TWO MEN who changed Watchtower History but YOU NEVER HEARD of them!

by TerryWalstrom 25 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • TerryWalstrom

    TWO MEN who changed Watchtower History but YOU NEVER HEARD of them!

    Cults are famous for control--especially controlling INFORMATION about people, places and events which are embarrassing to their self-myths.

    Especially is this true for two important figures in Watchtower history.

    The first man is William F. Hudgings

    Here is his story.


    Did you know?
    The 1st case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the Watchtower Society involved a Director (an officer) of the Watchtower, William Franklyn Hudgings.

    Hudgings was an attorney, quack doctor, self-identified ‘scientist’, pro-Zionist, and religious enthusiast who over the years held various Director and Officer positions in the WatchTower Society, and the affiliated People's Pulpit Association and International Bible Students Association.
    At the time of this case, William Hudgings acknowledged being Corporate Secretary of the People's Pulpit Association, and acknowledged that his daily duties included administrative charge of printing of the WatchTower magazine, the Bible Student's Monthly, the Kingdom News, and other WatchTower publications.

    (Hudgings was also re-elected to the WatchTower Society Board of Directors in January 1919.)
    Although not charged in the RUTHERFORD case, Hudgings was the WatchTower official who applied for the copyright on THE FINISHED MYSTERY book.) Hudgings was subsequently a key figure in the trial in which Rutherford and all but one of the Society’s Directors faced prison on charges of sedition and obstructing the military draft in violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.

    In the course of J.F. Rutherford’s trial, Hudgings was charged with Perjury.
    He, his wife and other various secretaries refused to answer truthfully when questioned. The Judge (Howe) gradually became so infuriated with the duplicity of the Bethel secretaries and the waffling of Hudgings,, he responded (over-reacted) by shouting at Hudgings, "I am not going to allow you to obstruct the course of justice here."

    Thanks to this fit of temper, a Writ of Error was filed by Watchtower lawyers. At the end of WWI, that Writ of Error overturned the prison sentences of Rutherford and the others!
    (Note: the strong feelings toward patriotism during the war had subsided enough for the court to forego the expense of another prosecution effort.) Note: President J. F. Rutherford and his seven WatchTower co-conspirators were NEVER ACQUITTED of the criminal charges which they were previously convicted, despite the fact that the WatchTower Society has repeatedly claimed such, and despite the fact that that FALSE CLAIM has been picked up and repeated by reporters, authors, and scholars for decades -- including a British historian as late as 2014.

    On July 8, 1918, Judge Howe ordered that Hudgings continue to be committed until Hudgings was willing to purge the contempt charge by admitting he was withholding honest testimony before the court. Unwilling to acknowledge that his testimony had been less than truthful, Hudgings languished in jail for months.

    In 1925, after the public failure of another Watchtower prophecy, Agnes Hudgings fled from WatchTower HQ, disassociated herself, and filed for divorce.** Only a few years thereafter, William Hudgings also left WatchTower HQ and disassociated himself from the WatchTower Society.
    What became of Hudgings?

    William F. Hudgings was fined and sentenced to 6 months in the workhouse in 1930, prosecuted in New York for practicing Medicine without a licence. He wrote two books; one on Einstein and the other on Zionism.

    He died in 1936.

    What was important about Hudgings?

    He infuriated Judge Howe by playing dumb, causing an outburst resulting in Rutherford and the Watchtower Directors release from maximum security prison. If it weren’t for that Writ of Error--Jehovah’s Witnesses might never have existed! Remember, the Watchtower officials were sentenced to serve 20 years in prison!

    ** Agnes Hudgings divorce complaint alleged that her work as Joseph F. Rutherford's secretary led to her suffering a nervous breakdown only a few months after they were married in February 1917. Agnes also claimed that living in the communal setting of Brooklyn Bethel adversely affected her health. Agnes further claimed that when he was angry with her that William F. Hudgings would not speak to her for days and even months at a time -- writing notes when communication was absolutely necessary. Agnes further claimed that her husband would sometimes leave Bethel without informing her, and thereafter, not inform her where he had been. Agnes also claimed that her husband frequently called her vile names. Finally, she claimed that he told her that he did not love her, and that he wished that he had married another Bethelite female.


    Who is the 2nd historic figure in Watchtower history?

    Joshua. W. Sykes Pentecostal minister

    What follows is most intriguing and suggestive as to the enormity of his influence on President J.F.Rutherford’s doctrinal innovations between 1916 and 1942 and perhaps, Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz afterward.
    Here is his story.

    J.W. Sykes was one-of-a-kind in the Pentecostal movement, but he was considered quite a maverick who went his own way with heretical teachings repugnant to the Pentecostal faith.

    Joshua Sykes’ congregation was integrated, unlike Pastor Russell’s public speeches / sermons where blacks and whites both could attend in separate sections--Sykes's members were sitting side by side in the Pentecostal church. This was considered dangerous and inflammatory at the time.
    Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes practiced racial and gender "integration" as early as 1908 -- having both African-American and female assistant preachers, staffers, and members. (The WatchTower Society was not fully integrated until the 1970s.)

    During WW1, the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes forbid his followers from being employed in any kind of employment having to do with the manufacturing of military equipment, supplies, and materials. (It took the WatchTower Society until WW2 to do the same.)

    Let us note the development of Sykes’ teachings and how Jehovah’s Witness’ teachings seemed to be an echo of them!

    Sykes proclaimed he was an anti-Trinitarian chosen by "Jehovah" to gather together and prepare "a people" for the imminent Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

    J. W. Sykes served 15 months in federal prison, and three of his associates served 10 months in prison for ‘obstructing the draft’ by means of his public teaching and preaching.
    Rutherford and his WatchTower gang served less than 9 months in prison for sedition.

