Hidden history of the Watchtower religion

by TerryWalstrom 42 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Corney

    I think, a copy (with little corrections and additions) of an extremely biased oversensationalistic research isn't a research. It also looks like the OP didn't even try to check the facts and conclusions and to add notes and references despite he had 2½ years to do so.

    On the merits:

    Since the conviction of Rutherford and others was reversed and annulled, and charges against them were dismissed on May 5, 1920 by federal judge on motion of US attorney Leroy W. Ross [1], they were, under presumption of innocence, legally not guilty and didn't need to be acquitted.

    There are also different ways to interpret the Circuit Court's decision (available here, p. 100-107). For example, that the incident with Hudgings and two other witnesses was used as a pretext, the simplest way for the Court to reverse the conviction that could be deemed unjust or too harsh [2] — and was possible only during the wartime hysteria [3] and “spy mania” [4] — and to avoid deciding on the issues of whether the trial was fair [5] and whether the punishment was too severe. This is a common judicial tactic; compare the IBSA case with the Masterpiece Cakeshop one.

    Don't also forget that the DOJ “reviewed the sentence of nearly every Espionage and Sedition Act prisoner who was sentenced to more than a year in prison, and a few sentences of those who were sentenced to less than a year.”[6]

    John Lord O'Brian, the chief of the Justice Department's War Emergency Division, and Alfred Bettman, who served in that division under O'Brian, examined a large number of the Espionage and Sedition Act convictions from all across the nation, and recommended pardons or commuted sentences in what they saw as deserving cases. In 1919, these two officials secured pardons for 200 people (…) Additionally, between 1919 and 1924 many of those convicted had their sentences commuted, which showed that the government considered them much less a threat once the war was over (…) in June 1924 the last inmate held under the Espionage and Sedition Acts was released from a federal prison [7]

    For example, a preacher in Vermont sentenced by Judge Howe in March 1918 to 15 years in prison was pardoned by President Wilson and spent only one year behind bars [8]. More specifically, Judge Howe “has written to the Attorney General, urging the sentences [of Rutherford and others] be commuted”.[9] So, unless you have carefully examined the possibility of reversal of the conviction on other grounds and of securing pardon in 1919 (or subsequent years), you cannot certainly conclude on the real impact of the testimonies of Hudgings and others.

    As to Joshua “Jehovah” Sykes, it should be noted that we have little information about him and his church — no recorded sermons, no printed publications, and probably only one academic paper [10]. AFAIC, the only primary sources are multiple newspaper reports, criminal trial files (brief description of indictment against Sykes is available here) and few documents from ACLU archives.

    In addition to lack of information about Sykes and his followers, I want also to note that no proofs of any connection between Sykes and Rutherford and any influence of the former on the org were presented.

    It is interesting also to compare different accounts on the 1926 case provided by ACLU. Elmer Clarence May wrote, citing Roger Baldwin’s letter to Carl Whitehead (April 24, 1926, ACLU Archives, vol 299, "Colorado."):

    The Jehovites, or "children of Israel" were a small sect of approximately six hundred members, concentrated in the area around Denver, Colorado and held together by the strong personality of their leader, "Joshua Jehovah." The Jehovites viewed flag exercises and other ceremonies as idolatrous and hence opposed participation in such exercises. Although the flag exercise ceremony had been used only infrequently in the Denver public schools, in 1926, the Jehovites announced that their children would refuse to give the salute. The school board told at least twelve Jehovite students to salute or stay home. By April of 1926, fifty Jehovite children were out of school. In the fall of 1926, after the dominant school board figure had moved away, the Jehovite children enrolled in school without incident” [11].

    According to ACLU brochure “Free speech in 1926”, the expelled children “were readmitted, however, when their parents put aside their religious scruples against recognizing “earthly courts” and showed a disposition to contest the ruling of the board” (p. 21-22). Finally, according to 1931 brochure (p. 13) “the religion of the Jehovites does not recognize earthly courts, and consequently the parents refused to take legal action, as attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union advised. Negotiations finally brought the school authorities around, and they allowed the children to return to school without requiring them to join in the patriotic exercises.” No major contradictions, but it would be interesting to know certainly and in details what happened in Denver in 1926.


    [1] NINE RUSSELLITES GO FREE. Eight Had Served Part of 20-Year Espionage Sentences. New York Times; May 6, 1920. P. 6.

    [2] For example, "[w]hile denying that the Department [of Justice] had prosecuted people solely on the basis of their ideology, [US Attorney General Thomas W.] Gregory entertained the possibility that some people had perhaps been unfairly punished [in its February 1919 circular to US attorneys]: “...it may be that during the war some individuals in close cases have been convicted upon inadequate evidence of their wilful intent to interfere with the war program, and others have undoubtedly received sentences unduly severe” (Wiiliam H. Thomas Jr. (2002). The United States Department of Justice and dissent during the First World War. Ph.D. thesis, University of Iowa. P. 220-221).

    [3] For example, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to Harold Laski in March 1919: “The federal judges seem to me (again between ourselves) to have got hysterical about the war. I should think the President when he gets through with his present amusements might do some pardoning.”

    [4] John Lord O'Brian (1919). Civil liberty in war time. P. 5.

    [5] On the possible procedural shortcoming and the judge's bias see: Lon J. Strauss (2012). A Paranoid State: The American Public, Military Surveillance and the Espionage Act of 1917. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kansas. P. 105-111.

    [6] Scott A. Merriman (2003). Ordinary people in extraordinary times?: Defendants, attorneys, and the federal government's policy under the Espionage and Sedition Acts during World War I in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals district. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kentucky. P. 388.

