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Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

At Talk:Jehovah's Witnesses#Founder there has been discussion recently regarding whether Charles Taze Russell can rightly be described as the founder of the JWs. He did found the group which later took the name of JWs after he had proposed changes to the group which were rejected by others. I think - someone correct me if I'm wrong. Posting here for broader discussion and input. John Carter (talk) 15:27, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

Foundation stories can be a bit messy and that is a sticky one. I agree that it is original research/synthesis to say that Joseph Rutherford founded the organization, when doing some of my own searches reveals that the majority of available sources identify Charles Taze Russel as the founder, then says that Joseph Rutherford renamed it.[1] A rename suggests (but doesn't explicitly specify) that a substantial portion of the original organization was maintained, while saying he founded it suggests more of something new, where only a few members from the original group were maintained. CorporateM (Talk) 16:54, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I've expressed my opinion at the articles talk page. A vaste majority of RS do state that Russell did found Jehovah's Witnesses. Even though the other view technically somehow should be correct, there are problems including the view, because according to WP:WEIGHT, a viewpoint held by "an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, [...] does not belong in Wikipedia regardless of whether it is true or not and regardless of whether you can prove it or not, except perhaps in some ancillary article." Grrahnbahr (talk) 18:43, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
All we can do is repeat what the sources say. Say the org split off into 5 factions and each took about 20% of the membership. Say half of one of those factions joined the new Jehovah's Witnesses organization (10% of the original). Than reliable sources would probably say "founded" rather than "renamed". (scenario A)
Take another scenario though. Say it split off into five factions, but its most active participants stayed in the core faction that kept half the membership. In that case, reliable sources would probably say "renamed" rather than "founded". They just lost a lot of members to these other factions, but it's still basically the same org.(Scenario B)
To say "founded" when the sources say "renamed" is original research because it suggests scenario A, while reliable sources seem to have interpreted the situation as closer to scenario B. CorporateM (Talk) 19:01, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
In reality though, Grrahnbahr, we do try to go with what is verifiably true when possible. No one really supports pushing or presenting a known lie just because the media or whoever got it wrong and it is well-known that they got it wrong. This happens in science topics every once in a while, as the complexity is often too much for the media to present properly and their dumbing down often results in things that are just not accurate. In such cases, we generally go with editor discretion of discarding the sources that we can clearly say are wrong and go with the truth. There has to be editor consensus for this though, of course. SilverserenC 20:29, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
It is not what the policy states. I could have agreed to some sources are more reliable than other, but I can't see why there should be any exceptions in this matter. Grrahnbahr (talk) 21:20, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Actually the quote you provided is "an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, [...] does not belong in Wikipedia regardless of whether it is true or not and regardless of whether you can prove it or not, except perhaps in some ancillary article." I am not at all sure that the evidence of the limited number of such sources has been provided as per WP:BURDEN. John Carter (talk) 21:28, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Many (but not all) sources do say that Russell founded the group. Most of those sources simply repeat the claims of the organization itself. (The Watch Tower Society also frequently claims that Bible Students was simply a name by which "Jehovah's Witnesses were then known", whereas the actual fact is that "Bible Students" groups still exist). Those claims were originally used to detract from other Bible Student groups, and later, to simply ignore the continued existence of the other Bible Student groups altogether.
The developmental history of Jehovah's Witnesses as shown at articles such as Jehovah's Witnesses, History of Jehovah's Witnesses already shows that Jehovah's Witnesses, founded by Joseph Rutherford (as a group distinct from the Bible Students who still follow Russell's teachings today), is fundamentally different to the group started by Charles Taze Russell. It is not merely the case that the Bible Student movement as a whole gradually evolved into Jehovah's Witnesses, but that the faction that departed from Russell's core beliefs under the control of Joseph Rutherford is a distinctly separate group.--Jeffro77 (talk) 00:45, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
John Carter is not quite correct in his opening summary above. He writes that Rutherford founded "the group which later took the name of JWs after he had proposed changes to the group which were rejected by others." Charles Russell began publishing his Bible commentaries in the 1870s, and in that same decade Bible study groups began to form to study the Bible under his direction. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (WTS) was subsequently established to distribute Russell's works but later became the administrative arm of that Bible Student group. On Russell's death in 1916 Rutherford became WTS president and the leader of the religion. It was a turbulent period in which many members of the group, including WTS board members, opposed the major changes (administrative and doctrinal) that Rutherford began to immediately effect. Many (some authors say most of the original Russell-era members) left, and as explained at the JW history article, in the 1920s larger numbers of newcomers were attracted by the new orientation Rutherford delivered. Robert Crompton, cited in that article, described that churn in the 1920s as "one of the most significant of the movement's breaks with its early history".
