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Jehovah's Witnesses




'''Jehovah's Witnesses''' is a restorationist, millenarian Christian denomination. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism; they report convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual Memorial attendance of over 17 million."Preaching and Teaching Earth Wide—2007 Grand Totals", ''2008 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses'', page 31, "2007 Grand Totals...Worldwide Memorial Attendance: 17,672,443" They are directed by the Governing Body, a group of elders which exercises authority on all doctrinal matters, based on their interpretation of the Bible, with preference given to their own translation, the ''New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures''.

The group emerged from the Bible Student movement, founded in the late 19th century by Charles Taze Russell, with the creation of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society. Following a schism in the movement, the branch that maintained control of the Society underwent significant organizational changes, bringing its authority structure and methods of evangelism under centralized control. The name ''Jehovah's witnesses'' was adopted in 1931.

Since its inception, the Watch Tower Society has taught that humans are now living in the last days of the present world order. They believe that after the current world order is destroyed at Armageddon, surviving righteous Jehovah's Witnesses and resurrected individuals will have the opportunity to live forever in an earthly paradise, ruled by Christ and 144,000 humans raised to heaven. In the years leading up to 1914, 1925 and 1975, the Society's publications expressed strong expectations of Armageddon or the establishment of Christ's kingdom over the earth occurring in those years.

Jehovah's Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distribution of literature such as ''The Watchtower'' and ''Awake!'', and for their refusal of military service and blood transfusions even in life-threatening situations. They consider use of the name ''Jehovah'' – one of the common English-language pronunciations of the Tetragrammaton – vital to proper worship; they reject Trinitarianism, immortality of the soul, and hellfire, because they consider them to be unscriptural doctrines; and they do not observe celebrations such as Christmas, Easter or birthdays because of their perceived pagan origins. Members commonly refer to their body of beliefs as "the Truth", and adherents consider themselves to be "in the Truth". Jehovah's Witnesses regard secular society as a place of moral contamination and under the control of Satan, and limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses. Members who violate the organization's fundamental moral principles or who dispute doctrinal matters are subject to disciplinary action, the most severe being a form of shunning they call ''disfellowshipping''.

The religion's position regarding conscientious objection to military service and refusal to salute national flags has brought it into conflict with governments, particularly those that conscript citizens for military service. Activities of Jehovah's Witnesses have been consequently banned or restricted in some countries. Persistent legal challenges by Jehovah's Witnesses have had considerable influence on related legislation in several countries including the United States.



History







1870-1916: Charles Taze Russell and the Bible Students


In 1870, Charles Taze Russell and others formed an independent group to study the Bible; in particular, Russell cited contributions by Advent Christian Church pastor George W. Stetson, and George Storrs, an Adventist preacher and former Millerite. In 1877 Russell jointly edited a religious journal, ''Herald of the Morning'', with Nelson H. Barbour. In July 1879, after separating from Barbour, Russell began publishing the magazine ''Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence'', highlighting his interpretations of biblical chronology, with particular attention to his belief that the world was in "the last days". In 1881, Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to disseminate tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and bibles; three years later, on December 15, 1884, Russell became the president of the Society when it was legally incorporated in Pennsylvania.

''Watch Tower'' supporters gathered as autonomous congregations to study the Bible and Russell's writings. Russell firmly rejected as "wholly unnecessary" the concept of a formal organization for his followers, and declared that his group had no record of its members' names, no creeds, and no sectarian name. The group became known as "Bible Students". Russell died on October 31, 1916, and control of the ''Watch Tower'' magazine was temporarily passed to an Editorial Committee as outlined in Russell's will, with an Executive Committee in control of the Society.

1916-1942: Joseph Rutherford


Organizational changes


In January 1917, the Watch Tower Society's legal representative, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, was elected as its next president. A power struggle developed between Rutherford and four of the Society's Board of Directors, who objected to his style of leadership. On July 17, 1917, Rutherford dismissed four of the directors, claiming they had not been legally elected.

On the same day he also announced the release of ''The Finished Mystery'' as the seventh volume of Russell's ''Studies in the Scriptures'' series. The book was widely advertised to the public as "a posthumous publication ... of Charles Taze Russell", but much was actually written by two other Bible Students under the direction of Joseph Rutherford. ''The Finished Mystery'' strongly criticised Catholic and Protestant clergy and Christian involvement in war. Patriotic fervor during World War I and other animosities fuelled persecution of the Bible Students in America and Europe, including mob violence and tarring and feathering.

