Rules And Rituals Jehovah's Witnesses Must Follow
All religions have rules that, to outsiders, can seem unnecessarily strict. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, belong to a society called The Watch Tower, which prevents them from enjoying any holidays (even birthdays), dating without chaperones, and even receiving life-saving blood transfusions.
The practice most associated with Jehovah's Witnesses is, of course, knocking on doors early on weekend mornings to ask if they can share the good news of the gospel. While many outside of this group are deeply annoyed by this custom, few consider the experiences of the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves. Not only are they required to knock on countless doors only to repeat the same message ad nauseam, but, because of their less-than-stellar reputation in mainstream culture, these doors are often slammed in their faces.
Many of the other expectations Jehovah's Witnesses face seem foreign and rigid to outsiders, though each has its own history and significance for those who subscribe to the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine; below are listed some of these customs. Take a look and see how many you recognize.
- Photo: Cambridge Historical Commission / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
They Consider Saluting The American Flag To Be Idol Worship
Among the many traditional "American" customs from which Jehovah's Witnesses refrain, one of the most noteworthy and controversial is their refusal to salute the American flag.
Giving reverence to a flag when done in ceremony – which includes bowing, saluting, or pledging to it – is seen as idol worship, something strictly forbidden by their scripture.
- Photo: Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
They Are Forbidden From Befriending Non-Witnesses
One seemingly innocuous yet incredibly restrictive rule the Jehovah's Witnesses uphold stipulates that Witnesses are not allowed to befriend people of other faiths; they are directed to only socialize within their own religion.
Non-believers are considered to belong to "Satan's world," and associating with them should, according to Witness doctrine, be avoided at all costs.
They Can Die From Refusing Blood Transfusions
In accordance with their religious law, Witnesses traditionally cannot accept any blood products, even when a blood transfusion could be life-saving. According to the Old and New Testaments, God's people are to abstain from consuming blood in any form, especially since they believe that blood represents life – to give blood would be to give life, a task they believe is always and only God's.
One woman passed away one week after giving birth because she refused a blood transfusion on religious grounds, despite her doctors' pleas that the treatment was her only option.
- Photo: Gaumont Company / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
They Believe Satan Wields Power Over The Earth
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the world is currently under the dominion of "someone evil," and that things such as patriotism are a direct affront to Jehovah, to whom they are trying to return power.
This is one reason why Witnesses are so dedicated to going door-to-door – they are recruiting people into their religion and away from the Devil.
- Photo: Unknown / PIXNIO / Public Domain
They Don't Celebrate Birthdays
Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate any holidays, a category which they believe includes birthdays.
The basis for this belief originates from several sources: primarily, they believe the celebration of birthdays stems from pagan rituals. Well-wishes made on a person's birthday were historically meant to ward off evil spirits that are non-canonical to the Witnesses' theology; secondarily, they believe celebrating a birth detracts from the significance of celebrating Jesus' death, an event which they believe enables their salvation and is integral to their holistic belief system.
They Discourage Their Younger Members From Attending College
The most prominent reason Jehovah's Witnesses are against universities is not for the education, but for the atmosphere. To Witnesses, colleges and college students are notorious for encouraging deviant behaviors such as drugs and premarital sex.
Rather than promote an aberrant lifestyle, they encourage their younger members to devote their time to developing their faith. Unfortunately, this results in many Jehovah's Witnesses with low incomes and limited professional prospects.