Dec 262004


A copy of a letter from Olin Moyle to Joseph Rutherford. Moyle had previous served as legal counsel for the Watchtower Society. After this letter was sent, Moyle sued the Watchtower for libel over what they had published about him – and he won.

OLIN R. MOYLE Counselor
117 Adams Street . Brooklyn . New York
Telephone Triangle 5-1474

July 21, 1939

Judge J. F. Rutherford,
Brooklyn, N. Y.

Dear Brother Rutherford:

This letter is to give you notice of our inten-
tion to leave Bethel on September 1st next. This
reasons for leaving are stated herein and we
ask that you give them careful and thoughtful

Conditions at Bethel are a matter of concern
to all of the Lord’s people. Nowhere among
imperfect men can there be perfect freedom from
oppression, discrimination and unfair treatment,
but at the Lord’s headquarters on earth condi-
tions should be such that injustice would be
reduced to the minimum. That is not the case
here at Bethel and a protest should be made
against it. I am in a good position to make such
protest because your treatment of me has been
generally kind, considerate and fair. I can make
this protest in the interests of the Bethel family
and of the Kingdom work without any personal
interest entering into the matter.

Ill Treatment of Bethel Family.

Shortly after coming to Bethel we were shocked
to witness the spectacle of our brethren
receiving what is designated as a “trimming”
from you. The first, if memory serves me cor-
rect, was a tongue lashing given to C. J. Wood-
worth. Woodworth in a personal letter to you
stated something to the effect that it would be
serving the devil to continue using our present
day calendar. For that he was humiliated, called
a jackass, and given a public lambasting. Others
have been similarly treated. McCaughey, Mc-
Cormick, Knorr, Prosser, Price, Van Sipma, Ness
and others have been similarly scolded. They
have been publicly called to account, condemned,
and reprimanded without any previous notice.
This summer some of the most unfair public
reproaches have been given. J. Y. McCauley
asked a question which carried with it a criti-
cism of the present method of Watch Tower
study. For that he was severely reprimanded.
Your action constituted a violation of the prin-
ciple for which we are fighting, towit, freedom
of speech. It was the action of a boss and not
that of a fellow servant. Securing an efficient
mode of study with imperfect study leaders is no
easy task, and no method yet produced has
proved to be one hundred per cent perfect. You
stated that no complaints had come to you con-
cerning this method of study. If that be the
case you have not had all the facts presented to
you. There is complaint in various places that
the Watch Tower studies have degenerated into
mere reading lessons. It maybe that the present
method is the best that can be used, but in view
of known limitations honest criticism should not
be censored nor honest critics punished.

Brother Worsley received a public denuncia-
tion from you because he prepared and handed
to brethren a list of helpful Scripture citations
on fundamental topics. How can we consistently
condemn religionists for being intolerant when
you exercise intolerance against those who work
with you? Doesn’t this prove that the only
freedom permitted at Bethel is freedom to do
and say that which you wish to be said and done?
The Lord certainly never authorized you to
exercise such high handed authority over your
fellow servants.

Since the Madison Square Garden meeting
there has been a distressing condition of restraint
and suspicion at Bethel. The ushers were placed in
a tough spot but did an excellent piece of work.
They exercised care and diligence in watching
arrivals at the Garden, and prevented a number
of suspicious characters from entering. They
were on the job immediately when the distur-
bance started and quelled a disturbance which
would have otherwise reached serious propor-
tions. But for two weeks following the conven-
tion there has been constant criticism and con-
demnation of them from you. They have been
charged with dereliction of duty and labeled
as “sissies”. To see some of these boys break
down and cry because of your unkind remarks is,
to say the least saddening.

The brethren at Bethel have thoroughly demon-
strated their loyalty and devotion to the Lord,
and do not need to be berated for wrong doing.
A suggestion or a kindly admonition from you
would be more than sufficient to check any wrong-
ful action, and would eliminate resentment and
induce greater happiness and comfort for the
whole family. You have stated many times that
there are no bosses in the Lord’s organization
but the undeniable fact cannot be evaded that
your actions in scolding and upbraiding these
boys are the actions of a boss. It makes one
sick at heart and disgusted to listen to them. If
you will cease smiting your fellow servants
Bethel will be a happier place and the Kingdom
work will prosper accordingly.


We publish to the world that all in the Lord’s
organization are treated alike, and receive the
same as far as this world’s goods are concerned.
You know that is not the case. The facts cannot
be denied. Take for instance the difference be-
tween the accommodations furnished to you, and
your personal attendants, compared with those
furnished to some of your brethren. You have
many many homes, towit, Bethel, Staten Island,
California etc. I am informed that even at the
Kingdom Farm one house is kept for your sole
use during the short periods you spend there.
and what do the brethren at the farm receive?
Small rooms, unheated thru the bitter cold
winter weather. They life in their trunks like
campers. That may be all right if necessary,
but there are many houses on the farm standing
idle or used for other purposes, which could be
used to give some comfort to those who work
so long and so hard.

