This brief Best Jehovah's Witnesses History Lesson contains information that even WatchTower History experts did not know until they read it here first. Yet, we also have packed this page with highly memorable mini-lessons which history novices will retain for years. WatchTower History novices can read this page just once, and they will thereafter recall more meaningful "truth" about the WatchTower Society and Jehovah's Witnesses than that known by 99.9% of Jehovah's Witnesses, who are like the proverbial "mushrooms" -- kept completely in the dark and fed only "waste". If you are a "blank canvass" who knows little or nothing about WatchTower history (i.e., a Jehovah's Witness), we suggest first tabbing down to the bottom half of this webpage and reading a few of the more "entertaining" indented mini-lessons, in order to whet your appetite for the entire lesson.
For hardcore WatchTower History experts, we have included many additional "meaty" footnotes on PAGE TWO -- WATCHTOWER HISTORY FOOTNOTES, as well as PAGE THREE -- SELECTED HISTORIC DOCTRINAL CRITIQUES.
Also, -- MOVED TO ITS OWN PAGE --
at the bottom of this History page, visitors will find our relatively brief summary of a sociological, psychological, and legal "study" of life inside the Jehovah's Witnesses community recently released in March 2021 by the British government.
To fully understand and comprehend "Who really are Jehovah's Witnesses?", or "What kind of persons are Jehovah's Witnesses?", one must first have a basic understanding of the relatively short history of the WatchTower Society. Simply take a few minutes to read this brief history summary, and you will understand exactly "who is" that Jehovah's Witness with whom you are interacting.
FOUNDER CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
A MERCHANT in Allegheny City, Pa., named Russell, is preaching the doctrine that the world will come to an end in 1914; the "forty years of trouble" to precede that event having commenced in 1874. Russell has made 150 converts, some of whom are extravagant in their religious behavior, and a great deal of excitement has been caused in that region. -- The QUEBEC (CANADA) Daily Telegraph, December 30, 1878.
THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS OF TROUBLE FROM 1878 TO 1915. "We are not a denomination, neither are we Second Adventists," said Mr [C. T.] Russell to a Dispatch reporter seated in his office. ... "The Jewish age, which was symbolic of the Christian age, ended about the year A.D. 70. ... The Christian age then began, and it is now ending, or rather we are now in the 37 years that will precede the universal reign of peace. ... We are, rather, in the beginning of the time of trouble. From A.D. 33, the crucifixion of Christ, to A.D. 70, the destruction of Jerusalem, was a period of 37 years of great trouble, the closing of the Jewish age and beginning of the gospel age. It was typical of the 37 years from 1878 to 1915, when the universal reign of peace begins. ... This period is the day of the Lord, we think, in which society will be disintegrated, and kingdoms and governments, as such, pass away. ... [The church] will be overturned and all denominational lines obliterated. ... social chaos will reign ... The disintegration of denominations will become more apparent as this day of the Lord progresses." -- The Pittsburgh Dispatch, May 1882, edited.
Charles T. Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., announces that the millennium will surely arrive in October of 1914. We are now in the "lapping time", between the hay of the gospel and the grass of the millennium era. This "lapping time" began in October 1874 and will last 40 years. During this period the kingdoms of the world will be overthrown by the anarchists, nihilists, socialists, and nationalists. At the same time the Hebrews will all be gathered in Palestine. -- The Chicago Herald Tribune, May 1, 1893.
MILLENNIUM IN 1914. UNIVERSAL ANARCHY FIRST. "Pastor" C. T. Russell, of Allegheny, leader of the peculiar sect, "Believers in the Second Advent", has returned from St. Louis, where the Adventists held a convention. The most striking and prominent feature of the "Believers" faith is that they expect the Millennium to be ushered in during the month of October, 1914. Prior to this, for a period of 10 years or so, there will be a dreadful state of anarchy and bloodshed in which every man's hand will be raised against his neighbor's. The French revolution, with all its horrors, will seem but a mere side play to the fearful havoc and destruction that will ensue prior to 1914. ... The present time is one of preparation for the Millennium. It will be rounded out by a state of anarchy in which much life will be lost. This anarchy will fasten its grip on every form of life: industrial, financial, social, religious, and all, and will continue for probably 10 years. Out of this cleansing fire, the [human] race will arise phoenix-like from the embers and ashes of the past, and start on a new order of life, ... -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 12, 1899, edited.
Mr. Russell has figured out from the book of Revelation and other prophetic parts of the scriptures that the millennium will have fully come in all parts of the civilized world by the close of the year 1914. The preceding several years are to be a time of great trouble" according to the scriptures, and into this time of trouble the world is soon to enter. It will have fully come up on the earth by the year 1909. In that year, or soon thereafter, complete religious, political, and financial anarchy will reign over the earth, with great destruction of life and the entire passing away of the present order of things. It is this time which Mr. Russell believes is meant by the passages in the scriptures which refer to the destruction of the world. ... there will be a turning of men's hands against each other and a time of trouble such as was never before seen since the world began." -- CTR personal interview, Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 17, 1901, edited.***
Military Ceremonies at St. Louis in Honor of Dead Confederate Officer
The funeral of Alexander P. Stewart, late lieutenant-general in the Confederate army, who died at Biloxi, Miss., last Sunday, will be held here this afternoon at the home of his son, A. C. Stewart. The services will be military in character and the rites at Bellefontaine Cemetery, where interment will take place, will be in charge of the United Confederate Veterans. The services at the residence will be attended by the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of [Confederate] Veterans, and the St. Louis branch of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The Rev. Dr. [Charles Taze] Russell of Pittsburgh, who was an intimate friend of the general will officiate. The pall bearers have been chosen from the Sons of [Confederate] Veterans, and several of the honorary pall bearers were members of Gen. Stewart's headquarters' escort during the civil war. Many prominent Confederates from other cities are in St. Louis to take part in the obsequies of their former commander. -- The New York Evening Post, September 3, 1908.
EDITOR"S NOTE: Charles Taze Russell absented himself for two days from the middle of the annual WatchTower Convention so that he could travel to St. Louis and preside over General Stewart's Funeral. There, Charles Taze Russell and the Sons of Confederate Veterans provided a military funeral and burial befitting Stewart, who was the "ranking Confederate survivor" at the time of his death. At the head of Stewart's casket was a Cross of white astors, Japanese lillies, and tube-roses, which was the gift of the Alexander P. Stewart Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, at Chattanooga. Spread across the casket was a Confederate Battle Flag, which was the gift of the St. Louis chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Beside the bier was a palm spray sent by the St. Louis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, while at the foot was a wreath of white astors and tube-roses, which was the gift of Stewart's Masonic Lodge. A palm spray was also sent by the St. Louis Chapter of the United Confederate Veterans. Charles Taze Russell, a long-time intimate friend of Stewart, spoke of Stewart's personal character, Stewart's service to the state of Tennessee, Stewart's service to the University of Mississippi for 12 years as its Chancellor, and of Stewart's more recent religious faith. After the eulogy and prayer by Charles Taze Russell, members of the United Confederate Veterans passed before the casket and formed a double line, between which the casket was borne to the hearst. A similar military ceremony was conducted at the gravesite as Stewart's casket was borne from the hearse to the graveside.***TRIBUTE BY PASTOR RUSSELL TO LATE KING EDWARD AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL: "In Germany, I learned of the death of your esteemed monarch, Edward VII. I realized that not your nation only, but all Christendom, had lost an unobtrusive but wise counselor; a power for peace and goodwill among men (multiple Messiah references). I take this opportunity to express to this great audience my sympathy, which I assure you is shared by the great majority of my American countrymen. My first thought (they would have beheaded CTR for his actual first thought) was that out of respect for the illustrious dead, his family, and the nation, this service should be postponed, but my second thought was to the contrary. Surely, at no more fitting hour could we consider 'the great hereafter'. There is, thank God, a hereafter for kings as well as peasants. Royal mourners and a mourning nation need a message from God's word particularly now, and since no more representative audience will probably assemble in this capital of the empire. I have a suggestion to offer, which I trust will have your approval. It is that before offering prayer, we show our sympathy for the royal family in their bereavement by standing." After about a minute, while silent prayer was offered. Pastor Russell offered prayer generally, and requested the great audience to sing one verse of "Nearer My God To Thee". The whole scene was very impressive. -- Leeds Yorkshire Post, July 1910.***The Only Prophecy That Came True in 1914LIKE MILLERITES, [RUSSELLITES] BELIEVE THEY CAN FIGURE OUT END OF WORLD. In the belief that they have ascertained the exact date for the end of the world, the "Russellites" resemble very much the Millerites, who in the early forties of the last century, gathered in large numbers ... When Miller's first prediction failed, nothing daunted, he announced ... that the appointed day was in reality a few years later. Like many of the Adventist sects, the "Russellites" are diligent searchers of the Scriptures. -- Hartford Courant, December 27, 1911, edited.***WHY DO YOU SAY THAT THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END IN 1914? "Really, it is 1915," said Mr. Russell. "I go by the Jewish chronology which makes October the beginning of a new year. I believe that there will be worldwide anarchy after October 1914, and that all men who do not accept the truth by that time will suffer terribly. ... Of course, the end may not come in 1915. It may be 1916, or even a few years later. But as nearly as I can reckon, 1915 is the date for the Lord's punishment of the wicked." -- CTR personal interview, The New York Sun, April 21, 1912, edited.***PROPHESIES CHRIST'S COMING. Warrenburg. That Christ will come again in October 1914 is the prophecy made and believed in by 3000 devotees of the Millennial Dawn from all parts of the United States and Canada, in convention here. -- Iron County Register, June 13, 1912.***Pastor Russell ... has for many years in public lectures and in books on Bible study expressed the conviction ... that a time of intense trouble upon the world would be due in the autumn of 1914. -- Lecture invitation, The Evening Star, Wash D.C., December 25, 1915, edited.***"Whereas, the great God of Israel has seen fit to remove our beloved pastor, C. T. Russell. We believe, in the face of all contradiction, that the same C. T. Russell is now in Jerusalem (Palestine) reorganizing the Jews' kingdom in conjunction with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets, and that very shortly all nations, will be affiliated with them." -- IBSA Fools, Great Falls Tribune, November 10, 1916, edited.
WILLIAM MILLER - GEORGE STORRS
Jehovah's Witnesses originated in the 1870s -- in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jehovah's Witnesses are an offshoot sect from the "Second Adventist" religious movement -- which itself had originated in the 1830s. In the early 1830s, a Baptist minister in Vermont, named William Miller, began proclaiming that he had figured out through study of Bible prophecy exactly when would occur the centuries awaited "Second Advent of Jesus Christ". William Miller prophesied that the "Second Advent" would occur sometime between Passover 1843 and Passover 1844.
Over the following decade, hundreds of traveling lecturers from differing Christian backgrounds joined together with William Miller in an interdenominational "Millerite Movement", in order to "save" as many people as possible. By 1843, as many as 150,000 Americans (most from northern states) publicly professed belief that soon would occur the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ". Most were Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Disciples/Christians, etc., but there were sprinklings of many other faiths. The common denominator within this diverse group was their belief in the imminent "Second Advent of Jesus Christ". Whatever their LORD and SAVIOR did when/after his "Second Advent" was the speculation of the individual Millerite, and frankly, did not matter to any true Christian. Most "Millerites", in the 1840s and thereafter, did not speculate that the earth would be destroyed by fire when Jesus returned, as did William Miller.
