Sometimes you have to speak up and speak out when you come across a news article or a TV program that gets everything wrong. What follows is a case of an article whose author not only got the story wrong but just about everything else connected to the story was messed up – including where the story was actually published! [Updated and Revised 12/10/2019]
In mid-April (2019), Barbara released a YouTube video that tried to clarify the Watchtower’s changing “Two Witness Rule.” Almost immediately upon its release, dozens of current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses questioned the legitimacy of Barbara’s understanding of the May 2019 Watchtower magazine article that announced a change of policy relating to child sexual abuse.
Before my transfer from the Engineering Department to the Writing Department in 1989, the architect designing a 30-story staff residence building (that was about to be built near the four Watchtower printery buildings) mentioned to me his need for a professional cost analysis system to be put into place for future building projects. He designed the buildings but the Accounting Department paid the bills.
During the first week of May 2018, Amazon.com released a new book by and about our own Barbara Anderson and the tasks she has taken on for nearly 25 years. Barbara Anderson Uncensored: Eyewitness to Deceit is unique when compared to earlier books and autobiographies considered to be in the “ex-Jehovah’s Witness” or “apostate” book categories.
It wasn’t until the early 1920s that commercial radio broadcasts in the United States were generated from just a few small stations in some of the largest cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Detroit, Michigan. They were using expensive long distance telephone services whose wire lines delivered weak radio signals to local AM radio stations for transmission over the air. The sound was scratchy and voices were often unintelligible to listeners who were using factory-built crystal sets with earphones. Radios with built-in loudspeakers and aerials weren’t produced until the 1930s.
In the early 1920s, members of the International Bible Students’ Association (IBSA) better known as the “Bible Students,” and legally represented by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of PA (the SOCIETY), were relatively few in number. (They were known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” from 1931 onward.) In fact, the January 1, 1950, Watchtower magazine reported, “In 1918 there were only 3,868 persons announcing the King and the Kingdom in all the world.” That being the case, it’s easy to see why the religion’s leaders believed radio would be a good way to get out their message.
The “Bible Students” organization was one of the first religions to enter the broadcasting field and radio became a major tool for spreading the SOCIETY’S message. In those early days they even did live, on-air baptisms.
On Sunday, April 16, 1922, Joseph F. Rutherford, the SOCIETY’S second president, gave one of the very first long distance radio sermons from the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, PA, titled, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” The message was carried over miles of Bell Telephone wires. A large crowd attended the event, but an estimated 50,000 residents living in several surrounding eastern states were at home using their headphones listening to the broadcast on their primitive AM radios – likely a record radio audience up till then.
That event no doubt influenced Rutherford to come up with the idea for the Bible Student organization to build its own radio station to promote his lectures. Later on, in 1922, Rutherford and a few advisers took claim to some twenty-four acres of property the SOCIETY owned in southwestern Staten Island in the New York City borough of Richmond.
Throughout the winter and on into the summer of 1923, construction went on with many young men from the SOCIETY’S headquarters in Brooklyn assisting on weekends. That same year, the SOCIETY purchased radio equipment from the decommissioned radio station 740 WDT-AM at Stapleton, Staten Island, which the Ship Owners Radio Service was shutting down.
A license from the government to broadcast had been obtained by the SOCIETY their name for it being “Watchtower” and the call letters assigned were WBBR-AM. Facilities and accommodations for the staff were located in a magnificent, three-story Greek Revival house at 1065 Woodrow Road.
In 1924, the station began broadcasting with a 500-watt transmitter. The radio signal reached Staten Island, Brooklyn, and central New York City. In 1927, a newer 1,000-watt transmitter was purchased and installed.
Over the next twenty years, tall buildings being built in New York City began to block WBBR’s signal for many boroughs. So the Federal Communications Commission granted WBBR permission to increase its power to 5,000 watts in 1947. That increase in transmission power required the installation of a three-tower directional antenna system to prevent signals from intruding on distant radio stations. That array increased the 5,000-watt power to more than 25,000 watts in a northeasterly direction where the population was the greatest – allowing WBBR to be heard in all areas of metropolitan New York and the adjoining states of New Jersey and Connecticut.
WBBR – First Broadcast
All was ready for WBBR’s first broadcast on 1230 kHz (“kilocycles”) after Judge Rutherford dedicated the new station on Sunday evening, February 24, 1924. The first two-hour public broadcast was from 8:30 to 10:30 PM and was composed of piano and vocal solos followed by Rutherford’s one hour lecture, “Radio and Divine Prophecy.”
