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Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose


Let Go Into Captivity

TOM: Last week, John, you mentioned a combined effort on the part of your enemies to destroy the work of Jehovah's witnesses. What happened?

JOHN: Well, the work was virtually brought to a halt, Tom. Of course, some of the individual Witnesses were able to keep right on with the preaching work during this severe time of trouble, but organizationally there was a short period of inactivity. The events leading up to that time began to reach a climax following the rebellion at headquarters in Brooklyn in the summer of 1917.

To round out the year 1917, December 30 was set as the historic date to begin, through the Sunday volunteer service, the mass distribution of 10,000,000 copies of a new issue of the four-page tabloid-size tract The Bible Students Monthly. This fiery issue was entitled "The Fall of Babylon—Why Christendom Must Now Suffer—the Final Outcome."a It contained excerpts from The Finished Mystery with some of the most pointed references to the clergy. As a part of this campaign of distribution, widely advertised public lectures were delivered the same day on the same subject. b

This tract proved to be one of the most powerful of the monthly series that had been distributed by the millions since 1910. It showed how Catholic and Protestant religious organizations together formed modern-day Babylon, which must soon fall to oblivion. On the back page was a graphic cartoon picturing a rampart or wall crumbling, with stones being thrown down, one by one, that were marked: "Protestantism," "Creeds," "Eternal torment theory," "Doctrine of trinity," "There is no evil," "No pain," "No death," "No devil," "Apostolic succession," "The end justifies the means," "Baptism of infants," "Confessions," "Purgatory," "Selling of indulgences," and many others. These stones being thrown down represented the failure of these false doctrines to provide spiritual food of sustaining value.

TOM: That must have been hard for them to take.

JOHN: It was. In fact the clergy were aroused to such a white heat by this stinging exposure that they seized upon certain statements in The Finished Mystery, then being widely distributed, in a determined effort to put the Society out of business. It was claimed that these statements were of a seditious nature. Although Canada and other countries had already been at war since 1914, this book was originally written and prepared for distribution even before the United States entered the war on


April 6, 1917. It was released to the public in July, 1917.

During this time from the fall of 1914 onward, Jehovah's witnesses had been preaching in a condition of mourning and reproach, as foretold in Revelation 11:3, Opposition from the religious leaders had been severe, but now, following the distribution of the tract Fall of Babylon, they became violent. Not only were they now out to get the Society but, like the Jewish hierarchy in the days of Jesus, they wanted the state government to do the dirty work for them. February 12, 1918, saw the beginning of governmental reaction against the Society. Canada took the lead. On that date the Watch Tower Society was banned. A public press dispatch at that time reads:

The Secretary of State, under the press censorship regulations, has issued warrants forbidding the possession in Canada of a number of publications, amongst which is the book published by the International Bible Students

fall of Babylon p75

Association, entitled "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES—The Finished Mystery," generally known as the posthumous publication of Pastor Russell. "The Bible Students Monthly," also published by this Association at its office in Brooklyn, New York, is also prohibited circulation in Canada. The possession of any prohibited books lays the possessor open to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and five years in prison.c

Later, the Winnipeg, Canada, Tribune, after mentioning the banning order we just read, said:

The banned publications are alleged to contain seditious and anti-war statements. Excerpts from one of the recent issues of "The Bible Students Monthly" were denounced from the pulpit a few weeks ago by Rev. Charles G. Paterson, Pastor of St. Stephen's Church. Afterward Attorney General Johnson sent to Rev. Paterson for a copy of the publication. The censor's order is believed to be the direct result. d


TOM: That makes it look like the Canadian clergy instigated the banning order.

JOHN: No doubt about it. It set off a chain of clergy-inspired actions that were aimed to force the governments of both the United States and Canada to destroy the Watch Tower Society and its co-workers.

TOM: What did the United States government do? They didn't place a ban on the Society, too, did they?

