Russell was not a Mason and did not use the pyramid as a Masonic symbol. The cross and crown is and was a common emblem among Christian churches. This has been hashed out here repeatedly. Claiming it is so does not change it and will not influence most Witnesses:
From Separate Identity:
Russell and the Masons
History is full of plots and
conspiracies. Recounting them makes for interesting history. We memorialize
some of them. Our English cousins annually burn Guy Fawkes in effigy and have a
gay old time doing so. Our American relations celebrate the Minute Men
(conspirators all), erecting statues, putting idealized, heroic images of one
of their number on postage stamps, using it in patriotic propaganda, or as a
trademark for an insurance company. A fiction genre derives from our ancestors’
plots and conspiracies, and we may be entertained by Dumas or bored to
distraction by a modern-day incarnation of Luise Mühlbach. The suggestion that Charles Taze Russell was a Mason,
part of a great, generations-long conspiracy doesn’t even meet the standard of
If there were any merit to this claim, our book would
be significantly more interesting than it is. The ‘evidence’ presented by those
who promote this fails to meet any rational standard. One of the boldest of
those promoting this fantasy suggests it must be so because he believes it to
be so. Various writers present an extensive “Russell Bloodline” that is
supposed to prove that C. T. Russell was a mason, though as one admits: “This
author has not established any link between the various famous Russells.
Although I have been doing genealogy work, I have not had the chance to do the
long term geneology [sic] work required to clarify the issue, if the reader is
dissatisfied with the extent of this information, he is encouraged that rather
than criticize to research it himself.”
Masons were in the 19th
Century extremely proud of their brotherhood. Invariably if someone was noticed
in a regional history, a biographical record, or in an obituary, their Masonic
membership was noted. Lodges kept and published meticulous membership lists. As
you read this book you will find a number of instances where we note someone’s
lodge membership. The Pittsburgh lodges were no different. Their membership rolls are
easy to find. We have scoured those lists for any mention of the Russells.
Neither Joseph nor Charles is found on any lodge membership roll in Allegheny City or Pittsburgh. Those postulating some role for Russell in a vast
Masonic conspiracy suggest that there is a ‘hidden’ lodge, more secretive,
malevolent, bent on dominating American society. They can’t prove its
existence, of course. After all, it’s secret.
The evidence presented by conspiracy hypothecators
(Their speculations do not meet the definition of a “theory.”) consists of a
series of non-sequiturs, pseudo-syllogisms, untenable, and insupportable
conclusions. A feeling of powerlessness and manipulation underlies their
claims. Those who advocate this theory seek to transfer blame for accepting a
belief system they now reject to an ill defined conspiracy. They are unwilling
to see, as traditional Christianity holds, that Satan is the prince of the
power of the air, manipulating human society to his own ends; so they replace a
demonic conspiracy with an improbable human one. Some who read this book will
come to it seeking evidence for Russell’s Masonic connections. They will not
find here what they seek.
Though it offends my historian’s sensibilities to do
so, let’s examine the ‘evidence.’ As usually presented it falls into three
categories: symbolisms used during the Russell era; Russell’s associations; and
Decorative motifs found on Watch Tower publications are interpreted as Masonic. From an
early date a cross and crown design appeared on Zion’s Watch Tower’s front
cover. Because it was also used on Masonic paraphernalia, notably on the ceremonial
swords, the presumption is that Russell borrowed from Masonic forms, covertly
announcing to all “in the know” his Masonic connections. The logic flaws behind
this reasoning are astounding.
Cross and Crown
Masonic use of the cross and crown
symbolism derives from Christian usage. The symbolism became popular in the 17th
Century at least in Christian phraseology. In 1621, Francis Quarles wrote the
poem Hadassa: The History of Queene Ester. It contains this couplet:
The way to bliss lies
not on beds of down,
And he that has no cross deserves no crown.