The station continued to broadcast each evening during that same two-hour time time-slot and from 3:00 to 5:00 PM on Sundays. Programs continued to contain a mix of music, religious talks (some for 15-minutes) and recorded speeches by Rutherford and other of the SOCIETY’S officers and writers. WBBR’s programming schedule also included programs in several languages, including Yiddish and Arabic.
Complaints About WBBR
The government began to receive complaints about WBBR. Some were regarding technical problems, but most were about content – primarily their denigration of other faiths – but also their opposition to canned goods, and specifically their opposition to vaccinations. Not only was WBBR used to broadcast Rutherford and his other associates’ hostility towards not only vaccination but also other medical practices. In August 1924, the SOCIETY’S staff doctor (an osteopath), Dr. Mae Work, began to frequently lecture on WBBR about the “Abrams Treatment.” Mae Work was a proponent of the “Abrams” method of diagnosing and treatment of diseases using an electronic diagnostic machine (which years later was a proven to be a hoax).
In 1927, the FCC subsumed (absorbed) WBBR-AM to the benefit of WJZ-AM, pulling the station out from under Rutherford. That was big enough news for Time Magazine to write about it:
“At was at a hearing of the Federal Radio Commission in Washington. The commission had given the radio wavelength of WBBR, Judge Rutherford’s station, to WJZ of the National Broadcasting Co., and had refused to allocate any wavelength to WBBR. WBBR was considered an unessential station. That was a conspiracy plot, cried Judge Rutherford.”
“Through the gracious providence of Jehovah,” the voice of Judge Joseph Frederick Rutherford, president, the International Bible Students’ Association, boomed from Toronto last week to pass out from 53 separate radio broadcasting stations. The “hookup” was the widest in radio history and was the result of a goading which Judge Rutherford several weeks ago drove at President Merlin Hall Aylesworth of National Broadcasting Co.
It was at a hearing of the Federal Radio Commission in Washington. The commission had given the radio wavelength of WBBR, Judge Rutherford’s station, to WJZ of the National Broadcasting Co., and had refused to allocate any wavelength to WBBR. WBBR was considered an unessential station.
“That was complot,” [conspiracy or plot] cried Judge Rutherford. The “regular” churches were seeking to destroy his sect. In 1918 they had him sent to Atlanta Penitentiary for obstructing the War draft. But the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after he had spent eight months in jail, had ordered him released. The present exclusion from the air was another “frame-up.” Mr. Aylesworth was in cahoots with the preachers.
“I dare you to let me speak from your station,” Judge Rutherford had shouted at Mr. Aylesworth during the Radio Commission hearing.
“You may speak, sir, for one hour on any day and at any hour you may select,” Mr. Aylesworth exclaimed angrily.
“All right. I choose 3 p. m., Sunday, July 24 next.” Astute, the Judge chose the hour during which the New York Federation of Churches had been broadcasting the past four years. He would reach the ears of his ‘enemy’ congregations; he would make the ‘devil’s’ spear serve as the staff of Jehovah, whose aide-de-camp he pictures himself.
“Last week he was in Toronto to lecture to the International Bible Students’ Association convention there. Mr. Aylesworth, better than his promise, gave his sharp goader all his radio facilities.”
In the New York area, the SOCIETY also bought time on WBNX, WOV, WGBB, WFAS and WNEW. But, Rutherford’s derogatory attacks on other religions and their clergy led many stations to drop his programs, sometimes cutting him off before he was finished. The Bible Students viewed this as part of a religious and government conspiracy against them.
Rutherford bought airtime on half a dozen different New York stations. As he attacked other religions sometimes he was banned from individual stations. Ostensibly it was his attacks on the clergy that resulted in bans by both NBC and BBC radio networks. But it’s just as likely that he was also making a repeat performance of his WWI “seditious” comments. He created tension and enemies, especially in opposing nationalism and flag-waving patriotism during wartime.
Another Radio Event – WBBR’s Organ
The Watchtower or “White” network was organized in 1928, especially to serve the Detroit convention. It was so successful that the SOCIETY decided to operate a weekly network of radio stations throughout the United States and Canada. A one-hour program was arranged and it emanated from WBBR. These were live broadcasts, featuring a lecture by Rutherford, with introductory and concluding music furnished by a SOCIETY maintained orchestra. Every Sunday from November 18, 1928, through the year 1930 radio listeners could tune into “The Watchtower Hour.” Later, broadcasts were beamed via shortwave to over 400 stations worldwide, sometimes originating from WBBR’s studios.
