Jehovah's Witnesses Admit to Promulgating False Prophecies Under Oath in a Court of Law
Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be the prophet of God at this time.1 However, in November 1954, the Douglas Walsh trial was held in the Scottish Court of Sessions, in which the Watchtower Society tried to establish before the British court that certain of its members were ordained ministers. High ranking leaders of the Society testified, including vice-president Fred Franz and legal counsel for the Society, Haydon C. Covington. Covington's testimony before the attorney for the Ministry of Labour and National Service included the following admissions:
Jehovah's Witnesses admit to promulgating false prophecies
Q.Is it not vital to speak the truth on religious matters?
A.It certainly is.
Q. Is there in your view room in a religion for a change of interpretation of Holy Writ from time to time?
A. There is every reason for a change in interpretation as we view it, of the Bible. Our view becomes more clear as we see the prophesy fulfilled by time.
Q. You have promulgated -- forgive the word -- false prophesy?
A. We have -- I do not think we have promulgated false prophesy, there have been statements that were erroneous, that is the way I put it, and mistaken.
Q. Is it a most vital consideration in the present situation of the world to know if the prophesy can be interpreted into terms of fact, when Christ's Second Coming was?
A. That is true, and we have always striven to see that we have the truth before we utter it. We go on the very best information we have but we cannot wait until we get perfect, because if we wait until we get perfect we would never be able to speak.
Q. Let us follow that up just a little. It was promulgated as a matter which must be believed by all members of Jehovah's Witnesses that the Lord's Second Coming took place in 1874?
A. I am not familiar with that. You are speaking on a matter that I know nothing of.
Q. You heard Mr. Franz's evidence?
A. I heard Mr. Franz testify, but I am not familiar with what he said on that, I mean the subject matter of what he was talking about, so I cannot answer any more than you can, having heard what he said.
Q. Leave me out of it?
A. That is the source of my information, what I have heard in court.
Q. You have studied the literature of your movement?
A. Yes, but not all of it. I have not studied the seven volumes of "Studies in the Scriptures," and I have not studied this matter that you are mentioning now of 1874. I am not at all familiar with that.
Q. Assume from me that it was promulgated as authoritative by the Society that Christ's Second Coming was in 1874?
A. Taking that assumption as a fact, it is a hypothetical statement.
Q. That was the publication of false prophesy?
A. That was the publication of a false prophesy, it was a false statement or an erroneous statement in fulfillment of a prophesy that was false or erroneous.
Q. And that had to be believed by the whole of Jehovah's Witnesses?
A. Yes, because you must understand we must have unity, we cannot have disunity with a lot of people going every way, an army is supposed to march in step.
Q. You do not believe in the worldly armies, do you?
A. We believe in the Christian Army of God.
Q. Do you believe in the worldly armies?
A. We have nothing to say about that, we do not preach against them, we merely say that the worldly armies, like the nations of the world today, are a part of Satan's Organization, and we do not take part in them, but we do not say the nations cannot have their armies, we do not preach against warfare, we are merely claiming our exemption from it, that is all.
Q. Back to the point now. A false prophesy was promulgated?
A. I agree that.
Q. It had to be accepted by Jehovah's Witnesses?
A. That is correct.
Q. If a member of Jehovah's Witnesses took the view himself that that prophesy was wrong and said so he would be disfellowshipped?
A. Yes, if he said so and kept persisting in creating trouble, because if the whole organisation believes one thing, even though it be erroneous and somebody else starts on his own trying to put his ideas across then there is disunity and trouble, there cannot be harmony, there cannot be marching. When a change comes it should come from the proper source, the head of the organisation, the governing body, not from the bottom upwards, because everybody would have ideas, and the organisation would disintegrate and go in a thousand different directions. Our purpose is to have unity.
Q. Unity at all costs?
A. Unity at all costs, because we believe and are sure that Jehovah God is using our organisation, the governing body of our organisation to direct it, even though mistakes are made from time to time.
Q. And unity based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy?
A. That is conceded to be true.
Q. And the person who expressed his view, as you say, that it was wrong, and was disfellowshipped, would be in breach of the Covenant, if he was baptized?
A. That is correct.
Q. And as you said yesterday expressly, would be worthy of death?
A. I think - - -
Q. Would you say yes or no?
A. I will answer yes, unhesitatingly.
Q. Do you call that religion?
A. It certainly is.
Q. Do you call it Christianity?
A. I certainly do.
IDENTIFYING THE "PROPHET" -- "So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?...This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian Witnesses...Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it." The Watchtower, 4/1/72 (See Deut. 18:21)
Last Modified January 21, 2006