Calling Out Jehovah's Witness Leaders for a violation of NEUTRALITY
By the time 1967 arrived, my religious leaders in the Kingdom Hall had taken me aside and given me the Straight Dope.
The Vietnam War and the Draft created existential problems for young Jehovah's Witness males. The Governing Body was unusually silent (in public) about issues of this nature except to pontificate in print in the most general terms. JW's didn't fight in wars because we were Neutral. As in, "We don't take sides." As if that was possible.
Privately, however, it was a different story.
I was 20-years-old. I had received my letter from the Selective Service.
I was nervous, as they say in the South, as a long-tailed-cat in a room full of rocking chairs!
The Congregation Overseer (these days called a Presiding Elder) pulled me into the Kingdom Hall library along with his assistant.
They spoke and I listened and nodded.
"What we need to tell you is confidential. Whenever you are asked by some Official, you must always answer by saying this is YOUR decision alone--nobody has coached you or told you what to say."
What struck me as odd was the starkness of the duplicity implied by these words!
"We're going to tell you what to say and what to do. Deny we told you."
The counsel and admonition I was given in that library on that afternoon at age 20 have forever changed my life dramatically. I listened and I obeyed.
Let me simplify the steps.
1. I was a baptized minister of Jehovah's Witnesses since 1963.
2. I fully accepted and believed it was the only true religion being guided by Almighty God, Jehovah.
3. The top leaders who gave spiritual direction were so-called "anointed" men to whom Jehovah gave explicit and definitive comprehension of the meaning of Bible prophecy.
4. By following the directions of these leaders and those whom they appointed in local congregations, I was being obedient to God.
5. When outside Authority (National or local) of a secular, Federal, or Judicial nature ordered me to perform actions CONTRARY to my spiritual leaders' direction---I must obey God rather than those men of authority.
Are you with me so far?
The man, Charles T. Russell, who established the WatchTower Corporation back in 1879, founded a religious movement of Bible Students who were convinced Russell had "inside" information about the imminent END of human history and a prophetic battle between God and human government to bring about a new Kingdom on Earth under Jesus Christ.
Russell did not dissuade young males from entering the Armed Forces, but did advise them to fire over the heads of charging enemy soldiers on the battlefield! (How insane this is on the face of it I need not discuss. It is obvious.)
When Russell died, most of his prophetic pronouncements consisting of "firm" dates, had been falsified by non-performance.
Undeterred, his replacement in the Presidency of the WatchTower Corporation, J.F. Rutherford, was a bit more intransigent than his predecessor.
President Rutherford had a way of grappling with opposing ideas, authorities, and situations by the head-on aggressive bombast of a polemical nature.
1. Rutherford published THE FINISHED MYSTERY book which advocated for the overthrow of established authority of governments and urged non-compliance for young men (and women) in accepting the patriotic duty of servitude.
2. Rutherford and 7 Directors of the WatchTower were prosecuted for Treason and imprisoned in Atlanta penitentiary. (Note: Rutherford had vainly tried to avoid prison by censoring all copies of THE FINISHED MYSTERY and using the WatchTower magazine to shill for War Bonds but without success in mitigating his prosecution.)
3. Rutherford REINTERPRETED in his official capacity as a dogmatic pronouncement, the actual meaning of Romans 13: 1,2. Weirdly taking the plain text and turning it upside down and inside out. (Secular authority became the heavenly authority.)
4. Released from prison on procedural Writ of Error (not acquittal or retrial) President Rutheford began an interruptive insurgent battle against government authority through a series of Supreme Court litigations by cherry-picking instances of Federal overreach in prosecuting Jehovah's Witnesses for unpatriotic acts and refusals (ordered by Rutherford).
5. Males inside JW congregations were caught in the middle of these battles between President Rutherford and the Federal Authority (whose 'authority' had been nullified by Rutherford.)
6. All members of the WatchTower family of believers became frontline lab rats in testing whose pronouncements carried the most weight: Rutherford or Governmental.
