Religion Project

by Darren Doody 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • Darren Doody
    Darren Doody

    I've recently taken a particular interest in the Jehovah's Witness belief, and as a result, have decided to do a project on this belief as part of my college study. I am a student teacher in Ireland, so, I am undertaking this project from an educational perspective; I want to see how Jehovah's witnesses are catered for in religious education in schools, and if there are any ways one could improve it. I would appreciate if anyone could give their opinion on this topic. I am focussing particularly on how they are represented in the Irish Education system, but replies from any region would be so greatly appreciated

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    Hi Darren,

    I'm not from Ireland but from a nearby region that has a similar model when it comes to religious education. The best thing to do for all children in my opinion is to provide them with a balanced view of all religions, draw the parallels between modern Christian, Hindu, Muslims and the older versions of their own or other ancient religions such as the Greeks and Egyptians (eg. the resurrection of a savior born by a virgin).

    I am still an ordained minister (ministerial servant) of the Jehovah's Witness group although I have not participated in my local congregation for quite some years. Even though some of the Jehovah's Witness faith will thus reject my testimony as false, the leaders of my group have never officially revoked my status or rebuked my statements. You will receive a similar answer to what's below from the 'officials' in charge in your area although it will be worded in a way to embellish some of the harsher facts.

    Jehovah's Witnesses in particular do not want to be catered to by this "world". They reject all forms of government that are not theocracies and do not wish to be educated on their own or other religions from anyone that is not within their own hierarchy and is of the male gender. Moreover, Jehovah's Witnesses cannot provide any curriculum that is not prewritten or directly approved by a group of leaders called "The Governing Body" however the Governing Body does not provide a curriculum for school children and has explicitly rejected the notion that Jehovah's Witness representatives should attend schools to teach religious education for children with Jehovah's Witness parents.

    They do attend school for the secular education it provides and to satisfy legal requirements but children with Jehovah's Witness parents, are taught to reject everything from biology to social studies that does not comply with their belief systems.

    To improve the plight of children with Jehovah's Witness parents legally, you would, in the EU at least, have to remove them from the care of their parents because EU legally allows the parents to have a choice in these matters and the current situations is what the Jehovah's Witness faith prescribes. Alternatively, if you want to cater classes to parents who are Jehovah's Witnesses, you should remove the following from curriculum: All notions of religion other than Jehovah's Witnesses, all notions of biology, all notions of medicine, all notions of physics and astronomy, all notion of history older than 6000 years and a lot of historical facts since ~1895, notions of chemistry when it comes to either humans or aluminium, some notions of agriculture (grains sold by Watchtower Inc have special properties), a lot of notions about the legal system.

    What would be beneficial and is often touted as lacking in the current educational system amongst Jehovah's Witnesses is: reducing the age of attendance to ~14 (for girls) - 16 (for boys) years of age. Shop classes for boys, home economics classes for girls and an education that teaches other direct labor skills. The goal of a Jehovah's Witness parent is to get their children out of schools as soon as possible and have them participate in the door-to-door evangelizing work. The children of Jehovah's Witness parents are not encouraged to attend universities and are instead told they should through their high school education get ready for a skill or trade they can use right away, or in the future in paradise (so building houses, agriculture, fixing horse carriages etc)

    I'm sure you may find this weird, but there is documented evidence of all of the above statements in the extensive JW literature available online. If in your research you come across a JW claiming this isn't true, you should ask where the Governing Body has withdrawn the particular statement made. Since the Governing Body is believed to be inspired by God himself and thus unerring, they will never withdraw statements made in official literature.

  • neat blue dog
    neat blue dog

    Hi Darren, good to have you. This website is primarily for former Jehovah's Witnesses, but a number of us are active Jehovah's Witnesses as well. This is because the religion practices "disfellowshipping", which means that if we are found out to not agree with some official teachings of the church, an announcement will be made on front of the congregation that we are disfellowshipped, after which all our family and friends will not be allowed to socialize, eat, talk, or even say 'hi' to again, under threat of them being disfellowshipped themselves. That's why those like me have to keep our identities secret to not lose everyone in our life.

    In answer to your question, the general concessions given to JW children include but are not limited to:

    Being allowed to stand during the pledge of allegiance without participating.

    Being excused when a classroom has a birthday celebration.

    Allowed to work on something else if everyone else is working on a holiday themed project.

    JWs are also strongly discouraged from participating in sports or any and all after school activities, as they are told in their books that non-JW youths are "bad association".

    They also are discouraged from getting higher education, and this is enforced because if anyone with a position in the congregation, like an Elder, lets his child go to college he is to be removed from his post.

    While many JWs are very kind and mannerly, and may have normal, healthy aspects to their lives, there is no escaping from the high control in every aspect of their lives. You will find things to be roughly the same worldwide, as all policy and rules are set by a group of 8 men in New York, USA called the Governing Body aka the Faithful and Discreet Slave.

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

  • Giordano

    Very good points so far. Since there is a uniformity to the JW belief construct what these folks are telling you is the way it is everywhere in the world though some countries offer more protections for students from the belief system the WTBTS has made up.

    One thing to consider is that this belief system started in the 19th Century when an 8th grade education was more then enough. That generation taught their uneducated religious beliefs to the next and then again.

