Questions From Readers
● Are the charges in a tract against Jehovah’s witnesses true that the Society’s first president was immoral, profiteered from selling some mysteriously named wheat at $65 a bushel, and committed perjury when asked in court if he could read Greek?—C. W., North Carolina.
No. They were deliberate falsehoods. No immoral action was ever proved against the Watchtower Society’s first president, Charles Taze Russell. In a suit for separate maintenance Mrs. Russell’s attorney said, “We make no charge of adultery”; and Mrs. Russell, who went to all ends to discredit her husband (her main objection was that he would not let her control the Watchtower magazine’s policy), specifically said she did not accuse him of immorality. When critics who did not know him thought they could take portions of the trial and malign his good name, he swore: “I never was guilty of immorality toward any person. . . . Further, I have never desired to do so.” Those who knew him personally highly respected his integrity. J. F. Rutherford, one who was sufficiently convinced of the importance of the Christian work Brother Russell did to likewise devote his life and funds to it, and who succeeded Russell as the Society’s president, said at Russell’s funeral: “Truly it can be said that Pastor Russell’s character was and is without blemish.”
The facts about “Miracle Wheat” are equally perverted. Brother Russell was interested in anything related to the Scriptural prediction that the desert would blossom as a rose and the earth yield her increase. So, when the public press reported a new and unusual strain of wheat, called “Miracle Wheat” by its original grower, Brother Russell reported this in The Watchtower, along with a government report on it. Some Watchtower readers contacted the grower, who was in no way connected with the Watchtower Society, and purchased some of the wheat. When theirs produced seed they offered it as a contribution to the Society. The original grower sold the seed at $1.25 a pound, so they suggested their contribution be priced at $1.00, and all the money received be given to the Society. The Society made no claim for the wheat on its own knowledge, though it won several State Fair grand prizes before it wore itself out. Brother Russell neither named it nor profited from it; the money went as a donation into Christian missionary work. When others criticized this sale, all who had contributed were told that if they were dissatisfied their money would be returned, and the money was held for a year for this purpose. Not a single person requested it back. The only critics were those who had no real knowledge of the matter, which was purely a donation sale for the benefit of the Society—as open and aboveboard as a church cake sale.
The “perjury” charge was not made in court, but in a tract written later by an irresponsible slanderer against whom Brother Russell had brought a libel case. The official record of the case in question (Police Court of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, March 17, 1913) says: “Q. You don’t profess, then, to be schooled in the Latin language? A. No, sir. Q. Or in Greek? A. No, sir.” After this he was asked if he knew individual Greek letters, and it was over this that the question of his knowledge of Greek arose. This false “perjury” claim has been repeated by many who never went to this Canadian city to check this old court record to see if they are spreading truth or a lie. Not only has the question they “quote” been reworded, but Brother Russell had specifically said that he did not know Greek.
The extent to which critics will deliberately falsify such quotations is shown in another tract that says Jehovah’s witnesses deny the ransom and tries to support this with a quotation from Volume 5, page 127, of the Studies in the Scriptures: “Jesus’ suffering would not pay the debt of sin.” Here is what the book actually says: “True, the wages of sin was not suffering, but death; and hence suffering on our Lord’s part would not alone pay the wages of sin for us: it was absolutely necessary that he should ‘taste death for every man.’” The book says exactly the opposite of what the tract claims it says.
With such lies and perverted facts the critics condemn themselves. They would not like to be classed with the ultramodernists who accuse Jesus of being illegitimate, but they stoop equally low regarding other men whose lives were spent unselfishly in God’s service.