Decades later, WatchTower Cult founder, Charles Taze Russell, repeatedly attempted to disclaim the obvious "Millerite" and "Second Adventist" labels by DISHONESTLY (proven in Stetson footnote) defining "Millerites" and "Second Adventists" strictly as those who believe that the earth will be completely destroyed by fire at the "Second Advent". (See FOOTNOTES PAGE.) Particularly, note how CTR intentionally avoids using Adventist identifying verbiage such as "second advent", "second coming", "return/coming/advent of Jesus/Christ/Lord", etc, in favor of nearly always referring to the "end/completion/etc of the age/time/etc.", or the "start of the Millennium, Kingdom, Xxx Age, etc." The WatchTower Society treats the glorious role of Jesus Christ at His return as an afterthought. Disrespect for mankind's Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, started early and has continued throughout the history of the WatchTower Society. Is it any wonder that so many former JWs immediately jump to atheism? Today's WatchTower Cult leadership continues to do whatever it can to disclaim the "Millerites" and "Second Adventists" labels. Additionally, note that the labels "Adventists" and "Second Adventists" historically have been applied not only to "Millerites", but also other persons and groups across the planet who attempt to predict the timing of the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ".
When the "Second Advent" had not occurred by Passover 1844, a little known Millerite named Samuel Snow thereafter proclaimed that he had figured out the EXACT DATE of the "Second Advent" -- October 22, 1844. William Miller refused to endorse such right up until the first week of October 1844, when he did so only due to the acceptance of Snow's prophesy by nearly the entire Millerite community -- which was mainly due to the promotion of that EXACT DATE by a Millerite lecturer named George Storrs. George Storrs was not liked by William Miller, because George Storrs not only was preaching the soon to be "Second Advent", but Storrs also was promoting amongst the Millerites his own heretical teachings of "soul sleep" and "conditional immortality". Today's Jehovah's Witnesses, the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Advent Christian Church all three admittedly received their "soul sleep" and "conditional immortality" doctrines through George Storrs.
As if prophesying the EXACT DAY of the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" was not sufficient, about a week prior to October 22, 1844, George Storrs attempted to promote nationwide the belief that the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" would occur EXACTLY at 3:00 A.M. on October 22, 1844 (originated by one of George Storrs' fellow Philadelphia area Millerites). George Storrs proclaimed that all "true believers" should flee outside of every city and town before 3:00 A.M. on October 22, 1844, because at 3:00 A.M. GOD was going to destroy every city and town across the planet just as GOD once had done to Sodom and Gomorrah. Decades later, in the early 1870s, elderly George Storrs became a mentor to young Charles Taze Russell -- the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
It is believed that George Storrs baptized by complete immersion Charles Taze Russell, his father and sister, the Conleys, and other area "Second Adventists" during Storrs' two week visit to Allegheny in May 1874. Amusingly, almost exactly 31 years earlier, after Passover 1843 had passed uneventfully, Allegheny residents had conducted a public burning of George Storrs' BIBLE EXAMINER magazines. By 1874, the elderly George Storrs was PITIED and mostly IGNORED by the Second Adventist community, who recalled both Storrs' early heyday, but also his later lifetime of repeatedly changing his religious teachings and religious affiliations every few years. By 1874, elderly George Storrs effectively was rowing a small rowboat with noone else in it. Storrs probably peed himself when the Russells/Conleys sent him the money to travel from NYC to Allegheny. Charles Taze Russell continued to stalk Second Adventist HAS-BEENs and REJECTs. Less than two years later, Russell found another "crazy" willing to take his money.
After the "Millerites" multiple failures to predict the exact year, the exact day, and even the exact hour of the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" through the study of Bible prophesies, the vast majority of Millerites returned to their local churches -- where was taught that only GOD knew the exact day, hour, and year of the "Second Advent". However, the more hard-core Millerites continued to believe that the timing of the "Second Advent" could be discovered through even closer study of Bible prophecy. After 1844, those hardcore Millerites began to segregate themselves into separate "Second Adventist" subgroups based on their other/ancillary religious beliefs.
The largest subgroup of former Millerites became the separate denomination known as the "Seventh Day Adventists", which required its members to maintain Saturday as the sacred Sabbath. The second largest subgroup of former Millerites was the "Advent Christian Association", which just like the SDAs, did not believe in the Hellfire and Immortal Soul doctrines, and also were split on the Trinity doctrine. However, these folks rejected the SDA's sabbath teachings. In an attempt to compete with the larger SDA church, the "Advent Christian Association" initially was a loose confederation of "Second Adventists" with varying ancillary religious beliefs solidified by a core of "Second Adventists" whom once had been part of the heretical "Christian Connection". Over time, the fringe elements of the ACA were ran off (see Barbour-Russell Disfellowshipping below), with the resulting "Advent Christian Church" becoming closer in doctrine, but gradually becoming smaller and smaller.
A third subgroup of former Millerites were orthodox Christians whom rejected the heretical beliefs of the SDAs and ACCs, but who also did not want to give up their new end-times "date prediction" addiction, which was rejected by orthodox churches. Those folks became known as "Evangelical Adventists". This subgroup slowly disappeared as isolated believers eventually rejoined either local orthodox churches or one of the other "Second Adventist" subgroups. Typically, only in larger urban areas were there sufficient numbers of "Evangelical Adventists" to form their own congregations. William Miller and his family initially were "Evangelical Adventists", but after his death, most of his survivors switched to the "Advent Christian" sect.
A fourth "catch-all" category of former Millerites was a hodgepodge of very small groups with very few followers whom had same/similar ancillary beliefs, such as "Age-To-Come", other restitutionists, etc. These included the Life and Advent Union, the Church of God - Adventist, and several other small "Church of God" subgroups *** -- from one of which Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God later developed in the mid 1900s, but then in the 1980s, splintered into today's multiple small television sects.
After the "Great Disappointment" in 1844, various "prophets" from these multiple "Second Adventist" sects continued to predict the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" to occur for various dates in the latter 1840s, in the 1850s, and in the 1860s. In the 1860s, there was a large spike of "Second Adventist" Prophets -- England and America -- who set different dates for the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" to occur from 1864 to 1868. After the failure of that latest flurry of "Second Adventist" predictions, and the negative public backlash from such, most "Second Adventist" leaders swore off the SETTING OF DATES, and simply preached that the "Second Advent" was "imminent", and would occur sometime in the very near future.
JONAS WENDELL - NELSON BARBOUR
As we demonstrate hereafter, Jonas Wendell played what was maybe the most important single role in the rise of religionist Charles Taze Russell. However, for 140 years, Charles Taze Russell and his WatchTower Society have rewitten history to limit the Jonas Wendell story to a brief blurp about a shabby itinerant evangelist whom delivered a single sermon in a dusty, darkened backstreet Pittsburgh hall which reignited 17 year-old Charles Taze Russell's lost faith in God.
How does Charles Taze Russell's slighting portrayal of Jonas Wendell fit with reality? Only six months before Jonas Wendell delivered that sermon in front of Charles Taze Russell, Jonas Wendell had been chosen to address THOUSANDS of prominent Advent Christians and other Second Adventists who were attending the 1868 National Conference of the Advent Christian Association. Guess who followed Jonas Wendell at the podium -- George Storrs, the HERO of the 1844 Millerite Movement, about whom everyone there wanted to tell their friends when they got home. Here is a link to a webpage which contains a photograph of Jonas Wendell and Daniel Cogswell (see below) attending that National Conference. Remember where everyone got this when the people who never visit this webpage start emailing it everywhere and placing it on their websites and in their books. This certainly beats that drawing intended to demean Jonas Wendell. It is NOT an insignificant fact that Jonas Wendell and Cogswell were seated in the front row along with ACC legends Miles Grant, Hiram Munger, Joshua Himes, and Jacob Blain.
As it turns out, Jonas Wendell was a trained Methodist minister, practicing attorney (New York, Ohio, Penn), and one-time Edinboro justice of the peace and Judge, who may have been Nelson Barbour's earliest significant supporter. Given that Jonas Wendell authored the very first of only two booklets published to promote the 1873/74 Movement, and given that such were freely distributed nationwide at Second Adventist meetings and conferences, it may have been only Wendell's early death in August 1873 that kept Jonas Wendell from being memorialized by Second Adventists as the main leader of the 1873/74 Movement. (They certainly didn't like crazy Nelson Barbour and his "spiritual son", Charles Taze Russell.)
As it turns out, Jonas Wendell either converted, or helped to convert, to Second Adventism, the "Proclaimers Book, Page 46, Footnote Guy", Benjamin W. Keith, who turns out to be a Dansville Seminary trained Methodist minister, who from 1876 to 1882 tutored young Charles Taze Russell on the finer points of theology; wrote for the ZWT magazine; and traveled on behalf of ZWTTS. It probably was former Methodist Minister Jonas Wendell who introduced parttime Methodist Minister Benjamin Keith to Nelson Barbour.
BUT, we are getting ahead of this story. Let's get back to the Second Adventists' latest failed predictions in the late 1860s. By the very late 1860s, there remained one very determined "Second Adventist" evangelist, in Boston, Massachusetts, named Nelson Barbour, who refused to give up on SETTING OF DATES. In fact, Nelson Barbour had been "playing around" with 1873-74 since the early 1860s. The field having cleared itself, Nelson Barbour saw his opportunity and slowly began proclaiming 1873-74 as the newest and latest date for the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ". This latest "Date Prediction Addiction" movement eventually attracted 15-20,000 bored "Second Adventists" scattered across America who were unable to kick the "date prediction" habit.
Despite Charles Taze Russell's later LIE that he had not heard of Nelson Barbour until December 1875, Nelson Barbour not only was thoroughly well known throughout the Second Adventist community -- Nelson Barbour had been ridiculed nationwide only four years earlier. FOR WEEKS, starting in December 1871, and running day after day through January, February, and into March 1872, newspapers across the United States published the following syndicated news article -- often on their front page; sometimes above the fold:
THE WORLD TO STOP IN 1873.
The Second Adventists are at it again. At a convention held in Rochester they have definitely settled the time for the total destruction of the world. It is to take place in 1873. Dr. Barbour, who has prepared several charts from which he has lectured extensively of late, from Boston to Rochester, on the coming of Christ in 1873, made a speech on the signs of the times, ... ... .
One of Nelson Barbour's early associates was a fellow "Second Adventist" Pastor and Evangelist, named Jonas Wendell, who pastored the Advent Christian Church in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. From 1865 until his death in 1873, Jonas Wendell repeatedly made trips of weeks and even months throughout western Pennsylvania, western New York state, and Ohio, evangelizing and building Advent Christian Churches. Jonas Wendell regularly evangelized the Rochester - Syracuse area (in-laws) under the auspices of the Western New York Conference of the Advent Christian Church. Jonas Wendell and Nelson Barbour would have become acquainted, and probably worked together, as soon as Barbour began his own ministry in the Rochester area. Here is actual proof of a later instance, in February 1871, when Wendell and Barbour worked together in Rochester during one of Jonas Wendell's trips evangelizing churches in and around Rochester. As evidenced on our FOOTNOTES page, after returning home to Edinboro, Jonas Wendell soon visited his recently formed satellite Advent Christian congregation in Pitt/Allegheny, in April 1871:
There will be preaching tomorrow, February 19th, at 10:30 A.M., and 2 o'clock P.M. by Elder J. Wendell. Lecture in the evening at 7 o'clock on the 25th of Matthew, by Dr. Barbour. Come and hear at Flour City Hall. -- Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, February 18, 1871.
