Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) have inconspicuously forsaken a key tenet--the notion that those alive in 1914 would live to see Armageddon and Christ's earthly return.

Since its founding in 1870, the sect has taught that the end is near. But for decades, JWs have tied the last days to a teaching that Christ would establish his kingdom on earth "before the generation who saw the events of 1914 passes away." The doctrine has been an impetus for JWs' fervent door-to-door visitation program.

Because fewer and fewer people are still alive who remember the start of World War I, the Brooklyn, New York-based movement has changed course. In November, the religious group's magazines, "Awake!" and "Watchtower," both retreated from the 1914 timeline as the start of the end.

Robert Johnson, media spokesperson for the 4.7 million-member sect (900,000 of them in the United States), says the change is a result of a re-examination of Scripture. "It doesn't change our belief that we are living in the time of the end," he says.

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