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As a result, Watch Tower Society directors were jailed for sedition under the Espionage Act in 1918 and members were subjected to mob violence; the directors were released in March 1919 and charges against them were dropped in 1920.
Rutherford centralized organizational control of the Watch Tower Society.
Their policies for handling cases of child sexual abuse have been the subject of various formal inquiries.
During the course of his ministry, Russell disputed many beliefs of mainstream Christianity including immortality of the soul, hellfire, predestination, the fleshly return of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the burning up of the world. Barbour; later that year they jointly produced the book Three Worlds, which combined restitutionist views with end time prophecy.
The book taught that God's dealings with humanity were divided dispensationally, each ending with a "harvest," that Christ had returned as an invisible spirit being in 1874From 1879, Watch Tower supporters gathered as autonomous congregations to study the Bible topically.
Thirty congregations were founded, and during 18, Russell visited each to provide the format he recommended for conducting meetings.
Russell moved the Watch Tower Society's headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, in 1909, combining printing and corporate offices with a house of worship; volunteers were housed in a nearby residence he named Bethel.
Persistent legal challenges by Jehovah's Witnesses have influenced legislation related to civil rights in several countries.
The organization has received criticism regarding biblical translation, doctrines, and alleged coercion of its members.