JOHN: No, but following the Canadian action the beginning of the international conspiracy became evident in that same February. The U. S. Army Intelligence Bureau in New York city began an investigation of the Society's headquarters. There had been an intimation of sedition, that the Society was suspected of having contact with the German enemy. Since the United States was at war with Germany and the Central Powers at that time, it was a very serious charge. It had been falsely reported to the United States government that Brooklyn Bethel headquarters was a center for transmitting messages to the German government.

LOIS: How? By an international "spy" ring?

JOHN: No, this charge was even more ridiculous. You see, in 1918, a full four years before the days of radio broadcasting, wire communications and telegraph service had been established all over the Western world; and by 1915 wireless communications had been experimented with. But such were not reliable and wireless code messages could not be sent any great distance. In 1915 someone had given Brother Russell a small wireless receiver. Although he was not too interested himself, others at Bethel headquarters had installed a small aerial on the roof of Bethel to try to pick up messages, without much success. In 1918 the receiving set was stored in a closet. At no time were messages ever broadcast from Bethel. In 1918 when two army intelligence men were going through Bethel they were taken to the roof and shown where the wireless receiver had been. Then they were shown the instrument itself packed away in storage. The brothers readily agreed to allow these army men to take away the receiving set and remove the aerial. Neither had been used for a long time, which was apparent. e

The next development came on Sunday, February 24, 1918, when Brother Rutherford delivered for the first time the lecture that later became entitled "Millions Now Living Will Never Die." This was at Los Angeles, California. f The following Thursday, February 28, the Society's large hall and quarters of the Los Angeles congregation were raided by the government, and the Society's publications were confiscated.


Already more than twenty of the Witnesses were being detained in army camps and military prisons because of the military draft. g


LOIS: Wasn't there anything the Society could do to show who was really responsible?

JOHN: Well, on March 15, 1918, the Society decided to fight back by exposing this clergy-inspired pressure that they could see now gathering against them from every quarter. It was decided to release a new publication called Kingdom News, No. 1. The Bible Students Monthly was now discontinued and something suitable to the current circumstances was provided to arouse the indignant attention of the public in the United States, Canada and Britain.

This new tract was released March 15 from New York city. As a part of its masthead appeared the caption text "The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand" and the citation, Matthew 3:2. In a box at the left were the words "Published for the promotion of Christian knowledge" and "Teach all nations." At the right were the words "Devoted to the principles of religious tolerance and Christian liberty." Its six-column-wide headline read: "Religious Intolerance— Pastor Russell's Followers Persecuted Because They Tell the People the Truth— Treatment of Bible Students Smacks of the 'Dark Ages.' " This Scripture text was given as a smaller caption: "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." Below it were set forth the facts of the persecution and the ban of the work that had begun in Canada. The responsibility of the clergy in attempting to destroy the Witnesses in that country was laid squarely at their door.h Also a report from Germany was published of persecution of the Witnesses in that country.

LOIS: If the Witnesses were being persecuted in Germany too, it should have made people realize you were not pro-German.

JOHN: Many did know that. But you must remember, Lois, feeling was running high and Jehovah's witnesses were an unpopular minority. However, in regard to the U. S. military draft this statement appeared:

We recognize that the United States government, being a political and economic institution, has the power and authority, under its fundamental law, to declare war and to draft its citizens into military service. We have no disposition to interfere with the draft or the war in any manner. The fact that some of our members have sought to take advantage of the protection of the law, has been used as another means of persecution.

Kingdom News, No. 1, also stated the belief of the Bible Students concerning war. In addition, a report was given concerning the wireless that had been removed from Bethel and the needless investigation that the government had made of the Society's headquarters. The paper concluded with a report on the seventh volume, The Finished Mystery, and the clergy's objection to it. Almost the entire back page was devoted to a striking advertisement encouraging the people of New York city to attend a lecture on March 24 entitled "'The World Has Ended, Millions Now Living May Never Die!'—A free lecture by Hon. J. F. Rutherford, member New York state bar." This lecture, the same Brother Rutherford had delivered for the first time in Los Angeles the preceding February, drew an attendance of 3,000 interested persons. i It was a talk that held great interest for the public and proved to be the first public announcement given to a great crowd of persons due to come out of modern-day


Babylon into a way of endless life. Many took notice of that announcement at that early date.

