Thursday, January 5, 2017

Russell's Alleged Denunciation of "Organized Religion"

Walter Martin and Norman Klann make the claim that, as a result of his alleged rejection of the doctrine of eternal punishment, Russell "entered upon a long and varied career of denunciation aimed at 'organized religion.'" Evidently, it is thought that "organized religion" is a good thing, and that to oppose "organized religion" would be a bad thing.  Actually, it depends on what is meant by such a denunciation.
While it is true that Russell denounced sectarian religious organizations, since such  organizations divide God's people, Russell very seldom ever spoke of "organized religion". Russell, being a non-sectarian, believed that the true church consists of all who actually belong to Christ, regardless of denominational or sectarian ties. Many protestant ministers have stated the same thing, although many of them would exclude any who do not believe in the trinity.
We suspect, however, that Martin and Klann have confused Rutherford's later campaign against organized religion with the ministry of Russell. Rutherford's denunication of "organized religion" included the promotion of his new "organization" as "Jehovah's organization", while any other "organization" is part of "Satan's organization". This led him to the conclusion that anyone not of his organization would be eternally destroyed. In other words, Rutherford was promoting the very kind of sectarianism that Russell had preached against; indeed, Rutherford was creating an "organized religion" himself.
At any rate, we give links below to the only three instances wherein we could find the expression, "organized religion" in Russell's works, all three of which are actually within quote from other authors:
Of course, Russell did believe that sectarian churchianity must be destroyed; God is not going to allow such divisions in His kingdom. Again, we believe most protestants would agree with this, and possibly many Catholics also.
For what Russell taught on sectarianism, CLICK HERE to see a list of links under the category "sectarianism".
Organized Religion a "Racket"
It is being asserted (not by Martin and Klann) that Russell stated that "religion is a snare and a racket". I cannot say who originated this claim, but it appears on many different sites; here are a few:
So far I have not found any one who quotes (misquotes?) Russell as having said this that provides any proof that he did say this. We have not been able to find any place that Russell ever made such a statement, and actually anyone familiar with Russell's works would know that such a statement would not be in harmony with what Russell believed. An electronic search through his writings for the word "racket" does not reveal any such statement made by Russell. More than likely Russell is being confused with Joseph Rutherford, who had his followers carry signs proclaiming that "religion is a snare and a racket." Russell, however, did believe in one religion: Christianity. He did not believe in setting up a new religion, sect, denomination, etc.

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