What is Jehovah's Witnesses?Jehovah's Wittnesses began in 1870, when Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) formed an Adventist bible-study group in Pensylvania. When the adventists failed in a prediction on Christ's second coming, he reevaluated his faith and formed his own movement. By 1880, he had formed 30 congregations in 7 states, and in 1881, a church was officially founded. It was not until 1931 that the cult changed its name to Jehovah's Wittnesses. Prior to that, their name had been "The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society".
Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to follow orders from anybody whose power is not from god. Thereby, they won't take orders from eg teachers or superior officers, and thus they are prohibited by their faith to enter military forces. Their refusal to participate in military and national services, as well as their theology which differs a great deal from "official" Christianity, has caused them trouble all over the world. In Canada they were banned in 1940, and in germany, many witnesses were persecuted by the nazis. Despite this, the leaders of the cult were very courteous towards the germans.
New World Translation of the Holy ScripturesAt the death of Russell in 1916, he was replaced by Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who centralized the organization, and put it under the controll of the Governing Body, which is currently located in New York, and consists of 11 people. During the government of Nathan Homer Knorr, who succeeded Rutherford at his death in 1942, the cult published its very own translation of the Bible "New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures" -- a translation which has been criticized for its sloppy scholarship and loose match with the "original" scripts. But then again, we don't have access to the first writings of the Bible, and they had been kept alive in an oral tradition before first being written. Besides, the contents were probably distorted in the first place anyway, so today's "official" translations of the Bible are most likely not very faithful to the truth either.
Jehovah's wittnesses and "official" ChristianityTheir own version of the Bible is considered infallible by the witnesses. In theory, their creed differs a great deal from the "official" doctrines of Christianity, but in practice it very closely resembles that of fundamentalist evangelism. Some examples are: Belief in the virgin birth, opposition to: sex outside the marriage, divorce, abortions and homosexuality. Many of their beliefs are considered heretic by other Christians. For instance, the witnesses do not believe in the trinity, they reject the cross, since they claim Jesus was put to death on a rod (staurus, or "torture stake"), instead of believing in hell they think heretics will just cease to exist.
Pseudo-scientific beliefsOther creeds are opposed to scientific findings. According to the cult, the world has come to an end at least five times (1914, 1918, 1920, 1925, and 1941). Man and all the animals were created by god. Man has existed since 4026 BCE, when god created Adam, but the animals have existed much longer. The cult has made many attepts during the years to defame the theory of evolution, but as science advances, they have had to adapt their views on evolution. The world is governed by Satan, but will be liberated when Jesus returns.
Perhaps the most inflammable doctrine of the witnesses is their refusal to accept blood transfusions. To do so is consider a great sin, and anyone who freely does so will lose his eternal life. However, being forced to have another person's blood is not a sin. Some witnesses are actually relieved that medical doctors sometimes give them, or their children, blood without their consent. (I read that in an intervew, but I don't remember the reference). Before, the transplantation of bone-marrow and organs was considered as form of canniballism and therfore not allowed. Today, the Governing Body says it is up to the individual to decide. However, blood transfusions are still prohibited.
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File created: Tuesday, July 20, 1999