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Test Migration New

A closer look at Jehovah’s Witnesses living in the U.S.


Pew Research Center

Michael Lipka

Thedeath of superstar musician Prince has prompted many reflections on his life –including his religious faith. Prince, who was raised as a Seventh-dayAdventist, became a Jehovah’s Witness as an adult and attended services inhis home state of Minnesota.

Jehovah’sWitnesses, who make up just less than 1% of U.S. adults, are known fortheir door-to-door proselytism. But members of this denomination, which has its originsin 19th-century America, are also unique in many other ways. Here are a fewfacts about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States today, based on PewResearch Center’s Religious Landscape Study:


Jehovah’sWitnesses are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religiousgroups in America. No more than four-in-ten members of the group belong to anyone racial and ethnic background: 36% are white, 32% are Hispanic, 27% areblack and 6% are another race or mixed race.

MostJehovah’s Witnesses – roughly two-thirds (65%) – are women, while only 35% are men. Christiansworldwide are more likely to be women than men, but this gender gap isparticularly large in the context of U.S. Christian groups. For instance,54% of U.S. Catholics are women.

Comparedwith other U.S. religious groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to be lesseducated. A solid majority of adult Jehovah’s Witnesses (63%) have no more thana high school diploma, compared with, for example, 43% of evangelicalProtestants and 37% of mainline Protestants.

Religiousbeliefs and practices

Jehovah’sWitnesses identify as Christians, but their beliefs are different fromother Christians in some ways. For instance, they teach that Jesus is theson of God but is not part of a Trinity.

Bytraditional measures of religious commitment, Jehovah’s Witnesses are one ofthe most highly religious major U.S. religious groups. Nine-in-ten Jehovah’sWitnesses (90%) say religion is very important in their lives,while similar shares say they believe in God with absolute certainty (90%) andthat the Bible is the word of God (94%).

Oursurvey found at least two other interesting ways in which Jehovah’sWitnesses stand out in their beliefs. For one, while half of Jehovah’sWitnesses say they believe in heaven, very few (7%) say they believe in hell,the traditional image of which is challenged by the denomination’steaching. The share of all U.S. Christians who believe in hell is 10 timeslarger (70%). And most Jehovah’s Witnesses (83%) say their religion is the onetrue faith leading to eternal life; only about three-in-ten U.S. Christians(29%) believe this about their own religious faith.

Comparedwith U.S. Christians overall, Jehovah’s Witnesses are especially likely to saythey attend religious services at least once a week (85%, compared with 47% ofall U.S. Christians), pray daily (90% of Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. 68% of allU.S. Christians) and – perhaps not surprisingly – share their faith with othersat least once a week (76% vs. 26%). They also are more likely than U.S.Christians overall to participate in prayer or scripture study groups and toread scripture at least weekly, among other religious behaviors.

Socialand political views

Likemany other highly religious Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to takeconservative positions on social issues. For example, three-quarters (75%) sayabortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while similar shares opposesame-sex marriage and say homosexuality should be discouraged by society (76%each). Roughly three-quarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses (74%) also reject evolution,saying humans have always existed in their present form since the beginning oftime.

ButJehovah’s Witnesses do not commonly advocate for these beliefs in the politicalsphere. The denomination teaches that its members should remainpolitically neutral and abstain from voting or participating in “any action tochange governments.”

Thisis reflected in our polling. Three-quarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses (75%) saythey are political independents who do not lean toward either major party. Half(50%) decline to answer a question about political ideology (i.e., whether theydescribe their political views as conservative, moderate or liberal). And mostJehovah’s Witnesses (64%), when asked if they are registered to vote, say theyare not registered or decline to answer the question.


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