What The Jehovah's Witnesses Really Believe About Satan

Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian denomination that came to be as part of the 19th century Adventist movement within the United States, as reported by Britannica. Adventists believed in a prophecy by William Miller that predicted Jesus Christ would return in 1843 or 1844. When this didn't happen, the movement split into several factions, including one led by Charles Taze Russell, who rejected Hell as a place of eternal suffering and adopted a non-Tritinatarian theology that denies the divinity of Jesus Christ. Russell formed the International Bible Students Association as well as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and transferred the headquarters of his movement to Brooklyn, New York in 1909. Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over as the faction's leader in 1917 and changed the name to Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931.

Among Jehovah's Witnesses' many beliefs that are specific to the denomination are those that apply to the figure of Satan. According to a 2007 article on the Jehovah's Witnesses website, Satan is a real person who, per the Bible, exists in the spiritual realm. The article emphasizes Biblical passages that describe Satan as a son of God who was "perfect and righteous" but eventually chose to live in opposition to God and therefore became known as "Satan," a descriptor meaning "Adversary; Enemy; Accuser." It goes on to note that Satan hid his identity and appeared to Eve as a serpent, and continues to hide today, blinding the minds of those who don't believe in order to exert his powerful, evil influence.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe Satan is a real person

The Jehovah's Witnesses website article advises that people can avoid the influence of Satan via awareness — accepting that Satan is real; according to the First Epistle of Peter, "your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone" (5:8). CTV News reports that Witnesses believe that Satan exerts control over the world via other religions, governments, companies, and the media, and quotes theology professor Andre Gagne: "Since the governments of this world are not under God's authority, Jehovah's Witnesses see no reason to adhere or submit themselves to the authorities of the world, including government, the courts, and police, especially when laws go against their beliefs."

Jehovah's Witnesses' relationship with Satan has made the news more than once. In 2018 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that at a 2017 seminar for Witness elders, record management overseer Shawn Bartlett recommended destroying organizational internal records because "we know that the scene of this world is changing, and we know Satan's coming after us, and he's going to go for us legally." More recently, per The Independent, a Jehovah's Witness near Birmingham, England delivered hand-written letters to several houses. The letters blamed natural disasters and COVID-19 on Satan, perhaps one person's method of continuing the Jehovah's Witnesses' door-to-door public preaching mandate while maintaining social distancing.