Friday, December 16, 2016

Volunteer Racism?

In the March 1, 1900 (page 66, Reprints page 2585) issue of the Watch Tower, the following announcement was made:
RE-ENLISTED VOLUNTEERS! TO ARMS!
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The new lot of "Bible vs. Evolution" ammunition is not yet ready, but by March 15 to April 1 we will have plenty of the new ammunition for use where the Bible vs. Evolution has already been distributed. You will like it, we assure you this in advance. It will consist of "Which is the True Gospel?" and "What Say the Scriptures about Hell?" in the shape of a double number of the WATCH TOWER. Get your several squads together and let us have your orders stating (1) the number of white Protestant churches in the district; (2) the average attendance at service which the church members chiefly attend; (3) the number of Volunteers in your squad; (4) to what address would you prefer to have the ammunition sent.
A follow-up article regarding the above notice appeared in the April 15, 1902 issue of the Watch Tower. Some are quoting this article in order to make it appear that Russell was a racist.  One web page quotes the following:
“Reading matter distributed to a colored congregation would more than half of it be utterly wasted, and a very small percentage indeed likely to yield good results”. - The Watchtower of April 15, 1900 p. 122
Exactly what is considered to be racist in the above statement is not stated; in reality what Russell stated simply presents the fact of the matter as it was when he made the statement. Indeed, very few black people were educated in the days of Russell, so it would not have been wise to waste money and time by giving them something that they could not read.
video on YouTube quotes more of what Russell stated, again with the desire to present Russell as a racist; we present below what is quoted in the video:
There are probably as many as a hundred colored brethren on the Watch Tower lists, some of them very clear in the truth, and very earnest in its service, financially and otherwise. We have received letters from several of these, who had intended engaging in the Volunteer work, expressing surprise that in the call for Volunteers in the March 1st issue we restricted the inquiry to white Protestant churches. They rightly realized that we have not the slightest of race prejudice, and that we love the colored brethren with just the same warmth of heart that we love the white, and they queried therefore why such a distinction should be made in the call. The reason is that so far as we are able to judge, colored people have less education than whites--many of them quite insufficient to permit them to profit by such reading as we have to give forth. Our conclusion therefore is based upon the supposition that reading matter distributed to a colored congregation would more than half of it be utterly wasted, and a very small percentage indeed likely to yield good results.
Again, Russell was simply presenting the true facts as they existed in his day; it was simply a fact that very few of the blacks in his day could read, and thus any reading material given to them would have been of no benefit to them, and would, in effect, have reflected a waste of money and time.
Another states that blacks were not allowed to particpate in the "pioneer work". In reality that which is called "pioneer" work by the Jehovah's Witnesses did not exist in the days of Russell. Some claim that the colporteur work was the same as the pioneer work, but, as far we have been able to determine, blacks were not barred from the colporteur work at the time of the above writing, although it may have been that there were no blacks who had applied for the colporteur work.
One has claimed that Russell had barred any witnessing to the blacks, which is simply not true. In the same article that is being quoted above, Russell stated:
We advise, therefore, that where the Watch Tower literature is introduced to colored people it be not by promiscuous circulation, but only to those who give evidence of some ear for the truth....The Volunteer service is open to all of the Lord's dear people, brethren and sisters, white and colored, who have a desire thus to serve the great Captain of our salvation, and to help deliver their "brethren" from the bondage of Babylon into the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free from sectarianism, superstition and every yoke of bondage. Nor do we desire to place this service as a yoke or burden upon any, but as the word indicates, it is only for "Volunteers." We believe that the Lord would not have any conscriptions or drafts connected with his service. As to whether or not this is a way in which you can serve the Lord's cause is not for us but for you to decide. We merely give you our opinion, that this is one of the best means of serving the truth--preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom--breaking the chains of error that are upon the "brethren"--honoring the name and character of our heavenly Father, and extolling the great redemption accomplished by Jesus our Saviour. It is a "harvest" work, in that it is gathering to the Lord his true people,--gathering them out of the various sects--not into another sect, but into heart-union with the Lord and with all who are at-one with him through oneness of spirit, engendered by love of the truth.
Some, ignorant of what Russell taught on the atonement, and thinking of the message that the Jehovah's Witnesses preach, in effect: "Join us or be eternally destroyed in Armageddon," may be alarmed to think that Russell would be condemning blacks to such eternal destruction because they could not read. The truth is, however, that Russell did not believe in such a message that is now taught by the Jehovah's Witnesses, so the fact that these blacks, or any others, could not read, or that they were being skipped in receiving tracts in the general the volunteer work, did and still does not mean that such will be eternally destroyed in Armageddon. See our studies on Armageddon:
http://hereafter.reslight.net/?tag=Armageddon
The entire article under discussion may be read online at:
http://agsconsulting.com/htdbv5/r2618.htm

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