HOW THE ORGANIZATION HAS LASTED THIS LONG?
By Mary From The JWN Site.
For decades, the Organization rolled along, safe in the knowledge that they had an 70 or 80 year window with which to rule a pliable flock. The entire religion was built on the notion that The End was imminent and they were lucky enough to have World War I, then the Great Depression, then World War II and the Holocaust to help bolster their claims of how rotten the world was.
From the 1870s onward, Charles Russell was not unlike many others of his day who had an interest in the bible and the fact that he was rich enabled him to start printing his own literature and distributing it to the masses. Many of those that joined him were most likely pissed off at ‘mainstream religion' for one thing or another and some of Russell's views were so crazy that I supposed many of the Bible Students figured he must be right. Hey-didn't they call Jesus a crackpot in his day? Boy oh boy were these people ever going to be sorry when Armageddon shows up in 1914. Jehovah was going to arrive from the Dagobah System Pleiades and smite all of Brother Russell's accusers dead and we're all going up to heaven end of story.
*drums nails while sitting on top of a hill* Free Smiley Face 'Soooo, Charlie, um, where's Jesus? I thought he was supposed to be coming to take us home tonight?' 1914 was the first of a long line of failed prophecies and disappointments in the Organization and Charles Russell----while nowhere near as dogmatic as those that came after him----set the precedence when he failed to apologize for, or even acknowledging the fact that he totally screwed up and obviously hadn't a clue what he was talking about. Instead, he clapped his hands together on the day that he had promised everyone they'd be going to heaven and simply claimed that Jesus returned invisibly.
This didn't wash with a lot of Bible Students though, and approximately 25% of his followers left the religion. Those that remained were disappointed but gullibility covers a multitude of false prophecies and if they couldn't see the pink elephant in the middle of the room, they were obviously lacking in faith and had better straighten up lest they be case out into the outer darkness where they would weep and gnash their teeth.
The next date for The End was 1925 and Judge Rutherford was foolish enough to write all kinds of crazy ‘truths' about the date. The most memorable and infamous was that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be resurrected immediately or sooner and would need a really nice place to live and bought Beth Sarim for them. Being the thoughtful soul that he was, Rutherford even offered to live there until they showed up which of course they never did. As the world sunk into the Great Depression, Rutherford lived in a style more on par with Al Capone rather than a humble servant of Christ. If there was one true thing written in all their literature, it was when Rutherford admitted "I made an ass of myself." Free Smiley Face
World War II erupted and renewed excitement for Armageddon reached new heights of fanaticism. Witnesses were told to put off marriage and having children for the ‘remaining months' until the New System arrived. Which, despite the assurance of the Watchtower, did not arrive as predicted. What a huge surprise.
When The End didn't show up at the end of WWII, they were still lucky enough that no one was questioning their claims because at that time, people in general still obeyed anyone in authority and after what they had just witnessed on the world scene was enough to convince most Witnesses that they had 'the Truth' and that The End was still nigh. Plus, the 1950's were about 40 years after Jesus supposedly returned and was within that 'generation' and every Witness at that time knew that there was also about 40 years from when Jesus gave the signs to his disciples, and when Jerusalem was actually destroyed. The parallel time frame between the last days of Jerusalem before her destruction, and the aftermath of WWII was too coincidental (in their minds) for them to ignore.
The 1960s of course was when Uncle Freddie came up with the brainiac idea that 1975 would be 'The End' and the articles and assemblies during that time all confirmed it: ‘Stay Alive Til '75' was probably the most repeated phrase amongst the Witnesses at that time and it gave some of the older Witnesses who had been around during WWI and II, renewed hope that they would never have to die and would indeed, live on into the New System. The Organization witnessed an increase in the early 1970s unlike any other time before or since and it was all because they had more or less promised that 'soon', all our problems would be gone----within a matter of months, or a few years at the most. (I specifically remember one elder telling my parents that they might only have to wait 5 years to see my sister who died in 1970 of a brain tumor).