Citing this book, the United States federal government indicted Rutherford and the new board of directors for violation of the ''Espionage Act'' on May 7, 1918. They were found guilty and sentenced concurrently to 20 years' imprisonment. During their imprisonment, elections for the Watch Tower directors again took place and Rutherford was re-elected as president. In March 1919, the judgment against them was reversed and they were released from prison; the charges were later dropped.

Opposition to Rutherford among the Bible Students began to mount, prompting a significant number of members to cut ties with the Watch Tower Society and form new organizations. Rutherford continued to tighten and centralize organizational control of those who remained loyal to the Society, with the Brooklyn headquarters appointing a "director" in each congregation in 1919, and a year later instructing all congregation members who participated in the preaching work to report their preaching activity weekly.

In 1925, following a dispute over a proposed article, Rutherford dismissed the ''Watch Tower'''s Editorial Committee, giving him full control of the organization and of material published in the magazine. On July 26, 1931, the name ''Jehovah's witnesses'' was adopted by resolution at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, based on the American Standard Version's rendering of Isaiah 43:10: "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah". In 1932, Rutherford eliminated the system of selecting elders by congregational vote. In 1938, he introduced a "theocratic" or "God-ruled" organizational system, under which, all appointments in congregations worldwide are made from the Brooklyn headquarters.

Doctrinal changes


At an international convention held at Cedar Point, in September 1922, a new emphasis was made on house-to-house preaching. Significant changes in doctrine were made under Rutherford's leadership, including the 1918 announcement that Jewish patriarchs (such as Abraham and Isaac) would be resurrected in 1925, marking the beginning of Christ's thousand-year reign. The failed expectations for 1925, coupled with other doctrinal changes, resulted in a dramatic reduction in attendance at their yearly Memorial, from 90,434 in 1925 to 17,380 in 1928. By 1933, the timing of the beginning of Christ's presence (Greek: ''parousía''), his enthronement as king, and the start of the "last days", were each moved to 1914.
From 1935, it was considered that converts to the movement, if worthy, would survive Armageddon and live on a paradise earth. Membership before this time was generally composed of those who believed they would be resurrected to live in heaven to rule over the earth with Christ.

As their interpretations of Scripture continued to develop, Witness publications taught that saluting the flag and standing for the national anthem are forms of idolatry. They were also instructed to refuse alternative service provided for conscientious objectors. (Objection to alternative civilian service was maintained until 1996, when it was deemed a 'conscience matter'.) In Germany, Jehovah's Witnesses came under persecution, with as many as 5000 imprisoned in concentration camps. Witnesses also experienced mob violence in the United States, and their activities were banned in Canada and Australia because of their refusal to accept military service.



1942-present: Knorr, Franz, Henschel and Adams


Nathan Knorr was named the third president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society following Rutherford's death in January 1942. Knorr instituted major new training programs – the ''Theocratic Ministry School'' for all congregation members, and the ''Gilead School'' for missionaries. He also organized large-scale conventions, which attracted as many as 253,000 Witnesses to sports stadiums in the United States, Canada and Germany, and began a campaign of real estate acquisition in Brooklyn to expand the organization's world headquarters. He commissioned a new translation of the Bible, which was released progressively from 1950 before being published as the complete ''New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures'' in 1961. Knorr's vice-president, Frederick William Franz, became the religion's leading theologian, and helped shape the further development of explicit rules of conduct among members, with a greater emphasis on disfellowshipping as a disciplinary measure.

From 1938 to 1955 the Witnesses launched a series of cases in the US Supreme Court to defend their right to worship and proselytise, winning 36 out of 45 cases.

From 1966, Witness publications began using their interpretations of biblical chronology to heighten anticipation of Christ's thousand-year millennial reign beginning in late 1975. Focus on 1975 was intensified with talks given at conventions; in 1974 a Watch Tower Society newsletter commended Witnesses who had sold homes and property to devote themselves to preaching in the "short time" remaining. The number of baptisms increased significantly, from about 59,000 in 1966 to more than 297,000 in 1974, but membership declined after expectations for the year were proved wrong. In 1980, the Watch Tower Society admitted its responsibility in building up hope regarding 1975.