You will remember that the release of The Finished Mystery in July, 1917, had precipitated among those at Bethel a division that spread to many congregations. In spite of this, however, those of the faithful anointed continued active, and, during 1918, Rutherford reported later 7,000 Witnesses had been busily engaged in placing The Finished Mystery. j Uncounted others distributed tracts and handbills at the homes of the people and gave personal witness verbally.

LOIS: It must have taken considerable conviction for the Witnesses to come out so openly against the popular religious systems, especially with the strong opposition they faced.

JOHN: It took courage and faith to put out this Kingdom News in all parts of the country. The anger of the religious leaders had already stirred them to open acts against the Watch Tower Society; now any further exposure was certain to bring even more intensified action on their part. But the Witnesses realized the people must be given the facts for their own protection. Eventually everyone was going to have to assume his own individual role in regard to God's purpose. So, even if the clergy could not be stopped in their fight against the Society, it was seen to be necessary to expose them.


The 1918 annual celebration of the Lord's Supper had passed, and April 15 arrived. So did Kingdom News, No. 2. This contained an even stronger message against the religious-political conspiracy that was aimed at destroying the Society. The streamer headline read: "The Finished Mystery and Why Suppressed—Clergymen Take a Hand." This paper showed the action of the clergy in encouraging government agencies to harass the Society, to make arrests, to object to The Finished Mystery and cause the brothers to cut out certain pages from the book, which really was a compromise. The paper explained why the clergy were opposing the Witnesses so bitterly and it painted their action in its true colors— religious intolerance. This issue of Kingdom News repeated the stand the Witnesses had taken on war and explained their belief as to what constituted the true church. Demonstrating the international scope of this conspiracy, Kingdom News, No. 2, contained a quotation from a paper published in Copenhagen, Denmark, respecting clerical persecution of the Witnesses in Germany. It reads:

A warning against the Millennium sect. The Consistory of Kiel (Holstein, Germany) is calling the attention of the (Lutheran) priests to the activities carried on by the Millennium sect, which calls itself "Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society," and also "Bible Students Association." The imperial war department has recently requested us to keep a watchful eye on the activities of this sect, which consist in selling the writings of its founder, the lately deceased Pastor Russell, of Brooklyn, North America, in untiring propaganda work, accomplished with American money. The Consistory does, therefore, call the priests' attention to this sect and requests that they take action against it and report to the Consistory their observations of its dangerous activities.

This time, too, the brothers went farther in their efforts to counteract the influence of the clergy. In connection with the distribution of this issue of Kingdom News, a petition was circulated addressed to United States President Wilson.

We, the undersigned Americans, hold that any interference by the clergy with independent Bible study is intolerant, un-American and un-Christian; and that any attempt to combine Church and State is radically wrong. In the interest of liberty and religious freedom, we solemnly protest against the suppression of The Finished Mystery, and petition the Govern-


ment to remove all restrictions as to its use, that the people may be permitted without interference or molestation to buy, sell, have and read this aid to Bible study. k

May 1, 1918, the Society released Kingdom News, No. 3, as the enemy began closing in for the final blow they thought would silence the Witnesses forever. This issue carried the significant headline "Two Great Battles Raging—Fall of Autocracy Certain—Satanic Strategy Doomed to Failure —The Birth of Antichrist." It specialized on the Seed of Promise versus the seed of Satan. Tracing the antichrist from its birth to the current deeds of the apostate hands of the Catholic and Protestant clergy, it revealed that such agents of the Devil were out now to destroy the remnant of Christ's seed, the anointed ones who follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

In a report that he wrote in later years, Judge Rutherford repeated a statement that had been made to him by General James Franklin Bell, commander of Camp Upton, Long Island, New York. Bell told Rutherford about a conference of clergymen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1917, who had appointed a committee to go to Washington, D.C., in the interests of an amendment they favored to the Espionage Law. If passed, all cases against the Espionage Law would have been tried before a military court with the death penalty imposed as punishment. Then Bell stated to Rutherford with considerable feeling: "That bill did not pass, because Wilson vetoed it; but we know how to get you and we are going to do it!"1


LOIS: That was an open threat, wasn't it?

