Other Main Names:
Started by Charles Taze Russell in 1879. In the same year he started publishing what is now Watchtower magazine. The then Zion's Watchtower and Tract Society was established 1881 and chartered 1884 (and is now the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society). In 1931 the group was renamed Jehovah's Witnesses. The name came from a spirit guide.
In 1912 Russell admitted to perjury and (under oath) to not knowing Greek, Hebrew, or Latin. The next year he lost a law suit against a newspaper which exposed a scam he had run selling "Miracle Wheat." In the case it came out that the Watchtower was nothing more than a moneymaking scheme for Russell, who owned 99% of the shares in the holding company the profits went to.
Also in 1913, his wife sued him for divorce on the grounds of "his conceit, egotism, domination and improper conduct toward other women."
Russell was deported from Canada in 1916 and died the same year. In 1940 the Society was outlawed in New Zealand for being a "subversive organisation." In 1947 they were banned from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). They have since been allowed back to both countries.
The Watchtower has a governing body of 15 men. The Presidents have been:
In New Zealand since 1996 more people have left the cult than have joined. Praise God.