You work in a nice air conditioned room. You
and your attendants spend a portion of the week
in the quiet of country surroundings. The boys
at the factory diligently work thru the hot sum-
mer months without such helps, or any effort
made to give them. That is discrimination which
should receive your thoughtful consideration.


Here again is shown unequal and discrimina-
tory treatment. One brother left Bethel some
time ago for the purpose of getting married,
and, so I am informed, was refused the privilege
of pioneering in New York, apparently as an
official disapproval of his action in leaving
Bethel. On the other hand when Bonnie Boyd
got married she didn’t have to leave Bethel. She
was permitted to bring her husband into Bethel
in spite of the printed rule providing that both
marrying parties should have lived there for
five years.

Harsh treatment of one and favored treatment
of another is discrimination, and should not have
a place in the Lord’s organization.

Filthy and Vulgar Language.

The Biblical injunctions against unclean, filthy
speaking and jesting have never been abrogated.
It is shocking and nauseating to hear vulgar
speaking and smut at Bethel. It was stated by a
sister that was one of the things you had to get
used to at Bethel. The loudest laughter at the
table comes when a filth or near filthy joke goes
through, and your skirts are not clear.


Under your tutelage there has grown up a
glorification of alcohol and condemnation of total
abstinence which is unseemly. Whether a servant
of Jehovah drinks alcoholic liquor is none of my
business, except in giving a helping hand to a
brother who is stumbled thereby. Whether I
am a total abstainer is nobody’s business but my
own. But not so at Bethel. There appears to
be a definite policy of breaking in new comers
into the use of liquor, and resentment is shown
against those who do not join them. The claim
is made, “One can’t be a real Bethelite without
drinking beer.” Shortly after we arrived it was
arrogantly stated, “we can’t do much with
Moyle, but we’ll make a man out of Peter.” A
New York brother intimated that I was out of
harmony with the truth and with the Society
because I didn’t drink liquor. A New York
sister stated that she had never used liquor or
served it until some of the Bethel boys insisted
upon it. A brother who used to drink liquor
to excess became a total abstainer after getting
the truth. He knew that a single drink of liquor
would start him off to his former drinking
habits, but in spite of that brethren from Bethel
insisted upon his imbibing liquor and inferred
that he was out of harmony with the organiza-
tion through refusing. Total abstainers are
looked upon with scorn as weaklings. You have
publicly labeled total abstainers as prudes and
therefore must assume your share of the respon-
sibility for the Bacchus like attitude exhibited
by members of the family.

These are a few of the things which should
have no place in the Lord’s organization. There
are other more grievous injustices but I have
had no personal contact with them and therefore
do not discuss them.

It hasn’t been an easy or pleasant task to
write these things to you, and its still harder
to make this protest effective by leaving Bethel.

We sold our home and business when we came
to Bethel and fully intended to spend the rest of
our lives at this place in the Lord’s service. We
leave in order to register most emphatically our
disagreement with the unjust conditions related
in this letter. We are not leaving the Lord’s
service but will continue to serve Him and His
organization as fully as strength and means will

Neither am I running away from battling the
Devil’s crowd in the courts. I expect to return
to the private practice of law, probably in Mil-
waukee, Wisconsin, and hope to be in the fight
in every way possible. With this letter I am
enclosing a statement of the major cases now
pending in which I am actively participating. It
would be unreasonable and unfair to drop these
matters into your lap without further assistance
or consideration. I am ready and willing to
press these issues in the courts just as vigor-
ously and carefully as though I remained at
Bethel, and will do so if that is your desire.
We have considered this action for some time,
but this letter is delivered to you just as we are
leaving on a vacation trip for very specific rea-
sons. First: It is desirable that you take time
for thought and consideration of the matters
herein set forth before taking any action. Hasty
and ill considered action might be regrettable.
Second: Frankly I have no desire for a verbal
argument with you over these matters. I have
had plenty of occasion to observe that a con-
troversial matter does not receive a calm and
reasoned discussion of the facts. Too often it
turns into a denunciation of some person by you.
I am not interested in that kind of a wordy
battle. These statements are the reasons pre-
sented by Sister Moyle and myself for leaving
Bethel. If we speak erroneously or wrongfully
we are responsible before the Lord for so speak-
ing. If we speak truthfully, and we stoutly con-
tent that everything here related is the truth,
then there is an immediate responsibility on your
part to remedy the conditions necessitating this
protest. May the Lord direct and guide you
into fair and kindly treatment of your fellow
servants is my with and prayer.

