Low SocioEconomic Stature of Most Jehovah's Witnesses

by Band on the Run 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    I am wary to post this. Slaves can be extraordinary Christians. A large part of my problem was being exposed to abject poverty through the Witnesses. We lived in Newark, NJ. There were only a few in my Kindgom Hall who could truly read. I scored many grades level on my reading test but I was a despicable sister. The ignorance appalled me. When I was in the fifth grade, I noticed the brothers leading the Watchtower study accepted answers contrary to the printed text. Instinctively, I felt so wicked for noticing the lapse. Knowledge of the most basic current events was lacking. My mom dragged me door to door in the worst neighborhoods. I saw things children should not see. Several of the sisters were foster mothers with no apparent love for the children in their care.

    School and TV exposed me to mainstream American society. Soon I walked miles to get a New York Times, my precious link with the real world. The very poor and uneducated Witnesses often had extraordinary heart. I would crumple under their circumstances. Ideally, though, God's organization should include all. Roman Catholics were easy to convert b/c of their ignorance before Vatican II. Lutherans and Presbyterians were very tough pickings. Homeowners were referred to as "goats." I lived on goat hill. Education was a precious gift from Christ.

    Self-governance is a high American value. I feel so inept relating this culture. The Witnesses were regular society turned upside down. I tried so hard to conform. My family made large sacrifices and I wanted them to be right about something. The internal conflict within me was high pitched. Clearly, the less education a person had, the more they were likely to believe the Witness pitch.

  • jaguarbass

    Amen. My mother was as educated as a box of rocks. She was a high school graduate from Atlanta.

  • Found Sheep
    Found Sheep

    I was in a small hall and I hated it that the brothers were the only ones that could read the Watchtower. There were three of them that could not read well didn't graduated High School yet there were 6 or so sisters that were fluent readers but had to be sit through the 5th grad reader on stage. No one in the hall had a college education. I got one but then left so i'm sure some think it was because i went to school. Ya I started to think...

  • Bungi Bill
    Bungi Bill

    I remember once a study being carried out on the socio-economic status of the various Christian denominations.

    Not surprisingly, the Witnesses were at the bottom of the pile:

    - i.e. as regards education, per capita annual income, and just about everything else as well.

    Increasingly over the years, I felt myself becoming offended whenever a new kingdom hall / assembly hall was to be built, and the WTS seemed to expect the money just to appear out of nowhere:

    - We were forbidden to have an education.

    - We were forbidden to have money (that was being "materialistic").

    - Yet when funding for a new hall was required, we were still expected to be able to "cough up the dough."

    This was particularly bad during the recession of the early 1990s. At that stage, I was living in a low-cost housing area (read bloody poor!). This district was spilling over with JWs, simply because they could not afford to live anywhere else.

    All of us were struggling, and many did not even have a regular job.

    YET - from the platform, we were repeatedly being accused of sitting on top of large stashes of money, which we should be giving to the Kingdom Hall Fund.

    I tell you, I was not the only one to have been offended by such talk!


  • SlipnSlide

    While growing up in the Midwest. my congregation was filled with working folks with sometimes less than a high school diploma. You could tell that by just observing my hall. There were a lot of poor readers who were older ones who bought into that garbage of not advancing your education. How did they think that we were going to exist in the real world? Just get it handed to us? No that did not work. Those ones who I graduated high school were indeed going to take advantage of higher education. They were not that serious into the preaching work. Most of them did very well for themselves monetarily. Yes, we had a lot of males that thought that they would get one of us sisters and make us what they wanted to make for themselves. Fortunately, I was rebellious.

  • moshe

    It was a badge of honor to quit a good job so you could go to the summer assembly, if the employer refused to give you time off. Quitting HighSchool was OK - Pioneer instead of preparing for a career. Marry young and don't go to college. I've seen it all. One of my former friends will be drawing his SS check this year and I know it will be a very small one, as he was self employed and paid in very little SS FICA taxes. He has nothing to fall back on now. Thank God Caesar will give him some SS money and he will have paid medical care at 65, as Jehobooh's Kingdom sure didn't come through for him after a lifetime of toiling for the WT Org.

  • LongHairGal

    BAND ON THE RUN: Your post is very good. You have a lot of insight. I always felt the religion's stand against college and careers was pure INSANITY. Why on earth would somebody deliberately pursue poverty? It is bad enough if it happens because of bad circumstances - but to actively pursue it flies in the face of common sense. We have all seen the extreme examples of gullible JWs who followed this foolish advice. The religion is not concerned about what happens to anybody. I, myself, often wondered if jealousy and fear is at the heart of the religion's admonitions against college education. Even though a person with a better education makes more money (and obviously can contribute more), the religion is so intimidated by people with an education that they would rather condemn some poor sap to poverty than have a dignified individual who can hold their head up. No, they want dumbed-down needy people there because it suits THEM in the long run.

