Jehovah's Witnesses are members of an international religious organization who believe themselves to be the restoration of first-century Christianity. Founded in the 1870s by Charles Taze Russell, official membership now stands at over 6 million. They are known for their extensive preaching and publishing activities, with The Watchtower and Awake! religious magazines being their most widely known publications. Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, they are directed by a Governing Body.

Jehovah's Witnesses are socially conservative. Being politically neutral, they have been persecuted by various governments, notably by the Nazi government, with many sent to concentration camps. They have been instrumental in establishing religious freedoms in various countries. Their unique stand on refusing blood transfusions has also garnered publicity and controversy.

Since their foundation, they have been concerned with the second advent of Jesus. Initially holding many similar views of other 19th century Adventists groups, such as the Millerites, they have since developed their own unique eschatology.



File:C.T. Russell.gif

Born into a Presbyterian family, Charles Taze Russell had nearly lost his faith until he came in contact with Advent Christian[1] (one of the spiritual heirs of the Millerites) preacher Jonas Wendell[2]in 1870. His faith restored, he organized a Bible study group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Adventist ministers George Storrs and George Stetson were early influences. In 1876 Russell met Nelson H. Barbour and subsequently adopted Barbour's understanding of biblical chronology. Barbour (like Wendell) had predicted a visible return of Christ for 1873[3], and when that failed revised the prediction to 1874.[4]Soon after that disappointment Barbour's group decided Christ had returned to the earth in 1874, but invisibly.[5] Russell provided financial backing for Barbour and became co-editor of Barbour's magazine Herald of the Morning.[6] Jointly they issued the book The Three Worlds[7]which announced Christ's return in 1874 and the resurrection of the saints in 1875[8], and predicted events for 1878[9] and 1914[10]. They differed from most Second Adventists in teaching that all humankind since Adam would be given a chance to live in a paradise earth[11]. Russell broke with Barbour in 1879 over the concept of substitutionary atonement and soon began publishing his own magazine Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence (now known as The Watchtower). He retained Barbour's teaching that the "end times" had begun in 1799,[12]and Christ's invisible return in 1874.[13]1878 became the date for Christ's being enthroned as king, the resurrection of the saints and God's judgment of Christendom.[14][15]1914 was held as the ending date of a harvest period which would culminate in Armageddon.[16]

He became known as "Pastor Russell" and in 1881 formed the legal entity which developed into the non-profit organization: The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (currently headquartered in New York City); in 1884 it was incorporated with Russell as president. Over several years, many millions of copies of Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence[17] were distributed in several languages to proclaim Christ's presence and the dawn of the Millennium. In addition, his six-volume work, originally entitled Millennial Dawn but later changed to Studies in the Scriptures[18], established the fundamental doctrines derived from their Bible study. (As a consequence, the Bible Students were sometimes called "Millennial Dawnists".) In 1914 Russell founded the International Bible Students Association in Great Britain.

Beginning in January 1914, the Bible Students began public showings of the The Photo-Drama of Creation[19], a multi-hour presentation covering the history of the Bible combining film, color slides and audio. Attendance in 1914 was over 9 million.[20]Russell died on October 31, 1916 in Pampa, Texas during a cross-country preaching trip.


File:Joseph Franklin Rutherford.jpg

An editorial committee was set up to supervise the writing of Watch Tower publications after Russell's death.[21] On January 6, 1917, Joseph Franklin Rutherford (also known as "Judge Rutherford") was elected president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. New by-laws were passed at the same business meeting which strengthened the president's authority.[22]Initially, the board of directors for the Watch Tower Society supported this change, but opposition soon developed from four of the seven directors.[23]The June 20, 1917 meeting of the full board of directors tabled for one month a proposal to return control of the Society to the board.[24]An attempted impromptu board meeting while Rutherford was away from headquarters was broken up by the police.[25]Matters came to a head on July 17, 1917 when the book The Finished Mystery [26] (which had been prepared without the board's consultation and was considered to be the final volume of Studies in the Scriptures) was released to the headquarters staff. At the same time, Rutherford announced he was dismissing the four directors from the board on the grounds that their election to it had not followed the corporation by-laws and was replacing them with new members.[27] The reaction was as if a "bombshell had exploded!"[28]Rutherford called for a democratic vote among the Bible Student community which gave its support to his administration.[29]Dissension and schisms ensued in local congregations, however. New predictions were made for the years 1918[30] and 1920.[31]

The Watchtower Society's opposition to clergy support of World War I garnered prosecution by the United States federal government. Rutherford and the new board of directors were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for violating the "Espionage Act". They were released on bail in March, 1919 and the judgment against them was reversed and charges dropped.[32]

Once released from prison Rutherford energized the Bible Students to preach. He inaugurated the magazine The Golden Age (now Awake!) in 1919.[33]An emphasis on preaching house-to-house began in 1922.[34]Early preaching campaigns included distribution of Rutherford's book Millions Now Living Will Never Die[35] which predicted "end times" events for 1925.[36]No more dates were suggested after the 1925 disappointment[37]but Armageddon was still held to be imminent.[38]The editorial committee was disbanded in 1931[39] but had been superseded by Rutherford beginning in 1925.[40]

Some who disagreed with the changes instituted by Rutherford left the movement and became known as the Associated Bible Students, or simply "Bible Students". In 1918 the Pastoral Bible Institute was founded and began publishing The Herald of Christ's Kingdom. By 1928, memorial attendance dropped nearly 75% from 1922, due to the previous power struggle and the failed predictions for the year 1925.[41] A luxury villa was built in 1929 to house the biblical "princes" who were expected to be resurrected before Armageddon.[42] On July 26,1931, Rutherford presented a resolution at an assembly in Columbus, Ohio. Under the title "A New Name" he proposed that the group adopt the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" based on Isaiah 43:10-12.

In 1932 Rutherford abolished the offices of elder and deacon in the local congregations.[43]Supplanting them was a Service Director appointed by the Watchtower Society and a Service Committee elected by the congregation which organized the local preaching activity.[44] However, from 1938 onwards congregational elections were discontinued and all who would hold office in the congregation were appointed by headquarters.[45]

History of Eschatological Doctrine
Last Days Begin Christ's Return Christ as King Resurrection of Anointed Judgment of Religion Great Tribulation
1879-1920 1799 1874 1878 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920
1920-1925 1799 1874 1878 1925
1925-1933 1799 1874 1914 1878 changed to 1918 in 1927 1878 changed to 1919 in 1930 within generation of 1914
1933-1966 1914 1918 1919 within generation of 1914
1966-1975 1914 1918 1919 1975?
1975-1995 1914 1918 1919 within generation of 1914
1995-2019 1914 1918 1919 imminent

From 1925 to 1933, their eschatological beliefs underwent radical changes.[46]By 1933, 1914 was seen as the beginning of Christ's presence, his enthronement as king and the start of the last days instead of being considered the terminal date for chronology.[47] The 1878 resurrection date was changed to 1918[48]and the teaching of the judgment of religious groups was moved to 1919.[49]These are the current teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding 1914, 1918 and 1919. Witnesses no longer consider the dates 1799, 1874 and 1878 to have any eschatological significance.

Under Rutherford, Jehovah's Witnesses grew from about 44,000 in 1928 to about 115,000 at the time of his death in 1942. His prolific writings[50] were distributed in the millions by zealous Witnesses. Rutherford was known for bold rhetoric and assertive preaching tactics. He coined the phrase "Religion is a snare and a racket," heavily denouncing the Catholic Church as well as Christendom itself, modern Judaism and national governments. Placards, information marches, sound cars,[51] and radio broadcasts became part of the preaching methods employed. He opposed the League of Nations[52] and Prohibition[53]. Rutherford taught that saluting the flag was "contrary to the Word of God"[54], which in the US drew mob violence against Witnesses as they preached and caused many Witness children to be expelled from public schools. Under his leadership, a legal staff was developed that battled successfully in both US and Canadian courts. At issue was their right to preach and their right to refrain from nationalistic ceremonies. These legal battles resulted in significant improvements in freedom of speech and religion in both countries.[55] Witnesses in Nazi Germany were special targets of persecution by the Hitler government. Their work was banned and thousands were sent to concentration camps where many were executed.[56]


File:Watchtower headquarters.jpg

Nathan Homer Knorr succeeded Rutherford as president of the Watch Tower Society. Known as an efficient administrator, Knorr founded the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead to train missionaries as well as the Theocratic Ministry School to train preaching and teaching on the congregational level.

