In 1870, Charles Taze Russell and
others formed a group in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania to study the
During the course of his ministry, Russell disputed many beliefs of mainstream Christianity including immortality
of the soul, hellfire, predestination, the fleshly return of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the burning up of the
In 1876, Russell met Nelson H. Barbour; later that year they jointly produced the book
Three Worlds, which combined
restitutionist views with end
time prophecy. The book taught that God's dealings with humanity were divided dispensationally, each ending with a "harvest," that Christ had returned as
an invisible spirit being in 1874
inaugurating the "harvest of the Gospel age," and that 1914 would mark the end of a 2520-year period called "the
at which time world society would be replaced by the full establishment of God's kingdom on
Beginning in 1878 Russell and Barbour jointly edited a religious journal, Herald
of the Morning.
In June 1879 the two split over doctrinal differences, and in July, Russell began publishing the magazine
Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence,
stating that its purpose was to demonstrate that the world was in "the last days," and that a new age of earthly
and human restitution under the reign of Christ was imminent.
From 1879, Watch Tower supporters gathered as autonomous congregations
to study the Bible topically. Thirty congregations were founded, and during 1879 and 1880, Russell visited each to
provide the format he recommended for conducting meetings.
In 1881, Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was presided over by
William Henry Conley, and in 1884, Russell incorporated the society as a
non-profit business to distribute tracts and Bibles.
By about 1900, Russell had organized thousands of part- and full-time colporteurs,
and was appointing foreign missionaries and establishing branch offices. By the 1910s, Russell's
organization maintained nearly a hundred "pilgrims," or traveling preachers.
Russell engaged in significant global publishing efforts during his ministry,
and by 1912, he was the most distributed Christian author in the United States.
Russell moved the Watch Tower Society's headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, in
1909, combining printing and corporate offices with a house of worship; volunteers were housed in a nearby
residence he named Bethel. He identified the religious movement
as "Bible Students," and more formally as the International Bible Students
By 1910, about 50,000 people worldwide were associated with the movement
and congregations re-elected him annually as their "pastor."
Russell died October 31, 1916, at the age of 64 while returning from a ministerial speaking
In January 1917, the Watch Tower Society's legal representative, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, was elected as its next president. His election was disputed,
and members of the Board of Directors accused him of acting in an autocratic and secretive
The divisions between his supporters and opponents triggered a major turnover of members over the next
In June 1917, he released The Finished Mystery as a seventh volume
of Russell's Studies in the Scriptures series. The book, published as the posthumous
work of Russell, was a compilation of his commentaries on the Bible books of Ezekiel and Revelation, plus numerous additions by Bible Students Clayton Woodworth and
It strongly criticized Catholic and Protestant clergy and Christian involvement in the Great
As a result, Watch Tower Society directors were jailed for sedition under the Espionage Act in 1918 and members were subjected to mob violence; the
directors were released in March 1919 and charges against them were dropped in 1920.
Rutherford centralized organizational control of the Watch Tower Society. In 1919, he instituted the appointment of
a director in each congregation, and a year later all members were instructed to report their weekly preaching
activity to the Brooklyn headquarters.
At an international convention held at Cedar
Point, Ohio, in September 1922, a new emphasis was made on house-to-house
Significant changes in doctrine and administration were regularly introduced during Rutherford's twenty-five years
as president, including the 1920 announcement that the Hebrew patriarchs (such as Abraham and Isaac) would be resurrected in 1925, marking the beginning of Christ's thousand-year earthly Kingdom.
Because of disappointment over the changes and unfulfilled predictions, tens of thousands of defections occurred
during the first half of Rutherford's tenure, leading to the formation of several Bible Student organizations
independent of the Watch Tower Society,
most of which still exist.
By mid-1919, as many as one in seven of Russell-era Bible Students had ceased their association with the Society,
and as many as three-quarters by the end of the 1920s.
On July 26, 1931, at a convention in Columbus, Ohio,
Rutherford introduced the new name – Jehovah's witnesses –
based on Isaiah 43:10: "'You are
my witnesses,' declares Jehovah, 'Yes, my servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and have faith in
me And understand that I am the same One. Before me no God was formed, And after me there has been none.'"
(New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures 2013 Edition) —which was adopted by resolution. The name was
chosen to distinguish his group of Bible Students from other independent groups that had severed ties with
the Society, as well as symbolize the instigation of new outlooks and the promotion of fresh evangelizing
In 1932, Rutherford eliminated the system of locally elected elders and in 1938, introduced what he called a
"theocratic" (literally, God-ruled) organizational system, under which
appointments in congregations worldwide were made from the Brooklyn headquarters.
From 1932, it was taught that the "little flock" of 144,000 would not be the only people to survive Armageddon.
Rutherford explained that in addition to the 144,000 "anointed" who would be resurrected—or transferred at death—to
live in heaven to rule over earth with Christ, a separate class of members, the "great multitude," would live in a
paradise restored on earth; from 1935, new converts to the movement were considered part of that
By the mid-1930s, the timing of the beginning of Christ's presence (Greek: parousía), his enthronement as king, and the start of the "last
days" were each moved to 1914.
As their interpretations of the Bible developed, Witness publications decreed that saluting
national flags is a form of idolatry, which led to a new outbreak of mob violence and government opposition in the
United States, Canada, Germany, and other
Worldwide membership of Jehovah's Witnesses reached 113,624 in 5,323 congregations by the time of Rutherford's
death in January 1942.
Nathan Knorr was
appointed as third president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1942. Knorr commissioned a new
translation of the Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the
full version of which was released in 1961. He organized large international assemblies, instituted new training
programs for members, and expanded missionary activity and branch offices throughout the
Knorr's presidency was also marked by an increasing use of explicit instructions guiding
Witnesses in their lifestyle and conduct, and a greater use of congregational judicial procedures to enforce a strict moral code.
From 1966, Witness publications and convention talks built anticipation of the possibility that Christ's
thousand-year reign might begin in late 1975
or shortly thereafter.
The number of baptisms increased significantly, from about 59,000 in 1966 to more than 297,000 in 1974. By 1975,
the number of active members exceeded two million. Membership declined during the late 1970s after expectations for
1975 were proved wrong.
Watch Tower Society literature did not state dogmatically that 1975 would definitely mark the
but in 1980 the Watch Tower Society admitted its responsibility in building up hope regarding that
The offices of elder and ministerial servant were restored to Witness congregations in 1972, with appointments made
(and later, also by branch committees). It was announced that, starting in September 2014, appointments would be
made by traveling overseers. In a major organizational overhaul in 1976, the power of the Watch Tower Society
president was diminished, with authority for doctrinal and organizational decisions passed to the Governing Body.
Since Knorr's death in 1977, the position of president has been occupied by Frederick Franz (1977–1992) and Milton Henschel (1992–2000), both members of the Governing Body, and since
2000 by others who are not Governing Body members. In 1995, Jehovah's Witnesses abandoned the idea that
Armageddon must occur during the lives of the generation that was alive in 1914 and in 2010 changed their
teaching on the "generation".
Jehovah's Witnesses are organized hierarchically, in what
the leadership calls a "theocratic organization", reflecting their belief that it is God's "visible
organization" on earth.
The organization is led by the Governing Body—an
all-male group that varies in size, but since January 2018 has comprised eight
all of whom profess to be of the "anointed" class with a hope of heavenly life—based in the Watch Tower Society's
There is no election for membership; new members are selected by the existing body.
Until late 2012, the Governing Body described itself as the representative
and "spokesman" for God's "faithful and discreet slave class" (approximately 10,000 self-professed
At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Watch Tower Society, the "faithful and discreet slave" was defined as referring
to the Governing Body only.
The Governing Body directs several committees that are responsible for administrative functions, including
publishing, assembly programs and evangelizing activities.
It appoints all branch committee members and traveling overseers, after they have been recommended by local
branches, with traveling overseers supervising circuits of congregations within their jurisdictions. Traveling
overseers appoint local elders and ministerial servants, and while branch offices may appoint regional committees
for matters such as Kingdom
Hall construction or disaster relief.
The leadership and supporting staff lives in properties owned by the organization worldwide referred to as "Bethel"
where they operate as a religious community and administrative unit.
Their living expenses and those of other full time volunteers are covered by the organization along with a basic
Each congregation has a body of appointed unpaid male elders and ministerial servants. Elders maintain general
responsibility for congregational governance, setting meeting times, selecting speakers and conducting meetings,
directing the public preaching work, and creating "judicial committees" to investigate and decide disciplinary
action for cases involving sexual misconduct or doctrinal breaches.
