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Jehovah's Witnesses is a group[->0] with more than seven million members throughout the world. They believe God[->1] is about to end the present system of life in the world, with its crime, violence, sickness and death, and replace it with his Kingdom which will bring about peace for all humans who live by Bible[->2] standards.
Most of the religion's beliefs are based on the Bible and these beliefs were taught by Charles Taze Russell, a preacher who started a Bible study group in Pennsylvania[->3], USA[->4] in 1876, and later started publishing a religious magazine called The Watchtower[->5]. Many of those beliefs, especially about who God is and what his plans are for humans and the earth, are different to what is taught in mainstream Christian churches. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven and that the remaining people who obey God will live forever[->6] on a paradise[->7] Earth[->8]. They do not believe that God is a Trinity[->9], and teach that when people die, they remain in their grave until Jesus Christ[->10] resurrects them after God's Kingdom, or government, is ruling over earth. Witnesses are best known for preaching[->11] their beliefs from door-to-door and in other public places, and offering their magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! They are also well known for refusing to join armies and refusing blood transfusions.

In 1870 a young clothing shop owner named Charles Taze Russell heard an Adventist[->12] preacher explain that the Bible contained clues that showed God was about to set up a kingdom, or government, over earth. He said the kingdom, which is mentioned many times in the New Testament of the Bible, would be based in heaven, and it would completely change the way of life for everyone in the world. Russell studied that preacher's teachings, then changed some of them to arrive at a set of beliefs of his own. Using a combination of Bible verses and historical dates, he came to the decision that God would very soon call to heaven a group of "saints" who would become the kings of that Kingdom. There would also be other "saints", who were faithful Christians of the past who had since died, who would also make up a total of 144,000 kings in heaven. Churches at the time were teaching that humans were still waiting for Jesus to return to earth in his Second Coming, but Russell believed all those Bible clues proved Jesus had actually returned in 1874 for what he called his parousia, or "presence".[1] Russell believed part of God's plan was also to start Armageddon[->13], which he believed would be a complete breakdown of law and order on earth, when governments and classes of people would fight among themselves. But after that, he believed, God would end sickness and death and allow humble and obedient Christians to live forever in perfect health.[2]
Russell believed it was very important that all Christians, including those who were attending churches, should learn those "truths" he believed had been carefully hidden in the Bible for thousands of years. He therefore established a publishing group called the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania[->14].[3]HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-4"[4] He wrote several books, set up some Bible study classes where people could study his teachings, and began publishing a magazine, Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, which announced that Christ was already present. He wrote about his belief that God would bring about all those events by 1914.
By the time Russell died in 1916, the articles, books, pamphlets and sermons he had written totaled 50,000 printed pages, with almost 20 million copies of his books printed and distributed around the world.[5] His position as president of the Watch Tower Society was taken by one of his followers, Joseph Franklin Rutherford. Rutherford began writing and publishing many books as well. He made some changes to Russell's teachings and also required all the study groups, or congregations, around the world to agree to a united set of teachings and rules issued by the Watch Tower Society in New York[->15]. He told all members of the religion that they should start to go door to door preaching about God's Kingdom and also sell Watch Tower Society publications so more people would hear the message.[6] In 1931 Rutherford introduced the name "Jehovah's witnesses" for the religion, partly to highlight what the religion believed was God's holy name. By the time Rutherford died in 1942 the religion had a worldwide membership of 115,000.
Some of the new teachings, however, resulted in suffering for many Jehovah's Witnesses. Thousands were sent to prison or beaten or killed in several countries during World War II[->16] because they refused to fight,[7]HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-8"[8] and later in the United States many children were expelled from schools because they refused to salute the flag because they thought that was something that God would not approve. Some countries still have laws against members practising that religion. But Jehovah's Witnesses continued to grow rapidly, partly because they were becoming more skilled at teaching the public in their door-to-door preaching, and by 1977 they had more than two million members around the world and many properties at their New York headquarters.
From 1966 the religion encouraged members to believe that God would bring Armageddon[->17] in 1975, and that the Kingdom would be set up very soon after.[9] Some Witnesses sold businesses and homes, gave up jobs, delayed medical operations and decided against starting a family because they expected Armageddon to arrive.[10]HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-11"[11] The religion's leaders later apologised for those statements, which they said were made because they were so keen for the Kingdom to come. Many members left at the time, because they were disappointed nothing had happened, but membership later climbed even higher.
Like Jews[->18], Muslims[->19] and Christians[->20], Jehovah's Witnesses believe there is a God who is the Creator and the most powerful individual in the universe. But they have some different beliefs from those religions. They say God explained in the Bible that his name is Jehovah[->21] (which is a translation[->22] of the Hebrew[->23] letters "YHWH[->24]") and they believe it is important that people know that name. They believe that Jesus Christ[->25] is God's son, and the holy spirit is the power that God can use, or let other people use, to help his purposes. They do not believe in the Trinity[->26].[12] They believe the Bible[->27] is a book that God wrote with the help of humans, and it is therefore completely true and the best guide to how people should live.[13]
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God made Adam and Eve[->28], the first humans, and put them in a paradise called Eden[->29]. They think that when Adam and Eve sinned[->30], God removed his special protection and that therefore they began to get sick and die. Because they were no longer perfect, they were unable to have perfect children, so from that point humans would find it very hard to avoid sinning. They believe that Jehovah later sent Jesus to die to make a way for humans to get back the paradise that Adam and Eve lost and restore them to perfect health and life.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people, who are referred to in Revelation[->31] chapters 7 and 14, will go to heaven[->32] to be kings and priests with Jesus Christ[->33]. They say that God is going to use his powers, perhaps involving storms or earthquakes, to start a worldwide war called Armageddon[->34], and that billions of people who do not obey God or worship[->35] him the way he expects will be killed. The people who he approves will survive that great war and will be given the opportunity to live forever, because God will remove all sickness, disease and death. God will then begin to turn Earth[->36] into a peaceful paradise where there will be no crime, violence or wars, because criminals and dishonest people will have died at Armageddon. He will also resurrect (bring back to life) the billions of people who died in the past, so they can learn the truth about God and show they want to live obediently in a paradise as well. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only their religion truly obeys God's instructions, and that God disapproves of all other religions (including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and Muslims) because they refuse to really follow the Bible. They believe the leader of all those religions is Satan[->37] the Devil[->38], who tries to trick people into thinking they are pleasing God with their worship.[14] For that reason they believe only baptised members of Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved at Armageddon, though God will make the final choice.[15]HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-16"[16]HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-17"[17]

