I visited religionnews.com and found that my religion does not exist. Jehovah’s Witnesses are nowhere listed in their tree of faiths. Everyone else is. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not. Can it be? RNS “strive[s] to inform, illuminate and inspire public discourse on matters relating to belief and convictions,” says their About page. So where are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Few religions have been in the news as much as they, especially with their recent ban in Russia. Is Religion News Service a Russian site? No. Is it their aim to suck up to the Russians? I don’t think so. So where are the Witnesses?
The reason that there is not a Jeopardy clue: “They visit door to door to speak about the Bible” is that the answer is too obvious and would stump no one. In some ways Witnesses are plainly the foremost of religions. “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14), for example. Nobody is known for taking the ‘good news of the Kingdom’ to each and every person like Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially before ‘the end will come.’ Here is a cartoon of how JWs found Osama Bin Laden:
Or what about the verse, ‘beating their swords into plowshares.’ (Isaiah 2:4) It is an inspirational slogan for all. The ones who actually DO it are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They may be the only ones to completely do it, in that, not only will they not participate in wars, but they will not perform civilian work that is clearly designed to support war efforts.
Yet, look through the comprehensive list at the bottom of the religionnews.com website—they do not appear.
The first place you check, of course, is Christianity. There you find four subdivisions: Catholics, Latter Day Saints, Orthodox, and Protestants. If they are in any of the four, it must be Protestants. There you find three subdivisions: Black Protestants, Evangelical, and Mainline. Well, they’re not the first or the third. Since they preach the good news of the Kingdom, could they be the second? Nope. Scroll through the stories in that category. You won’t find them.
Okay, got it. They are not counted as Christian because RNS assumes that one must believe in the Trinity to be Christian—many times we’ve run across this. It makes no sense, but there it is. Most verses used to advance the Trinity teaching are verses that, if they were seen in any other context, would be instantly dismissed as figure of speech. There is no verse that directly states the Trinity, and the one in the King James Version that does (1 John 5:7) has been recognized by all modern scholars as a spurious insertion and thus either removed or footnoted. One almost pictures a scribe reviewing scriptures, getting madder and madder that his favorite doctrine is no where to be found, and slipping it in when no one was looking.
Where else might Jehovah’s Witnesses be if not in the Christian category? Well, maybe the Alternative Faiths category, or the Other Faiths category. Nope. Scroll through the stories on either category. They do not appear.
Is it an oversight? Is it a snub? Is it avoidance because any story about Jehovah’s Witnesses will reliably attract swarms of their virulent ‘apostates’ alarmed at any favorable mention and insistent upon maligning their former faith and so RNS just doesn’t want to deal with it? (See TrueTom vs the Apostates) Dunno. But is certainly is strange.
Now, to be sure, if you enter Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Search box, a few items appear—not many, but a few. One of them is not Even JW per se, but is of someone who wrote a book on how to refute them, along with the Mormons, latching on to key scriptures cites and how to answer back. Bring it on, I say. Any Witness worth his or her salt knows how to answer such things. So there is someone there at RNS that knows that if your textbook is the Bible, if you teach from it, if you have even invented an entirely new non-commercial distribution channel and translated it into overlooked languages of developing countries so that common persons there are not stuck with some 200-year old turkey of a translation that they can neither understand nor afford, you must be a religion. Still, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not listed in the list that includes everyone else.
Do not think that the JW organization will be miffed at not being included in the list. They may even draw satisfaction from it. “Good. Here is a list of the religions ‘of the world’ and we are not on it,” they may say. If there is one verse they take seriously over there at JW HQ, it is John 17:16, where Jesus prays about his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”
For that reason I will not go to the RNS site and holler, “Hey!—what is it with you clowns?!” The site is an offspring of the Missouri School of Journalism. It speaks of the ‘academic experts’ that monitor all. I don’t want to tangle with experts. Maybe they will try to pull rank on that basis. Who knows? Maybe they are right. Maybe I am not part of a religion, even if I do speak of the Bible door to door and keep the peace.
Imagine: In a list of “the religions of the world,” JWs are not on it. If you were to ask Bethel to describe their faith, very quickly would come up that statement that true Christians “are no part of the world.” Make of it what you will. I don’t make anything of it. I just note it.
.... Sigh....One person upbraided me for not contacting RNS and finding out why they had dropped us.
Said I: “In this case the answer is not particularly important, nor interesting. The situation prompting the question is what arouses interest. Here is a list of religions ‘of the world.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are ‘no part of the world’ are not on it. Who cares why? I don’t.
“Even so, I did mention three possibilities:
“Is it an oversight? Is it a snub? Is it avoidance because any story about Jehovah's Witnesses will reliably attract swarms of their virulent "apostates' alarmed at any favorable mention and insistent upon maligning their former faith and so RNS just doesn't want to deal with it?”
“Which one of the three it is doesn’t interest me. It is like when the Die Hard villain finally dies himself, after two hours of mayhem, and you learn in the epilogue that he was also behind in his contributions to the United Way. Who cares?”