Knorr's Vice-President Frederick William Franz became the leading theologian and was credited as being the principal translator of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Also produced were a Greek-English New Testament interlinear (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures) and a Bible dictionary (Aid To Bible Understanding).[57]The offices of elder and ministerial servant (deacon) were restored to Witness congregations in 1972, with appointments being made from headquarters.[58]Membership rose from 115,000 to over 2 million under Knorr's leadership.

During the 1960s[59] and early 1970s, many references appeared in Witnesses literature and assemblies suggesting Christ's thousand-year millennial reign would begin by 1975.[60][61] While Witnesses have always been encouraged to increase the preaching work, and avoid secular life goals or careers, this emphasis was especially strong prior to 1975.[62] Approximately 20% left (or became inactive) from 1975 to 1980.[63]


The leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses was reorganized in 1976 and the power of the presidency passed on to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Subsequent presidents of the Watch Tower Society after Knorr's death in 1977 have been Frederick William Franz, Milton George Henschel and Don A. Adams. However, doctrinal and organizational decisions since 1976 have been made by the Governing Body.[64]The Writing Committee of the Governing Body now edits all Witness publications. Congregation affairs are under the direction of the Service Committee of the Governing Body. [65]

In 1995 changes regarding their understanding of Jesus' comments regarding "this generation" (from Matthew 24:34) were published.[66] During the previous four decades, Jehovah's Witnesses had taught that the generation which saw the events of 1914, which would not die before Armageddon came.[67] The Witnesses' current teaching regarding the meaning of the term "this generation" is that it simply refers to those who saw the signs of Christ's presence. Jehovah's Witnesses continue to teach that Armageddon is imminent.[68] Since 1995 the growth rate has slowed dramatically, with the increase in most developed countries being less than the population growth.

Demographics Edit


As of August 2005, Jehovah's Witnesses have a membership of more than 6.6 million actively involved in preaching. [69] To be counted, an individual must be approved as a minister and spend some amount of time in the ministry, normally at least an hour per month, or as little as 15 minutes under certain circumstances, such as chronic and debilitating illness. In 2005, these reports indicated a total of nearly 1.3 billion hours. [70]

Jehovah's Witnesses have the custom of counting their membership by 'lands' rather than by countries, including separate statistics for regions administered by other countries, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and Taiwan.

A comparison of Jehovah's Witnesses' 2004 and 2005 statistics indicates a decline in the number of Bible studies, baptisms, Memorial attendance and time spent in the preaching work. Recent decades indicate a gradual decline of membership growth, particularly in the Western world. Other statistics are also available[1].

In the United States, an academic study at CUNY based on a telephone survey (American Religious Identification Survey) was conducted in 2001 and estimated there to be 1.331 million adults in the U.S. who self-identify as Jehovah's Witnesses.[71] Jehovah's Witnesses report over 1 million active publishers in the United States, but because this includes only actively preaching members (including minors), it is not directly comparable to the ARIS numbers. In 1990, a larger but less detailed telephone survey based study (NSRI) at CUNY reported 1.38 million adults in the U.S. who self-identified as Jehovah's Witnesses. While this might indicate a slow decline in U.S. identification with the group, there was an increase in active U.S. publishers over this period. ARIS notes the survey did not cover non-English speakers and small groups with a high proportion of recent immigrant members were likely undercounted. Announced U.S. Witness convention schedules for 2005 include 75 non-English conventions of 227 total. Most increase in membership each year is due to an influx of non-English speaking individuals, with a rapid increase in foreign-language congregations being established throughout the country.

Jehovah's Witnesses have an active presence in most countries and are the second or third largest religious group in many countries with a dominant religion. In no country are they a large part of the population, however. Brazil and Mexico are the only countries other than the U.S. where the number of active Witness publishers exceeds 0.5 million. The highest proportion of Witnesses in a country of substantial size is in Zambia, where 1% are active Witness publishers. Growth in most developed countries is slow or negative in recent years but is offset by rapid growth in less developed lands, particularly the former Communist bloc and Latin America. It appears that membership distribution is gradually shifting from the Western world to Non-Western regions.

Jehovah's Witnesses commemorate the Memorial of Christ's death (also known as the Lord's Evening Meal) annually. According to the February 1, 2006 Watchtower, worldwide attendance at the 2005 celebration of the Memorial was 16,383,333, slightly lower than the 2004 attendance of 16,760,607. This figure includes not only publishers, but inactive members, relatives, visitors and interested persons. In the U.S., 2.3 million people were present. In Zambia 570,000 attended, or 1 person for every 20 in the population. Of over 16 million in attendance worldwide, only 8,524 persons partook of the memorial emblems of unleavened bread and wine. These are those who profess to be anointed ones based on their interpretation of Revelation 14:1. Note the "memorial partakers" at the bottom of the spreadsheet.</ref>

Organizational structureEdit

Main article: Organizational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses are currently led by a small, ecclesiastical Governing Body. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the role of the Governing Body corresponds to that of those who met in the Council of Jerusalem, guided by Holy Spirit and directed by Jesus and Jehovah. The description of the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem is often used by them as an example of proof that God lead a hierarchical organization during the first century, and is therefore using a hierarchically organized theocracy today. Jehovah's Witnesses are patriarchal, though in cases where no qualified males are available, women are used in leadership roles.

All members of the Governing Body profess to be "anointed" (see Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses). The number of men who make up the Governing Body has ranged from ten to seventeen and currently stands at 11 members. Since April 1975, the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses makes decisions by a two-thirds majority vote; previously a unanimous vote was required.[72] The Governing Body, through the departments of its various legal organizations, directs the operation of the 111 branches spread throughout the world. Each branch assigns circuit overseers who travel among various local congregations, spending a week with each and giving spiritual encouragement through talks and one-on-one time spent with members in their public ministry. Within each local congregation, elders assigned by the branch organize the congregation's public ministry and schedule various speakers for congregational teaching. They also vote on qualified members of the congregation for the positions of elder or ministerial servant, requiring the approval of higher leadership.

Elders take the lead in congregational matters, particularly in religious instruction and spiritual counseling, whereas the ministerial servants assist elders in a limited administrative capacity. The elders and ministerial servants along with other approved Witnesses perform the operational tasks for congregation meetings.

Elders are unpaid, but Circuit and District overseers get a small financial living allowance. All baptized Witnesses are considered to be ordained ministers, and are expected to provide religious instruction to others. Spiritually mature Witnesses (men and women alike) are exhorted to the counseling of those considered less mature. They may be assigned to assist a publisher in the ministry, and may be asked to conduct a personal Bible study with another Witness as directed by the elders. Males are encouraged to qualify to become elders. Elders are said to be worthy of "double honor", but are held to a higher standard as overseers than other baptized "publishers", and are subject to additional discipline including removal. An elder may also be removed, or choose to step aside willingly, from his position if members of his household are not in "good standing" or for other, sometimes personal, reasons.

Approximately 8,500 other Jehovah's Witnesses profess to be "anointed" by Holy Spirit, but they have no formal role in establishment or modification of the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses. They are classed as "giving the spiritual food at the proper time" to the whole organization even though many make no direct imput into the teachings, doctrines and interpretations of the organization. Unless appointed into one of the various roles described above, they have no position of leadership or authority. Jehovah's Witnesses believe since 1918 all anointed who have died faithful, including women, have been resurrected to heaven to serve with Jesus.

Beliefs and PracticesEdit

The following reflects the current beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses. As such, it reflects the point of view of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Main article: Beliefs and Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses
Main article: Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses
Main article: Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses


The entire Protestant canon of scripture as the inspired, inerrant word of God. A literal interpretation of the Bible is favored, though Bible writers and characters employed symbolism, parable, figures of speech, and poeticism.[73] The book of Genesis is taken literally, and evolution is rejected.[74] The New Testament particularly is directed to those who hope for a resurrection in heaven, namely the 144,000.[75] The principles in the Bible are beneficial to everyone.

