Talk:Charles Taze Russell

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Former good article nominee Charles Taze Russell was a Philosophy and religion good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
May 2, 2012 Good article nominee Not listed

James Penton reference[edit]

Should the reference/citation for James Penton's book be removed? It was added some time ago by another editor to demonstrate Penton's view and explanation of the "jellyfish" story. CTR won a court case against two newspapers for printing the allegation, but Penton has been criticized in some circles. A user is trying to remove the reference but it seems to me a valid one, although it could probably stand some re-wording. Pastorrussell (talk) 15:42, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Agree with the removal. Penton's opinions on the matter seem superfluous in light of Russell's related court victories.
--AuthorityTam (talk) 16:09, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
Forgive me, I had thought you were the one who originally added the reference. I agree with the statement you make, however the user who is removing it seems to be doing so based upon the idea that the "jellyfish" story is true and that the reference note is trying to hide such truth. This was why I supported leaving it as a valid reference. But I'd like to see what other editors think on this. Pastorrussell (talk) 16:19, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
The facts show that the "jellyfish" story is a falsehood originating with Maria's imagination for her purposes (There is no evidence of Russell's misconduct). Hence, when historians know that a specific allegation is false, then they have two options: 1) to ignore it, 2) to reproduce it but with a plain explanation that the allegation is false. Since the Wikipedia's article makes a specific mention to the false allegation of Maria Russell, and since there are historians who have expressed their opinion on the subject, it is useful to include their opinion. And of course, I don't feel that anybody has the right to erase any citation or reference that has the Wiki-credentials.-- (talk) 13:26, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Unnecessary reference[edit]

Regarding the final reference in the Photo-Drama section:

The Warning Work (1909–1914)", The Watchtower, March 1, 1955, page 143, "To demonstrate further that these united students and workers did not believe the prophetic year of 1914 would end all their operations with respect to this earth, from 1912 to the beginning of 1914 the Watch Tower Society spent a fortune (over $300,000) in preparing the Photo-Drama of Creation, to spread Bible knowledge to the masses of people during and after 1914."

Two additional references already indicate the cost of the project, which is the point being referenced. This third reference seems to be in place simply to claim (in 1955), based on flawed logic, that the Bible Students were not really expecting Armageddon in 1914. It is specious reasoning to state that spending all their money demonstrates they weren't expecting the end, as it is just as likely that they would exhaust their earthly possessions if expecting the end of the world. Because of the flawed nature of the claim, and the fact that the superfluous information doesn't support any article content, I have removed the quote.--Jeffro77 (talk) 23:18, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Jeffro is absolutely right. The reasoning is specious, and in fact if we were to be so bold it could be said that the reference is misleading, or even dishonest. While it is true that Pastor Russell realized by 1910 that there was too much yet to happen for everything to end in 1914, (and he stated this in print), nevertheless it was the general expectation that the "Great Time of Trouble" would begin and that all of the "saints" would be "taken home" in late 1914. This is seen clearly from the convention report for that year. Pastorrussell (talk) 10:59, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, if the bulk of their monies had been expended on tracts or something that could be used up by the end of 1914, the matter might be more conclusive. There is no evidence $300,000 was the bulk of their monies, and in fact Watch Tower even then held valuable properties in an expensive waterfront neighborhood, and didn't mortgage them. Even regarding their liquid assets, they certainly didn't 'exhaust their funds' in the months leading up to October 1914, or any other date. --AuthorityTam (talk) 19:43, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Semantics aside, the fact remains that spending a lot of money does not conclusively "demonstrate" a perception that the 'world as we know it' was or was not about to end.--Jeffro77 (talk) 08:37, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Alleged Freemason Connection (revisited)[edit]

Although this issue has been previously addressed there has not been a consensus on how it should be presented. Fritz Springmeier introduced the subject in 1990 by speculating that CTR was associated with the Freemasons utilizing various logical fallacies. (e.g., he must have been a Mason because there were many Masonic Lodges in Allegheny; Bible Students are Masonic because they rent Masonic halls). Here are some telling statements found in the book:

"This book was never intended to answer all the reader's questions. This publication has always been intended as a vehicle to get people to think." — Author's Preface pg ii
"In this investigation, you are the jury-- even as this goes to press the facts and evidence are not all in." — pg 3
"There does seem then to be some justification, to see his anti-Catholic behavior as more than simply a doctrinal disagreement. This is displayed in Russell's World Tour. Russell seems to have connections to people he'd never met. Masonic connections- Masonic help?" — pg 18
"This author theorizes that the Eastern religions he [Russell] studied most were likely those that the Masonic Eastern Star would study, such as the study of the Egyptian and Middle East paganism that is so important to Masonry." — pg 18