    One result is the following:

    Now, a royal commission in Australia has found the church demonstrated a “serious failure” to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse and relied on outdated policies and practices to respond to such allegations.

    One such practice, derived from scripture, requires church elders investigating incidents to secure a confession from the person accused or the testimony of two “credible” witnesses to the same incident, two witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind, or strong circumstantial evidence testified to by at least two witnesses. The accuser also has to justify his or her allegations to church elders, often in front of the alleged perpetrator.
    The commission’s findings were based on a close examination of the allegations — which averaged one a month for 65 years and were recorded in sealed files along with the church’s responses — along with the findings of a 2015 public hearing.
    The report found that the Jehovah’s Witness organization’s internal system for responding to complaints of child sexual abuse was not child or survivor focused, “in that it is presided over by males and offers a survivor little or no choice about how their complaint is addressed.” READ MORE

    Here is the Pew Survey of the American religious landscape please note where the JW's fall in higher education and income.

    In attitude and the ability to defend being wrong this trial in Scotland is indicative of how they feel about their beliefs.

    You can climb the information tree........ with some of these sources. You can also search any subject you have an interest in on this forum.

    Another source is where you can read what they actually said about education and children in their own words.

    My best to you and be sure to return with any additional questions....... we are an open book around here and getting it right is important to us.

  • Atlantis

    Darren Doody:

    If you need any JW research materials just send me a pm.


  • Corney

    I hope you'll find these articles useful:

    Roger Homan (1988) Teaching the Children of Jehovah's Witnesses, British Journal of Religious Education, 10:3, 154-159, DOI: 10.1080/0141620880100306

    Pernilla Liedgren (2016): Minorities with different values at school – the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, British Journal of Religious Education, DOI: 10.1080/01416200.2016.1150253

    Liedgren, P., & Andersson, L. (2013). Strategies Among Young Jehovah’s Witnesses in Compusory School in Sweden, Age 13 – 15, a Case Study, International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 4.1, 3–26, DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v4i1.3 (ResearchGate,

  • scratchme1010
    I want to see how Jehovah's witnesses are catered for in religious education in schools, and if there are any ways one could improve it. I would appreciate if anyone could give their opinion on this topic. I am focussing particularly on how they are represented in the Irish Education system, but replies from any region would be so greatly appreciated

    Interesting topic. I'm going to have to ask my Irish friends about it. Also, are you focusing on a particular area of education? Any specific sector? Is it private or public education? At what level (early childhood, middle school, college, etc)?

  • ThinkerBelle

    Just wanted to step in and clarify the "Higher Education" MO witnesses have. In print and most talks, they encourage to not pursue education more than is necessary (not banning it), so they don't like the idea of an 18 year old staying on campus under worldly influence, but they recognize that sometimes schooling is necessary beyond the mandated. The interpretation and enforcement is of course not universal as many JW ideas aren't. Service is of course pushed first as others stated and trying to offer yourself up full-time as a goal. I've known plenty of elder's kids that went to college (myself included) and their fathers weren't removed. I think much of it depends on the enforcement of "the rules" in your area and who you know. A couple of those kids are elders themselves now, but their fathers were highly respected in the inner circle. You will find some old timers still touting the "no college" mantra, but that is far from the norm now.

    For what it's worth, I'm born-in PIMO.

  • vienne

    Little posted here addresses the issue. I'm a long-term educator, but not in the EU. Before bad health forced me into retirement, I was a school administrator. In American public schools there is little place for religion. Teaching religion in public schools runs up against the constitution. But that doesn't mean educators are insensitive to religious issues. Ideally, teachers should keep their personal feelings out of religious discussions. They will arise. During my tenure I suspended or fired three teachers for abusing students over their religious choices.

    If you're pursuing this topic you will want to familiarize yourself with Witness doctrine and practice. Read their literature, attend a meeting or two. But you will want an outside view too. I recommend Zoe Knox's new book: Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World. This is a largely accurate consideration of Witness culture that discusses its conflicts with the state and society. I also recommend George Chryssides' Jehovah's Witnesses: Continuity and Change. Both books have some errors, as do most books on Witnesses, but they are largely neutral. And neither author lies to you. I should tell you that Zoe says nice things about my book in hers. But I'm not recommending her book to you because of that. I should tell you that I am on friendly terms with both authors, but it is a professional, not a social relationship.

    Not all Witness children have fully adopted that faith. Some will leave it as they approach adulthood. Some are fully committed from a very early age. Nevertheless, they and their beliefs should be treated with respect, especially by teachers. Some Witness practices put children in a sometimes uncomfortable spotlight. A teacher's duty is to mitigate that. Accommodate difference in the gentlest and most sensitive way possible.

    In a class that examines historical roots, point out that Witness theology rests within Christian history, just not withing 'orthodox' history. At one point elements of Witness theology dominated Europe. An even handed teacher will not present religions as true or false, but just present matters as they are. This requires a depth of research not characteristic of most lower-grades teachers. And there are few to no texts and guides that fill the gap. A religion teacher should be an adept and committed educator.

    Some Witness children are very open and adept speakers. For some years I taught Gifted and Talented students. An uncharacteristically high percentage came from Witness families. They were articulate and willing to prompt class discussions. Give Witness students an opportunity to speak if they want to. This should be voluntary, not forced.

    If you want more from me, say so here or PM me.

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