B J Kotwall
(Investigator 76, 2001 January)
Guilt by Association
Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) are strictly forbidden to celebrate birthdays – even sending birthday cards – under the penalty of disfellowshipping,
The Watchtower Society's (WTS) argument is that there are only two references in the Bible to birthdays and in both cases the pagan individuals (King Herod and the Pharaoh of Egypt), who celebrated their birthdays, had someone put to death. (Matthew14:6-10; Genesis 40:20-22)
To conclude that
particular day is evil
because something bad happened on that day is warped logic. Herod and
Pharoah were arbitrary and cruel rulers who not only put to death
on their birthdays but on other occasions throughout the year! All
the above two verses show is that the Pharaoh and King Herod were evil
The WTS says:
Nothing in the Bible text indicates that Job's children did anything evil. Their celebration is not portrayed as a pagan practice. And Job does not condemn the celebration. Moreover regarding Job it is said that he was "a man of blameless and upright life...who feared God and set his face against wrongdoing." (Job 1:1) So if God did not approve of observing birthdays Job obviously would not have allowed the celebrations among his children.
The birthday of
Baptist was also
celebrated. The "angel" who announced John's birth said:
Devastating Effect on Children
The ban on birthday celebrations per se may seem innocuous and minor. However, where children are concerned, the prohibition has far reaching and often shattering consequences. I have seen small children overcome with shock when told the first time that they cannot ever have their birthday celebrated or attend any other child's birthday celebration. It’s simply impossible for children to understand and accept. JW children feel left out and isolated from their peer group. Other children, who could be quite cruel, look upon the JW children as freaks and treat them as such. I am aware that many JW children hate going to school because they are ostracised and are the butt of cruel jokes and objects of ridicule.
David Reed in
his book Blood
Pagan Customs Observed by WTS
While giving undue attention to birthdays in an effort to show pagan origins the WTS glosses over other "pagan" practices which JWs follow.
An example is wedding rings – JWs use wedding rings although their own publication ranks "the ring in marriage" as pagan! (What Has Religion Done For Mankind? 1951 pp. 276-277)
There appears to be no indication that Christians in early centuries celebrated wedding anniversaries. But JWs have no objection in doing so.
The WTS uses the same names for the days of the week as other people, yet the names come from pagan objects of worship (the sun the moon) and from the names of gods and goddesses Twi, Woden, Thor, Frei, and Saturn. The names of some of the months are also pagan based.
(WT January 1, 2000 p. 20) But baptism has undoubted pagan origins.
Persians, Brahmins, followers of Mithra, and many other
practiced baptism long before Christianity arrived. The WTS admits
inception the WTS
in "paganism" and the occult. (See further details in Investigator No.
58 and No. 41) Nevertheless the WTS condemns innocuous pursuits like
celebrations supposedly because pagans celebrated them.