Jehovah's Witnesses

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Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual Memorial attendance of over 18 million. They are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, a group of elders that exercises authority on all doctrinal matters. Witnesses base their beliefs on the Bible, and prefer 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 formation of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society. A schism developed in the movement after Russell's death, and the branch that maintained control of the society underwent significant organizational changes. Joseph Franklin Rutherford became president of the society, gradually bringing its authority structure and methods of evangelism under centralized direction, and placing new emphasis on public preaching. The name Jehovah's witnesses, based on Isaiah 43:1012, was adopted in 1931.

Since its inception, the Watch Tower Society has taught that the present world order is in its last day and will soon be destroyed at Armageddon; in the years leading up to 1914, 1925 and 1975, its publications raised expectations of Armageddon or the establishment of Christ's kingdom over the earth occurring in those years. According to the society, only Jehovah's Witnesses "have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end", but that God will ultimately decide who will survive. Those whom God chooses to save—survivors and resurrected individuals—will have the opportunity to live forever in an earthly paradise, ruled by Christ and 144,000 humans raised to heaven.

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. They consider use of the name Jehovah vital for proper worship. They reject Trinitarianism, immortality of the soul, and hellfire, which they consider to be unscriptural doctrines. They do not observe celebrations such as Christmas, Easter or birthdays, which they believe have pagan origins that are not compatible with Christianity. Members commonly refer to their body of beliefs as "the Truth", and adherents consider themselves to be "in the Truth". Jehovah's Witnesses consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan, and limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses.

Baptized members who violate the organization's fundamental moral principles or who dispute doctrinal matters may be subject to disciplinary action. Members who are considered unrepentant after counseling are subject to a form of shunning called disfellowshipping. Members who formally announce their resignation from the religion are also shunned. Disfellowshipped members may eventually be reinstated to the congregation if deemed repentant.

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. Consequently, activities of Jehovah's Witnesses have been banned or restricted in some countries.

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Sexual abuse allegations

Main article: Jehovah's Witnesses and child sex abuse

Some critics 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 also asserted that they were ordered by local elders to maintain silence so as to avoid embarrassment to both the accused and the organization. Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that they have no policy of silence, and that elders are directed to report abuse to authorities when there is evidence of abuse, and when required to by law. In 1997, Jehovah's Witnesses' Office of Public Information published their policy for elders to report allegations of child abuse to the authorities where required by law to do so, even if there was only one witness. Any person known to have sexually abused a child is prohibited from holding any responsibility inside the organization. Unless considered by the congregation elders to demonstrate repentance, such a person is typically disfellowshipped.

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Exposing Jehovah's Witnesses

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