While other researchers have been quick to pontificate on Jonas Wendell's repeated evangelization efforts westward into the state of Ohio, they have been slow to elaborate further on the facts that Jonas Wendell was a New York native who had religious, business, and social ties ranging from Albany (state capitol) in the east to Rochester in the west, and that Wendell repeatedly visited New York state during the same time periods that Nelson Barbour was preaching in the area. Now we know why! In the May 1881 Zion's Watch Tower magazine, ZWT contributor and by-then former Barbour associate, Benjamin W. Keith, disclosed his conversion history:
"The writer (B. W. Keith) has been studying the time question since 1867, and has been associated with the movement in connection with the fulfillment of all the prophetic measures since the above date (1867); ..."
One WatchTower researcher who criticizes us for making too many assumptions has themselve assumed that Benjamin Keith was referring here to his association with Nelson Barbour, who can't be proven to have lectured in Keith's hometown of Dansville, NY until 1873. Well, guess who almost assuredly actually participated in School Principal Benjamin Keith's conversion, immersion, and who likely later introduced Benjamin Keith to Nelson Barbour?
Tent-Meeting at Dansville.
There will be a Tent Meeting in Dansville, (on the Square), commencing Thursday evening, June 20th, 1867, at 8 o'clock. Elders C. B. Turner, J. Wendle, Wm. A. Fenn and others will be present to preach the "Gospel of the Kingdom." All are cordially invited to attend and listen for themselves. ... -- Western New York Advertiser, Dansville, NY, June 20, 1867.
The Tent-Meeting is being continued on the Church Square, day and evening, under the auspices of the Advent Church of this place.-- Western New York Advertiser, Dansville, NY, June 27, 1867.
The course of sermons being delivered under the auspices of the Advent Church, in this place (Dansville, NY), continues to attract large audiences, especially in the evening. Elders C. B. Turner, of Syracuse, J. Wendell, of Edenborough, Pa., William Fenn, of Wolcott, Wayne Co., N.Y., and Mrs. Jennings, of So. Butler, a sister of the last named gentleman, have been the speakers thus far. These meetings will continue during the present week, at least, as we are informed. -- Western New York Advertiser, Dansville, NY, July 4, 1867.
Note that C. B. Turner, who had been converted to Second Adventism by Jonas Wendell years earlier, was Western NY Conference President at the time of this Dansville Campmeeting. Longtime Barbour friend and future Herald of the Morning "Corresponding Editor", Daniel Cogswell, replaced Turner when Turner relocated to Illinois the following year. That did not slow down Jonas Wendell's New York evangelizing since Wendell and Cogswell either were already friends, or quickly became such, as evidenced by their sitting together in the aforementioned photograph. (Can you spot the other Wendell coworker in the photo?) Jonas Wendell thereafter repeatedly returned to the Rochester-Syracuse area, and was specifically credited with helping to form the Yorkshire New York Advent Christian Church in 1868.
Just during the year or so preceding his death, in Summer 1872, Jonas Wendell preached 1873-74 in eastern New York (where lived his and wife's relatives). In Fall 1872, Jonas Wendell ONCE AGAIN traveled western New York with the ACC tent, which headquartered in Rochester. Only a few weeks prior to his death, in July 1873, Jonas Wendell attended yet another "prophecy" conference in Rochester, where he probably was one of the speakers, along with Nelson Barbour. How in the world have the WatchTower Society and the Russellites for this long managed to keep quiet Barbour's and Wendell's working relationship, which proves CTR to be a LIAR? (The WTS and Russellites have had "help". That's how! Given Rochester's close proximity to Edinboro, and given Jonas Wendell's desire to promote his 1870 booklet about 1873-74, which was published even before Barbour's larger book in 1871, does anyone seriously doubt that Jonas Wendell attended/spoke at the December 1871 Advent Christian conference in Rochester? Does anyone seriously doubt that Jonas Wendell would have mentioned to his Allegheny/Pitt friends his association with the very leader of the 1873-74 movement, and later, Wendell's attendence at the notorious December 1871 Rochester convention, which drew nationwide ridicule? A better question would be how many of those Prophecy Conferences held in Rochester did Charles Taze Russell and other Allegheny/Pitt Second Adventists also attend?)
It was shortly before/after his 17th birthday in February 1869 that Charles Taze Russell (see FOOTNOTES) went to hear the NATIONALLY RENOWN and HIGHLY RESPECTED Advent Christian Evangelist Jonas Wendell preach that the "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" would occur in 1873-74. If Charles Taze Russell truly felt as negatively about Jonas Wendell as Russell portrayed years later, then Russell's evaluation is more of a reflection on Russell than it was on Jonas Wendell. Despite Charles Taze Russell's years-later "claimed" rejection of "Second Adventism" and "my friend Jonas Wendell", the Russells and the Conleys (see below) soon formed a home Bible study group in 1870 -- which just so happened to coincide with Jonas Wendell's relocation back to Edinboro, where Wendell self-published his own booklet promoting 1873-74. (I wonder what the Russells and Conleys were studying at their home Bible study in 1870-71? Henry Conley also became a Second Adventist. Later, after separating from the Russells, Henry Conley occasionally traveled western Pennsylvania giving "Chart" talks.)
Charles Taze Russell also was tutored by Jonas Wendell's associate and friend, George W. Stetson, an Advent Christian Church Evangelist and Pastor (see FOOTNOTES PAGE), who eventually replaced Wendell as "Pastor" in Allegheny, from November 1871 until May 1873, when Stetson returned to Edinboro. In August 1873, George Stetson preached Jonas Wendell's untimely funeral in Edinboro. Did CTR and other Allegheny/Pitt Second Adventists attend Wendell's funeral -- if not for Wendell, for his and their friend George Stetson? Later, in October 1879, George Stetson chose fellow Second Adventist Charles Taze Russell to preach his funeral in Edinboro, which was attended by over 1600 persons, including many Second Adventists from across the country -- all of whom considered "Brother" Charles T. Russell to be one of them, including those whom mentioned "Brother" Russell in LTTEs published in ACC magazines.
Isn't it amusing that "Advent Christians" considered "Brother" Charles Taze Russell to be an "Advent Christian"; "Second Adventists" considered Charles Taze Russell to be a "Second Adventist"; and even non-Second Adventists considered Charles Taze Russell to be a "Second Adventist"; yet Russell later claimed that he was not, and had never been, any of those labels. What likely aided CTR's rationalization was that, in 1877-78, the Advent Christian Association effectively DISFELLOWSHIPPED AS APOSTATES FROM CHRISTIANITY Nelson Barbour and Charles Taze Russell, warning members against Barbour and Russell (neither members) both in print and from the podium. At ACC national and regional conferences, Barbour and Russell were not permitted to host hospitality rooms nor setup displays of their literature on the grounds -- so they did so off-grounds as close as possible to the events. ACC affiliated magazines refused their ads and articles, and prohibited any commentary not critical of their teachings.
After Nelson Barbour's predictions for 1873-74 failed in October 1874, Barbour attempted to retain his followers (and more importantly -- their financial support) by extending the date for the "Second Advent" to February 1875, then March 1875, and then earlier April 1875 (see FOOTNOTES), all of which amusingly beat the later April 1875 prediction which William Thurman and the Chicago Second Adventists were using to "poach" Barbour's disappointed 1873-74 followers. When both prophets' prophesies failed, Barbour outsmarted Thurman by "spiritualizing" 1873-74 -- claiming that Jesus Christ had in fact already secretly "returned" to the "vicinity of the earth" in October 1874, and that Christ was "present", but "invisible". Barbour claimed that the "Second Advent" was actually a 40 year long process, during which Christ was making necessary preparations for His "visible" return in October 1914. (Barbour probably was being tutored on this new teaching by Dansville Seminary trained Benjamin W. Keith, who undoubtedly did far more work on the secret, two-stage "parousia" teaching than was he later credited by Russell and the WatchTower Society. See FOOTNOTES.)
Dr. N. H. Barbour proclaims that the Lord has come and raised the righteous, but has not been seen by the living as yet, but has commissioned him [Barbour] and his followers especially to preach the gospel, yet seven years (until 1881), and to proclaim the hour of his judgment. When will these time-setting fanatics have done with their folly? -- The Signs of the Times, July 15, 1875. (West Coast Seventh Day Adventists).
Since most "Second Adventists" were by then worn out from having been disappointed multiple times before, most "Second Adventists" left Nelson Barbour to his delusions. So, 1875 was a busy year for Nelson Barbour. Although 1875 also was a busy year for Charles Taze Russell, he failed to disclose such in his later biographies. December 1875 was NOT when Charles Taze Russell first discovered Nelson Barbour and his endtime fantasies (see FOOTNOTES). Rather, 1876 saw the finalizing of Russell's investigation of Nelson Barbour, which ended with Russell's belief that Nelson Barbour was a prophet from God. Charles Taze Russell financially backed Nelson Barbour's stalled ministry, and became Assistant Editor of Nelson Barbour's "Second Adventist" magazine. To reinvigorate their Second Adventist base, Barbour and Russell began preaching that the RAPTURE of the remaining living 144,000 heavenly co-rulers, along with other related events, would occur on Passover 1878.
After Barbour's and Russell's multiple predictions for 1878 failed, Russell and Barbour started openly squabbling over some other doctrinal interpretations. More significantly, in October 1878, Charles Taze Russell attended the 1878 NYC Prophetic Conference without Barbour. There, the 26 year-old CTR had his young ego stroked -- even if by a unanimous denunciation of Russell's "time, manner, and object" interpretations. (Benjamin Keith actually boasted about CTR's "spanking" to those who did not know the backstory re the Conference's closing Resolution. In doing so, Keith also was patting his own back given the "manner" interpretation that Keith had developed for Barbour, and given Keith's ongoing tutelage of Russell.) Nelson Barbour quickly became jealous of the attention that Russell had received from the nation's leading "prophecy" scholars, while CTR quickly realized that he not only had no further use for Barbour, but the "old crazy" was holding him back.
In May 1879, Charles Taze Russell split from Nelson Barbour, and in July 1879, started publishing his own "Second Adventist" magazine, which Russell named ZION'S WATCH TOWER and HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE. For FIVE DECADES, the main purpose of the WATCH TOWER magazine has been to publish "The Truth" that Jesus Christ already had returned "invisibly" in October 1874, and would return "visibly" in October 1914. Having stolen Nelson Barbour's teachings, Barbour's mailing list, and Barbour's associates, Benjamin W. Keith and John H. Paton, the financially liquid Charles Taze Russell gradually attracted hundreds of his own Second Adventist "Date Prediction Addicts". (In 2021, it is still the main purpose of the Second Adventist WATCH TOWER magazine to proclaim the SECRET, PRIOR RETURN of Jesus Christ. Only the dates have changed.)
