To Love and Hate a Mass Murderer: 40 Years On, Jim Jones’ Son Tells How It Was at Jonestown



To Love and Hate a Mass Murderer: 40 Years On, Jim Jones’ Son Tells How It Was at Jonestown. Stephan Jones, who wasn’t at the cult leader’s Guyana camp that fateful day, tells Haaretz about the man who would convince his followers to ‘drink the Kool-Aid.’


By Moran Sharir

When the order from the colony came over the speaker in Guyana’s capital Georgetown, Stephan Jones knew he wouldn’t obey it. In fact, he thought he was the only one who could save the situation.

He contacted the people at the San Francisco branch of the Peoples Temple and instructed them not to take action. He also made sure that the other disciples who were in the capital would do nothing hasty.

But it was too late. A woman named Sharon Amos had slaughtered her three children and committed suicide. Stephan ran to the U.S. Embassy and appealed for a helicopter to take him to the colony to try to stop the disaster, but no one listened. And he would have arrived too late, anyway.

The next day, when soldiers of the Guyanese army, one of the most ragged in South America, hesitantly entered the Jonestown compound, they were blinded by the thick morning mist. The only sounds they heard came from the jungle animals going about their business.

The silence could mean only one thing: An ambush was awaiting them. They moved forward slowly until one soldier bumped into an object on the ground. When he brushed away the mist below him he saw that it was a lifeless human limb. The soldiers realized very quickly that the enemy wasn’t waiting for them. Hundreds of corpses were lying on the ground in front of them.

Going by the first body count, the media reported 383 dead. A bit later the number was revised upward to 408. This figure, though shocking, gave room for hope – maybe the remaining hundreds of people of the colony had fled into the jungle and were saved.

Only two days later did the picture became clear. American soldiers who arrived discovered that beneath the layer of bodies was another layer, and yet another. The bottom layer consisted of about 300 babies and small children whose bodies had been ravished by the humidity and jungle insects.

Altogether, 909 people died at Jonestown on November 18, 1978, by swallowing a grape-flavored beverage mixed with potassium cyanide, or from injections of poison. They also killed their dogs. Among the hundreds of corpses, only one was different; he had died from a bullet to the head. Swollen to bursting, that was the corpse of Jim Jones, the man who had conducted this concert of death.

All the people who lay there around him had followed him. Some of them had started out with him in the earliest days in Indiana and moved with him to California. Others had joined in San Francisco and continued with him to the promised land in the South American jungle. All had been captivated by his promises of a model socialist society based on equality and love under his leadership.

The phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid,” meaning to follow someone blindly, was born that day in Guyana. Four decades later, Americans often use this phrase in political and business contexts without knowing its origin. (Actually, the deadly beverage that day might have been based on a cheaper imitation, Flavor Aid.)

The expression was born of the perception that Jim Jones’ disciples were gullible people who gladly drank the poison because their leader told them it would do them good. This dismissive thinking was convenient because it’s hard to comprehend how so many people marched together to a certain and unnecessary death.

The slaughter at Jonestown was the worst civilian tragedy in U.S. history before September 11, 2001. For years it was largely forgotten along with a number of other insanities in the United States in the 1970s. The 40th anniversary is offering Americans an opportunity to deal with this neglected sore, with the story receiving treatment in both book and documentary form, a story of a trajectory from charismatic preacher and leader to head of a murderous cult.

This return to the cult of Jim Jones is part of a re-examination of dangerous cults and movements in America’s past, like the Osho cult, which had a similar murderous potential. It’s not entirely surprising that many Americans and others want to understand how thousands of people can become blind followers of a tempestuous leader, and how it can end.

Stephan, Jim Jones’ son who was 19 at the time, says the warning signs that went unnoticed at Jonestown can be seen in the world today. He says that to understand how a thing like that can happen, you have to do what leaders like Jim Jones and his successors don’t want us to do – to read.


A patricide forgone

After the slaughter, Stephan Jones was arrested on suspicion of abetting the mass murder and spent three months in a Guyanese prison. After years of struggles that included drug addiction, Jones says he’s now living a pleasant life in the United States with his wife and three daughters. He’s an executive at the office furniture company where he began working immediately after Jonestown.

File photo: Peoples Temple compound, led by Jim Jones, after bodies were removed, in Jonestown, Guyana, November 1978.
File photo: Peoples Temple compound, led by Jim Jones, after bodies were removed, in Jonestown, Guyana, November 1978. AP
In a telephone interview he sounds serene, though it can’t be easy for him to talk about the tragedy that took his parents, a number of his siblings and many of his friends.

