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Jehovah's Witnesses practices


Jehovah's Witnesses practices

The practices of Jehovah's Witnesses are based on the biblical interpretations of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student movement, and successive presidents of the Watch Tower Society, Joseph Franklin Rutherford and Nathan Homer Knorr. Since 1976 they have also been based on decisions made at closed meetings of the religion's Governing Body.[1][2] Instructions regarding activities and acceptable behavior are disseminated through The Watchtower magazine and other official publications, and at conventions and congregation meetings.

Jehovah's Witnesses endeavor to remain "separate from the world",[3] which is regarded as a place of moral contamination and under the control of

  • Official Website

External links


  1. ^ Franz 2002, p. 106.
  2. ^ Keep Yourselves in God’s Love, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2008, page 43, "The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses represents the slave class. ... elders today receive instructions and counsel from the Governing Body, either directly or through its representatives, such as traveling overseers."
  3. ^
  4. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 7, 109–112.
  5. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 26, 28.
  6. ^ Penton 1997, p. 90.
  7. ^ Holden 2002, p. 163.
  8. ^ "Make Wise Use of Your Christian Freedom", The Watchtower, June 1, 1992, page 18.
  9. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 66–68.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Holden 2002, pp. 64–69.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "What Do You Do with Your Time?", The Watchtower, February 1, 1950, page 38, "By setting and meeting the goal never to miss any of the meetings that the Lord provides for His people, the Christian is protected against becoming involved in the affairs of this world. He doesn’t have time for it!"
  13. ^ "Exert Yourselves Vigorously!", The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, page 206, "They do much private Bible study, attend five weekly congregation meetings and spend much time each month in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and making disciples of people, besides providing support for themselves and their families. ... Being busy serves as a protection from many of the temptations and snares of the world, the flesh and the Devil."
  14. ^ "Benefit Fully From the Service Meetings", Our Kingdom Ministry, January 1989, page 7.
  15. ^ Franz 2007, p. 420.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2000, page 15.
  19. ^ Holden 2002, p. 51.
  20. ^ "Are You Benefiting Yourself?", Our Kingdom Ministry, August 2000, page 3.
  21. ^ "New Congregation Meeting Schedule", Our Kingdom Ministry, October 2008, page 1
  22. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, August 2007, p. 8 How the Congregation Book Study Arrangement Helps Us
  23. ^ Reasoning From The Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, p. 265.
  24. ^ Insight On The Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, p. 392.
  25. ^ "Jehovah is a God of Covenants", The Watchtower, February 1, 1998, page 8, "Jesus instituted the only annual religious observance commanded for Christians—the Memorial of his death."
  26. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, p. 207, "Who should partake of these Memorial emblems? Logically, only those in the new covenant—that is, those who have the hope of going to heaven—should partake of the bread and the wine. God’s holy spirit convinces such ones that they have been selected to be heavenly kings."
  27. ^ Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses 2012, p. 31
  28. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2005, p. 207.
  29. ^ "Discerning What We Are — At Memorial Time", The Watchtower, February 15, 1990, p. 16.
  30. ^ a b c d Holden 2002, pp. 71–76.
  31. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7, pages 864-5, "The fundamental obligation of each member of the sect is to give witness to Jehovah by announcing His approaching Kingdom. ... They regard the Bible as their only source of belief and rule of conduct ... To be a true Witness one must preach effectively in one way or another.”
  32. ^ a b Question Box, Our Kingdom Ministry, June 1990, page 8.
  33. ^ "Paying Back Caesar’s Things to Caesar", The Watchtower, May 1, 1996, page 16.
  34. ^ Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, page 4.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Determined to Follow God’s Way of Life The Watchtower January 15, 1999 p. 6
  40. ^
  41. ^ Penton 1997, p. 259.
  42. ^ Franz 2007, pp. 196–206.
  43. ^ "Preaching in a Lawless World", The Watchtower, July 15, 1979, page 13, paragraph 4, "It is by our endurance in proclaiming “this good news of the kingdom” that we may attain to salvation"; cited in Penton 1997, p. 206.
  44. ^
  45. ^ Keeping “Clean from the Blood of All Men”, The Watchtower, October 1, 1960, page 608.
  46. ^ "Do You Contribute to an Accurate Report?", Our Kingdom Ministry, December 2002, page 8.
  47. ^ Penton 1997, p. 247.
  48. ^ Franz 2007, p. 201.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2007, p. 3
  51. ^ Penton 1997, pp. 78.
  52. ^ Swaggart Ministries v. California Board of Equalization case summary, US Supreme Court Media
  53. ^ Watch Tower brief, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries vs California Board of Equalization, US Supreme Court, 1988.
  54. ^ Penton 1997, pp. 320.
  55. ^ Organized To Do Jehovah's Will, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2005, page 62.
  56. ^ "Let Your Advancement Be Manifest", Watchtower, August 1, 1992, page 10.
  57. ^ "Look to Jehovah for Insight", Watchtower, March 15, 1989, page 14.
  58. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 88.
  59. ^ Penton 1997, pp. 231
  60. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 92–93
  61. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 59.
  62. ^ Organized to Do Jehovah's Will
  63. ^ The Watchtower 1/15/89 p. 13 par. 18 What Prevents You From Getting Baptized?
  64. ^ The Watchtower 5/15/03 p. 31 Questions From Readers
  65. ^