Interestingly, ongoing since 1872, another one of George Storrs' proteges had already been publishing his own monthly, then-existing religious magazine named THE WATCHTOWER. George Storrs, himself, had earlier published a book entitled The Watch Tower, in 1858. In 1878, CTR's booklet, "The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return", was issued as a supplement in the January and February issues of "The Prophetic Times and Watch Tower" magazine, which was published in Philadelphia -- from where CTR had just returned after a year's hiatus from Pittsburgh. Later, CTR stole the names BROOKLYN TABERNACLE, LONDON TABERNACLE, PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION, and LAYMENS HOME MISSIONARY MOVEMENT.When establishing his multiple for-profit businesses, CTR often stole the names of successful well-known active businesses incorporated in other states.
In 1909, after purchasing the historic building at 13-17 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, Charles Taze Russell simply appropriated for his own use the name "Plymouth Bethel", until he was asked to cease and desist using such given that the name of the congregation was legally owned by the still active Plymouth Church. However, that did not stop Russell from using the unprotected building name, "Brooklyn Tabernacle", nor from repeatedly for years insinuating that he was the successor of the former congregation's former pastor, Rev. T. Dewitt Talmage. Russell deceitfully did the exact same thing after having purchased the historic building at 122-124 Columbia Heights -- insinuating that he was the successor of Henry Ward Beecher.
HENRY CONLEY: FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY
In 1881, Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was legally formed with William Henry Conley as its First President. (Any researcher who fails to note that William Henry Conley went by "Henry" has not done their homework.) Henry Conley was a well-to-do prominent Pittsburgh steel industry businessman, who along with his wife, Sarah Conley, and the Russell family -- Joseph (father), Charles, and Margaret (Charles' sister) were the "Five Original Bible Students" -- sometimes vaguely referenced by today's WatchTower Society -- who gave rise to today's worldwide WatchTower Empire of over 8,000,000 followers. The Conley family and the Russell family had been meeting and worshiping together since around 1870. Despite the two family's longterm fellowship, in latter 1882, Henry and Sarah Conley disassociated themselves from the Russell family and the WatchTower Society after Charles Taze Russell once again COPIED some fellow "Second Adventists" who had started denying the Deity of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, Charles Taze Russell's sister, Margaret Land, also eventually disassociated herself from the WatchTower Society after the death of her brother. Thus, three out of the "Five Original Bible Students" whom founded the WatchTower Society eventually rejected it -- a fact that the WatchTower Society conveniently forgets to mention in its publications. (There has been at least one instance when the WatchTower Society has stated that there were SIX original Bible Students. So be it. The Conleys adopted a relative's daughter in the mid-1870s. Also, Margaret Russell married Benjamin Land in the latter 1870s.) Additionally, Charles Taze Russell's wife, Maria F. Russell (not considered an OG), the couple's "foster daughter", Rose Ball, and Rosa's husband, Ernest C. Henninges, all three of whom were once Directors and/or Officers of the Watch Tower Society, all THREE disassociated themselves from the WatchTower Society while Charles Taze Russell was still alive. And, YES, there have been THREE*** female members of the "Governing Body". Click here to read additional historical information found in our CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL DIVORCE WEBPAGE.) Of Charles Taze Russell's three nieces and one nephew, one niece rejected the WatchTower Society during Russell's lifetime, and the remaining three relatives did so after Russell's death.
Henry Conley, the First President of the WatchTower Society, eventually rejoined his local Presbyterian Church, and also eventually became a Patron and National Board Member of the then inter-denominational Christian and Missionary Alliance, all while Henry Conley continued to believe in and preach the imminent "Second Advent of Jesus Christ" -- while also embracing the CMA's "Faith Cure" teachings. In fact, the CMA, which was a precursor of the Pentecostal Movement of the early 1900s, was also embraced by many other disillusioned "Second Adventists", many of whom later switched back to the DATE SETTING "Second Adventist" WatchTower Society after Charles Taze Russell's October 1914 Prediction started to pick up steam in the early 1900s. (Until his death in 1897, Henry Conley also was the leader of both the Pennsylvania CMA and his local Pittsburgh CMA. While we have never found any direct confrontation between Henry Conley and CTR after their 1882 "divorce", unreliable WatchTower Society history sources allege that Conley's local CMA associates would attempt to runoff and even call the police anytime Pittsburgh Russellites tried to distribute WatchTower literature at the multiple local CMA facilities, shelters, etc.)
After the WatchTower Society's First President William Henry Conley rejected the WatchTower Society in latter 1882, it only puttered around up until the turn of the century. Despite the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of books and magazines SOLD by Charles Taze Russell since the mid-1870s, only around 2600 followers of Russell attended local Memorial celebrations in 1899. (10% of those lived in the greater Pittsburgh area, and 30% lived within 300 miles of Pittsburgh. CTR even acknowledged that the vast majority of his "groups" actually were individuals or couples, and their children or other relatives.) In 1903, attendees at a meeting in Chicago led by CTR himself were described by a reporter as, "More children than adults; more women than men". However, with Charles Taze Russell's prediction that Jesus Christ would "visibly" return in October 1914 nearing the foreseeable future Charles Taze Russell's by-then own personal religious movement took on new momentum in the early 1900s.
"KING" CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL BEGINS EARTHLY REIGN 17 MONTHS EARLY
(CTR letter to Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, May 26, 1913. Edited: Full text in footnotes.)
Dear Sir: I am addressing you, and through you, the Hon. President of this nation, and the honorable members of Congress upon a subject which I believe to be of prime importance to our nation and to the world. ...
I suggest that the United States government select from amongst the Philippine Islands one island suitable as a naval base, and tender to Japan the opportunity to take over the Philippine Islands at precisely the same they have cost the United States. This would give our neighbors of the Far East exactly what they want, at no price at all compared with the cost of war. Additionally, it would make them our friends and surely all Americans desire a world-wide friendship with all nations. I advise that this step be taken speedily, because there is a "jingo" party in Japan bent upon the acquirement of the Philippines, which party will always be ready to take advantage of such trifles as the California alien law to incite hatred against the United States and to force their government, against its judgment, to seize the Philippines. ...
Our Japanese neighbors flushed with their victory over the Russian navy, and courageous and proud-spirited, anyway, realize fully their ability to capture the Philippines and probably to hold them, but they do not realize that a war with America would he a very different one from that with Rusia -- that American pride and valor would spend thousands of lives and thousands of millions of dollars, rather than surrender to Japan. Pride, courage, self-esteem, confidence, on both sides are the real dangers. Surely wisdom should dictate to both nations that, in the interest of peace, cause for friction should be as far as possible eliminated. I believe that no more fair, no more just, no more honorable method for adjudicating this matter can be found than that we are suggesting -- the sale of the islands at cost to the Japanese. ...
Japan would give the Philippines a splendid government -- better, I believe than would any other nation under the sun except our own government. No one can visit the Philippines with out feeling pride for what America has done for that people -- and one in so unselfish and noble a manner, as an elder brother amongst the nations helping a younger brother. Under no circumstances would I favor turning the Philippines over to the domination of a barbaric people. The Japanese are not barbarians, but highly civilized. ...
... Now seems to be the psychological moment, and, as stated at first, it seems best that these suggestions should come from an ambassador of Christ, rather than from a politician of any party, so that partisan feeling may not interfere, but our nation as a whole approve and uphold and carry speedily forward this peace-promoting measure. I call for its endorsement by peace societies and all who believe that war should be only a last resort.Faithfully yours, a servant of the Lord Christ Jesus, C. T. Russell.
By 1914, there were roughly 15-25,000 "International Bible Students", with varying degrees of interest and loyalty affiliated with the Watch Tower Society. When Charles Taze Russell's predictions for October 1914 failed, he simply repeated what his "Second Adventist" predecessors had done decades earlier. C. T. Russell reset the date for Jesus Christ's "visible" return for October 1915. However, even before October 1915 arrived, Charles Taze Russell had already started losing what eventually amounted to half or more of his personal followers -- including losing their financial support. Charles Taze Russell died a dejected man in October 1916 -- interestingly on Halloween (and probably a drug addict given multiple historical "hints" that Russell had been addicted to painkillers his entire adult life).
For fifty years [Charles Taze Russell] suffered constantly with sick headaches, due to a fall in his youth, and for twenty-five years had such distressing hemorrhoids that it was impossible for him to rest in the easiest chair; ... ." -- THE FINISHED MYSTERY, page 57.
NOTE: Tylenol and Advil did not exist in the 1800s. For those readers who do not get the significance of a 19th century religious "guru" being in constant pain -- FOR DECADES -- we suggest reading the book, In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Morphine, Laudanum and Patent Medicines. That book will provide the reader with all the info the reader needs to figure out where Charles Taze Russell found his "inspiration".
More interestingly, Russell suddenly and unexpectedly died on the return train trip back to Brooklyn from California, where Russell had traveled to conduct business at his then failing "Secret Gold Mine". [In addition to both investing in and actually operating gold, silver, kaolin, etc. mines and mining, Charles Taze Russell was a longtime speculator in drilling and mining of coal, oil, and natural gas. In a 1898 court decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court even labeled Charles Taze Russell "an experienced oil operator". FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL]
Given the recent failure of C. T. Russell's trademark prophecy in October 1914, which was quickly followed by the failure of C. T. Russell's revised prophecy in October 1915, both of which were then followed by two failed mining seasons at C. T. Russell's SECRET GOLD MINE, which C. T. Russell thought he had been led to by GOD to refinance his nearly "bankrupt" religious empire, it is a reasonable speculation that Charles Taze Russell may have committed suicide -- either by overdosing on the painkillers that Russell always kept with him, or by Russell simply refusing to seek obviously needed medical care. (See Menta Sturgeon's highly propagandized and highly contradictory account of the trip -- which failed to identify their visit to Russell's Secret Gold Mine on Friday night through Saturday night -- and ask yourself why the supposedly practically-dead Russell and Sturgeon stayed at a Los Angeles Hotel all day long Sunday, conducted a meeting Sunday night, and afterwards boarded a train for a grueling cross-country train ride, rather than staying put in Los Angeles and seeking professional medical care. Russell's trip-long conduct and "symptoms" were as much consistent with that of a heroin-morphine-cocaine abuser as that of a cystitis sufferer.)
"JUDGE" JOSEPH F. RUTHERFORD
Although nearly "broke" financially, the Bureaucracy of the WatchTower Society remained intact, along with several thousand diehard followers, who then began to teach that Charles Taze Russell was still running the WatchTower Society -- from heaven. Charles Taze Russell's lawyer and confidante, the falsely publicized "Judge" Joseph Franklin Rutherford (see below) emerged from an ongoing internal power struggle to succeed Charles Taze Russell as the THIRD President of the Watch Tower Society.
Initially, Joseph F. Rutherford needed to both fire up the troops and fill the coffers, so he quickly had a new book published in 1917 which did just that, entitled THE FINISHED MYSTERY. Labeling it Charles Taze Russell's posthumous work, "Judge Rutherford" set a series of new dates in which he predicted the destruction of the world's religious organizations in 1918; the disintegration of all governments and organized society into chaos from 1919-21; followed by the beginning of Christ's millennial reign on earth. Given the ongoing war in Europe, and the United States being gradually drawn into such, THE FINISHED MYSTERY sold like hotcakes.
By the time the United States entered the war in mid 1917, the Watch Tower Society had also moved beyond the bounds of a "neutral" position on the war, and had begun actively impeding the war effort. Joseph F. Rutherford and seven other Watch Tower leaders were convicted and imprisoned by a JURY for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. (It was not just publication of THE FINISHED MYSTERY book and other seditious literature. It mainly was WatchTower officials' interference with draftees and active soldiers. Additionally, JFR was charged with violation of the Trading with the Enemies Act after he conspired to send $500.00 ($10,000.00 in 2021 dollars) to Germany via Switzerland.)
