Term Paper – Studying Culture Culutural Anthropology (ANT 5) Jehovah’s Witnesses: True Religion or Cult Jehovah’s Witnesses is a set of beliefs and traditions, that it should be considered a religion. Sometimes the beliefs that Witnesses hold dear to them puts them at odds with mainstream society. While millions around the world practice the religion of being a Jehovah’s Witness, is this a true religion or a cult. I believe a religion is a set of stories, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural quality.
In a sense, Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed a part of a particular religion, and from an objective and understanding standpoint, it should be considered as is. They have their own beliefs and traditions, rituals and prayers that really distinguish them from other religions, hence making them their own religion. Charles Taze Russell who officially founded Jehovah’s Witnesses, also known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1884. Jehovah Witness leadership claims its members by asserting itself to be the sole Christian religion and authority on the earth today, as well as God’s mouthpiece or prophet.
They are encouraged to go door to door sharing their beliefs of the religion and inviting potential new members to come and fellowship with them. Growing up this action would always annoy me, because it seemed like they were pushing a particular religion on people. But that no different from the Christian missionaries when you think about it. Jehovah’s Witnesses has a set of different beliefs and traditions than what is normally taught in other Christian religions. My step-father grew up following the Witness religion, his family still practices but he has converted to Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity, they also do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. They add the word “other” four times to Colossians 1:16, 17, teaching that Christ was God’s first creation, i. e. , the reincarnation of Michael the archangel created by Jehovah, rather than the Creator. ” says Rodney Kirkland, when asked what makes Jehovah’s Witness religion different from Christianity. I decided to call my step-father because he knew a lot about the religion, but he could be unbiased.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jehovah transferred the life force and the personality pattern of his first-born heavenly son, Michael, to the womb of Mary. God’s own active force, his holy spirit, safeguarded the development of the child in Mary’s womb so that what was born was a “perfect human”. “Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to spend five hours a week doing door-to-door visitation and are responsible for selling twelve subscriptions to The Watchtower magazine each month, and are responsible for conducting a Bible study each month in the homes of the people they convert.
I hated this growing up, like it something a kid shouldn’t have to be apart of. ” says Kirkland. According to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ theology, a person has one of three possible destinies. The Anointed will be in heaven to reign with Jehovah God. The rest of the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will live forever on a paradise Earth. They believe Jehovah God will destroy those people who are not members of the Watchtower organization. Hearing things like that it sounds like something out of Harry Potter. There is no concept of eternal punishment or hell in Watchtower theology.
They also believe that men will have a second chance, after death, to be saved. That’s kind of sexiest if you ask me, but that typical is most religion. Women are rarely on the same level as men. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the immortality of the soul. They do not believe the soul can exist apart from the body, but that a corpse remains in an unconscious state in the grave waiting for the resurrection. They claim that “hell” is the grave. Jehovah’s Witnesses will not accept blood for any reason. This raises a lot of eye brows in the medical world, because sometimes this could mean life or death.
However, they are allowed to have all the component parts of blood plasma. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate any holidays or birthdays. “When I was younger I would go into hiding around the holidays. We didn’t celebrate anything in my house. I didn’t even get a damn cake on my birthday. The most we would do is celebrate a wedding anniversary. ” states Rodney. They believe that this is a concept that the world started and it is not stated in the “New Translation Bible” that they are to do anything that is not written for them to do.
Jehovah’s Witnesses go to the extreme to promote their so-called “beliefs,” making them technically “outside of the mainstream. ” In this sense, they have a lot of negative images and attention. Even so, they could just as well be classified as a cult, merely because of the extent to which they carry out their practices. Please do not be offended by this. However, when a group claims to be the prophet of God, yet mistranslates the Bible, takes verses out of context, makes false prophecies, and misquotes all to make its position valid, its credibility is lost. It cannot be from God.
