Well that was 93 years ago so we’ll probably never know all the facts. But the WT claims that Russell and others were falsely accused of “sedition”. The May 9, 1918 New York Times article that covered these arrests and sedition charges states that they were charged with spreading doctrines calculated to promote unrest and disloyalty among the men of the army and Navy. The article concludes that the indictment was based largely upon matter published in the Watch Tower (magazine), Kingdom News and the book Finished Mystery.
So I looked up “sedition” on Wikipedia and found this definition (in part)…
“In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition. […]”
It might interest current and ex-JWs to know that Rutherford ordered the Bible Students to rip out pages 247 through 253 in a last ditch attempt to avoid jail time. Surprisingly the Proclaimers book partially admits this (that the pages were removed… not that it this was done to avoid jail time).
A couple of days ago, I posted some bullet points based on my recent reading of the Finished Mystery book. What I forgot to mention at the end of my post were the notes I took from pages 247 through 253 (the seditious pages that Rutherford later ordered to be ripped out in an effort to avoid jail time). So here are my notes about these pages and I’ll let you decide whether the “Sedition” charges were false or not…
1. People who display patriotism are delusional murderers acting in the very spirit of the devil. Patriotism is narrow-minded hatred of other people.
2. Prince Bulow, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannermann, Mr. H. H. Asquith, Mr. John Jay and Mr. Elihu Root were peace-loving statesmen under a sky filled with clouds of war.
3. While 10,000 children in Tokyo were singing loving greetings to our naval officers, the US was gearing up for a war with the Japanese.
4. The naval experts of Russia are planning a billion-dollar navy even though millions of its people are on the verge of starvation.
5. The first expenditure of the United States government in the world war (WWI) was $7 Billion which is 27% in excess of the value of all the crops harvested in the US.
6. The Germans denounce war, with the exception of the present conflict with England. England condemns war but excludes from their indictment the present fight against central empires.
7. This war (WWI) is the natural product of our unchristian civilization. Its soldiers are grown from greed, imperialistic ambition and dynastic pride. Our participation in in this war in unethical.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I believe that this is as seditious as it can possibly get. On the other hand, as absurd as these pages in Finished Mystery were, I seriously doubt that any of these pages had any effect on the war (ripped out or not). But the fact that Rutherford didn’t stand firmly behind these statements found in Finished Mystery and ordered these removed in a cowardly attempt to avoid prison says a lot about his character…