"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.