Is this surge in public interest in Jonestown an exhausting experience for you?

“I wouldn’t say that … I don’t have problems saying no, and I do quite a bit, so I’m feeling it now because I traveled to New York and had a long interview yesterday [with CNN]. After that I didn’t sleep well last night.”

Is it maybe therapeutic?

“I wouldn’t say therapeutic. The therapy that has been helpful to me hasn’t been by talking with strangers about it. I would say that there are times when it’s very enriching to speak with people about it … All too often people want to write everyone off as a bunch of crazies. Like why would they follow such a madman and to such a crazy final act, and we probably know by now that it wasn’t a mass suicide, but that’s how it has been portrayed.”

What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about the Peoples Temple or your father?

“I appreciate that question. I think that I’ll pick two. Number one: People can’t understand what was attractive about Dad. The media has done a poor job; they’ve demonized him. That he was just this crazy zealot this entire time. The guy you see in all the images.

“I think there are different images being shown now, but it’s still too little, too late. I get it, I’m not upset about that. I’m not trying to defend him. I just wish people could understand what was attractive about him. Then they could identify and allow themselves to step into the story and understand how such a thing could happen.

“So the second thing is this whole idea of drinking the Kool-Aid – that’s such a prevalent saying. But the reality is that it was far from a mass suicide. People were forced. How could that be suicide? They were forced. And all of the children died first. People were completely fatigued, exhausted. They felt there was an outside threat, and that was hammered into them.

“Even the few people that actually took the poison. Of those 25 percent that drank the poison, most of those people were just defeated and didn’t know where else to turn and didn’t want to run out on the others. So it was not this grand march to death, far from it. We didn’t see that coming. I guess maybe somebody who hadn’t been in the temple their entire lives and was just stepping into it could’ve seen it coming. But we never felt he would go through with it because we saw him as such a coward.”

Do you think people can ever see your father not just as a villain but as a complex figure?

“Yeah often people do. I think that we all know that in his final days he was certainly a villain, but there are people who just reach out to me because they’ve come upon something I’ve written and they’re able, through me, to see the humanity of it all. It was easy to see and feel what was attractive about my father. He was ill from when he was very young and was using fear to control me when I was barely more than a toddler. But he also tapped into something very real and showed something very real and was very loving, especially during the early period.”

Have your feelings toward your father and his role in your life evolved over the years?

“Oh yeah, I think you can see that from my writing. And it was necessary in my own healing for me to find acceptance for him, understanding of him. You used the word forgiveness, but I find love and compassion for him. And I had good reason to be enraged with him – I was enraged long before he died, and openly so. But a lot of the rage that I kept for years was keeping me from looking at my part and seeing what I hope I would do differently if in similar circumstances. I try not to speak in terms of what I could’ve done because I see no value in that.”

Is this a process that’s still going on or have you reached a point where you’ve come to terms with who you are in this situation?

“I know I’ve reached a better place and I don’t fear lapsing back into the darkest times, but it’s a daily process and one that I’m grateful to have.”

Were you aware that you had a very different childhood than most?

“Well, once we got to California and we were going to public school, there it was very evident to me that my life was very different from the lives of most of the other kids. It was just more controlled. And there was more social rhetoric and action in my life and a lot more fear. A lot more conversation about the outside threat that was anyone that wasn’t in the temple. And I don’t know if it was paranoia. I think it was Dad controlling people through fear, me and my siblings when we were very young.”

He used this kind of threat to control his people. Fear of an external threat was a major component of your father’s philosophy. Did you ever think there might be a physical threat to yourself?

“Yes. I certainly felt there was an outside threat, even when I knew my father was full of it and I was at odds with him in Jonestown. The first attacks on the town, I thought they were real. I thought there were reasons for people to want to get us.

“I had been hammered for years with the message that there was an outside threat, and from an early age my father talked about people wanting to bomb us. And he faked getting shot in Redwood Valley [California] when I was still pretty young, and we felt like we were in danger much of the time. I found relief in the woods and rivers and creeks, and I got away as often as I could, but there was always a low-level anxiety that I only really can identify now.”

Merely trying to impress

Did you notice a point or phase where your father’s behavior shifted and he lost touch with the just causes that he once championed? Or lost touch with reality?

“I believe that it was always a personal agenda for my father, and yes, there was a gradual shift in the balance. I would argue that even a lot of the good works that he wanted to do early on were an attempt to impress my mother and her family.

