A Brief History of MONEY and the Watchtower religion

by Terry 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Terry

    Watch Tower Corp has changed a long-standing policy in regard to donations which had been in place a long, long time. To appreciate how drastic these changes have been, you'd have to know how it was from the beginning.

    Watch Tower Corp has changed a long-standing policy in regard to donations which had been in place a long, long time. To appreciate how drastic these changes have been, you'd have to know how it was from the beginning.

    To understand the original policies (about money) and the changed (new policy) we have to take a peek into the past.

    I don't want to bog you down in history. You can research on your own using Google.

    Here are salient facts.


    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 fund raising. 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 2016.



    He threw 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 finally 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! (In today's money.)

    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 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 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 advertising 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 in 2016 buying power.

    Miracle Wheat brought in $1,800 of 1911 dollars would be worth: $43,902.44 in 2016


    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 dependent and to teach her a lesson.

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

    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 2016.



    Russell's attorney was Judge Rutherford who wrote a pamphlet: 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 2016

    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 his 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.

  • Londo111
    There could likely be an entire book on this subject.
  • Finkelstein

    Interesting stuff , it helps to define where Russell's focused attentions were, a little bit of religious theology mixed with a lot of the procurement of money. One thing those clothing stores couldn't achieve was the public praise and notoriety of being a godly righteous preacher of the good news of Jesus's kingdom to come.

    Well that's the role he played and looks like he did it well.

    Of course what he was selling was hyped commercialized bullshit that looked appealing by passing novice bible believers. Russell was more of a traveling charlatan who gave public talks to support his books and magazines making insinuations that organized religion was unnecessary, that all one had to do to understand and interpret the bible Scriptures correctly was to read his literature.

    Where the real trouble started was when J Rutherford took over the WTS., that's when the real devil was set lose.

  • Slidin Fast
    Slidin Fast

    Another good read Terry. Well done!

  • baker
    If only Russell had his hands on today,s technology of placing Credit Card readers at all entrances of Assmebly,s. Imagine all the data that is gleaned from those bank robbing devices. Any one been to a protestant church lately and seen a card reader? Or maybe they are ahead of the WTS with iPhone square...
  • Terry

    I stumbled across this rather fascinating gem:

    "In July 1879, ZION'S WATCH TOWER and HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE magazine was started by Charles Taze Russell and Maria Russell, his new wife of three months, as a personal business venture. (Maria F. Russell was a trained and experienced schoolteacher who eventually claimed that she edited and/or authored much of the writings attributed to Charles Taze Russell. One only has to compare the quality of Russell's writings immediately before and soon after their marriage to see that Maria was telling the truth. Maria Russell also claimed that before they were married in March 1879 that Charles and she discussed partnering in their own Second Adventist magazine as one of the main reasons for their getting married. Apparently, even his marriage was a business venture as far as Charles Taze Russell was concerned.) TheZION'S WATCH TOWER magazine, the Millennial Dawn series of books, and all other signature publications published up until May 1898 were all OWNED PERSONALLY by Charles Taze Russell -- NOT Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society. Simply observe that ZWT specifically directed that all non-cash PAYMENTS for ZWT subscriptions and other literature and materials regularly offered for sale in ZWT were to be made payable to"C. T. Russell".


  • Vidiot

    My Dad once told me that the WTS wasn't rich.

    In his defense, I think he actually believed it.

    If only he knew.

  • Finkelstein

    JWs in general are naive to how much wealth the WTS has. Why ?

    Because the WTS always wants to portray itself poor in need of money always.

    Never once does it disclose its financial picture to the followers, they are not to know.

    The corrupt GB bugggers are deceiving their followers to the max these days, as indicated by the recent instigation that JW children should give up their candy money to the organization.

    The lies and corruption will continue.

  • Vidiot

    @ Finkelstein...

    Credit where credit's due... it takes balls to constantly portray yourself as poor to specifically hide the fact that you're not. :smirk:


    Once again, for the newbies, lurkers, and trolls...

    ...if you have to cheat to defend your beliefs, your beliefs don't deserve to be defended.

  • Terry
    The more I investigate the business dealings of C.T. Russell and associates, the more flabbergasted I become. These men were knee-deep in illicit doo-doo. And all the while, they are using the public face of religion as a hobby to whitewash their reputation.
    Had Russell not been a Sociopath, I doubt he could have carried off the illusion of being a humble servant of God while amassing illegal funds and punishing his wife.
    Not all monsters look like Godzilla.

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