  66. ^ "Questions from Readers", The Watchtower, November 1, 1951, page 671-672, "The authorities of the land generally call for some ceremony in connection with ordination for the ministry... The legal [opinion] is recognizing the two classifications made concerning ministers, namely, ordained ministers and regular unordained ministers. ...[A]n unbaptized one...may still point out to the court [or other authority] that he has not as yet undergone the ordination ceremony of water immersion, and for that reason may be classed by the law of the land as a regular minister rather than an ordained minister."
  67. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, January 1976, page 5-6,"Since at times a request is made by officials for some evidence of “ordination” on the part of those serving in such capacities, a “Certificate for Ordained Minister” has been prepared and will be supplied on request to those elders or ministerial servants needing it. It will show the date, not of their baptism, but when they were appointed to serve in such capacities... But what of those who are engaged in full-time service as pioneers or members of Bethel families? ...Such appointment, however, does not fit the meaning of “ordination” as that term is generally understood [by non-Witnesses requesting these certificates]. ...Since the Bible itself sets out only the two congregational positions of responsibility, that of elders and of ministerial servants, we limit our application of the term “ordained minister” [as used by non-Witness authorities] to those in this Scriptural arrangement.[emphasis added]"
  68. ^ "Meeting the Challenge of Loyalty", The Watchtower, March 15, 1996, page 18
  69. ^ "The General Priesthood Today", The Watchtower, March 1, 1963, page 143
  70. ^ "Head Coverings—When and Why?", Keep Yourselves in God's Love, ©2008 Watch Tower, pages 43-44 and 209-212
  71. ^ "Women—May They Be “Ministers”?", The Watchtower, March 15, 1981, page 19, "Several courts in the United States have recognized female Jehovah’s Witnesses, in carrying on the door-to-door evangelistic work, as ministers. For example, the Supreme Court of Vermont, in Vermont v. Greaves (1941), stated that Elva Greaves “is an ordained minister of a sect or class known and designated as ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’.”"
  72. ^ The Watchtower 9/15/87 p. 13.
  73. ^ The Watchtower 1/1/95 p. 30 par. 3
  74. ^ Pay Attention To Yourself and All the Flock, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1991, page 94, "Apostasy is a standing away from, a falling away, defection, rebellion, abandonment; it involves teaching false doctrines, supporting or promoting false religion and its holidays or interfaith activities ... Persons who deliberately spread (stubbornly hold to and speak about) teachings contrary to Bible truth as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses are apostates."
  75. ^ Reasoning From The Scriptures p. 34 Apostasy "Others claim to believe the Bible but reject Jehovah’s organization."
  76. ^ The Watchtower 4/1/86 p. 31.
  77. ^ To All Circuit and District Overseers, September 1, 1980, "Keep in mind that to be disfellowshipped, an apostate does not have to be a promoter of apostate views. ... if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave, and persists in believing other doctrine despite Scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing. ... [If] he continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what he has been provided through the 'slave class,' then appropriate judicial action should be taken. ... [If] something reasonably substantial comes to the attention of the elders along this line, it would be appropriate to make a kindly, discreet inquiry so as to protect the flock." Letter reproduced in Crisis of Conscience, Raymond Franz, 1983, chapter 11.
  78. ^ Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock - pgs. 121-122
  79. ^ The Watchtower April 15, 1988 Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit Pgs. 26-31.
  80. ^ “Helping Minors to Worship God”, Awake! 11/15, 1988, p. 20.
  81. ^ "Thus, it would be left to members of the family to decide on the extent to which the disfellowshipped family member would be included when eating or engaging in other household activities. And yet, they would not want to give brothers with whom they associate the impression that everything is the same as it was before the disfellowshipping occurred." Display Christian Loyalty When a Relative Is Disfellowshipped, p 4. Scan available at accessed January 27, 2006.
  82. ^ "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, p. 26., "It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum."
  83. ^ "Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit", The Watchtower April 15, 1988, p. 26.
  84. ^ “Questions From Readers”, The Watchtower, January 1, 1983 pp. 30-31.
  85. ^ “Repentance Leading Back to God”, The Watchtower, September 1, 1981, p. 27 par. 30.
  86. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, March 1975, p. 4.
  87. ^ "Reproofs Are the Way of Life", The Watchtower, November 15, 1977 p. 691.
  88. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry March 1983, p. 3.
  89. ^ The Watchtower, July 15, 1999, p. 30
  90. ^ Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, April 15, 1985, p. 31.
  91. ^ Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, April 15, 1984 p. 31.
  92. ^ The Bible's Viewpoint What Does It Mean to Be the Head of the House?, Awake! 2004b, July 8, 2004, p. 26.
  93. ^ The Secret of Family Happiness, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1996, pp. 160-161.
  94. ^ , July 15, 2005, page 26-30.The Watchtower"Are You Faithful in All Things?",
  95. ^ , page 25-26.Reasoning from the Scriptures"Abortion",
  96. ^ , July 22, 2004, pages 12-14.Awake!"Young People Ask... What's Wrong With Premarital Sex?",
  97. ^ , June 1, 2014, page 4.The Watchtower"What Is God’s View of Smoking?", The footnote reads: "Smoking here refers to inhaling tobacco smoke directly from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or water pipes. However, the principles discussed apply equally to the use of chewing tobacco, snuff, electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine, and other products."
  98. ^ Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1993,p. 180.
  99. ^ “You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy”, The Watchtower, February 15, 1976, p. 123 par. 16.
