According to Watchtower statistics, in 1981, the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society” founded in 1896 had branches in more than 100 lands and “missionary” work and kingdom preaching in over 250 lands. Their literature is distributed in more than 110 languages, and the society’s volunteers (called publishers) numbered over 560,000. With these numbers ever increasing, the Society has become a great disseminator of false propaganda and a challenge to the zeal of every true believer.


In the year 1908, the headquarters were transferred to Brooklyn, New York, where property was purchased at 17 Hicks Street and became known as “The Brooklyn Tabernacle.” Large tracts of property were purchased by the society on Columbia Heights Street as it grew and prospered, until today whole blocks are in their possession. Among other things, the society owns a large modern printing plant, which produces billions of pieces of literature, apartment buildings and office space, a place known as “Kingdom Farm” which supplies food, and wood for furniture, a Bible school known as “Gilead,” and many more enterprises of like character. All employees in the factory receive room and board but no salary. Workers are given a nominal sum each month for incidental personal expenses and purchases which at one time was known to be $14.00.


Charles Taze Russell, the founder, continued his false teaching until his death on October 31, 1916, aboard a transcontinental train in Texas.


In June 1912, a Reverend J. J. Ross, pastor of the James Street Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, published a pamphlet entitled “Some facts about the Self-styled Pastor Charles T. Russell.” It minced no words in its denunciation of Russell, his qualifications as a minister, or his moral example as a “pastor.” Russell promptly sued Pastor Ross for “defamatory libel” in an effort to silence the pamphlet before it could gain worldwide circulation and expose his true character and the errors of his theology. In the pamphlet, Pastor Ross assailed Russell’s teachings as “destructive doctrines of one man who is neither a scholar nor a theologian.” He also denounced Russell’s whole system as “anti-rational, anti-scientific, anti-biblical, anti-Christian, and a deplorable perversion of the gospel of God’s dear Son.”



During the trial brought against Pastor Ross for “defamatory libel,” it was found that Russell perjured himself several times about his religious education or lack thereof, he knowledge of the biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew of which he had no training, his divorce of his wife of which Russell said he had not divorced, and his alleged ordination as a “pastor” which he was never ordained. Russell lost his suit against Pastor Ross when the High Court of Ontario in March 1913 ruled that there were no grounds for libel therefore the case was thrown out of the court.


Upon Russell’s death the helm of leadership was manned my Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who continued in the line of Russell by attacking the doctrines of “organized religion” with unparalleled vigor by way of radio talks, phonograph recordings, books, and resounding blasts against “Christendom” until his death on January 8, 1942 from cancer while at the palatial mansion known as “Beth Sarim” or “House of Princes” in San Diego, California at age 72.


Following Russell’s death, Judge Rutherford rose in popularity and power among the “Russellites,” and to oppose him was tantamount to questioning the authority of Jehovah himself. The prolific judge wrote over 100 books and pamphlets and his works have been translated into 80 languages. Thus, he was the society’s second great champion who, regardless of his many failings, was truly an unusual man by any standard.


Russell and Rutherford are the two key figures in the Society’s history, and without them it is doubtful that the organization would ever have come into existence. But conjecture never eliminated a problem, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are now a problem with which every believer must cope.


The next president of the combined organization was Nathan Homer Knorr, who was elected president immediately after Judge Rutherford’s death. Knorr was responsible for the “Gilead Missionary Training School” in South Lansing, New York. He followed diligently in the footsteps of Russell and Rutherford, and under his tutelage Christianity saw much opposition. Knorr died in June of 1977, and Frederick W. Franz, a longtime leader and then vice-president of the Society, was elected president and piloted the Watchtower in the pattern of his predecessors.


Upon the death of Franz in 1992, Society Vice-president Milton G. Henschel was elevated to the position of president. Henschel stepped down in 2000 and Don Adams became the 6th president of the Watchtower Society. Under the current corporate leadership of the Governing Body, the Watchtower publications and meetings have exhibited fewer antagonistic denouncements of the less popular Jehovah’s Witnesses distinctives, such as the rejection of birthday celebrations and higher education.


The Governing Body has also encouraged a strong evangelistic outreach overseas, the source of the vast majority of the converts. The Governing Body continues the unbroken autocracy of the Society, consistently condemning any dissension, any criticism, and any doubt on the part of rank-and-file members.


Total membership in the Watchtower Tract & Bible Society as of the end of 2001 was just over 6 million. Of that number, 979,000 are members in the United States. Since door to door “preaching” is an essential part of the works necessary for Witnesses to be “saved,” it is not surprising that Witnesses in the USA spent over 178 million hours “preaching” with the worldwide total of more than 1.1 billion hours. “Bible” studies, which are actually book studies for Witnesses and potential converts to learn distinctive Watchtower doctrines and practices are also essential for spiritual progress in this system. In 2001 American Jehovah’s Witnesses reported conducting 416,556 “Bible” studies.


