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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Maybe Jehovah's Witnesses Should Stop Pointing Fingers

In the November 2011 issue of Awake! magazine, the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses took a pot shot at the Catholic church.

On page 29, in their monthly 'Watching the World' section, they quoted the National Catholic Reporter, an independent agency established in 1964, that frequently writes on issues affecting the church.  On October 11, 2010, they published an article titled 'The 'Had It' Catholics'.  The article contained the following sentence, which was quoted in the Awake!:
"Slightly more than 10 percent of American adults (10.1 percent) have left the Catholic church after having been raised Catholic."
As seen in the Awake!:

This information is upon a study done in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.  In the study, more than 35,000 American adults were interviewed about religion, and how their beliefs may or may not have changed over the years.  The survey showed that 23.9 percent of Americans identify themselves as Catholics.  This has pretty much gone unchanged for the last 40 years.  It has consistently hovered around the 25% mark since the early 70s.  Of those born Catholic, 68% remain faithful to the church in adulthood.  The quote above sounds worse than it actually is.  Yes, 10 percent of U.S. adults, or almost 23 million people, are former Catholics.  But, considering that there are 65-75 million practicing Catholics in this country at any given time, it's not that shocking of a statistic.  In fact, in 2010, the Catholic population actually increased 1.49% over the previous year, to 68.1 million.

What the Awake! conveniently failed to mention was that the very same Pew study in 2008 that showed a 32% turnover rate with the Catholic church, also showed that Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religion in the nation.  Only 37% of those that were raised as Witnesses stay in the congregation.  That means that 63% leave the organization, double that of Catholics.  Quoting the study:
"Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses."
Time magazine even weighed in on the Witnesses turnover numbers, saying, "No wonder they have to keep knocking on doors".

The Awake! also failed to point out that the study showed that Jehovah's Witnesses were the least educated religious group in the U.S. (only 6% have college degrees).  They are also overwhelmingly the poorest (42% bring home less than $30,000/yr).  The religion also gives the illusion of preying on minorities.  60% of active Jehovah's Witnesses are female (highest percentage in American religion).  Also, African-Americans and Latinos make up nearly half of the church's population (22% and 24% respectively).  To put that into perspective, African-Americans make up 16% of Protestants (including Baptists).  Jehovah's Witnesses have the second highest percentage of Latinos, next to the Catholic church (with 29%).

This study only interviewed those that were raised a specific religion.  Who knows what the turnover rate is among those that converted to Jehovah's Witnesses later in life.  I would imagine, the results would be somewhat similar.  Logic states that if 63% of those "raised in the Truth" eventually leave, roughly the same percentage of those that joined the organization as adults would do the same.  It would make sense that people generally leave a religion for the same reason.  They don't believe what they're being told.

If Jehovah's Witnesses would stop focusing on the "problems" other churches are having, and spend a little more time taking care of the skeletons in their closet, maybe they wouldn't lose so many followers.  

Just a thought.