Jehovah's Witnesses and the United Nations
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Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the League of Nations and the United Nations were set up as a counterfeit of God's Kingdom. Joseph F. Rutherford, second president of the Watch Tower Society, condemned politicians, business leaders and clergy in their support of the League of Nations. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the United Nations will soon destroy all other religions, and then turn against Jehovah's Witnesses.
History of teaching
At a convention of Bible Students held in September 1919, the local press reported J. F. Rutherford's comments on the League of Nations: "He declared a League of Nations formed by the political and economic forces, moved by a desire to better mankind by establishment of peace and plenty would accomplish great good, and then asserted that the Lord's displeasure is certain to be visited upon the League, because the clergy--Catholic and Protestant--have abandoned his plan and endorsed the League of Nations, hailing it as the political expression of Christ's kingdom on earth." Rutherford’s view was similarly held by other pre-millennialist expositors of that era.
The Bible Student journal Golden Age referred to the “professional politician” and the “financial powers” and the “clergy” as an “unholy trinity” in support of the League of Nations and predicted its demise: “Since these two classes [politicians and financial] are presumed to be worldly men who never claimed to have made a covenant with God, he might not interfere with them for a time, but chiefly because of the other member of the unholy trinity—the clergy—God indicates that he will not permit the League of Nations and league of churches to endure.” In 1930, Rutherford published the booklet Prohibition and the League of Nations—Born of God or the Devil, Which? The Bible Proof which concluded: “Here is the positive and unqualified statement from Jehovah God that neither the League of Nations nor any other combination of men and governments shall have anything to do with the setting up of his kingdom and establishing peace and righteousness. It is God’s kingdom, and not man’s; and for men to assume to do what God has declared he will do is a gross, presumptuous sin. The nation organization that attempts to run ahead of God and presumptuously attempts to set up a rule or organization and call it God’s kingdom will suffer severe punishment.”
In a speech given on 20 September 1942, Nathan Knorr, the Society's third president, claimed the newly formed United Nations was the scarlet-colored wild beast of Revelation that would be ridden by the woman "Babylon", which Knorr identified as "the religious organization with headquarters at Vatican City".
In 1963 Jehovah's Witnesses adopted a resolution establishing the official view of the United Nations. The resolution was published in the November 15, 1963 issue of Watchtower. At 24 assemblies held throughout the year, a total of 454,977 convention attendees adopted the resolution.
Regarding the United Nations, paragraph 5 of that resolution states, "the nations further refused the surrender of their sovereignty to God's Messianic kingdom by setting up ... the United Nations, ... This international organization stands for world sovereignty by political men. For years men without faith in God's kingdom have endeavored to get all people to worship this international image of human political sovereignty as the best hope for earthly peace and security, in fact, the last hope for humanity. To date 111 nations have given worship to this political image by becoming members of it. However, we, as witnesses of the Sovereign God Jehovah, will continue refusing to engage in such idolatrous worship."
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the United Nations is the "image of the wild beast" referred to in Revelation 13:1-18 and the fulfillment of the "disgusting thing that causes desolation" from Matthew 24:15. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God will use the United Nations to destroy "false religion", wherein all institutionalized religions except Jehovah's Witnesses will be destroyed. They further believe that after all other religions are destroyed, "a coalition of nations" will then turn against Jehovah's Witnesses to destroy them, but Jehovah will intervene and destroy all political elements. They believe this act of divine intervention will be Armageddon, the final part of the Great Tribulation.
In practice, Jehovah's Witnesses "view the United Nations organization as they do other governmental bodies of the world," as "superior authorities" that "exist by God's permission," based on their interpretation of Romans 13:1-2. They believe "this Scriptural position does not condone any form of disrespect toward governments or their officials," to which they are to "render due respect," and they "obey them as long as such obedience does not require that they sin against God."
Jehovah's Witnesses' interactions with the UN
In February 1992, Jehovah's Witnesses' New York corporation, the Watchtower Society, became an Associate member of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN/DPI) and maintained this membership until October 2001. According to the UN/DPI, the primary purpose of NGO association is "the redissemination of information in order to increase public understanding of the principles, activities and achievements of the United Nations and its Agencies." The associate status was ceased the day after it was made known in The Guardian. In a letter dated March 4, 2004, the UN/DPI website explained the association it had with the Watchtower Society: "By accepting association with DPI, the organization agreed to meet criteria for association, including support and respect of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and commitment and means to conduct effective information programmes with its constituents and to a broader audience about UN activities." The official site further explains about associated organizations: "Please note that association of NGOs with DPI does not constitute their incorporation into the United Nations system, nor does it entitle associated organizations or their staff to any kind of privileges, immunities or special status."
- From the Sandusky, Ohio, Star Journal as quoted in the October 1, 1919 Watch Tower, p. 298
- ”Such a League of Nations, for instance, as is proposed to-day as a panacea for national wrongs, not only has been foretold in Scripture as the last resource of international politics, but its failure has likewise been predicted.”-- C.F. Hogg and W.E. Vine, Touching the Coming of the Lord, London 1919, p. 95.
- September 9, 1920 ‘’Golden Age’’, p. 722
- Rutherford, J. F. (1930). Prohibition and the League of Nations-Born of God or the Devil, Which? The Bible Proof (PDF). Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 52.
- Knorr, Nathan. Peace - Can It Last? (PDF). Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 22. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- "The Resolution". The Watchtower: 685. November 15, 1963.
- The Watchtower 1 May 1999, p. 14
- The Watchtower, 1 October 1995, p. 7
- "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower. May 2015. p. 29.
- Revelation - It's Grand Climax at Hand, Chapter 39, page 279: "ARMAGEDDON ... With the desolating of Babylon the Great, the great tribulation will already have started. Then, urged on by Satan, the scarlet-colored wild beast and its ten horns will concentrate their attack on Jehovah’s people."
- The Watchtower, 1 October, page 20: "20 In God’s Word, the course of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, is likened to that of "a scarlet-colored wild beast" having seven heads (representing the world powers from which it originates) and ten horns (standing for the governmental powers that now support it)."
- "Was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society ever affiliated with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO)? - Ask DAG". Dag Hammarskjöld Library - Ask DAG!. Dept. of Public Instruction - NGO Section, United Nations. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- Non-Governmental Organization/DPI, UN.org
- E.g. Felix Corley, Kazakhstan: Punished for worship meetings; UN appeals, Forum 18, 13 May 2016.