The way Crisis of Conscience lays it out, despite their reservations on doctrine, Ray Franz and Ed Dunlap would have been more than happy to live out their lives within the JW ranks without causing any disturbance. Ray was contemplating resigning from the GB and living out his life quietly somewhere outside Bethel. Ed preferred to remain in Bethel due to his advanced age. Neither sought to express their reservations about JW doctrine to anyone outside of their tight-knit circle. Starting a new religion certainly was out of the question.
Ray Franz took a leave of absence early in 1980 and all hell broke loose. Within a matter of weeks several high-ranking Bethelites had been disfellowshipped for apostasy. Ray then became the subject of the inquisition and was asked to resign from the GB and leave Bethel. The wheels were put in motion, however, and shortly thereafter Ray was excommunicated...for sharing a meal with his employer who had recently disassociated himself from the JWs.
If the events occurred just as Ray describes, the Society's actions were completely illogical, not to mention irrational. The way in which Ray was treated led him to write the only exposé of the inner workings of the governing body ever published.
It seems the shrewder move would have been to keep these men in Bethel where they could be monitored. The GB could have sent the loyalty-above-all message simply by stripping these men of their authority.
The Society’s actions only make sense if the threat of a schism was real. No doubt they took muscular preemptive action against the perceived threat, but what prompted this response? From what I can tell, rumors began to circulate about disagreements Ray and Ed had with WT doctrine, but this was nothing new. As Ray points out, Albert Schroeder had been taken to task a few years earlier for presenting a different view on “this generation” from the platform.
Unless there’s something more to the story, the Watchtower’s actions were completely irrational, illogical, and ultimately counterproductive. If Ray were still a JW (as was apparently his wish), we’d have no Crisis of Conscience. None of us would know that doctrinal changes require a 2/3 supermajority. We’d be left to speculate about the nature of GB meetings that the manner in which they’re carried out. The WT shot itself in the foot, and for the life of me I can’t figure our why.
Is there more to the story? Was the threat of a rebellion, schism, apostasy, or whatever else you want to call it real ?