“And I think he genuinely cared about those things, but my understanding of my father just from my own experience and stories is that unconsciously he was always primarily managing other people’s perception of him. So in my view, even the good works and things he championed were in some way not as pure as folks want to think. I don’t think he went from being an altruistic, selfless, humble man to what he became.

“I noticed them in real time. I mean, I saw things and was privy to things …. It’s not that I had better sight than others; I had a better view of it and it really broke for me when he was unfaithful to my mother and told her about it in detail.”

You describe yourself in your writings as a rebellious kid. Did you ever consider the ultimate rebellious act: to defect from the temple?

“I did. The reason I ended up in Jonestown is that I left. My mother got me an apartment, I got a job and my father came and tried to talk me into coming back. I refused. He asked me to make one last mission with him to Jonestown. He plucked my ego strings, making me feel like he needed me to help him on this mission, but I refused.

“And then he went to my mother. My mother, trying to appease him, made him promise that he wouldn’t leave me down there. He promised that he wouldn’t. I made that last trip with him and he made me stay in Jonestown.

“So yes … there were often thoughts of taking him out but I know I wasn’t capable of that kind of thing. I also didn’t really know what I’d be dealing with if I did, but sadly we were finally at a point where I felt I had enough support and we decided that we were going to take action. Because Dad was such a mess …. He was so wasted most of the time.

“Everyone was waiting for him to take himself out. I don’t know about the inner circle but many of us, and even my brother Tim, when he turned to my side, he wanted to kill my father, he was so angry. And I don’t know that he could actually have done that.

“But he wanted to take Dad out, and I was the one to convince him that Dad would do that himself and we were going to have chaos on our hands. Which probably wasn’t true. I think most people would have welcomed some kind of action that took Dad out of the picture … but I didn’t feel like we had enough people to back us up, or I didn’t know those people.”

Because people were disenchanted with him by that time?

“Oh my …. Listen, not long before, we went to play basketball. I had been up all night unloading boats and I had to be at work in a couple of hours so I lay down for two hours of sleep after backbreaking and dangerous work, and Dad comes on the speaker in the wee hours of the morning.

“And I just flew out of bed, grabbed my ax, walked out to the post that was supporting the speaker and raised the ax like I was going to cut it down. And I looked around and there were at least 15 people looking at me. And they were all smiling …. So yes, many people were disenchanted.”

Do you think he felt that?

“I’m sure he feared it and I’m sure he had people telling him it existed. But of course Dad was most terrified about anybody turning against him because it really screwed with the illusion that he had created. And his sense of self resided in his perception of other people’s perception of him. And to have any fray in that fabric would cause an unraveling that he couldn’t handle.”

How do you explain the renewed interest in the Peoples Temple?

“I think there are people who are interested in it because of what’s going on in the world. The reason that I have agreed to talk to as many people as I have is because of that. I make a point of avoiding pointing fingers and giving specific names. I’d rather just talk about what didn’t work and hope that people can see that in their own lives.

“And that’s why it’s so critical that people be wary of any leader who is held as superior to the people they’re leading. And frankly, I’m much more trusting of the reluctant leader, one who says ‘Let’s go’ and not ‘Go.’”

What would you say the biggest lesson is from Jonestown?

“Be aware of this message that was prevalent in the temple: ‘The end justifies the means.’ And I see that throughout society. I see it in politics, I see it in advertising, I see it in a variety of places, and I feel there’s no more pernicious or toxic belief than that. I would argue that the means justify the end, but not the other way around.”

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Kevin and Heather Sanford run into the Truth wall in San Diego – “Heaven Gate.”



In early January I received a message from San Diego, California asking about the former pastor at Abundant Life in Galway Kevin Sanford and his wife Heather. Ever since he had to vacate the country having left major debts to a landlord we had heard very little about him.

I had heard that he had gone back to Texas but that because of the trail of damage he had left behind in Ireland he wanted to start a new life in San Diego CA. I received reports that he was starting the Harbor Church there. I was trying to find what I published at the time but then remembered I had not published the information as I did not want to alert him so that he could control how the information was being published. I was in touch with a major TV network about doing the story, but my memory suggests we got caught up with the c word cult. They wanted to do a cult story, but I wanted to just let people read our articles on our archive and make up their own minds. So to be honest it just slipped my mind until I got a reminder a few weeks ago. Continue reading

Jehovah’s Witnesses aiming to ‘strengthen’ its Irish Congregation

Jehovah’s Witnesses are struggling to maintain traction. Child Abuse issues are added to by the lack of transparency and control by leaders. The organisation is clearly on the retreat and it looks like this is shuffling around the deckchairs on the Titanic stuff.

