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2022 Convention – Saturday Morning Review

Written by Lester Somrah and published on August 13, 2022

Be Ready to Share “the Good News of Peace”

For the past 27 years, the Saturday morning of the convention usually began with a field service/religious recruitment item. At this year’s convention, it is no different. Some five (5) recruitment strategies used by Jehovah’s Witnesses are discussed: Maintain Your Zeal, Prepare Well, Take the Initiative, Follow Up on Interest and Help Students Grow to Maturity. The objective of each year’s symposium at the start of the Saturday Morning program, is to encourage individual Jehovah’s Witnesses to share “the good news of peace” with “rightly disposed” people and to sharpen their skills to be better at this.

Who is a “rightly disposed” person and who is not?

According to The Watchtower, October 2018 page. 12 par. 4:

How can we know who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life”? …… We do not expect insincere people, haughty individuals, or those with no spiritual inclination to respond favorably to the good news. We are looking for people who are honest, humble, and hungry for the truth. We can liken this search to what Jesus as a carpenter might have done in looking for just the right wood for making furniture, doors, yokes, or other things. Once he found suitable material, he could get his toolbox, use his skill, and make the item. We must do likewise as we endeavor to make disciples of honesthearted people.—Matt. 28:19, 20.

Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored At Last! (2021), Chap. 16 p. 180 par. 20:

We thus may have the privilege of helping those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life” to join us in pure worship and thereby put themselves in line to be marked for survival into God’s righteous new world.

The Watchtower, November 15, 2004, page 20 par. 24:

We desire to do all we can to find those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.” (Acts 13:48) Yes, we desire to help as many as possible to share in the spiritual prosperity that we now enjoy. And we want them to survive the approaching execution of divine judgment upon the wicked.

So basically Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a “rightly disposed” person is someone who they can successfully recruit into their religion as a fellow believer and this will qualify this individual to survive Armageddon and make it into Paradise or “God’s righteous new world”. Therefore Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking for persons who will blindly accept their religious beliefs, a yes-man or a yes-woman; they are looking for persons for whom they can mold (just like a carpenter to wood) and shove down their religious beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking for blind faith, acceptance without question, callowness, questionless faith etc etc, of those who are “rightly disposed”. Their primary targets for recruitment are the vulnerable, those who recently lost a loved one, the naive and gullible.

It therefore follows that those who are not “rightly disposed for everlasting life” and will not “survive the execution of divine judgment upon the wicked”, include most persons who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses; persons who are not “honest, humble, and hungry for the truth” (“the truth” refers to the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses); persons who question, scrutinize and criticize the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and have found them to be “weighed in the scales and lacking”.

By the way, the invitation to be “rightly disposed” will be fully opened on September 1st 2022, when Jehovah’s Witnesses in full force, resume knocking on doors and banging on gates in-person, especially on the weekend. Are you “rightly disposed” for “the good news of peace”?

“Young People—Choose a Path That Leads to Peace”

This section is specifically addressed to teachers, guidance counselors, principals and other education professionals involved with educating adolescents.

The information presented below is by no means exhaustive. If you would like to find out more about the misguided religious views of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding university and higher education, please download and install Watchtower Library; then search for “higher education”, “university” and “university philosophy” using the “Paragraph Scope”.

Additional information can also be found in paper The Educational Identity Formation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, published on August 12, 2022 by Mrs. Carrie S. Ingersoll-Wood, a Ph.D candidate and also a former Jehovah’s Witnesses. I strongly recommend that you download a copy of her 30-page paper, as it contains tons of relevant material to the subject under review.

In this convention lecture given by Mark Sanderson, a member of the Governing Body, his objective is clear throughout his entire speech – the promotion of the religious interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses should and must take top priority amongst young Jehovah’s Witnesses, even those who are in their pre-adult years, ahead of preparing well for being self-sufficient and possibly raising a family later on. This priority is referred to as having “career in [religious] full-time service” otherwise known as working for Watchtower without pay. Mark Sanderson is basically saying this is how we exploit young people without paying a single cent as salary; this is how you become a Watchtower’s slave and these are the obstacles faced by young Jehovah’s Witnesses in pursuing a “career in [religious] full-time service”.

