"Ignorance is not innocence ... but sin." - Robert Browning
I am often asked to share what shocks me the most about Jehovah's Witnesses. After 40+ years within the 'organization,' my answer is always the same: the vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses know nothing about their 'religion,' the Bible, their own literature, nor their own 'organization.'
For many outside Jehovah's Witnesses, they may seem like a small thing. After all, people join organizations all the time without any knowledge of it's history or inner workings. However, it's important to note that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society claims to be home to God's one and only 'faithful slave' here on earth. They alone have 'the truth' and they alone dispense it to the entire planet. They openly claim that being associated with the Watchtower Society is a matter of life and death!
With life and death in the balance, one would expect each and every Jehovah's Witness to take the matter of being educated on their faith, the history of their religion, as well as the Bible itself, to be the paramount responsibility in their lives. The lives of every person on the planet, including their families, DEPENDS on them sharing this 'life giving' knowledge to every person they meet. Surely, a Jehovah's Witness would know all the facts before they shared this information with others, right?
The Bible itself states:
"... do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself?" - Romans 2:21
To emphasize the importance, the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses make the following bold claim:
"In the New World society of Jehovah's witnesses you find people from all walks of life, many of whom lack diplomas from mans centers of learning; yet these people know the Bible, they are teachers. They accept with eagerness the obligation of teaching others Gods Word." - Watchtower 1962 Sep 1 p.530 par. 22
Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.
After reading the above comment or one of the thousands of bold claims to be God's only 'true' organization, a person would expect that they could approach any one of the 7,965,954 members in 239 lands around the world requesting information that may save their life! Certainly someone that had been a Witness for several decades could supply life saving answers to any question someone may have, right?
You would expect that every person that was baptized and made a dedication to the religion (or ANYTHING for that matter), would have taken painstaking measures to know everything possible before committing their lives to the organization. They would have studied the Bible, the history of the organization.
You would be wrong again.
To illustrate: Imagine telling people you were a doctor and able to save lives. The problem: you've never even read the manual. You have never been to medical school, nor have you ever had any hands on training. Would you trust your child to such a 'doctor?' It's absurd. Nonetheless, Jehovah's Witness publishers claim to have life giving knowledge to share. This all depends on them taking in knowledge themselves! Most are entirely too lazy to research anything for themselves.
To say it's ironic is an understatement. Many wouldn't dream of missing their favorite TV show or spending time in a hobby.... but will go their entire lives serving this organization or claiming to serve it.... without ever putting in the effort to know the organization's history, basic doctrines or changes in leadership. They will give up some of life's greatest joys such as children, college, holidays... without any understanding as to why; instead leaning on the same canned response over and over again: 'the Society says so.'
But more importantly, people seem to think ignorance is 'okay.' As noted above, chosen ignorance is not innocence.....it is sin.
Choosing a Path of Ignorance
"Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
― Thomas Edison
While I was shocked at the lack of knowledge among my fellow worshipers, I was even more shocked by the gross lack of effort to obtain knowledge and truth. This became especially true once I left Jehovah's Witnesses.
Despite being told they hold the key to saving humanity...to saving children, to the promise of eternal life, to the end of misery....
..... they embrace a path of chosen ignorance.
Despite all the proof being at their fingertips, on their personal bookshelves, on their CD Rom libraries... Jehovah's Witnesses, considered both 'strong' and 'weak' won't seek the truth. They choose to bury their heads in sand.... despite claiming their very lives depend on knowing the truth.
It would be reasonable to expect that once you have brought some of these painful facts regarding the religions history or gross disobedience of Bible principles to their attention...that they would react like Josiah, tearing their clothes apart. Well....that may be a little dramatic. However, you would expect that a person so 'dedicated to God' would run home and make every effort to unearth the truth. To study... to do whatever it takes to find out the truth of the matter.
Shockingly, most do not. It is much easier on their current life to ignore the facts and continue blindly following something that is obviously wrong.