There is a high probability that
William Penn took the title of his famous essay No Cross, No Crown from
Quarles’ poem. From Penn and others who wrote similarly, the cross and crown
coupling became popular. For instance, Matthew Henry observed in his Exposition of the Old and
New Testaments (published in several volumes between 1708 and 1710): “We only bear the
cross for a while, but we shall wear the crown to eternity.”
By mid-19th Century
the phrase, “we must all bear the cross before we can wear the crown” had
become common, finding its way into poems, homelies, sermons and common speech.
Russell would have heard it repeated ad nausium. The cross and crown was found as an embroidery pattern; it found a place
on Sunday school pins, on convention ribbons, and on jewelry, and this long
before it appeared on the Watch Tower’s front cover or on a Masonic sword. The
cross and crown symbol found on The Watch Tower in the early 1890s is a
combination of type matrixes commonly found in a printers type drawer. The
revised version from the later 1890s is a single type face, also common in
by Harriet Miston Tilly Published in 1850.
A pyramid shaped monument was installed in the Bible
Student cemetery in Pittsburgh. The cemetery is occasionally described as Masonic.
It’s not. There is a Masonic temple nearby built years later. There is no
connection. The pyramid was intended as a general monument with the names of
those buried in the Watch Tower plots engraved onto open books. Rather than being a
Masonic symbol, the open book motif derives from the book of Revelation. Those
who want to cast Russell as part of some great Masonic conspiracy claim the
pyramid embodies the “all seeing eye.” It does not. The pyramid symbol refers
to Russell’s belief, shared by many others who did not otherwise hold his
views, that the Great Pyramid at Gizah was a divinely inspired testimony in
stone to Bible truth. We trace the development of this idea in Chapter Three.
The use of the pyramid as a monument was suggested not by the back of the US
dollar which had an entirely different design in 1920, but by the grave marker
for Charles Piazzi Smyth, a prominent pyramidologist and Astronomer Royal of
The monument was installed in 1919, some years after
Russell’s death. One source suggests Russell designed it, a Bible Student
convention report saying: “The Pyramid, as you will note, has an open book
carved on each side, intended by Brother Russell for the names of Bethel workers as they ceased their work and were laid at
rest, awaiting the great Resurrection of the first-fruits of the Lord.” A
Bible Student web page takes pains to blame the pyramid monument on Rutherford
rather than Russell. Neither of these statements is correct. The monument was
designed not as a memorial to Russell but “as a memorial to the society.” It
was “designed by Brother Bohnet, and accepted by Brother
Russell as the most fitting emblem for an enduring monument on the
Society’s burial space.” According to Bohnet, work started in 1914. The
pyramid’s purpose was not Masonic.
The Bliss Theater
In 1965 Jehovah’s Witnesses
purchased the Bliss Theater in the Sunnyside section of Queens,
turning it into an Assembly Hall. The theater, built in 1931, was decorated in
an Egyptian motif. Shortly after purchase, the Watchtower Society issued a post
card showing the theater before extensive renovations began. Because the
original Egyptian symbols appear in the photo, the post card is used to prove
enduring Masonic connections. In fact the Watchtower Society renovated the
theater, replacing the neo-Egyptian décor with Bible-based paintings. The
symbolism on the front of the theater was removed as well. A mindless
determination to find a conspiracy where none exists perpetuates a myth. This
type of attack characterizes a vocal but under-educated and rather stupid
minority of former adherents. Current photos of the Queens Assembly Hall are
available on the Internet. They are easy to find. Those with a determination to
remain stupid simply ignore them or do not look for them.
Other symbolisms are also put
forward as Masonic. The vignette in the corner of Zion’s Watch Tower showing arms and armor and a shepherd’s crook is one
of these. The derivation is from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. The winged
disk motif on later editions of Studies in the Scriptures traces both to
Russell’s preoccupation with the Great Pyramid as a supplementary support to
Bible revelation and to commonly appearing Egyptian motifs. All things Egyptian
were part of a fad in the United States, fueled by archaeological discoveries.
