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Ask a Former JW: Why no Windows?

Why are there no windows in a jehovah witness temple?

First, you should know that they refer to each of their houses of worship as a “Kingdom Hall.”

There are a few reasons why there are usually (although there are exceptions) no windows in a Kingdom Hall .

1) The first and foremost reason is for security. Think of it as a bunker. Jehovah’s Witnesses are a pacifist but paranoid group. They believe that at any time, they will be vindicated by being violently persecuted. Rightly or wrongly – and there are many examples of each – they have indeed faced some opposition in communities around the world. So while one must note that such an apocalyptically-oriented belief is extremely self-justifying and community-cementing, a fear of the outside world does make some sense. Windows are an easy target for those who would persecute them with violence. They try to minimize that while emphasizing the potential for it.

There was a famous instance in 1940 of a mob of 2000 who attacked a Hall in Kennebunk Maine. A couple of Witnesses there actually had guns (unusual), fired into the crowd, and were arrested. Meanwhile, however, the crowd had broken the windows and even some of the walls.

2) They don’t want anyone to be distracted by pretty windows or outside views during their many meetings. I heard this reason given in a talk that was illustrating some of the differences between God’s People and Babylon the Great. It was full of statements beginning with “Only Jehovah’s Witnesses…”, a topic very typical of a Sunday talk script from New York. Witnesses think of their Kingdom Halls just as buildings of function, not as sacred spaces. Not unlike the early christians who used people’s houses for gatherings, they believe that the building itself is unimportant. All that matters is that they are gathered in his name. That name would be Jehovah. Jesus? Not so much. Their members are not allowed to set foot in other houses of worship, no matter how many people might be gathered there in the spirit of love.

3) The last reason is to save money. Actually, I think this is the first reason, but I’m putting the reasons I was given as an “insider” first. Windows are just more expensive than no windows. Real money stays in Brooklyn and other world headquarters. Local JWs pay for the property using the Watchtower loan system (with interest), but then the Watchtower Bible and Tract organization owns all the land. Pretty neat.

This Kingdom Hall is lovely, but only because they didn’t build it. Usually the Kingdom Hall is nothing much more than one large room with cheesy carpeting, a slightly raised stage, and a “bookstore” at the back. Restrooms are typically in the basement, along with a couple of other rooms that I remember being used primarily to discipline children but were meant for smaller group meetings.

It’s a little like an old-fashioned barnraising when a Kingdom Hall is built. Everyone is expected to help and it is fun, in a relative sort of way, to engage in some sort of real constructive effort as a group (one that doesn’t involve going door to door or listening to someone speak).

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