For those not already familiar, early in Watchtower history, Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses claimed that Jesus was to be worshipped. This was before the advent of the New World Translation.
Check out these quotes:
"It seems clear that His Divinity was retained in humanity because He repeatedly spoke of Himself as having come down from heaven, and because He, though passing through trial and sorrow as a man, was yet possessed of the authority and exercised the prerogatives of a God. He was the object of unreproved worship even when a babe, by the wise men who came to see the new-born King. Matt. 2:2-11. Even the angels delighted to do Him honor. "When He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, "And let all the angels of God worship Him." Heb. 1:6. He never reproved any one for acts of worship offered to Himself, but when Cornelius offered such service to Peter--the leading apostle-- "he took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man." .... Had Christ not been more than a man the same reason would have prevented from receiving worship." (Zion's Watch Tower 1880 October p.3)
"It is undoubtedly proper enough for us to address petitions to our Redeemer and Advocate, who loved us and gave himself for us....Although we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper so to do; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, and the disciples worshiped him. -- Matt. 28: 9, 17." (Zion's Watch Tower 1892 May 15 p.157)
"Question. The fact that our Lord received worship is claimed by some to be an evidence that while on earth he was God the Father disguised in a body of flesh and not really a man. Was he really worshiped, or is the translation faulty? Answer. Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so... It was proper for our Lord to receive worship in view of his having been the only begotten of the Father and his agent in the creation of all things, including man" (Zion's Watch Tower 1898 July 15 p.216)
"In one respect many of Christendom could learn numerous important lessons from these wise Gentiles....They worshiped him in three senses of the word: (1) They fell before him, prostrated themselves, thus physically expressing their reverence. (2) They worshiped him in their hearts and with the tongue gave expression to their rejoicing and confidence. (3) They opened their treasure-box and presented to him three gifts appropriate to royalty: the myrrh representing submission, frankincense representing praise, gold representing obedience" (Zion's Watch Tower 1906 January 1 p.15)
"Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah, and because he is the Executive Officer of Jehovah always carrying out Jehovah's purpose (Heb.:3-6)." (Watchtower 1939 November 15 p.339.)
"During the Millennium, "the princes will lead the people in their worship of Jehovah and of Christ." (Vindication Volume 3 p.295)
"The people of all nations who obtain salvation must come to the house of the Lord to worship there; that is to say, they must believe on and worship Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ, his chief instrument (Philippians 2:10, 11)." (Salvation p.151)
"Now, at Christ's coming to reign as king in Jehovah's capital organization Zion, to bring in a righteous new world, Jehovah makes him infinitely higher than the godly angels or messengers and accordingly commands them to worship him... Since Jehovah God now reigns as King by means of his capital organization Zion, then whosoever would worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah's Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus, his Co-regent on the throne of The Theocracy." (Watchtower 1945 October 15 p.313)
With the advent of the New World Translation, this changed. All of a sudden, it basically became a crime equal to idolatry to worship Jesus according to the Society.
Check out these quotes:
"Should we worship Jesus?-G. B., Ethiopia. [Answer:] Consequently, since the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is not a trinitarian co-person with God the Father, but is a distinct person, the Son of God, the answer to the above question must be that no distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven. Our worship is to go to Jehovah God. However, we show the proper regard for God’s only-begotten Son by rendering our worship to God through and in the name of Jesus Christ. Even now when we kneel in prayer, as Paul did according to Ephesians 3:14-19, we offer prayer in the name of Jesus Christ in obedience to his own directions (John 15:16; 16:23-26), but the prayer itself is addressed, not to Jesus, but to God his Father. In this way we keep things in their relative positions."
"Reverent adoration should be expressed only to God. To render worship to anyone or anything else would be a form of idolatry, which is condemned in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.... Accordingly, true Christians do well to direct their worship only to Jehovah God, the Almighty." (Awake! 2000 April 8 pp.26,27)
According to Jehovah's Witnesses, even praying to Jesus is not a Scriptural practice: “Though some claim that prayer may properly be addressed to others, such as to God’s Son, the evidence is emphatically to the contrary” (Insight on the Scriptures Volume 2 p.667 “Prayer”).
The above quote actually would have Jehovah's Witnesses saying that the first century Christian martyr Stephen was practicing idolatry since he in fact did pray to Jesus. "And they went on casting stones at Stephen as he made appeal and said: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59, New World Translation). If a Jehovah's Witness today said a prayer from the stage asking Jesus to do anything, he would likely be counselled for it later for inappropriate behavior from the platform.
Here is part of a dialoge I had a few years ago with a Jehovah's Witness lady. I am identified as “householder”.
Householder: Is Jesus worshipped?
JW: No, only Almighty God, whose name is Jehovah, is to be worshipped. I can show you here in the Scriptures.
Householder: Do Jehovah's Witnesses have no regard for Jesus at all?
JW: We regard Jesus as the Son of God and regard him very highly, so we honor him and give him obesience as the Scriptures tell us to.
Householder: Do Witnesses believe Jesus is the Word of God?
JW: Yes, as a matter of fact we do. It seems we agree on this. We are looking for people just like yourself in your neighborhood who are spiritual.
Householder: What about John 1:1 where it says that the Word is God?
JW: No, the New World Translation gives a clearer understanding of the Greek where it says that the Word is a god. In fact, Jesus as the Word is the firstborn or first creative act of the father. But only the Father is the one True God.
Householder: So, only Jehovah is the true God?
JW: Yes. Jehovah is the one true God and He is the heavenly father.
Householder: So, Jesus is 'a god'?
JW: Yes, the Bible identifies Jesus as a god, but also as the Son of God.
Householder: So, how many true gods are there?
JW: Only one, Jehovah.
Householder: So, if you worship Jehovah as a god and do obesience to Jesus as a god, doesn't that mean you are practicing idolatry according to your religion?
JW: No, we don't worship Jesus, but we do obesience to him.
Householder: In other words, you honor him?
JW: Yes, you could put it that way.
Householder: Do you honor Jehovah?
JW: Yes, we honor Jehovah (by going door to door, carrying on the Kingdom work, blah blah blah)
Householder: In other words, you worship and honor Jehovah and you do obesience and honor Jesus?
JW: Yes, I really need to get back to the car now, we have many houses in your neighborhood.
Householder: I realize that and I appreciate the time you've already taken with my questions. I just really want to understand here and make sure I'm worshipping the only true God. Since Jehovah is the only true God and Jesus is a god, this means that Jehovah's Witnesses have more than one god in their religion in which they honor. According to your own understanding of this, you have more than one god and this would amount to idolatry.
JW: Well, no! We don't see it that way. 'Honoring' and 'worshipping' are two different things.
Householder: Yes, but you also say that Jehovah and Jesus are both gods. If Jehovah is the only true God and Jesus is a god too, do Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus is a false god?
JW: (very frustrated and getting confused) I really have to go! I would like to leave you with this brochure though concerning the trinity.