New elders are appointed by a traveling overseer after recommendation by the existing body of elders. Ministerial
servants—appointed in a similar manner to elders—fulfill clerical and attendant duties, but may also teach and
Witnesses do not use elder as a title to signify a formal clergy-laity
though elders may employ ecclesiastical privilege regarding confession of
Baptism is a requirement
for being considered a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses do not practice infant
and previous baptisms performed by other denominations are not considered valid.
Individuals undergoing baptism must affirm publicly that dedication and baptism identify them "as one of Jehovah's
Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization,"
though Witness publications say baptism symbolizes personal dedication to God and not "to a man, work or
Their literature emphasizes the need for members to be obedient and loyal to Jehovah and to "his
stating that individuals must remain part of it to receive God's favor and to survive
The organization produces a significant amount of literature as part of its evangelism
The Watch Tower Society has produced over 220 million copies of the New World
Translation in whole or in part in over 160 languages.The
Watchtower and Awake! are the most widely distributed magazines in the
Translation of Witness publications is done by over 2000 volunteers worldwide, producing literature in over 950
Publications are also available online at the organization's official website.
Much of their funding is provided by donations, primarily from
members. There is no tithing or
In 2001 Newsday listed the Watch Tower Society as one of New York's forty richest
corporations, with revenues exceeding $950 million.
The organization reported for the same year that it "spent over $70.9 million in caring for special pioneers,
missionaries, and traveling overseers in their field service assignments."[note 3]
Jehovah's Witnesses believe their denomination is a restoration of first-century Christianity.Doctrines of Jehovah's
Witnesses are established by the Governing Body, which
assumes responsibility for interpreting and applying
The Governing Body does not issue any single, comprehensive "statement of faith", but prefers to express its
doctrinal position in a variety of ways through publications published by the Watch Tower
Their publications teach that doctrinal changes and refinements result from a process of progressive revelation, in which God gradually reveals his will and
and that such enlightenment or "new light"
results from the application of reason and study,
the guidance of the holy
spirit, and direction from Jesus
Christ and angels.
The Society also teaches that members of the Governing Body are helped by the holy spirit to discern "deep truths",
which are then considered by the entire Governing Body before it makes doctrinal
The group's leadership, while disclaiming divine inspiration and infallibility,
is said to provide "divine guidance"
through its teachings described as "based on God's Word thus ... not from men, but from
The entire Protestant canon of scripture is
considered the inspired, inerrant word of
Jehovah's Witnesses consider the Bible to be scientifically and
historically accurate and
and interpret much of it literally, but accept
parts of it as symbolic.
They consider the Bible to be the final authority for all their beliefs,
although sociologist Andrew Holden's ethnographic study of the group concluded that pronouncements of the
Governing Body, through Watch Tower Society publications, carry almost as much weight as the
Regular personal Bible reading is frequently recommended; Witnesses are discouraged from formulating doctrines and
"private ideas" reached through Bible research independent of Watch Tower Society publications, and are cautioned
against reading other religious literature.
Adherents are told to have "complete confidence" in the leadership, avoid skepticism about what is taught in the
Watch Tower Society's literature, and "not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it
comes to Bible understanding."
The organization makes no provision for members to criticize or contribute to official
and all Witnesses must abide by its doctrines and organizational requirements.
Jehovah's Witnesses emphasize the use of God's name, and they prefer the form Jehovah—a vocalization of God's name based on
They believe that Jehovah is the only true God, the creator of all things, and the "Universal
Sovereign". They believe that all worship should be directed toward him, and that he is not part of a
consequently, the group places more emphasis on God than on Christ.
They believe that the Holy Spirit is God's applied power or "active force", rather than a
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is God's only
direct creation, that everything else was created through Christ by means of God's power, and that the
initial unassisted act of creation uniquely identifies Jesus as God's "only-begotten
Jesus served as a redeemer and a
ransom sacrifice to pay
for the sins of humanity.
They believe Jesus died on a single upright post rather than the traditional cross.
Biblical references to the Archangel Michael,
and the Word are interpreted
as names for Jesus in various roles.
Jesus is considered to be the only intercessor and
high priest between God
and humanity, and appointed by God as the king and judge of his kingdom.
His role as a mediator (referred to in 1 Timothy 2:5) is applied to the 'anointed' class, though the 'other sheep'
are said to also benefit from the arrangement.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Satan was originally a
perfect angel who developed
feelings of self-importance and craved worship. Satan influenced Adam and Eve to disobey
God, and humanity subsequently became participants in a challenge involving the competing claims of Jehovah
and Satan to universal sovereignty.
Other angels who sided with Satan became demons.
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Satan and his demons were cast down to earth from heaven after
October 1, 1914,
at which point the end
times began. They believe that Satan is the ruler of the current world
that human society is influenced and misled by Satan and his demons, and that they are a cause of human suffering.
They also believe that human governments are controlled by Satan,
but that he does not directly control each human ruler.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe death is a state of non-existence with no consciousness. There is
no Hell of fiery
torment; Hades and Sheol are understood to
refer to the condition of death, termed the common
Jehovah's Witnesses consider the soul to be a life or a
living body that can die.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that humanity is in a sinful state,
from which release is only possible by means of Jesus' shed blood as a ransom, or
atonement, for the sins
Witnesses believe that a "little flock" go to heaven, but that the hope
for life after death for the majority of "other sheep" involves being resurrected by God to a cleansed earth
after Armageddon. They interpret Revelation 14:1–5 to mean
that the number of Christians going to heaven is limited to exactly 144,000, who will rule with Jesus as
kings and priests over earth.
They believe that baptism as one of Jehovah's Witnesses is vital for salvation
and that only they meet scriptural requirements for surviving Armageddon, but that God is the final
During Christ's millennial reign, most people who died prior to Armageddon will be
resurrected with the prospect of living forever; they will be taught the proper way to worship God to prepare
them for their final test at the end of the millennium.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God's Kingdom is a
literal government in heaven, ruled by Jesus Christ and 144,000 "spirit-anointed" Christians drawn from the
earth, which they associate with Jesus' reference to a "new
The kingdom is viewed as the means by which God will accomplish his original purpose for the earth, transforming it
into a paradise without sickness or death.
It is said to have been the focal point of Jesus' ministry on earth.
They believe the kingdom was established in heaven in 1914,
and that Jehovah's Witnesses serve as representatives of the kingdom on earth.
A central teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses is that the current world era, or "system of
things", entered the "last days" in 1914 and
faces imminent destruction through intervention by God and Jesus Christ, leading to deliverance for those who
worship God acceptably.
They consider all other present-day religions to be false, identifying them with
"Babylon the Great", or
the "harlot", of Revelation 17,
and believe that they will soon be destroyed by the United Nations, which
they believe is represented in scripture by the scarlet-colored wild beast of Revelation chapter 17. This development will mark the beginning of the "great tribulation".
Satan will subsequently use world governments to attack Jehovah's Witnesses, an action that
will prompt God to begin the war of Armageddon, during which
all forms of government and all people not counted as Christ's "sheep" will be destroyed. After Armageddon,
God will extend his heavenly kingdom to include earth, which will be transformed into a paradise similar to
the Garden of Eden.
Most of those who had died before God's intervention will gradually be resurrected during
the thousand year "judgment
day". This judgment will be based on their actions after resurrection rather than past deeds. At the end of
the thousand years, Christ will hand all authority back to God. Then a final test will take place when Satan
is released to mislead perfect mankind. Those who fail will be destroyed, along with Satan and his demons.
The end result will be a fully tested, glorified human race on earth.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ began to rule in heaven as king of God's kingdom
in October 1914, and that Satan was subsequently ousted from heaven to the earth, resulting in "woe" to humanity.
They believe that Jesus rules invisibly, from heaven, perceived only as a series of "signs". They base this belief
on a rendering of the Greek word parousia—usually translated as "coming" when referring to Christ—as
"presence". They believe Jesus' presence includes an unknown period beginning with his inauguration as king in
heaven in 1914, and ending when he comes to bring a final judgment against humans on earth. They thus depart
from the mainstream Christian belief that the "second coming" of
Matthew 24 refers to a
single moment of arrival on earth to judge humans.
Meetings for worship and study are held at Kingdom Halls, which are
typically functional in character, and do not contain religious symbols.
