Jehovah’s Witnesses really stand out as different, this is because they want to appear that they are no part of the ‘world’. To define what they believe the ‘world’ is I will type out a piece from their ‘Reasoning from the Scriptures’ book published in 1985 and again in 1989.
The Italics are my own.
— page 435 World – Definition: When translated from the Greek word ko’smos, “world” can mean (1) humankind as a whole, apart from their moral condition or course of life, (2) the framework of human circumstances into which a person is born and in which he lives, or (3) the mass of mankind apart from Jehovah’s approved servants. Some Bible translators have conveyed inaccurate impressions by also using “world” as the equivalent of Greek terms that mean “earth”, “inhabited earth,” and “system of things.” The following discussion focuses its principal attention on the third of the numbered meanings of “world” as given above. —
From that it is clear that being different from everyone else is how Jehovah’s Witnesses believe is being ‘no part of the world’. This education in how to be different starts very young with children born into the Witnesses. Their school careers are dominated by it, their after school activities, their career choices, which sets them up for their life. There is a great deal that happens in a normal school environment that Witness children would need to ask to be excused, this could range from the school assembly. I couldn’t sing the school song in High School (Grade 6-10) because this song talked about pride in your school etc, it meant I wasn’t being completely neutral. Hence I would stand and not sing, really pissing off the prefects. School assignments revolving around certain holidays, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Youth Week, Political Holidays, Halloween you could not take part in. Then we come to after school activities. Here is another quote from a Jehovah’s Witness publication called ‘Organized To Do God’s Will’ published in 2005.
— page 141. To keep separate from the world while in school, young Witnesses should consider the danger of becoming involved in extracurricular activities. Classmates and teachers may not always understand your decision not to participate. However, pleasing God is what counts. This requires that you exercise your Bible-trained conscience and stand firm in the resolve not to become involved in worldly competition or nationalistic practices, which violate Bible principles. (Gal. 5:19,26) (Scripture has no relevance btw) By listening to the Scriptural counsel of godly parents and benefitting from the good association and instruction of the congregation, you young ones will be aided in holding to Jehovah’s righteous standards. —
Practically from birth children of Witnesses are trained to isolate themselves. Even making friends with school mates is something dangerous. In one paragraph they have managed to draw a child away from healthy activities and ensure that they think they will not be understood even if they tried to explain. Making a decision about college or university (tertiary education) also becomes a minefield because once again very dangerous things happen when you go to university (like learning critical thinking) so that is strongly discouraged too. A wise choice of studies could lead to a good career (I know that doesn’t always happen but I still think getting an education is way better than not getting one), since there will be no studying further a Witness youth’s choices become very narrow. The Governing Body then narrows it further by encouraging them incessantly to enter ‘full-time’ service. A young brother has a lot more choices than a young sister, her option is pioneering (full time knocking on doors and cart witnessing now I guess).
There you have it, a generation of minds moulded into drones for the Witness machine. When they do eventually get jobs, whatever they may be, it is probably not what they really have a passion for, again the isolation doesn’t end. Attending office parties, Christmas parties, or going out for drinks with your colleagues is out too. You should only be preaching to your colleagues not forging genuine friendships.
Entertainment choices are limited. Your every choice has to be examined under a magnifying glass as to its suitability. Attending music concerts are frowned upon because you’re spending a huge amount of time mingling with ‘worldly people’. I remember being told many times from the platform we don’t want to get MISTAKEN for a ‘worldly’ person by the way we dress or where we go and what we enjoy. Why? Because we might get destroyed at Armageddon if we look like ‘worldly’ people.
This insistence on not participating in certain holidays is also a way of isolating their members. They cite pagan origins as the reason, but in reality its all just another control mechanism. I’ve come to the conclusion the pagan origins thing is an often used and convenient scape goat. It is all about the control.
What things did you have to ‘separate yourself from’ while in school and as a adult as a Witness?