World Religions Report
July 29, 2012
The religious organization we know today as Jehovah’s Witness was formed around the end of the 19th century by a group of Bible students in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. However, it was a little over sixty years before they adopted the name Jehovah’s Witness in order to separate themselves from other Christian denominations (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2006). Jehovah’s Witness is a Christian religion but differs from traditional Christianity because of their non-trinitarian beliefs. It is a monotheistic religion because they believe in and worship only one God. From their small numbers when founded, their following has constantly increased throughout the years and today they have a worldwide membership of around seven and a half million people. They teach followers to live a good moral life and to help others, no matter what the religious beliefs or racial and ethnical background of that person may be. They spread their message through their publication of the Bible journal The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, which is published in over 190 languages and is the world’s most widely circulated religious magazine. Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably best known for going door to door to spread their message and are seen by some people as an aggravation. They are very friendly to others and anyone can attend service to see if the religion would be a good fit for their personal lifestyle. Along with these characteristics, there are many other interesting aspects of the religion including its history, beliefs, and influence on today’s society.
Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was founded in 1870 by Charles Taze Russell in the city of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2006). Russell’s ministry disputed many of the traditional Christian beliefs from the beginning including the Trinity, the existence of Hell, and the immortality of the soul. He also believed that the End of Days was to be in 1914 and they should all be prepared and help others prepare. In 1909 he moved the headquarters to Brooklyn, New York with a worldwide following of about 50,000 members and by 1912 he was the most distributed Christian author in the United States. He was continuously elected “pastor” by the congregations until his death at the age of 64 on October 31, 1916. In January 1917, the organizations legal representative, Joseph Franklin Rutherford was elected as the new president. Rutherford introduced the new name Jehovah’s Witnesses at a convention in Columbus, Ohio on July 26, 1931. The name is based on Isaiah 43: 10-12 and stands for someone that tells others the truth about God. Membership worldwide had reached over 113 thousand by the time of Rutherford’s death in January 1942. Jehovah’s Witnesses normally meet three times a week, once on Sunday and twice during the week. The Sunday meeting consists of the Public Meeting, which is a 45 minute Bible based lecture that is over a subject of interest both to the members and any visitors. The Sunday meeting also includes Watchtower Study, which is an hour long question and answer session covering a recent topic of interest from a current article in the religious journal, The Watchtower. One of the weekday meetings includes a half hour, question and answer Bible discussion and a Theocratic Ministry School, which is to improve the members’ public speaking skills. Members receive assignments on a rotating basis, and then each week, three members give speeches and receive feedback from the other members. The other weekday meeting is the Service Meeting which focuses on improving members’ ability to teach others about the Bible. This includes how to use good manners and how to judge which Bible verses would be of interest or helpful to the person they are speaking to. These meetings are held in a Kingdom Hall, which is a modest, simple building with no crosses on the...
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