Here, though, is the difficulty. It was only in 1931—15 years after Rutherford's ascension to leader of the religion—that the official name of the religion was renamed. This, as I understand it, is claimed by Jeffro as the point at which Rutherford founded Jehovah's Witnesses. But by that time many major doctrinal and organisational changes had been well cemented. Many had been in place for 15 years. The Watch Tower Society continued to administer the religion and print the literature, and the magazine Russell had established, The Watchtower, continued to be the central organ of the religion. Many of those who had joined in the 1920s (and some before that) were in the fold. And many of Russell's original tenets continued to be held firmly by the religion (many still remain today).
Even in Russell's day, the beliefs and administrative policies were evolving. They have continued to evolve since Rutherford's death in 1942. I accept without reservation that today's JWs are very different to the group existing in Russell's day, and that in many respects the JWs today mirror the outlook and personality of Rutherford rather than Russell. But I see no logical grounds to say that Rutherford founded a religion in 1931. It was a gradual transformation that began in 1916 and continues today.
As to sources: As explained at the JW talk page, there are just two sources for the claim that Rutherford founded this religion in July 1931: Leo Chall in a 1978 issue of “Sociology of Religion” and an unidentified author in a 1953 book, “The Twentieth Century”. As previously indicated, one Wikipedia editor has already located 60 sources naming Russell as the founder. These include The New York Times Almanac, Encyclopedia of American Religious History, Academic American Encyclopedia, The American Journal of Psychiatry, The World Book dictionary, Webster's II New College Dictionary and Hutchinson's New 20th Century Encyclopedia. BlackCab (TALK) 04:08, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
First it is very good to see our two leading editors on the JWs involved now and the details provided are very welcome. Having said that I see a few points in the last comment above. First at least here no one here that I have seen has put forward a claim that Rutherford founded the JWs or that "religion"; that is a related but separate point from the question here which is whether Russell founded the JWs and should probably be dealt with separately. Also while the sources indicated are certainly useful I am far less than sure they qualify as overwhelming as to at least my eyes they seem to posit a false either/or scenario. J. Gordon Melton's article in Encyclopædia Britannica online says "The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an outgrowth of the International Bible Students Association, which was founded in 1872 in Pittsburgh by Charles Taze Russell..." which stresses the relationship to Russell while deemphasizing the more problematic matter of the "founder" and I have a feeling something along those lines is preferable.
