Their numbers are relatively small. They constitute less than 1% of those who indicate some religious preference. They rank 24th on the list of the 25 largest denominations in the United States. Despite these low numbers, there is no denomination in this country or in the world, which spends more time proselytizing. They are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to the Public Affairs Office of Jehovah’s Witnesses, last year their members spent over one billion hours on public missionary work. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the fastest growing denomination in the United States, with a growth rate of 2.25 percent. Fifty years ago, they numbered fewer than 100,000, now they number over one million. The very reason for their existence is to make converts. If they have not been in your neighborhood, or “come a knocking” at your door, it is just a matter of time. If you invite them in, be prepared for a well-orchestrated and rehearsed plan designed to make the convert feel spiritually astute with answers that correspond to the principles, which coincide with their fundamental beliefs.
Since their founding in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell, the religious principles of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been diametrically in conflict with fundamental positions held by both the Protestant and Catholic churches. While they believe in the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible, they have a different translation – the New World Translation –, which is viewed by many traditional Bible scholars as a “frightful mistranslation”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the doctrine of Trinity, the immortality of the soul, and the notion of Hell. They do not believe that Jesus is God, but they acknowledge that his sacrifice and death serves to redeem humanity from their sins. They believe that Jesus was God’s first creation and was sent to make clear the ways of Jehovah and to serve as a model for how God wants us to live our lives.
Witnesses believe that by living a life acceptable to Jehovah they will be heirs to God’s future Kingdom on earth. Those who are evil will be destroyed and will cease to exist. Those who follow Jehovah’s commandments will be resurrected and gain eternal life. Only 144,000 will go to paradise in Heaven, while the rest of the righteous will have everlasting life in an earthly paradise where there is no suffering, unhappiness, sickness, or death. . These beliefs as well as their end-time prophecies, and their refusal to participate in wars or declare allegiance to any earthly government have often been met with hostility and persecution. Despite their attempts to lead a peaceful and quiet life, they have been exposed to intimidation, imprisonments, fines, beatings and even executions for refusing to serve in the armed forces or salute the flag.
Jehovah’s Witnesses place a high value on life. Their belief to “abstain from blood,” and their refusal of blood transfusions and other forms of...