The disfellowshipping of Walter Salter

by onacruse 43 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • onacruse

    On a recent thread Farkel provided a transcript of a letter written by Walter Salter in 1937:

    In all my years I have never seen the WTS respond as vigorously and openly as it did to this event...not even Ray Franz got this much attention.

    As an opener, here is the initial response printed in the WT (this is also a transcript, but .pdf's of the original can be provided as needed):

    W 5/1/37 141


    FOR three and one-half years the disciples of Jesus walked with him and learned that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God. One of them, called Judas, while claiming to believe on and serve Jesus Christ, was at the same time in a conspiracy with the enemy to bring about the death of Jesus and to destroy his work, and, knowing this, Jesus named him "the son of perdition." Later the Bible record discloses that Judas was a type of a class of persons who covenant to serve God and Christ and who become unfaithful, and who are therefore the instruments of the Devil.

    For twenty years or more one W. F. Salter was the trusted representative of God’s organization on earth, the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY. Claiming to believe in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and often so stating, and while in the pretended service of the Lord’s organization, that man was in a conspiracy to bring about the destruction of the Lord’s work and the death of some of the Lord’s servants. His duplicity being discovered, he was, because of his unfaithfulness, relieved of his position and duty in the Lord’s organization. About a year later this same man enters into a further conspiracy with the enemy to commit more wrong. He got someone to write an article attempting to prove that the Lord Jesus Christ is not present. That article he printed and caused to be distributed amongst many of the Lord’s servants in different parts of the earth, together with a covering letter, which letter and article purported to come from the head office of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY. Manifestly this was done in order to practice fraud and deception upon the faithful ones. He caused the printing to be done in the United States, and had his papers posted in the mail at Brooklyn, New York. In his letter of so-called ‘instructions,’ and which purported to be instructions from headquarters, the demand is made that the letter and article be read to the various companies at a stated time, and further stated that organization instructions are mandatory and this instruction must be carried out and the letter read.

    Then he issued another paper, had that printed and sent throughout the earth to the various offices and servants of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, and in which letter he resorts to lies and manifests a vicious and malicious, lying disposition, attacking the president of the BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, and making many statements which he knew at the time are deliberate lies. He demanded that his letter be answered through The Watchtower. The Watchtower columns are not open to the discussion of matters with those who are opposed to the Lord, and certainly not to printing the argument of one against the presence of the Lord, when this question of the Lord’s presence has been thoroughly covered by the publications of the Society.

    The Lord Jesus denounces such as conduct of those who are the evil servants, using this language: "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken: the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:48-51)

    Judas hanged himself, "and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." (Acts 1:18) The evil servant is the head or chief part of the "man of sin," "the son of perdition," and concerning which it is written: "And then shall that Wicked [the man of sin, the son of perdition] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:8) No notice would be given of this fact and wicked conduct except for the protection of the Lord’s people, whom Salter has attempted to deceive. This is The Watchtower’s answer, and the answer of the president of the Society, to his aforementioned publications.

    W 5/1/37 143


    Bellingham, Wash. April 15, 1937

    Dear Brother Rutherford:

    Enclosed find two printed letters, evidently sent out by Salter, one from New York post office, the other envelope mailed at Brooklyn. Envelope marked No. 1 was received on the 12th of this month, and the one marked No. 2 received on the 14th inst. In No. 1 envelope there is a letter supposed to be written by the Society, instructing the company servant to read his (Salter’s) printed letter to the company on the nth inst., or at an earlier date or as soon as possible after the nth inst. However, it is purely Salter’s own diabolical, dirty work. You will notice that envelope No. 1 is stamped with the Society’s stamp for the purpose of deceiving the gullible saps. How one can stoop to such low level of wickedness is beyond me to comprehend.

    I noticed Salter’s deflection on January 1933, when he was taking a trip from Mexice to Canada. At every place he stopped he caused much confusion among the brethren, not only doctrinally, but also speaking disparagingly concerning the establishment of divisional campaigns by the Society; also ridiculing the Watchtower articles. This (his conduct) I reported to the Society at that time.