Witnesses are assigned to a congregation in whose "territory" they usually reside and attend weekly services they
refer to as "meetings" as scheduled by congregation elders. The meetings are largely devoted to study of Watch
Tower Society literature and the Bible. The format of the meetings is established by the group's headquarters, and
the subject matter for most meetings is the same worldwide.
Congregations meet for two sessions each week comprising four distinct meetings that total about three-and-a-half
hours, typically gathering mid-week (two meetings) and on the weekend (two meetings). Prior to 2009, congregations
met three times each week; these meetings were condensed, with the intention that members dedicate an evening for
Gatherings are opened and closed with kingdom
songs (hymns) and brief prayers. Twice each year, Witnesses from a number of
congregations that form a "circuit" gather for a one-day assembly. Larger groups of congregations meet once a
year for a three-day "regional convention", usually at rented stadiums or auditoriums. Their most important and
solemn event is the commemoration of the "Lord's Evening Meal", or "Memorial of Christ's Death" on the date of the Jewish
Jehovah's Witnesses outside the British Museum, 2017
Jehovah's Witnesses are perhaps best known for their efforts to spread their beliefs, most notably by visiting
people from house to house,
distributing literature published by the Watch Tower Society in 700 languages.
The objective is to start a regular "Bible study" with any person who is not already a
with the intention that the student be baptized as a member of the group;
Witnesses are advised to consider discontinuing Bible studies with students who show no interest in becoming
Witnesses are taught they are under a biblical command to engage in public preaching.
They are instructed to devote as much time as possible to their ministry and are required to submit an individual
monthly "Field Service Report".
Baptized members who fail to report a month of preaching are termed "irregular" and may be counseled by
those who do not submit reports for six consecutive months are termed "inactive".
The family structure is patriarchal. The husband
is considered to have authority on family decisions, but is encouraged to solicit his wife's thoughts and
feelings, as well as those of his children. Marriages are required to be monogamous and
Marrying a non-believer, or endorsing such a union, is strongly discouraged and carries religious
Divorce is discouraged,
and remarriage is forbidden unless a divorce is obtained on the grounds of adultery, which they
refer to as "a scriptural divorce".
If a divorce is obtained for any other reason, remarriage is considered adulterous unless the
prior spouse has died or is since considered to have committed sexual immorality.
Extreme physical abuse, willful non-support of one's family, and what the denomination terms "absolute endangerment
of spirituality" are considered grounds for legal separation.
Formal discipline is administered by congregation elders. When a baptized member is accused of
committing a serious sin—usually cases
of sexual misconduct
or charges of apostasy for disputing
Jehovah's Witness doctrines
—a judicial committee is formed to determine guilt, provide help and possibly administer
discipline. Disfellowshipping, a form
of shunning, is the
strongest form of discipline, administered to an offender deemed unrepentant.
Contact with disfellowshipped individuals is limited to direct family members living in the same home, and with
congregation elders who may invite disfellowshipped persons to apply for reinstatement;
formal business dealings may continue if contractually or financially obliged.
Witnesses are taught that avoiding social and spiritual interaction with disfellowshipped individuals keeps the
congregation free from immoral influence and that "losing precious fellowship with loved ones may help [the shunned
individual] to come 'to his senses,' see the seriousness of his wrong, and take steps to return to
The practice of shunning may also serve to deter other members from dissident behavior.
Members who disassociate (formally resign) are described in Watch Tower Society literature as wicked and are also
Expelled individuals may eventually be reinstated to the congregation if deemed repentant by elders in the
congregation in which the disfellowshipping was enforced.
Reproof is a lesser form of discipline given formally by a judicial committee to a baptized Witness who is
considered repentant of serious sin; the reproved person temporarily loses conspicuous privileges of service, but
suffers no restriction of social or spiritual fellowship.Marking, a curtailing of social but not spiritual
fellowship, is practiced if a baptized member persists in a course of action regarded as a violation of Bible
principles but not a serious sin.[note 4]
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Bible condemns the mixing of religions, on the basis that there can only be
one truth from God, and therefore reject interfaith and ecumenical movements.
They believe that only Jehovah's Witnesses represent true Christianity, and that other religions fail to meet all
the requirements set by God and will soon be destroyed.
Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that it is vital to remain "separate from the world." The Witnesses' literature
defines the "world" as "the mass of mankind apart from Jehovah's approved servants" and teach that it is morally
contaminated and ruled by Satan.
Witnesses are taught that association with "worldly" people presents a "danger" to their
and are instructed to minimize social contact with non-members to better maintain their own standards of
Attending university is discouraged and trade
schools are suggested as an alternative.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe their highest allegiance belongs to God's kingdom, which is viewed as an actual
government in heaven, with Christ as king. They remain politically neutral, do not seek public office, and are
discouraged from voting, though individual members may participate in uncontroversial community improvement
Although they do not take part in politics, they respect the authority of the governments under which they
They do not celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, nor do they observe birthdays, national
holidays, or other celebrations they consider to honor people other than Jesus. They feel that these and many other
customs have pagan origins or reflect a nationalistic or political spirit. Their position is that these traditional
holidays reflect Satan's control over the world.
Witnesses are told that spontaneous giving at other times can help their children to not feel deprived of birthdays
or other celebrations.
They do not work in industries associated with the military, do not serve in the armed
and refuse national military service, which in some countries may result in their arrest and
They do not salute or pledge allegiance to flags or sing national anthems or patriotic songs.
Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves as a worldwide brotherhood that transcends national boundaries and ethnic
Sociologist Ronald Lawson has suggested the group's intellectual and organizational isolation, coupled with the
intense indoctrination of adherents, rigid internal discipline and considerable persecution, has contributed to the
consistency of its sense of urgency in its apocalyptic message.
Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, which
they consider a violation of God's law based on their interpretation of Acts 15:28, 29 and other
Since 1961 the willing acceptance of a blood transfusion by an unrepentant member has been grounds for expulsion
from the group.
Members are directed to refuse blood transfusions, even in "a life-or-death situation".
Jehovah's Witnesses accept non-blood alternatives and other medical procedures in lieu of blood transfusions, and
their literature provides information about non-blood medical procedures.
Though Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions of whole blood, they may accept
some blood plasma fractions at
their own discretion.
The Watch Tower Society provides pre-formatted durable power of attorney documents prohibiting major blood components, in which members can specify which allowable
fractions and treatments they will personally accept.
Jehovah's Witnesses have established Hospital Liaison Committees as a cooperative arrangement between individual Jehovah's Witnesses and medical professionals and
Jehovah's Witnesses have an active presence in most countries, but do not form a large part of
the population of any country.
For 2017, Jehovah's Witnesses reported more than 8.45 million publishers—the term they use for members actively involved in preaching—in 120,053
For the same year, they reported over 2 billion hours spent in preaching activity, and conducted Bible studies
with more than 10.1 million individuals (including those conducted by Witness parents with their
Jehovah's Witnesses estimate their worldwide annual growth since 2016 to be 1.4%.
The official published membership statistics, such as those mentioned above, include only those who submit reports
for their personal ministry;
official statistics do not include inactive and disfellowshipped individuals or others who might attend their meetings. As a result,
only about half of those who self-identified as Jehovah's Witnesses in independent demographic studies are
considered active by the faith itself.
The 2008 US Pew
Forum on Religion & Public Life survey found a low retention rate among members of the
denomination: about 37% of people raised in the group continued to identify themselves as Jehovah's
The study also found that 65% of adult Jehovah's Witnesses in the US are converts.
Sociologist James A. Beckford, in his
1975 study of Jehovah's Witnesses, classified the group's organizational structure as Totalizing, characterized by an assertive leadership, specific and narrow
objectives, control over competing demands on members' time and energy, and control over the quality of new
members. Other characteristics of the classification include likelihood of friction with secular authorities,
reluctance to co-operate with other religious organizations, a high rate of membership turnover, a low rate
of doctrinal change, and strict uniformity of beliefs among members.
Beckford identified the group's chief characteristics as historicism
(identifying historical events as relating to the outworking of God's purpose), absolutism (conviction that Jehovah's Witness leaders dispense absolute truth),
activism (capacity to motivate members to perform missionary tasks),
rationalism (conviction that Witness doctrines have a rational basis
devoid of mystery), authoritarianism (rigid presentation of regulations
without the opportunity for criticism) and world indifference
(rejection of certain secular requirements and medical treatments).
