Prince was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses – an often misunderstood religion. His death has led to countless rumors, debates and outright lies about his religious beliefs. Numerous tabloids, celebrity gossip sites and media outlets are reporting false information derived from questionable sources or ill-informed individuals, which has led to wild speculation and heated debates among Prince’s many fans.
In the interest of accurate reporting, a handful of reputable news outlets like CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times actually attended a Sunday service at the St. Louis Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses where Prince worshipped, in order to accurately portray the popular musician’s religious beliefs. But the majority of media outlets carried misinformation without bothering to check the facts. Hopefully this article will clarify many of the inaccuracies reported by multiple media outlets that didn’t bother to check the facts.
For example, it was widely (and falsely) reported that Prince’s body was cremated so quickly after his autopsy because the Jehovah’s Witness faith requires cremation and burial to take place no later than a week after death. This is completely false.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have no such requirements, customs or stipulations with regard to burial or death. Funeral arrangements are handled in accordance with the wishes of the family, or the instructions of the deceased. Yet this falsehood was published by multiple media outlets worldwide that made no attempt to verify what they mistakenly assumed were facts. Most notable is the Daily Mail which even interviewed one of the elders at Prince’s Kingdom Hall and still managed to get it wrong.
Unfortunately, half-truths and outright lies regarding the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses are quite common. Most people have serious misunderstandings about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their religion, based on hearsay and comments from non-Witnesses who are grossly ill-informed.
However, one would expect that for the sake of accuracy, a responsible journalist would attempt to ascertain the facts instead reporting hearsay or perpetuating myths. Since the facts can be easily found at http://www.jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, maintained by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, there’s no excuse for reporting false information, lies or half truths.
Further misconceptions about Prince’s religion revolve around the question of whether or not Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians. As the Washington Post and Get Religion.org point out, Jehovah’s Witnesses are seen by mainstream Protestantism as a cult. Lifesite News even referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a non-Christian sect.
Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves to be Christians, as pointed out by the Los Angeles Times, since they strictly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and offer prayers in Jesus’ name. But despite this, Protestants, Catholics and other religions, insist that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians because they do not believe in the “Trinity.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God (whose name is Jehovah) and Jesus are separate entities; that as clearly stated in the Bible, Jesus is Jehovah God’s son; and that neither one is part of a trinity.” Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe in the “holy spirit” but believe it to be God’s active force rather than a separate entity, or part of a trinity.
Many of Prince’s fans find it difficult to reconcile his Jehovah’s Witness beliefs with the sexually explicit songs from the 80s and early 90s which comprised much of his early career. However, as NPR, Yahoo News and others point out, it’s important to note that after Prince became a baptized Jehovah’s Witness in 2003, he eliminated his X-rated songs from his concert playlists, and ceased writing sexually-charged songs.
Another widely perpetuated myth is that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in medicine or medical treatment. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses are not anti-medicine, this too, is a lie. It’s true that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions for scriptural reasons, (see Acts 15:28, 29) but they readily embrace many of the safe, effective transfusion-alternative strategies and treatments that are medically available today. Prince’s adherence to these beliefs had no bearing on his death, as pointed out by congregation elders who were interviewed by CNN and the Wall Street Journal.
All the above-mentioned points are discussed or explained in greater detail in articles and videos at http://www.jw.org. Instead of bickering back and forth, or believing myths, rumors and misleading information about Prince’s religious beliefs, fans and media alike who are really interested in knowing the truth about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses should go directly to the source to find out for themselves.
The official website has an entire section entitled “What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?” which addresses frequently asked questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their beliefs and views on a wide variety of topics including holidays, birthdays, blood transfusions, medical care, voting, military service, being Christians, families, community involvement, recreation and entertainment, their door-to-door ministry, the Bible, other religions, and much, much more.