School children were placed in treacherous waters being advised to NOT salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor to stand and place their hand over their heart when the National Anthem was played. (Note: at the outbreak of WWII, this became extremely controversial).
7. Jehovah's Witnesses all over the world became the focus of persecution NOT BECAUSE they were "true Christians" but because President Rutherford was using them to fight a proxy war against HIS PERSONAL ego enemies: Government Authority. (Note: We have only to look at the true story of 7th Day Adventist, Desmond Doss, who fought to serve in the Armed Forces as Medical Personnel on the battlefield while refusing to take up arms, to see how it was possible for a genuinely devout Christian Conscientious Objector to comply with the authority of Romans 13: 1,2 and serve God and Man at the same time.)
8. In the U.S. and Germany, needless imprisonments and violent persecutions were wrought against JW's who were trapped in the middle of an unnecessary showdown with Authority, having been indoctrinated by false interpretations of both Law and Scripture.
After the death of J.F.Rutherford, his replacement, Nathan H. Knorr (and V.P. Fred Franz) continued the hardline direction of using Brothers and Sisters as test cases for Puritanical one-ups-manship versus all secular authorities (Federal, educational, medical, etc.)
In the early 1950's, doctrinal changes were wrought from the top of the Organization.
The worship of Jesus Christ was ended and the dogma of Romans 13: 1,2 was quietly reversed (back to the original and obvious secular meaning.)
WWII ended in 1945 and within a few years, the Korean Conflict (undeclared "War") begun.
The powerhouse legal counsel of the WatchTower's Supreme Court battles, Hayden C. Covington, authored a detailed legal pamphlet published by the WatchTower in 1950.
Legally Establishing And Defending The Good News.
In a review of this pamphlet, the following observation is made byPHILIP PERLMUTTER, of the American Jewish Congress:
"Indeed, few religious groups have battled the devil as hard as the Jehovah's Witnesses and certainly none, because of it, have so furthered the cause of religious liberty. They have done it. with militant religiosity and martyr-like indifference to riots, scorn, abuse and statutory regulation. To make matters even worse, police, pedestrians, and residents have greeted them with everything from indifference to violence. The latter occurs not so much because of their missionizing techniques, but rather because of what their beliefs necessitate in the way of societal behavior and responsibility. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses will not vote or hold public office, serve in the armed forces in peace or wartime, join interfaith movements, salute the flag, allow a blood transfusion, and as a rule, will not obey any man-made law which they consider a violation of God's law. Ironically enough, although they repudiate earthly governments, they readily utilize its courts to further their theology..."
Which brings us back to the Kingdom Hall library where I stood at age 20, listening to Gene Beard and Wally Coulter, representatives of the WatchTower religion, Jehovah's Witnesses. All those previous Brothers who stood as I stood and received the instructions they received, did so with an innocent stupidity as "useful idiots." (Note:A useful idiot is someone who supports one side of an ideological debate, but who is manipulated and held in contempt by the leaders of their faction or is unaware of the ultimate agenda driving the ideology to which they subscribe. )
What was I told? Why am I writing this today?
First of all, I'm am 70-years-old. My life is pretty much behind me. My successes and failures are a done deal. But when I was 20, my whole life was AHEAD of me. Big difference!
Because advice was given by my religious overseers, I followed it.
To Wit: Do NOT accept ALTERNATE civilian service in a hospital!
It is viewed by Jehovah as the EQUIVALENT of military service.
I was prosecuted in Federal Court and sentenced to six years under the Youth Corrections Act and sent to prison.
I entered prison in 1967 and was paroled for good behavior in 1969.
I began my life as an EX-CONVICT without a college education, no skills (other than artistic) and was immediately impressed into full-time ministerial work (Pioneer) performing 100 hours of door-to-door evangelism.
I began my life more or less as DAMAGED GOODS with little prospect other than minimum wage poverty and religious servitude.
I'm writing this to tell you the above article (see top) is 100% CONTRARY to the "true counsel" given to me back in 1967.
Has JEHOVAH CHANGED HIS MIND?