During the UNITED STATES v. RUTHERFORD ET AL trial, WatchTower Society Corporate Secretary William F. Hudgings PERJURED himself and was also sent to prison. That scenario gave rise to the HISTORIC very first and only SCOTUS decision which involved a WatchTower Society Officer. What was "Judge" Rutherford's own son doing while Rutherford's followers were being sent to prison?
"Judge" Rutherford's son, Malcolm Cameron Rutherford (b1892), followed his parents to WatchTower HQ, first to Pittsburgh, and thereafter to Brooklyn, where he worked as a Bethelite and traveled with both Charles Taze Russell and his father during their many speaking engagements. Around 1915, Malcolm followed JFR to Los Angeles, where JFR had relocated to keep an eye on CTR's expanding west coast operations. In June 1917, Malcolm C. Rutherford registered for the WW1 draft, but requested an exemption as a Minister of the International Bible Students Association. Undrafted, Malcolm Rutherford "spied" for his imprisoned father in 1917-18 (see CTR Financial Biography - Gold Mine story). In September 1918, Malcolm Rutherford cooperated with the draft and was enlisted in the U. S. Army. UNBELIEVABLY, Malcolm Rutherford was assigned to work for the Draft Board in Bakersfield, California, where he helped enlist other soldiers until WW1 ended in November 1918. With WW1 over, the quickly promoted "Corporal" Malcolm C. Rutherford was mustered out around December 1918.
A national "sigh of relief" came with the end of The Great War in November 1918, and like many other radicals convicted and imprisoned under the Espionage Law, in 1919, the WatchTower Society's leaders were released from prison after the very Judge Howe who presided over their jury trial publicly advocated their being "forgiven", and released from prison -- a fact that the WatchTower Society has repeatedly failed to disclose in its multiple "assassinations" of Judge Howe's character over the decades. ("Character Assassination" has long been one of the "specializations" of the WatchTower Society and its local followers the Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, they are so good at it that they have convinced the general public that they are the supreme victims of character assassination, when in fact, "character assassination" was perfected under Charles Taze Russell, and thereafter mastered through decades of use by Russell's successors.)
LIARS CLAIM THEY WERE "COMPLETELY EXONERATED"
"Joseph F. Rutherford, and seven other Russellites awaiting re-trial for conspiring to block the draft and discourage enlistment, and William F. Hudgings, secretary of the organization, indicted for perjury because of his testimony at the trial ..., walked out .. free men. On motion of Federal Attorney Leroy W. Ross, the men who were convicted June 21, 1918, of violating the Espionage Act, and the man who was accused of falsely testifying at the trial were dismissed after a "nolle pros" was entered to the indictments. Thus, the case ends. When the case was called today, Prosecutor Ross said:'... The District Attorney's office and the Attorney General's office have carefully looked into this matter. The defendants served nine months in jail. They committed the acts of which they were convicted during the time of hostilities. Both offices are of the opinion that the ends of justice will be best met by this action.'"-- The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 5, 1920, edited.
"The repeal cost us a lot of money, but incidentally we got easily $1 MILLION worth of advertising for 'THE FINISHED MYSTERY'." -- J. F. Rutherford, Toronto IBSA Convention, August 1920.
Despite the fact that none of Joseph F. Rutherford's predictions for 1918, or 1919, or any other year had or were coming true, Rutherford rallied the troops, and again continued to fill the coffers by publishing revised predictions for 1920-25. "Judge" Rutherford's MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE prophesied that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be resurrected by 1925 to rule over the earth from the city of Jerusalem.
["Judge" Rutherford] Disparages "Unknown Hero" (edited)
Joseph F. Rutherford, ... in addressing a large audience in the Hippodrome yesterday, which assembled to hear him prove from Biblical passages that "Millions Now Living Will Never Die", spoke disparagingly of the recent ceremonies held in connection with the burial of the "Unknown Soldier", in Arlington Cemetery.
"As the tide of unrest rises higher and higher," [Rutherford] said, "the unholy alliance of Commerce, Politics, and the Church concludes something must be done to keep the minds of the people from their troubles; they stage a celebration in honor of some unknown dead man. For all the people know, he may have died with a bullet in his back, or with a rope around his neck. That makes no difference.
"The least known about him the easier to get away with the ceremony. The unholy alliance parades with tinsel, muffled drums, and flowers. The spellbinder politician harangues the people and the preacher joins in. The one-armed ex-soldier is asking: 'Why this farce over the unknown dead, who knows nothing about it himself, and why spend millions in this meaningless ceremony, while we who survive are starving to death?'" -- New York Tribune, December 12, 1921.
As had always occurred previously, new prophesies brought new followers and new money. By the start of 1922, around 32,000 "Date Prediction Addicts" were again attending WatchTower meetings. By 1925, that number had skyrocketed to nearly 100,000. However, as had repeatedly occurred in the past, the failed 1925 prediction resulted in the loss of followers, and more importantly, their money. Less than 20,000 WatchTower Society followers attended the annual Memorial in 1928. Ten years later, in 1938, the number of Jehovah's Witnesses still remained under 60,000. But, WW2 and its fears approached.
After 1925, Joseph F. Rutherford strung along his remaining followers by preaching "any day now". However, some of the remaining older diehard "bible students" who were still loyal to founder Charles Taze Russell were becoming displeased with the radical "Judge Rutherford". Eventually, a nasty guerrilla war for the control of the religion broke out between J. F. Rutherford and the "Russellites". The Russellites were no match for "Judge Rutherford", who was a sneaky, ruthless lawyer who had been caught multiple times in Boonville, Missouri committing THEFT and/or FRAUD for both his clients and himself, and who would now get his way within the WatchTower Society by hook or by crook. As a result, most of the older, longtime sincere "Bible Students" gradually left or were proactively kicked out during the 1930s.
After Joseph Franklin Rutherford came to work for self-styled "Pastor" Charles Taze Russell, in 1907, to serve as Russell's private Attorney, WatchTower Society Corporate Counsel, and WatchTower Society Traveling Lecturer, Joseph F. Rutherford was deceptively publicized as "Judge" Rutherford to the general public, so as to add prestige, credibility, and even intimidation, to each of "Judge" Rutherford's various activities. During the 1918 Sedition Trial, one of JFR's attorneys even informed the federal court that in addition to being a member of the federal and state "bar", JFR also was a member of the "bench".
"JUDGE SPEAKS AT U.S.C. Yesterday morning at 11 o'clock Judge J. F. Rutherford of New York city addressed the faculty and students of the University of Southern California on the theme 'The Bible'." -- Los Angeles Herald, October 19, 1911.
"NOTED LECTURER AT ALBION. Judge Rutherford of New York Will Speak at Edwards College. ... Judge Rutherford is one of the popular Bible lecturers of the world. His wide travel and long experiences as a practicing attorney before the highest courts in the land, together with his deep Bible study, especially fit him for the lecture platform. ... ." -- The Colfax Gazette, November 10, 1911.
Thereafter, whenever reporters and others inquired about "Judge" J. F. Rutherford's background, they were told that "Judge" Rutherford had "practiced law" in Boonville, Missouri since 1889, and that "Judge" Rutherford also had been the "Public Prosecutor at/for Boonville, Missouri" for four years. There is no doubt but that the impression purposefully given reporters was that Rutherford had been THE publicly elected "Public Prosecutor" in Boonville, Missouri, as evidenced by newspaper articles expressing such as "fact".
In fact, "Joe" Rutherford, as he was known by Missouri locals, had begun "practicing law" as an Attorney in 1892, not 1889. In fact, there was no such position as "Public Prosecutor at/for Boonville, Missouri". In reality, from 1899 to 1902, "Joe" Rutherford had occasionally worked "when needed" as an "Assistant" to the actual "Prosecuting Attorney of Cooper County" -- Ernest Chambers -- who was Joe Rutherford's law firm partner at Draffen & Company.
Joseph F. Rutherford's background as a "Judge" in Cooper County Circuit Court was even weaker. J. F. Rutherford NEVER, EVER served as the "Circuit Judge" of Cooper County. Joseph F. Rutherford actually had run for the office of "Circuit Judge" of Cooper County in 1900, but he had been EASILY DEFEATED in the Democratic Primary. Joe Rutherford also had run for "State Representative" in 1896, but he had been DEFEATED in the Democratic Primary. Cooper county voters KNEW what kind of man was Joe Rutherford, and most did NOT like him. Missouri Law then provided that whenever a "Circuit Judge" could not make a scheduled court date that the local members of the Bar could elect one of their own to handle some of the Circuit Judge's routine duties for that day, as well as hear minor, routine cases. That generally meant that whichever local Attorney had no business before the court that day got to be "Special Judge" for an hour or so. In reality, practically every Attorney in rural Missouri got to be a "Special Judge" for a few days during their career. None of them would have ever dared to have assumed the title "Judge" for having done so, otherwise they would have been the laughing stock of their community. In the case of "Judge" Rutherford, he had served a grand total of four times as a "Special Judge" -- 2/17/1897, 6/3/1899, 3/15/1905, and 3/29/1905. Only two of those four times included hearing of minor, routine cases.
During this tumultuous time period, from the latter 1920s until his death in 1942, Joseph F. Rutherford dropped or changed many of Charles Taze Russell's last teachings. Many new teachings were added. Teachings dropped included those related to Zionism, pyramidology, and phrenology. The date of Jesus Christ's "invisible presence" was moved from 1874 to 1914. The start of the "last days" was moved from 1799 to 1914. The heavenly resurrection of Christ's co-rulers was moved from 1878 (originally 1874) to 1918. Etc. Etc.
HOWEVER, none of those changes, was the most OUTRAGEOUS, nor the most SHOCKING!!! The WatchTower Society has successfully "buried" the most outrageous and most shocking change of all of Rutherford's changes. In 1930, "Judge" Rutherford FIRED - DISMISSED the Holy Spirit as the intermediary between Jehovah's heavenly and earthly organizations. In 1930, the WatchTower Society began to teach that since Jesus had become "King" in 1914, and had entered the heavenly sanctuary in 1918, that Jesus had been sending ANGELS to "directly" communicate His directions to Rutherford and the WatchTower Society. That teaching was repeatedly covered from 1930 through 1935, and reviewed intermittently thereafter. That WatchTower teaching was not changed until more than two years after Rutherford's death, in 1944. We believe that the WatchTower Society has used coverage of the following "name adoption" from that same time period to keep this embarrassment "buried".
WatchTower Society President Joseph F. Rutherford also started a scheme to eliminate autonomy of local congregations and install absolute control from Brooklyn HQ. Over a period of years, JFR gradually instituted multiple measures which gradually reduced the influence and authority of locally elected "elders', and eventually replaced them with "Elders" appointed/anointed by the WatchTower Society. This scheme has been extended such that the WatchTower Society effectively now controls/owns the bank accounts and real estate of all local congregations through its absolute control of all local Body of Elders.
"... the secret of the Mormon success is a religious unity that practically enslaves the people to the control of their Elders whom they accept as divinely appointed and inspired. No other slavery can hold its victims so firmly as religious slavery ... ." -- ZION'S WATCH TOWER, July 1, 1897.
