A Vision Rejected
“THE League exists, but what is it to be? Is it to be the real thing or an imposture?” That question was raised by British Lord Robert Cecil, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the League of Nations Union. Yes, although many people were led to believe that the League would guarantee peace, others expressed serious doubts.
Noted English author Jerome K. Jerome wrote: “The League of Nations has come into the world stillborn. . . . Its sponsors . . . invite us to the christening. . . . They hoped for a new Messiah. They seem to have persuaded themselves that by much shouting and prostrating of themselves they can raise it from the dead.” The London Standard stated: “A League of Nations in which no one believes, but to which lip service is paid by everybody, is simply a sham, and a most dangerous sham.”
A Dissenting Voice
On the other hand, we have seen how the clergy welcomed the League. But in the midst of the religious clamor in its favor, in May 1920 the Watch Tower magazine published an unequivocal denunciation of the League, stating: “This has been heralded abroad as the great emancipator of mankind . . . But of necessity it must fail.”
Why was the League destined to failure? Was it for purely political reasons, because the United States had failed to join? No, the whole issue of the League of Nations was seen by Jehovah’s Witnesses as merely an incident against the backdrop of a much greater drama—the universal conflict between the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah, and the founder of universal rebellion, Satan. (Job, chapters 1 and 2; John 8:44) Thus the League, promoted by politicians and praised by the clergy, was really Satan’s counterfeit remedy to turn attention away from the only true solution for mankind’s ills—God’s Kingdom by Christ. From God’s standpoint the League was truly a “sham” and an “imposture.”—Compare Psalm 2.
Therefore the above-quoted Watch Tower continued: “Even had the United States adopted the League of Nations, joining with the other countries of the world, it could not have accomplished the purpose expressed, for the reason that it is man-made, formulated by selfish men; and for the further reason that it is contrary to God’s way.”
An even stronger denouncement was made at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Cedar Point, Ohio, September 10, 1922. There they stated in a public resolution:
“That all international conferences and all agreements or treaties resulting therefrom, including the League of Nations compact and all like compacts, must fail, because God has decreed it thus.”
They also denounced the clergy’s support of the League, stating “that they [the clergy] further repudiated the Lord and His kingdom and showed their disloyalty by voluntarily uniting themselves with Satan’s organization and boldly announcing to the world that the League of Nations is the political expression of God’s kingdom on earth, which announcement so made by them was in utter disregard of the words of Jesus and the apostles.”
Why did the Witnesses take such a strong stand against the League at such an early date? Because they had concluded from their study of the Bible “that 1914 marked the legal ending of the old world and there Christ the rightful King took unto Himself His power as king;
“That the Lord Jesus Christ is now present, invisible to man, and proceeding with the work of establishing His kingdom, for which kingdom He taught His followers to pray.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
Therefore the Witnesses saw the League as a man-made substitute for the Kingdom of God. As such, it had to fail. (Jeremiah 10:23; Daniel 2:44) What, in fact, happened to Woodrow Wilson’s League? For the answer, let us review events from 1920 to 1946.
[Pictures on page 8]
The hopes of the world were centered on the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
U.S. National Archives