Pastor Russell had 20 million readers of his newspaper columns worldwide and as many eager students of his topical bible study, Studies in the Scriptures.
He advertised for 1000 preachers to sell his books door to door!
The Photo Drama of Creation wowed 9 million people in the early 1914 synchronizing film, hand colored frames and phonograph recordings.
State of the Art!
Judge Rutherford availed himself of Victrola recordings of "Religion is a Snare and a Racket!" He engaged in vast stadium filled preachments where he made wild prophetic claims and grisly accusations.
A radio program called Frank and Ernest used a question and answer format to spread the teachings of the bible students.
Seems like no stone was left unturned to reach as wide an audience as possible. Right?
Historically, however, the tale is a bit different. The audience to Russell and Rutherford were mostly disaffected Adventists and End Times speculators. After the Great Disappointment of William Miller these audiences were twofold.
1.Sincere amateur bible readers curious about all the changes going on in the world around them
2.Eager half-cracked conspiracy minded End Times nut jobs.
Reaching them was where the money and the following was.
After the death of Pastor Russell (who had his hands full of indpendant rebellions by the bible student community) and the new President of the Watchtower, Judge Rutherford---it was a free-for-all battle between groups on all sides with antagonistic views and counter-arguments about who was right.
The mission of the Watchtower was tied up in this in-fighting until 1931.
Books, pamphlets, movies, phonograph records, conventions and radio became the instruments of publicity. But, with often counter-productive results!
But TV.....nope! Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Joyce Meyers can make millions of people watch and send in money too. but, not the Watchtower Society.
Aren't they interested in reaching as many millions of people with their URGENT MESSAGE as possible?
In the 1960's when the GB was convinced there were only a few years of witnessing left to warn mankind concerning 1975 and the end of 6000 years of mankind on earth--STAY ALIVE TILL 75 was the most important mission of true believers. Ask yourself why---if it was really that important--didn't the Watchtower Society spend its millions of dollars on TV SPECIALS in PRIMETIME warning everybody???
Instead, they sent amateur book peddlers door to door with a .25 cent blue book titled THE TRUTH THAT LEADS TO ETERNAL LIFE.
Surely you are curious as to the disconnect between policy of urgent witness and the utter disregard for the most proven effective medium of TELEVISION.
Rutherford believed in publicity, publishing and pugnacity to solve his problems. But, he soon learned you couldn't successfully take everybody on at the same time and win.
By 1928 radio was the most advanced technology accessible to the public at large. Popular and free to any who owned one, radio reached audiences in the millions.
Rutherford denounced various religious leaders by name on his radio tirades. This led to a congressional hearing in support of shutting down his venomous speech.
From 1916 to 1931 battles raged among various former brethern AS WELL AS the various mainstream religious groups Rutherford had abused in his radio sermons.
Meanwhile, the brother of Clayton Woodworth (writer of many of the Society's published works) sided with the Bible Students group against Rutherford.
In 1928 Norman Woodworth (Clayton Woodworth's brother) went to Luxemborg to begin counter-attack against the radical new teachings of the Watchtower Society. In this effort he was aided by the Bible Students in Brooklyn.
Volunteer at Bethel, Nathan H. Knorr, was witness to all these upheavals. As a factory manager he heard the gossip and saw the result of rancor and head butting disagreement. When Rutherford died in 1942 and Knorr replaced him, almost immediately a 180 degree turn was made in how theology was dispensed to the public.
Knorr wanted a more mature readership with education as the focus of his work. He started the Theocratic Ministry School and the Gilead Missionary School.
Within 10 years the reputation of Jehovah's Witnesses went from being troublemakers and rabble rousers to that of clean cut, strait-laced mainstream looking ministers.
The legacy of non-stop war that plagued his predecessor imprinted a total rejection of uncontrollable publicity for this religion. A TV ministry would attract critics from all sides surely!
Instead of choosing what to publish and how to present it, the Watchtower Society would undoubtedly spend all of its time and money defending itself against every denomination it had burned in its books and magazines. What was to prevent these wealthy religious groups from mounting a non-stop rebuttal on TV that could never be turned aside?
And so it went. The publicity department would focus on the tidy, clean-up-after-themselves, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly JW's as squares and egg-heads in the Press Releases given to the newspapers when Assemblies and Conventions were in town.
Knorr would let Fred Franz control the agenda in thickly worded strangulated sentences so murkey
no theologian would spend more than half a minute before tossing it aside. So be it!
if you asked one thousand people what Jehovah's Witnesses believe....you'd not find more than five who could tell you with any accuracy.
More likely you'd hear people tell you what JW's DON'T believe instead.
This comes after over 100 years of door to door preaching.
Does that astonish you?
It should not.
It works to their advantage.
Think of it this way.
A popular TV animated series (South Park) presented a program mocking Scientology and revealing its secret teachings. Suddenly the whole world caught a glimpse of the hidden craziness of that religion. The same thing happened when the Mormon Church was revealed as to its teachings.
The more public and plain spoken a cult's teachings are made- the easier it is to turn people off when those teachings are made clear to people otherwise disinterested!
Jehovah's Witnesses find new members BECAUSE nobody really knows and understands their inner theology of craziness!
A TV ministry? No way!
Did you know that as long as Pastor Russell stuck to teaching the bible topically he was okay. It wasn't until around 1909 when his views on the New Covenant changed.
He was called out and a retraction was called for. He had gone off the reservation! The first of 3 schisms took place!
What is the moral of the story?
A mainstream religion can go on TV because it doesn't have any crazy cult doctrines to be exposed and villified publicly and scare away new victims.
But, a religion like Mormons or Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses DO NOT HAVE A TV MINISTRY for a good reason!
Tell that to your next door knocker!