In 1931, the WBBR studios were moved to 122-126 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn. They were situated in a rear building near Furman Street. In 1931 they installed an organ, a Gottfried formerly from WHK in Cleveland. Edith White was the SOCIETY’S organist.
With the erection of the Brooklyn, Queens Expressway along Furman Street, the SOCIETY had to sell a 15-meter strip of their property with the consequence that the studio had to be knocked down. Therefore, around1948 the studio moved back to Staten Island. It is unknown what happened to the Gottfried organ.
Radio programs occupied much of Rutherford’s time and he was unable to travel or organize conventions in various parts of the earth. So in 1931, the WTS decided to present transcribed programs. Two hundred and fifty stations were organized to present fifteen-minute transcriptions made by Rutherford at his convenience, and played by the radio stations at times they chose.
In 1932 this radio service (called the Wax Chain) was expanded to 340 stations. By 1933, the peak year, 408 stations were being used to carry the program to six continents, and 23,783 separate Bible talks were broadcast, most of them being these fifteen-minute electrical transcriptions.
In 1941, WBBR’s license was transferred to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the religion’s publishing arm, from the Peoples Pulpit Association (February 24, 1924-1941). In March of that year, WBBR (and its share-time partners) moved to 1330 AM.
Rutherford died in 1942 and was buried at Rossville in a Methodist cemetery within sight of the WBBR towers where it is claimed he lies in an unmarked grave where there was a private burial plot for the SOCIETY’S branch volunteers on Woodrow Road. In 2002 a caretaker at the immediately adjoining graveyard answered an inquiry about the SOCIETY’S graveyard by noting, “I couldn’t tell you who is buried on it because it has absolutely no markers or headstones.”
A fire at the Rossville transmitter in February 1945 put the station off the air briefly. In 1946, WBBR erected a 411-foot, three-tower array at Rossville and two years later, the power was increased to 5000 watts. A new structure housed the transmission equipment. For all its days on the air, WBBR was powered by its own electrical generator. A new structure housed the transmission equipment.
The transmitter site was an 18-acre farm, complete with a 24-room house and a swimming pool (which in 1955 I enjoyed swimming in with a Bethelite who invited me there for a Saturday afternoon).
There also was a cannery, a barn, two greenhouses, and 20 chicken houses. There was no power on the property except for a huge generator plant that was sufficient to serve a town of 30,000.
Another interesting self-sufficient feature was that the farm had a storage tank for millions of gallons of water. WBBR was only part of a 30-acre farm operated by the SOCIETY. By 1957, the farm was sending food to the Brooklyn Watch Tower facilities where at each meal 1,000 were fed.
A New Broadcast Studio
In 1950 they dedicated a new broadcast studio at 136 Columbia Heights which also served as a Kingdom Hall. About this, the August 15, 1950 Watchtower magazine, p. 221-222, paragraph 4 stated:
“In March 1950 the radio office force and studio personnel moved from Staten Island into Bethel, where it has its offices and elegant studios of floating type, a large and a small one, with the control room in between. The large windows permit visitors in the observation room to clearly view all going on in the studios while they listen in on the loud-speaker. Kingdom Hall itself will be used as the largest of WBBR’s studios, the console of a new and larger organ being located westward of the speaker’s platform. The broad grill-work in front of the organ pipes is just behind and over the platform. Full-scale educational and musical programs carried on by the Bethel family will be radiocast direct from Kingdom Hall. On Sunday, March 12, at 8 a.m., WBBR initiated its broadcasting from its new Bethel studios, the Society’s president fittingly presenting the day’s text and after a musical interlude the Watchtower’s extended comment thereon, as the opening feature of the day.”
The new studio was equipped with a larger concert organ with 1200 pipes. It was, in fact, the III-Manual 15-ranks Austin op. 1788 which had replaced the old Gottfried organ at WHK, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1931. The organ remained in the Kingdom Hall until 1960 when it was sold to St. Augustine Presbyterian Church in the Bronx where it was situated until 2009, though unplayable.
Sale of WBBR
In 1957 my future husband, Joe Anderson, a volunteer worker at Bethel, said organ music played by a Bethelite on the Bethel organ, which was located in the Brooklyn Heights Kingdom Hall, was broadcast over WBBR early in the morning and the music was heard in the Bethel dining room before breakfast started at 7 A.M. One particular morning after the music stopped at 7 AM, President Nathan Knorr announced that no more would there be organ music heard before breakfast because that day was the end of WBBR broadcasts. The hundreds of people there that morning weren’t completely surprised because rumor had it that WBBR was to be sold.