For decades of my life I too had just accepted what I heard at a Kingdom Hall or was passed down to me by a fellow worshiper. It wasn't until I was a congregation elder that I began to wonder why 'we' so blatantly disobeyed the basics of Christ's example. There were many times that I wished I could be like my peers, sticking my head in the sand and just moving on. But I couldn't do it.
For many years, I dismissed the fact that so many I shared 'worship' with truly had zero knowledge of what they believed in. I even learned to dismiss it in my fellow congregation elders....telling myself that these men just weren't 'student' types, but offered other gifts. Keep in mind, that men that serve as elders literally deal with life and death matters at times. Everything from blood transfusions, to molestation. Nonetheless, few I ever knew could quote basic Bible scriptures, much less counsel someone with such life altering problems.
To this day, many of those I love dearly continue to put no effort into fully understanding a religion they dedicated their lives to. Unknowingly, (this in itself is so ironic) Jehovah's Witnesses stand up at a circuit or district assembly and pledge allegiance to an organization. They are required to answer 'yes' to the following question before they are immersed in baptism:
"Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism." Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.30
You will note that this is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. But even more damning is that nearly every person answering 'yes' to this questions...often in front of thousands... knows almost nothing about Jehovah's Witnesses.
People who have been baptized Witnesses for decades are literally stumped if you ask them basic questions about their organization. The same is true of the Bible, doctrines of the Governing Body or Watchtower history. They will sing songs from their Kingdom Melodies songbook at meetings...songs with lyrics that talk about living or dying for their faith....without even knowing what their faith includes.
Why? How do good people with an honest desire to know and please God fall into a path of chosen ignorance?
Laziness and Fear - The Perfect Formula for Ignorance
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato
Ignorance feels a lot better than fear.
The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society feeds it's members a very steady dose of fear. To question the 'faithful and discreet slave (recently changed after decades to be the Governing Body alone) is a one way ticket out of the organization...and a lifetime of shunning from friends and family.
Any person who actually makes an effort to think and question something from the organization, is at the least labeled weak, at the worst, labeled an "apostate." To give the reader an idea of how an apostate is viewed, look no further than the Watchtower magazine:
"True Christians share Jehovah's feelings toward such apostates; they are not curious about apostate ideas. On the contrary, they "feel a loathing" toward those who have made themselves God's enemies, but they leave it to Jehovah to execute vengeance." - Watchtower, November 1st, 1993, page 19
"Satan was the first creature to turn apostate. Modern-day apostates display characteristics similar to those of the Devil. Their mind may be poisoned by a critical attitude toward individuals in the congregations, Christian elders, or the Governing Body. Some apostates oppose the use of the divine name, Jehovah. They are not interested in learning about Jehovah or in serving him. Like their father, Satan, apostates target people of integrity." - Examining the Scriptures Daily, August 18, 2011
To even question the writers of the Watchtower magazine makes you a Son of Satan. The effect of such non-stop fear mongering is millions of people who wouldn't dare allow themselves to think or do research into whether a matter or new doctrine is true. Of course, this alone shows that choosing a path of ignorance on ANY comment regarding God, His Word or any organization he claims to support... is an act of disobedience! Choosing ignorance based on fear isn't acceptable according to the Bible:
"Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements* to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" - 1 John 4:1
Fear of shunning; of a life absent of love from family and friends, causes many to languish in a life of ignorance.
"Nothing sways the stupid more than arguments they can't understand." - Cardinal de Retz
While many outsiders would understand how fear could affect a person, it's much more difficult to understand how a person could fall victim to it's partner: Laziness.
While laziness is a part of human nature, it has no place in matters of 'life and death.' Thousands of Witnesses have refused blood transfusions or cling to matters of 'neutrality' in politics...leading to their deaths. Every Witness would tell you that their faith is the most important part of their life. NOTHING is more important than being a loyal Jehovah's Witness.