The annual “Memorial” service of Jehovah’s Witnesses is their own unbiblical version of the Lord’s Supper, and although only a minute fraction of the members, the so-called spiritual class, or anointed partake, all Jehovah’s Witnesses and as many friends, relatives, and prospective members as possible are encouraged to attend. In 2001 more than 15 million people attended this service. This is used as a prime recruiting tool, exemplifying the “unity” of the Watchtower Society to a watching world.


Since Judge Rutherford’s death, all Society publications are issued without any author credit, or anonymously. The two signature magazines of the Society, the Watchtower published in 125 languages, and Awake, published in 81 languages, are published semi-monthly.


The Governing Body is a group of so-called “heavenly class” or “anointed” men (numbering 12) presided over by President Adams. Prospective members are encouraged to commit themselves to the Society as quickly as possible and become members through Baptism by immersion at the local congregational level. New members must immediately begin training for “fieldwork” by spending time with older members as they conduct their own fieldwork. Publishers were committed to an average of 1,200 hours per year in fieldwork, to include door to door recruitment, sidewalk soliciting, and “book” studies with prospective and new members. Those who dedicated a significantly greater amount of time over the 1,200 hours earned the title “Pioneer” to distinguish them from mere “publishers.”


Groups meeting together are called “congregations,” supervised by a “circuit overseer.” “Districts” are geographical collections of circuits (22 in the USA). The “district overseer” organizes the annual district convention, at which time all “new” teachings and rules from the governing body are announced to the members, and at which time all new publications are presented. A number of districts are called “branches” and a number of branches are called “zones” and the Brooklyn Society offices are called the “headquarters.” As you can see, they are very organized and tightly controlled.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have only ONE day of ceremony a year, known as “The Memorial of Christ’s Death” at Passover. This is held in large auditoriums and all members are expected to bring family, friends and prospective members. The elements of the Lord’s Supper are passed through the audience, but only those of the anointed or heavenly class are allowed to partake. (That number is fewer than 9,000 worldwide, since no one born after 1914 is considered eligible for the class) Jehovah’s Witnesses reject celebrations of any other religious, national, or cultural holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and birthday which they consider pagan and idolatrous. Members caught participating in such holidays can be disfellowshipped.


Each Kingdom Hall has five meetings a week and all members are expected to attend all five. These services are called “Public Talks” on Sundays and weekday meetings are called “Theocratic Ministry School” followed by “Service Meetings.” Each “witness” is required to attend a weekly “Book Study” in addition to his or her own fieldwork. Fieldwork cannot be neglected ever since every witness must tell others about God’s Kingdom.


The structure of the Watchtower Society is an absolute autocracy. All authority is vested in the Governing Body, including the authority to understand and teach the Bible. Dissent is not permitted and, if discovered, is punished swiftly and completely. Jehovah’s Witnesses are excluded from membership or disfellowshipped not merely for gross and unrepentant immorality or heresy but also for questioning the teachings and authority of the Society. Should a witness be disfellowshipped, he or she learns firsthand what it means to be shunned by the very people he once considered his friends, family, and brother and sisters in Christ.


Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to study the Bible on their own, to interpret what they read in the Bible for themselves, or to teach directly from the Bible. Rather, they must reach from approved Watchtower Publications about the Bible.


The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has weathered the storms of its inconsistent and turbulent history by enforcing absolute control over its members and by excluding anyone who dares question their authority and doctrine. It should not surprise us, therefore, what most Witnesses have memorized their basic doctrinal teachings of the Society and will defend them adamantly, even when their defense is irrational, unbiblical, and historically inaccurate.


The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (taken over by Judge Rutherford)  is simply a pseudonym for “Russellism” (started by Charles T. Russell) or “Millennial Dawnism.” The similarity of the two systems is more than coincidental or accidental, regardless of the Witnesses shouts to the contrary. You see, after Russell’s death, Judge Rutherford saw the danger of remaining “Russellites” and over a period of fifteen years labored to cover up the “pastor’s” unpleasant past, which did much to hinder the organizations progress.

In 1931 Rutherford managed to appropriate the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” from Isaiah 43:10, thus escaping the damaging title of “Russellites.” Rutherford thus managed to hide the unsavory background of Russellistic theology and delude millions of people into believing that Jehovah’s Witnesses was a “different” organization. Rutherford’s strategy has worked well for the Russellites and, as a result, today those trusting souls and millions like them everywhere sincerely believe that they are members of a “New Kingdom Order” under Jehovah God, when in reality they are deluded believers in the theology of one man, Charles Taze Russell, who was proven to be neither a Christian nor a qualified Bible student. Jehovah’s Witnesses who have not been in the movement for any great period of time will deny publicly and privately that they are “Russellites” especially since few, if any, of the original members of “Pastor” Russell’s flock are still alive. Until this present day, the Society vehemently denies accusations that present day Jehovah’s Witnesses theology is the exact same theology as Charles Taze Russell and is the basis of the entire Watchtower system even though proof exists that it is.