"Jehovah's Witnesses" : A religion - or a denomination of a religion?

by The Searcher 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • The Searcher
    The Searcher

    "A Christian denomination is a generic term for a distinct religious body identified by traits such as a common name, structure, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or fellowship." (Wikipedia)

    In other words, when J.W.'s are asked what their religion is, they should reply "Christian," not J.W.

    By saying their religion is "J.W.", they are denying Acts 11:26 which says that followers of Christ are called Christians.

    'Jehovah's Witnesses' is strictly speaking not a religion - it is the name which identifies a religious body or group which is a denomination, sect, or cult of the Christian religion. IMHO.

  • sir82

    There was a "Questions From Readers" in the late 40's or early 50's, something about whether JWs are to be considered a "religion".

    The final answer, after a few hundred (thousand?) words of Franzian blubbery, was "yes, we are a religion".

    That was a big deal then - for decades the JWs proudly declared themselves as NOT a "religion". Thus, for example, they could justify their "religion is a snare and a racket" campaigns.

    With this change in policy, they went from "Jehovah's witnesses" (small w) to "Jehovah's Witnesses" (capital W).

    I don't know for sure why they made this change. I suspect it had to do with some change in US tax law (that would be a fun project for someone to look into - investigate the exact timing of that WT article, and look for changes in tax laws as related to religions that were implemented around that time).

  • Vanderhoven7

    Yes, they are a part of Christendom.

  • darkspilver

    In other words, when J.W.'s are asked what their religion is, they should reply "Christian," not J.W.

    Yes, on a form like a census or such like that asks for 'Religion', a JW would simply say 'Christian'. Same as a Catholic, Episcopalian or Baptist etc would put.

    I would say that the next-step down descriptively for a JW would be? to say non-trinitarian Christian?

    How about non-trinitarian low-church Christian?

    That could be expanded to evangelical non-trinitarian low-church Christian?

    Or even evangelical fundamental non-trinitarian low-church Christian?

  • darkspilver

    Hi sir82!

    There was a "Questions From Readers" in the late 40's or early 50's, something about whether JWs are to be considered a "religion".

    Is it these two Questions from Readers from 1951?

    "In the past we regarded 'religion' as anything that was against God’s will. Now many brothers are using the expressions 'true religion' and 'false religion' to make a distinction. Is this advisable?"

    Link to scan

    Which was followed five months later by:

    "Why has the Watchtower Society suddenly approved the use of the word 'religion' relative to the worship of Jehovah’s witnesses?"

    Link to scan

  • sir82

    Yes those are the ones I was thinking of.

  • JeffT

    There was a change in 1950 that made unrelated business activity by a non-profit taxable, but it looks like that still exempted churches. That may have altered how they had to present themselves to the public. I'll try to do more research.

  • slimboyfat

    Like everything else, it depends on the context.

    Just to mention one perspective, it is common in sociology textbooks to divide religious groups into four categories: church, sect, denomination and cult. According to this definition JWs are classified as a sect rather than a denomination, because they are internally exclusive and externally viewed as deviant, whereas a denomination is inclusive and considered respectable.

    The typology is included and discussed in this blog post.


    So are JWs a denomination? Not according to one common sociological definition at least.

  • Vidiot

    They'll pretty much call themselves anything if it gets them tax-exempt status.

  • flipper

    Jehovah's Witnesses / WT Society are NOT really a " religion, " and NOT really " Christian " - they are a dangerous mind control cult specializing in control and financial extortion of it's members while disguised and masquerading as a " religion "

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