Why So Many Young People Are Leaving The Watchtower

by Jeremy C 127 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Quendi

    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


  • life is to short
    life is to short

    Glad to see you back and great post.

  • thetrueone

    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.

  • Magwitch

    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.

  • hamsterbait

    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.


  • skeeter1

    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.



  • steve2
    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.

  • dozy

    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.

  • sir82

    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.

  • Twitch

    All points well said and true.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    in-name-only JWs

    I prefer the term: JW in name only, with the acronym: J-Winos

    Jeremy, great thread. To check your PMs, you have to check them twice. The first time doesn't work. If you go back to them a second time, the message will usually open. Sometimes it takes a third try. Eventually they open up for you. Also, if using IE9, you may try compatibility mode.

  • No Room For George
    No Room For George

    I'd like to set in motion a recomendation that this thread be moved into the Best Of section.

  • steve2

    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?"

    Yes, it would be a delicate manoeuvre for them: How to keep everyone on edge expecting the end and how to cater for young people's normal devlopmental needs. But, hey, they manage to engage in a bit of having it both ways with their grand building proposals. For example, they will crow from the platform about big plans to have more building and/or install new computer-directed technology for the ropinting presses - sometimes planning 4 to 5 years or more down track.

    When it suits, the Watchtower is incredibly flexible; otherwise it turns a deaf ear and the most it will say is, Don't run ahead of jehovah's organization. That's precisely what they said in the 1970s when some well-regarded brothers first got together to talk about the need for youth oriented programs. Their sensible initiative was squashed and the brothers shamed into silence. Nearly 35 years later....same old, same old deafness...

  • sir82

    Yes but they've hinted, sometimes even outright expressed, that they expect all their buildings to survive Armageddon and be used in the "new system".

    In the "new system", we'll all be marching toward perfection, and won't have any need for youth programs.

    A "youth program" is an acknowledgement that youths need special help & attention in "this wicked world" to be well-adjusted adults in "this wicked world". It implies "this wicked world" will be here another decade or 7. The WTS wants - needs - to keep Armageddon "soon".

    I don't think they have the brainpower or originality to pull off a maneuver that delicate.

  • Bungi Bill
    Bungi Bill

    In other words, their 130 year old "The Sky is Falling" gig is eventually going to send them to extinction:

    -and it might well be a toss-up as to which will contribute the most to that,

    i.e. interest by the community in the JW charade drying up , or haemorrhaging to death by loss of those already in (particularly the young).

    Roll on the day!


  • SirNose586

    J-Winos, I like it, Sweeney!

  • metatron

    This is an interesting thread. I like it.

    One bold question, I've asked before: Will the self exaulted Governing Body ever ask themselves, What the F**k is the point of all this ??!!

    Why bother? Why not retire at Paterson and relax? Why fight all the trends...... and lose? Why pretend to be Hitler in the bunker while congregations rot, donations decline, kids fade, elders resign and decay flourishes?


  • Jeremy C
    Jeremy C

    I appreciate everyone’s compliments and comments, thank you.

    I should have given more credit where credit is due. I failed to talk about the fact that there are many Elders in the organization who are trying very hard to encourage the youth. When I was a teenager, there were a couple of Elders who took quite a bit of interest in me – and it was more than just going out in door-to-door work, it was genuine bonding time.

    I think the challenge is that most Elders simply are not able to do as much as they would like to do in terms of encouraging the youth. With jobs, home life, personal study, meetings, and Elder’s business that has to be handled, many of these brothers are simply overloaded. I knew of more than a few who struggled with depression and it took all the strength they had just to take the morning group out in field service. On top of this, many Elder bodies get the whip cracked over them by the traveling overseers who often push them to focus more on field service. Personally, I don’t fault the Elders. Who encourages them? Who gives the Elders encouragement and reassurance?

    I think it comes down to the fact that this is a “works” based religion. Everyone is working to earn their salvation. Traveling overseers are continuously pushing the Elders to help others earn their salvation. It’s like a twisted game from the Middle Ages, where everyone is trying to make it to a finish line, or else get executed if they don’t. So, in their minds, they reason: “who has time for a youth group when so many people out there need to be saved from Jehovah’s Day of Judgment?”

  • steve2
    there are many Elders in the organization who are trying very hard to encourage the youth.

    Really good point, Jeremy.

    I have a vivid memory of a convention address in the 1970s that warned elders not to provide programs for young people that went beyond the existing provisions. The speaker even mentioned how some brothers in the States had run ahead of the organization and complained to the then governing body about the lack of programs for young people. I often wondered what became of those nameless brothers who were described as being too full of themselves - or similar unflattering words; those brothers were certainly well motivated in their concern about young JWs but were portrayed in the utmost negative tones by the convention speaker.

    You're absolutely right: Most elders are doing their level best to work within the organization's strict 'policies' and it wouldn't take too many instances of really negative feedback from 'on high' to rob them of any remaining vestige of helpful intentions to wards young ones. It's kind of expected in a high control group - but still very sad.

  • the-illuminator81

    The funny part is that first they scare of two thirds of all the young people, then after they've left they complain that there aren't enough men reaching out to become a ministerial servant and that we should be looking for men while going door to door..

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