JOHN: And not an idle one either. Within a few days of the release of Kingdom News, No. 3, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a warrant for the arrest of eight of the Society's principal servants at Bethel headquarters. They were J. F. Rutherford, W. E. Van Amburgh, A. H. Macmillan, R. J. Martin, C. J. Woodworth, G. H. Fisher, F. H. Robison and G. DeCecca. This was on May 7, 1918. On that day the forty-two months or 1,260 days of Revelation 11:2, 3 ended. That period of witnessing, as it were, in the "sackcloth" of mourning had begun during the first half of the month of November, 1914, and now three and a half years later it was being killed by Satan's symbolic "wild beast," as Revelation 11:7 foretold. Warrants were served the following day by U. S. Marshal Power, and the eight men were arraigned in Federal Court, Judge Garvin presiding. It was charged m they—

Unlawfully and feloniously did conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, and with divers other persons to the said Grand Jurors unknown, to commit a certain offense against the United States of America, to wit: the offense of unlawfully, feloniously and wilfully causing insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States of America when the United States was at war ... by personal solicitations, letters, public speeches, distributing and publicly circulating throughout the United States of America a certain book called "Volume VII. Bible Studies. The Finished Mystery," and distributing and publicly circulating throughout the United States certain articles printed in pamphlets called "Bible Student's Monthly," "Watch Tower," "Kingdom News" and other pamphlets not named. n

Voicing the feeling of all religious clergy at this turn of events, the Roman Catholic periodical of Brooklyn, The Tablet, published this ominous prophecy on May 11: "Kingdom News spread around—some may go to jail."


TOM: That headline sounds like distribution of the Kingdom News had annoyed them somewhat.

JOHN: The Catholic article goes further.

Joseph F. Rutherford and some of his colleagues are likely to pass their summer months in a villa where they will be protected from mobs who insult them by asking them to buy liberty bonds. ... It is quite interesting to note that Rutherford and all their ilk who take delight in going into convulsions over the [Catholic] Church are always being pursued by government officers. Anti-Catholicism and anti-Americanism seem to be twins.

Anyway, the trial was set for Monday, June 3. Judge Garvin, who was the first one appointed to take the case, was biased and asked to be excused. This automatically transferred the case to Judge Chatfield, who was also dismissed. Finally the government brought in United States District Judge Harlan B. Howe from Vermont. o The trial lasted fifteen days and voluminous testimony was recorded. It was later demonstrated that the trial contained over 125 errors, only a few of which were needed by the Appellate Court ultimately to condemn the entire procedure as unfair. p


Remember, these were war years. Bands were playing and soldiers were marching in the streets around nearby Brooklyn Borough Hall. The public sentiment was strictly in favor of anything that would further the war effort. It is no wonder that the trial of the controversial "Bible Students" on a sedition charge would attract considerable attention. Finally, on Thursday, June 20, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. On June 21, just after noon, seven of the brothers were sentenced to eighty years' imprisonment, twenty years each on four different counts to run concurrently. Their sentence was to be served in the United States penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. q Giovanni DeCecca was sentenced later to ten years on each of the same four counts.

The trial judge, in sentencing the first seven officials of the Society, stated:

A person preaching religion usually has much influence and if he is sincere he is all the more effective.

