Jehovah’s Witnesses are a restorationist, millenialist, Christian denomination. Jehovah’s Witness believe their religion is the sole “visible channel”, or human agency, used by God, to communicate with mankind today and that the Bible cannot be understood without the assistance and guidance of a group of men in Brooklyn referred to as the Governing Body.
The religion emerged from the Bible Student Movement, founded in the late 19th century by Charles Taze Russell, and today claims an active worldwide membership of 7.6 million. Those members are most well-known for their door-to-door preaching ministry, their refusal to fight in war and their refusal to take blood transfusions.
The religion has achieved significance through its contributions to medical practice in bloodless surgery, constitutional law especially in the US and Canada concerning civil liberties, recognition of conscientious objection to military service, and their international publishing and missionary activity.
It has also attracted criticism for its “authoritarian” rule and allegations that it coerces members to obey doctrines including the ban on blood transfusions. The religion is said to demand unquestioning obedience from members, with the threat of expulsion facing any who fail to comply with, express doubts about, or disagree with, doctrines. Testimony given by senior members of the Watchtower Society in a Scottish court case in 1954 included the statement that acceptance by members of all the religion’s doctrine was “obligatory” to enable it to achieve unity.