Jehovah's Witnesses 'All Average People'

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill O'Brien Daily Herald Staff Writer

Many people think of Jehovah's Witnesses as formally dressed men or women with Bible in hand, knocking at your door as disciples eager to preach the word of the Lord.

While many members say the characterization is accurate, they still like to think of themselves as everyday people who might even be your best friend.

"We're all average people. We all work for a living," said Ronald Bonahoom, one of the elders at the Palatine congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, which has about 150 members.

"We don't get paid for our ministry. We are volunteers. We're free moral agents. We're not robots," added Bonahoom, a practicing chiropractic physician who has an office in Mount Prospect.

Formed in the 19th century, Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian religion that holds that God's Kingdom under Christ is a heavenly government that will soon rule over the earth in righteousness.

Their name derives from biblical references to the Lord, whom they say is named Jehovah.

Members of Jehovah's Witnesses - more than 5 million worldwide - are ordained as ministers at baptism and have a scriptural obligation, they believe, to preach to family, friends and the public.

"We have an obligation, and that's to present the good word of God's kingdom," Bonahoom said. "We recognize that we're not a mainstream religion like other religions."

Also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, there are more than 956,000 members in the country, with nearly 200 congregations in the Chicago area representing about 60,000 members.

One characteristic that separates Jehovah's Witnesses from others is their deep religious belief that blood transfusions - even to save one's life - are forbidden by several implicit biblical passages.

Jehovah's Witnesses regard human blood as holy and venerable, something that should not exist outside the body. …