Watchtower "Miracle" Wheat
An example of the latter can be found in the infamous case of Pastor Russell's "Miracle Wheat" cited in Dr. Walter Martin's, Kingdom of the Cults, (pp. 40-42, 1985 ed.)
The "miracle wheat" was not "Pastor Russell's" miracle wheat. The wheat was discovered by Kenneth Stoner, who was not even associated with the Bible Students movement.
"After the `work' had been well started here, `Pastor' Russell's Watch Tower publication advertized wheat seed for sale at $1.00 a pound (quite expensive in that day).
And yet, this was 25 cents less per pound than Mr. Stoner had been selling the wheat.
"It was styled `Miracle Wheat,' and it was asserted that it would grow five times as much as any other brand of wheat.
The one who "styled" the wheat "miracle wheat" was either Stoner or one of his associates. None of the Bible Students produced the name for the wheat.
"There were other claims made for the wheat seed, and the followers were advised to purchase it, the proceeds to go to the Watch Tower and be used in publishing the `Pastor's' sermons.
Russell never made any claims for the wheat, nor did he "advise" anyone to purchase the wheat. He did put notices in the Watch Tower to effect that some of the Bible Students were offering the wheat for sale.
Dr. Martin reproduced from microfilm on file in New York the following dates and titles from relevant articles of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle all published in January of 1913:
Not a very good source. The Brookly Eagle did everthing they could think of to pervert, distort and misrepresent practically every fact they found.
Miracle Wheat Scandal (1/1/ 1913, p. 1-2); Testimony of Russellite Beliefs (1/22/13, p. 2); Testimony on Wheat (1/23-24/1913, p. 3).
Financial statements proving Russell's absolute control, were made by (Watch Tower) Secre¬tary-Treasurer Van Amberg who was quoted as saying, "...We are not responsible to anyone for our expenditures. We are responsible only to God," (1/25/13, p. 16).
Every Board of Directors and officers of any corporation are responsible for the expenditures of they are being made; however, the Van Amberg adds that they are responsible only to God. Van Amberg did not say that Russell had "absolute control."
Government experts testify on "Miracle Wheat" and ascertain beyond doubt that it is not miraculous or overly excellent (1/27/13, p. 3); Prosecution and Defense sum-up. Russell assailed but not present to hear it (1/28/13, p. 2); Russell loses libel suit (1/29/13, p. 16).
In reality the Eagle presented only one witness who presented affividavits of people whom he could not name. On the other hand, many different farmers had provided their testimony on behalf of "miracle wheat."
Some modern Jehovah's Witnesses may wish to minimize the significance of the "Miracle Wheat" claiming that the profits from its sales went to the Watchtower Society and not Russell himself.
I am not with the Jehovah's Witnesses (nor was Charles Taze Russell), but it is indeed truth that Russell did not profit from the sale of miracle wheat.
However as Martin points out, Russell owned 990 of the 1,000 shares of Watchtower Society stock. By this figure, 99% of every "contribution" for "Mira¬cle Wheat" was in effect a contribution to Russell himself.
Which is incorrect, since there were no capital shares of the Watch Tower Society ever issued at all.
Before going to court, The Brooklyn Eagle made this claim:
"The Eagle goes even further and declares that at the trial it will show that `Pastor' Russell's religious cult is nothing more than a money-making scheme," (Ibid).
This they did by perverting, distorting and misrepresenting practically anything they could find.
While the motives of Russell can only be judged by God Himself, few would argue that such "Miracle Wheat" claims today would be more at home in the National Enquirer than in the Watchtower - a magazine claiming to be produced by God's only true organization on the earth.
While the motives of the editors of the Eagle can only be judged by God Himself, the perversions, distortions and misrepresentation of facts that the Eagle presented would more at home in tabloids that are not too concerned with the facts rather than in a newspaper that should be actually concerned with the facts. Russell, however, did not publish the magazine The Watch Tower as "produced by God's only true organization on earth." Russell did not believe in an organization such as the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, should one also think that the claims made for the Borlaug's "miracle wheat" to unworthy of credence?
If today's US Postal regulations against false advertizing and mail fraud had been in effect at the time, perhaps Russell would have lost more than a libel case.
The biggest reason Russell lost his suit against the Eagle is not because the Eagle had proven any fraud on Russell's part, but because Russell did not prove malicious intent on the part of the Eagle. Indeed, much of what Russell had to prepared as evidence in his case was never presented in court.