Irish Report

Palmarians: Official Website of the Order of the Carmelites of the Holy Face in company with Jesus and Mary

There is a comprehensive attempt of the Palmarians to explain thebeliefsand hopefully it opens up the possibility of dialogue with them.

  • Official Website of the
  • Order of the Carmelites of the Holy Face
  • in company with Jesus and Mary


The true Catholic Church of all times, founded by
Our Lord Jesus Christ
Legitimate Succession of the Cathedra of Saint Peter
Ruled by His Holiness Pope Peter III,
De Glória Ecclésiæ

We warn that this is the only official website of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Palmarian Church, approved by the Father General of the Order of Carmelites of the Holy Face, His Holiness Pope Peter III. Any other writing on this Church which may be found on the Internet is not the work of the Holy Palmarian Church and in the majority of cases will lack any truth and will be confusing and imprecise.

MMM ~ Magnificat Meal Movement. “Is Vanuatu ‘harbouring’ a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” by By Tony Wilson, Editor The Vanuatu Independent.



Conwoman Debra Marie Burslem who sought refuge in Vanuatu from Australian authorities in 2007 and now resides with followers in Port Vila, and partner John Tonner (right).

This is the first report in a long time. Debra was at forefront of a scam that affected hundreds of Irish families. The small Hamlet of Helidon, near Twowoomba, Queensland was at the centre of operations. She escaped justice in Vanuatu and did a deal with her former assistant Claire Murphy. She and Clare Birchley now present themselves as anti cult experts. Now Debra’s chauffeur John Tonner is her partner. He was formerly married to Claire Murphy her assistant from Ireland to allow her to stay in Australia as the enforcer of Debra’s schemes. You have heard of a baptism of desire, this was not a marriage of desire. The last time I saw John and Debra together was in 2003 when I visited the area. I was in a shopping Magnificat where I saw Debra assisting John to buy underwear. Later that evening I received a visit from the police with a complaint I was stalking Debra and Claire? Needless to say I resisted arrest. Continue reading

Before Herzl, There Was Pastor Russell: A Neglected Chapter of Zionism

Before Herzl, There Was Pastor Russell: A Neglected Chapter of Zionism in the Haaretz Magazine.