Basis for BeliefsEdit

Principal is the doctrine of sola scriptura, that is, only the Bible should be used for deciding issues of doctrine. The interpretation and application of scripture is the responsibility of the Governing Body said to be influenced by holy spirit and directed by Jesus Christ.[76] All members are expected to abide by the doctrines and organizational requirements as determined by the Governing Body.[77]

The Nature of GodEdit


God is the creator and supreme being. Jehovah God created Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit is God's means of acting, not the uncreated third person of the Trinity.[78] Using God's name, Jehovah, an English derivative of the Tetragrammaton, is a requirement for true worship.[79]

The Nature of ChristEdit

Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus

Jesus is God's first creation and He was used by God to create every other creation (Colossians 1:15-19).[80] Jesus then is, according to their beliefs, literally the only begotten Son of God, and received his life from his God and Father, based on their literal reading of multiple scriptures including John 3:16, John 3:36, Proverbs 8:22, John 6:57, Matthew 16:16, 1 John 4:4-12, and Revelation 3:12,14. They believe that Jesus was known as the Archangel Michael in his pre-human existence based on their interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 which states that the Lord would descend from heaven with an archangel's voice and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Since Michael is the only archangel mentioned in the Bible, they reason that this text identifies the Archangel Michael as the being who we came to know as Jesus making emphasis that the text says that the Lord speaks with an archangel's voice and not God's voice. [81]His birth on earth was accomplished when God transferred Michael's life force from heaven to the womb of the virgin Mary.[82]While on earth, Jesus was executed for mankind's sins upon a single beamed torture stake (Stake or "Tree" - see Galatians 3:13). The cross is rejected as a symbol for Christ's death, instead seen as a later pagan addition absorbed from pre-christian relgious symbols of crosses.[83] Jesus acts as the mediator of the "new covenant" for those going to heaven (the 144,000)[84]; as the one who is the means of approach to God in prayer, and as the "Chief Agent of life" and salvation for all worthy mankind.[85] Mary was not perpetually a virgin, but rather bore more children after Jesus (Luke 2:7 -calls Jesus Mary's firstborn and Mathew 1:25 shows that the couple consummated their marriage after she gave birth to Jesus).[86]


After the death of the last apostle, the Church gradually diverged, in a "Great Apostasy", from the original teachings of Jesus on several major points. The true understanding of the scriptures began to be reassembled by Charles Taze Russell and his associates when they formed a Bible study group in the 1870s.[87] In 1919 Jesus chose Jehovah's Witnesses as the only true religion on earth.[88]


Jehovah's Witnesses are organized into congregations, and each congregation has five weekly meetings held in local Kingdom Halls and private homes. Men are selected by representatives of the Governing Body to teach and direct the preaching work. Women cannot be teachers in the congregation; though female Witnesses do participate in meeting programs.[89] Prayer is featured at these meetings. As well, prayers are given at meals. Private prayers are given as desired. For a prayer to be acceptable, they must be made to the Father Jehovah in the name of the Son.[90] The use of idols is prohibited. They reject the veneration of Mary, the saints, or the cross.[91]

Throughout the week, there are also meetings to organize the preaching work where members meet either in homes or Kingdom Halls to organize and pray prior to engaging in evangelism.[92] Each month, a report is submitted to the congregation elders indicating the number of hours in the ministry, along with other details, and is required to be officially counted as a Jehovah's Witness.

The most important event is the celebration of the Lord's Supper held once a year after sundown on the date corresponding to Nisan 14 on the Hebrew calendar. Only those claiming to be of the "remnant", those who expect to be resurrected in heaven, partake of the unleavened bread and wine. Others simply observe the proceedings without partaking.[93] They do not believe in transubstantiation and consubstantiation (of the Eucharist)[94]

To become a Jehovah's Witness, one must submit to a catechism, or series of questions to determine eligibility for baptism. Baptisms are normally performed at conventions.


Main article: Eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses

The "seven times" of Daniel 4:10-17 are interpreted as a 2,520 year period from 607 BC to 1914 AD, referred to as the "Gentile Times"[95] 607 BC marked the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem based on the belief that 70 years transpired from destruction of Jerusalem to return of captives from Babylon.[96] In 1914, Jesus' invisible enthronement as King in Heaven was followed by an inspection period of all religions. This same time marked the beginning of the end when Satan and his angels were cast from the heavens and isolated to the Earth for a short time. Based on their interpretation of Revelation 12:7-12, the war in heaven made way for the establishment of Christ's Kingdom while events on Earth marked Satan's rage at being cast out of heaven and his intent to wage war against those followers of Christ on Earth. In 1918 Jesus resurrected those of the 144,000 (the "anointed") who had already died to heavenly life; since 1918, any "anointed" are individually resurrected to heavenly life at the time of their death[97] In 1919, Jehovah's Witnesses were chosen by Jesus as the only true Christian organization.[98]

The "last days" began in 1914.[99] Soon, all other religions will shortly be destroyed by the United Nations.[100] After this, Jehovah's Witnesses will then come under attack. Armageddon immediately follows.[101] All governments, which are under Satan's control, will then be destroyed.[102]


All humanity is in a sinful state (see: Sin).[103] Release from this is possible through the death of Jesus. His death atoned for the sins of humankind.[104] To be saved, one needs faith. It is only by the undeserved kindness (grace) of God through which one can attain this; works are evidence of faith and cannot gain salvation.[105] There are two destinations for those saved by God. The number of Christians going to heaven is limited to precisely 144,000 (the "anointed") where they will rule with Jesus as kings and priests over Earth.[106] Everyone else who qualifies for salvation living today has the prospect of surviving the coming battle of Armageddon and of living forever in an earthly paradise.[107] Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the only scriptural hope of surviving Armageddon comes through adherence to their biblical interpretations. Those who do not, face destruction at Armageddon.[108][109][110][111][112] The fate of some, such as small children or the mentally ill, remains indeterminate.[113] After Armageddon, an unknown number of dead people will be resurrected, with the prospect of living forever, but those who have already been judged by God will not, such as any killed at Armageddon.[114] Christ will rule for a thousand years, during which time the Earth will be transformed into a paradise, while Satan is abyssed and unable to influence mankind. At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released, and the final judgment will take place during which Satan and all those corrupted by him will be destroyed forever, with evil never occurring again.[115]


Formal discipline is administered by congregation leaders. In the event an accusation is made concerning a baptized member, if there is sufficient evidence, a tribunal or judicial committee is formed to determine guilt, administer help and possibly apply sanctions. There are three possible formal sanctions that are applied.


Someone who chooses a course that is deemed unscriptural, but for which the standard of disfellowshipping would not apply, would be marked. Though such a one would not be shunned, social interaction outside of formal worship settings would generally be restricted. The intent of this cutting off of social fellowship is to shame that person into a course considered proper. Generally, a talk would be given at the Service Meeting outlining the shameful course, but without explicitly naming the wrongdoer.[116]


This involves sins which are more serious than those for which one would be "marked." Reproof is given "before all onlookers." If the sin is private, the reproof would be private. If the sin is known by a small number, they would be invited by the elders, then reproof would be given before both the sinner and those with knowledge of the sin. If the sin is known generally by the entire congregation an announcement of public reproof would be given. A talk is generally given in the case of public reproof, where the wrong course is outlined, but without explicitly naming the people involved.[117]

Reproof is usually linked with a probationary period.[118] Restrictions may include not sharing in meeting parts, not commenting at meeting parts and not praying for a group. The length of the probation period is dependent upon the elders. One cannot pioneer or auxiliary pioneer for at least one year after reproof is given.[119]


The most severe discipline administered is disfellowshipping, or excommunication. This is done at the determination of the judicial committee. The standard put in place to determine if one should be disfellowshipped is the judgment of repentance. To judge repentance, members of the judicial committee ask questions and review actions by the member being considered. The committee must be convinced without a doubt that the repentance is genuine.[120] Baptized members who express disagreement on any doctrine can potentially be disfellowshipped for apostasy.[77] Once the decision to disfellowship has been made a person has seven days to appeal. After the seven days, if that person has not appealed, the disfellowshipping will be announced to the congregation; disfellowshipping does not take effect until the announcement is made to the congregation. [121]