Or is this religion and its leaders changed the way it appears to government authority in an era in which they are suffering lawsuits for pedophile members? Is this religion changing the way it appears to government authority since they are kicked out of countries such as Russia as a destructive religious cult guilty of splitting up families and allowing innocent children to die because of medical prohibitions?
THE INTEGRITY of this religion is counterfeit and the history of its doctrinal absolutism is false.
What is WRONG one era is proclaimed RIGHT in the next.
Who says so? They do (or they pretend Jehovah does.)
I wrote this to call BULLSHIT on the "anointed" conduit of Truth.
It isn't True at all.
Don't believe anything these leaders tell you is absolute unchanging "truth" because my own personal experience has clearly debunked that idea.
Their Truth is up for grabs.
If you are a JW, your whole life is up for grabs, too.
These leaders are but the latest incarnation of a series of liars from 1879 to 1917. Don't trust a word they print or preach. Get out while you still have a life ahead of you.
I left Jehovah's Witnesses in mind and body a long, long time ago. My recovery was long and arduous. The damage done at age 20 affected me financially, educationally, and emotionally until I began taking charge of my own repair.
I strongly urge you to do the same. Get out. Get out now while you have time to build a beautiful future in the real world with real friend who won't judge you as a "mentally diseased apostate" simply because you wake up and discover you are in bondage to a cult
I remember how much of a deep impact his made on me. Not because I was personally effected. Rather, I watched how it effected those brothers who personally went through this.
I remember working in the Accounts Department at the Circuit Assembly in which this change was mentioned. An elder who was not a Witnesses during the Vietnam War, but was a conscientious objector had accepted working at the Post Office in lieu of military service. He made a profound comment, but it was his physical demeanor that had a more profound effect on me. He said something along the lines of "This will be difficult."
This elder was so troubled he looked like he was about to have a stroke. Until this very day that experience has stuck with me. I cannot say for sure, but this change may have been what eventually lead to me leaving the organization.
Another fine description of what it was like to grow up a jw during the Vietnam war era. I went thru the same sh*t as you did, except I was a married man (I mean a married kid) lol. Damn near lost my wife do to her philandering while I was "locked up" for my 'firm convictions'.
I got the same drill from the congregation about how to handle myself in front of the draft board and eventually the US court. Of course the information they provided was "unofficial" and my own conscience had to be my guide! lol
I think that in California we got a different treatment after we got out of 'jail'. People out here are a lot more liberal than Texas from what I can discern so the stigma of being a 'draft dodger' was embraced much differently. Hope to meet you one day!
That's a long way of saying that the WT is full of --it.
This is really BIG news, Terry. I am afraid that it will go unnoticed by anyone under 60 years old. Since the average male Witness alive today has never been before a draft board this will be 'just a blip on the radar' for them. However, my brother lived during the 'thick of things' like you did and I was on the tail end of it having received a 4-D classification since I was pioneering.
I am physically sickened by this. In the hall I used to attend there is an Elder who was in the Vietnam War before he became a Witness. He is now a Pioneer and during his last 2 shepherding visits with me he brags that Jehovah is his 'Boss' and he is 'paid by the Government' (He gets Social Security, a small military pension, free healthcare and a CASH settlement for Agent Orange exposure). Meanwhile, Terry Walstrom and others like him do what is required of them as loyal Jehovah's Witnesses and they gets 'the shit end of the stick' and now, no one gives a rat's ass about their loyalty because they dare to speak against Jehovah's 'channel'. The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses since it's inception has had 'blood on it's hands' and we need to keep calling them out on their evil and ever changing dogma.
As shameless self-promotion, here is the book I wrote on the details of my experience with the Draft Board, the F.B.I., in District Court with my attorney, and in prison as well as the aftermath.
I was in a bind not being given a congregationally approved chance to accept "Alternate Service" which was the normal provision of Federal law for Conscientious Objectors!
The U.S. law does not require people with religious OR conscientious problems with serving in the military. Did you know that?
Watchtower policy went beyond any neutral position in regard to NON-military participation in civilian hospital duty.