The offices of elder and ministerial servant were restored to Witness congregations in 1972, with appointments being made from headquarters. In a major organizational overhaul in 1976, the power of the Watch Tower Society president was diminished, with authority for doctrinal and organizational decisions passed to the religion's Governing Body. Reflecting these organizational changes, publications of Jehovah's Witnesses began using the capitalized name, ''Jehovah's ''W''itnesses''. Prior to this, ''witnesses'' was consistently uncapitalized, except in headings and when quoting external sources. Since Knorr's death in 1977, the position of president has been occupied by Frederick Franz (1977-1992), Milton Henschel (1992-2000) and, when Milton Henschel resigned (the first resignation in the Society's history), Don A. Adams (2000-).

Organization




Jehovah's Witnesses are organized under a hierarchical arrangement, which their leadership calls a "theocratic government", reflecting their belief that it is God's organization on earth.

The organization is headed by the Governing Body – an all-male group that varies in size, but since 2007 has comprised nine members,Twelve members as of September 2005 (See ''The Watchtower'', March 15, 2006, page 26)
Schroeder died March 8, 2006 (See ''The Watchtower'', September 15, 2006, page 31)
Sydlik died April 18, 2006 (See ''The Watchtower'', January 1, 2007, page 8)
Barber died April 8, 2007 (See ''The Watchtower'', October 15, 2007, page 31)
all of whom profess to be of the "anointed" class with a hope of heavenly life – based in the Watch Tower Society's Brooklyn, New York headquarters. There is no election for membership, with new members selected by the existing body. The Governing Body is described as the "spokesman" for God's "faithful and discreet slave class" (the approximately 10,000 remaining "anointed" Jehovah's Witnesses), and is said to provide "spiritual food" for Witnesses worldwide on behalf of the "faithful and discreet slave". In practice it seeks neither advice nor approval from any "anointed" Witnesses other than high-ranking members at Brooklyn Bethel when formulating policy and doctrines or when producing material for publications and conventions.

The Governing Body directs several committees that are responsible for various administrative functions, including publishing, assembly programmes and evangelising activity. It directly appoints all branch committee members and District and Circuit Overseers, with travelling overseers supervising groups of congregations within their jurisdictions.

Witnesses have no formal clergy-laity division. Each congregation has a body of appointed male elders and ministerial servants. Elders maintain general responsibility for congregational governance, setting meeting times, selecting speakers and conducting meetings, directing the public preaching work, and creating "judicial committees" to investigate and decide disciplinary action for cases that are seen as breaching scriptural or organizational rules. New elders are appointed by branch offices after recommendation by the existing body of elders. Ministerial servants – appointed in a similar fashion to elders – fulfill clerical and attendant duties, but may also teach and conduct meetings.

Witness publications place strong emphasis on the need for members to be obedient and loyal to the Watch Tower organization, warning that individuals must remain part of it to receive God's favour and also to survive Armageddon. Publications state that acceptable service to God can be rendered only through that organization and that members should remain submissive to the religion's leaders and local congregational elders.

Beliefs





Sources of doctrine


Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses are established by the Governing Body, which assumes responsibility for interpreting and applying scripture. Prior to the reorganization of the Governing Body in 1976, matters of doctrine were decided by the President of the Watch Tower Society. Watch Tower publications claim that doctrinal changes and refinements result from a process of progressive revelation, in which God gradually reveals his will and purpose. Watch Tower literature has suggested such enlightenment results from the application of reason and study, the guidance of holy spirit, and direction from Jesus Christ and angels. However the Governing Body makes no claim of infallibility or divine inspiration.

The entire Protestant canon of scripture is considered the inspired, inerrant word of God. The Witnesses accept the Bible as scientifically and historically accurate and reliable and interpret much of it literally, while also accepting it is rich in symbolism. They consider the Bible to be the source of truth and the basis for all their beliefs. Sociologist Andrew Holden's ethnographic study of the religion concluded that pronouncements of the Governing Body, through Watch Tower publications, carry as much or more weight than the Bible. The leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses claims to be the sole visible channel of Jehovah and asserts that the Bible cannot be understood without associating with the Watch Tower organization.

