Jehovah’s Witness Leader Rants Against Higher Education, Saying It’ll Lead to “Spiritual Disaster”

Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body member Tony Morris is the host of the January video on the new JW online television network and what he says is a terrifying tirade against higher education.

You can see the full episode here since it’s not embeddable, but in short, they show us that what JWs fear the most is being challenged on their beliefs — and places where your beliefs are scrutinized are to be avoided at all costs.

Here are some of the highlights:

At the 4:30 mark:

… 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.”

(He actually did hand quotes for that last word.)


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.

How sad that her son learned something that requires evidence instead of faith…

Rather than sending kids to secular universities, Morris advises parents to encourage their kids to learn a trade like carpentry. There’s nothing wrong with learning a skill like that, of course, but to demonize knowledge that might contradict one’s silly beliefs is one of the obvious problems with religion. To people like Morris, ignorance is bliss and fact-based education is kryptonite.

John Cedars, a JW watchdog, summarizes the 10-minute segment like this:

Thus the “three F’s” of a Tony Morris talk are deployed:

  • FEAR MONGERING — “Let me tell you about a nightmare scenario that could happen to you one day unless you shape up.”
  • FINGER POINTING — “Allow me to single out those who fell short of Jehovah’s expectations in this scenario, and who will pay the price for doing so.”
  • FAULT FINDING — “Most importantly, here are the main culprits in this whole sad story who bear the most responsibility and need to explain themselves to God.”
  • There is a fourth “F” in a quintessential Tony Morris talk, but to spare your blushes I will refrain from telling you it.

As transparent as these methods may be to you and I, it is sad to consider that they will work only too well on Witnesses who are stricken deep within their indoctrination.

As I express in my video rebuttal to Tony’s speech, Watchtower’s prohibition on higher education is an abhorrent manifestation of the organization’s all-encompassing greed and solipsism. To hijack the hope, promise and potential of young people in this grotesque manner by stifling their opportunities and assimilating them into their propaganda machinery as “pioneers” is utterly reprehensible and immoral.

That rebuttal video can be seen here:

We don’t hear much about the problems with JWs, but their beliefs are just as pernicious as those of evangelical Christians. The more we can shine a light on their awful ideas, the better chance we have of shaking someone out of the faith.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.