Alśo I have a feeling that questions of this type are fairly common in the field of business in general where multiple groups may wish to advance claims of a direct relationship to a popular "founder".John Carter (talk) 14:58, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
BlackCab states above: "It was only in 1931—15 years after Rutherford's ascension to leader of the religion—that the official name of the religion was renamed. This, as I understand it, is claimed by Jeffro as the point at which Rutherford founded Jehovah's Witnesses." As I have stated several times already, Rutherford's doctrinal changes were gradual, and the group under his control became distinctly different from other Bible Students much earlier than the formal renaming of the group. It would be a gross over-simplification to claim that the group was founded only when the name was formally changed in 1931, and I have never made such a claim. In reality, the group was founded during the period that most of the Russell-era followers left because Rutherford's group was distinctly different to Russel's. As is the case with many religious splinter groups (including the Bible Student movement itself), the group became distinct years before it ever actually had a formalised name.--Jeffro77 (talk) 22:41, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
It seemed to be the intent of this edit, which identifies 1931 as the beginning of Jehovah's witnesses, however I accept that wasn't what you meant to convey. BlackCab (TALK) 01:18, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
The point of that edit summary was that there wasn't even a group called Jehovah's Witnesses during Russell's lifetime, but it wasn't the central point, as should have been obvious from my comments since the issue was raised.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:32, 30 June 2014 (UTC)


Organizations evolve over time and do not suddenly come into being on a specific date, except in a legal sense. I suggest a good way to resolve this content dispute is to avoid the word "founded" alltogether and instead describe the organization's evolution, without marking a specific date that it "started" on. CorporateM (Talk) 23:09, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

The discussion is about the material contained in the infobox, which is {{Template:Infobox religion}}. The template currently states that the religion "branched from" the Bible Student movement. To convey a concise summary to readers, the infobox would be expected to state where, when and by whom the religion began. Where? The Watch Tower Society began in Pittsburgh, but in 1908 its base was moved to Brooklyn. When? The Bible Student movement began in the 1870s, but the schism that left Rutherford in charge of the society began in 1917 (the graphic on the History of Jehovah's Witnesses article wrongly dates it as 1916). The major doctrinal changes that marked the Rutherford era began in 1919 but gathered pace throughout the 1920s; the organisational changes did not occur until the 1920s. The decade of the 1920s, accompanied by significant churn in membership, was clearly the point of changeover, and the change of name in 1931 formalised it. If there is a way that this can be expressed in the infobox, I'd be interested to hear it. Perhaps "Founded: 1920s (formalised 1931)", but even that is not strictly accurate because ... Who? To "found" an institution is to "establish, originate or institute" it, but all Rutherford did was assume/seize command of an existing religious organisation and bend and manipulate it over more than a decade. And again we are left with an absence of reliable sources stating this and the suggestion that Wikipedia editors just ignore the sources because they know better. All very problematic. BlackCab (TALK) 02:01, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
In that case my advice might be to just leave it alone. Fighting over the infobox is only a small step above those that fight over commas and dashes. There is really no need for someone to "win" the argument and we have lots of other articles that have much more severe problems. It's not a good use of energy. CorporateM (Talk) 02:43, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
That being said, [ this] article in the Journal of Religious History says "founded by Charles Taze Russell...Narratives of the history of the Society almost always point to a radical break between the presidencies of Russell and of Joseph Franklin Rutherford, elected in January 1917 after a brief period of in-fighting.15 Whether the changes introduced by Rutherford were the inspired realisation of Russell's visions or an opportunistic distortion of his teachings is a matter of ongoing disagreement.16 What is indisputable is that there were a number of significant and controversial changes made by Rutherford which profoundly shaped the modern movement."
Has anyone found a journal article or source of equal or greater reliability with a contradicting viewpoint? CorporateM (Talk) 03:26, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
With respect, I see nothing in there that's not already contained in the History of Jehovah's Witnesses article. There is no issue with the body of the JW article. It's the infobox that is causing issues at the moment. BlackCab (TALK) 04:48, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