ILLOGICALLY civilian community service was deliberately set up as a NO NO so that the brother JW would be forced to make a public stand.
The crazy logic behind the Society's own "exemption" is mind-boggling.
If the judge SENTENCED a JW to community service they COULD accept!
But, if the Selective Service made the legal provision of directing you to the hospital work YOU REFUSED!
Do you see any difference?
Clearly, "Caesar's things to Caesar" exemplifies the fact the Superior Authorities have the God-granted right to exercise control over Christians up to a point. JW's were denied the possibility of rendering community service to Caesar at all!
My copy of Make Sure of All Things at the time still had the WRONG view previously held by the Society, by the way: Jehovah and Jesus as the Superior Authorities instead of what all of Christendom had said all along: Governments, Kings, Secular rulers.
MAKING A PUBLIC SPECTACLE of the "righteous" religious views of the JW was good propaganda or "window-dressing".
The brothers in Mexico, the brothers in the U.S. and the brothers in Malawi were all Jehovah's Witnesses, but, under different regimes, customs and laws.
NEUTRALITY had nothing whatever to do with their problems versus the local government service. It was OBSTINANCE directed from Watchtower headquarters.
Jesus demonstrated the correct principle to observe when there is a conflict between strict observance of religious code and the practical consideration for life.
New International Version (NIV)
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
DOING GOOD was more important than a strict observance of the Law of Moses on the Sabbath!!
A Pharisee would likely want to stone such a man to death for the infraction with no exceptions or exemptions being considered!
So too, the Watchtower leaders clearly were NOT of the same mind as Jesus.
Jesus never counseled NEUTRALITY. Morality is making definite choices. Choices that involve DOING GOOD are principled choices.
Had I accepted the Selective Service requirement of community service and worked in Terrell state hospital instead of idling away my time in Prison I'd have been DOING GOOD.
Neutrality is no excuse for a failure to DO GOOD.
The law of the land under subjection to Superior Authority as set in place by Jehovah himself required certain
obligations of me as a citizen of the U.S.
Were I to follow the letter of the law I had to register for the Draft lottery on my 18th birthday.
After that, I could apply for either a ministerial deferment or a Conscientious Objector deferment.
A ministerial deferment or 4D classification by my local Draft Board would exempt me from any obligations beyond that status.
However, an I. O. or Conscientious Objector deferment would subject me to Civilian Alternative service.
A Jehovah's Witness had to fight for his classification when he appeared before the local board.
Federal Law did not require that a Conscientious Objector assert religious belief as the reason for his stand. It was enough to satisfy
the law that the C.O. has "deeply held belief."
In my own case, I met with the Draft Board and subsequently found that I was classified I.O.
I was called up for duty which meant I had to take my Armed Forces Medical examination to determine my fitness for duty.
Should any elder, attorney or official be dragged into these legal cases they would be ready in advance with a legal, notarized, sworn statement:
(1) That I never
counseled any of these young men as to the decision they had to
make with reference to being "inducted into the armed forces" or
of "performing civilian work in lieu of induction into the armed
forces". This was their decision, and theirs alone, to make.
The above from Victor V. Blackwell Teacher-Lecturer-Lawyer-Minister
Member of the Bar
Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana
United States Supreme Court
OF COURSE I was influenced, counseled and advised! This was a secret. It was illegal.
But, my "conscience" had not steered my course because I had no idea what was wrong with Alternate service in a hospital!
The Espionage Act is a United States law passed on June 15, 1917. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code (War) but is now found under Title 18, Crime.
This law prohibited any attempt to interfere with military operations, to support U.S. enemies during war time, to promote insubordination in the military, or to interfere with military recruitment.
Rutherford and 7 Directors of the Watchtower corporation were indicted under the Espionage Act and tried and imprisoned.
You might think the Jehovah's Witnesses would have learned their lesson from a slapdown such as imprisonment, right?
No. They just went underground and covert with their meddling. Business as usual.
Publicly, Jehovah's Witnesses miraculously all came to the same place in their conscience because Jehovah was directing them by His spirit.
The reality, privately, was an illegal breach of ethical responsibility.
