When Did Higher Education Become Taboo?

by Wild_Thing 30 Replies latest jw friends

  • Wild_Thing

    I have been reading about the early history of Russelites/JWs and in the beginning, it seems the organization was formed and headed by quite a few educated people. Lawyers, doctors, businessman. You could buy voting rights within the organization for $1000, which by today's standard would be somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000, something most of us do not have on hand, unless you are highly educated and/or wealthy. It seems like the borg acquired most of its fortune in the early years of its formation, courting highly educated, wealthy people who donated large sums of money, property, or bought voting rights ... before Rutherford made it a dictatorship.

    So ... exactly when did higher education become taboo? When did they actively start discouraging it? Does anybody have an exact title of publication or year when it first started?

  • Simon

    When they realized that the kids getting educated instead of indoctrinated would mean their membership would evaporate.

    I expect it was the same time religious education in schools started to be questioned and evolution / critical thinking start to be promoted more but that's just a guess.

    They normally react to external factors though.

  • Old Goat
    Old Goat

    After 1884 a cumulative ten dollar (not $1000) donation gave you one share. You had to ask for it. Few voted it.

    Anti-intellectualism stems from the Russell era. Russell drew educated people to himself, but the Watch Tower was filled with statements against a false education that spawned an anti-Bible stance. Most of this was directed at Clergy. And, if you read late 19th Century religious matter, you might find some justification for this. The clergy were a sorry, self-entitled bunch.

    Anti-Intellectualism developed more fully under Rutherford. It is a way to minimize contrary belief.


    When Did Higher Education Become Taboo?

    ................It`s Been That Way..

    .....For As Long As I Can Remember..

    .........Image result for Old west cowboy

  • JeffT

    I can't find exact numbers just now, but I believe that college education was rare until about the 1950's. According to Wikipedia, in the early twentieth century there were only about 160,000 college students in the US. That changed post World War II with the GI Bill. Now there are about 18,000,000. In other words I don't think it was an issue for the WTBS until then.

    Financially, they shot themselves in the foot with their position on it. It's hard to squeeze money out of folks with low income jobs. Contrast that to the Mormons, who encourage higher education and good jobs. The LDS is rolling in money.

  • slimboyfat

    I asked a similar question:


    Where wifibandit pointed to this excellent page on jwfacts but it only goes back to the 1950s:


    Except this comment from Russell:

    What Pastor Russell Said (Leslie W. Jones Chicago 1917) pp.57,58
    "My advice is, then, give your children an education up to public school limit, not even attempting to take them through high school, for they get plenty of Higher Criticism [sic] in the high schools, and it will not be long before they have it in the common schools also."

  • slimboyfat
    In terms of the class composition of the early Watchtower movement, James Beckford discusses this in his book The Trumpet of Prophecy. He argues that before 1900 adherents were largely middle class, between 1900 and 1918 they were a mix of middle class and working class, and that following 1918 it was increasingly a working class movement. (See page 136) Beckford explains in some detail the British terminology of class he uses for his analysis.
  • Diogenesister

    or they get plenty of Higher Criticism [sic] in the high schools, and it will not be long before they have it in the common schools also."

    so it's interesting,then that it appears to be a Biblical education that Russell was opposed to (hence the reference to"higher criticism")rather than a secular education. I expect he feared youngsters who were too well versed in Biblical exegeses and thus able to challenge "Pastor"Russell and his cocamamey Biblical interpretations .

  • Giordano

    What JeffT said is right.

    I was a JW in the mid to late 1950's and you

    rarely saw a college educated brother or sister and those were usually

    converts. Plenty of blue collar ex Bethelites however.

    We were encouraged to either go to Bethel, Pioneer or after HS get a job.

    Educational standards were lower back in Russel's day he had a seventh grade education.

    Rutherford had one year at a teacher's academy then taught school for a year. He became a Court reporter which apparently gave him the opportunity to apprentice with a judge. He passed the bar two years later by answering questions presented by a panel of local town attorneys.

    Knorr became a Bethelite at age 18, he had no higher learning then H.S.

    Hayden Covington was very smart and went to a law school and actually passed the Texas Bar a year before he graduated.

    Of the five JW's who translated their own 'approved' bible only one, Freddy Franz had any higher learning which was 2 years of college.

    There was always a sense of dismissal from the WT that higher education was dangerous, one could lose one's faith by going to college.

    Apparently a JW could attend a community college to learn a trade or get an AA degree especially if they lived at home. That started to change when the Society had a need for certain trained person's. My niece studied how to be an Xray technician it was on the Bethel wish list that was sent around.

    Of course this policy of limiting further education has managed to make the JW's the lowest educated religion as well as on average having the lowest income according to the 2015 Pew Survey.

  • slimboyfat
    I remember when I was considering going to uni to study accounting and economics an elder warned me against it because I'd end up believing evolution.

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