There are problems with the Where, When, and Who in BlackCab's information above. Where: The Watch Tower Society—though given almost 'divine' status by JWs—is a corporation, and it is not synonymous with Jehovah's Witnesses, nor is either term synonymous with Bible Students. When: BlackCab's information about when demonstrates my point that Rutherford developed something quite separate to Russell's movement during the 1920s and he later named his group Jehovah's Witnesses. Who: If we were to apply BlackCab's strict definition of 'founder', then all Christian groups would have to give their 'founder' as Paul/Peter/Jesus (depending on literary, traditional or theological standpoints). In reality, when a schism results in a group becoming fundamentally different from the parent group, the individual who brought about the changes is considered the founder of the new group. As a result of Rutherford's broad changes, most of the members of Rutherford's distinctly different group were not those who had been members of Russell's group, but were entirely new members. Though the Watch Tower corporation Russell started remained under the control of Rutherford, it is not the same as the Bible Student movement, which continues to exist parallel to Jehovah' Witnesses. The problem with many of the sources that state the 'founder' of Jehovah's Witnesses' is that they are often parrotting what is claimed by Jehovah's Witnesses themselves—who often claim that Bible Students was merely a former name for Jehovah's Witnesses, completely ignoring the fact that throughout the schism (and to this day) there remained Bible Students adhering to Russell's teachings.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:32, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters is wherever the Watch Tower Society's headquarters is. The WTS runs at the direction of the JW Governing Body, prints all literature for the JWs and is their administrative arm, so I'd say they are synonymous. Hence the inane parroting by JWs that "the society says ..." about JW doctrines and directives. The JW History article makes clear that Russell identified the religion as International Bible Students, a term Rutherford continued to use until 1931. I'm not sure how these issues greatly advance the issue of the infobox. BlackCab (TALK) 11:20, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Your assertion that the Watch Tower Society is synonymous with Jehovah's Witnesses is simply wrong. The Watch Tower Society existed before Jehovah's Witnesses, and even before the Bible Students. Though it obviously is and was closely related, it is not and was not synonymous with either group, and though people sometimes interchange the terms, it is not accurate to do so. Of course, the fact that Russell identified his group in 1910 as International Bible Students further demonstrates that the religious group is not synonymous with the Watch Tower Society corporation. And around 1914 when the name International Bible Students Association (IBSA) was itself registered as a corporation, congregations of the religion became known as Associated Bible Students, instead of IBSA, to deliberately avoid confusion with the corporation.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:31, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
From 1884 to 1976 the president of the WTS was the head of the religion, which was how Rutherford found himself in a position to alter both administrative and doctrinal direction of the religion without consulting anyone. The society did nothing independent of the head of the religion. Since 1976 the society has been under the direction of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and since then has never acted independently of the religion's Governing Body. They act in synchrony. Blind Freddy can see that. If you think the society has administered two different religious organisations—one led by Russell and another led by Rutherford and his successors—and wish to have the infobox reflect that, I'd be interested in seeing your sources. BlackCab (TALK) 10:33, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
First, just because an infobox contains a parameter does not mean it must necessarily be used and I would personally agree in this instance not filling in that section of the infobox or including hidden text to the effect it is intentionally blank is probably the best alternative. The most recent highly-regarded reference source on the subject I can find on the subject is the 2010 2nd edition of Melton's Religions of the World which contains the following quotes on page 1574 of volume 4 in the article on Jehovah's Witnesses:"The American Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) is generally regarded as the founder of the movement and is the originator of the group's basic system of beliefs. . . .Russell's successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1852-1942), can be credited with the development of the present-day hierarchical, or "theocratic," organizational structure as well as the coining of the name "Jehovah's Witnesses."" John Carter (talk) 16:21, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Is there anyone besides BlackCab arguing against Taze Russell as founder? There's been enough discussion here to establish a consensus and I haven't seen anyone else directly support BlackCab's point-of-view. If there is a disagreement, the best way to resolve it is to find compromise as quickly as possible, because an infobox parameter is not worth arguing about. However, if there is clear consensus and only a single editor with a dissenting viewpoint, they need to bow to consensus. CorporateM (Talk) 19:53, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

I thought BlackCab was the one arguing for Russell as the founder Having said that I wonder whether there might not be some basis for maybe adding another parameter to the template for "spiritual father" or some other less pretentious sounding term. Recent discussion at Christianity has repeatedly concluded Jesus did not found Christianity as a religion which may be factually true but still looks a little strange to me. Can anyone think of a more acceptabe term for use in such a possible parameter? Maybe something like "based on the teachings of" or something like that? John Carter (talk) 20:48, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