  100. ^ “When Another’s Conscience Is Involved”, Awake! April 22, 1979, pp. 27-28
  101. ^ , March 1, 2011, pages 12-14.The Watchtower"Does the Bible Condemn Gambling?",
  102. ^ , October 8, 2000, pages 25-27.Awake!"Is It Wise to Invest in the Stock Market?",
  103. ^
  104. ^
  105. ^ Lee Elder, The Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood, "Why some Jehovah's Witnesses accept blood and conscientiously reject official Watchtower Society blood policy", Journal of Medical Ethics, 2000, Vol 26, pages 375-380.
  106. ^
  107. ^ "Flocking Together in Battle Line", The Watchtower, March 1, 1983, page 17.
  108. ^ "Fight the fine Fight of faith", The Watchtower, February 15, 2004, page 26–27.
  109. ^ "Waging the Right Warfare", The Watchtower, June 15, 1956, page 365.
  110. ^ "Use theocratic war strategy", The Watchtower, May 1, 1957, page 285,286.
  111. ^ "Questions from readers", The Watchtower, June 1, 1960, pages 351-352.
  112. ^ "Christians live the truth", The Watchtower, October 1, 1954, page 597.
  113. ^ Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, pages 244-245.
  114. ^ Examining the Scriptures Daily", May 18, 2011, "Does being truthful with others mean that we must disclose every detail to whoever asks us a question? Not necessarily ... Jehovah's people need to be on guard against apostates and other wicked men who use trickery or cunning for selfish purposes."
  115. ^ "Cautious as Serpents Among Wolves", The Watchtower, February 1, 1956, page 86.
  116. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, pages 435-436.
  117. ^ "Live a Balanced, Simple Life", The Watchtower, July 15, 1989, page 11.
  118. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 12.
  119. ^ What Does God Require?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1996, page 13.
  120. ^ 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.
  121. ^ Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock, page 140.
  122. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1993, page 188)
  123. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, pages 269-270.
  124. ^ Worship the Only True God, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2002, p. 159.
  125. ^ Watch Tower Press Release, October 4, 2007
  126. ^ Education, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2002, pp. 20-23
  127. ^
  128. ^ "Train With Godly Devotion as Your Aim", Watchtower, August 15, 1985, page 19.
  129. ^ "Have a Full Share in the Great Spiritual Harvest", The Watchtower, July 15, 2010, page 19, "Do you avoid unnecessary fellowship with schoolmates and fellow workers who do not share your beliefs? ... Your faithful compliance in such matters will bring excellent results."
  130. ^ Survival Into a New Earth, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1984, page 168.
  131. ^ "Each One Will Carry His Own Load", The Watchtower, March 15, 2006, page 23.
  132. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 109–112.
  133. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 69.
  134. ^ Franz 2007, p. 409
  135. ^ "Keep Clear of False Worship!", The Watchtower, March 15, 2006, page 30, "Should we hold ourselves completely aloof from those who do not share our faith? The answer is no. The second of the two greatest commandments states: 'You must love your neighbor as yourself.' We certainly display love for our neighbors when we share with them the good news of the Kingdom."
  136. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 123.
  137. ^ 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 eschatology ....This commitment (to principle) was bolstered by their organizational isolation, intense indoctrination of adherents, rigid internal discipline, and considerable persecution."
  138. ^ The Watchtower 1/15/69 p. 58 Christian Weddings Should Reflect Reasonableness "Of course, some customs are unscriptural and so they are objectionable to Christians. ... Other customs are plainly acts of false worship. So one planning a wedding does well to examine practices common in his area and analyze how people view them locally."
  139. ^ The Watchtower 7/15/98 p. 24 A Christian View of Funeral Customs "Funeral customs do not always conflict with Bible principles. When they do, Christians are determined to act in harmony with the Scriptures."
  140. ^ The Watchtower 1/15/72 p. 63 "It is thus seen that the precise origin of the wedding ring is uncertain. Even if it were a fact that pagans first used wedding rings, would that rule such out for Christians? Not necessarily."
  141. ^ The Watchtower, December 1, 1971, p. 735.
  142. ^ "Christmas Customs—Are They Christian", The Watchtower, December 15, 2000, page 3-7.
  143. ^ Awake! 7/8/04 p. 30 "Christians refrain from any celebrations or customs that continue to involve false religious beliefs or activities that violate Bible principles. For example, the Bible definitely puts birthday celebrations in a bad light"
  144. ^ Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, October 15, 1998, p. 30.
  145. ^ “They Are No Part of the World”, Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, page 199, "Jehovah’s Witnesses have good times with their families and friends. But they do not participate in holidays and celebrations that are linked with pagan gods (as is true of such holidays as Easter, New Year’s Day, May Day, and Mother’s Day)."
  146. ^ , J. F. Rutherford, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1931, pages 158-159.Vindication
  147. ^ "What Is the Bible’s View? Are They Harmless Observances?", Awake!, February 8, 1974, Page 27.
  148. ^ Questions From Readers, The Watchtower, October 15, 1998. pp. 30-31.
  149. ^ Job 1:4 reads "And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them." (King James version)
  150. ^ The Watchtower, November 15, 1960, p. 704.
  151. ^ "Christianity in Action: Amid Turmoil", The Watchtower, January 15, 1998.
  152. ^ Awake!, June 2006, page 19, "Heeding the Warnings Made a Difference"
  153. ^ Awake!, June 2006, p.19.
  154. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, December 2003, p. 7
  155. ^ “A New Program for Kingdom Hall Construction”, Our Kingdom Ministry, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, September 1983, p. 4-5.
  156. ^ "Ways in Which Some Choose to Give Contributions to the Worldwide Work", The Watchtower, November 1, 2006, page 20