After one is disfellowshipped, all baptized members would cut off all association with that person. They would not speak to such a one, or acknowledge him or her.[122] There are two exceptions. First if a member was forced to have commercial dealings with a member who is disfellowshipped, these would continue as before. Second, if the disfellowshipped member is living with family members who are baptized, the family members are encouraged to spend as little time as possible with the disfellowshipped one, only talking to the disfellowshipped one about basic family matters of importance. Many family members even go to the extent of never speaking or even eating with the disfellowshipped one, despite the efforts of the Watchtower make their disfellowshipping process seem benign by writing things more of the tone of the following: "Thus, it would be left to members of the family to decide on the extent to which the disfellowshipped family member would be included when eating or engaging in other household activities. And yet, they would not want to give brothers with whom they associate the impression that everything is the same as it was before the disfellowshipping occurred."[123] Family members living outside the home who are disfellowshipped, would have minimal to absolutely no contact.[124][125] In the case of doctrinal disagreements, and depending upon the nature and publicity of their disagreement, they may be labelled as an "apostate."[126] Apostates are often considered as being influence by the devil, and thus Witnesses are encouraged to avoid apostates so as not to be influenced by them. The following was published in The Watchtower, "For example, what will you do if you receive a letter or some literature, open it, and see right away that it is from an apostate? Will curiosity cause you to read it, just to see what he has to say? You may even reason: 'It won't affect me; I'm too strong in the truth [how Jehovah's witnesses refer to their religon]. And, besides, if we have the truth, we have nothing to fear. The truth will stand the test.' In thinking this way, some have fed their minds upon apostate reasoning and have fallen prey to serious questioning and doubt." [127]

Construction and Humanitarian EffortsEdit

Jehovah's Witnesses are known in many lands for their building work. International and regional building teams frequently undertake "quick builds", construction of Kingdom Halls over the course of one or two weekends. Larger construction projects, including the building of regional Assembly Halls and Bethel offices, factories, residences, warehouses, and farm facilities, are also carried out almost entirely by volunteer members.

Jehovah's Witnesses are also involved in relief work in disaster stricken areas. One notable example is the relief efforts to both Hutu and Tutsi Witnesses during the genocide in Rwanda as well as to Congo refugees. This humanitarian aid was not given exclusively to Jehovah's Witnesses; others also benefited. For instance, the Witnesses distributed medicine and clothing to several primary schools and an orphanage near Goma.[128]



Their view of sexual behavior reflects conservative Christian views. Abortion is considered murder.[129] Homosexuality and premarital sex are considered sins.[130] Modesty is heavily encouraged in dress and grooming. During worship, standards of dress are more formal, varying by country and regional custom. In the U.S., Europe, and most of Asia, this typically consists of formal western business attire. Entertainment with sexuality, materialism, spiritism or violence is strongly discouraged. They avoid appearing unkempt or unprofessional according to local norms. Therefore, in certain areas, things such as beards, long hair or earrings for men, alongwith any dress or grooming that is deemed to be rebellious or immodest is discouraged in everyday settings. A person violating these standards would risk bringing reproach upon the congregation.

Nationalism and HolidaysEdit

Among Jehovah's Witnesses, there is an avoidance of practices considered to have nationalistic or false religious origins. Distinctive titles in address (such as Father, Pastor, Reverend, etc) are not employed. Witnesses always address one another as "Brother" or "Sister", often followed by the first or last name of the individual. (Matthew 23:8-12)

Weddings, anniversaries, and funerals are typically observed. Common celebrations and religious or national holidays such as Birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are regarded as pagan and not celebrated.[131][132]

Family LifeEdit

The family structure is patriarchal. Husbands are considered the final authority of family decisions. He is the head of his family. He must only have one wife. Wives should be submissive to their husbands and husbands are to have deep respect and love for their wives.[133] Husband are instructed to treat their wives as Jesus treated his followers. He should not hurt or mistreat his family in any way. The father should be hardworking in providing necessities to his family. He must also provide for them in a spiritual capacity. This includes religious instruction for the family, and taking the lead in preaching activities. Parental discipline for children should not be in a harsh, cruel way, and childen must obey their parents. Married couples can separate in the case of physical abuse and neglect, and if one partner attempts to hinder the other from being a Jehovah's Witness. Divorce (with the ability to remarry) is permissible only on the grounds of adultery.


Neutrality (not becoming involved in secular politics or taking part in an election) is required.[134] As well, members refuse any military service; cf. the Peace churches and Quakers).


The soul is believed to be the life, the self or consciousness, not an incorporeal entity that indwells a physical human body that becomes released upon death. Death is a state of non-existence.[135] Hell (hades or sheol) is not a place of fiery torment, but rather the common grave of all mankind; a place of no conscious thought.[136] The consciousness of a human ceases to exist at death.[137] They believe that the only way for a person to live again is through a resurrection of which the Bible makes several refrences and provides numerous examples. They note that none of these persons spoke of having been "pulled" back into existence from a heaven or a hell. In the case of Lazarus, if he had died and gone to heaven; would it have been proper for Jesus to bring him back to Earth, only to have him die again, eventually? Why didn't Lazarus tell anyone about his "life after death" experience if he had any? To a Witness, death is the inherited result of Adam and Eve's rebelious disobedience to God's order and only through Christ's sacrifice could the price of redemption be paid. The following texts are some of the ones used by Jehovah's Witnesses to show that death is like a deep sleep or a non-existence and that the soul dies - Ecclesiastes 3:18-21; Proverbs 2:18; Ezequiel 18:4; Psalms 146:3,4; John 11:11-13.


Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses and blood
Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses: Controversial Issues

Whole blood transfusions are rejected. How Can Blood Save Your Life?. Accessed 4 December 2005.</ref> This is based on their understanding of the biblical admonition to "keep abstaining from blood" based on Acts 15:28, 29 (NWT). Blood is not to be stored for later transfusion. As well, the donating of blood is considered improper. According to the individual's conscience of the particular individual, they may accept derivatives of blood, also acceptable is a process called normovolemic hemodilution, a treatment that processes the individual's own blood in a closed loop that does not interrupt the flow of blood, delivering it immediately back into the person's body. [2] Also left to conscience are procedures where a "quantity of blood is withdrawn in order to tag it or to mix it with medicine, whereupon it is put back into the patient."[138] Many members carry carefully prepared durable power of attorney outlining their medical wishes with respect to blood.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been known to highlight the potential dangers of blood transfusions. Witness representatives have stated that plasma volume expanders are sufficient to take care of emergency situations.[139]

Publishing EffortsEdit

Jehovah's Witnesses make vigorous efforts to spread their beliefs throughout the world in a variety of ways, with particular emphasis on the written word. Their literature is published in 410 languages through a wide variety of books, magazines and other publications. Their publications make extensive use of secular references and quotations from the Bible.

Critical Views on Beliefs and PracticesEdit

Basis of AuthorityEdit

Jehovah's Witnesses claim that there is "abundant evidence" of a governing body operating in the first century.[140] Raymond Franz points to Galatians 1:16-20 as evidence to show that Paul of Tarsus did not view the apostles in Jerusalem as a governing body.[141] He further contends that the council of Jerusalem was an isolated event,[142] and that the creation of a central authority in Christianity was a 4th century development.[143]

Field ServiceEdit

Raymond Franz argues that a sense of guilt is imposed on those not complying with organization arrangements for field service. Further, that engaging in this formal activity became an extra-scriptural requirement placed upon those wanting to qualify for eldership.[144] Though field service can be counted for activity pertaining to those not witnesses, time spent helping fellow members cannot be counted toward time spent in the ministry.[145] In essence, claiming: that an individual's spirituality is measured by how much time they devote to the ministry.[146]

The expression "house to house" found at Acts 2:42, 5:45, 20:20 is employed by Jehovah's Witnesses to demonstrate the need for door-to-door witnessing. Raymond Franz criticizes this application, stating the expression "house to house" (gr. "kat' oikon") does not require the idea of consecutive door-to-door visitation.[147] He compares 27 Bible translations, showing the more common rendering of "at home", "at your houses" and "in your homes".[148]

Raymond Franz is not now one of Jehovah's Witnesses and his agenda is to discredit the Witnesses. There is much more information about Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs at Why believe someone who is out to discredit the very people he used to be a part of? Check out the facts for yourself.