"Key People" CorporateM (Talk) 20:54, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
I have consistently supported the retention of Charles Taze Russell as the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses, per the overwhelming majority of authoritative sources and the entire history of the JW article. It was Jeffro who changed the infobox without prior discussion to claim Joseph Rutherford was the founder.[2] If a parameter was added to note in the infobox that Rutherford was a "dominant influence" or "key reformer" or similar, while retaining Russell as the founder, I'd be content. Rutherford was not a "spiritual father" of the religion. BlackCab (TALK) 00:22, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
I've already clearly outlined why Rutherford is the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses as distinct from the Bible Student movement, and that distinguishing his group from Russell's Bible Student movement was very specifically Rutherford's intent. The suggestion of 'spiritual father' sounds like unencyclopedic nonsense, but I'd be happy with simply removing the Founder parameter altogether and leaving things explained in the article, which already indicates that Rutherford developed a group distinctly different to Russell's group, resulting in mostly different people who were following distinctly different teachings.--Jeffro77 (talk) 12:29, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
As to the asinine claim that the Watch Tower Society is synonymous with the religion, it's like claiming that Liberal and Labor (or Republicans and Democrats) are the same organisation as each other on the basis that individuals from both occupy the same office of Prime Minister (or President) at different times. The fact is that although the Watch Tower Society is directly related to the religion, it is not the same thing as the religion.--Jeffro77 (talk) 12:52, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
What a ridiculous analogy. BlackCab (TALK) 13:03, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
Ridiculing something however is not the same as effectively addressing it unfortunately. While I don't think that much anyone would disagree that the Watch Tower group today is basically the core of the JWs, it might well be at least somewhat OR/SYNTH to say that has always been the case. Like I indicated above, I think many religions, including Christianity and Buddhism, trace their beliefs to someone other than the developer of the organizational structure(s) associated with that belief system. Including in the template both the organizational founder of a group and the person the group is named after or the initial proponent or developer of their belief system seems to me anyway reasonable and a way to address questions like this one. John Carter (talk) 14:57, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
This is like asking "who started the Catholic Church? Was it Jesus Christ, St. Peter, the church fathers, or maybe Emperor Constantine I?" If it was Jesus or St. Peter, did they were aware of their teachings were used to etablish the Catholic Church? Did they know what Catolisism was at all? Who was the first pope? Did St. Peter know he was a pope? Etc etc... Rutherford made some "reformes", including development (or some may say changes) of some of the doctrines and policies, including the name. As I see it, a set of doctrines presented by Russell was the foundation of the religion known as Jehovah's Witnesses today. This does not exclude other groups, including the "modern" Bible Students group from claiming him as the origin for their set of teachings. This said, I have supported BlackCabs view, of based on RS, to claim Russell for being JWs founder. JW sources supports that Russell (in modern times) was the founder, and a large majority of independent sources are claiming Russell being the founder. I have barely seen wage suggestions from a cuople of sources claiming otherways. Grrahnbahr (talk) 21:37, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
FWIW, please see discussion on the (I think at Talk:Christianity where such discussion has been frequent. And simply drawing comparisons to other instances have occurred does nothing to address the particular concerns here I would ask all who comment to directly address the statements of others if they choose to make comments which appear to be in response to them. And as a PS I think it worth noting that the context of the quote I supplied from Melton above is very unclear as to what the "movement" Russell founded is, probably deliberately so. John Carter (talk) 22:40, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
I have suggested a solution to the infobox issue. I don't see any value in further argument about the relationship of the WTS to the JWs. Jeffro's argument began as a nitpicking response to my earlier comment that the WTS was formed in Pittsburgh and in 1908 moved its offices to Brooklyn. To defuse that argument, which is becoming a distraction of no real significance to the issue that brought the discussion to this forum — the "founder" parameter of the infobox — let's say Russell's Bible Student movement or Bible Student Association began in Pittsburgh. That's where the religion was founded. In 1908 the religion's headquarters (which was effectively the writing desk in Russell's office, for only he wrote Bible commentaries, only he interpreted scripture, only he directed the course of meetings) moved to Brooklyn. BlackCab (TALK) 00:24, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
