Among all adults in the U.S., Jehovah’s Witnesses make up 0.7% of the population according to PEW’s research on “Major Religious Traditions in the U.S.”. Jehovah’s witnesses are considered to be part of the third major branch of global Christianity along with Orthodoxy Christianity and Mormonism. Of all the religions in the U.S. they Jehovah’s witnesses have the lowest retention rate. A miniscule 37% of those raised as J.W’s kept it as their religion into adulthood.
I intend to do some research on the traditions, religious literature and rituals or lack thereof in this religion. Stay tuned…
According to the “official” website of Jehovas’s Witness’s, they identify as Christians but they state that they are different from some other sects of people that consider themselves to be Christian. To be specific, they do not believe that Jesus Christ was or is part of a trinity as many others do. They do believe he is the son of God. Jw.org states “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘Look! I can see heaven thrown open,’ he said, ‘and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’”—Acts 7:55, 56, The New Jerusalem Bible.” They claim that this statement from the bible reveals that Jesus did not “become God” after his resurrection but instead, his own spiritual being.
Jehova’s Witness’s don’t believe in hell but do believe in heaven. Although, they do believe that a righteous minority will “rule” in heaven with Christ and that the “majority” will live forever on earth. One example they give for this is that according to John 3:13; 14:2, 3, Jesus indicated that the “righteous” would not automatically go to heaven. In revelation 5:10 it states “and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”
They refer to this as another example as to why they believe that some men will go to heaven while others will remain on earth.
Jehovah’s witness’s meet three times a week to worship in what are called Kingdom Halls. This starts with a public lecture and then a biblical theme is studies. In terms of ritual aspects, they have two types of ceremonies. One is baptism which is only done for adults. Those involve being totally immersed in water. Then there is the Lord’s Evening Meal, or Memorial, which is held yearly to commemorate Jesus’s “Last Supper”.
“Myth 1: The Soul Is Immortal.” Myth 1: The Soul Is Immortal. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.
“Library.” Rituals and Worship. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2013.
I focused on the Evangelical tradition churches in the survey. 50% of members are from the Southern United States. 39% of members are between 30 and 49 years old the next closest is 50-64 at around 26%. 53% of members are female while the balance of the membership is male. 81% of members are white. 58% of members make less than $50,000 a year. While 59% of members are Married 65% have no children. 53% believe that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion and 57% express the belief that many religions can lead to eternal life.
I would like to learn more about what appears to be the vocal minority in these churches that seems to mold the stereotypical Christian image that is portrayed in the media. The survey results seem to indicate that there is a majority of the Evangelical tradition that are open and accepting of other viewpoints. This makes me wonder why those viewpoints are not expressed more readily.
86% of Jehovah’s witnesses think that religion is very important in their lives. Which to me is odd because the are very undecided on what political party they belong too. In fact 61% of them don’t attach themselves to either party. Which makes sense because 50% of them say they aren’t liberal or conservative. And 47% would rather have a bigger government with more services offered. 60% of them want stricter laws for the environment protection and enforcement. I found this very interesting seeing that I work for the government (environment) and I always thought that they wanted a smaller government and were very conservative. 64% of them want to have the government work on the problems here at home first instead of other countries problems.
They do have their conservative views. 52% feel like abortion should be illegal in all cases and 76% think that homosexuality should be frowned upon by society. Jehovah’s witnesses by 38% want government to have more of a role in protecting morality.