Jehovah and Jesus Christ



Jehovah's Witnesses emphasize use of God's biblical name, the Tetragrammaton, and in English they prefer to use the name, Jehovah. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jehovah is the only true God, the creator of all things, and give him the title "Universal Sovereign". They believe that all worship should be directed toward him.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was Jehovah's first creation, that Jehovah then created everything else by means of him, and that the initial unassisted act of creation uniquely identifies Jesus as God's 'only-begotten Son'. Jesus served as a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of humankind. They believe that Jesus died on a single upright torture stake rather than the traditional cross. They believe that references in the Bible to the Archangel Michael, Apollyon (a.k.a. Abaddon), and the Word all refer to Jesus.

Satan


Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Satan is a spirit creature who is the ruler of the world, and that he was at one time a perfect angel who developed feelings of self-importance, and craved worship. Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to obey him rather than God, and humanity subsequently become participants in a challenge involving the competing claims of Jehovah and Satan to universal sovereignty. Other angels who sided with Satan became demons. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Satan and his demons were cast down to earth from heaven after October 1, 1914, at which point the end times began. Witnesses believe that the world is under the control of Satan and his demons, that they mislead people, and are the cause of much pain and suffering. However, they do not believe that individual rulers or governments are under Satan's direct control.

Life after death


For Jehovah's Witnesses, death is a state of non-existence with no consciousness. There is no Hell of fiery torment; Hades and Sheol are understood to refer to the condition of death, termed the ''common grave''. Jehovah's Witnesses consider the body and the soul to be the same living being that expires. Their hope for life after death involves being resurrected by God, either with a new body on earth after Armageddon, or to heaven for the limited number of 144,000.

Witness publications teach that all humanity is in a sinful state. Release from this is possible because Jesus' shed blood provided a payment, or atonement, for the sins of humankind. Witnesses believe there are two destinations for those saved by God. They say the number of Christians going to heaven is limited to precisely 144,000, who will rule with Jesus as kings and priests over earth. The remainder have the hope of living forever in an earthly paradise. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that only they meet scriptural requirements for surviving Armageddon, although God is the final judge. During the millennium, most other people who died since the time of Abel will be resurrected with the prospect of living forever; they will be taught the proper way to worship God in order for them to be ready for their final test before the end of the millennium.

God's Messianic Kingdom


Witness publications teach that God's Kingdom is a government in heaven, ruled by Jesus Christ and 144,000 Christians drawn from the earth. The kingdom is viewed as the means by which God will accomplish his original purpose for the earth, bringing about a world free of crime, sickness, death and poverty, ultimately transforming earth into a paradise. The kingdom is said to have been the focal point of Jesus' ministry on earth and established in heaven in 1914.

Eschatology



A central teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses is that the current world era, or "system of things", entered its "last days" in 1914 and faces imminent destruction through intervention by God and Jesus Christ, leading to deliverance for those who worship God in truth. This judgment will begin with the destruction by the United Nations of false religion, which they identify as "Babylon the Great", or the "harlot", of Revelation 17. This development will mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Satan will subsequently attack Jehovah's Witnesses, an action that will prompt God to begin the war of Armageddon, during which all forms of government and all people not counted as Christ's "sheep", or true followers, will be destroyed. After Armageddon, God will extend his heavenly kingdom to include earth, which will be transformed into a paradise similar to the Garden of Eden. After Armageddon, most of those who had died prior to God's intervention will gradually be resurrected to a "day of judgment" lasting for the thousand years referred to in Revelation 20. This judgment will be based on their actions after resurrection, not on past deeds. At the end of the thousand years a final test will take place when Satan is brought back to mislead perfect mankind. The end result will be a fully tested, glorified human race.
Christ will then hand all authority back to God.

Watch Tower Society publications teach that Jesus Christ returned invisibly and began to rule in heaven as king in October 1914. The resulting ouster of Satan from heaven to the earth has brought a period of "woe" to mankind, as prophesied in Revelation 12. They assert that the Greek word ''parousia'' (translated in most English Bible translations as "coming" when referring to Christ) is more accurately rendered as "presence," with his return perceived only as a series of "signs". Thus this Second Coming would be an invisible presence, lasting for an extended time.