Because there was a Mizpah Lodge in
Allegheny, some point to its existence as prove that Russell was a Mason.
Mizpah is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for watchtower. This lodge did
not exist until after Russell left Allegheny for Brooklyn. There is no record of any Russell membership.
Some years ago there were rumors of
a photo allegedly showing Russell in Masonic robes. Those who claim to have
seen it refuse to produce it, claiming to have been sworn to secrecy. The
so-called photo appears to be an illustration from Tabernacle Shadows of
the Jewish high priest in his robes. This is not a photograph or drawing of
Russell. Additionally, some claim that Russell’s name is recorded in “the
mother lodge” in Ireland. This record does not exist. Those making the claim
should produce it if they have it. When asked to produce it or even identify
the “mother lodge” more specifically, they can do neither because it is a
Russell’s opinion of secret
societies is well known, but always ignored by conspiracy theorists. In 1895 Russell wrote:
note also that the order of Free Masons, if judged by its past history, has
some secret object or scheme, more than fraternity and financial aid in time of
sickness and death. And, so far as we can judge, there is a certain amount of
worship or mummery connected with the rites of this order and some others which
the members do not comprehend, but which, in many cases, serves to satisfy the
cravings of the natural mind for worship, and thus hinders it from seeking the
worship of god in spirit and truth – through Christ, the only appointed
Mediator and Grand Master. In proportion as such societies consume valuable
time in foolish, senseless rites and ceremonies, and in substitution the
worship of their officers, and the use of words and symbols that have no
meaning to them, for the Worship of God, in the appointed way – through Christ,
and according to knowledge and the spirit of a sound mind 0 in that proportion
these societies are grievous evils, regardless of the financial gains or losses
connected with membership in them.
enlarged on these comments in The New Creation, writing this:” The Free
Masons, Odd Fellow, Knights of Pythias, etc. perform certain rites and
ceremonies of a religious kind … We admonish the New creation to have nothing
whatever to do with any of these semi-religious societies, clubs, order,
churches; but to “Come out from amongst them, and be ye separate and touch not
the unclean thing.” (2 Cor. 6:17)” Russell paces these societies and churches
on “one level” and counted them as part of Babylon the Great, dangerous,
Russell’s Associates and Textual Evidence
Without doubt Russell associated
with some who were Masons. His uncle was a Mason. Some of his earliest
associates were, and some of his known business associates were Masons. Does
this imply that Russell was one? The authors of this book teach. We associate
on a regular basis with children. But, hopefully, we have passed beyond
childhood. Associations do not indicate membership in a group. Find a
membership list with Russell’s name on it. That would be good, solid evidence.
Present that to us, and we’ll revise this book; otherwise, stop being stupid.
Russell made a few comments on
Masons. These are taken out of context; occasionally the quotation is altered.
Russell’s comments reflect an outsider’s view of the Masonic brotherhood. The
quotation seen in context has Russell say that he was never a Mason. Absent
real evidence that he was a Mason, one must reject this claim. Even if we could
readily find his name on a lodge membership list, we would be left with proving
a grand Masonic conspiracy. That is the stuff of second-rate adventure movies,
not history. I am bringing this distasteful task to an end. Certainly some who
read this book will not release their grasp on a conspiracy theory that gives
them some sense of self-justification or of possessing esoteric knowledge, but
the membership lists of the Pittsburgh
and Allegheny Lodges are easy to find. Show us his name on one of those lists.
 See his commentary on James in any complete edition. He
made the comment when considering James chapter one.
 Souvenir Notes from the Reunion
Convention of Christian Bible Students: Pittsburgh,
Pa., November 1-2-3, 1929.
 Souvenir Notes from the Bible Student’s Convention: Pittsburgh,
Pa., January 2-5, 1919, page 7.
 C. T. Russell: Secret and Beneficent Societies, Zion’s
Watch Tower, June 1895, page 143.
 Watch Tower
Society, 1904, pages 580-581.