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Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose

CHAPTER 20

The Battle of the Air Waves Opens a New Field

JOHN: The strategic location of radio station WBBR made possible another means of thwarting the illegal methods of the local public officials in the New Jersey area. The Society had at Bethel a group of trained radio performers known as the "Kings Theater." These brothers were trained in radio speaking and radio drama. In the course of the years they performed Bible dramas such as Ruth, Esther, Joseph and his brothers and so on, all of which were well received by the radio audience. But now an opportunity presented itself to use the "Kings Theater" in the battle of New Jersey to assist the brothers who had been arrested. a An example is this announcement that appeared in the Special Bulletin for June, 1933.


The drama "Defying Jehovah", which is an actual reproduction of the trial of our brethren at Summit, N. J., recently, will be broadcast from the studios of WBBR on Sunday morning, June 18.


This is the way it was done. When court trials were held where the publishers were being tried for their preaching work in connection with the divisional campaign, some of Jehovah's witnesses who were stenographers would attend the session and record the proceedings. Many of the local judges were Catholic. Furthermore, they did not hesitate to manifest their prejudice publicly in the courtroom. Many would use uncouth language and even betray their clerical allies, who were trying to remain in the background and hide their part in pressing the opposition against the Witnesses. All these spicy courtroom exchanges went down in stenographic shorthand notes. Then other brothers, trained performers, would also attend these same trials to study the voice, the intonations of the judge and the boastful words of the prosecuting attorney with the object of re-enacting as accurately as possible the entire procedure.

Within a few days after the trial the Kings Theater would be able to duplicate over the air these courtroom scenes with remarkable realism down to the finest detail. Then, to accomplish the desired result, a special effort was made to notify all the New Jersey people to listen at the designated time. It proved to be an amazing revelation to the public as to the corruption of justice that was going on in these Catholic towns of New Jersey. In time the judges became frightened with this floodlight of publicity turned upon them and upon the misguided police and prosecutors, and many became more astute as to their handling of Jehovah's witnesses.

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THREE PETITIONS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION

Another legal avenue used by the Witnesses during this battle of the air waves was the right of petition. Late in 1933 and into 1934 Jehovah's witnesses circulated a nationwide petition addressed to the United States congress in Washington, D.C., vigorously protesting against Catholic intimidation and threats to freedom of speech over the radio. Weeks of house-to-house work were utilized in presenting the facts to the public and inviting them to sign the petition. As a result 2,416,141 signatures were obtained.

Then arrangements were made to file the petition in Washington on January 24, 1934. The petition sheets were so sorted into congressional districts that they could be turned over to the proper congressman or senator. Signatures were available for each of the 435 representatives or congressmen and the ninety-six senators in the two houses of Congress. These packages were cartoned and carried by one of the Society's large trucks to Washington, D.C., where certain brothers from miles around had been invited to assemble to share in the distribution. It had been observed that most congressmen would come to their offices between ten and eleven to pick up their mail before going to the chambers for the house session, which began at noon. Each brother was assigned to one congressman or senator, advised what to say in introducing the petition and given a letter to accompany the names in his package. In their various car groups the brothers proceeded to the two buildings housing the offices of the senators and representatives of Congress. The entire petition was delivered within a few minutes' time.

A bill had been introduced in Congress to prevent discrimination, boycott and other threatening methods to hinder the broadcasting of programs in the public interest. Through its spokesman, the Society submitted a volume of evidence in support of the petition. Congress then enacted a law placing all electrical communications under one new administrative agency, the Federal Communications Commission. This commission was to be comprised of nine men, and all radio facilities in the United States would be under the supervision of this commission. It was to set forth the rules and regulations to guide radio broadcasting and to maintain freedom of worship over the air. b

TOM: That should have eased the situation considerably for you.

JOHN: But it didn't. On October 4, 1934, the Watch Tower Society's president appeared personally before this new federal agency in Washington, D.C., and presented a report of the facts, demonstrating by specific instances and statistics that Catholic pressure had seriously impaired our freedom of worship and the use of the radio in public interests. The interference of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy with the broadcasting service of Jehovah's witnesses had resulted in a considerable drop in the number of broadcasts for 1934 over the previous year. In 1934 we had 20,743 lectures. But that was 3,040 less than our peak year of 1933. c

Although the facts were clear, after the testimony was taken by the Federal Communications Commission they did little about it. Another petition was circulated throughout the United States in a continued fight for freedom of speech and worship. This petition was also addressed to Congress and presented in January, 1935, with 2,284,128 signatures. d The decline in total number of broadcasts continued into 1935, with a decrease of 2,536 lectures over

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the previous year's decline. That meant only 18,287 broadcasts were possible that year.

