JW Leader Warns Against Going to College

Hemant highlights a speech given by Tony Morris, one of the members of the highest governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in which he ranted against the evils of going to college. It’s the usual claim that it will ruin your faith so you shouldn’t go. Some excerpts Hemant pulled from the talk:

… all too often, our young people have met with spiritual disaster, especially after leaving home and living on a university campus. So parents and children, you need to have a goal and you need to have a plan. If you’re missing either one, Satan will provide it for you. Young people, ask yourself: Why am I considering additional education? Is it because I’m pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah? Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more respected person or lead me to a better life?…

If we are in continued association with those who do not believe the same, it can erode our thinking and convictions… It is one thing to work on a job with others, and quite another matter to immerse oneself in an institution of “learning.”…

I have long said: the better the university, the greater the danger. The most intelligent and eloquent professors will be trying to reshape the thinking of your child, and their influence can be tremendous. One mom, I recall, asked me to try and help her son who was attending a prestigious-name university in Rhode Island. After visiting him, I later had to inform her that her son now believed in evolution. She refused to believe it until he finally told her himself. How sad.

If your religious faith can be destroyed by getting an education, it absolutely ought to be destroyed.

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  • alanb

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” -Martin Luther.

  • StevoR

    So parents and children, you need to have a goal and you need to have a plan. If you’re missing either one, Satan will provide it for you.

    Well that’s nice of ‘im ain’t it?

    It s also probly better than the JW plan for folks which alternatively would be .. ??

  • dhall

    “I have long said: the better the university, the greater the danger. ”

    Priceless. What a giveaway–admitting that knowledge and education is the enemy of stupidity and ignorance. Yes, keep your children stupid; it’s the only way they’ll continue to believe this shit.

  • John Pieret

    [Cough] Ignorance is strength!

  • raven

    If we are in continued association with those who do not believe the same, it can erode our thinking and convictions.

    This is authoritarian mind control cult 101. They always isolate people from everyone else. It’s abusive. Literally. Abusers always do this too, first thing.

    It isn’t just the JW’s. They don’t have the intelligence to think up their own abusive methods. A lot of the fundie xians and the Mormons do it too. That is why they homeschool and/or have their own private schools and colleges.

    Being exposed to normal people is a huge risk for them.

  • raven

    The JW’s aren’t the only ones terrified of thinking and education.

    The fundie xian cults and the Mormons are too.

    Their solution is to set up their own colleges and universities, safe from reality. AFAICT, you don’t learn much in these. But they do provide another important service. Dating arenas, match making services to enforce endogamy.

    Would you want your kid to marry a Mainline Protestant, Catholic, or gasp, horrors, an apathetic census xian?

    (They have a point. Would you want your kid to marry a fundie xian or Mormon?) This isn’t just snark or sarcasm, I’ve seen some major disasters here. The worst were marrying Mormons.

  • raven

    JW’s have one redeeming feature.

    They are so awful, they have a high rate of defections. For people born in the cult, it’s 50%. They survive by churn, constantly recruiting new members to replace the ones that run away.

    It’s a steep price. They shun. When you leave, you leave all your friends and family behind.

    And like all authoritarian cults, they have a high rate of child sexual abuse, which they have never dealt with.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Is it because I’m pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah?

    “What does God need with a tradesman?” ~ Capt Kirk.

  • Sastra

    Young people, ask yourself: Why am I considering additional education? Is it because I’m pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah? Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more respected person or lead me to a better life?…

    …Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more educated, informed, well-rounded person? Well – nip it. You’ve got to nip it in the bud.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are explicitly setting themselves into a double-bind situation because they send their believers out into the world to proselytize and convince outsiders of the reasonableness and solid foundation of their views — but they can only keep their conviction if they cut themselves off from interacting intellectually with outsiders. They’ve been ordered by authority to do both. It’s an impasse: they’re stuck nowhere.

  • noe1951

    Why do I never hear any of the religious people say “Go to college. Go to the best one you can afford and show everyone what a christ-filled life looks like. Think of the converts you can make, and go”

    I always assume it’s because they know their beliefs cannot stand up to logic and knowledge.

  • Sastra

    noe1951 #10 wrote:

    Why do I never hear any of the religious people say “Go to college. Go to the best one you can afford and show everyone what a christ-filled life looks like. Think of the converts you can make, and go”

    My guess is that we don’t hear of it because it’s probably very common…. and ordinary. The average theist does indeed think the best way of spreading the faith is to live in a way which shows what a life informed by faith can be and do. So your “go to college etc.” statement is so standard it doesn’t need to be stated like a sneaky strategy — or revealed to us by places like Right Wing Watch or Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

    The average believer doesn’t make “converting others” central to their religion or their lives.