By 1931, Joseph F. Rutherford needed to adopt a new name for his group of followers in order to distinguish them from the many other groups of "Bible Students" scattered throughout the United States and internationally who had split off from the WatchTower Society, yet had retained Charles Taze Russell's teachings. Insinuated as an epiphany inspired by "Jehovah", Joseph F. Rutherford informed his followers that from henceforth, they would be called "Jehovah's witnesses". In actuality, this was nothing more than just the latest THEFT and FRAUD perpetrated by JOE RUTHERFORD, and the latest SCAM foisted on the mostly ignorant followers of the WatchTower Society. (Click here to read about a Pentecostal Cult known as "JEHOVITES", or JEHOVAHITES", or "JEHOVISTS", or "JEHOVAHISTS", a strikingly similar Cult which likely "influenced" several of Rutherford's "changes" during the 1920s and 1930s -- including the all important "name change" in 1931.)
Third WatchTower President J. F. Rutherford followed the pattern of "theft" set by Charles Taze Russell -- undoubtedly via his religious guru, oracle, and doctrinal interpreter, Frederic Franz -- by STEALING the biblical label "Jehovah's witnesses" from its rightful owner -- the Jewish people. As quietly acknowledged by the WatchTower Society itself, prior to their co-opting that "public use" label, "Jehovah's witnesses" had been used by early 20th century Christian Evangelist, Henry Allen Ironside, in his multiple Biblical commentaries and published sermons at least as early as 1911, or earlier, including the hand-written "Jehovah's witnesses" notation next to Isaiah 43:10 in Ironsides' own personal Bible. "Judge" Rutherford didn't even have sufficient imagination to at least capitalize the "w" in "witnesses", but instead even plagiarized the use of the lower case "w" in "witnesses", just as H. A. Ironside and other Christian and Jewish theologians had been doing for centuries.
Thereafter, "Judge" J. F. Rutherford stopped his "Jehovah's witnesses" followers from celebrating both secular and Christian holidays. Joseph F. Rutherford also became radically "anti-government", and forbid all expressions of patriotism or other support for the government and the military. Joseph F. Rutherford also became radically "anti-Christianity". Previously, the WatchTower Society had viewed Christian denominations as simply deluded by Satan and needing the correction of the WatchTower Society, but now other denominations became "Satan's henchmen", and the arch-enemies of "Jehovah" and Jehovah's "chosen people" -- the WatchTower Society, and its loyal followers. (Interestingly, while cult founder Charles Taze Russell had attracted self-professed "bible students" as his grassroots followers, Rutherford and Knorr attracted grassroots social, political, and economic misfits and malcontents.) The following Seattle newspaper Editor apparently did not "get" the ACLU's memo:
"Judge Rutherford, We'll Stay With The Golden Rule"
Thousands of "Jehovah's Witnesses," led by "Judge" Rutherford, are in Seattle for their annual convention. It was advertised as a convention of Christian men and women.
Last night, at the end of its second day, the convention passed a resolution condemning Seattle newspapers because they would not publish attacks on other churches and creeds as demanded by the "Judge" and his followers. This, they said, was "important news."
Now I'm not what you might call a first-class Christian. I "belong" to no church in Seattle. I'm not a Catholic. l'm not a Protestant. I try to get along on an old-fashioned idea that I believe comes from the Bible ("Judge" Rutherford probably could tell you the chapter and the verse) and which is sometimes referred to as the Golden Rule. I believe it goes something like this: "Do unto others as you would like to be done by."
We at The Star always have had the idea that an American should be allowed to worship when, how, and as he pleases. The idea might be a little old-fashioned and out of date for some of these new-fangled religions, but it seems to have operated pretty satisfactorily for 1900 years or so.
The Star has no quarrel with "Jehovah's Witnesses." We're glad to see them come to town to enjoy the wonders of the Evergreen Playground. And, as long as they confine themselves to their own religion, we're glad to play along. We told them so frankly.
But when they assume the attitude that their religious ideas are right and everyone else's ideas are all wrong, and say if they can't get publicity in Seattle for their attacks on other churches they'll condemn the newspapers of Seattle before the world, we're afraid we'll just have to say: "Go ahead and condemn. And if they want to put that condemnation on their front pages, it's all right wlth us.". We're satisfied to stay with that old Golden Rule plan. Its worked out pretty well in the past. And we'd recommend it to "The Judge." -- Top of Front Page Editorial, The Seattle Star, June 4, 1938 (edited).
During the emotionally unsettling times leading up to America's entry into World War II, "Judge" Joseph F. Rutherford ordered "Jehovah's witnesses" to picket and distribute anti-church literature outside of churches on Sunday mornings and evenings. Anti-government literature was distributed house-to-house and paraded on the sidewalks of Main Street America during shopping hours. Not surprisingly, Jehovah's witnesses were often verbally assaulted, and less often were physically assaulted. Joseph F. Rutherford was delighted with such negative reactions, and he routinely ordered out-of-state WatchTower "organizers" into such known "hot spots" to pursue public confrontations. This was a pre-planned intentional strategy to get "Judge" Rutherford's latest "WatchTower Gospel" in the newspapers and on the radio. Many small-town mayors unwittingly fell into "Judge" Rutherford's trap when they used local police and local ordinances to stop out-of-town and out-of-state WatchTower Society "organizers" from intentionally antagonizing and provoking the local citizenry.
15 Jehovah's Witnesses Fined For Alexandria Midnight Calls
Loudspeakers and Personal Visits to Deliver "Message"Lead to Arrest and Jailing of [Watch Tower Convention] Workers
Fifteen Jehovah's Witnesses were fined today for disturbing the serenity of Alexandria, Va., last midnight with loudspeakers and door-to-door bell ringing ...
[Prosecution w]itnesses told the court that the defendants descended on Alexandria in six automobiles equipped with huge loudspeakers ... to awaken the citizens and urge them to have the mayor intercede for a [Jehovah's Witness] previously arrested ... yesterday afternoon in an automobile parked ... in the residential section while broadcasting from a loudspeaker [a sermon delivered by] Judge Joseph F. Rutherford, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. ...
For days prior to Judge Rutherford's widely heralded address at the Washington Auditorium ..., automobiles equipped with loudspeakers had been cruising through Alexandria and nearby Maryland and Virginia, exhorting all to "tune in Judge Rutherford on vour local station at 3:00 P.M. Sunday afternoon".
Indignant over the arrest of their broadcasters in Alexandria, several hundred of Jehovah's Witnesses drove to Alexandria about midnight. They made a determined house-to-house canvass in the residential district and their loudspeakers were booming throughout the downtown area. A policeman told the court that one car bearing the biggest loudspeaker of the type he ever saw stopped opposite the Alexandria Hospital at midnight, ... distinctly audible for a block.
A resident, George Burroughs, testified that one of Jehovah's Witnesses came to his home ... and rang the bell at midnight. Burroughs said he told the man to leave and explained there was a sick child in the house. The man, however, insisted on delivering a midnight "message from Jehovah". Burroughs seized his unwelcome caller by the shoulder and thrust him from his front porch. Burroughs testified the [male Jehovah's Witness] returned half an hour later, whereupon he seized him and held on until police arrived.
The full Alexandria police force was turned out last night to cope with the situation. One officer told the court he watched [a female Jehovah's Witness] make three determined calls at the front door of residences shortly after 1:00 A.M. this morning. He said the sleeping residents were reluctant to answer the door at that hour, but that the woman persisted in ringing bells in order to deliver "Jehovah's message" in person. -- THE EVENING STAR, Washington D.C., June 3, 1935 (edited).
FOOTNOTE: A followup article revealed that during the closing session of this Watch Tower Convention the by-then released fifteen arrested Jehovah's Witness Criminals had been officially recognized and celebrated from the podium, endorsed by Watch Tower Leaders, and vigorously applauded by the 20-25,000 Jehovah's Witness attendees. As an aside, in the midst of the Great Depression, most of the very "poor" attendees had sacrificed greatly to travel from all over the U.S., only to see "Judge" Rutherford arrive in a nearly new 16 cylinder canary-yellow CADILLAC, accompanied by a chauffeur and multiple bodyguards. (see JOSEPH F. RUTHERFORD FINANCIAL BIOGRAPHY).
The resulting legal contests allowed the Watch Tower Society to take "cherry-picked" incidents and issues all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Once there, time after time SCOTUS overruled local ordinances and state laws used to stop the Jehovah's witnesses from publicly distributing Rutherford's "gospel". From the latter 1930s through the 1950s, the Watch Tower Society won decision after decision. Civil libertarians hail Jehovah's witnesses as the group most responsible for the broad interpretation which today's courts give the civil rights and liberties found in the Constitution. [Click here to read some rarely publicized 1940s JWs court cases.]
Beginning in the 1930s, and probably at the instigation and direction of the ACLU, if "in-state" JWs FIRST, and thereafter, "in-region" JWs SECOND, could not get local non-JW residents stirred up for a public fight, "Judge" Rutherford would THIRD -- finally send in "out-of-region" JW troublemakers to get the job done.
Why was the infamous CANTWELL family, who were an itinerant pack of APPALACHIAN and OZARKS HILLBILLIES from Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas, door-knocking Italian and Irish Catholic neighborhoods in New England, while Italian and Irish JW troublemakers from New England were being sent to southern states to door-knock Baptist and Pentecostal neighborhoods?
"I suppose these Catholics had some right of 'religious freedom' themselves, did they not? I suppose they have the right to be left alone, and not to be attacked with these scurrilous denunciations of their chosen faith. What have YOU to say to that? ... YOU can hire a hall. YOU can hold a meeting. YOU can distribute literature. Is it the same thing to go into a Catholic church and deliver these attacks on the Catholic faith? Is it the same thing to go into a person's home and deliver these attacks? Is there no limit at all on what YOU can do because YOU think YOU are worshiping God?" -- SCOTUS Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes rebuking WatchTower Attorney Hayden Covington during oral arguments of the 1940 CANTWELL case, after Covington seemed to be claiming that "religious freedom" permitted JW proselytizers to do nearly anything that they wanted so long as JWs had been taught and believed such was part of their religious worship.
We recently discovered what probably initiated the eventual multiple harsh confrontations between JWs and local residents which occurred in central Indiana (a longtime KKK hotspot) during the late 1930s into the early 1940s -- including the running battle in Connersville, Indiana. One of the leading JW troublemakers was a male caucasian, age 32, who was originally from Connersville, Indiana, but who had worked at WatchTower HQ in NYC. That former WatchTower HQ BETHELITE had recently married a 55 year-old African-American JW female from Indianapolis. We suspect that this May - December mixed-race marriage had been particularly encouraged so that this white hothead and his much older A-A wife could travel around central Indiana to known KKK hotspots and intentionally provoke and antagonize small, all-white communities surrounding Indianapolis.
As admitted by the WatchTower Society, beginning in the latter 1930s, professional prizefighters -- African-Americans and others -- were hired to mingle in crowds watching parading and proselytizing WatchTower convention attendees, and to step in if and when such attendees were confronted by objecting locals. The WatchTower Society actually boasts of incidents when local non-JWs were beaten up by those hired professional thugs.