On April 15, 1957, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of PA sold its station to H. Scott Killgore’s Tele-Broadcasters Of New York Inc. for $133,000 which also owned many other radio stations across the U.S. The sale included 18-acres of the 30-acres owned by the SOCIETY. Also, the mint condition 5 kW RCA transmitter that had been used only 30 hours per week. Call letters were changed to WPOW on May 1, 1957, the religious talks and placid string and organ music disappeared, and the new station embarked on a series of changes that would repeatedly make it something of a pioneer in New York area radio.
After the station was sold, the new owner found out that there was no power on the property except for that huge generator plant which meant the power company had to bring in a power line from three miles away.
In July 1959, Killgore sold WPOW for $250,000 to John M. Camp, an Illinois-based advertising agent and broker of religious broadcast time.
In 1979, WPOW’s other share-time station, WEVD, was sold to Salem Media and became WNYM. In the early 1980s, Salem Media bought out WPOW for $4 million, most of that sum simply for the Staten Island real estate.
On December 31, 1984, WPOW signed off without ceremony, and the last time-sharing arrangement in New York AM radio came to an end.
Why did the SOCIETY sell WBBR? Their answer was when the station began to operate in 1924, there was only one congregation of about 200 Bible Students covering all five boroughs of New York City. That included Long Island and even parts of New Jersey. By 1957, however, there were 62 congregations with over 7,500 JWs within New York City.
Further, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., publishers of the history book, JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES PROCLAIMERS OF GOD’S KINGDOM, stated that the personal contact made possible by house-to-house calls was far more effective. It afforded better opportunity to answer the questions of individual householders and to search out “deserving ones.” Additionally, the station and programs were said to tie-up manpower and money that could be used in other ways.
Another Side to the Story
However, there was another side to the story. By 1957, there were scores of religions that were broadcasting their message by means of radio. The constant attacks on other religions and their clergy by Jehovah’s Witnesses on WBBR were so offensive that other religions spent hours of radio time refuting the Witnesses attacks. It was this that made WBBR a losing venture both in time, money and converts.
Starting around 1997, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leaders began to adopt the Internet as a method of mass communication hoping to capitalize on a medium that was attracting billions of people around the world.
A few years into the 21st century (approximately 50-years after selling WBBR), Jehovah’s Witnesses’ current leaders were rethinking face-to-face, door-to-door evangelizing. It was a time when few people were at home to talk about religion or refused to answer the door if they were at home – and when comedians continued to make fun of Jehovah’s Witnesses disturbing people on Saturday mornings.
Their solution to try to gain converts once again was to go back into broadcasting by spending millions of dollars on a state-of-the-art broadcasting facility in Warrick, NY. There they would make videos and broadcast governing body talks and meetings using new technologies. However, as hopeful as Jehovah’s Witnesses are about converting the world to their religion using a medium they condemned as being “from the Devil” in the 1990s, new converts are becoming fewer and fewer.
The simple fact is that the newer broadcasting mediums used by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not being accessed by many non-Witnesses. It is mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses who are using their mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) to access and download study materials designed for use at their meetings. Consequently, the Governing Body will have to try to find new ways to catch and convince unwary people to believe their fanciful message that has no basis in truth.
Analysis of the CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 
by Barbara Anderson
2013’s “WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN and CONGREGATIONS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY” (WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP) document was considered to be the official Watch Tower policy until the release on January 1 of the 2017 “CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, etc.,” (CSP of JWs in the UK).”
One of the first things I noted about the newer document is the removal of the name in the title, “WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN and CONGREGATIONS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY.”
That title was replaced by an abbreviated name: “CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND.”
Apparently, as of January 1, 2017, the CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY under discussion belongs to – and speaks for – the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) and does not belong to – or speak for – the legal entity, WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN (WTB&TS of Britain), Company No. 3858051, and Registered Charity #1077961. JWs have been affiliated with that entity since its incorporation under the Companies Act 1985 as a Private Limited Company on October 8, 1999.
I can only guess that this CSP of JWs in the UK POLICY document, which is similar to the original one, represents the CSP of JWs in the UK – and not of the WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP – because of legal liability. Otherwise, why would they make this change?
When I compared the 2017 CSP of JWs in the UK (first six pages) with the 2013 WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP document, I found that many of the “Statements” remained the same. Some “Statements” were rephrased but were otherwise quite similar. There are also a few new paragraphs which I do not consider significant. [Link to 2013 CSP Document]
Upon further investigation, it seems obvious that when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among JWs – their children – no real safeguards have been put into place by the religion to protect them from molestation.
