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FOR Research Paper - Wiley 1 Jehovahs Witnesses When Fear...

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Wiley Jehovah’s Witnesses: When Fear and Misunderstanding Influence the Minds of the Masses Kylie Wiley Freedom of Religion Dr. Smith December 8, 2009 Introduction 1
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Wiley In today’s society, Jehovah’s Witnesses; members of the Watchtower Tract Society, are rarely mentioned in mainstream society. When they are, it is their odd evangelical tactics that are examined. Jehovah’s Witnesses take the biblical verses John 18: 37 which says, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” 1 and Isaiah 43:10 which says, “ You are my witnesses, says the Lord,” 2 to heart. Witnesses proselytize door to door throughout their communities and other communities, in hopes of saving the souls of those they are speaking to. 3 Jehovah’s Witnesses from their society’s formation in 1871; by Charles Taze Russel, have held controversial beliefs. Witnesses shun the belief in hell and eternal damnation, instead conceding that the dead without salvation will just cease to be. They also shun the idea of the trinity; which since the founding of the United States of America has been a highly contested issue, which can be seen in the arguments over mandatory religious oaths for public figures. 4 Over time the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken very public stands against secular things that have become very unpopular. Issues that the Jehovah’s Witnesses stand against include but are not limited to: blood transfusions; vaccinations; serving in the armed forces; saluting the flag; and using modern medications to combat depression and other mental diseases. Some of these issues may seem purely personal, however throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, during World War II these beliefs were a much larger issue than what we see today. World War II was the last war largely supported by the populace. The United States was just coming out of a recession and the war was a unifying front to bring an end 1 Meeks, Wayne A, ed. Harper Collins Study Bible . New York: HarperCollins, 1989. 1849 2 Meeks, Wayne A, ed. Harper Collins Study Bible . New Work: HarperCollins, 1989. 967 3 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. "Jehovah's Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?." (1 December 2009). 4 Smith, Stephen A. "The Ordeal of Religious Test Oaths." University of Arkansas. 5 2
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Wiley to desperate times. The public sentiment towards the war was one of support; the United States were the “good guys” going to fight the evil axis. If one looks at the propaganda at the time; Rosie the Riveter posters, victory gardens, and the like, it is not hard to imagine the immense feeling of patriotism at the time. The United States as a nation was going to war, not just the soldiers, and it was up to each and every citizen to do his or her part to help the United States win the war.
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