In my experience during my time as a Jehovah’s Witness, a lot of the group’s beliefs were quite well known by the general population. In short, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Armageddon is around the corner, where all the wicked will be destroyed, followed by the beginning of a “paradise earth” under the rule of their organization which they believe has been appointed by God.
These beliefs are relatively harmless and are pretty similar to other religious groups. But what are some of the core beliefs that aren’t usually told to “unbelievers”? In this article, I would like to share some of the core beliefs I once held as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses that I consider taboo today.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they’re the only true religion, and their leaders are chosen by God himself. Armageddon is imminent, and everyone who rejects their teachings will be executed. Blood transfusions are believed to be detestable to God, and Birthdays, Christmas, and most other holidays are pagan.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that those who break the rules imposed by the leadership should be cut off and shunned, even if they’re immediate family members. Read on as I explain why Jehovah’s Witnesses believe what they do, as I break down these core beliefs into five points, starting with the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Governing Body.
1. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they have the one and only true religion and that their Governing Body is appointed by God himself.
Jehovah’s Witnesses must believe and teach that their group has been directly appointed by God and Jesus. “Overseers of Jehovah’s People”, an article in the group’s publication called the Watchtower, instructs Jehovah’s Witnesses to respond to the directions of the Governing Body as if they would the literal voice of God. It is also made clear that only Baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses have any hope for surviving the impending end, as explained in a Watchtower article entitled “Remaining Organized for Survival Into the Millennium”. This was something I really struggled to accept, even as a devout Jehovah’s Witness.
This teaching creates authoritarian leadership that is to be considered the ultimate authority in all aspects of the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Failing to respond to the leadership direction is considered “a rejection of Divine rulership”, another article explains, “You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy”. Instructions from the Governing Body must be obeyed, whether they appear sound from a human standpoint or not.
|“To hold to the headship of Christ, it is therefore necessary to obey the organization that he is personally directing. Doing what the organization says is to do what he says. Resisting the organization is to resist him.”
Watchtower 1959, Attain Completeness in the New World Society [screenshot]
2. Armageddon is imminent, at which time, everyone who rejects the teachings of the group will be executed by their God, Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses might seem like tolerant people at face value, and I thought I was pretty tolerant when I was one of them. However, when you really examine the beliefs and teachings, they paint a completely different picture. For example, an article from the Watchtower publication, entitled “Jehovah’s Day of Judgment Is Near!”, clearly explains that “Annihilation awaits all who will not listen” to the teachings of the group, and those who set themselves against the rule of God’s Kingdom, represented on Earth as the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is no hope of survival for anyone who does not wholly submit themselves to their group’s teachings. An article entitled “Stay Awake and Keep Your Senses”, explains that a sincere person, who waits to see the execution of Jehovah begin before quickly submitting to the group to be spared from death, will be rejected and killed with the rest of the “unbelievers”.
When I was in the process of leaving, I brought this teaching up with fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses to get their opinion. I was shocked when they completely agreed with the teaching and that this is what they believe too. They had no moral objection to this genocidal belief.
What’s more, a statement in a “Questions From Readers” section of the Watchtower publication explains that even innocent children and infants of those who reject the group’s teachings will be executed by their God.
There are countless more quotes from Jehovah’s Witness publications that make this belief crystal clear. Read more Jehovah’s Witness quotes that discuss “Salvation only for Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
3. Members believe that accepting medical blood transfusion is detestable to God, and transgressors must be expelled from the group.
Since 1961, any Jehovah’s Witness who accepts a blood transfusion must be expelled from the group. This means they will be cut off from friends and family, including mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.
Personal choice? or coercion?
The blood doctrine is painted as a “personal choice” to outsiders. Still, in reality, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a choice. When faced with the option of a life-saving blood transfusion, most risk death in fear of being rejected by their God and their family.
Worse still, many don’t even get that choice! The choice is made for them in advance when they are required to sign and carry a “no blood card”, a legal document that forbids any medical personnel from carrying out a blood transfusion in the case of an unconscious patient.
An “Awake!” article entitled “Youths Who Put God First”, blatantly boasts about children who put the teachings of the group above even their own lives, stating that “In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue.”.
Another article in an Awake Article entitled “Government Force in Medical Treatment”, talks about the experience of a mother who was convinced that accepting a blood transfusion would mean that they would be “cast off “, even if it means that her baby must die.
|“But suppose one’s wife or child were near death. Giving blood, no matter who the loved one might be, would still constitute a violation of God’s law. Just because one is near death, this does not give one liberty to break God’s commands… How foolish it would be to gamble away the prospect of life eternal for the very uncertain promise of a cure by blood transfusion!”
Questions That People Ask About Jehovah’s Witnesses
This is all based on the Governing Body’s false interpretation of the Bible’s stance on blood. But, are blood transfusions really against the Bible?
4. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that their God forbids them from having any contact with expelled relatives or friends, including immediate family members.
Jehovahs Witnesses have a rigorous disciplinary process that consists of various levels of punishment. The worst of these punishments is the doctrine of disfellowshipping. Disfellowshipping is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses call expulsion or excommunication. The organization describes disfellowshipping as “the expelling and subsequent shunning of such an unrepentant wrongdoer”.