My trials and tribulations were in the 60's.
In 2003 the Branch Manual from the Society contained the following policy.
18. PERSONAL DECISIONS: Individuals in the congre-
gations may ask the opinion of the Legal Department or
Desk on what to do in matters involving citizenship, neu-
trality, marriage, divorce, employment, etc. However, if
the person does not know what to do from his own
knowledge of the Bible, it is wiser not to take the respon-
sibility from him by telling him what to do. The Legal De-
partment or Desk should limit its work to legal issues
affecting the branch’s interests rather than personal re-
quests for legal advice or assistance.
The official Branch Organization Manual of 2003
Victor V. Blackwell was a Jehovah's Witness attorney who fought many cases before
the Supreme Court as a Member of the Bar Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana United States Supreme Court.
His specialty was 1st Amendment issues. Defending JW's who were C.O.'s became a specialty.
In 1976, Blackwell published his personal account of many of these cases in "O'er the Ramparts We Watched".
Blackwell himself says:
However, I do feel constrained to express special admiration for,
gratitude and appreciation to Joseph F. Rutherford, Esq., of the
Missouri and New York Bars, President of the WATCH TOWER
SOCIETY (1916-1942), and Hayden C. Covington, of the Texas and
New York Bar's, General Counsel for the SOCIETY and Jehovah's
Witnesses (1938-1963), both now deceased, internationally known
lawyers and ministers, with whom it was my good pleasure to be intimately
associated for a quarter century, and under whom I was tutored.
In the following paragraph, I feel like Blackwell is letting the cat out of the bag.
"The defendant here was accorded the conscientious objector status,
which he had claimed. In due time, his local board ordered him to report
for civilian work of national importance. The board had no other choice of
course. It performed its duty.
However, the tender and delicate conscience of this youth, trained in
the Holy Word of God, would not permit him to accept the civilian work.
Much as he did not like to disobey the board order, he could not and would
not violate the more binding order of his conscience as interpreted by his religion as a Jehovah’s Witness..
It was not a matter of "defying the law," but of responding to what he earnestly believed to be
the even higher “Law of God." In his words, quoting the bible itself, he had to obey God as ruler rather than men."
What do the following people have in common?
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden and Judge J.F. Rutherford?
Here is a hint. The Rosenbergs were communists executed for treason. The military analyst Ellsberg released the so-called “Pentagon papers” and Judge Rutherford was president of the Watchtower bible and tract society who released a book titled The Finished Mystery; indicted for sedition and imprisoned.
First, let’s remind ourselves of a particular law passed in the wake of World War I.
The Espionage Act is a United States law passed on June 15, 1917. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code (War) but is now found under Title 18, Crime.
This law prohibited any attempt to interfere with military operations, to support U.S. enemies during war time, to promote insubordination in the military, or to interfere with military recruitment.
In 1919, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Schenck v. United States that the act did not violate the freedom of speech of those convicted under its provisions.
The most controversial sections of the Act, including the original section 3, were repealed in 1921.
By now you have grasped the significance of being charged with Espionage, especially during
Today, the Watchtower Society looks back on the imprisonment of Rutherford and his directors as a triumphant fulfillment of bible prophecy!
The odd thing is the statements made about WHY they were arrested, tried and convicted of sedition!
** Revelation Climax chap. 25 pp. 167-168 Reviving the Two Witnesses ***
From 1914 to 1918 the nations were occupied with the first world war. Nationalistic feelings ran high, and in the spring of 1918, the religious enemies of the two witnesses took advantage of the situation. They maneuvered the State’s legal apparatus so that responsible ministers of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were imprisoned on false charges of sedition.”
“When it had been learned that the government objected to the book, Brother Rutherford had immediately sent a telegram to the printer to stop producing it, and at the same time, a representative of the Society had been dispatched to the intelligence section of the U.S. Army to find out what their objection was. When it was learned that because of the war then in progress, pages 247-53 of the book were viewed as objectionable, the Society directed that those pages be cut out of all copies of the book before they were offered to the public. And when the government notified district attorneys that further distribution would be a violation of the Espionage Act (although the government declined to express an opinion to the Society on the book in its altered form), the Society directed that all public distribution of the book be suspended.”