    On my way to Wenatchee I will stop at Mt. Vernon, Everett and Seattle to see if the company servants received the same letters.

    Anything I can do in undoing the effects of these letters of Salter I will be pleased to do. Of course, no one who is well established in the present truth can be affected by the Devil’s attacks if they have made the present truth their own and are wholly devoted to Jehovah. Let the others be weeded out.

    With fervent love and best wishes, I am

    Your brother by Jehovah’s grace,


    Mr. S. H. Toutjian,

    Brooklyn, New York.

    Dear Brother Toutjian:

    April 38, 1937

    Thank you for yours of the 1st, in re the enemy’s assault through Salter. It is said there are two causes of insanity, one the disintegration of the brain tissue, and the other the effect of the influence of the wicked spirits. Salter gives every evidence of laboring under this disability. The fact that he resorts to fraud and deceit and forges the name of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY for the purpose of getting a message before others, shows he is of an unbalanced mind.

    We are in a real fight against Satan and his forces. Our business is to proclaim the truth and not to be disturbed by what the enemy does. So encourage and comfort the brethren everywhere you go. Remember the words of the psalmist: "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity...Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil." (Psalm 37:1, 7, 8) Personal assaults upon me are of no material interest. I expect these from the enemy. By the Lord’s grace, I will proceed with His work regardless of the same. I have full confidence that no one of the temple will be disturbed by the acts of the wicked one, but will press on with greater zeal in the proclamation of the kingdom message. You may use this letter wherever you have occasion. With much love and best wishes, I remain

    Your brother and servant by His grace,

    [Signed] J. F. Rutherford

    It get's "better"...this is just the opening salvo. I'll post the "step-by-step" as I have it, down to and including the gruesome details of Salter's public (very public) disfellowshipping. Of course, other WTS historians may have supplementary info, or perhaps even the whole Salter affair already put together.

  • Marjorie


  • Dagney

    Wow, Toutjians, family friends. Strange seeing his name there.

  • onacruse

    From the next month's WT:

    W 5/15/37 159


    Dear Brother Rutherford:

    April 12, 1937

    Re Salter’s letter: The following telegram was sent from this office on Saturday morning to each large company in Canada: "Salter’s letter and instruction not from Society. Fraudulent. lgnore it."

    On Saturday evening a meeting was arranged and the following were present: The servant of companies, his assistant, Brother Sinclair, a faithful brother who has been long associated with the Toronto company, and myself. It was decided that the following afternoon, at the time of the assembly of all the units for service discussion, a motion be introduced to disfellowship W. F. Salter from the Toronto company.

    Sunday afternoon at the service meeting I was in the chair, and toward the end of the meeting the position was put before the brethren, of whom there would be between 300 and 400 assembled. The envelope with the Society’s address and the printed letter to yourself from Salter were displayed, and the covering unsigned instructions were read to the company so that the brethren should realize the wickedness of those who were responsible for this action. Many of the elder brethren expressed their disgust at such an action. Brother Sinclair then came forward and read to the church the matter prepared. A copy of this is enclosed.

    Someone in the hall then raised the question whether Brother Salter was present, and the chairman stated that if he were he would be able to hear for himself what was being said, and if he were not, he would be notified.

    A. G. Cameron, former company servant and friend of W. F. Salter, raised his voice in favor of the letter, stating amongst his remarks, "I know the article in question; I have read it, and read it carefully. It is true that Brother Salter has challenged Brother Rutherford to answer it point by point, and I now challenge you, Brother Chapman, to answer it point by point and deal with it faithfully, because I firmly believe that the church has arrived at the crossroads. Up to this day we have all followed men, blind leaders of the blind and all making to the ditch. It cannot be denied that as an organization we have been mistaken in the past many times, and it cannot be denied that we are mistaken now." To this the answer was given from the chair: "I am glad you have shown yourself at last, Brother Cameron. It has taken you twelve months to show yourself in your true colors." The whole company evidenced their agreement by an unusual outburst of clapping.