However, they will spend more time setting their DVR for a TV show then studying their faith. They simply wrap themselves in the 'security blanket' of weekly meetings in order to feel educated. These meetings include Watchtower literature with predetermined questions that each person in the audience underlines and parrot's the answer back to the person on stage. Very few put out anymore effort than that.
Nowhere is this more evident then in their recent change to their foundation doctrine on 'generations.' For decades, Jehovah's Witnesses have gone to millions of people's doors to tell them that the generation that saw 1914 would not pass away before the world came to an end. Their message was "become a Jehovah's Witness or risk death!" You may have noted that it is now 2014 and that 'generation' is in fact 100 years old....or....likely very dead. Shockingly, millions of Jehovah's Witnesses now accept the Governing Body's explanation that Jesus meant 'overlapping generations.' Aside from that absurdity of that message, as well as millions just accepting it, very few Witnesses will put any effort into studying it!! Even more ironic is the fact that many within the religion couldn't explain the basics of the original doctrine they themselves were preaching to people!
While this recent change caused some to raise their eyebrows, those same people make no effort to look into the long history of failure this organization has been preaching. Even if mentioned to them, you're likely to get a "yeah, I need to look that up" response... about something they claim to mean life or death for them and everyone they know. They then walk away and forget the entire conversation.
What are the implications of caving to fear and laziness? What is the result of choosing to be ignorant?
No Effort is Still Sin
"Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance." - W. Clement Stone
Despite caving into fear and laziness, a Jehovah's Witness cannot change the truth.
You will often hear a loyal Witness saying 'the light gets brighter' or 'we are making adjustments' as if truth somehow changes and morphs into something new. Truth doesn't change because you want it to or need it to.... it continues on as truth.
The Watchtower Society and the Governing Body have consistently failed in their predictions since the late 1800's. Coupled with their ever changing doctrines on everything from blood to college to who the 'faithful slave' is (Newsflash: it's a parable, NOT a prophecy people!)... you have a long line of proof that they are no different from any other religion or cult. Clearly, they continue to use the tools of confusion and a heavy hand of authority, to keep Jehovah's Witnesses in line.
The fact that millions would rather be associated with them, despite understanding, disbelief or ignoring the facts.... isn't going to change the truth: They are men abusing power in the name of God.
For those that continue to hold the Bible dear, you will find that choosing ignorance is not choosing innocence. It's like looking the other way when you hear a woman scream 'rape'... we each have a responsibility. To ignore the facts is in itself an attitude... and a sin.
However, the most significant sign that should drive a Jehovah's Witness to reevaluate is the their lack of personal happiness. The Watchtower Society has long put to print that her people are the 'happiest people on earth.'
"In fact, as a group, they are the most privileged, the most successful, and by far the happiest group on earth today, as you will see in the next article." - Watchtower, March 1st, 1989 page 3
Aside from the absurdity and arrogance of such a statement, it isn't true. If ignorance is truly bliss, it isn't evident among Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, there are just as many problems, challenges and pain among Jehovah's Witnesses as any other organization.
There is simply no better way to say it then the words of Robert Browning:
"Ignorance is not innocence ... but sin."
It is my sincere hope that the many honest hearted, kind people among Jehovah's Witnesses will some day crash through the barriers of fear and laziness to discover the truth about their organization. In the meantime, be assured that there are many who were once very dedicated to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society that have freed themselves from such painful 'shackles' to find happy, fulfilling lives. Choosing ignorance is still just that... a choice.
Antonio50S on July 19, 2020:
I was a little reluctant about mentioning somebodies Hub, but i do see the funny side to things as well now.
No point still having the same attitude in your mind.
Antonio50S on July 19, 2020:
Just Quoting what you said.