  • raven

    Wikipedia:

    The 2008 US Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey found a low retention rate among members of the religion: about 37% of people raised in the religion continued to identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.[283][284]

    It’s worth than I thought. The runaway rate for people born into the JW’s is 63%.

    And you may never talk to your parents again, disfellowship. Religion, splitting families apart since about forever.

  • Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    Sastra: Yes. The people I knew at my prestigious and loosely Protestant college included someone active in the campus Episcopal ministry, as well as several sincere Catholics and at least one person raised in the Salvation Army. The latter said once that he thought I was more likely to be saved than the Catholics, because he figured none of us were Christians, the difference was that I knew I wasn’t. (Which is true, nor ever have been nor wanted to be.) I don’t think any of them were there primarily to proselytize, but they were all happy to talk about their religion if someone asked.

  • Scientismist

    One mom, I recall, asked me to try and help her son who was attending a prestigious-name university in Rhode Island. After visiting him, I later had to inform her that her son now believed in evolution. She refused to believe it until he finally told her himself. How sad.

    Yes, how sad. When I was in grad school I told my mother that I believed in evolution. She said, “Well, maybe your ancestors came from monkeys, but not mine.” My dad (who had been buying me science books since I was 8) had no comment.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    You’ve got to hand it to him: Tony Morris is exactly right. Education is religion’s greatest corrosive. Thoughtful reason is the enemy of blind faith. Good schools are inevitably anti-churches, with no overt anticlericalism or antisectarianism required. The antidogmatism is built in.

  • http://bespokebytes.com/ hackworth

    The most intelligent and eloquent professors will be trying to reshape the thinking of your child, and their influence can be tremendous.

    Oh noes, he figured out the plan!

    When I was teaching introductory programming we had only a couple of basic goals. The first one was to teach the students to think in a manner suitable for solving problems with a computer. The second was to give them a language to express their thoughts. So yup, my first goal was to reshape the thinking of a student. As an aside, an ex-JW was one of my favorite students since he was always willing to ask why and to question authority.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewasante andrewbrown not the one from the grauniad

    What I don’t get about this approach is surely the JWs have enouh money to set up a Liberty/Regent type “university” where they can play pretend scholarship to their heart’s content. Why create a tempting forbidden fruit of knowledge? Surely they know how that turned out.

  • anubisprime

    They do not like reality do they?

  • matty1

    @7 I disagree, the JWs have one other good feature, they do not seek political power over those outside their cult. They may try hard to convert you but if they fail they would rather ignore you than waste time forcing people who don’t believe to do believer stuff. I wish all fundamentalists were the same.

  • dingojack

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions. [1 Timothy 1.7]”

    St. Augustine of Hippo. De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim.

    Dingo

  • Al Dente

    As dingojack notes @20, an eminent Christian theologian considered the literal interpretation of Genesis and the Biblical literalists lost. This happened about 1700 years ago.

  • Reptile Dysfunction

    If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be any religious people.

    –Gregory House, TV doctor

  • http://frankdc.com frankdc

    Does this fear of undermining their faith explain much of the attacks on public education in general? Hmmm, underfund your public schools, watch them crumble, point to their failures, replace them with ? Sounds like a goal and a plan to me.

  • joe321

    Because they are themselves ignorant of nature’s forces and wish to have all men as companions in their ignorance, they are unwilling for anybody to investigate them, but prefer that we believe like peasants and not inquire into the [natural] causes [of things]. However, we say that the cause of everything is to be sought …. But these people, … if they know anybody so investigating, proclaim him a heretic. William of Conches (c1090 – c1154)

    Sigh, we really have not advance much in the past millennium, have we?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    When I was in grad school I told my mother that I believed in evolution. She said, “Well, maybe your ancestors came from monkeys, but not mine.”

    As someone who is descended from slave-owners — and before them, Vikings — I never could see why anyone would be upset at the idea of being descended from monkeys. What’s their alternative idea — that God created my slave-owning ancestors in his image? That God created the people who sacked Rome in his image?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Does this fear of undermining their faith explain much of the attacks on public education in general?

    You bet your ass it does. Faith-based anti-intellectualism is older than America itself, and is one of those hallowed Founding-Fathers-y traditions the Tea Party are trying to reinstate.