The book is not entirely useless, but it does contain quotations quite frequently taken out of context upon which faulty conclusions are then drawn. Much more could be said, but what it really comes down to is that there is no reliable evidence (or unbiased reference) linking him to the Masons, while the various claims that the "cross and crown", pyramids, and winged suns are exclusively Masonic or of the occult are also patently false. It is a self-published work built on speculation. While Russell's alleged connection should be addressed because it has become so prominent, how should it be done? I will add a link in the References section for those who wish to download a PDF of Springmeier's book. Pastorrussell (talk) 23:09, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I personally consider Russell's alleged connections with Freemasonry (and Freemasonry in general) to be little more than a quaint novelty. That aside, the brief section on the subject seems fairly balanced.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:32, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
It's rather an antic already. Pics from Russel's grave site: -- (talk) 16:56, 23 October 2013 (UTC)


I know it might be unpopular with quite a few contributors to this article, but for fairness' sake shouldn't we include Russell's changing attitude (at least) toward the year 1914 in his publications? He did change his mind quite radically, and it can easily be attested from the sources. Any opinions? Trigaranus (talk) 18:19, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

It doesn't matter if it's unpopular, so long as it's reliably sourced.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:46, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
OK, as soon as I have a bit of time on my hands I am going to look for copies of the relevant editions. Trigaranus (talk) 08:35, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
The popularity or unpopularity of a topic with editors shouldn't have any impact upon whether or not something is mentioned in an article. It merely needs to be relevant, well sourced, presented without bias (pro or con,) balanced and neutral. The topic is very rich. But it might be more thoroughly addressed under the article for Jehovah's Witnesses than here because there is nearly a century of changing views and interpretations presented in their literature. It's not necessary to give it undue weight in this article. A brief notation — perhaps a few sentences or a paragraph — would be appropriate. I would advise however that it be presented here on the Talk page before adding to the article due to the potential for controversy as you have noted. It can be hashed out here and a consensus reached on how to properly present it. Pastorrussell (talk) 18:20, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Theology and Teachings[edit]

At the end of this week I will be expanding the Theology section because it does not adequately outline his theological views, and does not seem to have many reference citations. Does anyone object to my doing this? Pastorrussell (talk) 00:10, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't think anyone could reasonably object in principle. It's not possible to give a more specific response without an idea of the intended content. WP:BRD.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:52, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
If you can try to concentrate on secondary sources, that would be an improvement. Some of his views obviously changed over time and there have been disagreements in the past on what statements represent his outlook. BlackCab (talk) 08:16, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
My approach is to have a leading paragraph which briefly outlines his view of the Great Apostasy and his rejection of the authority of church councils, creeds, and dogmas, and that he believed the Bible when studied topically unshackled the mind from tradition and medieval superstitions. It will be followed by three segments, (1) those views which did not change, (2) those which developed over time, and (3) doctrinal controversies. For example, the first category will have items such as rejection of the Trinity and Hellfire; the second his developing view of Armageddon, and the application of the New Covenant, etc... It is the third segment that I am struggling with at the moment. Obviously, it will contain the controversy and debate surrounding his developing view of 1914 and what was or was not to occur at that time, but that is only one item. There is also the question of whether or not to represent the views of theologians who disagreed with his doctrinal interpretations and considered him a heretic. Should that even be included? Should it instead go into the Controversies section? Or is dissent implied? One of the major problems with many of the critical pamphlets published was that the author often took his views out of context. A very popular criticism was to take a quotation from "The At-one-ment Between God and Man" where Russell stated that Jesus was "forever dead," and then claiming that Russell was a blasphemer. In reality they had neglected to correctly represent his belief that it was merely the physical body of Jesus, not Jesus himself, that was dead. What do you think - should such even be included? Is it relevant? Pastorrussell (talk) 19:14, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for the delay guys. Barring the unforeseen, it should be in place in a couple of days - likely Wednesday evening (EDT). There were several things which came up over the past two weeks (work, visit from a friend who lives in another country, etc...) which took precedence. One issue is going to be that I only have a few third-party sources. It's a bit of a balancing act because most that I've seen or posses do not accurately reflect CTRs beliefs, and/or are not objective. But I'm sure we'll all be able to work together to make it the best it can be. If anyone has some additional sources it might be good to get them ready. Pastorrussell (talk) 18:22, 22 August 2011 (UTC)


I have added some information at the marriage section, adding a different perspective to the wording that was largely reflective of the official WTS version of their marriage breakdown. Barbara Grizzuti Harrison presents Russell's repeated claims that his wife was seized by ambitions beyond her station, partly because she was a captive of the women's movement, but also presents some interesting detail raised at the divorce hearing that casts significant doubt on that story. Justice Orlady of the Superior Court, in reviewing Russell's appeal of the separation verdict handed down by the Court of Common Pleas, referred to a letter written by CTR in July 1896 in which he stated "his conviction that they had made a mistake in getting married, and that that conviction had been growing on him for three years, which would make it begin in 1893." The dispute about the editorship of the paper, says Orlady, began only in 1896 so was therefore unrelated to CTR's "gnawing" conviction that the marriage was a mistake.

