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Rutherford doubled down on promising that the end was close at hand, a tactic that gave the religion's leaders even greater sway over those who took the warnings to heart. Military service and voting weren't permitted, and followers weren't allowed to receive blood transfusions, even in medical emergencies.But those restrictions weren't emphasized by the pleasant, well-dressed Witnesses who began knocking on doors across the country, offering warm smiles and a few words about salvation.Barbara Anderson was a teenager living in Long Island in 1954 when she began studying with a Witness she met at a friend's house."I was a very curious kid, and I wanted answers for why we are here," Anderson, 77, said from her home in Tennessee.Prince shocked some Minnesota residents by knocking on their doors after he converted in the early 2000s.Tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, the actor Donald Glover, and musician Patti Smith were all raised Witnesses.When he looked down for his daughter, she was gone.Haugh plunged into the slow-motion panic of every parent's worst nightmare. "Then people stopped talking to us." The Haughs were deeply enmeshed in the world of the Witnesses — Martin was fifth generation — but this was their first brush with the wall of silence that the religion's leaders have relied on to prevent allegations of child sex abuse from reaching law enforcement.

But the Bible Students softened the Armageddon talk with assurances that believers and their families would be resurrected from the dead.

But thanks to a growing number of court cases, criminal prosecutions, and whistle-blowers, light has been shed on some of the monsters who lurk in the shadows. S., lawsuits have been filed on behalf of abuse victims from Philadelphia to California, where a Superior Court judge last year fined the Watchtower more than million for refusing to turn over a secretly compiled list of known child molesters.

A million class-action lawsuit is looming in Canada, and more than 1,000 abusers have been identified by a royal commission in Australia.

That comforting message helped win over converts in the 1890s like Dwight D.

Eisenhower's parents, who'd lost a child to diphtheria.

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