8

I've heard it stated that the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses, Charles Taze Russel, was a Freemason (33rd Degree) which may have been partially responsible for his interest in collaborating bible prophecy with the pyramids, as well as the symbolism he used in some of his books.

There seems to be arguments both for and against this, both convincing. Is there any solid historical proof of as to whether or not this claim is true?

2 Answers 2

5

Charles Taze Russel (or Russell) is reported to have said, in a Convention discourse "The Temple of God"

Although I have never been a Mason, I have heard that in Masonry they have something which very closely illustrates this ... Many Masons shake hands with me and give me what I know is their grip; they don't know me from a Mason. Something I do seems to be the same as Masons do, I don't know what it is; but they often give me all kinds of grips and I give them back, then I tell them I don't know anything about it except just a few grips that have come to me naturally.

Russel appears not to have been an entirely honest man, but nevertheless is unlikely to have been hiding a secret allegiance to the Freemasons, as he talks of such societies consuming valuable time in foolish, senseless rites and ceremonies.

1
3

Was Charles Russel, Founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Freemason?

The short answer is that we may never know one way or another with any certainty. There seems to be arguments both for and against this topic. The debate will no doubt go on.

Charles Taze Russel freely admits he had friends that were Freemasons. He even shacked hands with them with their ”grips”. At face value it ends there.

"There are certain conditions,—the low gate, the narrow way, the difficult path. Although I have never been a Mason, I have heard that in Masonry they have something which very closely illustrates this" ... "Many Masons shake hands with me and give me what I know is their grip; they don't know me from a Mason. Something I do seems to be the same as Masons do, I don't know what it is; but they often give me all kinds of grips and I give them back, then I tell them I don't know anything about it except just a few grips that have come to me naturally." —June, 1913; Convention discourse "The Temple of God"("Convention Report Sermons" pg. 362)

Was Pastor Russell a Freemason?

Wikipedia goes on to further state that Pastor Russell was not a Freemason!

In June 1913, during a transcontinental speaking tour, Russell lectured in a Masonic hall in San Francisco, saying:

Although I have never been a Mason… Something I do seems to be the same as Masons do, I don't know what it is; but they often give me all kinds of grips and I give them back, then I tell them I don't know anything about it except just a few grips that have come to me naturally.

Charles Taze Russell

My only concern here is in the fact that Charles Russell sometimes employed Masonic grips with Freemasons. These grips would have been secret hand gestures known to Freemasons alone.

Symbols in ritual

Historically, Freemasons used various signs (hand gestures), grips or "tokens" (handshakes), and passwords to identify legitimate Masonic visitors from non-Masons who might wish to gain admission to meetings. These signs, grips, and passwords have been exposed multiple times; today Freemasons use dues cards and other forms of written identification.

Masonic ritual and symbolism

I have a real dilemma here: As that moment in history, these types of hand shakes and grips were reserved for the initiated members of Freemasonry only. His comments are at odds with their secret rites of the time.

6
  • watchtowerdocuments.org/…
    – 007
    Commented Feb 22 at 23:50
  • 1
    Not according to the following: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 18 at 23:34
  • @Mr.Bond It is Wikipedia! Freemasonry signs were secret back then, so my question stands as to how he knew them secret handshakes that only Freemasonry individuals knew.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 19 at 1:11
  • Russel explained: I don't know what it is; but they often give me all kinds of grips and I give them back, then I tell them I don't know anything about it except just a few grips that have come to me naturally. There was no comment from a mason saying that CTR had responded with the secret handshake. Also there is the document that stated CTR was never a mason.
    – 007
    Commented May 19 at 14:59
  • @Kris As that moment in history, these types of hand shakes and grips were reserved for the initiated members of Freemasonry only. His comments are at odds with their secret rites of the times!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 19 at 15:14

You must log in to answer this question.