The accounts (including donations) and the financial operation of the local congregation are reviewed monthly and posted on a congregation notice board. Donations are also accepted via mail, and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society can be named as a beneficiary to an estate, and also accepts donations in the form of life insurance policies, pension plans, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, annuities and trusts.[156]

[155][154] Jehovah's Witnesses fund their activities, such as publishing, constructing and operating facilities, evangelism, and disaster relief via donations. There is no

Funding of activities

Jehovah's Witnesses provide relief assistance in disaster-stricken areas for their members and others in the vicinity. Medicine and clothing were provided to both Hutu and Tutsi Witnesses during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.[151] Following Hurricane Katrina, they helped rebuild houses of Witnesses and others.[152] The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses uses "Regional Building Committees" to oversee relief efforts worldwide.[153]

Humanitarian efforts

International and regional building teams frequently undertake constructions of Kingdom Halls over the course of one or two weekends, termed "quick-builds". Larger construction projects, including building regional Assembly Halls and Bethel offices, factories, residences, warehouses, and farm facilities, are also performed almost entirely by volunteer members.


Their opposition to birthdays is said to be based on how the Bible presents them. Watch Tower Society publications note that the only birthday celebrations explicitly mentioned in the Bible are those of an unnamed Pharaoh and Herod Antipas, and that both were associated with executions, and neither celebrant was a servant of God.[148] Though some religions interpret Job 1:4 to indicate birthday feasts of Job's sons, Jehovah's Witnesses interpret them as a circuit of feasts from one house to the next.[149] The Bible does not show Jesus or his apostles celebrating birthdays and The Watchtower claims the absence of any record of the date of the birth of Jesus or his apostles indicates that "God does not want us to celebrate any of these birthdays".[150]

Other common celebrations and religious or national holidays such as birthdays, Halloween, and Christmas[142] are not celebrated because they believe that these continue to involve "false religious beliefs or activities."[143][144] Watch Tower Society publications rule out the celebration of Mother's Day because of a claimed link with pagan gods[145] and concerns that giving "special honor and worship" to mothers is a form of "creature worship" that could turn people away from God.[146] The Society also directs Witnesses to shun May Day, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day celebrations because of their pagan origins.[147]

Weddings, anniversaries, and funerals are observed, though they avoid incorporating certain traditions they see to have pagan origins.[138][139] The Watchtower has stated that the use of wedding rings by Witnesses is acceptable, even though wedding rings may have first been used by pagans, based on its conclusion that there is no definite evidence wedding rings were used "as part of false religious practices" (emphasis from original).[140] Witnesses typically observe wedding anniversaries, with the Watch Tower Society noting that wedding anniversaries apparently do not stem from pagan origins.[141]


Sociologist Ronald Lawson has suggested that it is the religion's intellectual and organizational isolation—coupled with the intense indoctrination of adherents, rigid internal discipline and considerable persecution—that has contributed to the consistency of its sense of urgency in its apocalyptic message.[137]

