Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a Christian denomination who are known for their door-to-door preaching and distribution of literature. They believe that the Bible is the word of God and follow its guidance closely. While Witnesses aim to be respectful in their ministry, there are certain things that they may find offensive.
Criticizing Their Beliefs
One of the easiest ways to offend a Jehovah’s Witness is to directly criticize their beliefs and practices. They view their faith as the only true religion and take the Bible very literally. Telling them that their views are wrong or misguided will likely be seen as an attack. Mocking practices like their refusal to celebrate holidays or receive blood transfusions can also cause offense. Focusing a conversation on controversial Witness teachings about salvation, the afterlife and other religions may make them upset or angry.
Being Disrespectful of Their Literature
Jehovah’s Witnesses distribute magazines like The Watchtower and Awake! along with books and brochures. Treating these publications disrespectfully in front of Witnesses is seen as highly offensive. Throwing out their literature, ripping or damaging it, using it inappropriately or refusing to accept a tract or magazine they offer will be seen as a personal insult. Even strongly disagreeing with the contents may upset them.
Insulting Their Organization
Saying derogatory things about the Witnesses’ leadership, churches and organizational structure will likely cause offense. Referring to the religion as a “cult” or making disparaging remarks about their governing body, policies and practices can make Witnesses very upset. Accusing them of sheltering abusers or mishandling funds crosses a major line. Criticizing their prohibition on blood transfusions or treatment of former members may also be viewed negatively.
Uninvited Disruption of Services
Jehovah’s Witnesses hold meetings multiple times a week at Kingdom Halls. Entering a Kingdom Hall service uninvited and being disruptive or confrontational would be seen as extremely disrespectful. Making critical comments about their worship, interrupting proceedings or mocking rituals is offensive. Recording video or audio of meetings without permission can anger members. Even showing up at a Kingdom Hall repeatedly unannounced may upset them.
Making offensive personal remarks directly to a Jehovah’s Witness should be avoided. Comments on a their appearance, intelligence, worthiness, parenting or associations are unnecessary. Profanity, insults, racial slurs and sexist language are also unwelcome and inflammatory. Any sort of physical aggression, intimidation or unwanted sexual remarks will be found completely inappropriate. Focusing instead on polite discussion reduces personal offense.
Disregarding Their Boundaries
Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door to preach their beliefs, but they still expect basic courtesy. Slamming a door in their face, being rude and dismissive, or refusing to acknowledge their presence is seen as ignorant and insulting. Making inappropriate jokes at their expense or keeping them talking at length when they wish to move on crosses a line. Insisting on debate when they wish to disengage or pressuring them to violate their faith is also problematic. Respecting their time and beliefs keeps things polite.
In summary, Jehovah’s Witnesses take their faith seriously. While controversy exists over some of their practices, they aim to be polite in their ministry. Criticizing, insulting, or disrespecting their beliefs directly, invading their worship and personal space, or disregarding their boundaries is likely to cause offense. Focusing instead on kind disagreement and considerate treatment of others can prevent hurt feelings or conflict. With understanding and basic human decency, discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses can remain constructive.