Probably under the direction of the ACLU -- "Judge" Rutherford's strategy of provocation and antagonization was turned up several notches by new WatchTower President Nathan Knorr beginning in the latter 1940s. "Out-of-state" African-American Jehovah's Witnesses -- many if not most being females -- were intentionally sent into northern "hot spots" which had no A-A residents specifically to provoke the caucasian locals into a confrontation which could be manipulated for multiple WatchTower Cult purposes. Those "out-of-state" A-A Jehovah's Witnesses routinely carried concealed deadly weapons, and were not opposed to using such. After one such physical confrontation in a small town in rural Illinois, one local non-JW caucasian male had to be treated for three stab wounds to his back, while other local non-JW caucasians had to be treated for lesser knife wounds. (To read an excerpt from the NAACP magazine, CRISIS, about "negro" Jehovah's Witnesses and the 1950s WatchTower Society, tab down to the bottom of this same webpage.)
KNORR, FRANZ, GOMER, GOOBER, FLOYD, ETC.
Prior to Joseph Franklin Rutherford's death in January 1942 (due to cancer of the rectum), the WatchTower Society had taught that World War II was the start of events leading into Armageddon, which was to occur prior to the expiration of the 40 year generation of 1914, in 1954. However, just like what had occurred with Charles Taze Russell and Joseph F. Rutherford during World War I, none of the Watchtower Society's "prophesies" came true. However, the following "Cold War" gave the Watch Tower Society everything it needed for their fall-back message of "any day now". By the early 1950s, the new message was that 6000 years of mankind's existence would end in 1976, and then 1972, and that Christ's Millennium (seventh) would have to start sometime thereabout.
In 1963, the end of the 6000 years was yet again revised from 1972 to 1975. Then, in 1966, the WatchTower Society went on a worldwide campaign of "insinuation" that Armageddon would occur in October 1975. The "October 1975" campaign was the most successful Second Adventist "Date Prediction Addicts" recruiting campaign since William Miller had predicted the end of the 6000 years and the Second Advent for 1843-44, and Nelson Barbour had predicted the end of the 6000 years and the Second Advent for 1873-74. Although it had taken the Watch Tower Society from the 1870s until the mid-1960s to reach the 1,000,000th member mark, the "October 1975" campaign allowed the WatchTower Society to go from 1,000,000 members to 2,000,000 members in less than a decade. WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S SECRET MEXICO COLONY FOUNDED IN 1973!
"To give aid today in this critical time to prospective sons of God," announced President Knorr, "a new book in English, entitled 'Life Everlasting -- in Freedom of the Sons of God', has been published." At all assembly points where it was released, the book was received enthusiastically. Crowds gathered around stands and soon supplies of the book were depleted. Immediately its contents were examined. It did not take the brothers very long to find the chart beginning on page 31, showing that 6,000 years of man's existence end in 1975. Discussion of 1975 overshadowed about everything else. "The new book compels us to realize that Armageddon is, in fact, very close indeed," said a conventioner. Surely it was one of the outstanding blessings to be carried home! -- 1966 WatchTower District Assembly, as shamelessly reported in the WATCHTOWER, October 15, 1966.
"If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. ... as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers." -- Indisputable PROPHECY published in the AWAKE!, MAY 22, 1969.
After the failure of the "October 1975" prediction, some of those one million new "Date Prediction Addicts" were gradually lost, but overall there was a huge gain in membership -- with their financial support. Having had decades of experience at this "game", the WatchTower Society had already prepared its members for alternate dates just in case the "October 1975" prediction failed. Even prior to 1975, there had been insinuations that Armageddon might occur in October 1984 (adding 70 years "generation" to 1914) and October 1994 (adding 80 years "generation" to 1914).
After the families of C. T. Russell and J. F. Rutherford, the Franz Family had the greatest impact on the WatchTower Society and its followers during the 20th century. After Russell and Rutherford, Frederic William Franz was the third most impactful individual. Frederic W. Franz eventually became the fifth President of the WatchTower Society -- from 1977 until his death in 1992. Prior to 1977, Frederic Franz had been the Vice-President since 1945. More significant than his administrative titles is the fact that Frederic Franz was the WatchTower Society's doctrinal "Guru" from the 1930s onward. Frederic Franz also was the author of THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION.
At some point during his lengthy career at WatchTower HQ, leaders began to boast that Fred Franz had been offered, but had declined, a "Rhodes Scholarship" while he was attending the University of Cincinnati. That ridiculous LIE was in turn repeated for decades by rank-and-file JWs. In "President" Franz's 1987 biography, Franz even claims that one of his UC professors had informed him that he had been "chosen" to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. That false claim, bolstered by mischaracterizations of the RS selection process, point either to the heralded researcher being mostly ignorant of the RS selection process, or Franz simply was a LIAR. The Columbus, Ohio examination taken by Franz and a second UC male "athlete" was only intended to determine the basic academic eligibilty of competitors. Notably, RS recipients were NOT chosen merely for their scholastic achievements. That was for what they were to receive an Oxford education. In fact, skilled athletes were specifically targeted and offered Rhodes Scholarships. The United States was divided into eight Districts of six states. Each state chose two contestants to go to the District competition. There, out of the 12 contestants, four were selected to receive Rhodes Scholarships -- totaling 32 recipients nationwide.
Fred Franz completed only 84 hours at the University of Cincinnati, with only a 3.64 gpa, before quiting to preach the coming of "Armageddon" in October 1914. Franz completed entry and intermediate level classes in English, German, Latin, and Greek -- but only one class of "biblical" Koine Greek. Essentially, Franz learned how to use dictionaries and other reference books to translate individual words -- not how to translate the author's intended meaning from one language to another. While Franz's critics mainly refer to his mangling of the New Testament, it has been Hebrew scholars who say that the NWT reads like it was translated by a smart high school student who owned a Hebrew-English dictionary.
Arguably, a second member of the Franz family had an even more significant impact on the WatchTower Society and its Jehovah's Witnesses members. That was Frederic Franz's nephew, Raymond Franz. "Raised in the truth", Raymond Franz rose through the ranks of the WatchTower organization until he joined his Uncle as a member of the WatchTower Society's then secretive GOVERNING BODY -- from 1971 to 1980.
While "Fred" and "Ray" each eventually made a "name" for themselves due to the exercise of their religious faith, Ray Franz was NOT the first (nor second) Franz family member to confront a "crisis of conscience", nor was Fred Franz the first Franz family member to receive national media attention. Those honors both go to the Franz family patriarch, F. E. Franz.
The Franz family story began in the 1880s when 27 year old Herr F. E. Franz immigrated from Germany to the United States. Within four years, Herr Franz married and had the first of four sons. After settling down in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, Herr Franz earned a living as a baker. Herr Franz and family lived a typical immigrant's life until 1912-13, when one of his sons encountered the teachings of the WatchTower Society. Before long, Herr Franz and family began converting to the WatchTower religion during the final remaining months prior to October 1914 -- the date which Charles Taze Russell had set for the actual return of the already "present", but invisible, Jesus Christ.
In Summer 1914, the ever-present political tensions in Europe once again erupted in yet another war which everyone had long expected. Those hostilities presented potential problems for Herr Franz and other immigrants like himself who were still citizens of their native countries. Although October 1914 did not bring the apocryphal events predicted by the WatchTower Society, the Franz family remained loyal to their new religion. Herr Franz's loyalty to the WatchTower and his German citizenship no doubt played competing roles in Herr Franz's own "crisis of conscience" regarding his decisions to both pursue American citizenship and to delay his pursuit of such. Curiously, when Herr Franz finally did show up to accept America's gift of citizenship, he had already decided to refuse to recite the Oath of Allegiance. Herr Franz's refusal to recite the Oath created quite a commotion at the citizenship proceedings, which ended with him being bumrushed out of the courthouse -- without his receiving citizenship. Herr Franz's "crisis of conscience" received national media coverage, and Herr Franz became an instant hero amongst not only his fellow Rutherfordites, but also amongst members of other civil libertarian groups.
In 1920, Frederic Franz quit his local university studies to volunteer at the WatchTower Society's world headquarters in Brooklyn. However, after the WatchTower's predictions for 1925 failed, the youngest of the four Franz brothers exited the religion. Raymond's father (1891-1977), who by then had a wife and three children, remained loyal to the WatchTower Society. Born in 1922, Raymond became old enough to begin "pioneering" just in time to experience the wave of persecution that Jehovah's Witnesses intentionally brought onto themselves during the 1930s-40s. The 1975 Yearbook, pages 186-8, documents how Raymond saved the lives of famous WatchTower attorney Victor Schmidt and seven other JWs after the infamous 1940 trial in Connorsville, Indiana. Thereafter, Raymond went on to face even more life-threatening situations as he pioneered in Ohio and the isolated coal mining towns of Kentucky and West Virginia. In 1944, Raymond was invited to Gilead to train as a missionary. After serving a year or so as a Circuit Servant in the U.S., Raymond went on to serve for nearly 20 years as a missionary and Branch Overseer in various Carribean countries.
In 1965, President Nathan Knorr asked Raymond to come to WatchTower HQ to work in the Writing Department. There, during his first five years, Raymond was one of the principal research writers who worked on the "Aid Book" project (the JW's encyclopedia, which was later renamed "Insight On The Scriptures"). Raymond authored the encyclopedia's most important articles such as "Jehovah", "Jesus Christ", "Chronology", etc. Significantly, Raymond's research on the topic of "Overseer" even led to the institution of the JWs' current "elder arrangement".(Interesting to compare the wording of similar "Aid" and "Insight" articles, since the three principal authors of the "Aid Book" eventually left the JWs -- two by disfellowshipping.)
When the "Aid Book" project was completed in 1971, President Nathan Knorr and the other members of the Governing Body had been so impressed with Raymond's work ethic and his Bible knowledge and insight that they ask him to join them as a member of the Governing Body. Raymond continued to work in the Writing Department -- researching, writing, and editing many books and magazine articles during the 1970s. In 1972, Raymond's research on the Greek word porneia led the Society to broaden its' interpretation of "fornication" to include a whole host of forbidden sexual activity. In fact, Raymond Franz authored the pertinent articles in the 12/15/72 WatchTower magazine.
Raymond Franz's ongoing research repeatedly uncovered differences between what the WatchTower taught and what the Bible actually taught. As Raymond brought such to the attention of the other members of the Governing Body, a few changes were implemented over time. However, Ray also uncovered more significant errors which the other members of the Governing Body refused to correct. Included was Raymond's thorough investigation and confirmation of Carl Jonsson's research that proved that Jerusalem had been destroyed in 587/6 BCE, rather than 607 BCE -- a fact which totally negates the WatchTower's teachings based on the year 1914. (Refer to the book "Gentile Times Reconsidered" by Carl Jonsson.)
In 1980, by-then WatchTower President Frederic Franz and the other members of the Governing Body had had enough of Raymond Franz's uncovering WatchTower errors, and a "witch-hunt" ensued. The Governing Body had some members of the Writing and Translation Departments disfellowshipped (others resigned later). The GB also forced Raymond to resign from both the Governing Body and Brooklyn Bethel. Raymond and his wife relocated to Gadsden, Alabama, where they attempted to continue their lives as quietly as possible as ordinary Jehovah's Witnesses. Within a few months time, the Gadsden congregation even "recommended" that Raymond be appointed as a local congregation Elder. However, Brooklyn HQ denied the congregation's request, and sent in a new Circuit Overseer whose job apparently was to see to it that the Gadsden congregation disfellowshiped Raymond Franz completely out of the organization -- something Raymond's Uncle Frederic and the other members of the Governing Body had not had the intestinal fortitude to do themselves. (Interestingly, the Governing Body had even sent Raymond an unsolicited "gift" of $10,000.00 after he had resigned and moved to Alabama.) Having no existing charge of wrongdoing against Raymond, the Governing Body changed WatchTower organizational policy to make it a disfellowshiping offense for a "Jehovah's Witness" to associate with a "disassociated" person. "Coincidentally", Raymond's Employer and Landlord had just recently "disassociated" himself. Within a matter of weeks, the Gadsden "good fellas" obeyed the orders of the Brooklyn "bosses" and "assassinated" (disfellowshiped) Raymond Franz for the horrific crime of eating dinner at a local restaurant with his employer-landlord.