Commenting on this, the New York Post on June 21, 1918, editorially said:

After uttering these words, Judge H. B. Howe. of the United States District Court in Brooklyn, sentenced the religious persons before him to twenty years each in prison. It was necessary, he said, to make an example of those who sincerely taught this religion, which, like that of the Mennonites and the Quakers and many other sects, forbids the taking up of arms. They were guilty, plainly, of having urged men to follow what they considered the teachings of the Lord, and to apply literally the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." So the jury could do nothing less than find them guilty of having violated the statutes of the country, whatever may be the correctness or incorrectness of their attitude toward the moral and religious law. We trust that teachers of religion everywhere will take notice of this judge's opinion that teaching any religion save that which is absolutely in accord with statute laws is a grave crime which is intensified if, being a minister of the Gospel, you should still happen to be sincere. There is no doubt that Judge Howe made his sentences severe enough; they are about double those imposed by the Kaiser upon the Socialists who have been trying to upset his wicked regime, and three times longer than many sentences imposed upon would-be regicides. r

Also reporting on their sentence the New York Tribune of June 22, 1918, stated:

Joseph F. Rutherford and six of the other "Russellites," convicted of violation of the Espionage Act, were sentenced to 20 years in the Atlanta penitentiary yesterday, by Judge Howe. "This is the happiest day of my life," said Mr. Rutherford on his way from the court to the jail, "to serve earthly punishment for the sake of one's religious belief is one of the greatest privileges a man could have." One of the strangest demonstrations that the Marshal's Office in the Brooklyn Federal Court


has ever seen, was held by the families and intimate friends of the convicted men soon after the prisoners had been taken to the Grand Jury room. The whole company made the old building ring with the strains of "Blessed Be the Tie That Binds." "It is all God's will," they told each other, with faces almost radiant. "Some day the world will know what all this means. Meanwhile, let us be thankful for the grace of God that has sustained us through our trials, and look forward to the Great Day that is to come."

The condemned brothers tried twice to obtain bail but each time were thwarted, first by Judge Howe and later by Judge Martin T. Manton. While these attempts were being made they were held in Brooklyn jail. On July 3, the day before they were taken to the Atlanta penitentiary, Brother Rutherford wrote a letter to the brothers who were left in charge at Bethel. Along with his words of encouragement was this warning:

We are advised that seven who opposed the Society and its work during the past year attended upon the trial and lent aid to our prosecutors. We warn you, beloved, against the subtle efforts of some of them to fawn upon you now in an attempt to get hold of the Society.s

One marked incident in the trial was the commitment of Witness William F. Hudgings for contempt. Hudgings testified on the stand that he was unable to recall a specific occasion when he had ever seen two of the defendants in the act of writing, whereupon the court characterized his testimony as untruthful and committed him to jail, where he was kept for six months.

TOM: That sounds like pretty highhanded treatment.

JOHN: It was. Finally a writ of habeas corpus was obtained through the U. S. Supreme Court and his release was granted upon payment of bail. In granting the petition for a writ of habeas corpus Chief Justice White, according to the New York Evening Sun, declared William Hudgings' imprisonment "outrageous." The paper stated:

Word was received in Brooklyn today that by order of Chief Justice White, of the U.S. Supreme Court, William F. Hudgings, secretary of the Watch Tower Bible Students' Society, who has been in jail for contempt of court since June 11, will be released on bail. Chief Justice White called Hudgings' incarceration for contempt of court "outrageous, unfair and unwarranted."

This is just one instance of the prejudice and bias manifested by the judge of this court during the trial. t


LOIS: That must have been a severe time on Jehovah's witnesses. What kind of treatment did they receive in other parts of the country?

JOHN: Persecution was intense. Some time after this, early in 1919, a tract called "The Case of the International Bible Students Association" was released. We have quoted a number of times from it already. This tract gives a full report of the clergy-laity opposition: the false charge of sedition against the brothers, the campaign of the Kingdom News we have just considered and then finally the description of the persecution upon Jehovah's witnesses all over the United States. Similar treatment of the Witnesses was experienced in Canada and elsewhere, including Germany. Here is the report of some of the atrocities committed:

International Bible students in all parts of the country have suffered persecution for their fidelity to the Lord and their zeal in declaring the blessings that are coming to mankind through his kingdom. In a town in the State of Oregon the Mayor and two clergymen organized a mob, chased one of the lecturers of the Association out of the city and followed him to a neighboring town. The lecturer escaped, but the mob caught the friend who accompanied him and covered him with a coat of grease and tar.

