stuckinarut. when jws wore those sandwich boards, all religion was considered false. It wasn't until the early 50's that the WTS changed that doctrine and the WTS was the only true religion, and all others were false.
*** w51 3/15 p. 191 Questions From Readers ***
? In the past we regarded “religion” as anything that was against God’s will. Now many brothers are using the expressions “true religion” and “false religion” to make a distinction. Is this advisable?—D. D., California.The brothers are correct in using the qualifying adjectives “true” and “false” respecting religion, so as not to be misunderstood, especially by those outside the organization. In the past we have had to do so much needless explanation and extricating of ourselves from embarrassing positions by not being specific on this. The footnotes of the New World Translation show the early use by Latin-speaking Christians of the term religio as the equivalent of the Greek term thres·kei′ a. It simply means “form of worship”, of which there can be a true and a false kind. Study over the footnotes in the New World Translation on the texts at Acts 26:5, Colossians 2:18 and James 1:26, 27, and see how the footnote renderings allow for the use of the term “religion” or “religious”, though the texts themselves use the expressions “form of worship” or “formal worshiper”. Hence it is well to make clear our use of the term “religion” by qualifying it as “true” or “false”, if the context or setting does not do this sufficiently.
*** w51 8/15 p. 511 Questions From Readers ***
Why has the Watchtower Society suddenly approved the use of the word “religion” relative to the worship of Jehovah’s witnesses?—P. L., New York.
We are not trying to make a new language, but we want to use the language we have to the honor of God’s name, and do so with as little confusion as possible in Kingdom preaching. In the English language the word “religion” means the service or adoration of God or a god, as expressed through certain forms of worship. So the religion may be either true or false, depending upon both the god being worshiped and the form or manner of expressing the worship. If we practice the true form of worship of the true God Jehovah, and if we are speaking the English language, then when discussing our worship we may properly use the English words that will so limit our meaning, namely, “true religion.”
The word “religion” is used in the English Bibles in several places. It is used in the KingJamesVersion at James 1:26, 27. There James distinguishes between the vain or false religion (1:26) and the pure or true religion (1:27), and does so by appropriately qualifying in each instance the same Greek word, thres·kei′ a. The Greek threskeía is equivalent to the Latin religio, both simply meaning “form of worship”, of which there can be a true and a false kind. From the Latin religio comes the English word “religion”. Study over the footnotes in the NewWorldTranslation on the texts at Acts 26:5, Colossians 2:18 and James 1:26, 27, to see how they allow for the use of the words “religion” and “religious”. When the Bible uses the term “religion” it is either properly qualified or the context or setting indicates whether it is speaking of the true or the false. Note how the setting shows that at Isaiah 29:13 it is false religion and at 2 Timothy 3:5 it is true religion, reading both texts from the Moffatt translation.
This viewpoint on the use of the word “religion” was not suddenly adopted by the Society. Careful readers of the Society’s publications have noticed that during the past few years when religion was being discussed the publications were careful to limit any condemnation to false religion. Two years ago Awake! quoted Moffatt’s translation of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13, and identified the religion mentioned in that text as being true by inserting this qualification in brackets, as follows: “Though they keep up a form of [true] religion, they will have nothing to do with it as a force.” (September 22, 1949, page 9) So this matter had been under careful study and consideration for a long time, and what was brought out on it at the Theocracy’s Increase Assembly at Yankee Stadium in New York last year was further enlargement and welcome clarification, and not some new idea brought forth suddenly. None should feel upset by the use of the term “religion”. Because we use it does not put us in the class of the tradition-bound false religions, no more than does the calling of ourselves Christians put us in with the false Christians of Christendom