Who Are Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Around the world, there are estimated to be thousands of different Christian denominations, with Catholics alone making up more than one billion adherents And while all of these denominations have different beliefs about aspects of Christianity, none are quite as well known for their unique views as the Jehovah’s Witnesses

You yourself may have even been visited by one on your doorstep But what exactly sets Jehovah's Witnesses apart, and what do they believe? Well, unlike Christianity as a whole, the Jehovah's Witnesses were founded relatively recently, in the late 1800s, just about forty years after Mormonism got its start The founder was Charles Taze Russell, a biblical scholar, who, like other religious founders, had his own interpretation of the Bible Russell would say that the world was soon coming to an end, and expressed this and other thoughts in a journal called The Watchtower Supporters of Russell would meet to study the Bible, and eventually became a small religious ministry

After Russell’s death, the group was taken over by a high ranking member and former judge, Joseph Franklin Rutherford Rutherford a number of failed predictions, including that the biblical Abraham and Isaac would be resurrected in 1925 This eventually forced a split within the ministry in 1931 The remaining group was led by Rutherford, and renamed the Jehovah’s Witnesses, operating out of Brooklyn, New York Today Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have roughly 8 million adherents worldwide, or “publishers” as they’re called, and yet, most people know very little about the religion’s unique views

For one, it is taught that Satan was thrown out of heaven and came to earth around October 1st, 1914, and that Armageddon would occur during the lives of those living in 1914 The door-to-door proselytizing for which Jehovah’s witnesses are famous for is, in part, based on the urgency of this “end times” prophecy But in 1995, when it was clear that most of the people alive in 1914 were dying, the prophecy was officially revised to have no clear end date Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny Trinitarianism, which is the Christian belief that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one entity Instead, they believe that Jesus, being the Son of God, is a lesser entity, and call the Trinity a form of pagan idolatry

Along those lines, they also do not celebrate birthdays or any non-Christian holidays, seeing them also as pagan Jehovah’s Witnesses stress that the only date to be commemorated is the death of Jesus They don’t even celebrate his birth, Christmas In 1945 it was established that Witnesses could not give or receive blood transfusions based on a unique reading of a bible passage, calling blood itself sacred However, it’s not all alternative beliefs

There is also a strong emphasis on cleanliness, both physical and spiritual, manifesting as honesty and modesty While these are inherent in many religions, they are especially paramount for Jehovah’s Witnesses Between believing the world is about to end, never celebrating a birthday, and not being allowed to receive blood in a life or death situation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are an interesting group, with some very unique beliefs Another religious group, often compared to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and stemming from roughly the same recent time period, are Mormons Mormons wield considerable influence in the United States, and in the 2012 election, Mormon Mitt Romney nearly became president

So, just how powerful is the Mormon Church?

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