Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Tolerant of Other Religions?

What JW.ORG Says

“We follow the Bible’s advice to “respect everyone”—regardless of their religious beliefs. (1 Peter 2:17Today’s English Version) For example, in some countries there are hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even so, we don’t try to pressure politicians or lawmakers into restricting or banning the work of other religious groups. Nor do we campaign to have laws passed that would impose our moral and religious convictions on the general community. Instead, we extend to others the same tolerance that we appreciate receiving from them.—Matthew 7:12.”

The Truth

It is certainly true that Jehovah’s Witnesses are generally respectful to people of other religions, and that they do not seek to influence political policy. However, what is not stated is how Watchtower teaches its members to feel about other religions:

  • Satan and his demons…want to turn everyone away from God if they can. How do they try to do this? One way is through false religion. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) A religion is false if it does not teach the truth from the Bible. False religion is like false money​—it may look like the real thing, but it is worthless. It can cause you much trouble. You Can Be God’s Friend, Chapter 11

Since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only they teach truth from the Bible, Watchtower teaches that every other religion is relegated to the realm of “false religion,” whose members are actively being misled by Satan.

Watchtower goes as far as saying that as a collective, all other religions compromise “the great harlot” spoken of in the book of Revelation:

And one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying: ‘Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’”​—Revelation 17:1, 2.

  • “…the great harlot must be a worldwide religious entity. Which religious entity? Is she the Roman Catholic Church, as some have maintained? Or is she all of Christendom? No, she must be even larger than these if she is to mislead all the nations. She is, in fact, the entire world empire of false religion. Her origin in the mysteries of Babylon is shown in that many Babylonish doctrines and practices are common to religions around the earth. For example, belief in the inherent immortality of the human soul, in a hell of torment, and in a trinity of gods is to be found in most Oriental religions as well as in the sects of Christendom. False religion, spawned more than 4,000 years ago in the ancient city of Babylon, has developed into the modern monstrosity that is called, appropriately, Babylon the Great.* Why, though, is she described by the repugnant term “the great harlot”? re chap. 33 pp. 235-245

Part of the “good news” that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach is the impending destruction of every religion other than their own. (See: Good News From God, Lesson 13)

  •  “Babylon the Great” will be destroyed! As mentioned earlier, the nations will have no control over what happens at this point. Why not? Because “God [will] put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” What is that thought? To destroy the world empire of false religion, including Christendom.* God will put his thought into the hearts of “the ten horns” of the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” The ten horns represent all the political powers that support “the wild beast”​—the United Nations. (Rev. 17:3, 11-13; 18:8) When those political powers turn on false religion, that will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. It will be a truly catastrophic world event.
  • Babylon the Great has brought much reproach on God’s name. She has taught lies about God. She has prostituted herself spiritually by forming alliances with earth’s rulers. She has used her power and influence to exploit her flocks. And she has spilled much blood, including the blood of God’s servants.  w19 September pp. 8-13
  • It is no exaggeration to say that all religion today is under reproach, the true religion and the false. The false religion is suffering reproach because of its hypocrisy, because of its ignorance and confusion, because of the depravity and illiteracy in which it has left the people, because of the failure of its aims and policies and because it has no certain message of light to show the people the way to a clean, prosperous, happy, peaceful and secure world. False religion is an ally and an inseparable part of this sordid world and fights with it against the only living and true God. Even Christendom does so. w51 11/1 pp. 656-664
  • How happy mankind can be that Jehovah’s judgment upon the great harlot is at hand. May it soon be executed! re chap. 33 pp. 235-245

“May it soon be executed!” This is the attitude Watchtower expects its members to have of any religion that is not their own. This is not to say that Witnesses are taught to be hateful toward religious individuals, but can it reasonably be said that the above quotes point toward an attitude of tolerance toward other religions?

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