Sociologist Bryan R. Wilson, in his
consideration of five religious groups including Jehovah's Witnesses, noted that each of the
"exists in a state of tension with the wider society;"
"imposes tests of merit on would-be members;"
"exercises stern discipline, regulating the declared beliefs and the life habits of members and prescribing and
operating sanctions for those who deviate, including the possibility of
"demands sustained and total commitment from its members, and the subordination, and perhaps even the exclusion
of all other interests."
A sociological comparative study by the Pew Research Center found
that Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States ranked
highest in statistics for getting no further than high school graduation, belief in God, importance of
religion in one's life, frequency of religious attendance, frequency of prayers, frequency of Bible reading
outside of religious services, belief their prayers are answered, belief that their religion can only be
interpreted one way, belief that theirs is the only one true faith leading to eternal life, opposition to
abortion, and opposition to homosexuality. In the study, Jehovah's Witnesses ranked lowest in statistics for
having an interest in politics.
It was also among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in the US.
Controversy surrounding various beliefs, doctrines and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses has led to opposition from
governments, communities, and religious groups. Religious commentator Ken Jubber wrote that "Viewed globally, this
persecution has been so persistent and of such intensity that it would not be inaccurate to regard Jehovah's
Witnesses as the most persecuted group of Christians of the twentieth century."
Political and religious animosity against Jehovah's Witnesses has at times led to
mob action and
government oppression in
various countries. Their stance regarding political neutrality and their refusal to serve in the military has
led to imprisonment of members who refused conscription during World War II and at other
times where national service has been
compulsory. Their religious activities are currently banned or restricted in some countries, including
China, Vietnam and some Islamic
In Canada during World
War II, Jehovah's Witnesses were interned in camps
along with political dissidents and people of Chinese and Japanese descent.
Jehovah's Witnesses faced discrimination in Quebec until the Quiet Revolution, including bans on distributing literature or holding
In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia labeled Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization, banned its activities in Russia and issued an
order to confiscate the organization's assets.
Authors including William Whalen, Shawn
Francis Peters and former Witnesses Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Alan Rogerson and William Schnell have claimed the arrests and mob violence in the United States
in the 1930s and 1940s were the consequence of what appeared to be a deliberate course of provocation of
authorities and other religious groups by Jehovah's Witnesses. Whalen, Harrison and Schnell have suggested
Rutherford invited and cultivated opposition for publicity purposes in a bid to attract dispossessed members
of society, and to convince members that persecution from the outside world was evidence of the truth of
their struggle to serve God.
Watch Tower Society literature of the period directed that Witnesses should "never seek a controversy" nor resist
arrest, but also advised members not to co-operate with police officers or courts that ordered them to stop
preaching, and to prefer jail rather than pay fines.
Several cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses have been heard by Supreme Courts throughout the
The cases generally relate to their right to practice their religion, displays of patriotism and military service,
and blood transfusions.
In the United States, legal challenges by Jehovah's Witnesses prompted a series of state and federal court rulings
that reinforced judicial protections for civil liberties.
Among the rights strengthened by Witness court victories in the United States are the protection of religious
conduct from federal and state interference, the right to abstain from patriotic rituals and military service, the
right of patients to refuse medical treatment, and the right to engage in public
Similar cases in their favor have been heard in Canada.
Jehovah's Witnesses have received criticism from mainstream Christianity, members of the
medical community, former members and commentators regarding their beliefs and
practices. The movement
has been accused of doctrinal inconsistency and reversals, failed predictions, mistranslation of the Bible,
harsh treatment of former members and autocratic and coercive leadership. Criticism has also focused on their
rejection of blood transfusions,
particularly in life-threatening medical situations, and failing to report cases of sexual abuse to the
authorities. Many of the claims are denied by Jehovah's Witnesses and some have also been disputed by courts
and religious scholars.
Free speech and thought
Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses are established by the Governing Body.
The denomination does not tolerate dissent over doctrines and practices;
members who openly disagree with the group's teachings are expelled and shunned.
Witness publications strongly discourage followers from questioning doctrine and counsel received from the
Governing Body, reasoning that it is to be trusted as part of "God's organization".
It also warns members to "avoid independent thinking", claiming such thinking "was introduced by Satan the
and would "cause division".
Those who openly disagree with official teachings are condemned as "apostates" who are "mentally
Former members Heather and Gary Botting compare the
cultural paradigms of the denomination to George Orwell's
and Alan Rogerson describes the group's leadership as totalitarian.
Other critics charge that by disparaging individual decision-making, the group's leaders cultivate a system of
in which Witnesses abrogate all responsibility and rights over their personal lives.
Critics also accuse the group's leaders of exercising "intellectual dominance" over
and creating "mental isolation", which former Governing Body member Raymond
Franz argued were all elements of mind
Jehovah's Witness publications state that consensus of faith aids unity, and deny that unity restricts
individuality or imagination.
Historian James Irvin Lichti has rejected the description of the denomination as
Sociologist Rodney Stark states that
Jehovah's Witness leaders are "not always very democratic" and that members "are expected to conform to
rather strict standards," but adds that "enforcement tends to be very informal, sustained by the close bonds
of friendship within the group", and that Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves as "part of the power structure
rather than subject to it."
Sociologist Andrew Holden states that most members who join millenarian movements such as Jehovah's Witnesses have
made an informed choice.
However, he also states that defectors "are seldom allowed a dignified exit",
and describes the administration as autocratic.
Various Bible scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, former
Professor and Bible editor and translator at Princeton Theological Seminary, have said that the New World Translation's renderings
of certain texts are inaccurate and biased in favor of Witness practices and
doctrines.Baptist Old Testament
scholar and Bible editor Harold H. Rowley, in a
November 1953 review, criticized the first volume as "a shining example of how the Bible should not be
translated," adding in a subsequent review that "The second volume shows the same faults as the
Critics of the group from mainstream Christianity such as Edmund C. Gruss,Ray C.
Stedman,Walter Martin, Norman Klann
and Anthony Hoekema
claim that the New World Translation lacks scholarship or that it reflects scholastic dishonesty.
Professor of Religious Studies at the Northern Arizona University, in a New Testament study wrote: "The NW [New World Translation] emerges as the most accurate of
the translations compared." BeDuhn stated that although the general public and "several important biblical
scholars" assume that the differences in the New World Translation are the result of religious bias on the
part of its translators, "most of the differences are due to the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal,
conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament writers." However, he added that
the insertion of the name Jehovah in the New Testament
"violate[s] accuracy in favor of denominationally preferred expressions for
BeDuhn's book has been strongly criticized by other scholars, such as Thomas A Howe
and Trevor Allin.
Watch Tower Society publications have claimed that God has used Jehovah's Witnesses (and formerly, the
International Bible Students) to declare his will
and has provided advance knowledge about Armageddon and the establishment of God's
Some publications also claimed that God has used Jehovah's Witnesses and the International Bible Students as a
modern-day prophet.[note 5]George D. Chryssides stated, "while prediction may be part of a biblical
prophet's role, the root meaning of prophecy is that of proclaiming God's word." He went on to say that,
"Jehovah's Witnesses ... are the recipients of prophecy, who regard themselves as invested with the
interpretation of biblical writings."[note 6]
With these interpretations, Jehovah's Witnesses' publications have made various predictions about world events they
believe were prophesied in the Bible.
Failed predictions have led to the alteration or abandonment of some doctrines.
Some failed predictions had been presented as "beyond doubt" or "approved by God".
The Watch Tower Society rejects accusations that it is a false prophet,
stating that its teachings are not inspired or infallible,
and that it has not claimed its predictions were "the words of Jehovah."
Chryssides has suggested that with the exception of statements about 1914, 1925 and 1975, the changing views and
dates of the Jehovah's Witnesses are largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology rather
than to failed predictions.
Chryssides further states, "it is therefore simplistic and naïve to view the Witnesses as a group that continues to
set a single end-date that fails and then devise a new one, as many counter-cultists
However, sociologist Andrew Holden states that since the foundation of the movement around 140 years ago,
"Witnesses have maintained that we are living on the precipice of the end of time."
Jehovah's Witnesses have been accused of having policies and culture that help to conceal cases of sexual abuse
within the organization.
The group has been criticized for its "two witness rule" for church discipline, based on its application of
scriptures at Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:15–17, which requires sexual abuse to be substantiated by secondary
evidence if the accused person denies any wrongdoing.
In cases where corroboration is lacking, the Watch Tower Society's instruction is that "the elders will leave the
matter in Jehovah's hands".