Rutherford published statements in The Watchtower urging Bible Students to buy war bonds, participate in a day of prayer for allied victory and only stopped short of encouraging armed service.
Yet, in the book, these words were urged on all who read or would listen:
“People who display patriotism are delusional murderers acting in the very spirit of the devil. Patriotism is narrow-minded hatred of other people.”
“This war (WWI) is the natural product of our unchristian civilization. Its soldiers are grown from greed, imperialistic ambition and dynastic pride. Our participation in in this war in unethical.”
What had Rutherford's predecessor, Russell taught about Christians engaging in warfare when the Spanish American war had broken out in 1898?
"Notice that there is no command in the Scriptures against military service. Obedience to a draft would remind us of our Lord's words, 'If any man compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.'
The government may compel marching or drilling, but cannot compel you to kill the foe. You need not be a good marksman."
("The Watchtower," Aug.1, 1898, reprint, p.2345)
Contrast those words to the written words of Rutherford:
Rutherford: "Probably the Lord wants some of His saints in prison for a while to tell the element they meet there that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and soon all their sufferings will cease ... If you are shot because of the stand you take for the Lord, that will be a quick method of entering His glorious presence".
Rutherford did not officially post the New Light viewpoint until 1929 when a peculiar aberrant interpretation of Romans 13:1 prevailed until 1962.
So, why was the WatchTower leadership counseling brothers in uniform to disobey their commanders or allow themselves to be court martialed?
Why had the book The Finished Mystery gone hardcore anti-government to the extent the Federal Authority demanded the removal of offending pages?
Why did Watchtower Society claim they were victims of clergy incitements to persecution instead of owning up to their own anti-government sedition during a time of war?
The answer is a simple one.
From the day Rutherford sought to control the Watchtower Society he was opposed. His brusque manner and harsh attitude rebuffed a great many people more accustomed to the passively sweet Pastor Russell.
Further, in Russell's Will he had selected exactly whom he wanted running the corporation by naming them. Moreover, he named 5 names of person's who could fill in or substitute for the first list if it became necessary. Oddly enough, 6 names were found listed with J.F.Rutherford among them!
2 of the original men named begged off for personal reasons. Rutherford jumped in and began grabbing control and taking charge.
What Rutherford needed was a diversion and a way to gain gravitas in the eyes of readers of the Watchtower.
Russell had built the readership of the magazine almost entirely out of a particular group of people: 2nd Adventists.
What Adventists all had in common was a deep-seated hatred for organized religion!
Why? Because the 2nd Adventists had been mocked and scorned by churches they had formerly belonged to when William Miller's (and other subsequent)
predictions for the 2nd Coming had failed. These Watchtower readers and subscribers liked the way Russell had identified them with the light of understanding much to the chagrin of mainstream Christendom.
Brilliantly, Rutherford saw his chance by turning up the heat on all mainstream aspects of conservative religious society which included blistering diatribes on the radio.
denunciations of Catholicism, Christendom, Government, Big Business and the Military. If Russell was a standout as a preacher of mild rebuff, then, Rutherford would be ten times as bold!
He overshot his mark by a city mile!
When Federal Authorities swarmed all over the inflammatory vitriol he had published--it was impossible that he back down.
In the end, he won the respect of those who stuck with him and demonstrated that his Presidency would risk martyrdom rather than back down.
Moreover, he found a way to occupy the loyal readers of the Watchtower in a total Pyrrhic plunge into 1st Amendment issues by resisting local laws and ordinances against peddling, solicitation and public preaching.
It all had to be under the mask of religious persecutions or the pretension of seeking out controversy would quickly wear thin as a ploy of publicity seeking self-aggrandizement.
Even though the Watchtower was a "society" and not a formal religion a mock-up of a formal statement of belief was rushed into print.
Board member William Van Amburgh set to work to speedily draft some sort of creed and membership form for draftees to sign, but by then it was too late --too many were already sent to training camps.