This doesn’t only apply to obvious wrongdoing such as theft, murder, etc. Rejecting other Jehovah’s Witness “laws”, such as the requirement to refuse blood transfusions or disagreeing with any of the group’s biblical teachings (for example, the destruction of non Jehovah’s Witnesses at an imminent Armageddon), can result in the disfellowshipping of an individual.
To be disfellowshipped means to be expelled from the group, but that’s not all.
Once a person is disfellowshipped, an announcement will be made at the next meeting. Once this announcement is made, all Jehovah’s Witnesses are to completely cut off the individual from any contact. I am embarrassed to admit to having taken part in this shunning policy myself, something I deeply regret.
“Despite our pain of heart”, according to a Watchtower article entitled “The Truth Brings, “Not Peace, But a Sword””, “we must avoid normal contact with a disfellowshipped family member by telephone, text messages, letters, e-mails, or social media”. After the announcement, the disfellowshipped can expect to be unfriended on social media and blocked from messaging and call by everyone who they know who is a Jehovah’s Witnesses. This includes family!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are also constantly reminded that their “beloved family member needs to see your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else – including the family bond.” and that they should not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped relative, even through email.
After attending only a few meetings, some who wonder if this is really practiced to the letter quickly realize how seriously Jehovah’s Witnesses take this policy. The following video is from a Jehovah’s Witness meeting where a young girl is publically interviewed and applauded for shunning her sister.
|“Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes for several reasons. … In other cases, the disfellowshipped relative may be living outside the immediate family circle and home. Although there might be a need for limited contact on some rare occasion to care for a necessary family matter, any such contact should be kept to a minimum.”
Keep Yourself in God’s Love (2008) pp.207,208
5. Birthdays, Christmas, and most other holidays are believed to be pagan, and must not be observed under any circumstances.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that participating in the celebration of most holidays constitutes Apostasy and can result in the disfellowshipping of the individual if they fail to display sufficient repentance. Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden from observing any “Pagan” holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Holloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother/Fathers Day.
This belief extends to other so-called pagan practices such as the act of toasting, saying “bless you” when someone sneezes, throwing confetti and throwing the bouquet at weddings, throwing flowers into a grave, putting up a Christmas tree or decorations, etc.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even allowed to clink their glasses and say cheers. They believe this act is a “tradition[s] based on pagan worship that Jehovah abhors.”
These beliefs are held blindly despite the group allowing many other pagan acts such as a veil on a bride, wedding rings, cutting the wedding cake, piñatas, and using flowers at a funeral. In fact, even shaving, which is compulsory for the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is admittedly a pagan practice, something I hated doing as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will admit that these are their beliefs but will whitewash the doctrine by claiming that failure to comply won’t result in the disfellowshipping of the “offender”. This reasoning has some truth, but it is very misleading. If the offender displays “sufficient repentance”, they will most likely be spared from disfellowshipping.
At the end of the day, anyone who refuses to agree that their actions constituted severe wrongdoing will undoubtedly be punished with disfellowshipping and shunning. This is clearly directed in a confidential document entitled known as “Shepherd the Flock of God”, where the celebration of “false religious holidays, falls under the crime of “apostasy”. This qualifies as an offense that requires a Judicial Decision and means that the elders must meet together and decide to disfellowship the offender or not.
What holidays do Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate?
- MEMORIAL OF JESUS: For the most part, Jehovah’s Witnesses only celebrate the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death but outright reject all traditions related to it, such as easter eggs, easter bunnies, hot cross buns, and all other activities related to Easter. Jehovah’s Witnesses also do not hold any “Sunrise” services over Easter because they believe it is a form of “sun worship”. Jehovah’s Witnesses only celebrate Jesus Christ’s memorial by attending a meeting on the evening of his death.
- WEDDINGS AND WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES: Jehovah’s Witnesses also celebrate weddings and wedding anniversaries. These are the only days appropriate to give and receive gifts and throw a party in celebration of an event.
Jehovah’s Witnesses admittedly hold some very controversial beliefs, and these are discussed quite frequently in the news and other platforms. Most of these are commonly known and are relatively harmless for the most part. However, they distract so-called “unbelievers” from the harmful beliefs held by the Witnesses, that many professionals would qualify this group as a dangerous cult that teaches and enforces destructive beliefs.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses truly believe that they are the one and only true religion and that their leaders are directly appointed by God and should be obeyed as such. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that rejecting the teachings or instructions of the leaders means to reject God himself.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that Armageddon is coming very soon. In fact, many statements imply that this is going to happen in months, not years. When this day comes, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe (and teach) that those who are not baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses will be killed. This includes their children and babies.
- While many outside are well aware of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs on blood transfusions, most are unaware that this is not a matter of “personal choice”. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that to accept a blood transfusion means to be cast off by God and killed at Armageddon. In the meantime, the offender must be expelled and subsequently shunned by their friends and family.
- This brings us to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs on disfellowshipping. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a disfellowshipped person has been rejected by God and will be executed at Armageddon. They also believe that they are required to cut off all contact with the disfellowshipped individual, even if that person is a close relative. This includes mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “strict avoidance is really necessary”.
- Lastly, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and birthdays are pagan and constitute Apostasy and the celebration of false religion. This includes putting up a Christmas tree, saying cheers, making a toast, and even saying “bless you” when someone sneezes! Offenders will be disfellowshipped if they fail to be sufficiently repentant.