To maintain their political neutrality
Amid calls from the two political parties in yesterday’s runoff election for Liberians to vote, as it is one of the most critical ways that an individual can influence government decision-making, not all Liberians responded to the call. Some of those who did not respond belong to the Christian group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe that as Christians they should remain politically neutral, based on what the Holy Bible teaches about Christian neutrality in politics.
The Daily Observer has reliably gathered that the more than 6,000 baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country and some of their followers (those who have not been baptized, but attend services) – about 2,000 of them – did not vote in the national elections.
“We do not lobby, vote for political parties or candidates, run for government office, or participate in any action to change governments,” an elder of a congregation in Monrovia, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview. “We follow the example of Jesus, who refused to accept political office (John 6:15).”
The elder said Jesus also taught his disciples not to be “part of the world” which, he said, means that Christians should not take sides in political issues. (John 17:14, 16; 18:36 and Mark 12:13-17.) The elder said remaining politically neutral will allow them to speak freely to people of all political persuasions about the Good News of God’s Kingdom.
He argued that political participation and elections affect religion, because religions that meddle in politics divide their members. “Although, we do not take part in politics, we respect the authority of the government because it is in harmony with the Bible’s command to ‘Let every person be in subjection to the superior authorities.’”
He said: “We obey the law, pay taxes and cooperate with efforts of the government to provide for the welfare of its citizens. Rather than participate in an attempt to subvert the government, we follow the Bible’s counsel to pray for ‘kings and all those who are in positions of authority,’ especially when they are making decisions that could affect freedom of worship.”
Meanwhile, according to the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their political neutrality is not a modern innovation, indicating that the Apostles and other first-century Christians took a similar stand towards government authorities.
The Witnesses also do not celebrate Christmas and Easter as other Christians do neither do they join the military, honor images that represent countries or donate blood.
“We are a group of Christians who proclaim the truth about Jehovah; we are not a cult. We follow strictly the example set by Jesus Christ and to live by his teachings,” the Elder said.
According to their website, www.jw.org, Jesus commanded his followers to commemorate his death, not his birth.—Luke 22:19, 20. It said Jesus’ Apostles and early disciples did not celebrate Christmas.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia says that “the Nativity feast was instituted no earlier than 243 [C.E.],” more than a century after the last of the Apostles died.
It said there is no proof that Jesus was born on December 25 as his birth date is not recorded in the Bible and therefore, the Witnesses believe that Christmas is not approved by God because it is rooted in pagan customs and rites—2 Corinthians 6:17.