Witnesses are urged to minimize their social contact with non-members, even if they possess "decent qualities",[127][128][129] because of perceived dangers of worldly association.[130][131] Sociologist Andrew Holden indicated they are highly selective in choosing with whom they spend leisure time, generally choosing the company of other Witnesses. Many Witnesses interviewed by Holden reported tensions and ostracism at work because of their religious beliefs.[132] He reported that many converts to the religion required some social adjustment as they gradually reduced contact with non-Witness friends.[133] Association with those outside the organization, commonly termed by Witnesses as "worldly" and "not in the Truth", is acceptable only when it is viewed as an opportunity to preach[134][135] and Witnesses are under considerable pressure from the Society to show outsiders they are people of high moral fiber. Holden claims that as a result, Witnesses working with "worldly" colleagues tend to closely adhere to Watch Tower teachings.[136]

Jehovah's Witnesses are told they should remain "separate from the world" in harmony with Jesus' description of his followers at John 17:14-16. Watch Tower publications define the "world" as "the mass of mankind apart from Jehovah’s approved servants" and teach that it is ruled by Satan[116] and a place of danger[117] and moral contamination.[118] Witnesses manifest their world-renouncing beliefs in many ways. They avoid involvement in social controversies,[119] remain politically neutral, and do not seek public office. The Watch Tower Society has stated that voting in political elections is a personal conscience decision,[120] though a Witness who takes any action considered to be a "violation of Christian neutrality" may face religious sanctions.[121] They refuse participation in ecumenical and interfaith activities,[122][123] abstain from celebrating religious holidays, and reject many customs they claim have pagan origins. They do not work in industries associated with the military, nor serve in the armed services,[124] and refuse national military service, which in some countries may result in their arrest and imprisonment.[125] They do not salute or pledge allegiance to national flags or sing national anthems or other patriotic songs.[126]


Watch Tower Society publications teach that Witnesses are engaged in a "spiritual, theocratic warfare" against false teachings and wicked spirit forces they say try to impede them in their preaching work.[107] Based on their interpretation of Ephesians 6:10-20, they believe their "spiritual war" is fought with truth, righteousness, the "good news of peace", faith, the hope of salvation, God's word and prayer.[108][109] They have advocated the use of "theocratic war strategy" to protect the interests of God's cause, which would include hiding the truth from God's "enemies"[110][111] by being evasive or withholding truthful or incriminating information from those not entitled by law to know.[112][113][114] The Watchtower told Witnesses: "It is proper to cover over our arrangements for the work that God commands us to do. If the wolfish foes draw wrong conclusions from our maneuvers to outwit them, no harm has been done to them by the harmless sheep, innocent in their motives as doves."[115]

Spiritual warfare

Dutch anthropologist Richard Singelenberg has suggested the Watch Tower Society's prohibition on blood transfusions—as well as its edict against fellowship with outsiders—are rooted in the religious desire to maintain a communal state of purity worthy of divine favor. He noted: "Rules of pollution and purity are instrumental in creating structural boundaries around group members. And the more distinctive when formulated into divine precepts, the clearer the dividing lines between the faithful and those excluded."[106]

Though accepted by most members, some within the Jehovah's Witness community do not endorse the doctrine.[105]

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that the Bible prohibits the consumption, storage and transfusion of bloodless surgery. This service also maintains Hospital Liaison Committees, which support adherents facing surgery and provide information to the medical community on bloodless surgery techniques and alternatives to blood.[104]

Jehovah's Witnesses officially reject transfusions of whole allogeneic blood and some of its fractionated components


Gambling by making money through the losses of others is viewed as a "form of greed", and is prohibited.[101] The trading of stocks, shares and bonds is viewed as acceptable.[102]

Jehovah's Witnesses demand high standards of morality within their ranks.[94] Their view of sexual behavior reflects conservative Christian views. Abortion is considered murder.[95] Homosexuality, premarital sex, and extramarital sex are considered “serious sins”.[96] Smoking (including electronic cigarettes),[97] abuse of drugs, and drunkenness are prohibited, though alcohol is permitted in moderation.[98][99] Modesty in dress and grooming is frequently stressed. Entertainment promoting immoral, "demonic", or violent themes is considered inappropriate. Members are warned that personal grooming such as beards, long hair or earrings for men, or other styles of dress or grooming might "stumble" the consciences of others.[100]


Married couples are encouraged to speak with local elders if they are having problems. Married couples can separate in the case of physical abuse and neglect, or if one partner attempts to hinder the other from being a Jehovah's Witness.[93] Remarriage after divorce is permissible only on the grounds of adultery, based on their understanding of Jesus' words at Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9.

The family structure is patriarchal. The husband is considered the final authority of family decisions, as the head of his family. Marriages must be monogamous. Wives should be submissive to their husbands and husbands are to have deep respect and love for their wives.[92] Husbands are instructed to treat their wives as Jesus treated his followers. He should not hurt or mistreat his family in any way. The father should be hard-working in providing necessities to his family. He must also provide for them in a spiritual capacity. This includes religious instruction for the family, and taking the lead in preaching activities. Parental discipline for children should not be in a harsh, cruel way. Children are instructed to obey their parents.

