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12 things you never knew about Jehovah’s witnesses

  1. The sect now known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses was started by Charles Taze Russell, who was born in 1852 and worked in Pittsburgh as a haberdasher. In 1879, he began the Watch Tower—what would later be known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the teaching organ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their headquarters is at Brooklyn, USA.
  2. In 1931, “Judge” Joseph R. Rutherford, the new leader, changed the name of the sect to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which he based on Isaiah 43:10 (“‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen…’” New World Translation).
  3. They don’t have churches; they have “Kingdom Halls” instead. Their congregations are uniformly small, usually numbering less than two hundred.
  4. They baptize by immersion and agree to work actively as missionaries. Many missionaries take only part-time jobs so they can devote more time to their evangelization. They have no separate, ordained ministry as is found in Catholic and Protestant churches.
  5. They have their own Bible, called the New World Translation, which is used by no sect other than the Witnesses. The New World Translation was produced because it buttresses Witnesses’ beliefs through obscure or inaccurate renderings. For example, to prove that Jesus was only a creature, not God, the New World Translation’s rendering of John 1:1 concludes this way: “and the Word was a god”. Every other translation, Catholic and Protestant—not to mention the Greek original—has “and the Word was God.”
  6. They don’t believe in the Trinity (they say only the Father, Jehovah, is God). They don’t believe Jesus is God; they identify Jesus with Michael the Archangel. The Holy Spirit is not a person but a force. They don’t believe in hell. The soul is mortal (not immortal).
  7. They believe in the battle of Armageddon: the final conflict between God and the Devil—the forces of good and the forces of evil—in which God would be victorious. This was first predicted to happen in 1914 then later pushed to 1975. Now, the Watchtower says that Armageddon will simply occur “soon,” and it is no longer tied to a particular, literal generation of people.
  8. The JWs operate no hospitals, orphanages, schools, colleges, or social welfare agencies. From their perspective it will all disappear in a few years anyway, so they don’t expend their energies in these areas.
  9. Members may be “disfellowshipped” for a variety of reasons, such as attending a Catholic or Protestant church or receiving a blood transfusion. Disfellowshipping is the sect’s equivalent of excommunication.
  10. They recognize the legitimacy of no governmental authority, since they believe all earthly authority is of Satan. They will not serve in the military, salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, vote, run for office, or serve as officials of labor unions.
  11. They don’t celebrate events such as Christmas, Easter or birthdays.
  12. No matter how peculiar their doctrines, they deserve to be complimented on their determination and single-minded zeal. If only Catholics and other Christians had such zeal for the Lord and their church…God bless you.
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