Historical snapshot of how Watch Tower manipulated $$

by TerryWalstrom 10 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • TerryWalstrom

    Charles T. Russell, age of 13, joined the Congregational church (dumped Presbyterian).

    He went (like Girl Scouts are sent out with cookies to sell) door to door to RAISE MONEY for the Congregational Church.

    Russell hated fundraising. He really did.
    He had to ask poor people to part with their money.
    He said he felt he was "fleecing the flock."

    Russell sold 5 men's clothing stores owned by his father to create fungible assets.

    $300,000 of 1876 dollars would be worth : $6,521,739.13 in 2019.

    If you're going to start a publishing business without asking for money, you better have six and one-half million available.


    Russell threw his money into publishing End Times writings. He spent the family fortune like a drunken sailor on this favorite obsession.

    If somebody wrote something Russell agreed with he'd pay for the publishing.

    If that somebody disagreed with Russell, he'd pull his funding.

    Russell finally fell in love with his own writings to the exclusion of everybody else (including his wife) and began writing 7 ambitious volumes.

    His goal? He wanted to set everybody straight.

    Inside of one decade, 1786-1886, the money dried up due to the immense amount of money spent in printing and distributing Russell's first three publications.

    He was spending about a million dollars a year! (In today's money.)

    GUESS WHAT YEAR Russell tried to sell his books in bookstores?



    By 1897, nearly one million Dawns had been distributed, largely by the colporteurs.
    That is an old-fashioned way of saying: DOOR TO DOOR BOOK SALESMEN.
    After 1931, the term “colporteur” was replaced by “pioneer.”

    Pastor Russell's volumes were sold at about $2 of 1900 dollars worth: $55.00 in 2016 purchasing power.

    Russell also turned to writing sermons as a newspaper columnist and built up a readership of about fifteen million people.

    Having built a customer base (faithful readers) Russell went on tour giving sermons IN PERSON becoming one of the most recognized and 'famous' ministers in the world, like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers today.


    Russell had no problems accepting private donations!

    Pastor Russell had made a name for himself by refusing to take collections during public meetings.

    The slogan "Seats Free - No Collections" angered many clergymen because it was a slam on the traditional collection plate process.


    The Watch Tower turned to advertise miraculous beans as a free giveaway and then later switched to Miracle Wheat for a dollar. Both the beans and the wheat had been privately donated. Once again, making assets fungible, Russell converted to $$.

    (Sixty times market value)

    In 1911, the market price for wheat was 59 cents to $1 a bushel.
    In Charles Taze Russell's (Hicks Street) Tabernacle, "miracle wheat" was being sold for $60 a bushel, or $1 a pound.

    (The beans and wheat had been DONATED to Russell's ministry)

    $1 of 1911 dollars would be worth: $24.39 in 2016 buying power.

    Miracle Wheat brought in $1,800 of 1911 dollars would be worth: $43,902.44 today.

    TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Wife = Money)

    1897: When his wife Maria petitioned the court for a LEGAL SEPARATION (not a divorce) she was granted an Alimony.

    Russell quietly transferred his funds into the WTS account and strung Maria's alimony out torturously to force her to remain dependent on him and to teach her a lesson.

    Russell was litigious if he thought he could win a lawsuit.

    The Washington Post partially quoted Maria's character testimony about his claim "he floated from woman to woman like a jellyfish."

    Russell sued and was awarded one dollar in damages.
    But--he relentlessly pursued an appeal making himself a legal nuisance and the case was settled for $15,000. $15,000 of 1915 dollars would be worth : $348,837.21 in today's money.



    Russell's attorney was Judge Rutherford who wrote a pamphlet: Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens defending Russell's reputation. Thus Rutherford curried favor.


    "This is a non-stock corporation; it pays no dividends, no salaries, and no one has ever, as its books clearly show, reaped any financial benefit therefrom. It is supported entirely by voluntary contributions made by those who are interested in the promulgation of Bible Truths. Its work is exclusively religious.

    For each contribution of $10.00, the contributor is entitled to one voting share. While there are nearly two hundred thousand shares, and it would be an easy matter to elect some other man as president, there never has been cast a vote against Pastor Russell."

    Ten dollars times two-hundred thousand shares = $2,000,000 of 1915 dollars
    This would be worth: $46,511,627.91 today.

    (OH NO! TAX PROBLEMS! Note: 1913 Federal Income Tax was passed into law.)


    NINE MILLION people saw the PHOTO DRAMA of CREATION (a slide show) presented to audiences around the world. Stop and consider:

    No collection plate was passed--however--DONATIONS were accepted.
    (A donation box in plain sight.)