Next, it was decided that a nationwide convention be called to assemble at Washington, D.C., May 30 to June 3, 1935. Brother Rutherford was scheduled to speak before the Federal Communications Commission on June 3, so in addition to providing needed spiritual food for the brothers, it seemed advisable to arrange this convention to back up Brother Rutherford's appearance. More than 20,000 persons gathered to hear his timely public talk entitled "Government," delivered Sunday, June 2, at the Washington Auditorium and broadcast simultaneously throughout the world.

The day following, as scheduled, the Society's president filed a brief before the Federal Communications Commission pressing for further action in defense of free speech, e but both the second petition presented to Congress and the brief filed by the Society's president went unheeded.

Early in 1936 a letter was written by a Roman Catholic priest to a radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although it was no different in tone and purpose from hundreds of others being sent to radio stations all over the United States, this particular letter set off a chain of events that makes it worthy of our attention. Here is what it said:


Church of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Holy Ghost Fathers, 714 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia. 15th Feb. 1936. Station W. I. P., Gimbel Bros., Philada, Dear Sirs

As a Catholic Clergyman & as Pastor of the above named Church, in the name of my Parishioners, I protest Against you allowing broadcasting facilities to Judge Rutherford next Sunday afternoon at 3 P M or any other time. My reasons for this protest are that Judge Rutherford attacks the Catholic Church misrepresents her teachings & foments religious hatred & bigotry. If the said Judge is allowed to speak next Sunday afternoon please take My name off your Charge Account list, because I will never spend another Penny in Gimbel Bros store. The surprise is that you would allow such a broadcast & thereby expose a very large per cent of your customers to open insult & ridicule. Hoping you will take the necessary action. Respectfully (Rev.) James J Clarke Pastor. f


Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, of Philadelphia, the highest authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, endorsed the letter of Mr. Clarke and threatened to take "further and more drastic action" if the broadcasting of Judge Rutherford was permitted to continue. Here is the letter from his office to that effect.


CHANCERY OFFICE, 1712 Summer Street, Philadelphia. April 30, 1936. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Having consulted His Eminence, Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, regarding the letter of Rev. James J. Clarke, C. S. Sp., rector of the Church of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Philadelphia, he informed me that this letter has his entire approval, and that His Eminence joins in the protest; moreover, that he will take further and more drastic action if the broadcasting of Judge Rutherford is permitted to continue.

Dennis Cardinal Dougherty is Archbishop of Philadelphia. [Signed] J. Carroll McCormick, CHANCELLOR Archdiocese of Philadelphia. g


This threat of boycott and "further and more drastic action" hit Gimbel Brothers on an exposed tender spot, the financial nerve, and in spite of the preceding ten years' pleasant relations with Jehovah's witnesses they succumbed to the bullying tactics and ceased broadcasting the Bible lectures of Judge Rutherford.

As a countermove, publicizing this highhanded action, Judge Rutherford and the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society filed two separate law suits, each for $100,000, against Dennis Dougherty, James J. Clarke, J. Carroll McCormick, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a corporation. h Also, a petition was circulat-

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ed by Jehovah's witnesses in the Philadelphia area requesting station WIP to arrange a debate between Judge Rutherford and some high Roman Catholic official. The petition, signed by 119,558 persons, was delivered to Gimbel Brothers on September 1, 1936, but was not acted upon. The five Philadelphia newspapers even refused to print a paid advertisement, which read:


Public Notice is hereby given to and on behalf of the 119,558 signers that Benedict Gimbel, Jr., president of the Pennsylvania Broadcasting Company (Station WIP), was presented yesterday afternoon by attorneys for the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society with the following PETITION To Gimbel's Radio Station WIP, Philadelphia:

The undersigned consistent listeners to your radio station have, for a long while, very much enjoyed your broadcasts, including speeches by Judge Rutherford in Watch Tower programs. Now we are informed that WIP no longer broadcasts those speeches because of strenuous protests to you by high officials of the Roman Catholic church, and that those protests are based upon the claim that Judge Rutherford "misrepresents the teachings of that church and foments religious hatred and bigotry."

Many believe that Judge Rutherford does not misrepresent the teachings of any organization. Since Catholic officials object, why not have their teachings discussed publicly and broadcast by WIP, Judge Rutherford taking one side, and some high Roman Catholic official the opposite side? Surely there is nothing of greater public interest, convenience and necessity than the teachings of the Bible concerning the salvation of humanity, as that is the question involved. Every fair-minded person is vitally interested. We therefore petition you and hope you will arrange for such public discussion and also continue Judge Rutherford's broadcasts on WIP. i


Now, following up this Philadelphia petition, in a national campaign, a third and final attempt was called for in protest of the inactivity of the government in this vital matter of free speech. This petition read:


PETITION To the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION and RADIO STATIONS of the UNITED STATES

The Roman Catholic Press protests the broadcasting of Judge Rutherford's speeches by radio for the reason, as claimed, that he misrepresents the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning the salvation of the human race. Millions of persons claim that he does not misrepresent such teachings, and many others are confused as to what is the truth.