A former member of the headquarters staff, Barbara Anderson, says the policy effectively requires that there be
another witness to an act of molestation, "which is an impossibility". Anderson says the policies "protect
pedophiles rather than protect the children."
Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that they have a strong policy to protect children, adding that the best way to
protect children is by educating parents; they also state that they do not sponsor activities that separate
children from parents.
The group's failure to report abuse allegations to authorities has also been criticized.
The Watch Tower Society's policy is that elders inform authorities when required by law to do so, but otherwise
leave that action up to the victim and his or her family.
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
found that of 1006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah's Witnesses within their
organization since 1950, "not one was reported by the church to secular authorities."
The Royal Commission also found that the Watch Tower Society legal department routinely provided incorrect
information to elders based on an incorrect understanding about what constitutes a legal obligation to report
crimes in Australia.
William Bowen, a former Jehovah's Witness elder who established the Silentlambs organization to assist sex abuse victims within the
denomination, has claimed Witness leaders discourage followers from reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to
authorities, and other critics claim the organization is reluctant to alert authorities in order to protect its
In court cases in the United Kingdom and the United States the Watch Tower Society has been found to have been
negligent in its failure to protect children from known sex offenders within the
and the Society has settled other child abuse lawsuits out of court, reportedly paying as much as $780,000 to one
plaintiff without admitting wrongdoing.
2.Jump up^ Raymond Franz
(In Search of Christian Freedom, 2007, p.449) cites various Watch Tower Society
publications that stress loyalty and obedience to the organization, including: "Following Faithful Shepherds with Life in
View". The Watchtower. October 1, 1967. p.
591. Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus
Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every
aspect. "Jehovah's Word Is Alive - Highlights From Book Five of
Psalms". The Watchtower. September 1, 2006. p. 15. Have we formed a
loyal attachment to the organization that Jehovah is using today? "Your Reminders Are What I Am Fond
Of". The Watchtower. June 15, 2006. p. 26. We too should remain
faithful to Jehovah and to his organization regardless of injustices we suffer and regardless of what others
do. "Are You Prepared for Survival?". The Watchtower. May 15, 2006. p. 22. Just as Noah and his
God-fearing family were preserved in the ark, survival of individuals today depends on their faith and their
loyal association with the earthly part of Jehovah's universal organization. Worship The Only True God. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 2002. p. 134. Jehovah is
guiding us today by means of his visible organization under Christ. Our attitude toward this arrangement
demonstrates how we feel about the issue of sovereignty ... By being loyal to Jehovah's organization, we show
that Jehovah is our God and that we are united in worship of him.
3.Jump up^2013 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. p. 178. During the 2012 service year, Jehovah's Witnesses spent over $184
million in caring for special pioneers, missionaries, and traveling overseers in their field service
5.Jump up^ Raymond Franz cites numerous examples.
InCrisis of Conscience, 2002, pg. 173, he quotes from"They Shall Know That a Prophet Was Among
Them". The Watchtower. April 1, 1972. pp.
197–200.which states that God had raised
Jehovah's Witnesses as a prophet "to warn (people) of dangers and declare things to come". He also
cites"Identifying the Right Kind of Messenger". The Watchtower. May 1, 1997. p. 8.which identifies the Witnesses as his "true messengers ... by making the
messages he delivers through them come true", in contrast to "false messengers", whose predictions fail.
InIn Search of Christian
Freedom,2007, he quotesCommissioned to Speak in the Divine Name. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1971. pp. 70, 292.which describes Witnesses as the modern Ezekiel class, "a
genuine prophet within our generation". The Watch Tower book noted: "Concerning the message faithfully
delivered by the Ezekiel class, Jehovah positively states that it 'must come true' ... those who wait
undecided until it does 'come true' will also have to know that a prophet himself had proved to be in the
midst of them." He also cites"Execution of the Great Harlot Nears". The Watchtower. October 15, 1980. p. 17.which claims God gives the Witnesses "special knowledge that others do not
have ... advance knowledge about this system's end".
6.Jump up^ InJehovah's
Witnesses Continuity and ChangeChryssides states,
after discussing the April 1, 1972Watchtowerarticle, that, "It
would be tedious to comment on each passage in which Watch Tower literature explains the Jehovah's Witnesses'
position on prophecy. Some of it may lack the precision that its detractors appear to demand, but the Society's
position is quite clear. Jehovah's Witnesses do not claim to have any new revelation or people who are designated
as prophets. As cessationists, they identify the ability to prophesy as a gift that died out with the first
generation of Christians, but prophetic utterances remain in the Bible, which serves as the key source of
authority. ... since the Bible is held to contain predictive prophecy, Jehovah's Witnesses claim to see into the
future through the Society's interpretation of scripture." pg 225.
Jump up ^Cobb v. Brede (California Superior Court, San Mateo County February 22, 2012) ("I am general counsel for the
National Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses out of Brooklyn, New York. ... We are a hierarchical religion
structured just like the Catholic Church").
Jump up ^Beckford, James
A. (1975). The Trumpet of Prophecy: A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Oxford: Basil
Blackwell. p. 221. ISBN0-631-16310-7. Doctrine has always emanated from the Society's elite in Brooklyn and has
never emerged from discussion among, or suggestion from, rank-and-file Witnesses.
Jump up ^Michael Hill, ed. (1972). "The Embryonic State of a Religious Sect's Development: The Jehovah's Witnesses".
Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain (5): 11–12. Joseph Franklin Rutherford succeeded to Russell's position
as President of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society, but only at the expense of antagonizing a large proportion of the
Watch Towers subscribers. Nevertheless, he persisted in moulding the Society to suit his own programme of activist
evangelism under systematic central control, and he succeeded in creating the administrative structure of the
present-day sect of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jump up to:abRogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now
Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. London: Constable. p. 55. In 1931, came an important
milestone in the history of the organization. For many years Rutherford's followers had been called a variety of
names: 'International Bible Students', 'Russellites', or 'Millennial Dawners'. In order to distinguish clearly his
followers from the other groups who had separated in 1918 Rutherford proposed that they adopt an entirely new
Jump up to:ab James A. Beckford, The Trumpet of
Prophecy, 1975, page 30, "The new title symbolized a break with the legacy of Russell's traditions, the
instigation of new outlooks and the promotion of fresh methods of administering evangelism."
Jump up to:ab"A New Name". The Watch Tower. October
1, 1931. p. 291. Since the death of Charles T. Russell there have arisen numerous companies formed out of those who
once walked with him, each of these companies claiming to teach the truth, and each calling themselves by some
name, such as "Followers of Pastor Russell", "those who stand by the truth as expounded by Pastor Russell,"
"Associated Bible Students," and some by the names of their local leaders. All of this tends to confusion and
hinders those of good will who are not better informed from obtaining a knowledge of the truth.
Jump up ^Leo P. Chall (1978). "Sociological Abstracts". Sociology of Religion. 26 (1–3): 193. Rutherford,
through the Watch Tower Society, succeeded in changing all aspects of the sect from 1919 to 1932 and created
Jehovah's Witnesses—a charismatic offshoot of the Bible student community.
Jump up ^Edwards, Linda (2001). A Brief Guide to Beliefs. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 438.
ISBN0-664-22259-5. The Jehovah's Witnesses' interpretation of Christianity and their rejection
of orthodoxy influenced them to produce their own translation of the Bible, The New World Translation.
Jump up ^"When Was Ancient Jerusalem
Destroyed?—Part One". The Watchtower. October 1, 2011. p. 26. Jehovah's Witnesses produce a reliable
Bible translation known as the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. However, if you are not one of
Jehovah's Witnesses, you may prefer to use other translations when considering Bible subjects. This article quotes
from a number of widely accepted Bible translations.
Jump up ^
Chryssides, George D. Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses, pg. 100 "Although it is the preferred
translation by the Witnesses, they remain willing to use other translations in house-to-house ministry and in
countries where a NWT has not yet been published".
Jump up ^Singelenberg, Richard (1989). "It Separated the Wheat From the Chaff: The 1975 Prophecy and its Impact Among
Dutch Jehovah's Witnesses". Sociological Analysis. 50 (Spring 1989): 23–40, footnote 8. doi:10.2307/3710916. 'The Truth' is Witnesses'
jargon, meaning the Society's belief system.
Jump up ^Penton, M.J. (1997).
Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. pp. 280–283. ISBN0-8020-7973-3. Most Witnesses tend to think of society outside their own community as
decadent and corrupt ... This in turn means to Jehovah's Witnesses that they must keep themselves apart from
Satan's "doomed system of things." Thus most tend to socialize largely, although not totally, within the Witness
Jump up to:abShepherd the Flock of God. Watch Tower
Society. p. 119. The committee should be careful to allow sufficient time, perhaps many months, a year, or even
longer, for the disfellowshipped person to prove that his profession of repentance is genuine.
Jump up ^Gary Botting, Fundamental
Freedoms and Jehovah's Witnesses (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1993), pg 1–13.
Jump up ^Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Constable & Co,
London. p. 6. ISBN978-0094559400.
Jump up ^"Gentile Times: When Do They End?". Bible Examiner. October 1876. pp. 27–28. The seven times will end in A.D.
1914; when Jerusalem shall be delivered forever ... when Gentile Governments shall have been dashed to pieces; when
God shall have poured out of his fury upon the nations and they acknowledge him King of Kings and Lord of
Jump up ^Studies in the Scriptures. IV The Battle of Armageddon. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1897. p. xii.
Jump up ^Russell, Charles (1889). The Time is at Hand. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 101.
Jump up ^Botting, Heather; Botting, Gary (1884). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press.
Jump up ^"Prospectus". Zion's Watch Tower. July 1, 1879. p. 1. This is the first number of the first volume of "Zion's
Watch Tower," and it may not be amiss to state the object of its publication. That we are living "in the last
days"—"the day of the Lord"—"the end" of the Gospel age, and consequently, in the dawn of a "new" age.
Jump up ^"The Ecclesia". Zion's Watch Tower. September 1884. pp. 7–8.
Jump up ^Russell, Charles (1904). Studies in the Scriptures. VI The New Creation. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. pp.
Jump up ^Russell, Charles (April 25, 1894). "A Conspiracy Exposed". Zion's Watch Tower. pp. 55–60. This is a business
association merely ... it has no creed or confession ... it is merely a business convenience in disseminating the
Jump up ^Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses by George D. Chryssides,
Scarecrow Press, 2008, page xxxiv, "Russell wanted to consolidate the movement he had started. ...In 1880, Bible
House, a four-story building in Allegheny, was completed, with printing facilities and meeting accommodation,
and it became the organization's headquarters. The next stage of institutionalization was legal incorporation.
In 1884, Russell formed the Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society, which was incorporated in Pennsylvania... Russell
was concerned that his supporters should feel part of a unified movement."
Jump up ^Religion in the Twentieth Century by Vergilius Ture Anselm Ferm, Philosophical Library, 1948, page 383, "As
the [unincorporated Watch Tower] Society expanded, it became necessary to incorporate it and build a more definite
organization. In 1884, a charter was granted recognizing the Society as a religious, non-profit corporation."
Jump up ^A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States Greenwood Press: 1996. pg. 35: "Russell is
naturally media literate, and the amount of literature he circulates proves staggering. Books, booklets, and tracts
are distributed by the hundreds of millions. This is supplemented by well-publicized speaking tours and a masterful
press relations effort, which gives him widespread access to general audiences."
Jump up ^The Overland Monthly, January 1910 pg. 130
Jump up ^
W.T. Ellis, The Continent, McCormick Publishing Company, vol. 43, no. 40, October 3, 1912 pg. 1354
Jump up ^Religious Diversity and American Religious History by Walter H. Conser, Sumner B. Twiss, University of
Georgia Press, 1997, page 136, "The Jehovah's Witnesses...has maintained a very different attitude toward history.
Established initially in the 1870s by Charles Taze Russell under the title International Bible Students
Association, this organization has proclaimed..."
Jump up ^
The New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1910, vol 7, pg 374
Jump up ^The Bible Students Monthly, 9 (9), pp. 1, 4, The following article is extracted mainly from Pastor
Russell's posthumous volume entitled "THE FINISHED MYSTERY," the 7th in the series of his STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
and published subsequent to his death.
Jump up ^
Lawson, John D., American State Trials, vol 13, Thomas Law Book Company, 1921, pg viii: "After his death and
after we were in the war they issued a seventh volume of this series, entitled "The Finished Mystery," which, under
the guise of being a posthumous work of Pastor Russell, included an attack on the war and an attack on patriotism,
which were not written by Pastor Russell and could not have possibly been written by him."
Jump up ^Crompton, Robert (1996). Counting the Days to Armageddon. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. pp. 84–85.
ISBN0-227-67939-3. One of Rutherford's first actions as president ... was, without reference
either to his fellow directors or to the editorial committee which Russell had nominated in his will, to
commission a seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures. Responsibility for preparing this volume was given to
two of Russell's close associates, George H. Fisher and Clayton J. Woodworth. On the face of it, their brief was
to edit for publication the notes left by Russell ... and to draw upon his published writings ... It is obvious
... that it was not in any straightforward sense the result of editing Russell's papers, rather it was in large
measure the original work of Woodworth and Fisher at the behest of the new president.
Jump up ^"Publisher's Preface". The Finished
Mystery. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1917. But the fact is, he did write it. This book may
properly be said to be a posthumous publication of Pastor Russell. Why?... This book is chiefly a compilation
of things which he wrote and which have been brought together in harmonious style by properly applying the
symbols which he explained to the Church.
Jump up ^Salvation. as cited in Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
1939. p. 76.
Jump up ^Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Constable & Co,
London. pp. 39, 52. ISBN978-0094559400.
Jump up ^
Herbert H. Stroup, The Jehovah's Witnesses, Colombia University Press, New York, 1945, pg 14,15: "Following
his election the existence of the movement was threatened as never before. Many of those who remembered wistfully
the halcyon days of Mr Russell's leadership found that the new incumbent did not fulfill their expectations of a
saintly leader. Various elements split off from the parent body, and such fission continued throughout Rutherford's
Jump up ^
Whither the Watchtower?Christian Research Journal, Summer 1993, pg 27: "By gradually replacing
locally elected elders with his own appointees, he managed to transform a loose collection of semi-autonomous,
democratically run congregations into a tight-knit organizational machine controlled from his office. Some local
congregations broke away, forming such groups as the Chicago Bible Students, the Dawn Bible Students, and the
Laymen's Home Missionary Movement, all of which continue to this day."
Jump up ^Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave, William J. Schnell, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1956, as cited by Rogerson, page
52. Rogerson notes that it is not clear exactly how many Bible Students left, but quotes Rutherford
(Jehovah, 1934, page 277) as saying "only a few" who left other religions were then "in God's organization".
Jump up ^The Present Truth and Herald of Christ's Epiphany, P.S.L. Johnson (April 1927, pg 66). Johnson stated that
between late 1923 and early 1927, "20,000 to 30,000 Truth people the world over have left the Society."
Jump up ^
Tony Wills (A People For His Name, pg. 167) cites The Watch Tower (December 1, 1927, pg 355) in which
Rutherford states that "the larger percentage" of original Bible Students had by then departed.
Jump up ^"Awake!". Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. October 8, 1968. p. 14. Does this mean that the above evidence
positively points to 1975 as the complete end of this system of things? Since the Bible does not specifically state
this, no man can say... If the 1970s should see intervention by Jehovah God to bring an end to a corrupt world
drifting toward ultimate disintegration, that should surely not surprise us.
Jump up ^"How Are You Using Your
Life?". Our Kingdom Ministry.
May 1974. p. 63. Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the
rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly, this is a fine way to spend the short
time remaining before the wicked world's end.
Jump up ^Dart, John (January 30, 1982). "Defectors Feel 'Witness' Wrath: Critics say Baptism Rise Gives False Picture of
Growth". Los Angeles Times. p. B4. Cited statistics showing a net increase of publishers worldwide from 1971 to
1981 of 737,241, while baptisms totaled 1.71 million for the same period.
Jump up to:abHesse, Hans (2001). Persecution and
Resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime. Chicago: Edition Temmen c/o. pp. 296, 298. ISBN3-861-08750-2.
Jump up ^"The Watchtower". March
15, 1980. pp. 17–18. With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God, ...
considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. ... there were other statements published that
implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be
regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of
the expectation already initiated. ... persons having to do with the publication of the information ... contributed
to the buildup of hopes centered on that date.
Jump up ^"Following Faithful Shepherds with
Life in View". The Watchtower. October 1, 1967. pp. 591–92. Make haste to identify the visible
theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be
complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of
communication. Therefore, in submitting to Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, we must be in full and
complete agreement with every feature of its apostolic procedure and requirements.
Jump up ^Penton, M. James (2015). Apocalypse delayed: the
story of Jehovah's Witnesses (3rd ed.). University of Toronto Press. pp. 326, 460–461.