Family life

Marking is practiced if a person's course of action is regarded as a violation of Bible principles, reflecting badly on the congregation, but is not a disfellowshipping offense.[89] The person is strongly counseled. If, after repeated counsel sessions, the person still pursues the disturbing course, he might be 'marked', which involves an announcement stating that the actions in question are wrong, without naming the individual involved. Congregation members limit social contact with that person. The purpose of this is to shame the person into correcting their actions.[90] "Marked" individuals are not shunned completely, but social contact is minimized.[91]

Reproof involves sins that could lead to disfellowshipping. Ones considered "truly repentant" are reproved rather than disfellowshipped.[84] Reproof is given "before all onlookers", based on their interpretation of 1 Timothy 5:20. If the sin is private in nature, the reproof would involve just the individual(s) involved. If the sin is known generally by the entire congregation or the community, an announcement is made informing the congregation that the person has been reproved. Later, without disclosing names or private details, one of the elders gives a separate talk ensuring that the congregation understands the sin, its dangers, and how to avoid it.[85] Reproved individuals have some congregation privileges restricted, until the elders decide that the member has regained "spiritual strength."[86][87] Restrictions may include not sharing in meeting parts, not commenting at meeting parts, and not praying for a group. The duration of restrictions depends on the elders. One cannot "pioneer" or "auxiliary pioneer" for at least one year after reproof is given.[88]

Disfellowshipping is the most severe form of discipline administered. Before taking this step, the judicial committee must determine that the individual has committed a "serious sin" and that there is no evidence of true repentance.[72] To judge that repentance is genuine, members of the judicial committee ask questions and review the actions of the accused member.[73] Baptized members who spread teachings contrary to the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses can be disfellowshipped for apostasy,[74][75][76] and a 1981 letter to overseers—reproduced in a book by former Governing Body member Raymond Franz—directed that a member who "persists in believing other doctrine", even without promoting such beliefs, may also be subject to disfellowshipping.[77] Once the decision to disfellowship has been made, a person has seven days to appeal, after which, if the person has not appealed, the disfellowshipping will be announced to the congregation; disfellowshipping does not take effect until the announcement is made to the congregation.[78] After a person is disfellowshipped, the person is shunned by all baptized members.[79] Exceptions to this would include cases where a member was forced to have commercial dealings with a member who is disfellowshipped, or if the disfellowshipped member is living with family members who are baptized. In these cases, the Witness are not permitted to speak about matters pertaining to the religion, except in the case of parents conducting a Bible study with a disfellowshipped minor.[80] The extent to which disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives living in the same household are included in family life is left to the discretion of the family.[81] Family members living outside the home who are disfellowshipped have minimal contact.[82][83]

Formal discipline is administered by congregation elders. In the event that an accusation of serious sin is made concerning a baptized member, if there is sufficient evidence, a tribunal or judicial committee is formed to determine guilt, administer help and possibly apply sanctions.


Only males may be appointed as elders and ministerial servants (their term for pioneers" and those in the faith's religious order, qualify for ministerial exemptions regardless of gender.[71]

Jehovah's Witnesses consider as "baptized publishers are considered "ordained ministers".[66] Witnesses recognize that many government and administrative precedents for ministers are not intended to include all active adherents.[67] For example, only elders assert ecclesiastical privilege and confessional privilege.[68]

Ministers and ordination

He also found a striking contrast with other religions in the common attribution of responsibility for conversion to "a spiritual guide ... the person who acted as the intermediary with the Watchtower movement and who supervised the initial process of learning and reforming". Beckford cited an interview "representative of many" in which a convert recalled initially resisting the Watch Tower Society's teachings until he was "talked into making a serious study of the scriptures ... I had plenty of objections and was sure the Witnesses were wrong, but (the Witness leading the personal Bible study sessions) showed me how the facts of the Bible could not be faulted".[65]

Sociologist James Beckford reported two significant distinguishing features of the conversion process when related by Jehovah's Witnesses. He said they typically spoke of their conversion experience as a steady progression of mental states in which Witnesses "'work for' their conversion by a methodical confrontation with intellectual obstacles and by a deliberate programme of self-reform. Conversion is not represented as something which happened to them; it is framed as something that they achieved." Beckford noted that those he interviewed regarded sudden, emotional upheavals in religious consciousness as suspect: "Experiences which smack of sudden or idiosyncratic illumination/revelation cannot be reconcilable with either the tenor of God's historical practice or the nature of his special covenant with the Watchtower Society."

After candidates agree to both questions, they line up to undergo water immersion, usually in quick succession, often with hundreds baptised at large conventions.

  1. “On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?”
  2. “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?”

Individuals seeking to be baptised as Jehovah's Witnesses are required to follow a systematic, catechistical Bible study course, usually in their home, for several months. They will be expected to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall and must also demonstrate a willingness to carry out the doorstep ministry.[61] Before baptism they will be questioned by elders to determine that they understand and accept the beliefs of the Witnesses,[62] and also that they accept Jesus' ransom sacrifice and repent of sins and have made a personal dedication to God.[63] Baptisms are normally performed in pools at assemblies and conventions. At these baptisms, candidates make "public declaration" of their prior dedication to God.[64] The speaker asks the candidates the following two questions.