Because salvation of mankind is of such vital importance to all persons and because we want to hear the truth of the matter reasonably and fairly discussed, and for the general interest, convenience and necessity of the people, and because a petition similar to this has been addressed to Radio Station WIP Philadelphia;

WE THEREFORE earnestly request that a public debate of this matter be arranged, one side to be taken by a high official of the Roman Catholic Church, and the opposite side by Judge Rutherford; and we petition the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION to exercise its authority, under Section 303, paragraph (g), of the Communications Act of 1934, to "encourage the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest" in this behalf; and we petition the radio stations of the United States to broadcast such debate on a nationwide chain, including the station in the vicinity of the signers respectively. j


In due course this third national petition was gathered and 2,630,001 signers thereby voiced their protest against the un-American action of intimidation and boycott that had been so widespread. The petition was filed with the Federal Communications Commission at Washington, D.C., November 2, 1936. k Again the request of millions of signers went unheeded. 1

THE RECORDED MESSAGE IN FACE-TO-FACE PREACHING

LOIS: It's surprising, with all that pressure and curtailing of the radio broadcasts, that the work itself didn't decrease.

TOM: But you remember, Lois, John said the Society was already using transcription recordings in public and private gatherings to circumvent this unlawful opposition of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy.

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JOHN: I'm glad you remembered that, because the work the Society had begun with transcription records proved even more effective than the radio work had been. In fact, the results in 1933 had been so promising that the Society began to produce another service the following year. That was the use of the portable phonograph and short recorded Bible lectures. These were 78-rpm discs with 4½-minute talks. m

At first this medium was confined almost altogether to calling back where interest had been found. But eventually it became widely used in the house-to-house preaching as well because of its effectiveness. With the phonograph an effective face-to-face presentation of the message was attained. This enabled the Witnesses to answer the questions that were in the minds of the people, and since the recordings were made at headquarters, a uniform message was being delivered all over the world.

Then it was, in 1937, that a historic decision was made in the use of radio communication. Jehovah's witnesses voluntarily withdrew from the air.

This did not mean that the Society had lost the battle of the air waves, because a number of times that year, and on later occasions, the president of the Society delivered important public lectures over a network of radio stations. In fact, at a convention of Jehovah's witnesses that year in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, September 18, Brother Rutherford's address to an audience of 25,000 people was broadcast throughout the United States, practically all of North America, England, continental Europe and Australia. The following day his public lecture on the subject "Safety" was carried throughout the United States through the facilities of 135 radio stations.

Then, September 26, the Sunday following that last day of the convention, the Society's president broadcast a lecture entitled "Worshiping God" over a nationwide network of 125 radio stations. It was in this address that Brother Rutherford set forth the reasons why the Society was voluntarily withdrawing from the air. His official report of the year's activity details these reasons, citing the ten-year program of boycott and intimidation that had been practiced by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy and other clergymen and drawing attention to the fact—


that because of such wrongful methods used petitions were filed by millions of American citizens with Congress and with the Federal Radio Commission, demanding that action be taken to prohibit interference with WATCH TOWER programs; that nothing whatsoever had been done to cause such persecution and interference to stop, but, on the contrary, the public officials of the United States government, owners of radio stations, and others had conspired and acted together to hinder and prevent the broadcasting of the Kingdom message; that for this reason the radio has up to this time served as a test to owners and operators and to the officials of the government of the United States, and particularly to the clergy, all of whom have shown their opposition to God's kingdom under Christ; that by this test all of those opponents have identified themselves as the enemies of God and his kingdom, and therefore the radio appears to have fully served God's purpose in giving warning to the peoples of the nation and in serving to divide the people and force the opponents to declare themselves against God's kingdom and thus identify themselves as members of the Devil's organization . n


After October 31, 1937, the Society would withdraw from all commercial radio broadcasting contracts. WBBR was to continue in operation and any free time offered voluntarily by radio stations would be accepted as an evidence of good will and would be utilized for the advancement of the Kingdom message. So ended the battle of the air waves.

TOM: Did Jehovah's witnesses concentrate on transcription meetings and use of the phonograph after that?

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JOHN: Yes. Now their time, their money and their efforts were poured into this new work with the same zeal they had felt for the medium of radio. As a result, the phonograph work began to blossom out and become a potent force in the preaching work. In 1937 there were 10,368,569 persons reported as having heard these recorded lectures either publicly or privately, whereas for 1938 this number had grown to 13,070,426. By 1938, too, there were 430,000 recorded lectures in sixteen languages besides English in use on 19,676 sound machines. o The Witnesses were becoming well armed in this new phase of the battle in defense of true worship.

