Religion: California Cults

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Big, blue-eyed Judge Joseph Frederick Rutherford, 60, lives in a ten-room Spanish mansion, No. 4440 Braeburn Road. San Diego, Calif. Last week he deeded No. 4440 Braeburn Road, an adjacent two-car garage and a pair of automobiles to King David, Gedeon, Barak, Samson. Jephthae, Samuel and sundry other mighties of ancient Palestine. Positive is he that they are shortly to reappear on earth. Said he: "I have purposely landscaped the place with palm and olive trees so these princes of the universe will feel at home when they come to offer man the chance to become perfect."

Judge Rutherford's deed can scarcely be considered eccentric, for his conviction that the sunny boulevards of San Diego are soon to be trod by men with the light of ages in their eyes is presumably shared by the 1,000,000 members of the International Bible Students Association and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, of both of which Judge Rutherford is President. In 34 nations these members have read his declarations as editor of both the Watch Tower and Golden Age magazines.

Judge Rutherford was born on a Missouri farm, practiced law at Boonville, acquired a circuit judgeship, continued practice in St. Louis, Kansas City. He accompanied the late William Jennings Bryan on his first Presidential campaign tour, announcing him as "appointed by God to straighten out the problems of the world." Mr. Bryan's example inspired Judge Rutherford to wear habitually a black bow tie. In 1916 he succeeded the late Charles Taze Russell of Brooklyn, founder-president of the International Bible Students Association.

Members of this organization designate themselves as Bible Students. Their creed holds that Biblical prophecies govern all earthly events. By careful scrutiny of Holy Writ, the Bible Students have discerned that three periods of time, termed "cosmos," prevail in human affairs. Cosmos I began with Adam, ended with the Flood. Cosmos II began with the Flood, ended with the World War. Cosmos III, begun in 1914, will end in 2874, when "The Kingdom of God" will fill the whole world. An erroneous prophecy that the year 1928 would provide a cataclysm— ''Nations will battle; the dead will be dung on the earth"—upset considerably the Bible Students' calculations, but the major tenets of their belief are as yet unshaken.

Newsmen last week asked Judge Rutherford whether he would not be troubled by bogus Davids applying for admission to consecrated No. 4440 Braeburn Road. Said he: "I realized the possibility of some old codger turning up bright and early some morning and declaring he was David. The men whom I have designated to test the identity of these men are officers of my societies. . . . They will be divinely authorized to know impostors from the real Princes."

It would be idle to deny that organized religion is sore beset in the present age. Agnosticism and atheism are on the rise.

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