Witnesses are urged to prepare for congregation meetings by studying the assigned Watch Tower literature,[55] and are expected to read all magazines and books published by the Society.[56][57][58] One analysis noted that each year Witnesses are expected to read more than 3,000 pages of the Society's publications, according to its suggested program for personal study. In 1981 this would have included 1,536 pages from The Watchtower and Awake!, 48 pages from Our Kingdom Ministry, 384 pages of a book for the congregation book study, 384 pages from the Yearbook, 360 pages of the Theocratic Ministry School textbook and 258 pages of assembly releases in addition to scheduled weekly Bible reading.[59] Much of the literature is illustrated extensively, with sociologist Andrew Holden observing utopian, post-Armageddon images of happy Witnesses in bright sunshine and pristine environments, often playing with formerly wild animals such as lions and tigers, in contrast to dark-colored images of unfavorable activities such as murders, burglaries and promiscuity that highlight the moral dangers outside the organization.[60]

Publications were sold to the public until the early 1990s, from which time they were offered free of charge, with a request for donations. The change in policy was first announced in the United States in February 1990, following the loss of a US Supreme Court court case by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries on the issue of sales tax exemption for religious groups.[52] The Watch Tower Society had joined the case as an Amicus curiae, or "friend of the court".[53] The court ruling would have resulted in the Watch Tower Society having to pay millions of dollars in sales tax if sales of their literature had continued.[54]

[51] New books, brochures, and other items are released at their annual conventions. Additionally, a number of [50] CD-ROM, which contains many Witness publications from 1950 onward, and is officially available to baptized members only.Watchtower Library, available in audio and electronic formats. Issues of both publications are compiled annually into bound volumes, and are added yearly to the Awake! and, along with [49] is published simultaneously in nearly two hundred languagesThe Watchtower Jehovah's Witnesses make extensive use of Watch Tower Society literature, including books, magazines, booklets and handbills, to spread their beliefs and to use as textbooks at their religious meetings. The publications are produced in many languages, with a small selection available in 500 languages. Their primary journal,

A Jehovah's Witness distributing literature at Marble Arch tube station in London

Watch Tower Society literature

Witnesses have, in the past, used a wide variety of methods to spread their faith, including information marches, where members wore

Specialized "territory" maps of residential and commercial areas are prepared within the boundaries of each congregation's territory and distributed to publishers who are responsible for preaching within that area. Witnesses are instructed to fill out monthly report slips on their preaching activity,[46] listing the hours spent, publications placed with householders, and the number of "return visits" made to households where interest had been shown formerly.[30] The reports are used to help measure the "spirituality" of individuals[30][47] and to establish the eligibility of men as congregation elders and ministerial servants.[48] A Witness who fails to report for a month is termed an "irregular publisher"; one who has not turned in a field service report for six months consecutively is termed an "inactive publisher".

Members who commit themselves to evangelize for 840 hours per year (an average of 70 hours per month) are called regular pioneers.[37] Those who commit themselves to evangelize for 50 hours for one month are called auxiliary pioneers, which they may do for consecutive months.[38] Some Witnesses volunteer for missionary service, and may be invited to receive specialized training at the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. These individuals dedicate, on average, more than 120 hours per month to their work.[39] Members who are not able to 'pioneer' are told they may maintain the "pioneer spirit", by spending as much time as they can in preaching and by supporting the efforts of pioneers.[40] Witnesses are frequently instructed through Watch Tower Society publications, and at meetings and conventions, to increase the quality and quantity of their preaching efforts.[41][42] Watch Tower Society publications suggest that endurance in public preaching is the means by which Witnesses attain salvation,[43][44] and that evangelizing frees them from blood-guilt regarding individuals who might die at Armageddon without having heard about God's kingdom.[45]

Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are under obligation to God to "give witness" by participating in organized and spontaneous evangelizing and proselytizing work,[30][31] with baptism permitted only for those who demonstrate "regular and zealous" participation.[32] Baptism is regarded as an automatic ordination as a minister[33] and from that time Witnesses feel a moral obligation to serve as "publishers", disseminating Watch Tower doctrines as evangelists of "the Truth".[30] Watch Tower publications describe house-to-house visitations as the primary work of Jehovah's Witnesses[32] in obedience to a "divine command" to preach "the Kingdom good news in all the earth and (make) disciples of people of all the nations".[34] Children usually accompany their parents and participate in the public ministry.[35] In addition to taking part in organized door-to-door preaching, Witnesses are taught that they should seek opportunities to "witness informally" by starting conversations with people they meet during routine activities such as shopping or on public transport, and directing the conversation towards their beliefs.[36]

Jehovah's Witnesses are known for their preaching from house to house


Each year, Jehovah's Witnesses hold two one day "Circuit Assemblies", held in each circuit worldwide. Each circuit comprises several congregations in a geographical area. These are held either in Assembly Halls owned by Jehovah's Witnesses, or in rented facilities, such as public auditoriums. Once a year, Jehovah's Witnesses gather at larger assemblies called "Regional Conventions" which are usually three days long (Friday to Sunday). These conventions consist primarily of Bible-based sermons, including demonstrations and experiences of their preaching work. They also often feature video presentations and live, full-costume dramatic plays re-enacting biblical accounts—such as Moses and the Plagues of Egypt, and Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah—or contemporary settings based on biblical principles. Every few years, "International Conventions" are held in selected cities, with visiting delegates from other countries. The attendance of some of these International conventions numbers into the hundreds of thousands, with the largest-ever gathering held in New York in 1958 at Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds with a peak attendance exceeding 250,000.