Your Brother in the Kings service,

Olin R. Moyle.

P.S. Should you desire to write to me concern-
ing these matters during vacation a letter will
reach me at Ticonderoga, New York, General

Delivery after July 29th.


  5 Responses to “Olin Moyle Letter to Rutherford”

  1. HI Doc Bob,

    This a real wake-up call for me about the early going on’s of the past history in the JW’s org. That this past leader not following the “Word” of Christ. Really this was the first documented proof to me that there were issues way back in the JW’s org. The fact Judge Rutherford improper use of the “tongue” and abuse of booze.

    But it was the way he liabled Olin M. that was the most schocking. The use of the JW’s funds to build the San Diego house, cars etc. The fact that Olin M. was a brilliant lawyer and countered what Rutherford wrote about him, and this docmunted in legal documents left no doubt that it was true.

    Dewayne R. Dallas TX

  2. I was a JW 45 years. Thought I wss in a christian organisation. How wrong I was!!!! I have moved around UK with my job and consequently made lots of JW friends in Kent Scotland Isle of Wight, West Sussex and now Lincolnshire. Due to the unchristian elders treatment after My dear wife died. I dissasociated myself from that particular Congregation. Now my JW children in Kent and all the friends I aquired will not speak on the telephone and shun me if they see me in the town. Having had Polio as a child I now am73 disabled and in a wheel chair. My new wife also being disabled at first agreed to have a bible study but now wants nothing to do with them and who can blame her. Christians??? They dont know the meaning of the word.

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  4. I’m not a baptised JW but my husband and I are bible students studying with a very loving JW sister who is quite aware of things that weren’t always right in the Organisation. I myself have suffered at the hands of certain Witnesses with gossip and speculation and shunning due to a disability I was born with but that has not put me off Jehovah God or Christ Jesus due to the unloving way some JW’s who carry on contrary to Jehovah’s and Christ’s admonitions to all of us. We had to disassociate ourselves from the congregation we were with but we realise that the congregations are made up of imperfect humans as is those at the Bethel and also in the Governing body. They may have the heavenly hope and others the earthly hope but they are all human and prone to imperfection. Yes many things did go on that were wrong but Jehovah does sort it out as he says ‘Vengeance is mine’ so he does sort things out. My heart goes out to the disabled couple as my husband and are are disabled but don’t give up and find a loving brother or sister to study with that is not frightened to admit that the brothers/Sisters/organisation are imperfect but many recognise that and try to do their best but don’t always succeed. Many JW’s see the faults and realise that, as in the days of the Israelites, Jehovah and Christ will judge those in the JW organisation that don’t shepherd the sheep with love. So don’t give up a good study of the bible just because of individuals as we have not and Jehovah sent this dear kind sister who herself has had problems with brothers in the past to help us. This is the sort of thing that went on in the early Christian congregations so why should it be different now especially as we are coming up to the end of the system of things which both my husband and recognise from the bible not specifically the teachings of the JWs. Remember that Judgement starts with the house of God and many JW’s are realising this but you will get those that think that the JWs can do no wrong and idolise certain ones in the organisation or congregations. They will have a shock coming to them no doubt if they don’t see the error of their ways. I’ve been labelled as Apostate by some due to my questioning of certain matters but I don’t give up and take personal offence as we try to follow the bible’s admonition to ‘love you enemy’. We are far from perfect and as I write this I’m not defending any wrongdoing or unloving attitudes by certain JW’s but just encouraging those that have been hurt and upset by unloving ones to continue studying the bible and drawing close to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. No human organisation is perfect as we can learn from Jehovah’s people the Israelites and all this was put in the bible as a lesson to us so we could see their failings and their good points and some were treated badly then and it will happen today as Satan is out to divide and conquer if he can as he has a short time to go now. My heart goes out to those that have been hurt but those that show know better as my husband and I are in the same boat so to speak.

  5. I was disfellowshipped in 1998 even though I was not practising immorality. I witnessed many contradictions between what is published as sugary sweet and what is practised as bitter and indifferent. After I read the account of Olin Moyle I knew that Jehovah God could not approve of such a society of men nor the first 4 presidents could he sanction. However, this does not mean that he does not approve of an obedient people. Just as Jesus referred to the Elders of the Jews, the Pharisees as sons of Satan and offspring of vipers he had a love for the people of that religion. If today God and Jesus do not approve of the false tongue and hypocritical actions of the WT society it is not a condemnation of the actual Witnesses who go out and do the work like worker ants. Those in a position of great authority have a great responsibility to those under them and heavy accountability towards God as James 3:1 teaches “Not many of us should become teachers, my brothers, for knowing we will receive heavier judgement.” a scripture that local elders to not agree with nor adhear to.