TOM: I can imagine your enemies would not permit this new activity to go by unnoticed.

JOHN: They certainly did not. There had been embarrassment enough to them in the numbers who had responded to the recorded message of God's kingdom broadcast over the air waves. Now this same message was going into the homes of the people on the phonograph, enabling those who heard the talks to ask questions of those playing the recordings. In this way truthful Bible answers could be given them. This made it clear that, instead of a retreat, the maneuver of Jehovah's witnesses in withdrawing from the air was a flank attack that seemed destined to result in even greater embarrassment and loss to their religious opposers. This phonographic voice that had started quietly in 1933 was now producing such thunderous effects that these bitter religious opposers began to realize their radio censorship stranglehold had been frustrated.

Then, on April 26, 1938, in the state of Connecticut, an angry voice of protest was raised. One of Jehovah's witnesses was arrested with his two minor sons on the charge of disturbing the peace in a Catholic neighborhood by playing the phonograph record "Enemies" in the homes of the people. Carried into the Connecticut courts on the complaint of two Roman Catholics, this brother was convicted. This raised the question not only in Connecticut but throughout the entire country: Would Jehovah's witnesses be allowed to continue this program of public education by this effective means? This issue was not to be settled for another two years p and not until several important developments were to take place in the structure of the New World society.

AN EXPANDED MINISTRY TAKES FORM

Meanwhile, another aspect of the preaching commission was developing. We have already discussed in some detail the service from 1874 to 1914 when a work of gathering Jehovah's anointed ones was under way. During the "sackcloth" period of witnessing, from 1914 to 1918, this work continued though with diminishing results. Then, when true worship was restored in 1919 and the New World society came into existence, the call still continued to those who would make up the Kingdom company of joint heirs with Christ. Although Jehovah had come to his temple in 1918 and had begun judgment of this anointed class, still others must be brought in, because some were found unworthy and they must be replaced. The evidences show that this continued until especially 1931, when there began a work of gathering those recognized as "other sheep" of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It had been known and taught from the beginning of Pastor Russell's ministry that, in addition to those who would inherit heavenly life as joint heirs with Christ, mankind in general would be restored to perfect life on earth. But for a long time

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The Watch Tower had published the view that another group would yet finally come in God's favor who would also be blessed with spirit life in heaven but on a secondary plane to that of the joint heirs of Christ. These, it was claimed, would form the "great multitude" spoken of in Revelation 7:9, AV. Now at the 1935 convention in Washington, D.C., to which the "Jonadabs" had specially been invited in the Watchtower notice, Scriptural evidence was produced to prove conclusively that the great multitude of Revelation 7:9 was identical with the Jonadab class or the sheep class of Matthew 25:31-46. It had been recognized as early as 1923 that these sheep were an earthly group who appear in the world's "time of the end," and in 1932 that this class of sheep had been prefigured in the prophetic drama of Jehu and Jonadab, wherein King Jehu pictured Christ Jesus and the remnant of his spiritual brothers, whereas Jonadab represented the class of persons of good will associated with Christ in his destruction of apostate religion and who were destined to live on earth after Armageddon. This made it quite clear that the great multitude of Revelation 7:9 could not be a secondary spiritual class at all, but was the "other sheep" of this "time of the end." q Needless to say, this realization brought great joy to the thousands of those who were in attendance and greatly simplified Biblical doctrine and teachings.

For 1900 years the Christian congregation had specialized on its heavenly hope. True, the public speaking campaigns and the Photo-Drama of Creation had done much to arouse interest in God's purpose to restore peaceful conditions to men on the earth, and the campaign "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" from 1918 to 1921 was a step in the direction of reaching this class destined one day to populate the earth. But a gathering of them was not stressed. For that reason The Watch Tower continued to provide spiritual food designed particularly for the remnant. But now, from 1935 forward, a change began to take place. Not only must the spiritual food provided for God's people be directed to these spirit-begotten ones but it must also now supply nourishment fit to strengthen those whose Scriptural hopes were entirely earthly. No longer were the remnant going into the field looking for just the scattered sheep of Jehovah's anointed ones. Now these ministers must begin to look for the "other sheep." They must prepare for bringing to Christ's fold the many "other sheep" eagerly seeking the divine will and ready to perform whatever was given them to do.

This proved to be a real test to some of those who claimed to be of the anointed remnant. More interested in themselves and their own salvation than they were in the outworking of God's purposes, they rebelled at this new responsibility placed upon them and some fell by the wayside, as some of the "elective elders" had done. The vast majority of the remnant, however, eagerly accepted this opportunity to manifest their love for Jehovah God and their earthly "neighbors" and took up this expanded preaching commission with the zeal characteristic of God's servants down through the centuries. But startling as this revelation was, it was nearly ten years before this new campaign was able to make good progress.



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