One would think that such prophetic failures would bring an end to speculative date-setting, but it did not. The fact is that some forty-years later, Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders used the 6,000-year theory in a formula that began with the year of creation, 4026 B.C.E., to arrive at the year 1975.
An example of what was said about 1975 is found in the 1966 Witness publication, Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God:
Did the Witnesses consider their organization’s calculations to be foolproof? Richard Singelenberg, in his article, “It Separated the Wheat from the Chaff,” observed:
“Let it be clear from the outset that the [Watchtower] Society in its literature never proclaimed flat-out that 1975 would be the definite end of this world and its population. Nevertheless, the formulations from 1966 onward on what might happen in that year, the sense of urgency on a probable apocalyptic event, later followed by a possibility of a cataclysm, had a startling impact on the proselytizing activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Singelenberg’s observations were on target. The 1975 prediction, although cautious, became an emotional stimulant for the Witnesses. Although there was an indefinite feature to the calculation, just like in Russell’s assertions, the possibility was exciting to think about and urgent enough to increase proselytizing activities. With constant reminders in Witness literature about the nearness of the “new order,” Witnesses sold their homes, property and businesses and went into proselytizing full-time. When the forecast of 1975 came and went, many Witnesses expressed their disappointment and chagrin especially at the reaction of their leaders to blame the rank and file for misreading the Bible’s premises just like Rutherford did in the 1925 failure. It took four years before an expression of regret for their error came from those responsible for the failed prophecy. In confidence, I was told by a senior writer at the Witnesses corporate headquarters that over 500,000 people left the religion because of the religious movement’s 1975 prophecy.