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Who’s That Knocking on the Door? Research Examines the Faith of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses
May 12, 2008
(Ventura, California) – Two religious groups, in particular, are known for knocking on people’s front door to discuss religious beliefs: Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. While both groups consider themselves to be Christian, many organizations have labeled each a cult in response to some of their unorthodox beliefs and practices. A new study from The Barna Group explores the religious and demographic background of these two groups and shows that they differ significantly from the born again Christian population in a variety of respects.
A Profile of Jehovah’s Witnesses
About the only perspective that Witnesses share with the larger body of born again Christians is a belief that their religious faith is very important in their life, a view held by nine out of ten people from both groups. After that point of concurrence, the gap widens.
It begins with the fact that only 7% of Jehovah’s Witnesses meet the criteria for being born again. Most Witnesses say they have made a personal commitment to Christ that is important in their life, but only one out of every ten of those adults base their hope of salvation on a confession of sins and acceptance of Christ as their savior. Interestingly, the issue is not that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in earning their way to an eternal reward: in fact, they are significantly more likely than born again adults to reject the notion of salvation earned through good works.
While more than nine out of ten born again adults believe that God is the omnipotent and all-knowing creator and ruler of the universe, just three-quarters of the Witnesses (76%) concur with that view.
Witnesses are almost 50% more likely than born again adults to strongly believe that Satan exists (61% versus 42%, respectively). They are more likely than born again adults to argue that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth (77%, compared to 63% among born agains). They are also much more likely to have a firm conviction that sharing their faith with other people is a personal responsibility (74% compared to 54% among all born agains). They also have widespread faith in the Bible, with a higher proportion (88%) contending that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches (71% among born again people).
In terms of their faith practices, Jehovah’s Witnesses are comparatively more likely to gather in small groups during the week (75% do so, double the incidence among born agains). They are also significantly more likely to read the Bible during the week (83% do so) but are also more than twice as likely to be unchurched at the moment (28%, roughly double the born again proportion).
Demographically, Jehovah’s Witnesses are substantially different from the born again community in that they are less likely to get married; much less likely to hold conservative political and social views; and are a decidedly downscale group (only one-third as likely to have graduated from college, and their household income levels are one-quarter below the born again average). The Jehovah’s Witnesses community is predominantly non-white (62%) and is shockingly removed from the political process: only 29% are registered to vote, compared to 87% among the born again constituency.
A Profile of Mormons it is all on barna’s site.