A Memorial to a False Prophecy

A few weeks ago I blogged about “The Bethel Generation of 1914″ — a group of 16 elderly staff members who worked at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York — who were pictured on the cover of the Watchtower magazine in 1984. Millions of copies of this particular issue were distributed all over the world in scores of languages.

At that time, now nearly 27 years ago, some dissenters in the religion were questioning the 1914 doctrine taught by their leaders: that the generation of people alive in the year 1914 would not pass away before the End (Armageddon). To combat this, Witness leaders prepared a series of articles in their main journal to defend their teachings about 1914:

“1914: A Marked Year–Why?” — April 1, 1984 Watchtower

“1914: A Focal Point of Bible Prophecy” — April 15, 1984 Watchtower

“1914 and YOU” — May 1, 1984 Watchtower

“1914: The Generation That Will Not Pass Away” — May 15, 1984 Watchtower

It was this last Watchtower cover that featured these elderly Bethel workers as tangible proof that the 1914 generation would not pass away. The point made in these articles was to hold out the hope of the End and the “New Order” (a re-creation of the world after Armageddon) before the generation represented by these people would die off. For example, these statements from those articles:

Yes, you may live to see this promised New Order, along with survivors of the generation of 1914–the generation that will not pass away….You along with survivors of the generation of 1914, may live to see a New Order.

The prediction was firm: “the generation of 1914–the generation that will not pass away.” The conditional “you may live to see this promised New Order” in these Watchtower articles was to proclaim this possibility to the general public to make the promise their own by joining the religion.

With the help of a few friends who also served at Bethel during the 70s and 80s we have now identified all of these 16 who were featured on that Watchtower magazine cover. Their names are below. 14 were longtime workers at Brooklyn Bethel headquarters. 2 were temporary workers who left shortly after the picture was published. Biographical detail from the Social Security Death Index (a public record) has been added when available but all 16 have passed away. Click on the image to enlarge detail:

The May 15, 1984 Watchtower is a memorial to the false prophecy heralded by Witness leaders that the generation alive in 1914 would not pass away before Armageddon

No disrespect is meant towards the memory of these Bethel workers (or their families) who posed for this picture. I remember several of them and all of them were kind individuals who were pleasant to live and work with in the headquarters “family.” This criticism is being leveled solely at the Jehovah’s Witness’ leadership which propagated the lie which impacted millions of followers. Watchtower leaders were wrong to put God on a time-table tied to the year 1914 and to assure their followers to live their lives accordingly.

For example, many rank and file members were strongly counseled by the Watchtower Society to forgo higher education and careers because of this prediction which has now proven false. Many of these same people are now making plans for retirement.

This 1984 Watchtower magazine cover can be seen as a memorial to a false prophecy. It is hoped that younger Jehovah’s Witnesses who are now facing renewed pressure from Watchtower leaders to avoid college and career plans might be encouraged to seek their dreams and not listen to such leaders who clearly do not speak for God.

For further reading:

Watchtower Leaders Trying to Salvage 1914 Teaching

Were Watchtower Prophecies About 1914 Fulfilled?

What’s Wrong With the Witnesses?

The Gentile Times Reconsidered by Carl Olof Jonnson (order info) Refutation of the Watchtower’s 1914 chronology

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5 Responses to A Memorial to a False Prophecy

  1. John White says:

    Wow, how true this is, that cover is indeed a memorial of one of the greatest false prophecies of this man-made organization. And, there’s no denying it, either. It saddens me how many and how much people have been mislead by this so-called only true religion. Their false prophecies have PROVED that they are NOT who they say they are. How can the leaders sleep at night, how can their consciences not bother them? … if I was a leader of the WTS, I would be particularly troubled by my conscience.

  2. My main ‘problem’ was JW and Mormons is that most people (out of ignorance) believe they are Christians. Even look at the approved signage for Mormons- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints- 30 years ago, the letters would be the same size- now, the words Jesus Christ are much bigger than the other words. They have some good marketers

  3. TDJ says:

    Doctor and Mrs. Steinman have better not die!

    -Theo

    • orthocath says:

      Actually, the info we have is that they have passed away. They were temporary workers who came to work at the headquarters for just a couple of years in the early 80s and were called upon to join this group picture. Dr. Steiman was a retired chiropractor who served the Bethel headquarters family for awhile. They evidently were born before the year 1914 and thus qualified to be in the picture. They left the headquarters staff in the next couple of years and we don’t have any more info on them other than that they have also passed away. There’s some confusion on the spelling of the last name (Steiman, Steeman, Stemen) and we don’t have their first names. So, it’s been harder to get the biographical info from the Social Security Death Index. Perhaps, someone will remember those details and come forward with the full names and then we can update the chart.

  4. [...] to your door here’s another failed prophecy to join the others that have emanated from the [...]

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