The claim that my "argument began as a nitpicking response to [BlackCab's] earlier comment that the WTS was formed in Pittsburgh and in 1908 moved its offices to Brooklyn" is obviously false, and the suggestion is ridiculous. The location of the WTS is clearly irrelevant, since I have consistently indicated that the WTS is not synonymous with Jehovah's Witnesses. The Who, When and Where issues previously raised by BlackCab are all not clear-cut. The simplest solution would be to not show the Founder parameter in the infobox, as previously suggested by John Carter.--Jeffro77 (talk) 08:57, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
And that, my friend, is why I said let's leave the Watch Tower Society aside. And still you want to keep arguing. My suggestion: Retain Russell as founder, per 99 percent of all sources, and add Rutherford as a "major influence". I'm now interested in what others prefer. If there is no consensus for change, and agreement on that change, the infobox must remain as it is. BlackCab (TALK) 12:42, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Since the claim that the Watch Tower Society is synonymous with Jehovah's Witnesses is false, leaving it aside has no bearing on the original issue that the group shaped by Rutherford—with mostly new members—and later officially renamed is distinctly different (although obviously related) to the group originally founded by Russell. Two editors have suggested simply removing the Founder parameter from the infobox, which would result in no inaccuracy regardless of any position on the matter, so the claim that the "the infobox must remain as it is" if there is no consensus is false.--Jeffro77 (talk) 22:33, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
My statement "If there is no consensus" refers to the future prospect of reaching a consensus. I was not making a false statement. There is as yet no consensus. As you persist in arguing about the WTS despite my attempt to withdraw that distraction, let me point out that I have provided enough reasoning above to show that the Watch Tower Society is synonymous with Jehovah's Witnesses, as it has been with the religious group ever since Russell founded it, regardless of its 1931 change of name. Your repeated use of bold type and italics to emphasise your position makes it no stronger. BlackCab (TALK) 22:54, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Appropriate use of formatting aside, I have already indicated why your claim that the terms are synonymous is wrong. Russell was explicit that the Watch Tower Society was not synonymous with his religious group, but that it was specifically for the publication and distribution of literature and not to identify his religious group. This line became more blurred under Rutherford, but it is still a distortion of history to claim that the terms are synonymous.--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:10, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
You claim that I "persist in arguing about the WTS despite [your] attempt to withdraw it", yet I have stated all along that it is not relevant. And yet you took my re-statement that it is not relevant as your cue to continue your claim that it is synonymous. After re-stating that the WTS is not actually relevant to the argument, I stated that "the group shaped by Rutherford—with mostly new members—and later officially renamed is distinctly different (although obviously related) to the group originally founded by Russell". No reference to the WTS.--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:27, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Since it is all about the sources, I can not possible see how any other than Russell would remain as the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses. Jeffro77's comment above about Russell's intension when it comes to the purpose of Watch Tower Society, have no bearing when it comes to a modern perspective and reality. In fact, Russell did not found a group named "Bible Students" or simmilar i the 1870's either, and rejected the use of any name for the group for several years, but eventually adopted the name International Bible Students Association (IBSA) after a while (see The Watch Tower, april 1910, p. 119). During all the precidencies the last 130 years or so, changes have occoured in various degree, and still does. It is hard to see what Jeffro77 want to achieve here, and on what basis. If Russell did not found the religion, then who did? Jeffro77 have rejected the change of name in 1931 is the reason for his view, but keeps arguing for Russell being unaware about any group named Jehovah's Witnesses as a core argument for his case. I am pretty sure some of the first Bible Students were unaware they actually was associated with a group named Bible Students too, on the same basis, those who died before the name was introdused in particular. To leave out core information from the infobox without a reasonable reason or to make everyone happy, would not be an improval of the article. Grrahnbahr (talk) 11:29, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
I have already stated that it is not merely the name change in 1931 that differentiated Rutherford's group, but that it was Rutherford's significant changes particularly during 1920s, during which time there were mostly new members of a fundamentally new group. The fact that neither group initially had a formal name during the early formation of each distinct group only further demonstrates my point, so it's not useful to your counterargument to point out that Russell initially had no formal name for his group. Additionally, as previously indicated, once IBSA became used as the name of another corporation, the congregations stopped using that name, instead calling themselves Associated Bible Students, so that the religion would not be as readily confused with the corporation. Although most sources cite Russell as the founder (though many just state that Russell founded the Bible Students, which 'became' JWs in some sense), they are generally just re-stating the JW's 'official' history. This must be balanced with the other minority of sources that actually reflect the historical development of the group. At the moment the infobox claims that Jehovah's Witnesses was founded by the founder of the Bible Students, and that it also branched from the Bible Students. It's illogical and wrong.