Amburgh had written the following affidavit form letter to local draft boards which contained an "Affidavit of Person Whose Discharge is Sought" which explained that the ISBA was a pacifist organization containing a "creed" against participation in war:
"I, Mr. ______, do solemnly swear I am __ years old and reside at _____ and that Serial No._______ was given me by Local Board _____ on the day ____of 1917, on the ground that I was a person who was a member of a well -recognized religious sect or organization, organized and existing May 18 1917, whose then existing creed or principles forbade its members to participate in war in any form and whose religious convictions are against war or participation therein, in accordance with the creed or principles of said well-organized religious organization.
"I do further solemnly swear that I am a member in good faith and good standing of the International Bible Students Association which, on the 18th day of May, 1917 was organized and existing as a well- recognized religious sect or organization, whose existing creed or principles forbade its members to participate in war in any form...."
Ironically, Amburgh was called to testify at his own trial and he completely denied under oath that he belonged to any religion or that members had any formal belief system that was required or enforced.
"...What we need to tell you is confidential. Whenever you are asked by some official, you must always answer by saying this is your decision alone... nobody has coached you or told you what to say..."
* sigh *
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.
The issue of neutrality is artificial and manufactured in the first place which goes to the heart of Rutherford's illicit takeover of the Millennial Dawn/Bible Students when Pastor Russell died.
To grasp the issue of neutrality as it evolved over time and to comprehend the mindset out of which it and other peculiar policies appeared one must begin this story at its inception in 1916.
With the death of Pastor Russell, Judge Rutherford grasped an opportunity to seize a bully pulpit and publishing enterprise primed to expect a cataclysm through the revelation of bible interpretation.
Through nefarious legal intricacies Rutherford over-rode Pastor Russell's last will and testament which expressly called for NO FURTHER publications to issue from the date of his death. Rutherford had a plan which would replace Russell as the central focus of religious Truth and place himself at the forefront as the mouthpiece of God.
The key instrument would be an expected 7th volume of Pastor Russell's commentary STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.
WIKIPEDIA: The Finished Mystery
Following Russell's death in 1916, a seventh volume - entitled The Finished Mystery - was published in 1917 and advertised as his "posthumous work". This seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Revelation, but also included interpretations of Ezekiel and the Song of Solomon. An advertisement for the book in The Watch Tower called it: "the true interpretation." (1917, p.334) The book was allegedly: "of the Lord—prepared under his guidance." (p. 126)
Immediate controversy surrounded both its publishing and contents. In a short time it was established that it was actually written and compiled by two of Russell's associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Joseph Franklin Rutherford.
The Finished Mystery had been prepared without the board's consultation, and in violation of Charles Taze Russell's Last Will and Testament.
Note that Rutherford's first official act as leader was to create a fabrication misrepresenting the Finished Mystery as a book written by Pastor Russell prepared under the guidance of the Lord. ( "This book may properly be said to be a posthumous publication of Pastor Russell." The Finished Mystery, Preface, p. 5. ) This counterfeit landed Rutherford and the board of the Watchtower in prison!
This is where our story actually begins.
WIKIPEDIA: Bible Students who felt that the tone and spirit of the book was overly harsh, as well as contrary to the spirit in which Russell had wrote during his ministry. Questions were also raised regarding predictions made in the book for the years 1918, 1919, and 1925. This seventh volume (entitled The Finished Mystery) included strong criticism of the Papacy and the existing Christian religious system and hierarchy. This prompted clergy pressure for government censure and in 1918 he served an imprisonment together with seven other associates in Atlanta, Georgia, for allegedly opposing the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Espionage Act of 1917
Correspondence between the Watchtower Society and Christians serving in the army were revealed during the course of the trial. In these letters and in direct violation of Sedition laws, Rutherford conspired to provoke treason by advising the soldier to lay down his weapons.
ARREST RUSSELLITES ON SEDITION CHARGES; Rutherford, Who Succeeded Late 'Pastor,' and Five Other Leaders Barely Escape Jail. INDICTED IN FEDERAL COURT Inciting Refusal to Do Military Duty and Sending Money to Germany Alleged.
