How are African Americans connected to the Jehovah's Witnesses?

What’s the cultural history here? Why are many of the JW’s I’ve met—just had a couple on my porch about a half hour ago—black?

What’s the connection or history there?

I too have wondered this. The JWs do seem to have a connection to the black community. Michael Jackson, Serena and Venus Williams, and Naomi Campbell come to mind.

Maybe it’s big in some places like Nigeria? This could be down to missionaries penalizing a certain country or place.

I don’t know of any history but I wouldn’t be surprised if Witnesses are generally more successful finding converts among black people than white people.

As an ex-JW, I can tell you that they have a DISPROPORTIONATELY successful rate of converting Black AMERICANS to the JW Faith.
I say DISPROPORTIONATELY successful, because African-Americans are a numerical Minority in America, yet Kingdom Halls even in so-called “White” Neighborhoods have sizeable numbers of African-American members, not to mention the Kingdom Halls in the predominantly-“black” neighborhoods, which are 99% African Americans (and now black Haitian Americans, too, here in South Florida).

I’ll suggest the following reasons why there might be more African American JWs:

  1. MOST African Americans, blacks in the USA, come from protestant, usually some form of Baptist, AME, or pentecostal backgrounds, and have been taught, from childhood, the pro-Protestant Reformation view of Christianity and believe it ((the church in the 16th century had been apostate and evil for many centuries and so what Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, and the other “reformers” did WAS OF GOD and VERY VERY NECESSARY because Catholicism is NOT Christian)).
  2. MOST African Americans, while very religious in their own way, are also usually quite busy, tend to come from lower to lower-middle class backgrounds, have to work two jobs to make ends meet, and have little time to STUDY THOROUGLY these historical claims about the history of Christian doctrine and practice and, THEREFORE,
    3)) When the JWs come to their door with their well-rehearsed teachings about the history of Christianity, it’s early apostasy, especially under “wicked old King Constantine” in the 4th century, who helped INVENT the doctrine of the Trinity in the 4th century,
    it’s history of PAGAN holidays, of worshiping Mary, of INVENTING the doctrine of hell by borrowing it from the 4th century pagans, of INVENTING the papacy, which the Reformers did not COMPLETELY ERASE during their reformation, thus necessitating God raising up the Jehovah’s Witnesses to COMPLETE the true reform and restoration of TRUE Christianity, many (though not all) blacks confronted with this often rapid-fire presentation, tend to fall for it, especially once the Witness starts wowing them with scripture verses proving how the U.N. is the Scarlet Beast of Revelation 17 and the Apostate Christian Church (along with OTHER false religions) is the richly-apparelled whore called Babylon The Great who rides on the back of the beast, they (and non-blacks too) are WOWED by this, wondering WHY THE HECK HASN"T ANYBODY EVER TOLD ME THIS BEFORE??? Then the JWs tell you how the Beast is about to kill the harlot (outlaw ALL religions in the world and SEIZE ALL RELIGIOUS-OWNED PROPERTY and KILL ALL ministers of ALL religions in the world, pointing to the beast of Revelation goring the harlot to death with the horns of his seven heads, this interpretation makes sense to them and to many people, and they believe it and,
    since it was the WITNESSES who brought this “TRUTH” to their attention, they, like non-black witnessees, feel morally obligated, by God, to join up with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and help proclaim God’s Kingdom, which has been invisibly established in heaven since 1914 and the outbreak of world war one (Nation shall Rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom is one of the signs of the return of the Son of Man, and World War ONE was the first time in history that such a war had happened on such a globe-affecting scale).
    There are other reasons, but the doctrinal WOWING of people who have very little time to do thorough research to check out this multitude of claims, is a partial explanation of why so many African Americans and Haitian Americans, fall for this. Plus, VERY POOR Catechesis in the Christian faith by the Churches they are attending when first confronted by the Witnesses. That’s the same reason why many CATHOLICS join the JWs: they have never had good, thorough catechesis in the Catholic faith, and in the history, verifiable history, of Christianity and it’s doctrines (they were ALWAYS Catholic, since the VERY FIRST CENTURY A.D.), because if they HAD been properly taught, they would NEVER FALL FOR the idiotic historical and doctrinal claims of the JWs, Mormons, ultra-fundamentalists, and other sects. They would KNOW better and would be IMMUNE to these false claims. As the late Walter Martin (for all his flaws) so-well put it:
    Peace and blessings to all of you,

:shrug: Oops, Zundrah, I hope you mean it could be “down to missionaries colonising certain” countries. :wink:

You get the gist. :smiley:

Thanks for your take as an ex-JW.

Or Prince, Larry Grahamn, George Benson…

Perhaps no JW also rode as a KKK member after church or in the Northeast no JW rioted against Black folk like Irish immigrants. And no JW prophet/President said all men a priest except those we know have African heritage

While I’ve read in some Witness conversion testimonies that they admired the fact that the Witnesses didn’t have a history of oppressing other peoples (unlike most Christian communities), I don’t know to what extent what you describe is a motivator for black converts, especially those coming from countries where black people weren’t systematically hunted down.

Regarding Prince’s conversion–I was shocked. And, he’s very serious about it–he actually does knock on people’s doors and he allegedly doesn’t swear anymore. But I suppose if he can strut his stuff in heels looking young as ever he can become a Witness…

I didn’t include Prince because he’s a convert…I was thinking more along the lines of coming from a JW family.

It could be that JW temples are located in inner city neighborhoods.

