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Famous Jehovah's Witnesses
Further Discussion about This PageSome readers of this page have questioned whether all of the people listed are, in a technical sense, actually "Jehovah's Witnesses." Typically, people who disagree with some of these listings are thinking of the term "Jehovah's Witnesses" from a "Jehovah's Witnesses" perspective, which for the most part is a theological perspective. This list of "Famous Jehovah's Witnesses" was compiled, however, from a purely sociological perspective, without regard to theological considerations.
This list of "Famous Jehovah's Witnesses" is part of a much larger collection of "famous adherents" of many different faith groups. As such, it has been compiled based on a broader, standardized definition of an adherent, and not based on any definition peculiar to a particular group.
This list does indeed include people who were raised in Jehovah's Witnesses homes or are no longer active in the faith, as well as people who are full-fledged, active, baptized church members in good standing. Many faithful Jehovah's Witnesses simply reject the notion that a person can be called a "Jehovah's Witness" if they do not meet certain criteria. They are correct (from a Jehovah's Witness theological perspective).
But as a practical matter, people who are not Jehovah's Witnesses will look at somebody being raised in a Jehovah's Witness home or actively attending Jehovah's Witness religious services, and think that such a person is indeed a "Jehovah's Witness" (regardless of whether they are or not, according to official guidelines of the faith).
This is not a unique situation. Every group has its own internal criteria for membership or inclusion, criteria which are not necessarily observed by outsiders. This is true whether a group is highly organized (such as Jehovah's Witnesses) or relatively unorganized (such as atheists).
Many of the people listed on our page are full-fledged, active Jehovah's Witnesses and are even profiled in issues of the official Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses) publications Watchtower or Awake!
Some people have wondered if we have listed people who simply studied briefly with Jehovah's Witnesses. As far as we know, this is not the case. Anybody can sit down and meet with Jehovah's Witnesses to study their beliefs. In no way would we consider that grounds for identifying somebody as a Jehovah's Witness. All of the people listed on our page have actually been considered Jehovah's Witnesses or considered themselves adherents of the faith, either by way of having been raised in the faith or because they were an active convert to the faith.
Of course no insult is meant to Jehovah's Witnesses or anybody else by hosting this list. Personally, reading the biographies and faith statements of many famous Jehovah's Witnesses has helped tear down some stereotypes for me. It simply isn't true, for example, that this faith necessarily stifles creativity or achievement. Clearly, many adherents to the faith (including people raised in it as well as converts who chose to become Witnesses as adults) have been very famous creative people or have been very successful, as measured by worldly standards.
Regardless of the obvious tensions between the pressures of worldly fame, versus remaining active in a religious faith which expects all of its members to live according to the highest Biblical standards of ethics and morality, there are indeed many "famous" adherents who have strived to remain faithful. Even for those who have failed to balance fame and success with the demands of their faith, the teachings and values they were raised with or embraced at some point as an adult remain forever an influence in their lives. Were this not true, these individuals would not be listed here at all. This list is based on what famous people themselves have said to interviewers and to the public. We have no access to actual Jehovah's Witness membership or attendance records. If a celebrity or famous person doesn't talk publicly about their experiences as a Jehovah's Witness, we would have no way of knowing about this part of their lives.
The actions of a single individual should never be used to judge an entire group of people, and I believe most people realize this. Anybody who does try to condemn Jehovah's Witnesses by the behavior of their "worst" lapsed members or former members will stand instantly condemned themselves. This is because the cumulative behavior of the famous (and infamous) members of the group the accuser belongs to is far worse than anything they will be able to dig up relating to people who have been Jehovah's Witnesses. This is true of essentially any sufficiently large religious group. It is true also of anti-religious people, who are nearly always wise enough to avoid condemning entire groups by the actions of individuals, lest they be asked to answer for the hundreds of millions of murders perpetrated by Lenin, Pol Pot, Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Nicolae Ceausescu, Joseph Goebbels, Maximillien Robespierre, etc.
Copyright © 2005 by Adherents.com.
Web page created 2 November 2000. Last modified 16 January 2006.
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