The obstacles to a career in religious full-time service of Jehovah’s Witnesses are: Financial concerns, Pressure from others and Unexpected challenges. For each of these obstacles, the advise given is poorly based on the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. No assurances is given to young Jehovah’s Witnesses that any of Watchtower’s legal entities would assist them during hard, difficult times. This is simply not in the contract or agreement and is never mentioned in any of the video testimonials of this lecture.

Furthermore, what is very concerning is that Mark Sanderson is promoting vocational trade in lieu of university education for young Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any religion that outrightly advocates for and promotes a certain type of education that under-utilizes and suppresses the full potential of young persons, should be a red flag for school administrators and education professionals. This provides the right environment that ensures the young person remains enslaved to Watchtower and for religious exploitation.

This is not the first time vocational trade has been promoted in the religious material of Jehovah’s Witnesses (See The Watchtower, October 1st 2005, page 31 par. 18, Parents—What Future Do You Want for Your Children?). But why are Jehovah’s Witnesses brazenly anti-university anti-higher education? The following extracts from the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses are helpful.

The Watchtower, February 1, 1967, pages 75-76, par. 10:

Young people, for example, are easily influenced by the materialistic outlook of the world around them, and especially is this true if their parents are inclined to value highly the ability to command a big salary in the business world.

As a result, they may set their hearts on the education that is offered by the world’s institutions of “higher learning.” Their desire is not simply to learn a trade so that they can work with their hands and not be a burden on others; no, they want to be in an upper-income bracket. 

If they are going to succeed in the education they have set out to get, they have to work hard at it. Study of the Bible, association with the Christian congregation and participation in the Christian ministry are curtailed. Worldly associations predominate; worldly philosophy fills their minds. What happens? Perhaps not what they expected, though they would have known if they took seriously what the Bible says. (1 Cor. 15:33; Col. 2:8)

It may even come as a shock to their parents. Why, just recently a man who wanted his boy to have a “good education” so that life would be easier for him found that, in just one year at college, the boy had lost his faith [meaning he abandoned the religion]—something that no amount of money can buy. [Bold mines]

The Watchtower, November 1, 1992, pages 19-20:

On this basis parents will surely want to guide their children in the choice of a trade or occupation and consequently in the amount of education that will be needed. In many countries educational and occupational choices have to be made early on during secondary education. That is the time when Christian parents and youths need to seek Jehovah’s direction in making a wise choice, with Kingdom interests uppermost in mind [the interests of the child and any future needs does not count]. Young people have different propensities and aptitudes. Wise parents will take these into account. All honest work is honorable, be it blue-collar or white-collar. While the world may elevate office work and disparage working hard with one’s hands, the Bible certainly does not. (Acts 18:3) [Bold mines]

The Watchtower, October 1, 2005, pages 28-30:

Then there is the environment. University and college campuses are notorious for bad behavior—drug and alcohol abuse, immorality, cheating, hazing, and the list goes on……. Studies show that from 60 to 80 percent of students engage in this kind of activity. “If you’re a normal college student,” says one researcher, “you do it.”

In addition to the bad environment, there is the pressure of schoolwork and examinations. Naturally, students need to study and do their homework to pass the exams. Some may also need to hold at least a part-time job while going to school. All of this takes a great deal of their time and energy. What, then, will be left for spiritual activities? When pressures mount, what will be let go? Will Kingdom interests still come first, or will they be put aside? [In other words, Would participation in the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses be given top priority over university courses, assignments  and examinations?]  How sad that some have fallen away from the faith as a result of succumbing to the demands on their time and energy or of getting entangled in unscriptural conduct at college!

13 Of course, immorality, bad behavior, and pressures are by no means limited to the college or university campus…. Should Christian parents knowingly expose their children to that kind of environment for four or perhaps more years? (Proverbs 22:3; 2 Timothy 2:22) Is the risk involved worth whatever benefit the young ones may receive? And most important, what are the young ones learning about things that should come first in their life? (Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:21) Parents must give serious and prayerful consideration to these questions, as well as to the danger of sending their children away to school in another city or another country.[Bold mines]

The Watchtower, June 2019, pages 6-7, pars. 14-16:

Human philosophy ignores or contradicts Jehovah’s righteous standards. It does not nurture the fruitage of God’s spirit but, rather, “the works of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:19-23) It generates pride and arrogance, and the result is that people become “lovers of themselves.” (2 Tim. 3:2-4) These qualities are the opposite of the meek, humble spirit that God’s servants are encouraged to have. (2 Sam. 22:28) Some Christians who have pursued university education have had their minds molded by human thinking rather than by God’s thinking. Let us consider just one example of what can happen.