[->0] - /wiki/Religious_denomination
[->1] - /wiki/God
[->2] - /wiki/Bible
[->3] - /wiki/Pennsylvania
[->4] - /wiki/United_States_of_America
[->5] - /wiki/The_Watchtower
[->6] - /wiki/Immortality
[->7] - /wiki/Paradise
[->8] - /wiki/Earth
[->9] - /wiki/Trinity
[->10] - /wiki/Jesus_Christ
[->11] - /wiki/Witness
[->12] - /wiki/Seventh-day_Adventist_Church
[->13] - /wiki/Armageddon
[->14] - /wiki/Watch_Tower_Bible_and_Tract_Society_of_Pennsylvania
[->15] - /wiki/New_York
[->16] - /wiki/World_War_II
[->17] - /wiki/Armageddon
[->18] - /wiki/Judaism
[->19] - /wiki/Muslim
[->20] - /wiki/Christian
[->21] - /wiki/Jehovah
[->22] - /wiki/Translation
[->23] - /wiki/Hebrew_language
[->24] - /wiki/YHWH
[->25] - /wiki/Jesus_Christ
[->26] - /wiki/Trinity
[->27] - /wiki/Bible
[->28] - /wiki/Adam_and_Eve
[->29] - /wiki/Garden_of_Eden
[->30] - /wiki/Sin
[->31] - /wiki/Book_of_Revelation
[->32] - /wiki/Heaven
[->33] - /wiki/Jesus_Christ
[->34] - /wiki/Armageddon
[->35] - /wiki/Worship
[->36] - /wiki/Earth
[->37] - /wiki/Satan
[->38] - /wiki/Devil

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