Practices





Worship


Meetings for worship and study are held at Kingdom Halls. Witnesses are assigned to a congregation in whose "territory" they reside and are expected to attend weekly services they refer to as "meetings" as scheduled by congregation elders. The meetings are largely devoted to study of the Bible and Watch Tower Society literature. The form and content of the meetings is established by the religion's Brooklyn headquarters, with the content of meetings in any week largely identical around the world. Congregations meet for two sessions each week comprising five distinct meetings that total about three-and-a-half hours, typically gathering mid-week (two meetings) and on the weekend (two meetings). Meetings are opened and closed with songs and brief prayers delivered from the platform. The Kingdom Halls are typically functional in character, and do not contain religious symbols. Each year, Witnesses from a number of congregations that form a "circuit" gather for one-day and two-day assemblies. Several circuits meet once a year for a three-day "district convention", usually 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".

Evangelism


Jehovah's Witnesses are perhaps best known for their efforts to spread their beliefs, most notably by visiting people from house to house. They do this as they believe Jesus instructed and set the example to preach. Free home Bible studies are offered to people who show interest in their beliefs, which they present with the aid of their publications, such as ''The Watchtower''. Literature is published in many languages through a wide variety of books, magazines and other publications, with a small selection available in over 440 languages. Witnesses are instructed to devote as much time as possible to preaching activities, and are required to provide a monthly report to their congregation on their 'witnessing' activity.

Ethics and morality



Their view of morality reflects conservative Christian values. All sexual relations outside of marriage are grounds for expulsion (''disfellowshipping'') if the accused is not deemed repentant."Imitate Jehovah—Exercise Justice and Righteousness", ''The Watchtower'', August 1, 1998, page 16. Abortion is considered murder. Modesty in dress and grooming is frequently emphasised. Gambling, drunkenness, illegal drugs, and tobacco use are forbidden. Drinking of alcoholic beverages is permitted in moderation.

The family structure is patriarchal. The husband is considered the final authority on family decisions, but is encouraged to solicit his wife's thoughts and feelings, as well as those of his children. Marriages are required to be monogamous. Divorce is permissible only for adultery; such a divorce is referred to as "a Scriptural divorce". If a divorce is obtained for any other reason, remarriage is considered adultery while the previous spouse is still alive and has not begun another sexual relationship. Extreme physical abuse, willful non-support of one's family, and what the religion terms "absolute endangerment of spirituality" are considered grounds for legal separation and legal divorce.

Disciplinary action



Formal discipline is administered by congregation elders. When an accusation of what they term "serious sin" is made concerning a baptised member, a tribunal or judicial committee is formed to determine guilt, administer help and possibly apply sanctions. ''Disfellowshipping'', a form of shunning, is the most severe form of discipline administered. Contact with disfellowshipped individuals is limited to direct family members living in the same home, and with congregation elders who annually invite disfellowshipped persons to apply for reinstatement; formal business dealings may continue if contractually or financially obliged. By avoiding most social and all spiritual interaction with a disfellowshipped former adherent, Witnesses state that the congregation is kept free from immoral influence and wrong-doers may be shamed into repentance, but the threat of shunning also serves to deter other members from dissident behaviour. ''Reproof'' is given formally by a judicial committee to a baptised Witness who is considered repentant for some act of “serious sin”; the reproved person temporarily loses conspicuous ''privileges of service'', but suffers no restriction of social or spiritual fellowship. ''Marking'' is practiced if a baptised adherent persists in a course of action regarded as a violation of Bible principles but not a “serious sin”. Elders assign two elders to “correct” the person; if the person continues the same course, an elder delivers a congregation talk regarding “marking” (that is, their application of [http://watchtower.org/bible/2th/chapter_003.htm#bk14 2 Thessalonians 3:14]) and the Bible principle being violated. Members familiar with the marked person’s course of action are expected to limit social fellowship (but continue spiritual fellowship) with that person; the stated purpose is to shame the person into correcting their actions.

Separateness




Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Bible condemns the mixing of religions on the basis that there can only be one truth from God. They believe that only their religion represents true Christianity, and that all other religions fail to meet all the requirements set by God and will be destroyed, and therefore reject interfaith and ecumenical movements. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught it is vital they remain "separate from the world." 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 and a place of danger and moral contamination. Because of perceived dangers from "worldly" association, Witnesses are advised to minimise social contact with non-members to better maintain their own standards of morality.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe their highest allegiance belongs to God's Kingdom, which is viewed as an actual government in heaven, hence they remain politically neutral, do not seek public office and are discouraged from voting, though individual members may participate in uncontroversial community improvement issues. They abstain from celebrating religious holidays and birthdays and reject many customs they claim have pagan origins. They do not work in industries associated with the military, do not serve in the armed services and refuse national military service, which in some countries may result in their arrest and imprisonment. They do not salute or pledge allegiance to flags or sing national anthems or patriotic songs.

