PASTOR RUSSELL: follow the money
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 Church.
Russell hated fundraising. 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 for: $6,521,739.13 **
$300,000 of 1876 dollars would be worth:$6,521,739.13 in 2014
" Charles immediately, and in great haste, sold out his five clothing stores and all his other business interests to the tune of 300,000 dollars."
What were Russell's actual personal goals concerning money?
Russell also drew on his own experience when he wrote of the quest for riches. If one’s goal was money, he wrote, one should “try to be a millionaire.” He devoted “all his might” to business ventures, and soon other stores were opened. If an article he wrote in 1913 is biographical, his goal was to become rich. He prayed to God for wealth, “telling him that we knew what to do with the money, and how to use it in his work."
It has been said of Russel's business acumen:
His friends tend to overstate it; his enemies seek in his business activity signs of turpitude. Court testimony elicited an estimated net worth in 1879 of “about $60,000.” This was not as cash in hand but the estimated worth of his properties and cash. In court testimony, Russell also suggested that he was worth fifty thousand dollars at the time his wife left him in 1897. A rating agency listed his creditworthiness as one hundred fifty thousand dollars at the same time.
In 1915 William H. Bradford, an elder in the Twin Cities (St. Paul – Minneapolis) Ecclesia, wrote:
C. T. Russell commenced business for himself while yet a boy and with very little capital. When he was eighteen he owned a store, when he was twenty-four he owned five stores and was worth three hundred thousand dollars, and this at an age when John D. Rockefeller had hardly made a start, and J. P. Morgan, with his inherited capital, had but little. If C. T. Russell had devoted his life to business it is easy to guess that John D. would not now be the richest man in the world nor J. P. Morgan has been the prince of financiers.
In Russell's own words:
"Under what seemed to be a providential leading, I decided to invest with others in some oil property – oil wells. I chose this business because it seemed to be profitable and because it would require little or no time and personal attention; for others, interested in looking out for their own interests, necessarily looked out for mine also. This judgment has, on the whole, proved correct – several coins having been taken from this fish’s mouth for our support and the Lord’s cause."
He poured his money into publishing End Times writings. He spent the family fortune like a drunken sailor on his favorite topics.
If somebody wrote something Russell agreed with he'd pay for the publishing.
If that somebody disagreed with Russell, he'd pull funding.
Russell ostensively fell in love with his own writings to the exclusion of everybody else (including his wife) and began writing 7 ambitious volumes.
He wanted to set everybody straight.
1886 the money dried up due to the immense amount of money spent in printing and distributing the first three publications.
He was spending about a million dollars a year!
GUESS WHAT YEAR Russell tried to sell his books in bookstores? 1886.
By 1897, nearly one million Dawns had been distributed, largely by the colporteurs. DOOR-TO-DOOR BOOK SALESMEN. After 1931, the term “colporteur” was replaced by “pioneer.”
Pastor Russell's volumes were sold at about $2 a set or $2 of 1900 dollars would be worth: $55.00 in2014
Russell also turned to write 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 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 switched to Miracle Wheat for a dollar.
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 in2014
Miracle Wheat brought in $1,800 of 1911 dollars would be worth:$43,902.44 in 2014
1897: When his wife Maria petitioned the court for a LEGAL SEPARATION (not a divorce) it was granted with Alimony.
Russell transferred his funds into the WTS account and strung Maria's alimony out torturously to make her dependant and to teach her a lesson.
Russell was litigious if he thought he could win a lawsuit.
Russell’s businesses became an issue in 1911 when the Brooklyn Eagle made outrageous claims. The mere fact that he continued to make money (all or most of which was used for the benefit of the Watch Tower Society), was used to imply fraud. Russell sued the Eagle and lost.
The Washington Post partially quoted Maria's 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 2014
Russell's attorney was Judge Rutherford, who wrote a Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens defending Russell's reputation.
"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 $2,000,000 of 1915 dollars would be worth:$46,511,627.91 in 2014
Bingo! (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.
To say Russell never became a millionaire is to miss the point.
$60,000 of 1879 dollars would be worth: $1,395,348.84 in 2014
$50,000 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $1,388,888.89 in 2014
A rating agency listed his creditworthiness as one hundred fifty thousand dollars at the same time.
$150,000 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $4,166,666.67 in 2014
Rutherford claimed that “when Pastor Russell closed out his business, many years ago, he had upwards of a quarter of a million dollars.”
$250,000 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $6,944,444.44 in 2014
However, that is the least remarkable thing about the career of Pastor Russell. With all this phenomenal talent for business, he gave it all up to go center stage in the most public ministry of his era.
WAS IT WORTH IT? (We must ask).
Ask yourself what Russell produced for the good of mankind?
Let us compare apples to apples.
Both Russell and Andrew Carnegie started pretty much on the same turf.
Let us compare the legacy of these two men upon the world.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York
By 1911, Carnegie had given away over $43 million for libraries and close to $110 million for other causes. He formed the Carnegie Corporation of New York to give away the $150 million that remained. The Carnegie Corporation's mandate was to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." Since then, it has given large grants to the other Carnegie trusts as well as universities, colleges, schools, and educational entities--including public television's "Sesame Street."
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Founded in 1910 with $10 million from Carnegie, the Endowment is the oldest public policy institution in the United States concentrating on issues of war and peace. Over the years, it has funded conferences and publications on major policy issues and funding the work of researchers such as Sigmund Freud and Gunnar Myrdal.
The Carnegie Institution of Washington
Though encouraged to finance a national university, Carnegie feared that such an endeavor might weaken existing schools. Instead, he chose in 1901 to create a national research institute that would be a resource for all universities. With Theodore Roosevelt's support, Carnegie endowed the Institution with $10 million, adding $2 million in 1909 and another $10 million in 1911. Since then scientists on the Institution's payroll have, among other accomplishments:
- Discovered the expansion of the universe
- Proved DNA is the genetic material
- Devised applications as varied as radar and hybrid corn
- Opened Mayan ruins in Central America
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Founded by Carnegie in 1905 to provide pensions for teachers, the foundation established the first widespread educational standards for the nation's colleges and universities. In addition, the foundation developed standardized, machine-scored tests, a function that merged into the Educational Testing Service in 1947. Because the foundation only gave money to secular schools, it was also responsible for the decision of many colleges to drop their religious affiliations.
The Carnegie Hero Funds
These international organizations continue to give medals and money to those who are injured in an attempt to "preserve and rescue their fellows." Since 1904, over $20 million has been awarded to these "heroes of peace."
Conclusions are to be made by all who knew him, loved or hated him - or even heard of C.T. Russell and it distills into a puddle of controversy.
The road to Hell is paved with "good intentions."