Wait, Wait... WHAT?! Dec 15th, WT Study - This bugs me

by civicsi00 21 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • civicsi00

    OK so I decided to just take a quick peek at the Dec 15th Study Edition and I couldn't even get past the very FIRST article! It's a "personal" story of a JW who was born in 1928 and his experiences from that era. What is the first thing printed on this page? In the center, it reads:

    "When I was born in the southern United States in 1928, segregation of whites and black was the law. Breaking it could lead to imprisonment or worse."

    Then the opening sentence reads like this:

    "At that time in parts of the United States, white and black Jehovah's Witnesses had to have separate congregations, circuits, and districts."

    Hello?? Didn't Rutherford happen to spend some jailtime just 10 years prior to this for that stupid Mystery book? Wasn't he also breaking the Prohibition law by smuggling alcohol from Canada? Wasn't this also around the time that they were raising the issue about saluting the flag?

    If Jehovah's Witnesses were TRULY God's chosen people, wouldn't they have the sense to break the law and unite black/white/brown/<insert race here> to PROVE they were RIGHT back then?

    Granted I wasn't around in that era, so I cannot fully understand what it was like. If I'm wrong about any of this, please let me know..

  • N.drew

    You practice some good logic civicsi00. Yes, I believe they should have trusted in Jah and met together. Danger? Yes. But look at the danger they put them in who had to refuse to carry the card in Africa.

  • Mickey mouse
    Mickey mouse


    In a copy of the Watchtower (dated 1/10/1900), the magazine recounted the case of the Rev Draper thus:

    From Black to White He Slowly Turned … Rev William H Draper .. gave a living affirmative answer to the famous Biblical question, ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?’ Though once as black as charcoal, the Rev Mr Draper is now white. His people say that his color was changed in answer to prayer. Many years ago Draper was employed by a fair-skinned man, and he was often heard to remark that if he could only be white like his employer, he would be happy.

    While in the white man’s service Draper ‘experienced’ religion. From that day forward he prayed constantly and fervently that he might become white … He first experienced a prickling sensation on his face, and upon close investigation found a number of small white spots scarcely larger than the point of a pin. He became alarmed, thinking he had some peculiar disease but he did not suffer and aside from the prickling sensation felt nothing unusual. Gradually the white spots became larger and extended themselves, until now, after the change has been in progress for over 30 years, Draper has not a single dark spot on his body.

    Here’s another example, from the Watchtower of 15/2/1904:

    Can The Ethiopian Change His skin color? No. But … what the Ethiopian cannot do for himself God could readily do for him. The difference between the races of men … have long been arguments against the solidarity of the human family. The doctrine of restitution has also raised the question. How could all men be brought to perfection and which color of skin was the original? The answer is now provided. God can change the Ethiopian’s skin in his own due time … Julius Jackson, of New Frankfort, Montana, a negro boy of nine years, began to grow white in September, 1901, and is now fully nine-tenths white. He assures us that this is no whitish skin disease; but that the new white skin is as healthy as that of any white boy, and that the changed boy has never been sick and never has taken medicines.

  • blondie

    Civil rights started up in the 1950's. Jws were told not to get involved....after all the first century Christians did not try and change the laws regarding slavery. Jws could still preach and meet so they did not have to change it.

    There is an article about this which I can't access at this moment.


  • jam

    This was the beginnig of my doubts , is this really God,s

    earthly organization. Serving where the need is great.

    One day while visiting A elderly sister she mention how things

    were in the old days. She recall when attending the meetings

    sitting in the balcony with the other black friends. Say What, in

    the balcony (my response). This was around the mid-80,s, this

    was news to me. I was A elder and I had never heard of this.

    I ask her how did you feel being separated in God,s house.

    Wait on Jehovah . Now thinking about it, what would you

    expect from the mind set of the leaders when the view was

    there is nothing like the loyalty of our colored brothers, yes

    one day their skin will be white and we will be able to worship

    togather shoulder to shoulder.

  • cedars

    I remember having conversations with a white South African elder when I was heavily involved in the organization. He was from another congregation, but a friend of the family. I remember him telling me in no uncertain terms that apartheid DID affect brothers within the organization, and there was a degree of segregation in various congregations. I remember being shocked at the time, because I had always been under the assumption that the Witnesses were way ahead of the game with the downfall of apartheid. Little did I know how many other revelations were to follow...

  • irondork

    There was an overgrown lot with an old dilapidated building just across the street from the hall in Salisbury, MD. I was told it was the old black Kingdom Hall.

    The explanation I received was that, unlike the government telling we couldn't preach, laws against white and black people meeting together for worship did not violate any scriptural mandate. So, the WTS went along with it.

    That's what they said.

  • clarity


    Bugs me too! Here's a bit more of wt "history"!!!


    This other side of the seeming racial harmony of the Watchtower can be traced back to their early history. Although the Watchtower claims to believe that all races are biological brothers, all descendants of Adam and Eve, they have for decades officially taught the doctrine of biological inferiority of the black race (Bergman, 1984). Formal segregation of blacks was once rigidly enforced in their organization, both during the rule of their first president, C.T. Russell (1852-1916) and their second, Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942) and even until the late 1950's:

    Recognizing that it meant either the success or the failure of the...[Photo] Drama as respects the whites, we have been compelled to assign the colored friends to the gallery... Some were offended at this arrangement. We have received numerous letters from the colored friends, some claiming that it is not right to make a difference, others indignantly and bitterly denouncing [us] as enemies of the colored people. Some ... told us that they believe it would be duty to stand up for equal rights and always to help the oppressed.... We again suggested that if a suitable place could be found in which the Drama could be presented for the benefit of the colored people alone, we would be glad to make such arrangements, or to cooperate with any others in doing so (Watchtower, April 1,1914:110).