A sister who has been in full-time service for over 15 years says: “As a baptized Witness, I had read and heard about the dangers of pursuing university education, but I dismissed such warnings. I thought that the counsel did not apply to me.” What challenges did she face? She admits: “Studying for my courses took so much time and effort that I was too busy to linger in prayer to Jehovah the way I used to, too exhausted to enjoy Bible discussions with others, and too tired to prepare well for the meetings. Thankfully, once I realized that being immersed in higher education was damaging my relationship with Jehovah, I knew I had to stop. And I did.”

What effect did higher education have on this sister’s thinking? She answers: “I am ashamed to admit that the education I pursued taught me to be critical of others, especially my brothers and sisters, to expect too much of them, and to isolate myself from them. It took me a long time to unlearn these lessons. That time in my life showed me just how dangerous it is to ignore the warnings given by our heavenly Father through his organization. Jehovah knew me better than I knew myself. If only I had listened!” [Bold mines]

People from different religious denominations and beliefs attend university and other institutions of higher learning. Most held on to their spiritual principles during and after university. One of my friends recently obtained her doctorate in 2021 and her Christian beliefs are still strongly intact today. So why do the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses feels so insecure that a Jehovah’s Witness who attends university, will most likely abandon their faith and become “spiritually weak”? Is it that the foundation of the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “the truth” as it is sometimes called, woefully insufficiently strong to stand up to any criticism and scrutiny?

Regardless of the twisted, warped excuses and claims for being anti-university and anti-higher education, presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses at this convention and in their literature, five (5) things are very clear:

1. Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Governing Body have, without any sanctions, abused their freedom of religion by destructively demonizing and suppressing the pursuit of university and higher education and any secular ambition, by misusing and misapplying the scriptures. Whenever it suits them, they can send Bethel Staff to university but the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t. See Carrie S. Ingersoll-Wood (2022): The Educational Identity Formation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Religion & Education, page 9.

The ironic and disappointing thing, as was highlighted in my Friday Afternoon Review, is that “when things do go south, Jehovah’s Witnesses will, without blinking any eye, distance themselves from accepting any responsibility for the individual’s demise, saying that individual Witness and his family willingly chose and volunteered to promote religious interests at the expense of giving their child’s educational and future needs utmost priority.”

2. “….that by producing their own views on education and transmitting those views as values to members, especially parents, the organization [Jehovah’s Witnesses] expects members to heed their declarations about the dangers associated with obtaining a higher education, even if that means, in the end, a member’s sacrifice costs them their intellectual freedom….this study sought to offer perspective on how a singular educational viewpoint can stifle intellectual growth, stymie intrinsic motivation, and construct a negative social identity for and by the student that inhibits future academic pursuit.” [Bold and Italics mines] – Carrie S. Ingersoll-Wood (2022): The Educational Identity Formation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Religion & Education, page 25.

3. Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Governing Body are interested in one thing and on thing only – the manipulation and exploitation of young Jehovah’s Witnesses for their own selfish religious gain at the expense of laying a solid foundation for the future. This foundation can never be built solely on a vocational trade. Some young Witnesses have followed this unfounded foolish advise in previous years and have paid the price later on, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Pursuing the interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses is ALWAYS top priority under ANY circumstancesANY activity that takes away and diverts a person’s time and resources away from “pursuing Kingdom interests” is strongly discouraged. In this review, this activity is higher education. On the Friday Afternoon Review, this activity was Mr. Chibisa Selemani of Malawi going to South Africa to obtain basic needs for his family.

However, this activity can be ANYTHING – spending more time in the gym than “pursuing Kingdom interests”; homework that some Jehovah’s Witness parents found was too overwhelming, unreasonably excessive and very time consuming; working overtime and on the weekends; working on the Friday of the Convention; doing a course that clashes with the day and times of religious meetings – yes, even the latter has crossed hairs with  lots of congregation elders, and the course was probably just a 12-month duration.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses can find a scripture that also discourages obtaining employment and career advancement, they will do so and claim “freedom of religion” and “First Amendment Rights” . But guess what? They can’t. It is the wages/salaries of this same secular employment and career advancement that allows individual Jehovah’s Witnesses to fund and keep their religion running – so they are not going to bash that.