"Jehovah's Witness cannot change truth"
That is so true Darrin, Considering they don't go above the things written, not sure where they keep getting their new Revelations from :)
The light gets brighter ? ( John 16:13 ) When "The Spirit of truth, comes, he will guilde you into all truth"
How many times have they changed their views just to do a complete u-turn ?
As you said, they Clearly continue to use the TOOLS of confusion and heavy hand of authority, to keep Jehovah's Witnesses in line. "They are MEN abusing power in the name of God" That is "Very True"
Just posted a comment on ( Mandy Jones, Hub Page, My stolen childhood. ) About ( Galatian 2:1-10 ) And about Pauls views of that First Century Jerusalem Council, Or Governing Body.
I think I'll Stick with the Red Pill :) Try not to laugh.
Nagendra Kumar from RAWANG on November 06, 2019:
There are several reasons why people join JW despite knowing that the organisation is biblically different from other Christian denominations. First, traditional churches often have members who refused to welcome new members or someone who is curious inside their church. They are extremely cliquish and these drives away many people. Trust me, I went to quite a number of churches for about 9 years including Roman Catholic Church, the JW's, Seventh-day Adventists, Anglican, Lutheran, independent churches before finally settling down for the past 2 years in a local Presbyterian Church and that also in an Indonesian service, not the normal English service. The problem with some of the churches were that, as I mentioned before, selfish members who refused to accept newcomers to their inner circle and often alienating them during a Church service. The JW, for all their abominations, did accept newcomers warmly, and that is the reason why, the organisation is growing rapidly every year
Anonymous-350 on September 24, 2018:
To the author. Just responding to ( True Truethseeker ) comment below about you not getting the support you anticipated.
Maybe truthseeker should visit Ex-JW site ( JWsurvey.org ) and read all the thoudands of Ex-JWs testimonies and experinces of why they left their organisation.
Also check out the "Australian Royal commision" on you tube, about the institutional child abuse's that was going on within the Jehovahs Witnesses.
True Truthseeker on January 29, 2018:
I am very surprised that you do not seem to get the support you might have anticipated. Truth is, most persons who know JWs personally cannot agree with you. The facts will show that those who truly seek and search the Scriptures as for hidden treasure eventually turn their backs on the fallacies of the denominations, the catholics, Islam and all false religions. When they decide to get baptized, where else can they go, but to the Christian Witnesses of YHWH/ JEHOVAH? If you know of any other, please let us know.
Tony Muse from Texas, USA on October 02, 2017:
Thanks for this article. Are there any know JW's that post here on HubPages? I'm not sure, but I think that I may have encountered a couple of them working in tandem.
Khalif Foster on August 23, 2017:
Want to understand the comparison between in JW environment and non-JW environment, while you were in JW environment, you were sad, frustrate, and not happy with the inward view of yourself that you are better than other, so you look down other people? With the pressure of doing things in JW, what they tell you. You didn't want to do.
Non-JW environment, you have no pressure of doing things from JW, what you decide is yours. So, the problem between JW and now is you don't want people to tell you what to do and you want to be independent and make the decision yourself. Decide right and wrong. Despite your parents, people in KH are not cruel to you, right, not mean to you as not care about your feeling as emotional oppress you or/and physical oppress you.
I doubt they are cruel that they are emotional and physical oppress you, otherwise, parents and people in KH are contradicting the bible, which should be love and nice, and kind, not mean that is opposite of Jehovah's quality. And in awake and watchtower, there is no oppress of physical and emotional, right?? It is just decision of right of wrong that each does follow.
Your parent is still there?? If they are, then they are not feeling oppressed. It seems you have surface knowledge of God will destroy you and you were being in fear with deep knowledge of not aware and why, so that surface knowledge is oppressing you, plus inward knowledge of past in KH that you don't know why no friends, why to go the meeting, etc.
So, basically you don't understand why you should work for JW, which you should work for yourself and only yourself or no work at all yourself to do any action that you want to base on yourself that affect people or not, so now you are free as you are happy with no oppress so no work for other people, just be independent.