Russell on Zionism 1

Years before Theodor Herzl proposed creating a Jewish state, Charles Taze Russell was traveling the world holding Jewish Mass Meetings, beginning in 1879, at which he urged Jews to find a national home in Eretz Israel
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)
“There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century” – Zion’s Watchtower 1892, Nov. 1, p.329.
Russell on Zionism 2
Charles Taze Russell
Charles Taze Russell ללא קרדיט
Theodor Herzl published his pamphlet “Der Judenstaat” in 1896 and, two years later, organized the world’s First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. But in fact, the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine had been making the rounds in European and American Christian circles, in various forms. One of its keenest proponents was a Christian preacher and Bible scholar named Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916).
The proposition boldly put forward by Pastor Russell contrasted with the position of many Christian churches at the time, where the feeling was that God’s covenant with the Jews had long since ended and they should convert to Christianity.
The prescient pastor predicted a massive exodus of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe. Much as he predicted, by 1924 more than 3 million Jews had emigrated from Russia and Eastern Europe. Russell himself did not live long enough to see his prophecy made manifest, dying in 1916.
Russell’s legacy as an enthusiastic, non-proselytizing Zionist has been acknowledged by none other than the incumbent prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “A recognition of Pastor Russell’s important role as an early American Christian advocate of Zionism is long overdue.” The late Jeane Kirkpatrick, former the U.S. ambassador to the UN, called Russell a “neglected man and chapter in the history of Zionism.”
Who was this forgotten father of Zionism, and why would he promote Zionism in the first place?
In the mid-19th century, when covered wagons still rolled across the open plains carrying settlers to remote sectors of America, when vast herds of buffalo still roamed the range, Charles Taze Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 16, 1852. He was the second son of Joseph L. and Ann Eliza Russell, both of Scottish-Irish descent.
Russell’s mother died when he was nine years old. At 11, Charles entered a business partnership with his father, the youngster himself writing the articles of agreement under which their enterprise operated. At 15 he and his father were running a flourishing men’s clothing chain with shops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and more.
Russell’s formative years were colored by the devastating Civil War that ravaged America from 1861 to 1865, followed by an era of rapid industrialization. In 1869 the first transcontinental railway was completed. Come the 1870’s, electric light and the telephone came onto the scene. The electric streetcar would arrive in the 1880’s, and by the century’s end, a few automobiles would be noisily proclaiming their presence.
On the intellectual front, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, described in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species,” had for the first time seriously challenged the Roman Catholic Church’s version of history, giving rise to spin-off churches and creeds.
Going back to basics
This setting of breakneck development and intellectual progress is where Russell founded the Bible Student Association, which aspired to go back to basics by studying the Bible itself.
Soon a class for systematic Bible Study was formed in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and in 1879 Charles Taze Russell was elected its pastor. The movement founded Zion’s Watch Tower, the most widely circulated magazine in the world today, according to Business Insider, with an average of 70 million copies a month in 334 languages. For comparison, National Geographic has a circulation of something over 6 million and is published in 25 different languages.
A few years later, in 1881, Russell was elected the first president of the Watchtower Society. Its purpose was to distribute his teachings in the form of tracts.
Russell was a prolific writer, and his major accomplishments include a six-volume series of systematic theology, “Studies in the Scriptures.” By 1909 this series was one of most widely circulated works in the world, surpassed only by the Bible and The Chinese Almanac.
His crowning achievement at that phase was “The Photo-Drama of Creation,” a ground-breaking innovation that combined sound and color in a motion picture for the first time in history. The film was, viewed by more than eight million people, an astronomical success in terms of the times.
In 1909 Russell moved The Watch Tower Society Headquarters to 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights. It would remain there until 2016, when Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, bought the property.
Russell on Zionism 3
Early advocate of Zionism
On August 18, 1891, now in Jerusalem, Russell wrote to the philanthropists Baron Maurice de Hirsch and Baron Edmond de Rothschild, or as he puts it “the two leading Hebrews of the world.” No less, he put forward a practical plan for Zionism.
It involved purchasing all government-owned land in Palestine, i.e., land not held by private owners, from the impoverished Ottoman Empire. Years later Herzl would make similar proposals. (A copy of the letter is published in “Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence”, December 1891, pp. 170-171.)
“As you will see from my books, we find the testimony of the prophets to be, that your nation will be greatly blessed and return to divine favor between now and the year 1915, A.D.,” Russell wrote. The persecutions that Jews were suffering in Russia were “a mark of divine favor rather than the reverse,” the pastor suggested – and it would only get worse because the Lord’s purpose was to drive the Jews “out of all lands whither he has scattered them.”
Pyramid chart from the 1911 Bible Students Convention Souvenir Report. At this time, the Bible Students in association with Pastor Charles Taze Russell believed that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh in Egypt confirmed biblical chronology. They believed the Great Pyramid confirmed their predictions for the year 1914. Pyramidology was rejected by the Bible Students in 1928 by J.F. Rutherford, Russell’s successor, who later renamed the movement Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Bible Students in association with Pastor Russell thought the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt confirmed biblical chronology.
Russell on Zionism 4