In the State of Washington one Bible Stu-


dent was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for sending a copy of THE FINISHED MYSTERY through the mail. In Globe, Arizona, two men were chased out of the town, finally caught and thrown into jail because they had copies of THE FINISHED MYSTERY. At San Bernardino, California, three men and one lady (colporteurs of these religious books) were arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, because they were offering for sale THE FINISHED MYSTERY, a strictly Bible commentary, and that after the pages in question had been removed. At Oklahoma City some colporteurs were tarred, feathered and beaten with clubs. In Arkansas one lady was arrested, thrown into a filthy jail and kept there for some days without bond. One man and his wife in the same place were jailed for days without even any charge ever being made against them. In other places some were taken to creeks in the night time and ducked in the cold water, and everything in their homes destroyed. In Colorado a man wearing a uniform of an army officer broke up quiet meetings for Bible study. In Wheeling, West Virginia, officers threatened the Bible Students with imprisonment unless they surrendered to the officers all their books, the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.

At Los Angeles clergymen made their boasts that the Bible Students would be arrested and held without bond. Some of these clergymen went about to owners of apartment houses and tried to induce the owners to dispossess tenants who are members of the International Bible Students Association. A raid was made upon the headquarters of the Bible Students in that city, and all their literature, including Bibles and hymn books, was seized and carried away. Twenty-six of the Students were arrested for having in their possession THE FINISHED MYSTERY and KINGDOM NEWS, and were put to great expense of money and time defending themselves in Court. The trial resulted in a disagreement of the jury; and these men are still under bail, awaiting a second trial. At Portland, Oregon, a Bible Student was arrested and held in jail twenty-four hours. The case was dismissed by the United States Commissioner because it was so manifestly an outrage.

One noted evangelist stated: "We have been for thirty years trying to get these Russellites and now we have them."

The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, headed by Dr. Torrey, has persisted in the persecution of the International Bible Students from pulpit and by printed pamphlets.u

Here are some other cases taken from an extensive report of the extreme persecution the Witnesses received during this period:

April 30, 1918, at Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, Mrs. Minna B. Franke was mobbed and compelled to close out a $10,000 stock in one day and leave town. At Garfield, Washington, Donald Main and Mr. Ish were jailed and threatened with death. At Minerva, Ohio, S. H. Griffin was first jailed and then released to a mob, then lectured fifteen minutes by the minister, then struck repeatedly, cursed, kicked, trodden upon, threatened with hanging and with drowning, driven from town, spit upon, tripped repeatedly, jabbed repeatedly with an umbrella, forbidden to ride, followed five miles to Malvern, Ohio, rearrested, jailed for safety at Carrollton and finally taken home by brave and faithful officials who, after examining his literature, said, in so many words, "We find no fault in this man." . . .

March 14, 1918, at Pomona, California, J. Eagleston was jailed fifteen days in prison tanks, four of them with no bed or mattress, insufficient covering and insufficient food. When the jury disagreed, 5 to 7, the Judge said in open court, "If there is no law to settle these cases, they will be settled, if it is done by the American people themselves." What did this Judge want done by the American people?

April 17, 1918, at Shawnee, Oklahoma, G. N. Fenn, George M. Brown, L. S. Rogers, W. F. Glass, E. T. Grier and J. T. Tull were jailed. During the trial the Prosecuting Attorney said, "To hell with your Bible; you ought to be in hell with your back broken; you ought to be hung." When G. F. Wilson, of Oklahoma City, attempted to act as counsel for the defense he was also arrested. Each was fined $55 and costs; offense, distributing Protestant literature. The trial Judge encouraged mob action following the trial, but the mobs were foiled. . . .

