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  • #teacher ? Here are appropriate responses to situations with your Jehovah's Witness student:

  • #Teachers: Want to know why your Jehovah's Witness student won't say the pledge and how to respond?

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Teachers: If there’s one thing you probably already know about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s that they are a group of religious folk who go door to door giving out information about their beliefs. But as an educator, there are a few other things to know about the Jehovah’s Witness in your classroom. Here are answers to three common questions to help you respond appropriately and with sensitivity when situations arise.

1. My student won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem. Isn’t this unpatriotic?

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that actions such as saluting the flag, singing the national anthem, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance give reverence to one’s country, instead of God. To the Jehovah’s Witness, patriotism is a form of idolatry to be avoided.

How to respond: Your student may ask to sit during the pledge, stand quietly, or even be dismissed from the classroom. You may not agree with her beliefs, but you can respect them by allowing her to take part (or sit in the hallway) as her conscience permits.

2. Can my student participate in a holiday celebration?

Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays or holidays (including Christmas) because they believe holidays originated as pagan festivities and put the focus on humans instead of God.

How to respond: Do not automatically plan a birthday celebration for your Jehovah’s Witness student. If you are planning any sort of birthday or holiday celebration to be held during class, pull him aside ahead of time and ask whether he would be allowed to attend. If not, make arrangements for him to be elsewhere during the celebration. Be sure to give him a fun activity to do in the other room (not homework) since your other students will be doing something fun.

If you are holding a holiday celebration that’s intended to teach a student about a culture (such as Mexico’s Day of the Dead), give your Jehovah’s Witness student instruction and classroom materials that will help him understand what that holiday means to the culture…but don’t require him to participate in the celebration.

3. Will my student try to convert people in school?

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus sent followers out to share his message. Children often accompany adults on missionary activities. The steps that are believed to lead to conversion include passing out literature at homes but do not include passing out materials in schools. That said, students may be excited to share their beliefs just as any student from another religion might want to tell others what he believes.

How to respond: For the most part, if a student wishes to pass out evangelistic materials to her classmates, public school districts can’t prohibit them from doing so. However, they can place restrictions on when and where those materials are distributed. If you have concerns, talk to your administrators.

To learn more about what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and how you might respond, visit their official website or this BBC site.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011.

You’ve heard before that today’s generation of young adults is focused on social justice issues. But did you know they were really active?

A new Barna Group study found that 93% of church-attending Christians are concerned about global poverty and 20% of practicing American Protestants have traveled outside of the United States to serve the global poor. But what’s really striking is the info they gathered about young adults:

Younger Christians, those under 40, are more than twice as likely to have traveled outside the U.S. to serve the global poor.

Younger Christians give 50% more than older Christians toward the cause of global poverty.

45% of younger Christians believe their churches should be more involved in helping the poor…and 37% said they would donate more to their church if their church increased its involvement.

Do your religious beliefs affect your concerns about poverty? Are you doing anything to eradicate hunger?

Created by, 2011

What’s with all the recent violence in Egypt? Is it just Muslims attacking Christians? Are Christians ultimately responsible?

The recent spate of violence stems from years of tensions resulting from the mash-up of two groups: Coptic Christians and Wahhabi Muslims. Watch this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly to learn about these recent tensions.

Some definitions to know before you watch this video…

Who are the Coptic Christians?

Nowadays, this term refers to Egyptian Christians (including those who first came to the region in the 2nd and 3rd centuries), particularly members of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The term “Desert Fathers” refers to Christians of the desert in Egypt around the 3rd century. They became the first real monastic community, leading the way for present-day monks and nuns. As Egypt has changed from a mostly Christian country to a mostly Muslim country, the freedom and acceptance of Copts in Egypt has waned.

What is Wahhabi?

Wahhabism is a branch of Sunni Islam named after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. (Click here to learn the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite.) It is prominent in Saudi Arabia, though often viewed as an extremist branch of Islam. Learn more about Wahhabism from PBS.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011

My God is a God who wants me to have things. He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. – Mary J. Blige

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) began an investigation in November 2007 into the spending of American televangelists. Yesterday Grassley released his report, bringing a close to the investigation. The findings showed concern for the “lack of oversight of finances” but contained no penalties, according to the Associated Press.

The investigation looked into the ministries of six televangelists including Joyce Meyer Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changes Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries, Without Walls International Church/Paula White Ministries, and Bishop Eddie Long/Bishop Eddie Long Ministries. The latter four refused to provide complete information to Grassley.

Why these six televangelists?

The Associated Press notes that all six televangelists preach the “prosperity gospel.”

What is the Prosperity Gospel?

Maybe you had already heard of Joyce Meyer, or maybe you’ve seen Joel Osteen on TV or on a book cover. Meyer and Osteen (and the televangelists probed in the investigation) promote prosperity theology, a belief by some evangelical Christians that God wants to make His people prosper financially.

The idea is a little bit “do this and you’ll get this” or perhaps it’s more passive: Just be Christian and God will give you things. One follower of this belief was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

Such beliefs are often traced back to the covenant God made with His people in the Hebrew Bible. (Learn more about the covenant in this Judaism overview.) If these are God’s people, the thinking goes, and God wants to give them blessings, then surely that includes material goods. Others point to the New Testament of the Bible – ““For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The movement has not been without its fair share of critics, particularly within Christianity. Click here to learn about these criticisms.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011