Yes I would agree that a lot of harm can be caused by false religion. However, even a true religion can makes mistakes from time to time and cause harm. Any society that's never made a mistake should cast the first stone. You need to look at the overall intent of the religion and the overall condition of it's flock.
Many religious people make this same argument. And they agree that even God's true
believers may fall short of His glory. Thus, they can engage in the same practice of pointing at some problem in other
religions as proof that those do not have God's favor, while dismissing criticism aimed at their
religion by admitting that they're just imperfect human beings, and besides-- they mean well
. It depends on just how much harm you're willing to consider acceptable, which for most people is just enough to convince them that their own religion is the right one.
I think what it really boils down to is if the risks outweigh the benefits of association. And I think some associations are more risky than others.
My understanding may be out-of-date, but I am under the impression that where the Watchtower organization is concerned, there is no gray area in the matter of useful (versus potentially harmful) associations. When I was an active JW, I would not have dared visit a site that promoted or even discussed atheism, as the WT organization made very clear that exposing ourselves to non-witness teaching is dangerous to ourselves and to the congregation. For a Witness, there is no need of a risk/benefit analysis. They must shun anyone
who is removed (or who removes himself) from the organization. Those who wish to return are shunned to provide an incentive to stay on the straight and narrow. Those who forsake the organization are shunned to protect the rest of the membership from being led astray by whatever thoughts, ideas or attitudes corrupted him. The friend (or even family member) who becomes a bitter and divisive presence is to be treated no differently than the one who breaks away over a matter of conscience and promises to be discreet.
Among the benefits of forbidding the membership from seeking more than what is provided for by the organization is that it can shield them from information that might convince them that the organization is doing much more harm than it lets on. Which makes it more effective when they try to compare their religion to others to see which is true and which is not.
To promote higher education and a career above all else is harmful. Money was made for man. Man was not made for money. And there is entirely nothing wrong with reasonable creature comforts as long as these comforts do not become the primary focus of your life. In the case of Jehovah's Witnesses I don't know of any that are beggars. So whatever they do it must work.
That's not what I said. I said that denigrating
higher education and a rewarding career can cause financial harm and the resulting stress. And needlessly so, since it doesn't have to be either/or. I grew up in the South Bronx, and knew many families that struggled financially, including ours. But I also do not recall any of them becoming destitute. Like many tight-knit religious communities, JWs are very good at providing for one another. It's a great quality to have, and the ones I knew genuinely enjoy being generous and helpful to one another. In my experience, we felt as if we were the only ones that acted that way, which reinforced the "this is how you know we're the true religion