In June, 1918, at Roanoke, Virginia, C. W. Morris was jailed three months for being "a strict adherent of the Pastor Russell sect" and was warned that if, after his release, he preached his doctrine he would receive much worse treatment. In fulfillment of this, in the same city, February 15, 1920, Alex. H. Macmillan was jailed by the Mayor, without warrant or charge, at the hour when he was advertised to lecture to the public on the topic, "Christ's Second Coming Near; Millions Now Living Will Never Die." . . .

April 30, 1918, at Brownstown, Indiana, Curtis Plummer was threatened and coerced by a mob composed of the county sheriff and business men. . . .

June 5, 1918, at Indianapolis, Indiana, William Darby, after thirty-two and one-half years of


honorable service as a letter carrier, was discharged by J. C. Koons, First Assistant Postmaster General, for the offense of being a Christian; no other details available. At Fontanelle, Iowa, Etta Van Wagenen was forcibly driven from town by a banker and another silk hat anarchist. Subsequently, men in the uniforms of officers of the United States Army endeavored in vain to force her employer to dismiss her. At Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, A. L. Tucker was driven penniless out of town by a mob of ten men, which included his own banker with whom he then had funds on deposit. He was forced to leave the county and sell his property at great loss.

In March, 1918, at Shattuck, Oklahoma, J. B. Siebenlist, a native American, was jailed three days without warrant and without food, except three pieces of spoiled cornbread, was taken from jail by the mob, stripped, tarred with hot tar and whipped with a buggy-whip having a wire at its end, for the offense of applying at the depot for a package of Protestant literature. April 22, 1918, at Wynnewood, Oklahoma, Claud Watson was first jailed and then deliberately released to a mob composed of preachers, business men and a few others that knocked him down, caused a negro to whip him and, when he had partially recovered, to whip him again. They then poured tar and feathers all over him, rubbing the tar into his hair and scalp. April 29, 1918, at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, W. B. Duncan, 61 years of age, Edward French, Charles Franke, a Mr. Griffin and Mrs. D. Van Hoesen were jailed. The jail was broken into by a mob that used the most vile and obscene language, whipped, tarred, feathered and drove them from town. Duncan was compelled to walk twenty-six miles to his home and barely recovered. Griffin was virtually blinded and died from the assault a few months later. v


LOIS: It is difficult to imagine Christian people being treated like that in modern times, especially in this country.

JOHN: Other reports on file at Bethel in New York reveal that brothers were dragged through the city because they refused to buy war bonds and were otherwise shamefully dealt with. Some were harassed on the streets, publicly spat upon, many tarred and feathered and otherwise reproached in every way possible. All of this occurred in the spring and summer of 1918. Truly "war was made on them" by pressure of the political powers to overcome them and kill them.

TOM: With Judge Rutherford and his associates in prison, what happened to the operation of your headquarters?

JOHN: An executive committee was appointed to head the Society. The chief work of the five brothers appointed was to serve as an editorial committee to keep the Watch Tower magazine in circulation, w since the brothers everywhere needed all the encouragement that could be given them during this time of overwhelming opposition. Yet during all this period not one issue of The Watch Tower failed to appear.

Many problems were encountered, however, such as the shortage of paper supplies and coal, vitally needed for the work at headquarters. Animosity against the Society in Brooklyn was great. Patriotism was running high. All the Witnesses were viewed as traitors. It seemed impossible any more to continue operations at Brooklyn Bethel. In view of all these things the committee of five decided in consultation with other brothers to sell the Brooklyn Tabernacle building and close the Bethel home. This meant disbanding the Brooklyn headquarters in the summer of 1918 and moving back to Pittsburgh to an office building at Federal and Reliance Streets. x

Thus it was that by the summer of 1918 the once firm and strong voice of the Witnesses for Jehovah and his kingdom was silenced. Their organized work was figuratively killed and deathlike inactivity came over this once energetic band of Christians. Exiled, as it were, from Brooklyn headquarters on August 26, 1918, they came to be firmly held in bondage by their Babylonish captors. Figuratively, at least, the work was dead.

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