25 September 2016

How to Leave the Jehovah's Witnesses, No. 3: Gain Useful Education

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of getting to know oneself, and figuring out what exactly one's personality is. The thing is, years of being trapped inside the Jehovah's Witness cult will likely erase you of your own personality, resulting instead of clones with "the new personality", something that won't be helpful once you decide to leave. So you need to figure out who you really are. And at the same time, you need to figure out how to fend for yourself. So here's some practical words on how to do that, through education. This is quite crucial, especially since the Witnesses discourage anyone from gaining "worldly" higher education because after all, the end is near, so you won't be needing it.

I remember when I was younger, my parents were contemplating what to do with my education. Growing up (partly) in the Philippines, they raised several crazy ideas, such as me becoming a tricycle (tuktuk) driver, or me baking bread in a bakery. The common thread in these ideas is that these are all low-paying blue-collar jobs. While I have no inherent bias against these blue-collar jobs per se, what I find offensive is the idea that there is no desire to aspire for something larger and more challenging. They never prodded me to be a doctor, or a lawyer. After all, after Armageddon, there's no need for doctors nor lawyers anyway, right?

Another thing relevant to this is the motive. They wanted me to do these blue-collar jobs because this wouldn't be my main career. Instead, they wanted me to learn some basic skill or trade so that I could work part-time while preaching the good news full-time. I could drive the tuktuk or bake bread in the morning, so that for the rest of the day, I could go outside and preach door to door.

Again, this is in harmony with the idea that if you think that this world is temporary, and you're just waiting for Armageddon to come and destroy everyone who doesn't have the same faith as you, then you act in extended suspension, thinking that everything is temporary, and you don't have to invest in the current life, as the only thing important is the afterlife.

Unfortunately, there is no afterlife.

So when people decide to leave the Witnesses, they find themselves uneducated, with no usable skills. Most Witnesses haven't gone to college, let alone graduate school. Therefore, when they decide to leave, they find themselves lacking the education and credentials to establish themselves as part of the human work force.

And this is one that I want to address. I don't know how much time you have, how much resources you have, but if you plan to leave and have no education, then I highly suggest making every effort to gain one. My parents weren't the strictest: they allowed us kids to go to college, and they also didn't object when I wanted to continue on to graduate school (though I do sense that they would have preferred I didn't). Yet I know there are other families who are more strict, I have known some people who were being home-schooled because they had parents who thought that the public education was too dangerous for children of Witnesses to be in. In any case, I can only stress the importance of gaining skills, getting a degree, a certificate, qualifications, because when you get out, you won't be going out preaching anymore. Instead, your main focus is on how to enjoy this life you have, and for that you need income.

Yes, I hate to break it to you, but this is the only life you have. There is no Paradise waiting for you, so you don't have time to slack off and be lazy. If that is the case, then won't you use every opportunity to make your one and only life better? Would you want to be a tuktuk driver, or would you want to have a more comfortable life and be someone else, if you had the chance? I'm pretty sure most tuktuk drivers in the Philippines feel the same.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Everyone should be able to get some education, this is a unique chance to gain another perspective, open new horizons and maybe break free from traditions and oppressive customs.

    1. Zhu,

      It is interesting to see the correlation between religiosity and (lack of) education, the more educated people become, the less religious they are. After all, religion is just there as an explanation for things people don't understand, and when they finally see and understand why these things happen, then the role of religion is diminished.