Saturday, April 5, 2014

Geographic Distribution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2013

(Updated April 9, 2014 to include a omitted citation and correct a reporting error.) This is the first of three posts statistically comparing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The first post compares the geographic distribution of members, the second, the geographic distribution in growth of members and the final, growth over time.  My comparison is statistical, not theological.  While I am a Mormon and I believe that my Church offers a more direct path to truth and light than any other, nothing presented should be viewed as indicating that one church is superior to the other.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses present three types of membership numbers, peak publishers, average publishers, and memorial attendance.  I elected to report the peak publishers.  To be recorded as a publisher, a person must report at least one hour teaching non-members per month.  The color map shows the distribution of peak attenders throughout the world.  There are similarities and differences to the distribution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.  As shown in the table that follows the text, both churches have more members in the United States than any other country.  Mexico and Brazil are the second and third highest in membership.  The Philippines is seventh in the Jehovah’s Witness ranking, and fourth in the Mormon ranking.  The remaining seven positions diverge considerably.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a greater presence in Africa, not surprising given the prohibition on African blacks holding the priesthood that was lifted in 1978.  Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia all rank in the Jehovah’s Witnesses top ten.  Two European countries, Italy and Russia, and an Asian country, Japan, round out the top ten.  In the Mormon top ten, but not the Jehovah’s Witnesses are Chile, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador and the United Kingdom.
A comparison of the two maps also suggests that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintain a presence in more countries than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this may be part illusion.  For example, both convert Cubans living outside of their home countries but the Jehovah’s Witnesses show those members in their reported statistics.  The Church does not.  The wider international presence is part reality.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses are more regionally self-sufficient.  They often authorize these members to establish congregations and conduct missionary activities whereas the Church does not (see Martinich. "Comparing the International Growth of Latter-day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses" for a more fuller comparison of organizational structure.) 
Jehovah’s Witnesses Peak Publishers: 2013
Country Peak Publishers
Members Rank
United States
3 1,209,974 3
Nigeria 351,205 4 109,998 20
Italy 248,743 5 24,970 39
Japan 216,472 6 126,407 17
Philippines 189,101 7 675,166 4
Congo, Dem Rep 188,872 8 34,547 38
Zambia 170,861 9 3,044 80
Russia 168,123 10 21,709 43
Chile, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador and the United Kingdom round out the top ten for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

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