    On September 23, 1912, the Eagle ran a cartoon called "Easy Money Puzzle."

    Russell sued the Eagle for libel, demanding $100,000 in damages for
    "injury to his reputation, good name, fame, and standing."

    The case was brought before Justice Charles H. Kelby and a jury in the Kings County Supreme Court.

    One of the juicier allegations made against the Watch Tower Society was that it had coerced an insane man, Hope Hay, into contributing $10,000 to its funds.
    William E. Van Amburgh, secretary-treasurer of' the Watch Tower Society, acknowledged that Mr. Hay was in an "insane asylum" and that the Watch Tower Society was footing his bills, but denied that Mr. Hay had not given the money of his own free will.

    The jury of twelve men was out for less than forty-five minutes before it returned a verdict of not guilty in the Eagle's favor.

    This is just a historical snapshot of how money and the Watch Tower had their beginnings. One could say: Fast and Loose.
    Russell was big on his own Virtue Signalling and not above playing the victim.
    Has the Watch Tower changed over the last 100 years?



  • Finkelstein

    One could say the false doctrines of the WTS made some real honest cash.

    Stupid people today are still buying into this monetary scam, under a pretentious guise of doing god's will and purpose but reflectively whose will and purpose comes into question ?

  • The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy

    Good summary of the financial origins of the cult.

    Just one question: Why doesn't the WTBTS (in the U.S.) have to publicly show its balance sheets nowadays?

  • TerryWalstrom

    Religions are exempt under the Constitution

  • blondie

    Religious non-profits are not required to.


    Every organization exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(a) must file an annual information return except:

    1. A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches,
    2. An integrated auxiliary of a church,
    3. A church-affiliated organization that is exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs,
    4. A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order,
    5. Church-affiliated mission societies if more than half of their activities are conducted in, or are directed at persons in, foreign countries,
    6. An exclusively religious activity of any religious order,
    7. A state institution, the income of which is excluded from gross income under section 115,
    8. A corporation described in section 501(c)(1) that is organized under an Act of Congress, an instrumentality of the United States, and is exempt from federal income taxes,
    9. A stock bonus, pension, or profit-sharing trust that qualifies under section 401(required to file Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan),
    10. A religious or apostolic organization described in section 501(d) (required to file Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income),
    11. A governmental unit or an affiliate of a governmental unit that meets the requirements of Revenue Procedure 95-48, 1995-2 C.B. 418,
    12. A private foundation described in section 501(c)(3) and exempt under section 501(a) (required to file Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation),
    13. A political organization that is a state or local committee of a political party, a political committee of a state or local candidate, a caucus or association of state or local officials, or required to report under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 as a political committee,
    14. An exempt organization (other than a private foundation) that normally has annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less ($25,000 for tax years ending before December 31, 2010) and therefore is eligible to file an annual electronic notice Form 990-N instead of an annual information return),* or
    15. A foreign organization, or an organization located in a U.S. possession, that normally has annual gross receipts from sources within the United States of $50,000 or less ($25,000 for tax years ending before December 31, 2010) and therefore is eligible to file an annual electronic notice (Form 990-N instead of an annual information return).
    • Note: For tax years ending after August 17, 2006, a section 509(a)(3) supporting organization must generally file Form 990 or 990-EZ. The exceptions listed above are not available to a supporting organization unless it is an integrated auxiliary of a church (paragraph 2) or an exclusively religious activity of a religious order (paragraph 6).
  • smiddy3

    Just one question: Why doesn't the WTBTS (in the U.S.) have to publicly show its balance sheets nowadays?

    One can only hope that in the not too distant future they will be required to .

  • Slidin Fast
    Slidin Fast

    Hi Terry, excellent post. Where did the 1998 balance sheet come from? I don't recall having seen anything as informative as that.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Believe it or not, THIS Discussion group's back catalog of posts contains extraordinary resources posted over many years by some excellent researchers.
    Take a look at this one, for example:

  • The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy

    Thanks Blondie & Terry.

    Charlatan Taze Russell knew a good business opportunity when he saw one!

    I'll be applying for a Green Card - and if successful, emigrate to Florida and start my own tax-free snare & racket religion. Live the real American dream!

  • The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy

    It looks like the following info from the link has been incorrectly detailed:

    I have made a chart with each individual value but for the sake of space I'm giving , here below, the total value of LAND and BUILDINGS for all the above addresses:

    202,782,892,000.00 U.S.A. $

    or 273,898,990,000.00 CAN. $

    or 172,608,880,000.00 EURO

    or 121,588,680,000.00 B.POUND

    $202 billion????

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