Claiming that people must “come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation” the Watch Tower Society places great pressure on Jehovah’s Witnesses to perform according to their guidelines. I have very strong views towards this religion because it was so close to me, but I never understood it. I decided to put my foot where my mouth is and go out with my step-grandmother and her “sisters” on one of their door to door outings. Most of the women were actually sweet and inviting but not all of them. I was treated like an outsider because they were aware of my research party.
I wasn’t able to go up to the door an actually hear what they were saying, which was fine with me. I did witness the slamming of the doors, the rudeness from the Philadelphia citizens of North Philadelphia. I did notice that Jehovah’s Witnesses is a predominately African-American religion. I wonder why is that? The most popular Jehovah’s Witness family would have to the Jacksons. But they aren’t highly favored by the whole Jehovah’s Witness community, due to their music and their appearances. “My mother hated when I would listen to Janet & Michael Jackson.
She always would say ‘those aren’t real Witnesses’, I never understood her until I got older. ” states Rodney Kirkland’s younger brother John Kirkland Jr. I reached out to John because he still practices the religion down in Orlando, Florida. Witnesses are forbidden to serve in the military, salute the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, vote in elections, take blood transfusions, celebrate birthdays and holidays including Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, and are forbidden to read literature critical of the organization.
Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have also been discouraged from associating with non-Jehovah’s Witness friends, participating in after school activities such as sports, and furthering their education by going to college. From door to door preaching, the refusal of blood transfusions, and the ignorance and dismissal of the requirements of military service, they have truly alienated themselves and singled themselves out from the other “main religions” of the world.
In general, a Cult typically refers to a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding population considers to be outside the mainstream. In 1950, the Watch Tower Society came out with their own translation of the Bible, the New World Translation. Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that this translation is the most accurate, unbiased translation available. The Society claims that the New World Translation Committee was made up of highly trained Greek scholars who did their best to “transmit his God’s thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible. However, when one attempts to check into the credentials of these translators, one finds that the Society is unwilling to release this information, stating that the Committee desires that all the glory for this translation go to Jehovah God and therefore the translators desire to remain anonymous. Over the years, further investigation has revealed who the translators of the New World Translation were, and the facts show that they were totally unqualified for the task of translation. Five of the six Watchtower Governing Body members who were on the Translation Committee had no formal training whatsoever in the Biblical languages.
Like all non-Christian cults, the Jehovah’s Witness organization distorts the essential documents of Christianity. It denies the life of Christ, His physical resurrection, and salvation by grace. This alone makes it non-Christian. As a Jehovah’s Witness, you are only encouraged to study what the Watchtower and Awake magazines tell you to study. That means you cannot really check up on its false prophecies on your own. Instead, you must trust what it tells. When someone disagrees with them, they are conditioned to reflect on what the Watchtower has told them.
They are strongly encouraged to have friends and acquaintances that are only Jehovah’s Witnesses, thereby keeping outside examination to a minimum. They are told to shun those who leave their group, that way; there is no way to see why someone has left and no way to find out that they are in error from those who have found the truth in Christ. “My family wasn’t that supportive of my marriage to your mother because she wasn’t Jehovah’s Witness. Since my family is more easy going since times have changed so much, they ended up coming around.
But some people that grew up with don’t talk to me anymore because of my choices” says Rodney. They are conditioned to shy away from any real biblically knowledgeable person. The Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves to be Christians because they believe they are serving the true and living God. Like many cults, they think they are the only true church on earth. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are discouraged from looking into Jehovah’s Witness history. Lies and suppression of facts are common in politics and business, but one expects to find honesty in those who claim to be speaking for God.
You do not have to go to church to be religious in my opinion. I was raised Baptist and consider myself more spiritual than religious. In a nation more inclined toward belief than dependence, religious observance is a matter of private choice. It cannot be compelled by the state or by an established church.
Works Cited Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. The Facts On Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eugene, Or. : Harvest House, 1988. Print. Clark, Daniel. I, Witness: The Shocking Insider’s Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Englewood, Colo. : Villa, 2007. Print.