Religious History

Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize no human founder. However, the general founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses was Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916). He was called the first Pastor and president. The second president was Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942). The name ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ was adopted in 1931. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their worldwide preaching and bible education activity. They believe mankind is now living in the “last days” and soon God’s War of Armageddon will usher in a peaceful new world on earth. The Jehovah’s Witnesses determine doctrine by a group called the Governing Body. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania represents the community and publishes evangelical literature. Currently, Jehovah’s Witnesses have approximately 6 million active members worldwide. There are approximately 4,000 members in the Omaha metro area. Please visit the official website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for more information on their doctrine, practices and religious history: www.watchtower.org.

Diversity within the Religion

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have no subgroups. There exists international unity and consistency in belief and practice.

Dietary Laws

Jehovah’s Witnesses have restrictions on eating raw meat or meat that has not been properly drained of blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses derive this restriction from the Bible. This is the only dietary restriction.

Holidays

Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate holidays. All holidays, including birthdays, are considered of “non biblical” origin and may not be observed by Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays or holidays because of their belief that the early Christians did not. Gift giving and celebrating are still a part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses practice, but they are done at random times during the year. ·

The Memorial of Christ's Death or the Lord’s Evening Meal is the one event that Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate. This celebration occurs at roughly the same time as Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover, always on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that this holiday is acceptable because it was instituted by Jesus Christ himself. The Memorial is the one time during the year in which the Lord's Supper is observed.

Issues for Jehovah’s Witnesses Students

Medical issues
Educators should be aware that Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept or give blood transfusions. Therefore, school nurses should discuss proper care of a Jehovah’s Witnesses child with the parents.

The flag salute
Jehovah's Witnesses do not salute the flag of any nation. This is not a sign of disrespect and educators should allow the children to opt out of the exercise. In case of extended patriotic activities, consideration can be shown by allowing students to be dismissed from the classroom.

Political activities
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not participate in political activities, such as voting. Therefore, classroom votes may be an issue. Accommodations can be made by allowing the students to go to a study hall.

Sex education classes
Some students may choose to opt out of human growth and development classes after discussion with their parents. Administrative staff, educators and guardians should work together to find a fair solution.

Glossary of Terms

Jehovah
The divine name of God

Jesus Christ
God’s son, ransomer of mankind.

Kingdom
God’s heavenly government, promotes universal harmony.

Kingdom Hall
Place of worship. Jehovah’s Witnesses sing, pray and study.

The Governing Body
A group of individuals who aid the community to determine doctrine and practice.

Elders
Senior members of the community.

Watchtower
A publication which serves by providing information for evangelical purposes.

Brother/Sister
Formal title of congregation members. For example, Sister Smith or Brother Jones. (Sister or Brother, “last name”) The title is mostly used during worship services and other formal gatherings.

Assemblies/Conventions
Large gatherings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Normally scheduled to not interfere with school activities. 

Resources

Local Contact:  Omaha Hospital Liaison Committee of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Phone: (402) 598-5290

Reading Materials

“Jehovah’s Witnesses and Education”. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2002.

Websites

For publications and other information, please visit: www.watchtower.org

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/witnesses/

The information about Jehovah's Witnesses holidays, practices and key terms was adapted from: Hubbard, Benjamin J. et all. America’s Religions: An Educator’s Guide to Beliefs and Practices. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1997. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Religious and Ethical Position on Medical Therapy, Child Care, and Related Matters. Watch Tower and Tract Society of Pennsyvania, 2001.

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