I have also deleted the statement about CTR providing accommodation for his wife. This is presented in an entirely favorable manner, implying generosity on his part; Grizzuti Harrison quotes evidence submitted by Maria Russell's attorney that throws an entirely different light on the arrangement, suggesting CTR had virtually installed her at the top of an abandoned office building, "crushed, humiliated ..." Given that disputed information, I have deleted the reference to her accommodation. Ultimately it's irrelevant to a story about CTR's life.

Harrison also casts doubt on the claim that Maria Russell placed flowers on his coffin and I would suggest that the current wording has been added to cast CTR in the best possible light, possibly to minimise the impression that she harbored bitterness towards him. Harrison says Maria testified against her former husband in a tax hearing in 1913 and a year later "she issued a denial that any reconciliation between her and Russell was in process." I think that section about the flowers can easily be removed.

Finally, is there a Wikipedia style guide on referring to husband and wife in the same sentence? Calling her "Mrs. Russell" sounds rather quaint. BlackCab (talk) 13:33, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Generally speaking I think you've done a good job in the edit, although I would disagree with the analysis. Harrison did not always present the facts objectively. There is abundant evidence that their (Maria and CTR) personalities were incompatible - she being a very strong-willed and intelligent woman. In the Victorian era it was still expected that a wife would be dutiful, humble and obey her husband, but Maria stated in her writings that she was not in agreement with those ideas or ideals. This topic is going to be a hot button for many people. The situation is often seen as a "he said/she said" but in fact it is far more complicated than that. I believe it was Gruss who has gone so far as to suggest that their agreement to perpetual celibacy was the real problem. He suggests that CTR seems to have had a low libido while Maria was the reverse and suffered greatly as a result. Sadly, there were many sexually frustrated Victorian wives, but surely lack of intimacy played a role in her attitude and actions.
I agree that the reference to her presence at the graveside is not essential. It does indeed have an air of implying that all was well and that she wasn't really mad at him. I've never seen any evidence to suggest that she ever got over her bitterness to her dying day. Pastorrussell (talk) 19:41, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
I have deleted the funeral reference and found an answer to my question about honorifics. I'm interested in working my way through this article -- I haven't paid it a great deal of attention in the past, partly because CTR is the subject of so many disputed claims. He was a fairly complicated and colorful character. I'm interested in seeing what you're adding and will help to collaborate with you where possible to improve the article. BlackCab (talk) 01:07, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree that the statement about the lilies should not be included. If it was there to imply something about what Maria thought of Charles, then it is a non-neutral point of view and should be replaced with a much clearer sourced statement about her attitude of Charles after his death, if any exists. If it was not there to imply something, the placing of the flowers is mundane and therefore unnecessary.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:56, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

GAN nomination[edit]

This article was nominated with outstanding clean-up tags present as well as quite a few {{citation needed}} tags. In it's present shape it meets the Quickfail criteria at Wikipedia:Reviewing good articles. I would suggest fixing these issues soon or removing the nomination until the issues are able to be addressed. AIRcorn (talk) 10:18, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

The article is a long way short of GA status. It needs a wider variety of sources and is generally an uncritical treatment of someone who attracted much controversy. It's poorly illustrated and in some areas lacks proper punctuation. BlackCab (talk) 10:48, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Charles Taze Russell/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Jezhotwells (talk · contribs) 13:57, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

I am quickfailing this nomination as there are a number of cleanup tags that need addressing, some dating back to May 2009! [Accuracy disputes (May 2009), Articles lacking reliable references (May 2009), Articles with unsourced statements (January 2010, March 2011, November 2009)] When all of these have been addressed the article can be re-nominated. Jezhotwells (talk) 13:57, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Question regarding odd wording[edit]

Hi, In this section there is a setence whose meaning I cannot understand and might need to be reworded somehow.

His conclusion that it was tradition led him to begin teaching, through the pages of the Herald, what he believed to have discovered on the 

Is it saying that Russell concluded that he allowed tradition to mislead him into making those predictions or something else? Thanks. Fordx12 (talk) 23:20, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Russell concluded that teachings on the timing of Christ's presence were based on tradition rather than proper research. He thus initiated his own research. BlackCab (talk) 23:53, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. I propuse to reword it something like, "He concluded that it was Christian tradition and so he began teaching, through the pages of the Herald, what he believed to have discovered on the subject," just to make it a bit more clear. Fordx12 (talk) 01:37, 21 December 2012 (UTC)


The article says:

In 1870, at age eighteen, he attended a presentation by Adventist minister Jonas Wendell. During his presentation Wendell outlined his belief that 1873 or 1874 would be the date for Christ's second coming.

