What Is a Jehovah's Witness?


Quick Answer

A Jehovah's Witness is a member of The Watchtower Society, which is a branch of Christianity founded in the 1870s in Pittsburgh, Pa. The original founder was Charles Taze Russell but much of the modern organization was developed in the early 1900s under Joseph Franklin Rutherford. As of 2014, there are an estimated 7.9 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide, with the largest concentration found in the United States.

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What Is a Jehovah's Witness?
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Full Answer

Jehovah's Witnesses practice an evangelical type of Christianity and go door to door to proselytize about their religious beliefs, which have many notable differences from mainstream Christianity. Jehovah's Witnesses reject the idea of the Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. They also reject the idea of hell and hold that condemned souls are completely annihilated. In the final judgment of humanity, they hold that 144,000 people are destined for heaven, and the rest of the saved people remain on Earth.

Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate most holidays, such as Christmas and birthdays. They do not allow blood transfusions, even in life-or-death situations. They do not participate in politics and do not serve in the military on the basis of being conscientious objectors. They require baptism for membership and practice baptism by total immersion.

Jehovah's Witnesses who commit serious offenses can be punished by a kind of shunning called "disfellowshipping." This kind of shunning extends to members who disassociate themselves from the religion.

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