|During the year 2000, 6 million Jehovah's Witnesses spent 1.1
billion hours in various evangelistic activities in 235 countries,
including the distribution of over 700 million pieces of printed
material, and thousands of audio and video cassettes. 1|
|They recognize only one day of celebration: the Memorial of Christ's Death at the
time of Passover. Although they estimate that Jesus was born sometime during October, this date is
not celebrated. Members who are found celebrating "worldly" or "Pagan"
holidays, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Canada Day, Halloween, etc.) may
be disfellowshipped (shunned by other Witnesses).|
|Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate their own birthdays, because it
is considered a glorification of the individual rather than the Creator.|
|Certain practices are forbidden. Examples are: the use of images during worship,
cooperating with non-Witnesses in interfaith movements, and involvement
|They do not have a Sabbath; they regard all days as holy. There are five meetings each week:
|Public Talk usually each Sunday, when an Elder (or rarely a Ministerial Servant)
will deliver a talk about a specific topic.|
|Watchtower Study usually follows the public talk; it is a lesson based on a study
article in the current Watchtower magazine.|
|Theocratic Ministry School usually occurs on a weekday evening. Speakers practice
giving talks and witnessing.|
|Service Meeting usually follows the Theocratic Ministry School. This includes
training for various ministry activities. At times, elders will address specific items and
concerns for the congregation.|
|Congregation Bible Study (formerly called the Book Study) is held
together iwth the theocratic ministry school and service meeting. A portion of a Watchtower
publication is studied in depth.|
|There is a great deal of misinformation about limitations on
members' access to the Bible.
In reality, they are free to use any Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries etc.
that are produced by non-Watchtower publishers. They are encouraged to read the Bible.
Each Witness is given a goal of reading of the entire Bible in one year. They encourage
Bible study by the use of WTS publications as guides.|
|They refer to the Bible as consisting of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek
Scriptures, rather than Old Testament and New Testament. Like most Protestants,
they regard the books of the Apocrypha to be interesting historical documents,
but not inspired scriptures. 3|
|They only observe two sacraments:
|Baptism: this is done by full immersion of an believer who has
reached the age of responsibility, has accepted the faith, has
repented of their sins, and has dedicated their life to God.|
|Lord's Supper: this is done once a year at the Memorial of Christ's death.
This is held close to the Jewish Passover celebration. Only the
approximately 8,600 Jehovah's Witnesses who are part of the 144,000 Anointed Class actually
partake in the meal; the general membership (formerly called the Jonadab Class and
now called the Great Crowd) are present and observe.|
|They regard the world and its governments as currently being under the control of Satan. For this reason they do not
run for public office, salute the flag, join the Armed Forces, or vote in elections.
However, they do obey all government laws, unless those laws conflict
with their interpretation of God's laws.|
|They are taught to be absolutely free of racism and xenophobia. The
WTS has consistently and strongly promoted a lack of bigotry based on
race and national origin. However, this Kingdom Halls in some localities appear to have
deviated from this policy in the past, particularly decades ago in the Southern U.S.
|Like many conservative faith groups, the Jehovah's Witnesses is a sexist
organization. Women are excluded from all positions
of authority, except the teaching of other women who are recent converts. The
leaders of the local congregation, the elders, are all men.
|Also in common with other conservative faith groups, members are taught
that men and women are to hold different roles within the family; they teach a complete
separation of responsibilities and duties by gender. The husband is
expected to play the leadership role; wives are expected
to be submissive to their husband. They regard these policies as
biblical, and non-sexist.|
|They are dedicated to the principle of
religious freedom and have pursued dozens of cases of religious discrimination and
persecution to the United States Supreme Court and through the court systems of other
countries. In doing so, they have made it easier for their own group to
proselytize, and have contributed greatly to religious freedom for
persons of all faiths, and of none.|
|A variety of methods of enforcing membership discipline are used.
|Members may be reproved in private during a meeting with the elders. A
public announcement may be later made to the congregation that they had been
reproved and found to be repentant.|
|Members who are
found guilty of serious violations of teachings and practices, and who refuse to
repent are disfellowshipped. Fellow members are then required to shun him/her
completely, having no contact. If the disfellowshipped person is a family member,
the group's official position is that they are to be treated normally within the
family. However, they are made to understand that
their actions are disapproved of. There is no discussion about WTS matters in
their presence. Many families do not follow the official policy and totally
shun the disfellowshipped member. |
Disfellowshipping does not affect the relationship between the
individual and God. Witnesses understand that sometimes humans make
errors and disfellowship a member in error.
Disfellowshipping can have a devastating effect on a person whose entire religious,
family and social support systems are grounded in the Society. In rare instances, it has
led to profound depression and even
suicide. However, it is often successful when the errant member repents and is
reinstated back into the congregation.
How you got here:
- The Watchtower, 2001-APR-1, Page 3.
- "African American Issues" describes, from a black perspective, the
Jehovah's Witnesses' attitude towards race. See: http://www.freeminds.org/
- Kelly Saivo, "The Truth of Jehovah's Witnesses," Gilroy Dispatch,
Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written on: 1996-SEP-29
Last updated on: 2009-AUG-16
Author: B.A. Robinson