--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:24, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Doctrinal changes within a religious group does not change the religious group from one to another. Compared to Rutherfords precidency, you could say significant changes also found place during Knorr's precidency. A very large majority (95-99%) from the time Knorr passed away, was not members when Knorr did enter the precidency. Does this make it a new religious group? Beside that, are there any reliable sources claiming Jehovah's Witnesses was founded in the 1920's by Rutherford? About sources re-stating JW's official story: JW's official stand is the JW is a continuation of the Christianity as it was practiced in the 1st century, with Russell as some kind of spiritual renewer. Your claim of pretty much all sources are just re-stating JW's official story shows nothing but a ridiculous lack of trust into a vaste majority of the researchers and authors writing about this topic. Your claim about "other minority of sources that actually reflect the historical development of the group", is nothing but your personal preference. The balancing is already made in the article, though I can not see any sources actually claiming JW was founded in the 1920' by Rutherford. There are no contradiction between Russell being counted as the founding the Bible Students, and Russell being counted as the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses. Grrahnbahr (talk) 13:27, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
Your comparison with Knorr is invalid because the "95-99%" (unsourced) of new members under Knorr was the addition of new members and not the loss of existing members, whereas under Rutherford, a substantial number of original members left specifically as a result of Rutherford's departures from Russell's teachings. Of course secular sources are not going to state the magical claims about the 'origin' of Jehovah's Witnesses as if it were historical fact, but it is unsurprising that they would echo the 'modern' origin. As I have previously stated, the articles' content already indicates how Jehovah's Witnesses evolved as a fundamentally separate religious group to the Bible Student movement, and the only thing that should really change is the blanket statement that Russell founded the separate group, which is pretty much restricted to the infobox. Of course it would not be a contradiction for Russell to concurrently found two different movements, but that isn't what happened. The Bible Student movement still exists, and still adheres to Russell's teachings; Jehovah's Witnesses exists as a later departure from Russell's teachings. In the case of other religious groups (including other departures from the Bible Student movement such as Laymen's Home Missionary Movement and Friends of Man), when there is a departure from one group, the new group is said to be founded by the person who brought about the departure. There is no good reason for treating it differently here.--Jeffro77 (talk) 21:50, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
So this is how you got the swimming button? What organization did they leave? The Bible Students or Jehovah's Witnesses? And are you still holding on to a claim of Jehovah's Witnesses being founded by Rutherford in the 1920's? Grrahnbahr (talk) 23:39, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand your question about a "swimming button", but it seems sarcastic. People who were dissatisfied with Rutherford's departures from Russell's teachings left Rutherford's evolving group that had not yet formally changed its name. Those who continued to accept Russell's teachings, and hence rejected the increasingly significant differences of Rutherford's distinct group, continued to be Bible Students.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:14, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
So those who left the Bible Students, continued to be Bible Students, but they were no longer associated with the Bible Students? Unless using bible student as a generic term, it appears to be some kind of logical flaw here. Grrahnbahr (talk) 14:44, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
You're toying with semantics. Groups with distinctly different beliefs having a similar name (or even the same name) doesn't automatically make them the same thing, despite the resulting confusion. Indeed, it was the resulting confusion about the similarly named groups with distinctly different beliefs that eventually led Rutherford to distinguish his group by changing the name to Jehovah's witnesses (not capitalised until several decades later). JWs subsequently claimed (and still do) that 'Bible Students' was merely an earlier name for their group, which is a lie intended to detract from the schism. In reality, the Bible Student movement continued (and continues) to hold to Russell's teachings.