Rejection of blood transfusions




Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, which they consider a violation of God's law based on their interpretation of Acts 15:28, 29 and other scriptures. Since 1961 the acceptance of a blood transfusion has been grounds for expulsion from the religion. Watch Tower literature directs Witnesses to refuse transfusions in all cases including when death may result. Jehovah's Witnesses do accept non-blood alternatives, and other life-saving measures, in lieu of blood transfusions. Jehovah's Witnesses stand on blood transfusions have contributed to advancements in bloodless surgery, which have made possible many operations and procedures without blood.

Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma, though they may accept certain fractions made from these components at their own discretion. The Watch Tower Society provides members with Power of Attorney documents to indicate which optional fractions they accept, with preformatted wording prohibiting major components. If a fraction "makes up a significant portion of that component" or "carries out the key function of a primary component", it may be objectionable to some, but is permissible. Jehovah's Witnesses have established Hospital Liaison Committees as a cooperative arrangement between individual Jehovah's Witnesses and medical professionals and hospitals.

Demographics





Jehovah's Witnesses have an active presence in most countries, though they do not form a large part of the population of any country. As of February 2008, Jehovah's Witnesses have an average of 7.2million "publishers", the term they use for members actively involved in preaching. In 2007, these reports indicated a total of over 1.3 billion hours spent in preaching and Bible study activity. Since the mid-1990s, the number of peak publishers has increased from 4.5million to 7.2million, though there has been a decline in growth rates, from over 8% per annum in the mid 1970s, to 5% per annum in the mid 1990s, to about 2%–3% per annum since 1999. The official published membership statistics only include those who have reported preaching activity, and do not include "inactive" and disfellowshipped members, and any who have either not been involved in preaching or have not submitted reports. Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of all religious traditions in the United States. A 2008 study in the United States reported that only about one-third who self-identified their upbringing as "Jehovah’s Witnesses" still identify themselves with the religion as adults. The convert retention rate among Jehovah's Witnesses however, is one of the highest, reaching into the 90th percentile, though only about half the number who self-identify as Jehovah's Witnesses in the study are actually considered "active" by the faith itself.

Main publications used





The publishing arm of Jehovah's Witnesses, known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, engages in extensive publishing work, with the production of books, brochures, and other media. The most widespread are:
* ''New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures'', (1961, revised 1984) a translation of the Bible by the New World Bible Translation Committee. It extensively uses the name ''Jehovah'', an English version of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, also replacing the Greek word for "Lord" 237 times in the New Testament. It is available in 72 languages.
* ''The Watchtower'', a 32-page magazine, published since 1879, for use in the public ministry; published twice per month, on the 1st and a 15th of each month. From 2008 onward, the issue published on the 15th of each month is a Study Edition for use at the Watchtower Study and not used in the public ministry. It is available in 171 languages.
* ''Awake!'', a 32-page general interest magazine, with a wider scope than ''The Watchtower'', usually including articles on science, nature, and geography, usually with a religious slant. Earlier titles for this magazine were ''The Golden Age'' (1919–1937) and ''Consolation'' (1937–1946). Until 2005, ''Awake!'' was published on the 8th and 22nd of each month; from 2006 onwards, one issue is published each month. It is available in 81 languages.
* ''What Does the Bible Really Teach?'', (2005) the textbook used to conduct Bible studies. It is available in 176 languages.
* ''Keep Yourselves in God's Love'' (2008), used for Bible studies with people who have completed ''What Does the Bible Really Teach?''

Criticism and controversies




Jehovah's Witnesses have attracted criticism over issues surrounding their Bible translation, doctrines, their handling of sexual abuse cases and what is claimed to be coercion of members.

Biblical criticisms


The Watch Tower Society has been criticised for its refusal to reveal the names and academic credentials of the translators of its ''New World Translation'' of the Bible. The society has claimed members of the translation committee wished to remain anonymous in order to exalt only the name of God, while''The Watchtower'' said the educational qualifications of the translators were unimportant and that "the translation itself testifies to their qualifications". However former Governing Body member Raymond Franz has claimed that only one member of the translation committee had sufficient qualifications for the task.

