, 1992 Watchtower article appeared, more than fourteen years of academic freedom of choice caused many young Witnesses throughout the world to include more education after completing high school, and, upon graduation, they were not working part-time and pursuing full-time service goals anymore. Not only were Witness youths attending colleges and universities, but many adult Witnesses went back to school, enrolling in college and universities where they took courses to equip themselves for better paying jobs. From evaluating the reports of their traveling representatives, the consensus at Witness headquarters was that parents were being swept along by the spirit of competition for material advancement and success for their children and for themselves. This sentiment was expressed at a number of Kingdom Ministry Schools (seminars for Witness overseers) where Witnesses were said to be “taking advantage” of the new stance on college, going beyond getting education that would make it easier to pioneer or provide for their families. These were said to be “trying to make a name for themselves” in this world. Accordingly, this trend had to be reined in. Therefore, it was the October 1, 2005 Watchtower article’s purpose to redefine higher education in the minds of the ‘flock.’ It focused them back on technical and vocational schools which offered short-term courses for their children, which always had a certain amount of subdued approval within the group.

    The October 1, 2005 Watchtower made clear that university or college for four or more years, leading to a bachelor’s degree or to postgraduate studies for careers in medicine, law, engineering, and so forth, was out. Thereafter, criticism began of any Witness attending college or university for instruction in high-paying specialized fields. But how to convince the flock that attending college was not in their best interests, and that they should be satisfied with short-termsupplementary education? Part of the Governing Body’s strategy was to attempt to prove—by using secular arguments, current research and studies—that earning a university degree was not a guarantee of successful job placement, and that the cost for a Witness youth could be higher than what it was worth.

    Another Flip-flop?

    As a side note, Independent Lens, which is a weekly program featured on National Public Television (NPT) in the United States, “introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent” filmmakers. KNOCKING is just such a new documentary that Independent Lens is airing across America on many Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) during 2007. As advertised on PBS, the program, KNOCKING, “opens the door on Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

    On their NPT/PBS Internet website a distinctive web-page is dedicated to exploring the “myths and realities of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” [6] The following is one of the so-called “Myths’ listed along with a “Reality”:

    Jehovah's Witnesses made many erroneous predictions that the world was ending by a certain time, which financially ruined the lives of members who never sought college education or careers.

    Over the course of the Witnesses’ 130-year history, there have been periods of Armageddon predictions. Witnesses felt their belief in the imminent end of this world and the start of God’s Kingdom was not compatible with the need for a higher education leading to a lucrative career in a doomed, manmade system. Also, the preaching work of Witnesses did not require a college degree, therefore the pursuit of higher education was discouraged. But in 1995, the Witnesses officially ended their belief that tied the coming of Armageddon to the lifespan of anyone alive today, saying instead it is coming "soon." Witnesses whose circumstances allow are encouraged to do full-time ministry; about 10 percent do so. Now, many young Witnesses attend college.

    If the above quoted “Reality” statement is true, then it would appear Witnesses can attend college without criticism from their leaders. However, this essay is not arguing the pros and cons of whether a university education is in the best interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but is a criticism of the Watchtower for misrepresenting secular quotations by taking them out of context to reinforce Witness ideology for that particular point in time.

    Alleged Proof For Not Attending College

    For the rest of the essay, see http://www.freeminds.org/doctrine/education_anderson.htm

  • bobld

    Oh.the wbts frown on higher education.As mentioned at C.O. visits.SAD days Circuit Ass.simplify go from door to door the best way of life.

    What is funny they go to university campus' and will suck someone to come to the Kingdom Hall.Then they brag about all the love, best education.their ministry ed book second to none.The vast knowledge of the FDS .The R&F will comment about how useless higher education is because some with Masters degrees are working at McDonalds or some such place.They have wasted all the time and money some are in debt for $30,000 or more.And and and and they are not happy.

    I wonder what the university student is thinking of all these weird comments.

  • lovelylil


    Thank you so much for that essay. Peace to you, Lilly

  • Homerovah the Almighty
    Homerovah the Almighty

    An uneducated ignorant person can be much easily be put into control and mental slavery than a person whose smart , educated, knowledgeable and is an analytical thinker !

    Unless of course you want to be a lawyer for them.

  • Superslave

    The last WT mag I studied on this subject was about 3years ago. It stated that you are more likely to commit some serious sin like fornication if you attend college or Uni. It made me sick to see elders in my old cong with Uni education aggree with the crap in the WT. Such idiots.

    I do think as others that this is really not a good teaching from the piont of view that they are drowning them selves.

  • wunce_wuz

    What is interesting is that the WTBTS has paid for several Bethelites to go to college. The WTBTS has paid for several lawyers in Canada (Shane Brady, Glen Howe) to go to law school according to a Canadian secular weekly magazine. There are internet rumors that a child of a Governing Body member has gone to Columbia law school. There are alot of confirmed stories that the WTBTS has paid for Bethelites to get degrees in all sorts of fields.

    Think about it: They discourage higher education among the rank and file, but they use the donations of the rank and file to pay for college for the upper echelon of the WTBTS. I am not sure what to call this practice but I would not call it consistent.

    When I was at Bethel in the 70's a number of guys I worked with had obtained their college degrees before coming JW's. All these eventually got transferred to the better jobs, which were the technical/office jobs. That observation was not lost on the rest of us. It also made a few of us, upon exit from Bethel, start college to get those degrees to make sure we also got the better jobs.

  • WTWizard

    They came down real hard on college last summer at the Grand Boasting Session. I even saw one incident where a speaker was adding the letters D.E.A.D. to the degree letters of those who went to college. There have been a couple of threads with a video in which a Governing Body member compares going to college with shooting oneself in the head. (Of course, the video is in a foreign language). And the hounder-hounders are starting to crack down on it big time.

    Their reasoning: People should make the most of their youth by pioneering. There is going to be a Puketower study about this (lumped with "valueless things") in the infamous April 2008 Kool-Aid. They are starting to devalue anything that gets in the way of children pioneering as soon as possible. I have even seen one source (likely a hounder-hounder talk) where children are supposed to fast-track their high school, graduate as soon as possible, and pioneer at age 16 or 17 instead of waiting to 18.

  • llbh

    From what i can see from my wife and daughter who continue to remain JW's they are still anti education as they always have been.

    IMO it is about mind control. The wts know that education in and of itself can be very liberating. They fear educated people as the educated challengie them.

    I think it is a horrid and pernicious policy condemning ,many peole to lives impoverished on an itellectual and financial level



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