A District Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses

Assemblies and conventions

The Memorial, held after sunset, includes a talk on the meaning of the celebration and the circulation among the audience of unadulterated red wine and unleavened bread. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the bread symbolizes Jesus Christ's body which he gave on behalf of mankind, and that the wine symbolizes his blood which redeems from sin. They do not believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation.[28][29] Because many congregations have no members who claim to be anointed, it is common for no one to partake of the bread and wine.

Of those who attend the Memorial, a small minority worldwide partake of the unleavened bread and wine. This is because Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the majority of the faithful have an earthly hope. Only those who believe they have a heavenly hope, the "remnant" (those still living) of the 144,000 "anointed", partake of the bread and wine.[26] In 2011, the number of persons who partook worldwide was 11,824, whereas the number who attended was 19,374,737.[27]

Jehovah's Witnesses commemorate Christ's death as a ransom or "propitiatory sacrifice" by observing the Lord's Evening Meal, or Memorial. They celebrate it once per year, noting that it was instituted on the Passover, an annual festival.[23] They observe it on Nisan 14 according to the ancient Jewish luni-solar calendar.[24] Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that this is the only celebration the Bible commands Christians to observe.[25]

Memorial of Christ's death

The midweek meeting, typically held in the evening, includes a question-and-answer "Congregation Bible Study" (30 minutes) based on a Watch Tower Society publication;[10][18] the "Theocratic Ministry School" (30 minutes), designed to train Witnesses in public speaking and proselytizing using talks and rehearsals of doorstop sermons;[19] and the "Service Meeting" (30 minutes), following an agenda set in the Society's monthly newsletter Our Kingdom Ministry to train Witnesses to participate in the public ministry.[20] Before 2009, the midweek meeting consisted of the Theocratic Ministry School and the Service Meeting (each 45 minutes);[21] the Congregation Book Study (1 hour) was typically held on a separate evening, divided into smaller groups meeting in private homes.[22]

Midweek meeting

The weekend meeting, usually held on Sunday, comprises a 30-minute public talk by a congregation ministerial servant and a one-hour question-and-answer study of a Bible-based article from The Watchtower magazine,[10] with questions prepared by the Watch Tower Society and the answers provided in the magazine.[15] Members may use their own words to express the ideas in the printed material,[16] though personal ideas derived from independent study are discouraged.[10][17]

Weekend meeting

The form and content of the meetings is established by the religion's Brooklyn headquarters, generally involving a consideration of the same subject matter worldwide each week.[10] Two meetings each week are divided into five distinct sections, lasting a total of about four hours. Meetings are opened and closed with hymns and brief prayers delivered from the platform. Witnesses are urged to prepare for all meetings by studying Watch Tower literature from which the content is drawn and looking up the scriptures cited in the articles.[14] Kingdom Halls are typically functional in character, and contain no religious symbols.[10] Each year, Witnesses from several congregations, which form a "circuit", gather for two one-day assemblies; several circuits meet once a year for a three-day "regional convention", and every few years the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses hold "international conventions" in selected cities around the world. These larger gatherings are usually held at rented stadiums or auditoriums. Their most important and solemn event is the celebration of the "Lord's Evening Meal", or "Memorial of Christ's Death".

[13][12], one role of the frequency and length of meetings is to protect Witnesses from becoming "involved in the affairs of the world."The Watchtower According to [10] He says they are also important in helping new converts adopt a different way of life.[10]Meetings for worship and study are held at
Worship at a Kingdom Hall
A Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses



  • Worship 1
    • Weekend meeting 1.1
    • Midweek meeting 1.2
    • Memorial of Christ's death 1.3
    • Assemblies and conventions 1.4
  • Evangelism 2
  • Watch Tower Society literature 3
  • Conversion 4
  • Ministers and ordination 5
  • Discipline 6
  • Family life 7
  • Morality 8
  • Blood 9
  • Spiritual warfare 10
  • Separateness 11
  • Celebrations 12
  • Construction 13
  • Humanitarian efforts 14
  • Funding of activities 15
  • References 16
  • Bibliography 17
  • External links 18

Members are expected to participate regularly in evangelizing work and attend all congregation meetings, as well as regular large-scale conventions, which are highly structured and based on material from Watch Tower Society publications.[9]

[8][7] The threat of shunning also serves to deter other members from dissident behavior.[6]

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