Journal Article

"It Separated the Wheat from the Chaff": The "1975" Prophecy and Its Impact among Dutch Jehovah's Witnesses

Richard Singelenberg
Sociological Analysis
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Spring, 1989), pp. 23-40
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3710916
https://www.jstor.org/stable/3710916
Page Count: 18
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"It Separated the Wheat from the Chaff": The "1975" Prophecy and Its Impact among Dutch Jehovah's Witnesses
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Abstract

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the worldwide organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, marked the year 1975 as significant: the apocalypse might take place. The proselytizing activities of the Dutch adherents were greatly influenced by this prediction: a significant increase in missionary zeal prior to that date, followed by a similar decline afterwards. The latter phenomenon looks contrary to cognitive dissonance theorizing, according to which an increase in missionary attempts is hypothesized (Festinger et al., 1964). It is questionable, however, if Festinger's theory is relevant in this particular case, mainly because of the ambiguous formulation of the prophecy and in-group characteristics among the adherents. Also it is proposed that dissonance may have played a greater part in the period prior to 1975 than afterwards, mainly because of doctrinal characteristics of the Watchtower ideology.