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The Observer
Rockford, Illinois
February 17, 1961     The Observer
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February 17, 1961
 

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By Father John Ryan THERE ARE A COUPLE OF YOUNG MEN GOING AROUND ~OWN, ALMOST FORCING THEIR WAY INTO HOMES, TRYING TO CONVERT PEOPLE. THEY CALL THEMSELVES JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES. COULD YOU TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THEM? Much of the following information is froth a pamphlet by the Rev. A. O'Brien, "Light on Jehovah's Witnesses." Jehovah's Witnesses were founded in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell, a clothing store merchant in Allegheny, Pa. Originally the followers of Russell were called Millenium Dawnists, and in the course of time they became the Rus- sellites, the Watch Tower Bible people, the International Bible Students Association, the Rutherfordites, and finally the Jehovah's Witnesses. Russell was originally a Congregation- alist, and later became interested in the Second Day Adventists, who believed that the Second Coming of Christ would occur in 1840. When this did not materialize the sect all but disappeared. But a few die- hard followers remained, and it was from this group that Russell acquired the doc- trine that the end of the world was immi- nent, and t h a t the millenium was ap- proaching. He was a wild, rabid fanatic from the beginning. He was only 20 at this time and full of energy and zeal. He attracted attention and a considerable number of emotional, wild-eyed fol- lowers, by denying the existence of hell and the immor- tality of the soul. And he usually followed this doctrine of repudiation with the promise of the imminent estab- lishment of a celestial kingdom on earth. He started a Bible class and proceeded to give his followers some of the most fantastic and wierd Bible interpretations that the Holy Book has ever suffered at the hands~of man. It was he who founded the Watch Tower, which is still the official organ of propaganda. Although he was never or- dained in any religious sect he imposed upon himself the title o[ pastor. And as pastor he launched a vicious at- tack against all other religions. He called himself the Seventh Messenger, or the "Angel" referred to in the Book of Ezechiel. To get a more accurate picture of the man, it is a mat- ter of history that he was divorced by his wife on the grounds of immoral relations with his secretary and maid. He appealed five times against this verdict and lost five times. He became involved with the law in the so-called "miracle wheat" scandal. He sold this product at $60 a bushel when its actual worth was $1. Worse notoriety and greater scandal was brought on when he discovered and produced a "cancer cure", which was nothing more than a caustic paste of chloride of zinc. It was not only worth- less, in many cases it was positively harmful and has- tened the death of the patient. He posed as a profound expert Greek scholar, but when he was confronted with a copy of the Greek New Testament, he confessed that he did not even know the Greek alphabQt. He was unmasked over and over again as a "perjurer, a fraud, a charlatan, trading on the innocence of his gul- lible followers." This was the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the people who knock at your door and bring you the great message. He was followed by Joseph F. Rutherford, who is frequently called "the Apostle of Hate." Rutherford's activities were interrupted by a jail sen- tence in the Federal Penitenitary at Atlanta, Ga for violation of the Espionage Act. The sentence was for 20 years, but it was commuted and he was released. He began immediately to revise Russell's claims-talk of a Seventh Messenger was dropped because there was no scriptural backing for an eighth Armageddon (Day of Judgement) had been predicted by Russell for 1914, 1916 and 1918. Rutherford's first prediction was 1920 but when this failed, he hit on a cry which predicted without a date: "Millions. Now Living Will Never Die." When this began to wear thin after 15 years, he made the astound- ing announcement that Christ was to come invisibly and, as a matter of fact, has come and has been in this world since 1914: that in 1918 He sanctified the Witnesses of His kingdom. This has become the most important belief of the Witnesses. Mr. Rutherford died in 1942. At present, the names of the members of "Watchtower" corporatioris are not pub- lished, nor their number, but they are a self-perpetuating board in absolute control. Practically everyone has heard of the Jehovah's Wit- nesses. They knock at your door. ring your bell. and be- fore you can tell them that you are not interested in what they are selling or promoting, they launch into an--emo- tional appeal to make a convert Witness of you. They brush your objections aside, and if you protest that you are a Roman Catholic, they have a special message for you. Most of us look upon them as just a group of wild-eyed fanatics, with the zeal of a prophet, who preach a fantas- tic, impossible doctrine that no stable person could ac- cept. But they are more than that. They are a nation- wide. world-wide army of intolerant zealots, who violent- ly oppose everybody who does not agree with them. They are anti-Jewish, anti-Protestant, and especially anti-Cath- olic. They deny the doctrine of the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ. the immortality of the soul, and the existence of hell. They hold that Lucifer and Jesus are sons of God, and that Christ is the same person as Michael the Arch. angel. They further teach that all business, governments, and religions are the i~ventions of the devil. Their key doctrine, to which all others are subservient, is the ridiculous irrational belief that their spiritual heav- en can seat only 144.000 people, and that all other Wit- nesses, in excess of that number, will find their heaven on this earth after the great clash at Armegeddon, be- tween the forces of good and evil, which is just around the corner. -k -k "k Questions for "YOU ASKED IT" should be sent to: Father John Ryan, 1401 E. State St Rockford, Ill. It is not necessary to Sign your name unless you wish a per- sonal reply. However, Father Ryan reserves the right not to use unsfgned questions. Wonder is one of the faculties most easy 'to lose: we have it in childhood, undiscriminating no doubt but vivid and'deep: we all too easily lose it as we grow older and become immersed in our daily concerns: and so, unless we are very careful, not beauty only but life itself passes us by. For inevitably life loses its meaning when it loses its mystery. ---Gerald Vann ~$$ L~,TM Vol. XXVI No 7 Feb. 17, 1961 [HE MOST REVEREND LORAS T. LANE Publishel [HE REVEREND ARTHUR J. O'NEILL ~.; Managing Editor rile REVEREND W1LLiAM ] JOFFE. Asst. Managing Edito, MABJOR[E GALLAGHER Women's Page Editor PATRIClA NORMAN Feature Editor BEULAH O'MEARA Business ROBERT J. STARR Advertising PAUL W, COLLIN Advertising ANN BERTOLASI Circul