Some Bible scholars have noted that the translation of certain texts may be biased in favour of certain Witness practices and doctrinesSee Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, 2003, ''The New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses'', accessible [http://www.johnankerberg.org/Articles/ATRI-Bible-School/Fall-Bible-School/fall-bible-school-jw-new-world-translation.htm online] and theologians have also criticised the translators' insertion of the name ''Jehovah'' 237 times in the New Testament in places where the term is not used in the extant Greek manuscripts.G. HÉBERT/EDS, "Jehovah's Witnesses", ''The New Catholic Encyclopedia,'' Gale, 20052, Vol. 7, p. 751. Watch Tower publications have said the name was "restored" on a sound basis, particularly when New Testament writers used the Greek ''Kyrios'' (Lord) when quoting earlier Old Testament scriptures that contained the Tetragrammaton.
The translation has also been criticised for favouring literalist interpretation over the poetic qualities of original texts.

Doctrinal criticisms


The Watch Tower Society has made various predictions about the coming of Armageddon and Christ's millennial reign, raising expectations of their imminence in the years leading up to 1914, 1925, and 1975. As a result, the organization has been accused of making false predictions. These accusations focus on the Watch Tower Society's claims to be God's "prophet organisation" – and its expectation that members should place unwavering trust in its predictions – while at the same time accusing other religions of being false prophets.

Former Witnesses have criticised the Watch Tower Society for altering doctrines that had been previously claimed to be "the truth" and for abandoning teachings, many involving Bible chronology, that it had earlier claimed to be beyond question. Watch Tower Society publications counter that there can be only one truth, hence only one true religion. It says its explanations of Bible prophecy are not infallible and that its predictions were not claimed as "the words of Jehovah". It admits some of its expectations have needed adjustment because of its eagerness for God's Kingdom, but that those adjustments are no reason to "call into question the whole body of truth".

Social criticisms


Former Governing Body member Raymond Franz claims the religion's emphasis on its "theocratic" organization is designed to exercise control over all aspects of the lives of Jehovah's WitnessesR. Franz, ''In Search of Christian Freedom'', chapter 17. and condition them to think it is wrong for them to question statements by the Watch Tower Society.R. Franz, ''In Search of Christian Freedom'', chapter 4. Watch Tower literature warns against the "dangers" and "infection" of "independent thinking", such as questioning the counsel it provides and warns Witnesses against studying the Bible, either alone or in small groups, without the Society's direction through its literature. Critics including Franz claim that the Watch Tower Society's firm discouragement of members to read criticism of the organization or scriptural material published by other religions creates a form of mental isolation that has been cited as an element of mind control.R. Franz, "In Search if Christian Freedom", chapter 12

Watch Tower publications claim "true Christians ... have always considered participation in the preaching work to be a matter of loyalty to God and a fundamental requirement of their faith", and that God appreciates the efforts of those who are limited by old age and poor health. Raymond Franz and others have described the Watch Tower Society's continual admonitions to Witnesses that they devote increasing amounts of time to door-to-door preaching as coercive pressure under the false belief that it follows a pattern set by Jesus and the apostles.R. Franz, ''In Search of Christian Freedom'', chapter 6.

Medical and legal commentators have also noted cases of Witness medical patients being coerced to obey the religion's ban on blood transfusions.

Handling of sexual abuse allegations




Critics such as Silentlambs have accused Jehovah's Witnesses of employing organizational policies that make the reporting of sexual abuse difficult for members. Some victims of sexual abuse have asserted that they were ordered by local elders to maintain silence so as to avoid embarrassment to both the accused and the organization.[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/04/29/eveningnews/main551557.shtml "Another Church Sex Scandal"] (April 29, 2003). ''CBS News''.

Since May 2002 the Watch Tower Society has instructed elders to report allegations of child abuse to the authorities where required by law to do so, even where there was only one witness and changed policy to ban any person guilty of sexual abuse from receiving any responsibility inside the organization. Unless considered by the congregation elders to demonstrate repentance, such a person is typically disfellowshipped. The Watch Tower Society describes child abuse as "abhorrent" and instructs elders to investigate all allegations of child abuse and take congregational action if there is sufficient evidence. If there is not sufficient evidence, elders are required to report the matter to authorities and to their local Watch Tower branch office. It says victims of abuse have the "absolute right" to report allegations to authorities.


Source: Wikipedia