To foursquarebaby from Los Angeles,
it is true that no JWs rioted against blacks in Boston or rode in KKK rallies after church
((though except for Boston, all the after-church evils you describe are PROTESTANT phenomenon, the KKK for example HATES Catholicism with a pulsating purple passion)).
But you have a very idealized version of the history of JWism.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder, while he regarded black “Bible Students” (the early name of the JWs) as “brethren,” nonetheless urged that they be segregated from the white brethren at all meetings and assemblies. He also, like many genteel white people of his time, felt that black people were “naturally endowed” to be SERVANTS (as in butlers, maids, janitors, elevator operators, waiters and waitresses, and midwives, not “servants of the Lord and of the brethren” like we are ALL supposed to be). In other words, black people were janitors because that’s what God kinda designed them to be.
That’s how he thought, and he actually wrote things like that, too. And he ran this movement for it’s first 40 years, until his death (on Halloween) in 1916.
The JWs never took a social cutting-edge approach to black/white equality at all,
UNLIKE many of the country’s Catholic Bishops, even most of the MOST conservative ones, in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, while white fundy protestant leaders railed against integration because it would end up “eliminating” the white race !!
The people of Boston became enraged, wrongly, at the greater black community because,especially in the early 70s, the liberals in power decided to forcibly BUS their children away from their neighborhood schools to schools sometimes as far as 30 MILES AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES. They pulled this garbage here in South Florida too.
It didn’t give black kids a better education (as if being around white people would make black people smarter or something, how very insulting!!), it just made going to school an EXTREMELY and UNECESSARILY TIME-CONSUMING experience. I used to go to school 3 blocks from home. Then came 1969 and “Bussing,” the liberal answer to improving education. Suddenly, I had to leave home nearly 90 minutes EARLIER in the morning, walk to MY NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL, and take a BUS to the OTHER SCHOOL many miles away. And the poor ol’ black kids had to get up an hour and a half earlier, too, to walk to THEIR neighborhood schools, wait for the darned BUS, and ride the bus for a half hour to 45 minutes to the school in the white or cuban neighborhoods.
It made it much harder to get homework done or have any quality time to play or be with family. Kids have short attention spans, and after chatting with each other on the bus for 10 or 15 minutes, they, already tired from a much-longer school day and having to get up 90 minutes earlier, became bored and the rest of the ride back to THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL, was boring and grueling. By the time we got home, we were in no mood to sit BACK down and do a bunch of homework.
I’m glad that integration occured, we all get along much better now,
but they really could have accomplished the same thing through other less intrusive means than bussing kids all over god-and-creation for pete’s sake. The people in Boston in particular blamed the black people for bussing and made many racist remarks in their often UGLY public demoinstrations. I remember those demonstrations, and their behaviour (the white protestors) was vulgar and unconscionable. No TRUE Catholic would behave like that and use such filthy, insulting and racist language as those mobs used.

That said, please don’t idealize the racial history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were not VIOLENTLY anti-black, that’s true, but for most decades of their history, they were most definitely in favor of racial segregation and, in their founder’s case, content to let most black people have no career options other than as maids, butlers, porters and elevator operators, and as I previously noted, during Russell’s lifetime, the “colored brethren” were not allowed to sit with the white brethren at meetings and assemblies.

I was actually thinking about the New York draft riots.

Okay I am just going to say this out loud…
When I was a fundamentalist in my younger years, the predominately African American parts of town were the last place fundamentalists would door knock or evangelize in. I remember one preacher wanting to ‘plant a church’ in such a neighborhood. He was met with blank stares and was told “a black fundamentalist needs to start a black church” That is an exact quote.
Perhaps it’s possible the JWs have simply never held such an attitude. If there is a vacuum, someone will fill it.

The sad answer to that is ignorance and poverty, two factors that many blacks have unfortunately had to endure, which the JWs being good at playing on those emotions.

For example, the JWs are big on promoting the idea that the End of the world is literally coming any day now. But unlike the rest of Christians, the JWs say nobody will go to hell, and instead the good JWs and all those who have never heard the JW “good news” (literally billions of people) will be resurrected and live on a Paradise Earth without poverty, discrimination, etc. So the Black person hears this and sees (a) no more poverty, (b) no racism, © reunited with my deceased family. That’s a hard thing to turn down.

On top of that, the JWs are good at keeping their members in line (through fear tactics), including in family life, and many who see this structure are impressed. Blacks who come from broken homes and such see this and it inspires them to live by Godly principles, and when a Black husband/wife apply this to their home they are assured of structure they never knew as kids.

This “draw” is really more about practicality than theological arguments, as JWs for the most part are ignorant and even forbidden to study the Bible or History independently.

If ignorance and poverty attracts cults then explain Scientology, which is REAL big in Hollyweird.
I think it has more to do with filling a vacuum other cults/religions refuse to.

I’m not sure it is big in Hollywood; some have suggested they paid off certain stars to give Scientology popularity.

Also, not all ‘cults’ are looking for the same audience or targeting the same emotions. So if Hollyweird has a huge Scientology following, it would most likely go back to the fact Scientology only targets people with wealth, playing on emotions on how to make someone successful and eliminate pain, and their courses are built precisely around paying money to advance.

As an ex-JW, I think it’s because any man in good standing (following all the rules) in the congregation can rise to power/authority. Attend enough meetings and knock on enough doors and you can become a ministerial servant and eventally an elder who gives the Sunday “Talks” and leads the Tuesday night meetings.

I was a JW in the South … it’s not like there were lots of opportunities for uneducated, blue color blacks to rise to power. The Kingdom Hall provided that.

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