    The administration then concluded that the Watchtower interests were to be put ahead of efforts to achieve racial justice and human rights, a policy that continues today. Specifically the Watchtower reasoned that:

    Our explanations were ... it is a question of putting either the interests of God's cause first, or else the interests of the race first. We believed it our duty to put God first and the truth first--at any cost to others or to ourself! We explained that we thought that all the colored brethren should know... that we love to serve them in any way possible and to give them the very best we have to give of the Gospel message; and that it is only a question of whether our giving to them in one way would entirely deprive us of giving the truth to others (Watchtower, April 1, 1914:110).

    Being viewed as inferior supposedly made a person a better servant the Watchtower then taught, and consequently the official Watchtower publication The Golden Age magazine (now called Awake!) commented that:

    ...the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, "Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren," he pictured the future of the Colored race. They have been and are a race of servants, but now in the dawn of the twentieth century, we are all coming to see this matter of service in its true light and to find that the only real joy in life is inserving others; not bossing them. There is no servant in the world as good as a good Colored servant, and the joy that he gets from rendering faithful service is one of the purest joys there is in the world (The Golden Age, July 24, 1929: 702).

    As recent as 1952, the Watchtower extolled the "servant" and "teachable" qualities of blacks in their publications, a teaching that all members must accept as God's teachings under pain of total excommunication:

    ...our colored brothers have a great cause for rejoicing. Their race is meek and teachable, and from it comes a high percentage of the theocratic increase (The Watchtower, Feb. 1, 1952: 95).

    As Russell explained in the late 1800s, he confidently believed that the end of the world and the start of the millennial kingdom will occur very soon, bringing humankind into an earthly paradise and a rapid restoration of the whole earth to the perfect garden of Eden state. Russell acknowledged that the conditions for Afro-Americans were poor in the present system, but he argued that this will work for their advantage during the millennium because they will have learned humility from their inferior position. The current conditions, he taught, were important to help them develop the needed "strength of character", but only if they remained humble and did not challenge the status quo:

    If nature favors the colored brethren and sisters in the exercise of humility it is that much to their advantage, if they are rightly exercised by it. A little while, and [their]... humility will work out for [their]... good... those who have been faithful... will be granted new bodies, spiritual, beyond the veil, where color and sex distinctions will be no more. (Watchtower, April 1, 1914:110).

    Russell taught that those privileged to live in the "new world" which is just upon us would also be physically returned to humankind's original bodily state, including our "original" skin color and language, which the Watchtower taught was white and Hebrew:

    A little while, and the Millennial kingdom will be inaugurated, which will bring restitution to all mankind--restitution to the perfection of mind and body, feature and color, to the grand original standard, which God declared "very good," and which was lost for a time through sin, but which is soon to be restored by the powerful kingdom of the Messiah (Watchtower, April 1, 1914:110).

    This teaching is discussed in more detail in the Watchtower's answer to the question "Can The Ethiopian Change His skin color?"


    Such a nice religion

  • Quendi

    The civil rights movement in the United States actually started well before the 1950s. Early activists like Frederick Douglass worked very hard for the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 which gave freed slaves American citizenship and the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 which granted voting rights to black males. So long before the Watchtower Society was founded, there were individuals who knew racism in any form was wrong and worked against it. Another leading voice was W.E.B. Dubois whose book The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903, condemned racism in no uncertain terms. So there is neither reason nor excuse for the racism that Charles Russell or Joseph Rutherford taught and tolerated. So-called "worldly" men were way ahead of them.

    The WTS likes to pretend it was some kind of pioneer of civil rights and color-blind points of view in the United States and South Africa. Nothing could be further from the truth. It upheld the status quo until it was safe to join the growing chorus of civil rights supporters. But even then its endorsement of civil rights could best be termed as "tepid". And long after the hated Jim Crow laws in the American South were repealed, the Society maintained racially segregated congregations and circuits. Furthermore, Witnesses were expressly forbidden to lend aid or support to civil rights workers or legislation when the movement was in full ferment during the 1950s and 1960s.

    Indeed, even in the 1990s the WTS remained aloof. When black American men staged the "Million Man March" on 16 October 1995 in Washington D.C., the organization was none too pleased when some Witnesses participated. They were told that such participation violated Christian neutrality. Never mind that the aim of the march was to energize black American men into seriously handling their responsibilities toward their families as husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, and grandfathers. The Society didn't want those issues to be addressed, preferring its sugar-coated "Father Knows Best" psychology and approach to family issues.

    In short, the organization's stance on ethnic issues is nothing to brag about or to be proud of. Far from acting with true Christian bravery and unity, it followed the path of least resistance until it became safe and/or convenient to do otherwise. But such actions and attitudes are part and parcel of its history of dealing with other great social issues of our times.


  • ziddina

    Good grief, Clarity... That makes my blood boil!! [But thanks for posting that!!]

    Even when I was still a JW in the 80's, I often wondered about the presence of prejudice within the Watchtower organization.

    I hope that the fact that we've got a black president in the U.S.A. is chapping their arses... Wonder what the black member of the Gov.Bod would have to say about the supposed "lack" of prejudice in the Watchtower Society, if he were to be brutally and totally honest...?

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