Successful Prophecy? Jehovah’s Witnesses and COVID-19

Successful Prophecy? Jehovah’s Witnesses and COVID-19” by George D. Chryssides of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, has been announced as the second keynote to be presented at The 12th Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy (ACERP2022), held concurrently with The 12th Asian Conference on Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences (ACP2022).

To participate in ACERP/ACP2022 as an audience member, please register for the conference via the conference website.

The presentation will also be available for IAFOR Members to view online. To find out more, please visit the IAFOR Membership page.



Abstract

Successful Prophecy? Jehovah’s Witnesses and COVID-19

In December 2005 the front page of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Awake! magazine bore the heading: “The Next Global Pandemic – When?” Despite the Watch Tower Society’s interest in prophecy, they did not claim the COVID-19 pandemic as fulfilment of this warning, but rather as one of a number of signs that the end of the world’s present system is near. When various governments, including the UK and US, banned public gatherings as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, Jehovah’s Witnesses were about to celebrate their annual Memorial.

The presentation explains how they relate the pandemic to biblical prophecy, and why they decided not to defy the law, as they have done in the past in the face of state opposition. The organisation’s decision to adapt the celebration to an online version created problems, since Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to return to early first century Christian practice, and since the Memorial is interactive, involving the physical resources of bread and wine. Being an international organisation, there was the additional challenge of celebrating the Memorial in over 500 languages. The presentation explores how the organisation resolved these problems and reconciled the conflicting factors involved, and examines the implications for the future of these technological adaptations.


Speaker Biography

George D. Chryssides

University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

New Religions and Cults Dr George Chryssides

Dr George D. Chryssides is Honorary Research Fellow in Contemporary Religion at the University of Birmingham, after being Head of Religious Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, UK, from 2001 to 2008. George Chryssides obtained a First Class Honours MA degree in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, and a First Class Honours Bachelor of Divinity in Systematic Theology. He subsequently undertook postgraduate research at the University of Oxford, obtaining his doctorate in 1974.

From the 1980s, George Chryssides’ main interest has been new religious movements, on which he has authored numerous books and scholarly articles. Recent publications include Historical Dictionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses (2008), Heaven’s Gate: Postmodernity and Popular Culture in a Suicide Group (2011), Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements (2012), The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements (co-edited with Benjamin E. Zeller,2014), and Jehovah’s Witnesses: Continuity and Change (2016). He is a regular presenter at national and international conferences.



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