Today, I will like to look at the organization and children. The organization is gathering much publicity regarding the child and the alleged perpetrators. This is being directed in part by the organization creating a haven for these individuals. Let’s take a look at a historical view of children and those within the organization.
Let’s start with a quote regarding the founder: Charles Taze Russell.
He was married in 1879 to Maria Frances Ackley. No children blessed this union. Eighteen years later a disagreement arose about the management of his journal, and a separation followed.
Overland Monthly. 442
The question must be asked, what caused the separation?
The organization printed the following:
Nearly eighteen years later, in 1897, due to Watch Tower Society members’ objecting to a woman’s teaching and being a member of the board of directors contrary to 1 Timothy 2:12, Russell and his wife disagreed about the management of the journal, Zion’s Watch Tower. Thereupon she voluntarily separated herself from him after they had arranged a financial settlement to enable her to live apart from the Society’s headquarters. This agreed separation, however, had absolutely nothing to do with a much later divorce proceeding (1906), charging “adultery,” as clerical enemies of Russell slanderously tried and still try to maintain. The court records plainly fix the lie to all those who falsely accused and even now accuse Russell as having been an immoral man, divorced for adultery.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. January 1, 1955 p. 46
“That Mrs. Russell herself did not believe and never has believed that her husband was guilty of immoral conduct is shown by the [court] record in this case where her own counsel (on page 10) asked Mrs. Russell this question: ‘You don’t mean that your husband was guilty of adultery?’ Ans. ‘No.’” Ibid., p. 19. Also W July 15, 1906, pp. 211-227.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. January 1, 1955 p. 46
So I went to the Watchtower July 15, 1906 to take a look….
The case itself starts on Reprints page 3315.
The outcome of the case is interesting in that she was granted a divorce from him. However, that’s not the final outcome. I will embed a link so you can view the pages in question yourself.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a story in 1911 that had the following account:
So what we have is the stage set for further interaction with children starting with the founder. The irony here is looking at the evidence alone, we have conflict.
Looking quickly at Rutherford, there is not a whole lot said or mentioned that he has a child. You can see that he has one son, Malcolm. What is interesting as a side note is that this organization that calls itself a family one rarely/if ever showed the leaders early on with their family.
Here’s a video where “the Judge” is working yet the wife and child are absent. Ironic considering farming at that time period employed the entire family:
The most notable aspect was speaking about having children and here are some quotes:
Would it be Scripturally proper for them to now marry and begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the Scriptures.
Face the Facts. 1938. p. 46
There is no reasonable or scriptural injunction to bring children into the world before Armageddon, where we are now.
The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. November 1, 1938 p. 324
Nearly 76 years later and still no Armageddon.
Were statements like these due in part to his son possibly being absent? We will never know. However, with the organization relying on the WBBR radio station, using phonographs, picketing, and going door to door, going door to door didn’t necessitate a great need for having children to continue propagating the Watchtower population. The mindset continued to the administration to Nathan Knorr. Here’s one quote that speaks of his parenting not that he had any kids though:
Addressing himself to parents in the audience, he asked: “How many times have you mothers or fathers told a child not to take something, and the child just goes ahead and takes it anyway?” It may be a piece of pie or a piece of cake. It may seem like something small. You may conclude that your child is simply disobedient. “No, he is a thief!” declared Brother Knorr. “Even when a person is hungry and he steals, in God’s sight it is wrong.
Convention Report. 1963. p. 15
This made me think of the verse Proverbs 22:6 that says in part to “train up a child.”
Hard to do so properly when they are nothing but a thief.
It should be no surprise that Knorr nor Fredrick Franz had any children. The anti-children crusade continues with the following:
A great crowd of people are confident that great destruction is imminent, which has been a major factor in their decision not to have children.
Awake! November 8, 1974 p.11
Today, childbearing is not specifically a part of the work Jehovah has committed to his people. Nevertheless, it is still a privilege that he grants to married people if they desire it. Christian couples who decide to start a family should not, therefore, be criticized; neither should couples who refrain from having children.
So the matter of childbearing in this time of the end is a personal one that each couple must decide for itself. However, since “the time left is reduced,” married couples would do well to weigh carefully and prayerfully the pros and cons of childbearing in these times.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. March 1, 1988 p. 26
With all this in mind, I would like to ask a simple question: How many Jehovah’s Witnesses starting in the days of Rutherford forwent having children due to the organization’s printed material?
Those in the leadership seem to not have children: Here is another obituary:
2012 Governing Body Breakdown:
So what is the organization to do? Ironically, the organization that looks down on children needs them to continue. I say this since the organization is suffering losses left and right. There are those that are within the organization that are gaining awareness as to what their organization truly is. Perhaps the best chance this organization has to survive is this group that it has ignored for so long.
Here is an excerpt from the article, “Should Youths Get Baptized?”
Serving Jehovah as one of his baptized Witnesses is a goal that all young ones should have. Yet, godly parents may wonder, ‘I know that my child has made good progress, but is he strong enough to resist immoral pressures and remain clean before Jehovah?’ Others may ask themselves, ‘In facing the pull of materialism, will my child continue serving God with joy and zeal?’ Accordingly, what Biblical guidance can help parents determine whether their children are ready for baptism?
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. June 15, 2011 p. 3
Does this mean that those who are young are getting pressured?
You young ones in the Christian congregation, have you made a dedication to Jehovah? Many may find the choice to serve the true God difficult to make.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. March 15, 2008 p. 17
This is ironic considering the organization condemns infant baptism with the following:
Clearly, baptism is a serious step. Baptizing an infant is wrong because a baby cannot understand, make a decision, and become a disciple. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Those baptized during Philip’s ministry in Samaria were “men and women,” not mere infants. (Acts 8:4-8, 12) Baptism is for those old enough to learn, believe, and exercise faith. (John 17:3; Acts 5:14; 18:8; Hebrews 11:6)
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. January 15, 1989 p. 13
Why is it now that the organization is looking at children when there are no accounts of children explicitly being mentioned for baptism?
How much does the young one know of all the ramifications if they elect to get baptized?
Another rationale is simply this, young minds are pliable and the more they are ingrained, the harder it will be for them to leave. Now, the organization is making an unprecedented push for children using videos. I looked and currently there are 22 videos in the section. They have entire section devoted to children as they push for videos such as Sparlock:
So again, if you are wondering about the role of children in the organization, here’s a historical account that shows how little children in some ways are valued.