Little Bits of History

Can I Get a Witness?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 1, 2013
The Watchtower

The Watchtower

July 1, 1879: The Watchtower is first published. Originally called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, the name has changed several times over the years. Since March 1940 the official name has been The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Known colloquially as The Watchtower, the magazine is a monthly religious tract published by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania – ironically located in New York. Once sold at low cost, since 1990 when the tax laws changed, the magazine is now free, but donations are accepted.

Charles Taze Russell, aka Pastor Russell, was a Protestant evangelist. Born near Pittsburgh in 1852, he began the Bible Student Movement. He was raised Presbyterian, did a little church hopping, and then began to question his faith. He studied various Eastern and Western religions and philosophies. He came to the conclusion the Bible was the Word of God and all Christians had a responsibility to preach the Gospel. He eventually entered into a celibate marriage with Maria Ackley. They were legally separated 24 years later.

Charismatic Pastor Russell did not claim any special relationship with God. He claimed he was here merely to teach the Word. He published a six-part series of instructional tracts between 1886 and 1904. These were called The Millennial Dawn and later came to be known as Studies in the Scriptures. A seventh volume was published after his death. Pastor Russell died in 1916 and the religious movement was thrown into chaos. Controversy over leadership and practices led to a major schism. All sects remain known as Bible Students. Those adhering to the Watch Tower Society are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Bible as the supreme authority for all teachings. They have diverged from mainstream Christian theology in many respects. Some claim their religion is nothing short of hierarchical and an authoritative cult. The religion can be found worldwide with over 100,000 congregations and over 7 million members. They cover the world from Albania to Zimbabwe. Members are expected to live moral lives and many infractions can lead to expulsion from the church. What they are most famous for is their call to proselytize – going door-to-door with Biblical books, magazines, and tracts.

“What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness and an Atheist? Someone who knocks at your door for no apparent reason.” – unknown

“While traveling near Tampa, Florida I passed the ‘Jehovah’s Witness Assembly Hall’ and was struck by the fact that that must be where they make them.” – Gene Spafford

“Is it wrong to sustain life by administering a transfusion of blood or plasma or red cells or others of the component parts of the blood? Yes!…the prohibition includes ‘any blood at all.'” – from Blood, Medicine and the Law of God

“We do believe that we’re in the last days, and that the time is due for God to render his judgment, we put the emphasis on Good News. That what is ahead for mankind is a paradise earth, one in which God’s Kingdom, that Christians pray for, will take over the control and government of the earth, and bring blessings to mankind.” – J. R. Brown, Director of the Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: In January 1917 Joseph Franklin Rutherford was elected as the next president of the Watch Tower Society, although that election was disputed. By June he released the seventh and final of Russell’s books, The Finished Mystery. In the book, Catholic and Protestant clergy were criticized for their involvement in the Great War. Because of the enactment of the Espionage Act in 1918, many of the leaders were jailed for sedition and congregations were subjected to mob violence. On July 26, 1931 the name of the group was changed when Rutherford introduced Jehovah’s Witnesses while at a convention held in Columbus, Ohio. Rutherford died in 1942 and at that time Nathan Knorr was appointed the third president. Frederick Franz and Milton Henschel followed and today Don A. Adams holds the office.

Also on this day: Four Score and Seven Years Ago – In 1861, the Battle of Gettysburg begins.
Russians Reading – In 1862, the Russian State Library is founded.
Close Call – In 1770 Lexell’s Comet missed Earth.

2 Responses

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  1. Danny Haszard (@DannyHaszard) said, on July 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus ALREADY had his second coming in 1914.
    Jesus himself warned of those false prophets who would say,”see he is there in the wilderness,or see he is there in the synagogue’.
    Jesus further warned DO NOT GO AFTER THEM.
    Since the October 1914 date for Jesus ‘return’ aka invisible second coming can be debunked.Then the follow up doctrine of the 3 1/2 wait until the selection and sealing of the ‘annointed’ is also false.Ergo,no 1914 then there can be no 1918 inspection and sealing of the ‘anointed’ so the entire Watchtower Bible and Tract Society doctrinal superstructure comes crashing down like a house of cards.
    …….This would mean that the Watchtower leaders the governing body are illegitimate.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses promotion of their Watchtower sect has the net effect of stumbling and turning people off to the Gospel.
    Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte; and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15)
    – –Danny Haszard born 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witness

  2. Sherry said, on July 2, 2015 at 6:05 am

    . . . and there are about 75 reasons to be happy about being an atheist. Yeesh!

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