    Pointed remarks were then made by Brother Guest regarding Salter, showing that for at least three years he had not been in harmony with the organization. A sister in the rear of the hall (afterwards confirmed to be Salter’s former stenographer) asked if she might speak. It was ruled by the chairman, however, that the brothers were capable of dealing with the matter. Other brothers then expressed themselves in no uncertain way regarding their attitude toward this scheme to hurt the Lord’s people. Cameron endeavored to hold the floor again, no doubt trying to regain something he had lost. The time was getting on and there had been ample discussion to clearly show what was the mind of the church on the motion, and therefore the chairman did not give permission for him to speak further. Cameron shouted out several times, and refused to recognize the ruling of the chair. The company was then appealed to by the chairman as to whether they wished to hear Cameron or not, and they replied with a great shout "No."

    Brother Sinclair was then called upon to again read and move the resolution. It was seconded, and the whole church were in favor, with the exception of three dissenting votes. These were Cameron, his daughter and G. Richardson. The meeting then closed.

    This morning the servant of companies is sending a copy of the resolution passed by the church to W. F. Salter by registered mail, so that we will be sure he receives it.

    Re: the resolution: Would you approve of a copy of this resolution’s being sent to the companies in Canada, so that they may be made aware of the decision of the Toronto company? Several brethren have stated that they would be glad if this could he arranged.

    This morning many telephone calls have been received from brethren in different parts of Toronto stating that a copy of the printed letter has been received by them in the early morning post. These letters were posted in Toronto at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

    It is very evident that it was thought that the brethren and this office would be deceived, and conclude that these arrangements had actually come from Brooklyn. It would also appear that a discussion of these points was anticipated yesterday, and hence a follow-up of the work by sending the letter to many brethren in Toronto for this morning.

    The discussion of yesterday afternoon, and the decision by the church, has had the effect of giving the church an immediate stimulus to further activity, and it has assisted some brethren, who had wondered about Salter and Cameron, to have no further doubts, and to make straight paths for their feet.

    With warm love, I am

    Your brother and servant in Him,

    P. Chapman


    Almost a year ago the Society’s president, Brother Rutherford, saw fit to remove from office one to whom for years we had looked with confidence for leadership in the Lord’s work here in Toronto. At the time, and subsequently, through The Watchtower and Year Book for 1937, the principles underlying this course of action and the reason for it were expressed.

    At the time that the change of servant took effect, many in our midst looked for some word from the brother discharged to indicate sorrow, repentance or reformation in his attitude toward the Society and brethren. Since that time, many others have patiently waited for some statement tending to clear the situation. Many have wondered as to the course of action to take.

    Thus far, no public acknowledgment has been made.

    In the last month or two, Brother Rutherford has quietly made arrangements for the greatest and strangest campaign against the enemy organization that has ever been undertaken under the Lord’s direction. On the eve of that campaign the Devil has seen fit to throw (as he thought) a bombshell into our midst, and we, as well as others, are in receipt of planted matter to be read among and disseminated among the brethren and purporting to be sent by the Society. Associated with this literature is the name of W. F. Salter. Needless to say, a serious consideration of this matter would, to say the least, tend to doubt and dissension among the brethren.

    I therefore move the following resolution:

    "That in view of the facts set forth above, we, the company of Jehovah’s nitnesses to Toronto and vicinity, failing to receive in the course of the next seven days, in writing, a clear statement of sorrow, repentance and reformation from the brother, do hereby disfellowship the one known as Brother W. F. Salter."

    There follow a number of letters, which I will post next.

  • minimus

    I remember reading about Salter. The Society, I think, learned not to publcly discuss their decisions after that df'ing. Bad publicity, dirty laundry, etc.

  • onacruse
    I remember reading about Salter. The Society, I think, learned not to publcly discuss their decisions after that df'ing. Bad publicity, dirty laundry, etc.

    You'd think so, wouldn't you?! But not only did the dirty laundry continue on for several years after 1937, but even as recently as 1993 the WTS saw fit to "remind" JWs about the Walter Salter affair, and includes a rather lengthy section in the 1979 Yearbook (I'll post that a bit later).

