Do you think that the JW religion will die out?

by i_drank_the_wine 7 Replies latest jw friends

  • i_drank_the_wine

    While the number of JW's reported every year is still growing, it doesn't seem to really be growing as fast as they once did.

    Do you think that they will eventually level off and then decline? Perhaps to nothing?

    Some of this was based on the stats on this page I was reading: Granted, statistics can be presented in whatever light the author is trying to represent (look at the way the JW's massage their statistics to always be favorable).

    Of particular interest was their deductive math to find the number of people leaving yearly, which is pretty considerable.

    A popular PEW research study that lots of you probably heard about a couple years ago stated that JW's have the lowest family retention rate of any other mainstream religion.

    Combine the aging JW populace, the number of people leaving every year, the slowing growth rate numbers, the mindset held by many to "not have children in this system", the children that are had are only staying JW's roughly 1/3rd of the time according to statistics, the end never coming... add 20, 30 years? Could the JW's actually, for all intents and purposes, die out?

  • steve2

    Never under-estimate the world's need to be deluded. Religious affiliation is not primarily based on a rational decision, but driven by keenly felt needs and desires (e.g., for certainty in an uncertain world, for soothing when feeling distressed, for hope when all seems lost). Few needs and desires are governed by pure reason and logic, otherwise we'd never move beyond the talking snake in the garden of Eden. Of course, many 'western' religions wear a coat of reason - but it is thread-bare when push comes to shove. The reason religions such as JWs make such a big thing about 'apostates' is that reason has severe and sometimes embarrassing limits (e.g., 'lots of questions can't be asked because that would be running ahead of Jehovah' I say, embarrassing)

    Also, just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way for a religion to 'end'. The JWs themselves arose out of the dying embers of the first burst of the date-centred millenialist movement in the USA in the 19th Century. In actuality, no group arises out of nowhere. It's almost always made up of the remants of what went before it. In the States today, you'll still find splinter groups from Charles Russell.

    Don't expect the JWs to die out. Expect them to adapt and fractionate. It happens to all groups sooner or later. Remember, the Church of England (Anglicans, Episcopalians, I think in the US) arose out of Catholicism.

  • dozy

    The society nearly died out after the failed 1925 prophecy when about 75% of members left. It could well have been left as a minor rump of a religion , a bit like the bible students , with a couple of thousand members and a few churches scattered around NY state & Pennsyvania.

    But now , with over 7 million publishers and a large infrastructure , it has long since reached a critical mass. With millions of heavily conditioned followers and a large outreach evangelical program , my best guess is that it will continue to grow , especially in 3rd world countries , albeit at a marginal 2% a year rate or so. It is in long term decline in Europe & Japan but this is more than offset by growth in other lands.

    Even a "black swan" event , such as a major schism , dramatic new light (such as a climbdown on blood transfusions) or big scandal would barely shake off a million members. After 1975 a few hundred thousand left , but these were mainly new ones who had signed up in the early 70's.

    Although I think the leadership of JWs are deluded and often quite amateurish , it doesn't take a tremendous level of competence to run a religion once it reaches a certain size. And they can carry on promoting the "Armageddon is just round the corner" line for many decades to come , as they have done successfully for over 130 years so far.

  • james_woods

    Of course, the temple in Athens is still there (in ruins) - and to my knowledge, nobody seriously worships Athena any more.

  • No Room For George
    No Room For George
    Of course, the temple in Athens is still there (in ruins) - and to my knowledge, nobody seriously worships Athena any more.

    Speak for yourself brother.

  • Giordano

    We have two KHs in our small city (Pop 7,000) Now one is up for sale and the plan is to share space with other. We have had a very stable population for 20 years now so they are losing support. Either because of an aging population vs lack of converts, or too many DF & DA. Or too many born-ins leaving.

    They will linger on for a while yet but one serious mistep and the great sumbling may be on them.

  • JamesThomas

    I feel that dozy laid it out extremely well. It may be slowing, but there is a huge amount of momentum behind the JW juggernaut.

  • ABibleStudent

    I hope and believe that membership in the WTBTS will start falling by 2016. I wrote a thread ( about this on the JWSF on March 18, 2011. My conclusion was "Statistical analysis of the WTBTS’ annual reports shows that the WTBTS’ is expending more resources to convert fewer JW’s from 1960 to 2010." Around 1994 publisher growth numbers took a dramatic change about the time that everyone was starting to use the internet. I also predicted "that publishers in the WTBTS will peak within 5 years and decline rapidly if the WTBTS does not change its policies and practices to reduce the burden of JWs."

    Since 72% of JWs are in 20 countries and that 31% of JWs are in G8 countries (according to the 2010 Annual Report), I would guess that if WTBTS contributions start falling in developed countries it really won't matter to the WTBTS that their numbers are growing in undeveloped countries. The WTBTS is a publishing and distribution corporation, so income and expenses are very important to the WTBTS accountants and business managers. Printing more literature for members who do not contribute very much is not economically sustainable.

    I hope and pray that more ex-JWs reach out to their JW family members and show them how fun, joyful, and meaningful life is without the WTBTS to hasten more JWs leaving the WTBTS.

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,


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