Jehovah's Witnesses Fast Facts

An Overview of Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses is a religion originating in the United States in the middle of the 19th century. The religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell, who was known for his prognostications about the end of the world. Followers read the New World Translation of the Bible (which was a translation that was produced by Jehovah's Witnesses in the 20th century), attend Kingdom Halls (as opposed to "churches"), and are known for going door to door to spread their faith.

The information below is intended to help people start to learn about this religion, including its adherents, history, beliefs, and practices. The links provided take the reader to more in-depth articles.

The Facts of Jehovah's Witnesses

Date founded
Place founded
Pittsburgh (also see history of Jehovah's Witnesses)
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)
6.4 million practicing members in 2003 {1}
Brooklyn, New York
Main location
Major sects
Sacred text
New World Translation of the Scriptures
Other texts
The Watchtower; Awake!
Original language
Body of elders supervises a congregation of up to 200 members.
About 20 congregations form a circuit, 10 circuits form a district.
Highest authority is governing body of elders at Brooklyn headquarters. {2}
Meeting place
Kingdom Hall
Strict monotheism (also see Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs)
The Son of God, God's first creation
Ultimate reality
Jehovah God
Human nature
Sinful since Adam
Purpose of life
Live forever after death instead of being annihilated
How to live
Live morally and in accordance with Jehovah's commandments, spread the good news of the Kingdom to others.
144,000 elect will reign in heaven and have spirit bodies. Other Witnesses will live forever on a restore paradise on earth. All others will be annihilated. Hell does not exist. {3}
The watchtower. Cross rejected as a pagan symbol. (also see Jehovah's Witnesses symbols)
Major holidays
Memorial of Christ's death, celebrated annually. All Christian or other religious-based holidays are rejected as unbiblical and pagan.
Divorce only in cases of adultery, no premarital sex, no homosexuality. {4} No gambling or drinking to excess. Against abortion. {5}
No blood transfusions, no celebration of non-JW holidays, no use of crosses or other religious images. Baptism of initiation, worship once per week, strong focus on evangelism.
  2. "Membership and Organization,"
  3. "God, Man, and the Future,"
  4. "Family Life,"
  5. "Medical Treatment,"
afterlife Heaven for 144,000 chosen Witnesses, eternity on new earth for other Witnesses. All others annihilated. No hell.
homosexual activity Sinful. Those with homosexual inclinations must abstain from all homosexual behavior.
human life Salvation is through faith in Christ and obeying Jehovah's laws. The End of the World is soon.
origins Founded by Charles Taze Russell, 1879, Pittsburgh
practices No blood transfusions, no celebration of holidays, no use of crosses or religious images. Baptism, Sunday service at Kingdom Hall, strong emphasis on evangelism.
texts New World Translation of the Scriptures
adherents 6.5 million
god(s) One God: Jehovah. No Trinity. Christ is the first creation of God; the Holy Spirit is a force.
homosexual orientation Not necessarily sinful.