Are Jehovah Witnesses "encouraged" to not associate with non witnesses? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. When I was growing up, my grandparents use to use the phrase, "bad association spoils useful habits". In other words, it is best to only associate in social settings with those who are also JW's. Now, you are correct to put encouraged in quotes because while they encourage members to only socialize with other JW's, they also use fear tactics by the means of warnings. They warn their members what will happen if they socialize with others.
Now, I can't say that I disagree with the idea even now that I am not associated with the JW's. It is better to be friends with other like minded people because they won't tempt you to do what is wrong. I prefer to have all God fearing men and woman of God as my friends. They are a true blessing to me. They encourage me and help me in my time of need. I disagree with the Jw's on many things but this doesn't appear to be one of them.
Here are some quotes from the WBTS on this topic....
"Watchtower 2013 Feb study ed. p.24 "Our choice of associates. Of course, some contact with unbelievers ����ch as at school, at work, and when sharing in the ministry ���� unavoidable. It is quite another matter, though, to socialize with them, even cultivating close friendships with them. Do we justify such association by saying that they have many good qualities? not be misled,����rns the Bible. associations spoil useful habits.���� Cor. 15:33) Just as a small amount of pollution can contaminate clean water, friendship with those who do not practice godly devotion can contaminate our spirituality and lead us into adopting worldly viewpoints, dress, speech, and conduct."
Watchtower 2010 Sep 15 p.14
"The spirit of companionship that unites those who work together in God's service is far stronger than the spirit that unites others in the world who merely socialize together."
Awake 1996 October 22 p.15
Since worldly people are existing as slaves of corruption, their company cannot bring you true happiness.
Watchtower 1994 Feb 15 p.24
"We must also be on guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a business associate. We may reason, 'He respects the Witnesses, he leads a clean life, and we do talk about the truth occasionally.' Yet, the experience of others proves that in time we may even find ourselves preferring such worldly company to that of a spiritual brother or sister. What are some of the dangers of such a friendship?"
Watchtower 1995 Mar 15 p.11
"The majority of people have no interest in God and his purposes."
Watchtower 1986 7/1 p.26
"True, the majority of people disdain pure worship."
Watchtower 1987 September 15 p.12 Breathing This World's "Air" Is Death-Dealing!
"While some contact with worldly people is unavoidable-at work, at school, and otherwise-we must be vigilant so as to keep from being sucked back into the death-dealing atmosphere of this world. ... Let the world go along in its way, reaping its bad fruitage in the form of broken homes, illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, and countless other emotional and physical woes."
Watchtower 1984 October 1 pp.15, 19 Remain "Without Spot From the World"
"We must avoid the speech, conduct and attitudes that are so common among worldly individuals, but that are out of harmony with God's Word. For instance, hatred, greediness, shameful conduct and obscene jesting have no proper place in our life. We must 'put up with one another and be forgiving, even as Jehovah has freely forgiven us.' (Colossians 3:13) That is not the common worldly way of dealing with others, but it is the godly way."
True Peace and Security - How Can You Find It? pp.122,126 Survivors Must Be "No Part of the World"
"Only a minority has ever stayed free from the control of this invisible ruler and his forces. Thus the "world," that is, the mass of mankind alienated from God, "is lying in the power of the wicked one . This may sound hard to believe. Yet, do not most people of this world clearly manifest the attitude and works of God's Adversary? ... Worldly people, for example, heap honor and glory on those whose ambitious drive leads them to great wealth, power, or fame""
Watchtower 1970 March 1 p.148
"He will want to watch how he walks so he does not unintentionally begin acting like worldly youths."
Watchtower 1966 June 1 p.341
"If you are one of those rare persons that wants to serve the Creator today, that wants to give him exclusive devotion, that wants to do work that is pleasing in his eyes, that wants to receive his approval and his gift of life, then let Jehovah, by means of his spirit, cultivate in you the good condition of heart that is a mark of his people."
Watchtower 1954 December 15 p.759
"By giving the Kingdom message instead of giving mere money or material things they reach those who are really "poor in spirit," "conscious of their spiritual need," rather than just the self-seeking poor of this world who do not care to belong to Jehovah. Thus the unappreciative worldly poor who prefer to belong to Satan the "god of this system of things" are screened out."
Hope this helps,