--Jeffro77 (talk) 08:40, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Jeffro77's reasoning here demands the existence of two distinct groups called "Bible Students" for several decades, from the early 1920's, and untill at least after WWII (The German designation for Bibel Students was used for the group through the war). I suggest supporters of Jeffro77's theory start digging for sources matching or outmatching the excisting sources claiming JW being founded by Russell, alternate the Bible Students being a forerunner for JW. Even "branched from" is questionable when we starts adding up sources. I don't see any reasons for continuing this discussion, as long as no RS is supporting the alternate view in this matter. It appairs a view of Rutherford as the founder of JW also lacks a general support among the contributers. Grrahnbahr (talk) 00:33, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I see you're continuing your false syllogism. It is merely semantics to argue that groups with increasingly divergent beliefs shared a common name for a period of time. It has no bearing on the actual argument about Rutherford founding a new group. It is not a 'theory' that Rutherford became the founder of a group with beliefs distinctly different from Russell's group. Rutherford's divergent teachings did not simply constitute a change to Russell's group, because the Bible Student movement adhering to Russell's beliefs has existed continuously ever since. Although the scale is different, saying Jehovah's Witnesses was founded by Russell is like claiming that Protestantism was founded by Jesus/Paul/Peter (if referring to Christianity) or Constantine (if referring to the Catholic Church).--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:38, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Jeffro's argument cannot be given space in the article untill the sources start having the discussion of whether Russell or Rutherford should be considered the founder, and the view cannot be stated as fact untill a majority of sources start referring to Rutherford and not Russell as the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses. This moment is still quite a distance out in the future and this argument is either premature or irrelevant. Only a crystallball could tell which of the two, and we dont use those here. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:14, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
  • I myself don't necessarily disagree with the above, and have seen some good recent reference sources (not including the obviously prejudiced NCE and its reference to "Russellites" instead of "Bible students") but do think the ambiguity of other recent reference sources can be not unreasonably seen as an indiator that the contention that there is a single clearly-defined founder of the JWs seems to no longer necessarily receive enough support that it must necessarily be repeated.John Carter (talk) 16:39, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Maunus has oversimplified and misrepresented my position. Though it is certainly the case that Rutherford did found a group distinctly different to Russell's, it is not the case that the article 'must' state that Russell is the founder in the absence of saying Rutherford is. As I have already suggested, the Founder parameter could simply be omitted from the infobox, or a note could indicate that Russell founded the Bible Student movement, which Rutherford adapted into something else. (The actual development of the group is already represented correctly in the main text.)--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:38, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
It is not the case that Rutherford founded any group. There is no group in the world that recognizes him as its founder. The article also cannot omit the question of founder unless there is literature that unequivocally states that there is no consensus on who founded JWs. This is not the case, and you have not presented any literature that remotely makes this point. There is a very broad and general consensus that JW was founded by Russell, and that Rutherford made important subsequent doctrinal and organizational changes to the organization founded by Russell - and it is well known that there are other small groups that consider JWs not to follow Russells teachings closely enough to be considered founded by him. But in wikipedia these groups view is not taken as fact unless it exists as significant view in the literature about JWs which it doesnt. Just like JWs consider that they are the only group that follows the teachings of Christ does not make us doubt the status of Jesus Christ as a founder of mainline christianity, this is also not the case here.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 00:28, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Actually, there's very little reason to believe that 'Jesus Christ'—whose 'Christ-ness' is entirely unestablished and based on magical thinking—is the 'founder of mainline Christianity', since there is no evidence at all for anything attributed to Jesus in the Bible. But apart from that, it is simply erroneous to claim that Russell founded a group that has core beliefs never held by Russell.--Jeffro77 (talk) 00:41, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Many of the core beliefs taught by Russell are still held by Jehovah's Witnesses. It is still essentially a religion that believes the Second Coming, and the start of a New Age, are events whose timing can roughly be calculated by Bible chronology and prophecy. It still teaches a general resurrection of humans, still (uniquely?) views Jesus' death as a "ransom sacrifice", still believes God has a "faithful slave" and that he wants this message shared by "his" people as a warning and invitation. Regardless of how Rutherford later warped and amplified some teachings and turned it into a high-control cult, it is still a development from the group founded by Russell. BlackCab (TALK) 01:31, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
On that basis, you may as well say they (Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses) were all founded by William Miller.--Jeffro77 (talk) 01:36, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Should I bother responding to that, I wonder? Russell's group was clearly his own, hence the "Russellite" tag. BlackCab (TALK) 02:00, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
You could respond. If you don't understand hyperbole and analogy.--Jeffro77 (talk) 10:07, 12 July 2014 (UTC)