Gambling on chance is strictly forbidden. It is likened to greed and 'appeasing gods of good luck'[149] such as buying lottery tickets, casino, or betting on horse or dog races etc., but some forms of risks are acceptable, such as buying stocks, shares and bonds, even though chance, greed, and money loss or gain can be involved. A person violating these standards would risk "bringing reproach upon the congregation" and may be excommunicated. Even doing a cleaning job like sweeping the floor at a casino is strictly forbidden. [150]


Witnesses believe that disfellowshipping (excommunicating) and shunning can have the beneficial effect of both restoring an errant former member to the religion and "upholding God's Holy Name".[151] Critics contend that fear of being shunned and family break-up/loss causes people to stay who might otherwise freely leave the religion. Jehovah's Witnesses have no provision for conscientious objectors who freely leave to have any continued normal associations. Critics further contend the judicial process itself, due to its private and nearly autonomous nature directly contradicts the precedent found in the Bible and the organizations' own teachings[152] and can be used in an arbitrary and punitive manner if there is consensus among just a few to abuse their authority.[153] Also no tape recorders, microphones or any form of record keeping is allowed. It's basically the accused's word what has occurred in the private judicial hearing conducted by the elders who play the prosecution, judge and jury.


The refusal of blood transfusions is frequently a significant issue among medical professionals, especially when it involves minor children. Some children of Jehovah's Witnesses have died subsequent to not having blood transfusions. In some countries, laws may impose limitations on physicians on the ability to withhold or withdraw blood transfusions or blood therapy from minors, particularly in life-threatening situations; parents who have prevented children under their care from receiving blood therapy in life-threatening situations may face prosecution. Courts have ordered transfusions for some children, often the very young; in other cases they have respected the declared choice of an under-age minor who is able to defend his or her own beliefs to the court in a manner that reflects a mature understanding and without undue influence from the parents.

According to Journal of Church and State in a recent peer-reviewed article, Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to accept whole blood provided it is in the form of blood fractions. [154] Kerry Louderback-Wood, the writer, alleges that to label the currently acceptable blood fractions as "minute" in relation to whole blood, causes followers to misunderstand the scope and extent of allowed fractions. She also claims Witness publications exaggerate the medical risks of taking blood and the efficacy of non-blood medical therapies in critical situations.[155]

Jehovah's Witnesses and governmentsEdit

Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses and governments

Jehovah's Witnesses exhort their members to obey all the laws, including the paying of taxes, of the country in which they reside, so long as these do not violate 'God's law'.[156]

At the same time, however, they hold a stance of political neutrality. Examples of this detachment in practice include:

  • Refusal to salute the flag, or sing nationalistic songs[157]
  • Refusal to serve in the military (including defense, or non-combatant roles)[158]
  • Refusal to participate in political processes including democratic ones: voting in government elections, while termed a 'conscience decision' for legal reasons, constitutes an act of disassociation, as does military service.[159]
  • Refusal to hold political office[160]

One area in which Jehovah's Witnesses have influenced public policy is civil rights. The Watch Tower Society from the days of Joseph Franklin Rutherford has utilized the court systems of various countries to defend religious freedoms. In addition, they have occasionally organized letter-writing campaigns to protest "persecutions", most famously those addressed to Adolf Hitler during the second world war and certain African nations during the 1970s. (See the publication Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News for examples.)

According to the book Judging Jehovah's Witnesses (Shawn Francis Peters, University Press of Kansas: 2000), the Witnesses have helped to widen the definition of civil liberties in most western societies, hence broadening the rights of millions of people, due to their firm stand and determination. According to the preface to the book State and Salvation (William Kaplan, University of Toronto Press: 1989): "One of the results of the Witnesses' legal battles was the long process of discussion and debate that led to the Charter of Rights, which is now part of the fundamental law of Canada. Other battles in countries around the world have involved the rights to decline military service or martial arts training, to decline to participate in political parties or governmental elections, to exercise free and anonymous speech, to exercise freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, medical self-determination, etc. Witnesses continue to, in their words, 'defend and legally establish the Good News' around the world." See the article Jehovah's Witnesses and governments.

Jehovah's Witnesses endured intense persecution under the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, both as a religious group and individually. Unlike Jews, Sinti and Roma, persecuted and killed by virtue of their culture, Jehovah's Witnesses had the opportunity to escape persecution and personal harm by renouncing their religious beliefs. The courage the vast majority displayed in refusing to do so, in the face of torture, maltreatment in concentration camps, and sometimes execution, won them the respect of many contemporaries. These events are recounted in a documentary entitled Purple Triangles.

Jehovah's Witnesses males are currently imprisioned in Singapore for refusal to participate in the compulsory National Service.[161]

Controversy and opposition Edit

Main article: Opposition to Jehovah's Witnesses
Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses: Controversial Issues

Throughout their history, their beliefs, doctrines and practices have met controversy and opposition from governments, communities, and religious groups. Many Christian denominations consider the interpretation and doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses to be heresy. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the world's religions and government are instruments of Satan used to detract from the "true" worship of God. They believe that eventually, God will use the governments of the world to destroy these religions which they teach to be the "harlot" riding on the back of the seven headed beast (world governments) in the book of Revelation. In turn, God will then eliminate these governments in Armageddon. Because of these beliefs, governments of various political persuasions have considered the religion to be a subversive organization, and sometimes even a threat to national security stemming from their opposition to belonging to a government party, saluting a national flag or to take arms in favor of their country of residence.

Political and religious animosity against them has at times led to mob action and government oppression.

There has also been opposition by locals to the building of facilities (such as Kingdom Halls), and the holding of large conventions. In those circumstances, at times the reason is opposition to the religion, but at other times, they are more mundane, such as concerns about traffic congestion and noise. In some legal cases, (such as Congrégation des témoins de Jéhovah de St-Jérôme-Lafontaine v. Lafontaine (Village)), disputes that have actually been about appropriate land use have been claimed by the Witnesses to be a violation of their religious freedoms.

See also Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses.

See also Edit

Further readingEdit

Watch Tower resourcesEdit

See also: List of Jehovah's Witnesses literature

Three official histories of Jehovah's Witnesses have been published by the Watchtower Society. The first two are out of print. The most recent one is available in many public libraries and on the Watchtower Library CD-ROM.

  • Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (1993)


  • Armed with the Constitution: Jehovah's Witnesses in Alabama and the U.S Supreme Court, 1939-1946 by Merlin Newton. Newton researches the contributions of two Jehovah's Witnesses—a black man and a white woman—in expanding the meaning of the First Amendment in 1940s Alabama. She examines two key U.S. Supreme Court decisions, as well as court records, memoirs, letters, and interviews of Jehovah's Witnesses. - Publisher: University Alabama Press; Religion and American Culture Series, Reprint edition (June 28, 2002). Paperback: 240 pages. ISBN 0817312285
  • Jehovah's Witnesses United - The site was created so that scholarly information supporting the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society's teachings and the New World Translation could be collected in one location on the web.
  • Strictly Genteel Theocratic Resources - Scans of complete books and booklets from Russell's era to Knorr's. The "site is maintained by one of Jehovah's Witnesses who fully supports the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society." Emphasis is on literature not found in the Watchtower Library CD-ROM.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses: Setting the Record Straight - A Defense of Witness' doctrine and history
  • CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions - CESNUR is an international network of associations of scholars working in the field of new religious movements. Its director is the Italian scholar Massimo Introvigne.
  • West Virginia Board of Education Vs. Barnette et al. - Documentation of 1943 Supreme Court ruling regarding Jehovah's Witnesses' rights in not saluting the flag
  • - About Jehovah's Witnesses, including comparison chart with mainstream Protestant Christianity.
  • Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance - About Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • Beliefnet:Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Jehovah's Witnesses World News Forum - News From All Over the World Updated Every Day


  • Jehovah's Witnesses : Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement by Andrew Holden. A British sociologist, attempts to understand the strict and austere Watch Tower Society and its adherents, Jehovah's Witnesses. This is an academic ethnography that draws upon interviews with both adherents and ex-members. Read selections from: Google Book Search - Publisher: Routledge. ISBN 0415266092 (London, New York 2002)
  • Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada: Champions of freedom of speech and worship by M. James Penton. Penton, who is a professor emeritus of history at University of Lethbridge, examines the history of legal activities that led to expansion of religious freedoms in Canada. Referenced in the January 1, 1977 Watchtower, page 11 and the 1979 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 94. - Publisher: Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0770513409 (Canada, 1976)
  • Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses by M. James Penton. Penton, who is a professor emeritus of history at University of Lethbridge, examines the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, and their doctrines. Read selections from: Google Book Search - Publisher: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802079733 (Canada, 1998)


  • Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz, a former Governing Body member of the Watch Tower Society for nine years. This book gives a detailed account of the authority structure, practices, doctrines and decision-making practices Franz experienced while serving on the Governing Body. Franz gives a personal account of the inner conflict between loyalty to God and one's Christian conscience versus loyalty to a religious organization. Sample chapters online: 1. Publisher: Commentary Press. 420 pages. Hardback ISBN 0914675249. Paperback ISBN 0914675230. 4th edition (June 2002)
  • In Search of Christian Freedom by Raymond Franz. A follow up to the book Crisis of Conscience, Franz explores many doctrinal and ethical issues, including the nature of Christian freedom. In it he explores various aspects of the Watch Tower's teachings, doctrines, and claims, comparing and contrasting them with Biblical scriptures. 732 pages. Sample chapters online: 1, 9. ISBN 0914675168 Publisher: Commentary Press (October 1991, internally updated in 2002)
  • The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return by Carl O. Jonsson. A detailed discussion of the cornerstone belief that the Gentile Times began with the fall of Jerusalem in 607 B.C. Jonsson considers the origin of this belief and examines several lines of evidence refuting the starting date of 607 B.C. and the methodology for deriving it. ISBN 0914675060 Publisher: Commentary Press (July, 1998, Fourth edition 2004)
  • The Sign of the Last Days — When? by Carl O. Jonsson & Wolfgang Herbst. A case against the Jehovah's Witness belief that the 'sign of the Last Days' began in 1914. Accompanied by historical figures for wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences from past centuries, detailed world disaster statistics, and Biblical references. Sample chapters online: 3, 6. ISBN 0914675095 Publisher: Commentary Press (1 September 1987)
  • Where is the "Great Crowd" Serving God? by Jon Mitchell. A 32 page booklet by a former secretary to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses that disputes the Jehovah's Witnesses' belief in two classes of salvation, i.e., the "Great Crowd" (earthly) and "The 144,000's" (heavenly). (See Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses: Salvation) He covers the Watchtower's doctrines, and the Greek word Naos in a scriptural discussion explicating his opinion that there is no biblical difference between the two groups' location. Read synopsis online. ISBN 9993518972 Publisher: Commentary Press (1 December 1992)
  • Jehovah Himself Has Become King by Robert King. Subjects include the doctrines surrounding 1914, child molestation and its mishandling by the Watchtower organization, involvement of the organization with the United Nations, and much more. 552 pages. ISBN 1420882023 Publisher: AuthorHouse (September 2005)
  • Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses by Ron Rhodes. 444 pages. Harvest House Publishers, 1993. Written from an Evangelical Christian perpective, this book is designed to aid them in dialogues with Witnesses. Sample chapter online ISBN 1565071069
  • Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses by Randall Watters. The writer, a former headquarters' staff member, critiques Witness doctrine from a traditional Christian perspective. Rather than discussing organizational subjects, the book is written as an apologetic of the historic Christian faith. 197 pages. Third Edition 1996. Published by Freeminds, Inc., Manhattan Beach, California. Sample chapter online
  • Free minds - Detailed discussions about Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrines, history, and claims from a critical perspective.
  • JW Facts A critical evaluation of Witness' doctrine
  • Jehovah' A very large archived message board community discussing Jehovah's Witnesses and their Watch Tower organisation.
  • JW Files-Research on Jehovah's Witnesses A large researched site headed by subject grouping, with many original scans from the Watch Tower Society's literature, and discussing many important doctrinal and ethical issues from a critical perspective.
  • Rick A. Ross Institute of New Jersey - Information The Rick A. Ross Institute has gathered about Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Ex-Jehovah's Witness Forum and Recovery Site--A support and friends site for those who have left the Jehovah's Witness Organization; are considering leaving; or simply for those interested in the JW's.