    During WW1, at a time when Judge Rutherford was publicly straddling the fence and publicly beating around the bush regarding the military draft and fighting in the war, all while privately sending out secret "anti-draft" messages to its members, the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes was plainly and publicly teaching his followers that they could NOT join the military nor fight for the United States in the ongoing WW1.

    "The charges that I am in any way antagonistic to the United States government are false. I stand squarely with President Wilson in this great crisis and have no sympathy with anyone who does otherwise." -- J.F. Rutherford via April 1918 press release.

    During WW1, at a time when Judge Rutherford had no issues with the displaying of the American Flag, nor had any issues with saluting the American Flag, nor had any issues with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, nor had any issues with standing for the National Anthem, Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes was teaching his followers that they could NOT perform any of those patriotic acts.
    However, it not until January 1926 that Joshua Sykes decided that these prohibitions should be forced onto the children within his cult. When local schools began expelling the children of Sykes cult as they gradually refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU came running to Sykes rescue.
    The ACLU proclaimed that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was against the religious tenets of Sykes' church. The ACLU proclaimed that although the members of Sykes' church respected the Flag of the United States, as well as respected the laws and Constitution of the United States, they believed that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was a form of "idolatry" forbidden by the Bible.

    The ACLU successfully negotiated a settlement with that local school board by the start of the following school year -- within a matter of months. It was not until 9 years later, in 1935, that the ACLU and Judge Rutherford formed a partnership to repeat what the ACLU had done for Sykes' cult.

    During WW1, at a time when Judge Rutherford was advising WatchTower Society headquarters staff and members to purchase Liberty Bonds, the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes was forbidding his members to do so.

    Interestingly, during WW1, the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes was forbidding his members to support the American Red Cross -- financially or otherwise. The WatchTower Society did not get around to that until the latter 1940s.

    During WW1, the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes was teaching his followers that they were NOT citizens of the United States, but were citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. It took the WatchTower Society until the 1950s to teach its members a watered-down version of such. Sykes actually meant it. The WatchTower Society just gave the teaching unpracticed lip service.
    Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes and WatchTower Society President Joe Rutherford turned their religious followers into anti-government and anti-societal wingnuts who made careers of wildly attacking every human government, attacking every societal institution, and attacking every other Christian religion.

    Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes and WatchTower Society President Joe Rutherford BOTH dumped their wives to live alone in California, while they BOTH made "mistresses" of headquarters female staffers. The only difference between the Pentecostal Preacher Joshua Sykes and WatchTower Society President Joe Rutherford was that Sykes did not keep his adultery a secret from his members, but rather spiritualized the matter, just as Rutherford spiritualized many other less controversial matters in his own religious cult.

    Prior to WW1, the ANTI-TRINITARIAN Pentecostal Preacher J. W. Sykes was teaching his followers to distinguish between"Jehovah God" and his Son, "Jesus Christ", and to openly and regularly refer to the "Father" as "Jehovah", and not just "God". By the 1920s, Joshua Sykes was making even more widespread use of the name "Jehovah", such that whenever some unidentified religious group or religious nut would make repeated use of the name "Jehovah", they were assumed to be part of Joshua Sykes' cult -- not the "Bible Students". Judge Rutherford did not make a major issue of the use of the name "Jehovah" until after Joshua Sykes died in 1929.


    Both Hudgings and Sykes are probably people you only just now heard about. The impact each had upon the religion of the Watchtower is worth considering, don’t you think?

    The Watchtower religion was not the creative and innovative movement most members consider to be totally unique in its teachings. Russell and Rutherford used a buffet lunch attitude in picking a bit of this and that. Today we’d call it cut and paste. Was Jehovah using THEM as his mouthpiece alone in all the earth at a special time in history as they claim? Or, is it more likely the doctrines are bottom of the barrel scrapings? Scraps, throw-aways, and outright steals from other people’s intellectual property?

    Ever hear of the famous 20th Evangelist H. A Ironside? This preacher had been using a peculiar phrase to identify his followers. He used the term “Jehovah’s witnesses.” Every hear of it?
    Judge Rutherford didn't even have sufficient imagination to capitalize the "w" in "witnesses", but instead even plagiarized the use of the lowercase "w" in "witnesses", just as H. A. Ironside had already been using in his multiple Biblical commentaries and published sermons that Ironside had authored at least as early as 1909, and as was the "Jehovah's witnesses" notation in his personal Bible next to Isaiah 43:10.

    The deeper you dig--the less impressive JW’s become!


    Thanks to these resources:


  • Wait For It
    Wait For It

    Wow! I'm really enjoying all your research. Thank you!

  • Lostandfound

    Thanks for that, very scholarly, very revealing.

  • TerryWalstrom

    If somebody had told me about Sykes when I was a young JW, I think i would have greatly revised my view of how unique WT theology is.

    Perhaps Sykes was the "real" Laodicean messenger :)

  • under the radar
    under the radar

    Very interesting, Terry. Thanks for posting this.

  • under the radar
    under the radar

    I tried checking the link, but it only goes to some weird page saying access is forbidden. Am I missing something?

  • wifibandit
  • steve2

    Thanks Terry - indeed I had heard of neither man but had heard of Ironside. Absolutely fascinating. Looks like Sykes's group was "truer" than the Bible Students during WW1.

    Where did you first hear of Sykes - and what promoted you to look?

  • EdenOne

    Thanks, Terry!

    Fascinating stuff.


  • Mickey mouse
    Mickey mouse

    Very interesting thanks.

Share this