Although Wendell did believe in 1873/1874 as the year of Christ’s second coming, there is no source that this was the topic of Wendells presentation when Russell was attending this meeting. This sentence in the Wikipedia-article seems a mere assumption. Unless someone comes up with a valid reference. —Mendelo (talk) 21:04, 23 March 2013 (UTC)


This article is mostly based on the Watchtower's publications. It should be completed with more critical point of views like Penton's. Topics like the marriage and controversies are sometimes presented in a not neutral way. For example, saying "according to official records, gross receipts from the fundraiser totaled "about $1800" (current value $45,000), of which Russell himself did not get a penny" is most probably inaccurate, as any money put in his society was his money anyway. So I suggest to use Penton and other historians rather that Watchtower's publications. ChercheTrouve (talk) 20:49, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

The same problem exists with the Jehovah's Witness article, at least the history part of it. Some dishonest people monitor that to remove, for example, detail about Russell's failed predictions of the world ending, and the less flattering things done in response to each. Something needs to be done about this kind of corruption of the wiki. — Kaz (talk) 19:23, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
What information are you suggesting has been removed from the History section of the JW article?--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:19, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
On the issue of sources, I agree that editors need to look beyond Watchtower publications. There needs to be an upgrading and use of Reliable Sources, and not just quotes from newspaper articles of the period. As prominent as Russell was, surely there have been studies of him and of Jehovah's witnesses, including comparative studies related to other developments in Protestant Christianity in those years. There is too much reliance of what Russell was saying as a primary source.Parkwells (talk) 14:58, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

Years under 'President of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society'[edit]

Why has an unregistered person (from merely an IP address) been DROPPING or abbreviating information and abbreviating that information from actual calendar dates, to years only?

cf. President of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society 1884–1916

MaynardClark (talk) 04:33, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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[1] Russell refers to the cross. [2], [3] etc.

[4] 12 times.

[5] five times.

[6] veritable scads.

Anyone asserting that Russell did not refer to the cross is incorrect ab initio. Collect (talk) 14:33, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

Even the JW video (found on the website here) entitled "The Kingdom: 100 Years and Counting" clearly has the actors who portray Russell and his wife using the cross inside a crown symbol as late as 1914 (first thirty seconds of the film). The WT magazines cover had the cross/crown on it until October of 1931. Vyselink (talk) 16:38, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

First moving picture with sound[edit]

I have removed a claim that the Photo-Drama was the first major screen play with moving pictures and sound. The claim is based on a statement by Tim Dirks (, but he actually says it was the first major screenplay to combine the three techniques of "synchronized sound (recorded speech), moving film, and magic lantern color slides". The Watchtower of 15 February 2014 quotes Dirks (without citing the specific source), and adds, "Films that preceded the “Photo-Drama” had used some of these techniques but not all of them in one presentation".--Jeffro77 (talk) 12:51, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

I have replaced the misleading statement and provided a citation (per The Photo-Drama of Creation).--Jeffro77 (talk) 13:03, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

Lead is too long[edit]

The Lead is too long and has too many quotes by Russell about his beliefs, rather than using RS to summarize facts about his life. Needs to be reworked.Parkwells (talk) 15:09, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

I have moved some of the material from the lead to make it an overview/introduction to the Ministry section instead.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:34, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

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The term "Scotch-Irish American" has gone through a couple of changes now to "Scottish-Irish American", so I thought a discussion should be brought up. As of now, the page name that is linked to it is "Scotch-Irish American", not Scottish, so I believe that until the page is renamed, it should remain as the link. Also, Scotch-Irish, as that page explains, is still in use in the US, which is where CTR is from, and can be seen here on While I am unsure of whether or not this page could be a WP:RS, I believe it highlights the issue (I am linking directly to page three of the article). Essentially it says that Scotch-Irish should be the term. Vyselink (talk) 23:17, 25 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm familiar with the saying that the only things that are Scotch are whisky and tape; and the rest are Scottish. But book usage says otherwise in this case. Scotch-Irish is much more common, and Scots-Irish is next; Scottish-Irish is seldom seen. Dicklyon (talk) 05:14, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
The IP editor's original claim that Scotch is only 'a drink' is quite simply wrong. Scotch when referring to the drink is an abbreviated form of Scotch whisky, wherein Scotch is an adjective meaning Scottish. There is no basis for insisting on the longer form given the name of the target article.--Jeffro77 (talk) 05:21, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
The IP editor's continued attempts to change the link to the wrong article name are becoming disruptive.--Jeffro77 (talk) 14:18, 26 December 2016 (UTC)