  1. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 43. These were also known as "Second Adventists."
  2. Pages 35-36 of Jonas Wendell's treatise The Present Truth or Meat in Due Season pointed to 1873 for the time of Christ's visible return.
  3. Evidences for the Coming of the Lord in 1873: or the Midnight Cry, N.H. Barbour (1871). Available online at: accessed February 20, 2006
  4. The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning, March 1874. See Section under "Our Faith."
  5. Russell explains how he accepted the idea of an invisible return of Christ in 1874 from N.H. Barbour in "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings" in the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower, Reprints page 3822.
  6. The issues of Herald of the Morning from 1874-1876 are available online at: accessed March 20, 2006
  7. The Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World by N.H. Barbour and C.T. Russell (1877). Scan available online at: accessed March 15, 2006
  8. The Three Worlds, pp. 104-108
  9. The end of the "harvest" and a rapture of the saints to heaven was expected in 1878. See pages 68, 89-93, 124, 125-126, 143 of The Three Worlds.
  10. The year 1914 was seen as the final end of the "day of wrath": "...the 'times of the Gentiles,' reach from B.C. 606 to A.D. 1914, or forty years beyond 1874. And the time of trouble, conquest of the nations, and events connected with the day of wrath, have only ample time, during the balance of this forty years, for their fulfillment." The Three Worlds, p. 189. Barbour first predicted 1914 as being the end of a forty year "time of trouble" in the September 1875 Herald of the Morning, p. 52.
  11. The Three Worlds, pp. 184-185
  12. "The 'Time of the End,' a period of one hundred and fifteen (115) years, from A.D. 1799 to A.D. 1914, is particularly marked in the Scriptures." Thy Kingdom Come, p. 23.
  13. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 631-632
  14. Thy Kingdom Come (1890), Volume 3 of Studies in the Scriptures, pp. 305-308.
  15. "This spuing out, or casting off, of the nominal church as an organization in 1878, we then understood, and still proclaim, to be the date of the commencement of Babylon's fall..."--"The Consummation of Our Hope" in Zion's Watch Tower, April 1883. Reprints pp. 474-5.
  16. "Things to Come--And The Present European Situation" in The Watch Tower, January 15, 1892, Reprints, p. 1355
  17. Online copies of the The Watch Tower from 1879-1916 can be viewed by issue at: or by article at: These are taken from the 7 volume Watch Tower Reprints published by the Watch Tower Society in 1920 which reprinted all the issues from 1879-1919.
  18. The titles of the six volumes are: 1) The Divine Plan of the Ages, 2)The Time is At Hand, 3)Thy Kingdom Come, 4)The Battle of Armageddon, 5)The At-one-ment Between God and Man, 6)The New Creation
  19. Video clip from the Photo-Drama is available online at: book is available online at:
  20. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 422
  21. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 64-65. Russell's "Will and Testament" was published in the December 1, 1916 Watch Tower. Available online at accessed February 12, 2006
  22. Apocalypse Delayed, M.J. Penton, p. 51. Rutherford, as chief legal counsel for the Watch Tower Society, had written the new by-laws. (See Harvest Siftings II, written by J.F. Rutherford.)
  23. Rutherford published his version of the dispute in Harvest Siftings and Harvest Siftings II. Rutherford cites the new by-law: "the President shall always be the Executive Officer of the corporation and General Manager" in the first pamphlet. The four directors' version of the dispute was published in Light After Darkness and Facts for Shareholders.
  24. See Rutherford's Harvest Siftings under subheading "Seeds Begin to Bring Forth."
  25. The four directors were not able to achieve the needed quorum of five to transact business. Rutherford had left instructions to call the police to prevent such an action. See Faith on the March by A.H. Macmillan, p. 79. The directors claim, however, that the police officer did not force them out. (Apocalypse Delayed, M.J. Penton, pp. 319-320) Rutherford, in Harvest Siftings, dates this as July 5, 1917.
  26. The Finished Mystery, published 1917, volume 7 of Studies in the Scriptures. Scan available online at accessed March 15, 2006
  27. See Faith on the March, p. 80. The ousted directors disagreed: "...if the directors were not legally elected, neither were the Society's three officers: Rutherford, Pierson, and Van Amburgh. In order to have been chosen officers in January 1917, they would have had to have been legally elected directors. Yet, they had not been, and hence, by Rutherford's own logic, did not hold office legally."--Apocalypse Delayed, M. James Penton, p. 52
  28. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 66-68
  29. Jehovah's Witnesses: The New World Society by Marley Cole, pp. 89-90. Cole reports that 31 members of the headquarters staff were expelled and produces the votes from 813 American congregations.
  30. "Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of 'Christianity.'"--The Finished Mystery 1917, p. 485 (later editions read differently)
  31. "And the mountains were not found. Even the republics will disappear in the fall of 1920. And the mountains were not found. Every kingdom of earth will pass away, be swallowed up in anarchy." The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p. 258. (This date is changed in later editions.)
  32. Apocalypse Delayed, M.J. Penton, pp. 55-56
  33. Edited by C.J. Woodworth, it was intended as a general news magazine to proclaim the incoming "golden age." It published many unusual science and medical articles. The evils of aluminum (The Golden Age, September 23, 1936, p. 803), vaccines (The Golden Age, May 1, 1929, p. 502) and modern medicine (The Golden Age, September 8, 1937, p. 771) were frequent topics.
  34. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 259-260
  35. Millions Now Living Will Never Die, J.F. Rutherford (1920). Scanned copy available online at: accessed February 18, 2006
  36. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 632-633
  37. "There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah’s faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1914, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time. Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the Scriptures; and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely (and they do rely) upon the Word of God as to the events that must come to pass."--Vindication, Vol. 1, by J.F. Rutherford, (1931), p.338-339
  38. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 288 spoke of "the remaining months before Armageddon."
  39. Up until 1931, each issue of the Watch Tower published this notice: "This journal is published under the supervision of an editorial committee, at least three of whom have read and approved as truth each and every article appearing in these columns." See "Rutherford vs. the Editorial Committee" in A People For His Name by Timothy White, pp. 186-188
  40. See The Watchtower, June 15, 1938, p. 185: "In the beginning of the first Hebrew month The Watchtower of March 1, 1925 published the article "The Birth of The Nation," meaning the kingdom had begun to function. An editorial committee, humanly provided for, then was supposed to control the publication of The Watchtower, and the majority of that committee strenuously objected to the publication of that article "The Birth of The Nation," but, by the Lord's grace it was published and that really marked the beginning of the end of the editorial committee, indicating that the Lord himself is running the organization."
  41. Apocalypse Delayed--The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses, M. James Penton. p. 61.
  42. See March 31, 1930 Time magazine, p. 60. Scan available at Accessed February 1, 2006. This belief was discarded in 1950. (Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 263)
  43. It was argued that elders were superfluous since Christ had returned: "...was it not the purpose of the Lord to limit the jurisdiction of the elders to the time of the absence from the earth of the Lord Jesus, commencing with his ascension, and the giving of the holy spirit as a guide or teacher, and the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple?"--February 1, 1932 Watch Tower, p. 47. See also Apocalypse Delayed, M.J. Penton, pp. 63-64.
  44. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 214
  45. See June 15, 1938 Watchtower.
  46. Documentations of these changes can be found on pages 3-37 of Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses, by Thomas Daniels, available online at: accessed February 1, 2006.
  47. The Harp of God (both the 1921 and 1927 editions) affirmed on page 231 (paragraph 400) that “the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874.” Scan available online at: accessed February 23, 2006. The March 1, 1922 Watch Tower and pages 65-66 of the book Prophecy (published in 1928) reiterated this position. However, by 1930 some vagueness can be seen. For example, the October 15, 1930 Watch Tower, page 308 says the “second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ dates from about A.D. 1875.” The November 1, 1932 Watch Tower, page 325 is even less precise, stating that from “approximately 1875 forward” Christ was preparing the way. The first clear statement occurs in 1933: "The year 1914, therefore, marks the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of glory."--December 1, 1933 Watch Tower, p. 362
  48. "In June, 1927, The Watch Tower published the proof from the Scriptures that those who thus died faithful were asleep in death until the coming of the Lord to his temple in 1918." Light, Book One, (1930), p. 78
  49. Light, Book One, p. 318-319.
  50. Online scans of many of Rutherford's books are available at:
  51. Witnesses also played Rutherford's audio messages on portable phonographs in their door-to-door preaching. An audio sample of "Who Will Survive Armageddon?" is available online: accessed February 23, 2006
  52. Prohibition and the League of Nations: Born of God or the Devil, Which? by J.F. Rutherford (1930)
  53. The Watch Tower, November 1, 1924. Text available at:
  54. Radio discourse, October 6, 1935 as cited in Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 196-197
  55. See, e.g., Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.
  56. See article on the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at: accessed February 22, 2006
  57. In 1988 this was replaced by the 2 volume set Insight on the Scriptures.
  58. Jehovah's Witnesses--Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 106
  59. The year 1975 was first mentioned in 1966. See, for example, the article "How Much Longer Will It Be?" in the October 8, 1966 Awake!, pp. 17-20. Scan available online at: accessed March 6, 2006
  60. A comprehensive list of quotes from Watch Tower 1975 articles, unaltered with date references, publication, and page numbers etc.
  61. See "Witnessing the End" in the July 18, 1969 Time magazine. Scan available online at: accessed February 14, 2006
  62. Scanned text discouraging higher education from the Watch Tower 22 May 1969, p.15