ISBN978-1442616059. For many years they received only $14 per month, but that has been
increased during the last several decades to $100 or more per month, and their clothing allowance has also been
increased significantly. Barbara Anderson relates that she and her husband received $100 a month, were given
board and room, and had a yearly clothing allowance of $250 during the years they were at Bethel until they left
in 1997. Although Bethelites may receive somewhat more today, they are certainly not paid anything like 'real
Jump up ^Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The
Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. p. 32. ISBN0-8020-6545-7. Missionaries, circuit overseers, district overseers, special pioneers, and
branch-office workers receive small allowances each month.
Jump up ^"Watchtower Society". Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics. p. 466. The religious order of Jehovah's
Witnesses caters to the needs of all volunteers who have taken a vow of poverty and obedience.
Jump up to:abGallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W.
Michael (2006), Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, 2, Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood Press, p. 69, ISBN0-275-98712-4
Jump up ^Taylor, Elizabeth J. (2012). Religion: A Clinical Guide for Nurses. Springer Publishing Company. p. 163.
Jump up ^"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock". Watch Tower Society. 1981. p. 147.
Jump up ^"Baptism and Your Relationship With God". What Does the Bible Really
Teach. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 182. Going beneath the water symbolizes that you
have died to your former life course. Being raised up out of the water indicates that you are now alive to do
the will of God. Remember, too, that you have made a dedication to Jehovah God himself, not to a work, a
cause, other humans, or an organization.
Jump up ^Holden, 2002 & Portrait, p. 32, "The structure of the movement and the intense
loyalty demanded of each individual at every level demonstrates the characteristics of totalitarianism."
Jump up ^"30. What You Must Do to Live Forever". You Can Live Forever in Paradise on
Earth. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1989. p. 255. It is simply not true that all religions
lead to the same goal. (Matthew 7:21–23; 24:21) You must be part of Jehovah's organization, doing God's will,
in order to receive his blessing of everlasting life.
Jump up ^"Serving Jehovah
Loyally". The Watchtower. November 15, 1992. p. 21. I determined to stay by the faithful organization.
How else can one get Jehovah's favor and blessing?" There is nowhere else to go for divine favor and life
Jump up ^Rutherford, Joseph (1933). Preparation. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. pp. 64, 67. Enlightenment proceeds
from Jehovah by and through Christ Jesus and is given to the faithful anointed on earth at the temple, and brings
great peace and consolation to them. Again Zechariah talked with the angel of the Lord, which shows that the
remnant are instructed by the angels of the Lord. The remnant do not hear audible sounds, because such is not
necessary. Jehovah has provided his own good way to convey thoughts to the minds of his anointed ones ... Those of
the remnant, being honest and true, must say, We do not know; and the Lord enlightens them, sending his angels for
that very purpose.
Jump up ^"The Spirit Searches into the Deep
Things of God". The Watchtower. July 15, 2010. p. 23. When the time comes to clarify a spiritual matter
in our day, holy spirit helps responsible representatives of 'the faithful and discreet slave' at world
headquarters to discern deep truths that were not previously understood. The Governing Body as a whole considers
adjusted explanations. What they learn, they publish for the benefit of all.
Jump up ^"Do We Need Help to Understand the
Bible?". The Watchtower. February 15, 1981. p. 19. True, the brothers preparing these publications are
not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And
so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)
Jump up ^"Do You See the Evidence of God's
Guidance?". The Watchtower. April 15, 2011. pp. 3–5. How, then, do we react when we receive divine
direction? Do we try to apply it "right afterward"? Or do we continue doing things just as we have been accustomed
to doing them? Are we familiar with up-to-date directions, such as those regarding conducting home Bible studies,
preaching to foreign speaking people, regularly sharing in family worship, cooperating with Hospital Liaison
Committees, and conducting ourselves properly at conventions? ... Do you clearly discern the evidence of divine
guidance? Jehovah uses his organization to guide us, his people, through "the wilderness" during these last days of
Satan's wicked world.
Jump up to:ab"Overseers of Jehovah's People". The
Watchtower. June 15, 1957. pp. 369–375. Let us now unmistakably identify Jehovah's channel of communication for our
day, that we may continue in his favor ... It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions
of the "slave" as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision.
Jump up ^Holden, 2002 & Portrait, p. 67, "Materials such as The Watchtower are almost
as significant to the Witnesses as the Bible, since the information is presented as the inspired work of
theologians, and they are, therefore, believed to contain as much truth as biblical texts."
Jump up to:ab James A. Beverley, Crisis of
Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN0-920413-37-4, pages 25–26, 101, "For every passage in Society literature that urges
members to be bold and courageous in critical pursuits, there are many others that warn about independent
thinking and the peril of questioning the organization ... Fear of disobedience to the Governing Body keeps
Jehovah's Witnesses from carefully checking into biblical doctrine or allegations concerning false prophecy,
faulty scholarship, and injustice. Witnesses are told not to read books like this one."
Jump up ^"Keep Clear of False
Worship!". The Watchtower. 15 March 2006. pp. 27–31. True Christians keep clear of false worship,
rejecting false religious teachings. This means that we avoid exposure to religious programs on radio and
television as well as religious literature that promotes lies about God and his Word.
Jump up ^"Question Box". Our
Kingdom Ministry. September 2007. p. 3. Throughout the earth, Jehovah's people are receiving ample spiritual
instruction and encouragement at congregation meetings, assemblies, and conventions, as well as through the
publications of Jehovah's organization. Under the guidance of his holy spirit and on the basis of his Word of
truth, Jehovah provides what is needed so that all of God's people may be fitly united in the same mind and in the
same line of thought and remain stabilized in the faith. Surely we are grateful for Jehovah's spiritual provisions
in these last days. Thus, the faithful and discreet slave does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites
that are not produced or organized under its oversight.
Jump up ^"Make Your Advancement
Manifest". The Watchtower. August 1, 2001. p. 14. Since oneness is to be observed, a mature Christian
must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not
advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he
has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and the
faithful and discreet slave.
Jump up ^
Testimony by Fred Franz, Transcript, Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh, 1954. page 123, Q: "Did you imply that the
individual member has the right of reading the books and the Bible and forming his own view as to the proper
interpretation of Holy Writ? A:" .... No....The Scripture is there given in support of the statement, and therefore
the individual when he looks up the Scripture and thereby verifies the statement,...search[es] the Scripture to see
whether these things were so."
Jump up ^"Do We Need Help to Understand the
Bible?". The Watchtower. February 15, 1981. p. 19. Jesus’ disciples wrote many letters to Christian
congregations, to persons who were already in the way of the truth. But nowhere do we read that those brothers
first, in a skeptical frame of mind, checked the Scriptures to make certain that those letters had Scriptural
backing, that the writers really knew what they were talking about. We can benefit from this consideration. If we
have once established what instrument God is using as his 'slave' to dispense spiritual food to his people, surely
Jehovah is not pleased if we receive that food as though it might contain something harmful. We should have
confidence in the channel God is using.
Jump up ^Revelation Its Grand
Climax. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1988. p. 36. In the songbook produced by Jehovah's people in
1905, there were twice as many songs praising Jesus as there were songs praising Jehovah God. In their 1928
songbook, the number of songs extolling Jesus was about the same as the number extolling Jehovah. But in the latest
songbook of 1984, Jehovah is honored by four times as many songs as is Jesus. This is in harmony with Jesus' own
words: 'The Father is greater than I am.' Love for Jehovah must be preeminent, accompanied by deep love for Jesus
and appreciation of his precious sacrifice and office as God's High Priest and King.
Jump up ^Alan Rogerson (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Constable. p. 90.
Jump up ^"What is the Holy
Spirit?". The Watchtower. October 1, 2009. p. 5. There is a close connection between the holy spirit and
the power of God. The holy spirit is the means by which Jehovah exerts his power. Put simply, the holy spirit is
God's applied power, or his active force.
Jump up ^"Young Ones—Are You Ready to Get
Baptized". The Watchtower (study ed.). March 2016. p. 4. It is a great privilege to get baptized as one
of Jehovah's Witnesses. Moreover, baptism is a requirement for Christians, and it is a vital step toward gaining
Jump up ^"Remaining Organized for Survival
Into the Millennium". The Watchtower. September 1, 1989. p. 19. Only Jehovah's Witnesses, those of the
anointed remnant and the 'great crowd,'as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have
any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil.
