The religious group known as Jehovah's Witnesses is but one of literally thousands of Christian denominations worldwide, but it's an intriguing and unique faith in a number of ways. Laura Ling explains in today's Seeker Daily dispatch.
Jehovah's Witnesses are a relatively new religious group, founded in the late 1800s, about 40 years after Mormonism took hold in the American West. The group's origins can be traced to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where founder Charles Taze Russell formed a Bible study group in 1870.
Like many other Biblical scholars and religious leaders of the time, Taze had his own interpretation of the Bible, and he wanted to spread the word. He believed that the prophesied end times were drawing were near and published his ideas in a journal The Watchtower.
After Russell's death, the ministry split into two. Former judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford led the group that would later rename itself Jehovah's Witnesses, operating out of Brooklyn, New York. The religion now claims more than 8 million adherents worldwide.
RELATED: How Powerful Is The Mormon Church?
Russell's initial end-times prophecy continued to drive the group's beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Satan was thrown out of heaven and came to Earth around October 1, 1914. Armageddon, therefore, would occur during the lifetimes of those alive in the year 1914. The group's tradition of door-to-door evangelism springs from this concept -- the situation being rather urgent, you see.
The prophecy was revised in 1995, with no clear time frame established for the end of the world -- although eschatological concerns remain an important part of the Jehovah Witnesses' faith. The group also rejects the mainline Christian belief in the Trinity, and group members do not celebrate Christmas.
In 1945, church leaders established that Witnesses could not give or receive blood transfusions, based on a jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovahs-witnesses-why-no-blood-transfusions/">particular reading of a Bible scripture in which blood is held sacred. Check out Laura's report for more details, or you can browse the group's officially pubished doctrine and history via the website jw.org.
-- Glenn McDonald
Jehovah's Witnesses: Should You Believe In The Trinity?
Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: Jehovah's Witnesses' History
Pew Research: A closer look at Jehovah's Witnesses living in the U.S.
WNPR: Get To Know the Jehovah's Witnesses