  • onacruse

    Here are the followup letters, published in the same 5/15 WT:

    W 5/15/37 159

    Dear Brother Rutherford:

    April 16, 1937

    To hand this morning is a further letter published by W. F. Salter. It was forwarded by Brother Hersec, who is at present doing a little pioneer work in Port Huron. I am forwarding this to you immediately in case it has not yet been brought to your attention. This is the first one to come to our notice. I feel compelled to write a word to you that you may know of my love for you.

    It has been my privilege to work in the Society’s office for the last fourteen years, and during that time I have grown to

    W 5/15/37 160

    truly love you because you magnify Jehovah’s name. Year after year your fearlessness in boldly facing all manner of opposition to publicly hold forth the Word of life, in exposing the Devil’s schemes and all forms of false worship in the church as well as out of it, in assisting Jehovah’s anointed and the people of good-will, is complete testimony to your unselfish devotion to Jehovah, and that his favor, protection and blessing is with you in its fullness.

    Your love for the brethren has been demonstrated over and over again by considering their needs. This is true, not only concerning the pioneers, but also toward the Bethel family in London, with whom I was privileged to associate and serve for many years. Your stay at the Bethel home in London was always a joy to look forward to. We knew you had our interests at heart, and you never spared yourself to find ways and means to show your love for us, and to make us happy in the Lord and in his service. This is without contradiction. It has been my experience to know you as an elder brother; yes, and time and again as a father and true counselor.

    Again I repeat that I love and respect you as the president of the Society, because Jehovah has honored you with His great service. I know from personal experience that you are true, just and full of love for Jehovah and his people, who are your brethren.

    The Bethel family also go on record as declaring their love for you, and that not out of hearsay, but out of close association with you. I am pleased to enclose with my own above declaration the one sent from the whole Bethel family.

    Your brother and servant in the Lord,

    P. Chapman

    Dear Brother Rutherford:

    April 16, 1937

    Twelve months ago you saw fit to remove from office W. F. Salter, who had been reported to you as not being loyal to the organization, and now, after twelve months, he has clearly shown his hand as being against the Lord, the Society and yourself. Therefore, we, the Bethel family at Toronto, make known the following:

    That for years W. F. Salter showed himself to be thoroughly selfish, egotistical, and had an undue sense of his own importance. He had not been loyal to you nor to the organization. From the platform and in private conversation he would consistently try to undermine your influence in the minds of the friends, and impress them with his own ideas.

    Also that for years he questioned that which came from the Watch Tower, questioned the evidence of the Lord’s being at His temple, and endeavored to put doubt into the minds of the brethren as to Jehovah and Christ Jesus’ being our teachers.

    For this man now to pose as loving the Lord and his people clearly marks him as a hypocrite and a liar. Therefore we go on record that our full devotion is toward the Lord and the interests of his kingdom. Not only have we full confidence in the Lord that He is directing His organization and His work, but also that He has placed you in charge of the direction of the earthly affairs of His people.

    This family is now at unity, whole-hearted in Jehovah’s service, and now dwells in peace, and unanimously sends this statement to you.

    With our warm love to you, we are


  • onacruse

    Another letter follows in a couple of months, to be posted shortly, wherein is outlined "suggestions" about how to deal with apostates and their literature...admonitions which uncannily mirror the current policies of the WTS.

  • Farkel

    :The Watchtower columns are not open to the discussion of matters with those who are opposed to the Lord, and certainly not to printing the argument of one against the presence of the Lord, when this question of the Lord’s presence has been thoroughly covered by the publications of the Society.

    Right. The Watchtower columns are NOT for allowing arguments which disagree with it, but ONLY to be used for slandering such people by name without presenting ANY argument whatsoever.

    Rutherford was a piece of work alright.


  • minimus

    I agree. They demonized Salter. But I don't think they publicly, by name go after people now. I think their policy is to never bring a name up----like Ray Franz----because nowadays it would give unbelievable publicity (negative) and legal woes since we live in a different age.

Share this