Jump up ^You Can Live Forever in Paradise
on Earth. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1989. p. 255. Do not conclude that there are different
roads, or ways, that you can follow to gain life in God's new system. There is only one ... there will be only one
organization—God's visible organization—that will survive the fast-approaching 'great tribulation.' It is simply
not true that all religions lead to the same goal. You must be part of Jehovah's organization, doing God's will, in
order to receive his blessing of everlasting life.
Jump up ^Alan Rogerson (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Constable. p. 105.
Jump up ^"Daniel's Prophetic Days and Our
Faith". The Watchtower. November 1, 1993. pp. 8–9. In 1914 the appointed times of the nations ended, and
the time of the end for this world began. The Davidic Kingdom was restored, not in earthly Jerusalem, but invisibly
in "the clouds of the heavens." ... Who would represent on earth the restored Davidic Kingdom? ... Without any
doubt at all, it was the small body of anointed brothers of Jesus who in 1914 were known as the Bible Students but
since 1931 have been identified as Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jump up ^"Tell Us, When Will These Things
Be?". The Watchtower. July 15, 2013. pp. 4&ndash, 5. In the larger fulfillment, the "standing" will
occur when the United Nations (the modern-day "disgusting thing") attacks Christendom (which is holy in the eyes of
nominal Christians) and the rest of Babylon the Great. The same attack is described at Revelation 17:16-18. That
event will be the beginning of the great tribulation.
Jump up ^"Apocalypse—When?". The Watchtower. February 15, 1986. p. 6.
Jump up ^"Question Box: How long should a
formal Bible study be conducted with an individual in the Knowledge book?". Our Kingdom Ministry.
October 1996. We want people to receive a basic knowledge of the truth. Yet it is expected that within a relatively
short period of time, an effective teacher will be able to assist a sincere average student to acquire sufficient
knowledge to make an intelligent decision to serve Jehovah... Appreciation for taking in even a basic knowledge of
the truth should motivate the student to attend Christian meetings. This could lead the student to giving some
clear evidence of his desire to serve Jehovah. If such spiritual appreciation is not evident after the study in the
Knowledge book has been conducted for an extended period, it may be advisable to discontinue the study.
Jump up ^Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The
Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. p. 77. ISBN0-8020-6545-7. The society states explicitly that all Bible studies should quickly show
signs of 'real progress' to be deemed worthy of pursuit ... unless the potential converts are willing to give
clear indication that they accept both the doctrines and the consequent responsibilities of attending meetings
and going from door to door themselves, the study should be discontinued.
Jump up ^"Determined to bear thorough
witness". The Watchtower. December 15, 2008. p. 19. When the resurrected Jesus spoke to disciples
gathered in Galilee, likely 500 of them, he commanded: 'Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe
all the things I have commanded you.' That command applies to all true Christians today.
Jump up ^Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press.
p. 52. ISBN0-8020-6545-7.
Jump up ^"Do You Contribute to an Accurate
Report?". Our Kingdom Ministry. December 2002. p. 8. Jehovah's organization today instructs us to report
our field service activity each month ... At the end of the month, the book study overseer makes sure that all in
the group have followed through on their responsibility to report their activity.
Jump up ^Beckford
1975, p. 202, "The ideological argument states that, since absolute truth is unitary and exclusive
of all relativisation, there can only 'logically' be one human organization to represent it. Consequently, all
other religious organizations are in error and are to be strictly avoided. The absolutist view of truth further
implies that, since anything less than absolute truth can only corrupt and destroy it, there can be no
justification for Jehovah's witnesses having any kind of association with other religionists, however sincere the
motivation might be."
Jump up ^"Keep Your Distance When Danger
Threatens". The Watchtower. February 15, 1994. p. 23. Steering Clear of Danger ... We must also be on
guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a
business associate. ... What are some of the dangers of such a friendship? We could begin to minimize the urgency
of the times we live in or take a growing interest in material rather than spiritual things. Perhaps, because of a
fear of displeasing our worldly friend, we would even desire to be accepted by the world.
Jump up ^
Bryan R. Wilson, "The Persistence of Sects", Diskus, Journal of the British Association for the Study of
Religions, Vol 1, No. 2, 1993, "They have extensive contact with the wider public, [in Britain in 1989, 108,000
publishers undertook 23 million hours of house-calls]. Yet, they remain little affected by that exposure—they
confine their contacts to their single-minded purpose and avoid all other occasions for association."
Jump up ^Chryssides, George
D. (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. Scarecrow Press. p. 47. ISBN0-8108-6074-0. Most Witnesses do not pursue higher education. It is not forbidden but is a
matter of conscience. Higher education creates the risk of detracting from one's spiritual work and can result
in harmful associations with fellow students who may lack integrity. It is therefore recommended that, if
possible, Witnesses who undergo should continue to live at home. Those who seek education beyond school level
are urged to consider their motives for doing so: education should not be for personal status or for a high
Jump up ^"Questions From Readers".
The Watchtower. November 1, 1999. p. 28. As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an
election, each one of Jehovah's Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an
understanding of his responsibility to God and to the State.
Jump up ^Owens, Gene (September 1997). "Trials of a Jehovah's Witness.(The Faith of Journalists)". Nieman Reports.
Jump up ^
Ronald Lawson, "Sect-state relations: Accounting for the differing trajectories of Seventh-Day Adventists and
Jehovah's Witnesses", Sociology of Religion, Winter 1995, "The urgency of the Witness's apocalyptic has
changed very little over time. The intellectual isolation of the Witness leaders has allowed them to retain their
traditional position, and it is they who continue to be the chief purveyors of the radical eschataology ....This
commitment (to principle) was bolstered by their organizational isolation, intense indoctrination of adherents,
rigid internal discipline, and considerable persecution."
Jump up ^"Following Faithful Shepherds with
Life in View". The Watchtower. October 1, 1967. p. 591. Make haste to identify the visible theocratic
organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in
accepting its every aspect ... in submitting to Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, we must be in full and
complete agreement with every feature of its apostolic procedure and requirements.
Jump up ^"Exposing the Devil's Subtle
Designs". The Watchtower. 15 January 1983. p. 27. From the very outset of his rebellion Satan called
into question God's way of doing things. He promoted independent thinking. ... How is such independent thinking
manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God's visible organization.
Jump up ^"Visits from Older Men Benefit God's
People". The Watchtower. February 15, 1979. p. 20. In a world where people are tossed about by confusing
winds of religious doctrine, Jehovah's people need to be stable, full-grown Christians. (Eph. 4:13, 14) Their
position must be steadfast, not shifting quickly because of independent thinking or emotional pressures.
Jump up ^"Building a Firm Foundation in
Christ". The Watchtower. May 1, 1964. pp. 277–278. It is through the columns of The Watchtower that
Jehovah provides direction and constant Scriptural counsel to his people, and it requires careful study and
attention to details in order to apply this information, to get a full understanding of the principles involved,
and to assure ourselves of right thinking on these matters. It is in this way that we "are thoroughly able to grasp
mentally with all the holy ones" the fullness of our commission and of the preaching responsibility that Jehovah
has placed on all Christians as footstep followers of his Son. Any other course would produce independent thinking
and cause division.
Jump up ^
See also Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, pg. 358.
Jump up ^The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984, passim.
Jump up ^
Alan Rogerson, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Constable, 1969, page 50.
Jump up ^Beckford
1975, pp. 204, 221, The habit of questioning or qualifying Watch Tower doctrine is not only
under-developed among the Witnesses: it is strenuously combated at all organizational levels
Jump up ^Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press.
p. 90. ISBN0-8020-6545-7. Most Witnesses, although capable of intelligent, reasonable thought, have as
part of the payment for paradise delegated authority to the organization for directing their lives ... and
finally abrogate all responsibility and rights over their personal lives—in effect, allowing the society to do
their thinking for them.
Jump up ^
Alan Rogerson, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Constable, 1969, page 178, "The newly converted Witness
must conform immediately to the doctrines of the Watchtower Society, thus whatever individuality of mind he
possessed before conversion is liable to be eradicated if he stays in the movement.".
Jump up ^
James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN0-920413-37-4, pages 25–26, 101.
Jump up ^
Alan Rogerson, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Constable, 1969, page 2, "In addition to the prevalent
ignorance outside the Witness movement, there is much ignorance within it. It will soon become obvious to the
reader that the Witnesses are an indoctrinated people whose beliefs and thoughts are shaped by the Watchtower
Jump up ^
R. Franz, "In Search of Christian Freedom", chapter 12