Forbidding Education

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi

Jehovah’s Witnesses wouldn’t think too much of Gandhi’s quote. They believe that the end of the world could be tomorrow, yet most live as if it won’t be.  They believe too that they are going to live forever, but they severely limit their education to a basic high school level.

According to Pew Research, out of a study of 241 Jehovah’s Witnesses, less than 12% had a third level degree or higher.  In contrast, 50% of 843 Jews had a third level degree or higher. This is interesting, considering that Jews were God’s chosen people (Deut. 14:2). So why is it that Jews value education more highly than Jehovah’s Witnesses?

A letter from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, dated August 15, 2009 will answer the question.

The letter starts off by making this statement:

… the worldwide brotherhood has received timely warnings from the “The faithful and discreet slave originally referred to all Jehovah's Witnesses who have a hope of going to heaven when they die. This changed in 2013: It currently refers to only the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnessesfaithful and discreet slave” regarding the dangers of pursuing higher education. Satan’s world associates advanced secular education with success. However, Jehovah’s people measure success in terms of spirituality and displaying aspects of the fruitage of the spirit.

Timely warnings? It’s not difficult to issue a letter discouraging higher education prior to the start of an academic year. In Ghana, the academic year starts mid to late August. Writing a “timely warning” is clearly just a pathetic attempt to compliment the “slave’s” activities. The letter continues:

Those pursuing years of extra education in worldly environments expose themselves to so many dangers! There are the dangers of exposure to worldly philosophies and the world’s materialistic spirit, which is what drives many to seek higher education at any cost.

Read these two sentences again.

Firstly, how many years does it typically take to get a Degree? It’s usually about four years to get a Honors Degree. It can be more for other disciplines, such as law and medicine. But four years is not a long time. The way in which the word “years” is used, one would think pursuing a third level qualification would mean a life time in “worldly environments”. This is a complete distortion of the reality.

The writer of this letter is blatantly obfuscating when heAll letters from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses are written by elders. One must be a male Jehovah's Witness to qualify to be an elder* states that “the world’s materialistic spirit … drives many to seek higher education at any cost”.  Really, what is “many” when converted to a percentage? Is it the world’s materialistic spirit that drives the majority or minority of third level students to seek higher education? The use of the word “many” doesn’t answer such a question. If one could convert “many” into a percentage, it would translated into a very minute percentage of college-goers. One could wonder that someone with a limited education may not even have noticed the blatant obfuscation here. Maybe the “slave” is banking on that?

Continuing on, the letter reads:

It is common knowledge that institutions of higher learning are dangerous hotbeds of immorality, false religious teachings and bad associations.”

Is it “common knowledge”? And among whom is it common knowledge? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses the same people who are less likely to go to college than any other religious group? If they haven’t attended institutions of higher learning, how would they know that they are “hotbeds of immorality, false religious teachings and bad associations”? Or is it a case that some of the few Jehovah’s Witnesses who did attend college came back shocked at all the immorality, false religious teachings and bad associations they encountered? Maybe they informed all the Witnesses who did not attend college of what they shockingly encountered. Maybe such shocking news spread around the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses like wildfire so that it became “common knowledge”!? If the letter wasn’t written with such seriousness, you’d almost think it was a joke!

I could write so much more about this letter but it’s just full of stupid nonsense that to write a long article about it would be meaningless.  However, I will make these four last comments:

  1. The letter quotes a massive 47 biblical quotes, none of which say higher education is wrong.
  2. It threatens the deletion of elders and ministerial servants if they or their children are pursuing higher education.
  3. It mentions that Luke and Paul were educated before they became disciples of Christ. However, they conveniently omit the fact that more than half of the of Christian Greek ScripturesNew Testament was written by these two men alone. Surely, if the bible is inspired of God, he recognized and rewarded their education by inspiring such highly educated men to write most of the New Testament.
  4. The greatest irony of all is that, of the 47 biblical quotes in their letter, 25 of them are from these two highly educated men!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela.

If I may borrow Nelson’s words, I’d adapt them slightly to say:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to identify Watchtower propaganda”.

Educate yourself. Any organization that wants to hinder you from expanding the brain that God gave you is not an organization that originates from God. If knowledge is power, the lack of knowledge keeps you in a weak mental state. Remember that.

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