1975 of course turned out to be an April Fool's joke gone bad and numerous Witnesses left the Organization. Although this was hugely embarrassing for them as a whole, there is nothing to indicate that Freddie Franz himself was the least bit embarrassed or humbled himself for promoting this farce of a date in the first place. A half-assed 'apology' (if you can call it that) was issued in a 1980 WT article and the men at the top were eager to put the whole sordid mess behind them. Nothing could have prepared them for what was about to happen.
In 1980/1981 several of the Bethel family (and even some who weren't living at Bethel) realized (through reading the bible apart from the Society's literature) that many of the teachings being put forth as 'truth', were nothing but lies. This of course, did not go over very well with several members of the Governing Body as they simply weren't used to having anything they say, questioned. After decades of ruling a fictile flock, they had come to ‘believe their own press' and to question anything they said, was to question God Himself. Free Smiley Face
The fall out and disfellowshipping of these ones, including Ray Franz was the beginning of the clamp down on any dissent in the Organization and the paranoia that ensued gave the Salem Witch Trials a run for its money. Disfellowshipping practices and loyalty to the Organization were top priority and for the most part, worked. We all heard that 'something' bad had happened at Bethel and that a member of the Governing Body had been disfellowshipped for 'apostasy', was mentally deranged and in the clutches of Satan. There was general agreement that Ray was the Judas Iscariot of JWs and the sooner Armageddon came and destroyed men like him, the better off we'd all be. Very few outside of Bethel really knew what had happened and since the GB still controlled virtually all information that Witnesses read, most of us were left in the dark.
Crisis of Conscience of course, blew the lid off all the Governing Body's dirty little secrets and the only thing that saved Ray's life as a human being is the fact that capitol punishment is the one punishment the Borg was not allowed to enforce in this country. Even so, with 1975 forgotten and the 'great apostasy' pushed to the background, the Organization carried on but not with quite as much boasting and bragging as they had in years past. Now they had some egg on their face, even though the vast majority of Witnesses never read Crisis of Conscience and would be facing a 3 Man Kangaroo Court if caught with a copy.
1984 marked 70 years since 1914 and since a generation at the most was 70 or 80 years, Armageddon surely must be right around the corner now right? The late 80s had a couple of incidents that raised the hopes of Witnesses everywhere: 1986 was declared the International Year of Peace and so shouldn't 'destruction be instantly upon them' at any time now? Plus, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan (the Kings of the North and South) seemed to be on pretty friendly terms.....gosh, doesn't this fulfill bible prophecy about them 'sitting down at one table' and speaking lies?
Nothing of course happened and the next few years rolled along fairly uneventfully until the early 1990s. 1994 was 80 years---the official cut off for a 'generation' and where the hell was Armageddon? Why was it taking so long to get here? Aaaaah......here's why: The November 1995 Watchtower, (written directly by Jehovah), explained that the phrase "this generation" didn't really mean 70 or 80 years after all----it really doesn't mean anything and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Wait a minute-no we don't apologize.....we take that back. Don't worry---Armageddon is reeeeeally, really close now so don't give up!! And for all you brothers and sisters that made life decisions based on Armageddon coming within ‘this generation'-----oh well, too bad, so sad. I guess we can "thank the Lord, even for the mistake."
This was too much for some Witnesses and a slow but steady stream started making their way towards the Exit door. And if that wasn't enough, there was this new form of communication out called 'the internet' which allowed people to access all kinds of information from the privacy of their own homes. Wait a minute! That's no good!! How can you control peoples lives and minds if they can read things that you don't want them to see?! Rrrrrgh.....Articles starting coming out in the WT and Kingdumb Ministry about the evils of the internet but it was too fascinating a tool to ignore and their warnings were, for the most part, ignored.
With the 'generation' doctrine in the toilet and unlimited access to support groups and information about the religion available to anyone around the world, the GB members have panicked right into the 21st century and still try feebly to give stern warning about the internet but it's like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. The internet has exposed the religion as not being from God, but a mish-mash of failed predictions, luck and bizarre theories.
No, they do not have quite the swagger they used to have. Zero percent increase in most developed nations shows that when they now say "jump", more and more are asking "why?" not "how high?"