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Jehovah's Witnesses: Holidays, Rules & Worship

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  • 0:04 Who Are Jehovah's Witnesses?
  • 1:02 Jehovah's Witness Holidays
  • 1:48 Jehovah's Witness Rules
  • 4:30 Jehovah's Witness Worship
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Moran
Faith can give people hope, purpose, understanding, and even direction in this world. This lesson discusses elements of the Jehovah's Witness church, including their holidays, rules, and worship.

Who Are Jehovah's Witnesses?

The Jehovah's Witnesses are a growing religion with nearly 8.3 million members, as of reporting in 2016. They began in the late nineteenth century and were originally known as the Bible Student Movement, adopting the name Jehovah's Witness in 1931. Based in Warwick, New York, they're a hierarchical church, with doctrine and positions determined by elders.

They share their beliefs and doctrines through ''The Watchtower,'' a magazine that was begun in 1879 by Jehovah's Witness founder Charles Taze Russell. It's used as a study tool for the faithful and to distribute information about the practices and beliefs of the church. A second periodical, a magazine titled ''Awake!'' which made its debut in 1919, is used mainly to educate non-believers.

From the beginning, the Jehovah's Witnesses have followed doctrines that separate them from most other Christian faiths. These are reflected in their practices and rituals, including holidays, rules, and worship.

Jehovah's Witness Holidays

Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate holidays that they believe do not fit true Christianity. These include Christmas, Easter, and even birthdays. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Christ did not command his birth - or any birth - to be celebrated; he just wanted his death to be remembered. They believe that Christmas and Easter worship are the customs of pagans, and true Christians would not celebrate such things.

Their major annual holiday is the Memorial of Christ's Death, which is celebrated at the time of the Jewish Passover. It is believed to be acceptable because Jesus himself took part in the Passover and asked his disciples to remember his death. The Memorial of Christ's Death is the only time during the year that the Lord's Supper (communion) is celebrated, and in recent years, as many as 20 million people have attended this service.

Jehovah's Witness Rules

Jehovah's Witnesses aim to live a clean and healthy life, keeping their bodies and minds pure according to their beliefs. Sex outside of marriage is not allowed; however, if a person seeks forgiveness then he/she may remain in the church. They also find homosexuality and same-sex marriage to be great sins. They also consider abortion and suicide to be equally unforgivable because both are considered murder.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe they should remove themselves from the worldly influences of nonbelievers. Gambling, drinking, drugs, and tobacco are forbidden by the church. They also show their separation from nonbelievers by adhering to strict rules of modest dress and grooming.

Their family power structure places the father and husband at the head. The husband makes the choices and leads the family, although men are encouraged to take advice from their wives and even find out how the kids feel about a subject before making their choices.

Another belief is that their religion is not based in a nation or culture, but unifies everybody into a brotherhood regardless of world boundaries. When it comes to pledging allegiance to a flag or singing a national anthem, they will not participate. They will not serve in the military or in a field of work that associates itself with the military in any way. In some countries, this can lead to serious legal charges and even jail time for Witnesses.

Their distinctive beliefs and rules extend to the medical world, in the form of blood transfusions. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse transfusions because they believe it to violate a decree that God made, based on their own translation of the scriptures. A Witness who receives blood and doesn't seek forgiveness, can be expelled from the religion even if the situation was life-threatening. However, they're allowed to use a non-blood alternative, and the church publishes literature informing people of this option. Another major rule, one of the most widely known, forbids the eating of food that contains blood. These are meats that are raw or rare, or things that contain blood in the ingredients.

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