Questions From Readers
Would it be a form of interfaith to purchase a building from another religious group and convert it into a Kingdom Hall?
Generally, Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid such dealings with other religions. Still, such a transaction may not constitute an act of interfaith. It may simply be viewed as a one-time business deal. The local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not collaborating with another religious group to build a place of worship to be used by both parties.
What constitutes an act of interfaith in Jehovah’s eyes? Consider the apostle Paul’s direction: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? . . . ‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’; ‘and I will take you in.’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) What did Paul mean by the words “fellowship” and “sharing”?
The fellowship that Paul mentions clearly involves worship and spiritual dealings with idolaters and unbelievers. He warned the Corinthians against “partaking of . . . the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:20, 21) Thus, an act of interfaith is that of sharing in worship or of having spiritual communion with other religious organizations. (Exodus 20:5; 23:13; 34:12) When a building that was used by a religious organization is purchased, this is done simply to acquire the basic structure needed for a Kingdom Hall. Before being used as a Kingdom Hall, it is cleared of any relics of false worship. Being thus adjusted, it is dedicated to Jehovah for the sole purpose of worshiping him. There is no sharing or fellowship between true and false worship.
In working out the details regarding such a purchase, contact with the other party should be kept to a minimum and should be strictly business. Members of the Christian congregation do well to bear in mind Paul’s warning not to become “unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” Although we do not feel superior to those who profess other faiths, we avoid socializing with them or getting drawn into their worship.*
What of a congregation’s renting a building that belongs to a religious organization? Renting usually incurs regular contact, which is to be avoided. Even to rent such a building for just one event, the body of elders should consider the following: Will there be any idols and religious symbols inside or outside the building? How will people in the community view our use of the facility? Will anyone in the congregation be stumbled by our using this building? (Matthew 18:6; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13) The elders evaluate these factors and then decide accordingly. Their own conscience and that of the congregation in general must also be taken into account in determining whether to purchase and convert such a building into a Kingdom Hall.
See The Watchtower, April 15, 1999, pages 28 and 29, for information on the appropriateness of business dealings with organizations that are disapproved by Jehovah.
[Picture on page 27]
This building, which was a synagogue, was purchased and renovated into a Kingdom Hall