Why So Many Young People Are Leaving The Watchtower
I want to add a little more to my previous post. Having left the WTS behind, I'm through with organized religion of any kind, period. Yes, I still believe in God and the Bible, but I've had it with religious organizations. I read with interest the experiences of those who have joined other churches, especially the so-called "mega" churches. That is not the route for me. I don't want to go to church to be entertained or come out with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I want to worship instead. That doesn't mean submitting to the dry, tasteless, boring, and depressing stuff served up at the local Kingdom Hall, but it doesn't mean embracing its opposite, either.
I do believe our Creator wants his human children to be happy and free. I also think that any worship should help us pursue happiness and freedom. That is why I have decided that the best thing for me is to tread my own spiritual path. I can read and study the Bible on my own or with others. There are plenty of resources available to facilitate that nowadays and I am very glad to take advantage of them. This board is one of those resources. I suppose what I'm saying is that religion is a deeply personal matter, and no church is going to meet my needs. I don't know how I would ever feel close to God if my worship consisted entirely of gathering with thousands of others once a week. For me, that would be the same as attending a district convention or a circuit assembly every week. I didn't feel particularly close to God at those mass gatherings either. On the other hand, I can understand why some would be comfortable in those kinds of settings.
Others have found churches where their needs and those of their children are being met. I am happy for them and wish them all the best. I have attended services at churches where the congregation was warm and friendly and made me feel welcome. But I also came away feeling that I had not learned anything about my Creator that would make me love him more. In the end, the words of the apostle Paul to the Areopagus must be my guide: "And he made out of one man every nation of men to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the apponted times and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us." --Acts 17:26, 27
Glad to see you back and great post.
Personally from my own experience, going to the KH or to the weekly book study was a terrible bore.
What is there that would possibly interest a child, to be quiet and be still for an hour or two and listen to information that is incompressible.
You place years of that with the years of learning about modern knowledge from schools and universities and you have people who
cant help being uninterested in the religious teachings of the Watchtower Corporation.
Thank you so much Jeremy!
In addition to all the harm these young people endure, they learn at a very young age to tune out. Anyone raised with those 5 meetings/week are experts at tuning anything and everything out.
Kids expectations of life and how they are treated have changed VASTLY in less than 25 years. Unfortunately the old men at the top see this as a bad thing.
Children are listened to, are at the center of their education, expect respect not batterings, and avoid boredom at all costs. There is nothing to hold the attention of a child, or even a young person - except the explicit descritions of sex acts they are to avoid, and which only make them want to try it even more.
The whole ethos of the Witchtower is so old fashioned, because of the dust farting reptiles running the show.
They are not interested in what will make people want to stay or what will delight them.. beat them till they cry is their answer to everything.
One of the benefits of youth groups, is that a youth preacher(s) and other kids get to really know the teen.
The JW teen has no one to help them when they feel like they are becoming disconneted with their values. Stumbling blocks are sure to come to anyone. But, the JW teen can not trust his community. The elders are there to preach a point to him, to embarrass him, sanction him, but not to lend a helping hand. Teenagers are not going to listen to a parent. Period. Instead, if there was a group of like-minded people who would give a true helping hand, getting people/families to counseling, eradicating the family/sexual abuse, giving a straight talk, etc.
But, for JW teens, there is no one (safe) there to turn to. So, they leave. That's a good thing. But, their religion could have done so much better on so many fronts. But, it couldn't...because it's rotten to the core. The more I learn about the WTS, the more rotten I see it is.
In a very real way, JWN is a helping hand for those who have stumbled out of the False Religion of the Watch Tower Society. We provide a community.
But, for JW teens, there is no one (safe) there to turn to. So, they leave. That's a good thing. But, their religion could have done so much better on so many fronts.
skeeter - you raise many excellent points. You're absolutely right about the potential for youth programs to provide safe venues for young ones who are experiencing normal troubles associated with the adolescent/teen years. It can be incredibly isolating for JW youth to go through their younger years scared of all that their growing bodies 'throw' at them and geting simplistic, fear-based answers - if any - from brothers who are just too busy to notice them - unless they sin.
You say that it's a good thing that they leave. I've got mixed feelings about this because, from my observations, those who leave at a young age are simply not equipped to deal with life on the outside. Little wonder that among those who leave are those who almost immediately embark on an unsafe path where they are virtually at the mercy of their peers and others on the outside. it's great when those peers are responsible and guided by values - but we know that the teen years are like a roller coaster at the best of times. I really feel for all the young ones who have left and who have been subsequently badly harmed by their experience. Some get so badly burnt so to speak that they go crawling back tov the KH and never quite recover yet wrongly conclude there is no where else for them. A few hardy souls get out at a young age and become stronger and happier for it - they're pretty much the exceptions and we could learn a lot from their stories (say, rather than focusing on the tragedies).
But a youth program would not necessarily solve the Watchtower's 'bigger' problems (e.g., shunning policies, crippling fear-based end-times interpretations, worship of the GB) but it would go some way to helping JW youth feel less isolated and powerless.
Adding my thanks to JeremyC for an insighful post - and others for their additional comments.
I was "brought up" as a JW & would agree that JWs are inherently a child-unfriendly religion. Virtually all the leaders are childless - Bethel is an incredibly stale child-free environment. I honestly think that they just don't "get" kids. Franz wrote that many Watchtower articles on successful parenting were written by men who had never had children or in some cases had never even been married. A recent Watchtower shamefully depicting a married couple crying under the stairs while their DFd only son was kicked out of the house , suitcase in hand , kind of illustrates the total lack of empathy and understanding , both of fathers & mothers and of children & teenagers. I know a faithful sister in my old KH who was very upset by that article & illustration.
According to the Pew forum research , JWs retain 30% of their youth while Mormons retain 70%. In any business situation , the WTBTS would be analysing what they could do to bring up the retention levels to that of other religions. But of course as JeremyC says , there is no effort whatsoever to determine why the attrition level is so high.
The poor quality of retained JWs is also an issue. I know a few youngsters who were baptised at 14 - 16 and remained JWs. Some are even MS or pioneers. But in most (but not all) cases they have stayed out of sheer inertia as a result of their peer group largely staying JWs and got some dead end job after leaving school as early as possible. They aren't by any definition "spiritual people". They are just your typical 2nd or 3rd generation JW teenager who knows how to play the system both ways.
it would go some way to helping JW youth feel less isolated and powerless.
It's a very slippery slope for the WTS.
If they start some sort of youth program, it's a tacit admission that Armageddon really isn't "very soon". What's the point of starting a youth program if global destruction is nigh? The WT might illustrate it his way: "What if the cruise director on the Titanic decided to start a Bingo game after the ship struck the iceberg?"
It's exactly the reason you'll never see then lighten up on college, never see a youth program, never see any sort of organized charity work, nothing that a "normal" religion does.
The WTS has utter contempt for the R&F. They think "if we lighten up one iota, if we even dream of hinting that Armageddon is not 'very soon now', the publishers, being the slackers they are, will immediately goof off."
They know very well the points that have been made on this thread, but their contempt for the R&F, and their manic obsession with micromanagement and control, has painted them into a corner.
All points well said and true.