If they are a cult, then why there are people there and why they are not like you to leave the cult and cult will disappear the instant of being an aware cult is damage to people's attitude. For example, your attitude of JW was bored to death and frustrated, not knowing why.
The problem ya have to open mind to understand why and open heart to feel connect and resist the seemingly good, but it is temporary good, like birthday, Christmas, etc. You have open mind and open heart at surface level that you fear which your heart is open, and your mind is being aware that God will destroyed you if you disfellowed or so, ya were left as walk away. But no understanding of deep level from mind and heart. I am sure ya see JW are not bad, so why label as cult?? Ok, make sense logically you label them as a cult because JW is under human's decision, like government, so the government is cult in 4 years, so all things that are human's decision are a cult, like your parent, does that mean your parent is a cult? I guess it means a group of people, not individual people, like a parent, a parent is an individual group. Not group-group.
So, logically if you love your parent, then you can love JW also, because your parent was involved with JW, does it reduce your love or ya don't love your parent?? Because it is the same Comparision between parent and organization, what parent teaches, also what organization teaches, since the organization is a higher number of the group, so it is a group-group, not an individual group, like a parent. If you label a negative word to an organization that means you have no love for an organization, except your parent? Will you provide a negative word to your parent also?
I guess it comes down ya don't believe in God or not aware that God is a person with feeling like humans that can reward you or punish you, for that reward and punish, you need to understand God, since God is the highest number of group, so an organization is a child or a wife, in Bible says. The point there is series of learning from highest to lowest.
If there is no pressure which you means no one telling you what to do, and you are free to do what you want, but it is illogical since it is good to be told what to do because we do not know everything, but God does, what He tells us, we will do and be happy, because that is in balance and logical in term of number. Higher knowledge beats lower knowledge, after all, in the bible, the group was against to Moses, which means in the bible, was against to God, since God appoint him, so he is a leader. So, a sub-leader and c0-leader at the same time. A co-leader make a decision and make the final decision, a sub-leader do not make the final decision, but do make a decision over the congregation and other stuff. The Bible is the leader, I guess ya are not aware, so you assume they are following human, not bible.
We decide being told what to do and obey or resist, we have a choice.
If ya love your parent, then it is not fair you don't love the organization, after all, your parent love the organization, so you can love the organization. Ya have to understand why your parent obeys organization. In fact, if your parents not interest in the organization, then look at people, why they are interested and learn from that interest to understand, so your mind and heart will be open.
If you are not following God, that means you are following yourself or another human? You or other human are same because both of you are human, so it is co-leader as the decider of right and wrong. JW is a sub-leader to God. Satan is a c0-leader to God as want to make the decision to equal God, not under God.
Darrin Hart (author) on August 20, 2017:
I'm VERY happy to hear you're out. All of us raised in 'the truth' have similar scars! Please continue to move forward; pursue your goals ...and know, you have made the right decision for YOU!!
RightWayGirl on June 14, 2017:
I was born into this religion without a choice an was indoctrinated. My mother was a slave to this organization. It was how we received her attention and was the way we earned it by being good JW children. It was hard being a child of a JW we had no friends and were alienated especially during holidays of which like any child we all wanted gifts at Christmas or a birthday celebration. We always felt like outcasts. Growing up with this attitude we are better than everyone else caused a narcissist personality. To strive for perfection and having only perfect people around us still effects me today, even though its been a very long time since I left. I liked the feeling of knowing everyone at meetings they were our family in the congregation. But I never liked the meetings and was bored to death. I hated when my mother would pinch the life out of me when I went to sleep as a very young child or squiggled in my chair. They were allowed to take us in the bathroom and hit us until we stopped being a normal child. Some of these people were ruthless. We were told that the world was going to end in 1976 and we couldn't think about an education, college. It was a very terrifying year for my sisters and brothers.