With the advent of the internet and the birth of the "information age" in the 1990s, the past history and track record of the Watch Tower Society has been exposed to the world. Not surprisingly, over the past 20 years, the only notable growth in the number of members has either been in third-world countries, or immigrants from third-world countries. Even more significant is the impact that the internet has had on the next date for "Armageddon", which in past decades has been the "seed" for the next "harvest" of "Date Prediction Addicts".
In the December 1, 2003 WATCHTOWER magazine, the year 2034 was "trial-ran" as the next date for "Armageddon". That date was computed by Watch Tower Society leaders by adding the supposed 120 years that Noah preached until the Flood to the ever important 1914. The "2034 insinuation" evidently received little enthusiasm from the membership, because it has only been hinted at since. That date is simply too far in the future for those susceptible to the "Date Prediction Addiction". However, given human nature, and the fact that history will no doubt repeat itself, there likely will be a "world crisis" sometime in the near future which will allow the Watch Tower Society to fire up a new recruiting campaign grounded in a new date, be it 2034, or a closer date more likely to impact current followers.
Since at least the latter 1920s, the WatchTower Society has taught that Armageddon would occur on or before the end of the "generation" that was alive in 1914. First, the WatchTower Society added the Bible's 40 year generation to the year 1914, and arrived at October 1954. Then, even during the ongoing October 1975 campaign, they added the Bible's 70 year generation to the year 1914, and arrived at October 1984, and even added the Bible's 80 year generation to the year 1914, and arrived at October 1994.
Tellingly, only 1/3 of persons who are REARED as "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the United States
continue as "Jehovah's Witnesses" throughout their adulthood.
Numbers. The WatchTower Society typically only publicly reports statistics for "active" members, since it teaches that when Armageddon occurs, any member who is not "active" at that time may be judged by their god as not being a true "Jehovah's Witness", and thus will be destroyed along with all other non-JWs.
"Active" means those Jehovah's Witnesses who both regularly attend all of the weekly meetings, and more importantly, who regularly submit monthly reports documenting that they have performed recruiting activities during that month.
There are approximately 8,000,0000 "active" Jehovah's Witnesses scattered throughout the planet. Of that 8,000,000 worldwide total, only approximately 1,200,000 "active" Jehovah's Witnesses live in the United States.
INTERESTINGLY, in the 2020 Mexico Census, 1,531,000 Mexican citizens self-identified as "Jehovah's Witnesses", which was down from 1,561,086 in 2010.
Actual Exposure. In the United States, in addition to the 1,200,000 "active" Jehovah's Witnesses, there are another 1,500,000 persons who are people who claim to be Jehovah's Witnesses, but only irregularly attend meetings and/or perform recruiting, or are people who are non-members who are attending some WatchTower meetings (and possibly doing some recruiting) in contemplation of officially becoming Jehovah's Witnesses.
In addition to the 2.7 million Jehovah's Witnesses and potential Jehovah's Witnesses described above, there very well may be another 3 - 4 million Americans who once fit into one of the above categories at some point in their past. Many of these people still hold to some of the Jehovah's Witness beliefs and practices, and some may even occasionally identify themselves as "Jehovah's Witnesses". Thus, out of approximately 325 million persons in the United States, there may be 6 to 8 million persons who hold to some or all of the WatchTower Cult's beliefs and practices, and may even publicly profess to be "Jehovah's Witnesses".
For Employers, there tend to be more "Jehovah's Witnesses" percentage-wise living in heavier populated urban areas. Metropolitan employers can roughly estimate that there is one "JW" in any group of 75-100 employees or prospective employees. Employers in mid-size cities can roughly estimate that there is one "JW" in any group of 125-150 employees or prospective employees. Small town employers can probably expect that there is only one "JW" in any group of 300-500 employees or prospective employees.
Racial-Ethnic-Cultural Composition of Jehovah's Witnesses in the UNITED STATES. The Jehovah's Witnesses started out in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the 1870s, as an "Anglo-American" religion, amongst primarily Scottish, Irish, English, and Welsh immigrants, with a few Germans sprinkled in. Nearly the entire membership was of northern European extraction, and living in the United States and Canada.
By the early 1950s, to the consternation of WatchTower Cult leadership, a sociologist who had traveled around the United States studying Jehovah's Witnesses REPORTED FOR THE FIRST TIME that "about one half" of American Jehovah's Witness were "Negroes". In 1956, the NAACP published his findings (edited excerpt):
"Jehovah's Witnesses ... going from house to house with a message of impending ARMAGEDDON ... about half are Negro. ... ... ... ... [Watchtower] doctrines find a particularly fertile soil in the Negro community, ... .
"The Negro press carries a great deal of material about the organization, especially at times of [Jehovah's] Witness conventions. [Jehovah's] Witness doings are important news for these periodicals because the number of Negro [Jehovah's] Witnesses is comparatively large and their devotion and articulateness is unusually high. Their influence, consequently, far exceeds their numbers. ... But the quality -- that is to say the reliability -- of almost all this material is very unsatisfactory. Invariably, the [Jehovah's] Witnesses are falsely pictured to represent a racially integrated group, eager to practice the Christian ideal of racial equality.
The reason why so much wrong information finds its way into the Negro press is twofold: on the one hand, the [Jehovah's] Witnesses are interested in more and more Negro recruits, and they use professional public relations people to create a favorable impression in the Negro community. On the other hand, editors of Negro periodicals too often accept these publicity handouts freely and uncritically. The result is that the [Jehovah's] Witnesses are described to the Negro public, to quote some phrases plucked at random from Negro periodicals, as "God's army on the march" in which "love is the binding tie that holds the organization together", ... .
"... in Southern states, the [Jehovah's] Witnesses practice a very rigid racial segregation there. All Southern states, and most border areas as well, have separate [Jehovah's] Witness companies (local congregations) for Negroes and whites; ... as far north as Asbury Park, N.J., ... All over the South there are separate "circuits" ... for the two races, and in the Southwest there are actually three separate circuits: Negro, white, and Spanish. Until recent years, Negro [Jehovah's] Witnesses were not invited to the national [Watchtower] conventions of the [Watchtower] organization, ... .
"While ... about one half of the membership of the [Jehovah's] Witnesses is Negro, the leadership is almost completely white. When I visited [WatchTower] national headquarters in Brooklyn in 1952, I was told that there were only two Negroes in the headquarters staff of over four hundred, ...
"[WatchTower] periodicals ... reflect the true racial attitudes of the [Jehovah's] Witness leadership much more faithfully than do the press releases designed for public consumption. [AWAKE!] of April 22, 1953, counsels against inter-marriage between Negroes and whites. [THE WATCHTOWER], on April 15, 1953, and again on May 1, 1953, describes practices of African [Jehovah's] Witnesses in which races are kept apart as a matter of course ... . On October 8, 1953, [AWAKE!] carried an article defending the apartheid policy of the South African government, declaring that: '... if the color bar is breached, what new dike can stop a black flood from overflowing and destroying the civilization with which white men have displaced the wilderness?' ... .
"The question that remains, however, is why, with an atmosphere so obviously hostile to Negro integration, Negroes nevertheless find themselves attracted in such considerable numbers to the [Jehovah's] Witness organization. To understand this paradox we must, for a moment, concern ourselves with the nature and social sources of the sect as such. Jehovah's Witnesses constitute a PROTEST ORGANIZATION OF THE SPIRITUALLY DISINHERITED. People belong to it who have a vague and general feeling that the world is no good; for one reason or another, they think of themselves as having been left out of things. [Jehovah's] Witness doctrines make a powerful appeal to this feeling of being excluded. And given a world in which Negroes actually are excluded from many of the benefits of society, it is indeed not surprising to find many of them in this kind of protest organization.
"The protest of the [Jehovah's] Witnesses, of course, is so extreme and so irrational that not much good can possibly come from it. The [Jehovah's] Witnesses reject not only the particular order of things in our present world, but they reject ... the world as a whole, putting their whole trust in a future God-made holocaust which they deduce from their dubious interpretations of the book of Revelation. They have no fundamental interest in anything in this world: things as they are are to them simply irrelevant. That is why THEY PREACHED that it would not make any essential difference whether Hitler or the Allies won [World War II]; that is why they do not see any important difference between democracy and Communism. And that's why, also, their Negro members cannot get excited about injustice to their people, either in the country as a whole or in their own [Watchtower] organization. AFTER ARMAGEDDON, presumably, everything will automatically be straightened out, so why worry about any of the arrangements in the here and now, arrangements that according to [Watchtower] doctrine can only be temporary?
"In effect, the [Jehovah's] Witnesses have given up all hope in the potentialities of the human race. Their vision of [JEHOVAH GOD] is one in which Man is passive and has no say. For those of us who do not share this vision, there remains the task of making a better world through our own efforts. No results of ours, of course, can ever be as spectacular as the ARMAGEDDON of the [Jehovah's] Witnesses' fantasies; ... .
Little had changed by the early 1970s, when the New York Times reported:
"... Yankee Stadium ... 60,000 Jehovah's witnesses from New York and New England began a five day district assembly. ... perhaps half of them black ... . ... Officials said they could expect 30 baptisms for each 1,000 persons in attendance." -- NEW YORK TIMES, 7/01/1971.
Since the failure of the 1975 ARMAGEDDON prediction, the number of Jehovah's Witnesses in North America and Europe has gradually flatlined, with membership growth relegated to third world countries located in Africa, Central America, and South America, and amongst people who have illegally immigrated from those continents to North America and Europe.
By 2016, in the United States, people of northern European extraction no longer constitute the majority of the WatchTower Society's membership. Only 36%, or less, of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States are "white", and most of these "white" Jehovah's Witnesses live in rural and smaller urban areas. In large urban areas, many non-JWs rarely if ever see a "white" Jehovah's Witness, and some urban non-JWs have even expressed the incorrect belief that "Jehovah's Witnesses" is an "African" religion. Approximately 26-33% (probably under-reported) of Jehovah's Witnesses living in the United States are "African-American", with most living in urban areas.
By 2025, or earlier, the steadily increasing number of "African-American" Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States will likely exceed the steadily decreasing number of "white" Jehovah's Witnesses, thereby pushing "whites" down to the smallest racial group of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States, other than "Asians/Others".
By 2025, or earlier, due to the FLOOD of illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Hispanic-Latino countries, and the targeting by the WatchTower Cult of these poorly educated persons for recruitment, Hispanics/Latinos will surpass "whites" as the largest racial/ethnic group of Jehovah's Witnesses living in the United States. Currently, 32-35% (also likely under-reported) of Jehovah's Witnesses currently living in the United States are Hispanics/Latinos.
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