  • WTWizard

    I noticed that myself. Where I went, there was quite a bit of poor educations. Even though many were recruits, it was mostly the poor and those who had personal problems (who were easier to scam into the cancer). Those who were in the cancer any length of time were very poorly educated.

    To compare, I was in a psychosocial club for a couple of months (they did nothing). In that environment, they had specific rules about everything you did. You could not sleep (most of the time was spent in the lounge waiting), there were limits on how many could smoke at a time, and everyone had specific duties (I was one of the cooks). Most of the jobs were quite dumbed down (one exampe is that they insisted that a dull knife was safer than a sharp one, which is blatantly wrong). Most of the people in there were on psychiatric medication, as would be expected from a group of people who were mostly mentally ill or retarded. Obviously, as intelligent as I was, I didn't benefit much from loafing around and the dumbed-down nature of that club.

    Now, the witlesses are starting to resemble that psychosocial club. You are getting the same dumbing down of tasks in the congregation you expect in the psychosocial club. Their money situations were quite dismal--and I heard more than one "brother" using the word "ain't" at the door (and other improper grammar) frequently. I have begun to notice that most of the witlesses are on medication--psychiatric medication at that. Like the people at the psychosocial club, they seem to need to be led by the hand all the time. Obviously, there is no smoking in the Kingdumb Hells, and they don't have cooking duties (that is, until you serve the hounder-hounder or work at a quick build Kingdumb Hell). But, the psychosocial club is starting to look better, education-wise, than the witlesses are becoming.

    It doesn't stop there. At least the psychosocial club doesn't continually hound its members for donations (it is primarily a place where mentally sick or retarded people can function without having to meet worldly standards). They also don't require people to go door to door recruiting members, ban people from attending other churches (they seem to have Presbyterian support), or attend endless boasting sessions that waste vacation time. They also don't totally ban so many activities--they even have Bingo occasionally, and the rules are in force only while you are in the place. They also don't have inflexible schedules like the witlesses--you could take certain days off (I always took Tuesday off, as that was when religious instruction happened, and got no trouble).

    When I became a witless, I never thought it would get as dumbed down or boring as a psychosocial club. But it seems to be getting that way. Or worse--the psychosocial club doesn't serve as a blind for pedophiles to do their dirty work, and if they find out you kill and eat a baby, you are going to jail or in the locked ward of the mental hospital. Which is more than can be said for the witlesses--you expect problems from psychiatrically sick or retarded people, not a religion that claims to be the only true Christians.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run


    Is it presumptuous to ask whether you were in a clubhouse a la Fountain House? I was going to exclaim about dumbing down with no expectations of anyone but then the Witnesses were just as bad. Schizophrenia is a very real, hard to treat illness. So is brainwashing, I suppose. I don't see any knowledge can be bad. I literally cry when I am with people who share my education. My goal is to be around brighter people. Dumbing down is one of the major themes of my life. Growing up I had to dumb down to appease my Witness relatives. I was a candy striper, a volunteer in hospitals b/c I wanted to be a nurse. My mom forbid me to say so in a Ministry School presentation. She explained to my 13-year old self that selfless acts were bad. Ill people had no status. The only thing that mattered was going door-to-door.

    I graduated near the top of my class from Ivy League schools. It was wonderful. Words can't explain how good it was to have competence as a goal. These people read the same books and magazines as I did. They, too, were huge Beatles and Dylan fans. I practiced law in NY, a very cosmpolitan place. I was exposed to designers, actors, investment bankers, lawyers, ad people, news people, ballet and opera people. It certainly was different from a Kingdom Hall.

    Education does not mean one cannot preach in appropriate places. I never did drugs. In fact, I met many practicing conservative and orthodox Jews. They are able to maintain education, strive for it actually while maintaining strict conduct and dietary laws. Without becoming too preachy, the reason for the Witness stance on education is obvious. My experience of education is not that I now know things. If anything, I am profoundly aware of how little I can ever know. Education asks hard questions. Sadly, when I run into Witnesses at public transport places, I cannot share my views and knowledge b/c there is no common ground. Ignorance breeds ignorance. Knowledge alone doesn't make one a good Christian. Personally, as a Witness I only heard Paul's admonitions concerning sexual behavior and deference to men ad nauseum. He did not even write those verses. Paul is known for his theology of love and grace. I never even heard of grace as a Witness. Unmerited grace, amazing grace....Nothing tied to Witness hours which just happen to be the old Selective Service rules for ministerial exemptions.

    May the peace of the Lord which passeth all understanding be with you,

Share this