  63. See ”1975—The Appropriate Time for God to Act,” pp. 237-253 in Crisis of Conscience, by Raymond Franz. Available online at: accessed February 12, 2006
  64. 1977 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 258
  65. The various committees were enumerated in the January 1, 1977 Watchtower, p. 15. They are: Writing, Teaching, Service, Publishing, and Personnel.
  66. See ”1914 and ‘This Generation’”, pp. 254-272 in Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz. Available online at: accessed February 12, 2006
  67. "He shows the beginning of this time and how the troubles increase, and mentions some of the sorrows to fall on the world, during the time of trouble. The length of time is indicated by him when he said, 'Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' (Matt. 24:34, NW) The actual meaning of these words is, beyond question, that which takes a 'generation' in the ordinary sense, as at Mark 8:12 and Acts 13:36, or for those who are living at the given period. So it was on 'this generation' that the accumulated judgments were to fall. (Matt. 23:36) This therefore means that from 1914 a generation shall not pass till all is fulfilled, and amidst a great time of trouble. Vision of the 'Time of the End', The Watchtower, July 1951, p. 404
  68. "A Time To Keep Awake", The Watchtower (November 1, 1995), p. 19 par. 12, and p. 20 par. 15.
  69. "While other religious groups count their membership by occasional or annual attendance, this figure reflects only those who are actively involved in the public Bible educational work." - Annual Worldwide Statistics at the Authorized Site of the Office of Public Information of Jehovah's Witnesses.
  70. The Watchtower, February 1, 2006, p. 27-30. Scans available at 27, 28, 29, 30 accessed January 27, 2006.
  71. U.S. Census Bureau (2003). "Section 1: Population," Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003. (Table 79, page 67). Web version available at accessed December 4, 2005.
  72. Crisis of Conscience Raymond Franz 1983 pp. 45, 85, 163
  73. A Book for All People (1997)
  74. Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? (1998)
  75. "...Nearly all the inspired letters in the Christian Greek Scriptures are primarily directed to this group of Kingdom heirs - 'the holy ones,' 'partakers of the heavenly calling.'"--United In Worship of the Only True God; 1983, p. 111.
  76. Christ Leads His Congregation, The Watchtower, March 15, 2002, p. 13-16.
  77. 77.0 77.1 Questions From Readers, The Watchtower 1 April, 1986 pp. 30-31.
  78. Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, May 15, 2004, p. 29-31.
  79. Why True Worship Receives God's Blessing, The Watchtower April 15, 1996 p. 17.
  80. What Do the Scriptures Say About "the Divinity of Christ"?, The Watchtower January 15, 1992 p. 20-23.
  81. Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 pg. 393 "Michael"
  82. What Does the Bible Really Teach?, p. 42.
  83. The Cross—Symbol of Christianity?, The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p.7.
  84. "Consequently, 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 is not using 'mediator' in the broad sense common in many languages. It is not saying that Jesus is a mediator between God and all mankind. Rather, it refers to Christ as legal Mediator (or, “attorney”) of the new covenant, this being the restricted way in which the Bible uses the term."--The Watchtower, August 15, 1989, p. 30.
  85. Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 pg. 60-61 "His Vital Place in God's Purpose" and "Chief Agent of life"
  86. Jesus' Family-Who Were They? The Watchtower December 15, 2003, p. 3
  87. ‘The Faithful Slave’ Passes the Test!, The Watchtower March 1, 2004, p. 13-18.
  88. Reasoning from the Scriptures p. 203.
  89. The Bible's Viewpoint The 'Weaker Vessel'—An Insult to Women?, Awake! October 8, 1994, p. 19.
  90. Whose Prayers Are Answered?, The Watchtower, January 15, 1990, p. 4.
  91. Is Christendom Truly Christ's Domain? The Watchtower May 1, 1966, p. 277.
  92. “Do the Work of an Evangelizer” The Watchtower, March 15, 2004, p. 10-14
  93. Why Observe the Lord's Evening Meal?, The Watchtower, February 15, 2003, p. 12-15.
  94. The Memorial-Are You Entitled to Partake? The Watchtower February 15, 1952, p. 101.
  95. Be Thankful—Jehovah's Messianic Kingdom Rules, The Watchtower, October 15, 1990, p. 15-20.
  96. The "Cup" That All Nations Must Drink at God's Hand, The Watchtower, September 15, 1979 p. 21-24.
  97. Revelation--It's Grand Climax At Hand!, page 102
  98. Expanded Activities During Christ's Presence, The Watchtower May 1, 1993 p. 16, 17 paragraphs 4-8
  99. "In the Last Days" Since When?, The Watchtower October 1, 1980, p. 19.
  100. Revelation-Its Grand Climax at Hand! (1988), p. 257
  101. Revelation-Its Grand Climax at Hand! (1988), p. 259
  102. Flight to Safety Before the "Great Tribulation", The Watchtower June 1, 1996, p. 14-19.
  103. Jehovah Cares For You, The Watchtower October 15, 2002, p. 15.
  104. "Jesus Saves-How?", The Watchtower November 15, 2001. Web version available at accessed January 26, 2006.
  105. Keep Your "Hope of Salvation" Bright!, The Watchtower, June 1, 2000, p. 12.
  106. "Have No Fear, Little Flock", The Watchtower, February 15, 1995 p. 18-22.
  107. A Great Crowd Rendering Sacred Service, The Watchtower February 1, 1995, p. 14-17.
  108. Remaining Organized for Survival Into the Millennium , The Watchtower September 1, 1989 p. 19
  109. Dwellers Together in a Restored "Land", The Watchtower July 1, 1995 p. 21
  110. Millions Get Ready for Uninterrupted Life on Earth, The Watchtower October 1, 1983 p. 16
  111. Making All Mankind One Under Their Creator The Watchtower April 4, 1956 p. 207.
  112. How Can Man Be in God's Image?, The Watchtower April 1, 1994 p. 28
  113. Strengthening Our Confidence in God's Righteousness, The Watchtower August 15, 1998 p. 20
  114. "Death Is to Be Brought to Nothing", The Watchtower July 1, 1998, p. 19-24
  115. Crushing The Serpent's Head, Revelation - Its Grand Climax At Hand 1988, p. 292.
  116. w85 4/15 Question From Readers p.31
  117. Giving Reproof "Before All Onlookers" The Watchtower December 1, 1976.
  118. 'Reproofs Are the Way of Life' The Watchtower November 15, 1977 p. 691.
  119. Our Kingdom Ministry March 1983, p. 3.
  120. Watchtower 79 11/15 Questions from Readers
  121. Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock - pgs. 121-122
  122. The Watchtower April 15, 1988.
  123. Display Christian Loyalty When a Relative Is Disfellowshipped, p 4. Scan available at accessed January 27, 2006.
  124. "It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum." Disfellowshiping-How to View It, The Watchtower September 15, 1981, p. 26.
  125. Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit, The Watchtower April 15, 1988, p. 26.
  126. Letter to Circuit and District Overseers, From the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society 1980. (Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses, M. J. Penton, p. 349) Scan available at page 1 page 2 accessed March 18, 2006.
  127. "Have No Dealings With Apostates" Watchtower 3/15/1986, pages 12-14
  128. "Since 1994, Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe alone have sent more than 190 tons of food, clothing, medicine, and other relief supplies to the Great Lakes region of Africa." - "Christianity in Action: Amid Turmoil", The Watchtower, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (January 15). Web version available at, accessed December 4, 2005.
  129. Why Living a Godly Life Brings Happiness, Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life, 1995, p. 118.
  130. Young People Ask... What's Wrong With Premarital Sex?, Awake! July 22, 2004, p. 12.
  131. Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, November 15, 1960, p. 704.
  132. Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, October 15, 1998, p. 30.
  133. The Bible's Viewpoint What Does It Mean to Be the Head of the House?, Awake! 2004b, July 8, 2004, p. 26.
  134. "Can You Make the World a Better Place?", The Watchtower October 15, 2001. Web version available at accessed January 26, 2006.
  135. "Is There LIFE After Death?", The Watchtower July 15, 2001. Web version available at accessed January 26, 2006.
  136. Hell-Eternal Torture or Common Grave? The Watchtower, April 15, 1993, p. 6.
  137. Comfort for Those Who Mourn, Awake! May 8, 2002, p. 19.
  138. The Watchtower, October 15 2000, p. 31
  139. February 22, 1976 Awake!, p. 15: "Student: 'Well, suppose somebody was just coming to the hospital. They’ve got a few seconds to live. The only possible way out is a blood transfusion. Well, what’s your answer to that? I mean, that’s murder if you don’t let them accept that.' Witness: 'That situation doesn’t exist. Wherever there are cases where a person . . . let’s say comes in off the highway here . . . and there is extreme loss of blood. Every emergency room, in every hospital, has a plasma volume expander which can . . .keep the volume up in the system...'"
  140. The Watchtower March 15, 1990, p. 11, 12
  141. In Search Of Christian Freedom p. 44
  142. In Search Of Christian Freedom Ray Franz, p.47
  143. In Search Of Christian Freedom Ray Franz, 63-68
  144. In Search Of Christian Freedom Raymond Franz, p. 202
  145. In Search Of Christian Freedom Raymond Franz, p. 203
  146. In Search Of Christian Freedom Raymond Franz, p. 204
  147. In Search Of Christian Freedom Raymond Franz, p. 214
  148. In Search Of Christian Freedom Raymond Franz, p. 218
  149. Awake! magazine, "Should Christians Gamble?", 8 June 1992, p.11
  150. The Watchtower magazine, 15 April 1999, p.28
  151. The Bible's Viewpoint Why Disfellowshipping Is a Loving Arrangement, Awake! September 8, 1996.
  152. Matthew 18:17, "The local court was situated at the gate of a city. (De 16:18; 21:19; 22:15, 24; 25:7; Ru 4:1) By "gate" is meant the open space inside the city near the gate. . . as most persons would go in and out of the gate during the day. Also, the publicity that would be afforded any trial at the gate would tend to influence the judges toward care and justice in the trial proceedings and in their decisions. (Witness publication, Insight on the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 518)
  153. In Search Of Christian Freedom by Raymond Franz, 2002, and In Search of Christian Freedom, pp.374–390 'The Misuse of Disfellowshipping', by Raymond Franz
  154. Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions and the Tort of Misrepresentation, Journal of Church and State (2005), Volume 47, Number 4, Autumn, p. 816
  155. Ibid., p. 808: "[The Watchtower Society] builds a case that other doctors wish all surgeons would become bloodless surgeons, when in fact those doctors recognize the benefits of blood transfusions for those who are in desperate need."
  156. God and Caesar, The Watchtower May 1, 1996, p. 9
  157. "Salvation Belongs to Jehovah", The Watchtower September 15, 2002, p. 21.
  158. "Salvation Belongs to Jehovah", The Watchtower November 1, 1990, p. 23.
  159. Watchtower 1 November 1999 pp.28-9)
  160. Chapter Eighteen "They Are No Part of the World" Worship the Only True God 2002, p. 159
  161. International Religious Freedom Report 2005 — Singapore, U.S. Department of State (2005). Available online at

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