We see them patrolling neighborhoods and sometimes we have the misfortune of answering the door for them, but until very recently, I knew very little about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It took a friend’s divorce from her husband and disfellowship from the church for her to openly talk about what’s really going on within the organization. And that’s one of the first things that I was surprised to learn, actually:
1.) The Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Not a Religion
They’re an organization. They don’t call themselves a church and very rarely do they even use the R word (religion). They worship in a building called the Kingdom Hall, which is governed by a group of male superiors called Elders. Instead of tithings, Kingdom Halls are funded by private donors (but don’t worry, they still get a nice federal tax exemption from the IRS).
Jehovah’s Witnesses have several rules they must follow, Number One being to believe everything presented to them by their governing body (Elders), even if such beliefs were changed from past understandings or even if such beliefs will change with future understandings. Their interpretation of the bible is fluctuating and if you ever challenge their teachings, you will likely be disfellowed for spreading propaganda and labeled an apostate.
2.) They Really Do Not Like Outsiders
Unlike most religions that preach to love thy neighbor, Jehovah’s Witness practice conditional love. They are to distance themselves from non-witnesses and send disfellowshipped members (apostates) into exile. This is not just inside the congregation, but within family as well. If your child leaves the organization, you are to accept Jehovah’s discipline for their apostasy. You are not to give in to apostates, for that is disloyal to Jehovah.
3.) Women Are Not Treated As Equals
As per Jehovah, women are blatantly second to their male counterparts. A woman’s role as wife is to support her husband and all his decisions 100%. This is also how domestic violence is handled. Women are required to cover their heads when praying in front of men and to teach their children to adore their father.
4.) There Is a Two-Witness Rule Within the Congregation
Meaning that if a woman accuses a man of rape and no one else was there to see it, the Elders will not investigate it. This is true for every act of abuse within the congregation, even against children. Even if there was 1 witness and the abuser was found guilty by the Elders, it’s not likely that the real authorities will be called. He will most likely be asked to rejoin the church when his exile is up and his victim will be asked to forget it ever happened and accept him as part of the flock.
5.) They Have Their Own Marriage Laws
Within the organization, marriage is not only a physical bond but an eternal one. The only acceptable reason for divorce it’s adultery. After a divorce, only the man is allowed to remarry, and the bride-to-be cannot have been previously married. In rare cases of severe abuse, a woman can divorce her husband if her life was seriously in danger. Which brings us to…
6.) They Really, REALLY Don’t Like It When You Leave Without Saying Goodbye
For any reason, if you leave the organization without notifying the Elders for your departure, they will hunt you down and interrogate you. For example, Erin left Joe. Joe files for divorce and Erin leaves the organization. Joe tells the Elders that Erin committed adultery, but without a second witness, it’s not validated and Joe loses privileges within the Kingdom Hall. So the Elders will seek out Erin to see if she has really committed adultery, usually by deploying their own agents to spy on her and harass her. If she corroborates Joe’s story, he regains privileges. If not, he remains on probation for an unforeseen amount of time.
7.) They Will Not Date You If You’re Not A Member
JW’s only date with expectation for marriage. Courtship is usually less than a year and all dates are accompanied by a chaperone. No intercourse, or outercourse for that matter, is permissible before marriage. Things really don’t hear up much after marriage either. Oral and anal sex aren’t allowed, and neither is touching of the genitals and breasts. For many women, this means a severe lack of sexual gratification. If living this isn’t bad enough, a woman will be stuck with her husband in paradise for eternity. With leads me to heaven…
8.) They Don’t Believe in Salvation
Very specifically, only 144,000 people, all Jehovah’s Witness, will make it into heaven. The rest will either be destroyed when Jesus cleans the world of bad people or live in paradise on earth. The special 144,000 chosen to dwell in heaven beside Jesus will take care of those on Earth and make sure they’re happy.
9.) Those Ones That Knock On Your Door? They’re Required To Do That
Men are assigned to mandatory field service work, knocking on doors to share the good news of Jehovah. They are sent to recruit and indoctrinate people in their own homes, using literature published by The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Keeping the literature they offer you means that they’ll come back for a “bible study”, except that what they read from is not actually the bible. Watchtower is Jehovah-interpreted scripture to for their beliefs.
Each field member has a quota to meet, and must report all data from each residence visited, videos shown, literature dispersed, etc. All of this is very time consuming work, but none of it is paid work.
Luckily, there are JW apps now to keep track of all that info for your Elders.
For ways to keep Jehovah’s Witnesses from returning to your home, visit www.miskeptics.org