To where? To Palestine, as apparently indicated by the prophet (Jeremiah 32:37-44; 33:6-22), Russell explained. Owning not an inch of that land, he had no vested interest, the pastor elaborated, and went on: “My suggestion is that the wealthy Hebrews purchase from Turkey, at a fair valuation, all of her property interest in these lands: i.a., all of the Government lands (lands not held by private owners), under the provision that Syria and Palestine shall be constituted a FREE STATE…”
In his letter, Russell delicately gibes at alternative “Jewish homeland” ideas touted at the time in places other than Israel, though Baron de Hirsch was actually involved in resettling Jews elsewhere: “But please note, my dear Sir, that the sacred Scriptures predict the return to Palestine, and not a further wandering to the ends of the earth—to America or elsewhere. And, therefore, it is my humble opinion that Israel will find no rest for the sole of his foot until he finds the land of promise; and I pray you, therefore, not to waste your efforts in assisting emigration elsewhere, but concentrate them in the direction where God has indicated success…”
We cannot know whether he even replied to Russell, let alone be influenced by him. But a month after Russell’s letter to the barons, on September 11th, 1891, Baron Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association to buy land, principally in North and South America but in Palestine too, where agricultural colonies could be established and resettled by Jews who were persecuted in Russia.
Meanwhile, the pastor’s message did not go unnoticed in the broader Jewish communities of the United States and Europe.
Russell’s Yiddish newspaper
In 1910 Pastor Russell received a letter from a committee of Jewish leaders:
“Dear Sir: Your Sympathetic interest in the Jewish people for years past has not escaped our notice. Your denunciation of the atrocities perpetrated against our race in the name of Christianity has added to our conviction that you are a sincere friend,” wrote the committee members.
“Your discourse on “Jerusalem and Jewish Hopes” has struck a responsive chord in the hearts of many of our people. Still we doubted for a time if any Christian minister could really be interested in a Jew as a Jew and merely from a hope of proselyting him…You may well understand how surprised we are to find a Christian minister acknowledging that there are prophecies of the Bible still fulfilled, which belong to the Jew and not to the Christian…
“These things, Pastor Russell, have led to the formation of a Jewish Mass Meeting Committee, which by this letter, request you to give a public discourse,” they concluded.
Russell on Zionism 5
The pastor acceded and on October 9, 1910, gave a talk titled “Zionism in Prophecy” before an audience of about 4,000 Jews at the Hippodrome, New York’s largest and finest auditorium at the time.
As The New York American reported on that day, “The unusual spectacle of 4,000 Hebrews enthusiastically applauding a Gentile preacher, after having listened to a sermon he addressed to them concerning their own religion…where Pastor Russell, the famous head of the Brooklyn Tabernacle conducted a most unusual service. It was not long before all reserve, and all possible doubt of Pastor Russell’s entire sincerity and friendliness were worn away. Then the mention of the name of a great leader [Herzl] who, the speaker declared, had been raised by God for the cause — brought a burst of applause.”
Russell held similar mass meetings in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. In England, he addressed 4,600 Jews in London’s Royal Albert Hall, following which he appeared in Glasgow and Manchester, then gave talks in other European cities with large Jewish populations, including Vienna, Berlin, Krakow, and Budapest.
Make no mistake, his speeches got a mixed reception. After Russell had left one meeting, three Jewish groups got into such a row that 46 policemen were called to disperse them. A Jewish rabbi in New York who fiercely opposed Russell influenced his associates in Austria-Hungary to resist plans for meetings addressing Jews.
However, the Herzl Year Book provides statistics of the printed preaching on the subject of Judaism and Zionism, which appeared in 107,000 copies of Anglo-Jewish newspapers and weeklies, and in 650,000 copies of the Yiddish Press. Russell even published a Yiddish-language paper of his own, Die Shtimme – “the voice”.
Separate covenants
Why would a devout Christian minister invest so much in advocating the idea of a national homeland for the Jews?
In May 26, 1911, Jacob De Haas, editor of the Boston Jewish Advocate and a personal confidant of Herzl, published an article in the Jewish Advocate praising Russell as a “Philo-semite” with no desire to convert the Jews.
Butquestion of Russell’s motivation doesn’t lead to philo-Semitism necessarily: rather it goes to the prophecies of restoration delivered to ancient Israel by prophets in the Bible (Jeremiah 30:18; 31-8-10; Amos 9:14,15; Romans 22:25,26).
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them” – Amos 9:14, for example
Russell was confident that these verses would be fulfilled and that God would restore the Jews to Palestine. In November 1892 he wrote in Zion’s Watch Tower: “There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom, are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century, and of it’s having a larger Jewish population fifty years hence than it had in ancient times, when its census ran up to three million. Should the restoration be accomplished, all hail to the New Jerusalem!”
He also believed that God had a separate covenant with the Jews and a different covenant with Christians, writing in the Watch Tower, in January 1909, page 28: “The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact – that it belongs to Israel alone.”
These were the sentiments on which Russell’s advocacy of Zionism was based. While he may not have lived to see the fulfillment of his wishes, his legacy continued.
He died in 1916. In 1925, his successor Judge Joseph F. Rutherford wrote the book “Comfort for the Jews.”
Rutherford is rather more renowned for founding Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group that emerged from Russell’s Bible Student Movement.
Russell on Zionism 6
Before Russell, no Anglo-Jewish newspapers or Yiddish press had carried articles by a Christian minister. When he died on October 31, 1916, the Herzl Year Book observed:”Russell himself, according to the testimony of the American Jewish Press from the years 1910 to 1916, maintained excellent and friendly relations with the leaders of American Jewry to his last days.”

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Irish religious watchdog taking The Da Vinci Code publishers to High Court

Dialogue Ireland will not be commenting on this case until after the court case. We have already taken down any posts we wrote commenting on the defamation issue. We will publish any reference to the book but make no comment on them. Continue reading

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