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Jehovah’s Witnesses take a neutral stance in politics and in the military. Participating in politics or becoming a member of the armed forces is a serious offence that can result in a baptised Witness being disfellowshipped from the organisation.

This article explains why Jehovah's Witnesses will not engage in warfare and says, in part:

Christians chose to remain politically neutral. No injustice or threat to them or the country in which they lived justified taking part in military action. ("Is War Compatible With Christianity?", Watchtower October 2009)

Shepherd the Flock of God (2011) Elder’s Manual – includes the following as a disfellowship offence:

No 19 – Non-neutral activities (involvement in politics and the military) – Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock (ks91-E) p.96

No 20 – Military service and non-military service including working casual work (certain civilian work has recently been made a conscience matter Watchtower 96 5/1 p.20) – Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock (ks91-E) p.96

I can understand why being trained to kill and using weapons to kill the enemy can be deemed as a serious offence, resulting in disciplinary action being taken. But how does political neutrality affect employment that is NOT connected with the military?

What if a Jehovah’s Witness is employed as a civilian within, for example, the police or a political department within Government? Take someone working in public office in the finance department, or in administration, or as a secretary/stenographer. Would that level of employment be viewed as a serious offence?

P.S. This question, asked in 2017, deals mainly with being conscripted into an army but does not deal with the question of employment within an organisation deemed to have political links: Have Jehovah's Witnesses always been politically neutral?

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    This may vary by country. I understand that the civil service is far more politicised in the USA than it is in the UK, for example.
    – TRiG
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 8:59
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    Re; employed as a police officer etc it’s not about political neutrality but carrying a weapon. wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2005808
    – 007
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 12:01
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    And many he’s work fir city state and National governments in a wide spectrum of jobs. It’s not considered political involvement like taking an oath in military service or elected office.
    – 007
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 12:10
  • He’s = JWs Autocorrect🙄
    – 007
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 13:07
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    Appreciate the input from TRiG and User 14. So it's all right to work for the City State and within National Government providing you don't take a political oath or bear arms?
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 16:26

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While some of the scenarios that are posed would not put a Jehovah's Witness in line for committing a serious offense, unless an action was taken that clearly violates Jehovah's principles, there is more to consider.

Another aspect that a Jehovah's Witness needs to take into consideration is conscience, their own and others.

To begin we could take the situation that a Witness has carefully considered a particular employment opportunity and believes that they are not violating any scriptural principles. This individual then has a clean conscience before Jehovah. But what about the conscience of others?

To explain further, I will present two situations that actually happened.

  1. A Witness was working for city hall. His employment did not put him in a position where his political neutrality was in jeopardy. At one point, he was tasked with moving some equipment, some of which was voting machines. He was not voting so his conscience was clean. The problem arose in which others in the congregation had taken an issue with his moving the voting machines. So in order to maintain a clean conscience and keep the unity in the congregation, he resigned from his employment.
  2. A Witness owns a painting business. He is well-spoken of in his field and has been recommended for different contracts. His name and business are suggested to an individual for a painting job. The job is to paint the exterior of a church. He considers the offer and because he will not be entering the church itself he decides to take the contract. He finishes the contract and is paid. Shortly thereafter, on the front page of the local newspaper is a story of the church having the exterior painted, and a photo of the witness is included. Of course, others in the congregation saw the article and the photo. (I don't remember the outcome of the situation.)

In both scenarios, a situation comes up that the individual probably not expect. This brings us to Paul's admonition:

1 Corinthians 10:23

All things are lawful, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.

An individual may not see anything wrong with a particular job or contract, therefore their conscience is clean. But how will it affect others within the congregation? Several scriptures help to see this point:

Romans 14:19

So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that build one another up. [bold mine]

1 Corinthians 10:32

Keep from becoming causes for stumbling to Jews as well as Greeks and to the congregation of God,

Philippians 1:10

that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not stumbling others up to the day of Christ; [bold mine]

Titus 1:6

if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children who are not accused of debauchery or rebelliousness. [bold mine]

At times, even after prayerful consideration, the decision that an individual takes may lead to a situation that they did not see or prepare for.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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    Your explanation is appreciated. Where employment does not involve swearing an oath to the military/the country or bearing arms, then Jehovah's Witnesses are constrained only by their conscience, which would include not giving cause to stumble another brother or sister.
    – Lesley
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 10:26

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