We know them as the religious group that goes door-to-door preaching their “good news” in the hopes of making lots of converts. I personally know them as the people my dad used to cuss at every time they showed up at our front door.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been around since the 19th century, and their doctrine differs greatly from the “good news” of mainstream Christianity. While they have been very successful at spreading their teachings all over the world, most of us don’t know very much about them or what they believe.
So, here are 13 fun facts you probably didn’t know about Jehovah’s Witnesses:
1. They Don’t Accept Blood Transfusions
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible forbids consuming blood, and that Christians are prohibited from accepting blood transfusions or from donating or storing blood for transfusions.
Their literature instructs that their refusal of transfusions of whole blood or its four primary components—red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma—is not negotiable and that those who believe life is a gift from God should not receive blood, even in an emergency. They often cite Scripture, such as Acts 15:28-29, which states:
“For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper.”
While this doctrine has undergone some changes since its introduction (in 1945), members who accept transfusions are still regarded as dissociating themselves from the group by abandoning the doctrine and are shunned by other members.
2. They Don’t Participate In Politics
Jehovah’s witnesses believe that Satan is the ruler of the world and its governments. Therefore, they are not allowed to participate in politics or to serve in the military. They don’t even vote because that would be considered to be voting for Satan. If they are forced to serve on a jury, they will always find the defendant innocent (even if the person is guilty as sin). They also refuse to salute national flags.
3. They Were Persecuted By The Nazis
Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered religious persecution in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945 after refusing to serve in the military or to give allegiance to Hitler. Approximately 10,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned, and 2,000 of those went to Nazi concentration camps. Approximately 1,200 died in custody and 250 were executed.
Unlike other persecuted groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses were offered the chance to renounce their beliefs and be set free–to which a majority of them declined.
4. They Believe They Are Rewarded With A Paradise On Earth
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God will cleanse the Earth of its wickedness and that it will be restored in the near future. They refer to this time as the re-creation, the paradise, or the new system of things.
Jesus will be the overseer of this process. And once it is complete, He will hand the Earth and its inhabitants back over to God to reign.
5. They Don’t Celebrate Christmas Or Easter
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays, including the holy-days of Easter and Christmas. That’s because they believe that these holidays have pagan origins, or that their roots are not Biblical-based. In fact, they claim that these practices and customs are strongly disapproved by God.
For example, The World Book Encyclopedia cites: “the early Christians did not celebrate Jesus’ birth because they considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be pagan custom.” Numerous scholars also note that the Christmas tree and practices of gift-giving, putting up lights, and the use of mistletoe are connected with Roman festivals and Druid customs. Witnesses believe that these practices displease God.
6. They Practice Shunning
Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for dis-fellowshipping or shunning former members. If a member is shunned, he is cut off from communication with other members of the congregation, and he also loses his lot in a paradise Earth. He even loses communication with members of his own family. If a Witness violates this rule to fellowship with a dis-fellowshipped person, they also run the risk of being shunned.
If a Witness does have communication with an ex-Witness, it is usually to tell them how disappointed they are in them. It’s also usually done in a letter or email rather than face-to-face.
7. They Don’t Use The Cross
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus did not die on a cross, but rather an upright stake or “torture stake” with no cross beams.
Therefore, they do not wear the cross or use it in their worship. They even go so far to say that, “true Christians do not use the cross in worship.”
8. They Believe These Are The Last Days
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that these are the last days and they take modern events and conditions to back up their claims. They will also highlight Biblical prophecies that they believe are being fulfilled.
For example they will refer to Matthew 24:6-8 where Christ described future events that would come before the end, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
It’s no wonder they are knocking and talking everywhere, preaching “good news,” they have a strong sense of urgency.
9. They Refuse To Go To War Or Bear Arms
Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to bear arms or engage in war or any kind of conflict.
One reason is that they believe in following the first-century Christian church and its refusal to participate in war. Second, they cite their obedience to God and Christ’s commands to love others.
As a result of this strong stance on this issue, they have often faced resentment and persecution from political parties from around the world.
10. Only 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses Go To Heaven
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 humans will go to heaven, where they will rule by Christ’s side as kings.
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are not worried about being left behind though,because they believe themselves to be part of the Great Crowd that will never die, but rather reside forever on Earth.
11. Jehovah’s Witnesses Don’t Believe In The Trinity
Jehovah Witnesses deny the deity of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit and they believe those who believe in the Trinity are apostates who will be annihilated by God.
While they see the Holy Spirit as God’s “active force,” they don’t believe it is part of the Trinity. They also believe that Jesus is a separate person from God, though He should not be called God in His own right.
So, while Jesus is wonderful and all, His Father is much greater, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
12. All Non-Witnesses Are Part Of Satan’s World
Jehovah’s Witness are discouraged from associating with nonbelievers because they are considered to be “worldly people.” And because the world belongs to Satan, so are the people who live in it (unless you are a Witness, of course). Having interaction with unbelievers is a threat to a Witness’ faith and Satan can use an unbeliever to corrupt them.
If they do associate with an unbeliever, it is strictly to try and convert them.
13. Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe That Other Religions Inspired By Satan
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that most other religions have demonic origins and they believe these religions are only there to mislead people from God’s one true religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’s why a Witness is not even allowed to step inside another place of worship that is not their own.
Heaven forbid they are led astray by some other demonic doctrine.