Just as in the 2013 POLICY, most of the 2017 Policy Statements from #’s 2-17 are solely for directing elders about what they should do after a child has been abused, not what they are to do to prevent or protect children from sexual abuse.
Furthermore, another glaring omission is obvious – as was the case in the previous CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY. Number 9 states: “…a congregation member who learns of child abuse may choose to report the matter to the secular authorities.” There is no mention of any encouragement by elders to go to the secular authorities. As usual, the wording leaves reporting up to individual Witnesses who learn of child abuse. Again – please note the phrasing “may choose to report the matter to the secular authorities.”
I could not help but remember reading the November 1, 2016 (page 7) Body of Elders letter sent to all congregations. There was a reference to the matter of property damage to Kingdom Halls from “break-ins, thefts, incidents of arson, or other acts of vandalism.” The rule is to “promptly report it to the local authorities.” There is no indication that elders may choose to report the damage to the authorities in those situations.
Apparently, for elders buildings are more important than children.
Whether it is appropriate to investigate allegations of child abuse or not, JW leaders will continue this practice – even going so far as to italicize the word, “every” in Policy Statement #11: “After receiving assistance from the branch office, congregation elders will conduct a Scriptural investigation [underline mine] of every allegation of child sexual abuse.”
Will these stubborn men never learn to instruct elders to bow out of doing an investigation into child abuse allegations and immediately call the authorities?
However, in #13 there is an exception to the rule: “A report to the police or other appropriate authorities will be made immediately by the congregation elders if it is determined that a child is still at risk.” This sentence was also in the 2013 Policy. However, what if the child is “not at risk”? What then? Apparently, in that case, elders do not report the abuse to the police.
How do elders determine that a child is still at risk? Do they get their DNA forensic kit out of the trunk of their cars? And with their lack of training in this regard, wouldn’t it be difficult for them to use a forensic kit properly?
There is another issue raised by critics of JW policies and practices. It relates to the Watch Tower’s refusal to address the issue of “repentant” abusers and how much secrecy is accorded to those members within congregations. That is a big omission! It’s almost as if abusers never repent – which is what most of them do if they confess or are proven guilty. And, we all know, “repentance” leads to elders never revealing the names of “repentant molesters” to members of their congregations. We also know that unrepentant molesters will be disfellowshipped – but other JWs are not informed about why they were removed.
After six pages of negligible, trivial instructions of how to protect children within the CSP, the leaders of this religion attached every article written in their literature about child sexual abuse, as if that was their sole responsibility – instructing everyone else, parents included – about how to protect children within their religion.
They have to believe they have no responsibility other than doing this. If they thought they had a responsibility, they would have included clear-cut information about how they propose to protect children from a JW molester such as many other religions are now doing. For one thing, background checks should be required for anyone in an “appointed position” who will be around children not one’s own. In addition, they should give a flat-out order to all members to report child known or suspected sexual abuse by another member to the authorities. That would serve to prevent other children from being molested by that known perpetrator.
And one other point…
Statement #16 (which was #17 in the old 2013 Policy) has been completely rewritten. It reads: “A person who has engaged in child sexual abuse does not qualify to receive any privileges or to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation for many years, if ever.”
The 2013 Policy Statement #17 doesn’t state “if ever” and is a bit different: “A person known to have abused a child in the past, and who continues to pose a risk to children or is not irreprehensible, does not qualify [underline mine] to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation.-1 Timothy 3:1-7, 10; Titus 1:7.”
The only statements in this Policy that touch on the actual subject of the CSP of JWs in the UK are #1-3, 6, 19-22 – and these do not protect children.
Personally, I don’t believe that the Charity Commission should accept whatever the CSP of JWs in the UK offers as their “policy document,” but guidelines should be given to the CSP of JWs in the UK by the Commission. Then, if the CSP of JWs in the UK policies is not in line with Commission regulations, there should be penalties. Most importantly, Commission regulations should be in line with child sexual abuse laws of the country. If needed to keep children safe, the Commission should press the government to change or adjust the laws in this regard.
“In conclusion, I’m hopeful that the Charity Commission will require the CSP of JWs in the UK Board of Trustees to implement policies that would truly safeguard JW children as they interact socially with JW elders and their assistants, and while adhering to their religious obligations.”
In the spring of 1975, Frederick W. Franz, considered since the mid-1920s to be the Watchtower’s “official oracle,” stressed the urgency of the Christian preaching work during his public speeches. Why? Because he believed that 6,000 years of human history would end that next September or soon after.