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The Largest Communities of Jehovah's Witnesses


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Interesting JW Statistics

In the United States, the Jehovah's Witnesses are among the top 10 religious bodies with the most meeting places/congregations, and they have among the smallest congregation sizes of any group.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are among the top 10 largest international religious bodies in the world, whether one counts all adherents or strictly publishers.

In SRC American National Election studies, Jehovah's Witnesses ranked first among all religious groups in the percentage of their adherents who believe in Biblical literalness (from combined 1960, '64, '80, '84 data. Source: Classifying Protestant Denominations, Tom W. Smith, October 1986, GSS Methodological Report No. 43. General Social Survey project directed by James A. Davis and Tom W. Smith. A later version of this paper was published in Review of Religious Research, 31 (March, 1990), 225-245).

No denomination in the world is responsible for as many hours of proselytizing as the Jehovah's Witnesses. In the most recent year reported, the Witnesses provided over one billion "volunteer hours spent in public Bible educational work." [Source: Public Affairs Office of Jehovah's Witnesses]

By winning more court cases in the Supreme Court than any other religious group, Jehovah's Witnesses are responsible for many of the freedoms of speech and religion that all Americans now have. [Source: Tony Mauro, "Thank Jehovah's Witnesses for speech freedoms", USA Today, 30 May 2000.]

Their Public Affairs Office mentions some research done by sociologists indicating the unusual degree to which the Jehovah's Witnesses represent a successful, cohesive, distinctive global tribe. For example:

After studying social life in Zambia for a year and a half, a researcher from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, concluded that "Jehovah's Witnesses experience greater success than members of other denominations in maintaining stable marital unions . . . Husband and wife are encouraged to be individuals with integrity . . . This overriding demand for integrity cements marriage."

Note about JW adherent/member/publisher statistics

The national-level data for Jehovah's Witnesses presented on this page come from their own yearly reports. Jehovah's Witness records are known to be exceptionally precise and reliable. But it should be kept in mind that these figures are based on "average monthly publishers," i.e. the average through the year of monthly counts of "publishers." Publishers are Jehovah's Witnesses in good standing who have submitted a report of their proselyting activity during the month.

This standard for being counted as a "member" means the Jehovah's Witness statistics are perhaps the most conservative figures presented by any religious group. A more realistic measure of how many "adherents" the group has can probably be obtained by looking at their Memorial attendance figures. These figures are simply the count of people at their yearly communion meeting. Attendance at a yearly meeting may not seem like a high standard for being counted as an adherent, but it is actually the standard used by groups such as Anglicans to issue estimates of "active" membership.

In practice, a large number of people counted in Memorial attendance figures but not counted as publishers may simply be guests or investigators. But an even larger number are people who consider themselves Jehovah's Witnesses, but aren't currently fulfilling duties required to be counted as a publisher. Roughly speaking, one can either look at the Memorial attendance figures, or double the number of publishers they announce, in order to estimate the number of people in a region who consider themselves part of the religion.

It may also be noted that Jehovah's Witness reports summarize data based on "lands" and not strictly by nations as defined by the United Nations. In fact, Hawaii and Alaska are still listed separately from the United States.

Additional Jehovah's Witnesses links - off site

Top 20 Lands with Highest Proportion of
Jehovah's Witnesses (Publishers), 1998

Land Number of
publishers
Percent
Saint Helena 160 3.19%
Guadeloupe 7,953 1.94
Niue 35 1.68
Saint Eustatius 19 1.27
Saint Maarten 285 1.19
Martinique 4,054 1.13
Curaco 1,552 1.06
Zambia 104,096 1.03
Virgin Islands (British) 159 0.94
Barbados 2,375 0.91
French Guiana 1,485 0.91
Tahiti 1,933 0.88
Norfolk Island 16 0.85
New Caledonia 1,676 0.84
Cuba 82,258 0.74
Turks and Caicos Islands 117 0.72
Cook Islands 135 0.71
Puerto Rico 26,727 0.70
San Marino 178 0.70
Bermuda 431 0.70


Source: Watchtower Society annual report, 1998.

Top 20 Lands with
Most Jehovah's Witnesses (Publishers), 1998

Land Number
of
publishers
Percent
USA 1,050,238 0.39%
Mexico 518,307 0.54
Brazil 487,661 0.30
Italy 232,145 0.40
Japan 222,912 0.18
Nigeria 222,306 0.21
Germany 171,704 0.21
Britain 131,981 0.23
Philippines 128,134 0.18
Poland 126,635 0.33
Argentina 121,829 0.37
France 121,498 0.21
Canada 113,136 0.37
Zaire
(Democratic
Republic
of Congo)
108,710 0.22
Zambia 104,096 1.03
Spain 103,784 0.26
Ukraine 101,755 0.20
Colombia 100,488 0.25
Russia 100,012 0.07
South Korea 85,983 0.19


Source: Watchtower Society annual report, 1998.

Countries on both lists (highest percent and highest number of Witnesses): Zambia.

Conceivably, this could mean that Zambia is the world's most JW nation.
Cuba almost appears on both lists, as it is ranked 15th in percentage of Jehovah's Witnesses, and 22nd in number.

Top 20 U.S. States with Highest Proportion of
Jehovah's Witnesses (self-identification), 1990

These figures represent people who cited Jehovah's Witnesses when asked to name their religion, in a nationwide phone survey of 113,000 people. These figures are perhaps twice the level of active "publishers", but this can not be confirmed because state-level statistics from the organization are not available.

State Percent
New Hampshire 1.90%
Washington 1.40
Idaho 1.20
New Mexico 1.20
California 1.10
Oregon 1.10
Arizona 1.00
Iowa 1.00
Mississippi 1.00
New York 1.00
Delaware 0.90
Florida 0.90
Georgia 0.90
Maryland 0.90
Michigan 0.90
New Jersey 0.90
Ohio 0.90
Montana 0.80
North Carolina 0.80
South Carolina 0.80


This data set is from the 1990
National Survey of Religious Identification, conducted by the City University of New York, based on self-identification, as collected through a nationwide phone survey of 113,000 people.

Source: Kosmin, Barry A. and Seymour P. Lachman. One Nation Under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society; Harmony Books: New York (1993), pg. 88-93.

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Webpage created circa April 1999. Last updated 22 March 2002.
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