All other Christian and Jewish groups interpret these same passages as referring to dietary laws, to the actual eating of meat containing blood (Robinson). Witnesses also urge to "discontinue their chemotherapy treatments when platelet transfusions are needed" (Robinson). Moreover, they believe that any blood that leaves the body must be destroyed, thus they do not approve of an individual storing his own blood for a later auto-transfusion (Robinson).
An important tension within the Witness discourse is the "transformative and revolutionary potential of the Society's iconoclastic millennialism" (Elliot). They believe that "A Christian, being realistic, must face life as it is - not as he wishes it might be," and that "Christians cannot change prevailing human customs, prejudices and laws," and basically should just put up with them, therefore interracial marriages are not formally wrong, but are considered unwise given the nature of prejudice (Elliot).
The headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses is located in Brooklyn, New York and is called Bethel, meaning the "House of God" (Neubauer). A governing body of eighteen men meet weekly to discuss issues, and there are five committees which aid the governing body in decision-making (Neubauer). Below the committees are district and circuit overseers who accompany Witnesses to home meetings and visit congregations twice a year (Neubauer). Congregations meet five times a week in Kingdom Halls where elders or overseers, lead the congregations voluntarily (Neubauer). The principal self-defining characteristics of Witnesses are: "learning the official doctrines, showing willingness to proselytize actively, participating in all congregational meetings, and being baptized into the Watch Tower faith" (Neubauer).
Jehovah's Witnesses can be found in 232 countries ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe, and interestingly, only 19% of all Jehovah's Witnesses live in the United States compared to 20% in Western Europe and 25% in Latin America (Neubauer). In fact, eighteen countries exceed the United States in membership rates, including Canada, Mexico, Finland, and New Zealand (Neubauer). According to the National Survey of Religions Identification surveys of 1990, of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States, 44% are white, non-Hispanic, 40% are African-American, 12% are Hispanic-Americans, and 4% are Asian-American (Neubauer).
Jehovah's Witnesses are the most fervently attacked new religious group today and are heavily criticized on the Internet (Neubauer). Counter-cultists have taken the lead in these attacks, as have former group members who have published books and created Web sites that share a negative perspective on the Jehovah's Witnesses (Neubauer). Because this group has a large following, it is common that they should be attacked since studies show that the larger and more controversial the group, the greater the tension between them and society (Neubauer). Moreover, the more people who join this group, the more that may denounce the faith and thus proclaim the evils of the group to which they once adhered to (Neubauer). The intensity of attack is however alarming and the main issues which cause the greatest criticism include failed prophecies, blood transfusions, and nationalism (Neubauer). Regarding failed prophecies, the Witnesses have calculated many dates which were meant to invite extraordinary events, in fact Armageddon has been predicted five times, 1914, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941 (Neubauer). However, Witnesses still hold fast tot he date of 1914 in which Jesus Christ returned invisibly to earth, but do admit erring in their calculations concerning Armageddon (Neubauer).
Jehovah's Witnesses have had more cases go to the Supreme Court than any other group, marking them lead challengers of the interpretation of the First Amendment religion clause (Neubauer). In fact, between 1938 and 1955, forty-five U.S. Supreme Court cases were held involving the group, of which they won thirty-six of them (Neubauer). Two particular issues that have come before the Court are blood transfusions and pledging allegiance (Neubauer).
Elliott, Joel. (1999). You Can Live Forever on a Paradise Earth: The Visual
Rhetoric of Jehovah's Witness Iconography. Retrieved November 03, 2005 at http://www.unc.edu/~elliott/icon.html
Jehovah's Witnesses. Retrieved November 03, 2005 at http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/christ/esp/jw.html
Lawson, Ronald. (1995 December 22). Sect-state relations: accounting for the differing trajectories of Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Sociology of Religion. Retrieved November 03, 2005 from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
Neubauer, Julia. (2001). Jehovah's Witnesses. Retrieved November 03, 2005 from http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Jwitness.html
Peters, Shawn Francis. (2002). Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious
Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution. Retrieved November 03, 2005 at http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/petjud.html…