May 9, 1918, Thursday
Page 22, 1053 words
Charged with spreading doctrines calculated to promote unrest and disloyalty among the men of the army and navy, six leaders of the International Bible Students' Association, which has founded by the late "Pastor" Charles T. Russell, were arrested yesterday afternoon in Brooklyn by United States Marshal James M. Power.
Kathleen Koenig: As America prepared to enter World War I, the anti-war, anti-government message of The Finished Mystery brought the wrath of the United States judicial system down upon the Bible Students' heads. In 1918 Rutherford and seven other Watch Tower officials were convicted on charges of sedition. Though sentenced to a total of six hundred years in the Atlanta penitentiary, the Judge and his fellow inmates were released in 1919 and later acquitted of all charges. The experience made him bitter, and he emerged breathing fire against all the clergy of Christendom, whom he held responsible for his incarceration.
Rutherford realized the Bible Students were in danger of further disintegration. Many members were dismayed by Russell's death prior to Armageddon. Rutherford replaced Russell's books with a steady stream of his own, insisting that doctrinal changes were "new light" cast on Scripture by Jehovah. He consolidated power by replacing elected congregation elders with Society-appointed men. He castigated as idolaters those who revered the memory of Russell, making life intolerable within the organization for loyalists. The pages of his books and of The Watchtower soon were filled with attacks against other religions, the most vicious being reserved for the Catholic Church.
Memorandum: ...submitted at the same time by the Attorney General and also placed in the Congressional Record. Speaking of printed matter which, in the opinion of the Intent genre Service, "could only serve to stir men up to mutiny and tend to disintegrate our entire army,"
Rutherford was seeking vengeance against other denominations, against the U.S.army and the government for 400-year sentences. He spent the rest of his life fulminating against everybody and everything while using the membership of his Jehovah's Witness religion to do so.
Everything about Jehovah's Witnesses was designed to anger mainstream society, Christianity and government. JW's were created as contrarians. Whatever "normal" society expected of a Christian; Jehovah's Witnesses did the opposite. No birthdays, no Christmas, no flag salute, no singing national anthem, no military service, no cross, no hell, no blood, no pledge of allegiance... this list is endless.
Judge Rutherford and his successors imprinted the JW psyche with a kind of radicalism it took them a long time to escape.
The upshot of these policies was to pit forces of young men from Kingdom Halls against any authority willy nilly to create publicity which inflamed ordinary Christians because it made JW's look Holier than thou and more dedicated and righteous through the creation of martyrs.
In Malawi, the members could not purchase political party cards. In Mexico, the members could bribe officials to avoid problems.
The two policies were Ad Hoc: created on the spot according to the whim of the leadership at the time.
The two-fold reasoning of American draft problems was that young Witness man could not serve in the armed forces or accept ALTERNATE service unless a judge sentenced the young man to the alternate service. The young man could not explain this to the judge either!!
It is clear from all this the leadership of the Watchtower Society was not attempting to explicate their "reasoning" through the use of firm and clear bible interpretation.
Arbitrary, capricious and whimsical ad hoc policy has been behind every move the Society has ever made. How do we know? They have had to change every policy ever uttered!
Millions now LIVING will never die, Romans 13 (Superior Authorities), Generation of 1914, Armageddon predictions +1975 and other very public whims have backfired repeatedly on the leadership. They never learn their lesson and never will.
This religion has always been about creating turbulence, friction, and animosity among regular society and manifesting a spirit of chaos which CAN THEN BE USED to demonstrate righteous persecution against JW members and point to the nearness of Armageddon!
1.Making Jehovah's Witnesses so contrary, so different alienates them from regular society and drives them into the Kingdom Halls like frightened sheep where they are fed more contrarian policy to keep them fearful and obedient.
2.Society at large cannot reconcile Jehovah's Witnesses with mainstream belief and must continue to regard them as cultists and thus demonstrate a wary attitude leading to the semblance of persecutions.