My parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was 7. I was baptised at 14, and left at 23. After disassociating myself, and struggling to make sense of my place in the world, I found Ray Franz’s book ‘Crisis of Conscience’ and M. James Penton’s history ‘Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses’. My history honours thesis on the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia during the Second World War not only stretched me academically, but also became a way to work through questions I had regarding the theology and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
There is not much academic work on Jehovah’s Witnesses. What there is often relies far too heavily on the literature and propaganda of the Witnesses themselves (particularly with regard to their role as ‘victims’ under the Nazi regime). And yet, they are an expanding group with a theologically-defined world view, millenarians with a strong belief that the end of the world is near, as well as being politically neutral, and visible as door-to-door preachers. They are inherently interesting.