Mar 12, 2017

Jehovah's Witnesses' educational and professional deficit

Volume 32 No. 5
Religion Watch

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ low levels of education compared to other religions has affected members’ job prospects and led to a high rate of underemployment, according to a report on National Public Radio (February 19). The report cites Pew Research figures showing that only 9 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses get an undergraduate degree, well below the national average of 30.4 percent and the lowest of any faith group. The likely reason for this trend is that Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that secular education is spiritually dangerous, reports Luke Vander Ploeg. JW leaders discourage secular education with a video on the Watchtower organization website warning members of the ways higher education can erode religious beliefs and values. While the Jehovah’s Witnesses have traditionally accepted public schools, it seems home schooling is popular today, with some members saying their parents weren’t equipped for this task.

Among the 100 former Witnesses interviewed for the report, most said they felt short-changed of getting a better education to be able to reach their career plans. “The lack of higher education can translate into more tangible problems for Witnesses. Pew research shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the lowest earners of any religious group,” Vander Ploeg reports. George Chryssides, a specialist and author on the Witnesses, told RW that a “convergence on trades and self-employment enables JWs to have the needed flexibility for their house-to-house work, and in my experience they are quite good at discovering ways of saving money, while not engaging in austerity.” He added regarding Witnesses’ involvement in home schooling, “I think this is generally to avoid the children getting bullied and also to remove them from the pressures to observe festivals such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and the like.”

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