I see my sisters and brothers that are still in this religion and they are paranoid and have mental health issues. They can't hold a job. They are afraid of their own shadows. They tell on each other and have been disfellowshipped, but then tow the line and are restored. One was disfellowshipped for smoking and the informant was my other sibling. When I walked away at the age of 19 I was scared to death that God was going to strike me down. They all told me I had blood death on my hand. It was the hardest thing to do, but I couldn't live in bondage any longer. I wanted to go to school, so I went into the world and sinned and by that, I mean live a normal life. I thought well I'm going to hell anyway so I might as well live it up. The lack of knowledge I had and ignorance after 19 years was amazing. I never knew Jesus and what he died for and how I could be forgiven, It took me 10 years for me to walk into a church and be saved, it took every amount of courage to open that door. It was the first time I knew the love of a forgiving father and to know what it mean't to Love God and love my neighbor. I needed healing. I was finally loved and not rejected any longer. All I can give here is my experience and the truth. This is a cult, it cut me from my family, caused my family to never respect me or my life. I remember things my mother would teach me from the Society and then years later deny it. I would have arguments with my teacher in grade school and be embarrassed, ridiculed and told I was wrong. Then later told there was more information or again they didn't say that. I am thankful however, that I left and found joy and peace in my life, and hope that others with good hearts are able to do the same thing. It takes time to remove the damage that was done, but it will happen.
Darrin Hart (author) on May 23, 2016:
For a list of 'wrongs' or misguided direction, please read the blog again. I've included references from their own literature for you to research.
Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on April 25, 2016:
I have just read your excellent hub which makes so many very valid points about the Witnesses.
Darrin Hart (author) on August 31, 2014:
Thanks for your many questions Mellow,
Jehovah's Witnesses suffer from cognitive dissonance. This 'organization' has taught people a false hope for well over 100 years. People who are born in (like myself) are very vulnerable to living a life of subconscious fear. Your many question are very easily answered in the blog you read. The vast majority of JW's stay in because family, friends and often times, their employment has long depended on their association with JW's. In addition, the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses continues to heap on the fear.....consider their words not mine:
Wathctower, 2013 11/15 p.16 par.17 -- " At that time, the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not. "
That comment follows in the footsteps of cults. Consider the James Jones, David Koresh, etc.
Mellow03 on August 30, 2014:
Hi, since you were a longtime JW, why were ya JW?? Since you mention 40 years JW, then as an adult you were JW, but you left because you say you feel something is wrong, but you were in ignorance as resist the wrongness in you and assume everything is fine. But why were ya JW as an adult?? Were you force or want to go to KH as a child, or it was just an adult or you went JW as your decision, with no one telling you what to do, except JW. You say basically JW don't follow Christ's Example. So, you basically feel they always ignore Christ's Example, and just follow as assume right, but you were not assume right, but feel definitely wrong and left JW? So, what kind of wrongness did JW have? I doubt it is big wrong like hurtful directly and other stuff and small obvious way of hurting people, or you would leave JW much sooner. But you feel JW is wrong but behind the veil of goodness that people see, but behind the veil, there is wrongness? The question is why don't people leave, like you leave if they can see the wrongness behind the veil of goodness? What cause you feel what is wrong that you see behind the obvious?? Or not so obvious, base on using the word you use 'chosen path of ignorance' which means you can see the wrong, but chose to ignore and accept it. Like I say, I doubt it is obvious in a big way, hurtful directly and etc, or they will leave right away. But obvious in a small way. I doubt you were sad and unhappy during those 40 years, unless you were unhappy, but not too unhappy so you would leave or want to keep what you like and don't want to lose by dis-fellowship if possible. Or you were in ignorance happy, but feeling unhappy. Well, ignorance can mean don't know but going on as everything is ok or ignorance can mean do know but going on as everything is ok. So, 'Chosen path of Ignorance' is different from 'Ignorance' alone?