    [7] Ibid. P. 17-19.

    [8] Gene Sessions (1993). Espionage in Windsor: Clarence H. Waldron and Patriotism in World War I. P. 149-150 [18-19].

    [9] APPEALS FOR RUSSELLITES. 20-Year Espionage Sentences Too Severe, Says Federal Judge. The Washington Post; Mar 16, 1919. P. 17.

    [10] Johnson, A. S. (2016). A Shudder Swept Through Them. Pneuma, 38(3), 312–329. doi:10.1163/15700747-03803002. Funny quote: “By 1920 many church members had changed their last names to Jehovah. The 1920 Denver directory listed over sixty households with the Jehovah name. (...) By 1925, there were over one hundred Jehovah households” (p. 326). Read also a journalist article on the subject: https://denverite.com/2016/12/14/joshua-sykes-colorado-cult/

    [11] Elmer C. May (1995). An investigation of the relationship between the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and public school patriotic expression (freedom of), policy and practice. Ph.D thesis, George Mason University. P. 122

  • TheWonderofYou

    Dr. H.A. Ironside, short H.A.I.

    Terry wrote: Ever hear of the famous 20th century Evangelist, H. A Ironside?

    This preacher had been using a peculiar phrase to identify his followers.
    He used the term “Jehovah’s witnesses.”
    Ever hear of that phrase as occurring BEFORE 1931?
    Judge Rutherford didn't even have sufficient imagination to capitalize the "w" in "witnesses".
    No--instead even *borrowing* the use of the lowercase "w" in "witnesses", just as H. A. Ironside had already been using in his multiple Biblical commentaries and published sermons that Ironside had authored at least as early as 1909, and as was the "Jehovah's witnesses" notation in Ironside’s personal Bible next to Isaiah 43:10.
    This surely was the whisper of “Jehovah’s witness” in Rutherford’s ear!

    H.A.I, who had already used the term "Jehovah's witness" in 1911 for Israel, thus long before the Rutherford in 1931 had the inspiration to call the little flock of IBSA or the slave class also "Jehovah's witness".

    Why did he, the genius, come up with that new term “Jehovah’s witness” 20 years before Rutherford?

    Did God let fall his work into oblivion because he was overhasty and rushed on ahead Jehovahs chariot? Did Rutherford copy his idea 20 years later after reading his work?

    First, there is no doubt that he was an outstanding bible scholar although he had no formal education!

    Then, Dr. H.A.I. served in the Salvation Army, the Plymouth Brethren and the Moody memorial church with 7000 sermons and hundreds of books as well as bible commentaries. He promoted dispensionationalism in America.

    And further, despite his lack of formal education, his tremendous mental capacity, photographic memory and zeal for his beliefs caused him to be called, "the Archbishop of Fundamentalism”.

    So it was his special method in bible reading, his creativity that lead to call Israel Jehovahs witness?

    Perhaps. Think only of the fact that besides his devotion and homiletical methods it was kind of marking the bible with sayings, ephitaphs, poems, diagrams, and even chinese characters, which he studied for recreation. So he marked here and there the great themes of the Bible, and so his comments written by him in margins and scattered over 1500 pages are the richest treasure to study.

    Here some more of the honours given to him:

    "He was probably the most famous exponent of vers-by-vers exposition of our generation. Literally thousands of sheep crowded the great Moody Church week after week for over eighteen years, because better pasture could not be found anywhere else."

    This kind of bible study method like the vers-to verse reading seemed to have inspired people like Rutherford.

    "H.A.I.'s manner of marking the bible is a fascinating study itself".

    "What a giant intellect and spirituality Dr. Ironside was".

    Another comment reads

    "The very dust of whose writings is gold." (In his biographc of the late Dr. H.A. Ironside, Dr. e. Schuyler English mentions that Richards Bentley's the above description of Bishop Pearson can well be applied to Dr. Ironside)

    A.I's commentaries on the Bible - 32 volumes

    Russel another genius did not come up with the name JW in 1911 but it was Dr. Irsonside

    And again 20 years another genius – Rutherford- he called JW a new people.

    Author Chandler W. Sterling refers to this as “the greatest stroke of genius” on the part of J. F. Rutherford, then president of the Watch Tower Society. As that writer viewed the matter, this was a clever move that not only provided an official name for the group but also made it easy for them to interpret all the Biblical references to “witness” and “witnessing” as applying specifically to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In contrast, A. H. Macmillan, an administrative associate of three presidents of the Watch Tower Society, said concerning that announcement by Brother Rutherford: “There is no doubt in my mind—not then nor now—that the Lord guided him in that, and that is the name Jehovah wants us to bear, and we’re very happy and very glad to have it.” Which viewpoint do the facts support? Was the name ‘a stroke of genius’ on the part of Brother Rutherford, or was it the result of divine providence?” (1931)

    1911: Ironside: In his "Lectures on Daniel the Prophet" he referred to the Jews to whom the promises of Isa.43 would be fulfilled as “Jehovah’s witnesses”. Quote
    "These shall be Jehovah’s witnesses, testifying to the power and glory of the one true God, when apostate Christendom shall have been given up to the strong delusion to believe the lie of the Antichrist.” Page 152


    How many of those GENII Jehovah uses and was not Russel a genius too, why did he not use Charles Taze Russel the genius to call his people JW but Irsonside when they lived anyway in the same time period? Why did Jehovah allow people to go to Irsonside and that "better pasture could not be found anywhere else" including the first usage ot the term JW although Russel had also written much creative stuff?

  • zeb

    Hand up all those who would have entered a kh if they had known this?


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