5. Pursuing university and higher education are both a threat to the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to the survival of their religionJehovah’s Witnesses firmly belief that any young member and any other adult who attends these institutions of higher learning, will most likely be exposed to development of their thinking ability and use newly acquired critical thinking skills to question their religious beliefs, “fall away from the faith”, eventually leave Jehovah’s Witnesses and change their religion. Why? The religious “Christian” beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “the truth”, is not sufficiently strong to stand up to any challenge, criticism and scrutiny, encountered and encouraged in the environments of university and institutions of higher education.

Dr. Eric Williams (now deceased Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago) once said “the future of this nation is in the schoolbags of its children” meaning that the future of any country is in education of its citizens.  Dr. Eric Williams never said “the future of this nation is in religion”.

BAPTISM: Go On Walking “in the Way of Peace”

Every convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, believers who are screened by the local congregation elders weeks prior to the convention and meet the qualifications, are baptized. Baptism by Jehovah’s Witnesses means:

1. The individual is now officially and publicly recognized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and as an official member of the religion.

2. Baptism is a public symbol of a dedication vow made privately prior to someone presenting themselves for baptism. Therefore baptism is similar to a wedding ceremony. See The Watchtower, April 2017, “What You Vow, Pay”.

3. Baptism constitutes a contract between the individual and Jehovah, “his organization”, the Governing Body and all the legal entities used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, except without the paperwork and fancy signatures.

4. The individual officially and publicly recognizes “Jehovah’s organization”, including the Governing Body and all the legal entities used by Jehovah’s Witnesses

5. The individual is now under a life-long obligation to follow the instructions and directions of “Jehovah’s organization”, including the Governing Body and all the legal entities used by Jehovah’s Witnesses

6. Blind loyalty, trust and faith is expected of the baptized individual towards “Jehovah’s organization”, including the Governing Body and all the legal entities used by Jehovah’s Witnesses

7. Baptism can also mean that after one is baptized and commits any religious offense (See Chapter 12 of “Shepherd the Flock of God” for a full but not exhaustive listing of religious offenses), the individual can be shunned (social abandonment, isolation and rejection) and avoided by his/her new network of Jehovah’s Witness “friends and family”. This shunning and avoidance applies equally to baptized minors who are exposed to the harmful religious practice of social isolation, exclusion and avoidance by his/her Witness peers.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deflect any responsibility for cutting-off and shunning members to the private choice of individual Witnesses, that they cannot force other Witnesses to be friends with those who “no longer belong to the [their] religious community” – Letter dated 17 February 2022 to the State Administrator of Norway, para. 59 and 61, page 13.

In Norway, “the State Administrator ruled that by actively encouraging and having detailed rules about shunning, Jehovah’s Witnesses prevented withdrawal from their religion; and therefore, violated the Religious Communities Act § 2 which states that the right to freedom of religion presupposes that withdrawal can take place unconditionally and without obstacles on the part of the religious or philosophical community”. See Jehovah’s Witnesses loses appeal in Norway for further details.

The Terms and Conditions of the “dedication vow”/contract found in the “Shepherd the Flock of God“, has never been provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses to persons before presenting themselves for baptism screening.

None of the points above (except for No. 1 and 2) are fully explained by Jehovah’s Witnesses to minors in this Convention lecture; in any of the Watchtower articles and publications; and in their recent article specifically addressed to minors “Young Ones—Continue to Make Progress After Baptism” found in The Watchtower, August 2022.

In most countries, the sale of cigarettes, alcohol and prescription medication are prohibited to minors. Likewise, a minor (and those shown in the photos below) cannot be said to have the competency and maturity required to understand the implications of entering into a contract with and becoming a member of a destructive, dangerous, harmful religious cult.

England
Germany

Ukrainian Refugee

Trinidad and Tobago
Florida, United States

September 2021

Florida, United States

September 2021

Florida, United States

September 2021

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2022 Convention Reviews

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Lester Somrah

Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

Read more from Lester