Cedar's 'Why The Watch Tower Society Is Already In Decline"

by Dogpatch 35 Replies latest jw friends

  • metatron

    An excellent piece of writing by Cedars.

    Are we at the tipping point? If they start admitting to losing publishers in the near future, apostates will have a field day just by saying 'the organization is dying'....


  • free @ last
  • flipper

    Interesting comments by you Dogpatch. I agree with your statement about Knorr not wanting others to run the organization and wanting it to die off. And regarding cult leaders being that way due to ego. That is my theory on why the current GB 2.0 have only 7 members at this time. In the old days, didn't the GB use to replace dying GB members so the number would be 12 GB members, you know, like the apostles ? I feel the current GB are VERY protective of their power, position, and influence and do nOT want anybody stealing their alleged authority. Just my take . Peace out, Mr. Flipper

  • Finkelstein

    Ironic is it not that there would be so much power fighting in god's solemn earthly organization.

    There's seems to be a long history of this right back to when J Rutherford grasp control of the organization

    upon C Russell's death. Isn't this indicative to the fact that this organization is truly god's only earthly organization.

  • Giordano

    Great job Cedar.....as always.

    With 67% of born-ins leaving I think the internet is having a big impact on high control religions.

  • Sic Semper Tyrannis
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

    This brings up an interesting point. When I first started reading sources from the "dark side", naturally I focused on Ray Franz's accounts. In both of his books, Ray went relatively easy on Knorr and reserved most of his criticism for his uncle Fred. In fact, in COC he mentioned his view that he sincerely doubted that Knorr would have gone along with the actions from the GB relating to 1980 and his own expulsion. However, everyone I have spoken to either personally or on the net who knew Nathan Knorr at Bethel has an unmistakably negative viewpoint of the man as a person and as a leader. From many accounts, Knorr was a very petty man. He loved to focus on homosexuality and masturbation. He was cheap and made comments that people should be using the stairs rather than the elevator. He did everything he could to make Bethelites' lives more difficult, from demanding that they not wear jeans at any time to making them work a half-day on Saturday in order to not give them a full weekend. Furthermore there have been some comments made about the state of his marriage, with some mentioning that his widow, Audrey, re-married not long after his death. I had personal conversations with my uncle, who was prominent in the organization and knew all of these men personally, but who later faded and became inactive. Though he personally liked Fred Franz and had told several amusing anecdotes about him, he had an unmistakable contempt for Knorr. Knorr was a demanding and irrational man. Randy's post seems to add weight to that viewpoint. Franz was more of a 'lovable idiot' in the view of some. Dogmatic and strange to be sure, but personable and friendly. My question is this... Are these perceptions true? Ray Franz seemed to be more on the Knorr side and more critical of his uncle, but everyone else seems to be of the opposite persuasion. Perhaps this was due to a personal bias against his uncle for being so instrumental in his dismissal. I'm always interested in what people who knew these men thought about them personally.

  • Dogpatch

    You're absolutely right, Six Semper.

    At Bethel I would never have pinned anything evil on Freddy, but Knorr was just harsh... but he knew how to do business in the world, and how to manipulate the right people with the least amount of collateral damage.

    Freddy, on the other hand, lived in a whole different world. He really had no grasp on anything related to business or handling people, but he was very friendly to the Bethelite boys. The opposite of Knorr. But he detested the other men who were seeking power, like Milton Henschel, who some time after he was appointed to the new Governing Body let his hair down to the 300 Bethel elders in a vital meeting that "the president promised them power" in so many words, but that "Where is that power, we see none of it yet." I was so shocked I was frantically taking notes while he spoke. I later incorporated them into my tract, "What Happened at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Spring of 1980?" after a visit with Ed Gruss. it went along with my disassociation letter a few months later after having been reapointed as an elder locally in the El Segundo congregation near LAX after having left Bethel. That really took the local elders by surprise... no one had a clue I was a rebel.

    Freddy was delusional. When he wrote the "God's Kingdom of 1000 Years" book, the writing dept. was horrified, as he changed the interpretation of many passages in the NT. What made it worse was that at a Gilead graduation right around the time of the release of the book, he reviewed all of the previous understandings of some of Jesus' parables... quite boring, then halkway through he shocked the entirew crowd of Bethelites by saying it was all hogwash, and proceeded to reprogram our minds with his new understanding. No doubt his Jewish scholar friend who he was often seen with, and got many of his ideas from, might have been the source of part of his "new light." It was the first time I have ever seen anyone give a lecture on doctrine and then make a complete reversal midstreeam and totally reinterpret the old one as wrong. 180 degrees wrong!

    One day at the breakfast table(?) Dan Sydlik stood up and said that all Bethelites from now on should come to breakfast like they would to a meeting, shirt and tie, and a coat would be nice! That went over like a lead balloon. Freddy always took the side of the young Bethel brothers, and as a table head he came to breakfast all five days the next week in a T-SHIRT that said on the front, "Where in the Hell is McCook, Nebraska?" Open rebellion against the lesser GB, especially Sydlik. Obviously few Bethelites took Sydlik's advice. No wonder when Knorr died and Freddy became president, he didn't last long and was whisked out of Bethel. He was a poison to the agenda of the GB, and was an embarrassment due to rumors of possible homosexuality, with his saunas with the young brothers every week. YUK!

    He, like Rutherford (who he no doubt learned it from), loved to reinterpret scripture whenever he wanted to change the organization. He actually was thought to have wrote some of Rutherford's books. And as I mentioned in my quote of the "Four President's book, he invented the "no blood" doctrine to keep the org. looking radical and to offset the dwindling numbers at the time.

    Persecution always increases the numbers in cults - it is feeding the monster. Freddy, unbeknown to us at the time, was the REAL monster. Knorr was just ugly and mean. Quite a shocker.


    More on this:


    John May comes to America:


    derek May and Martin Merriman:


    and a multiple eye-witness discussion at:



    There is so much more to tell it's boggling.

    Ed Dunlap's testimony:


    Cris and Norma Sanchez 'cruel treatment after years at Bethel:


    My roommate Robert Sullivan and I interview shortly after leaving:


    My former Bethelite guest log:


    Warren Schroeder tells his side of the story:

    Hi Randy, Just a hello from Warren Schroeder, [I was in] Bethel: 5/79 to 10/82.

    Over the years I lost touch with some common friends and was looking for a couple of names which I found through the ex-JW sites. I live in the East Village with my dearest wife, who teaches at NYU. We sometimes think we're the oldest people in the neighborhood... I just turned 53. We can't imagine living anywhere else.... well, we can imagine, but not any time in the near future.

    I think back to my years at Bethel with great fondness, even though many of my closest friends were dismissed and treated badly during the "purge". I made many good friends in and out of Bethel. Many of us knew we were part of a significant movement inside Bethel which also found its influence into a few small local NY groups outside of Bethel.

    The powers seemed to tolerate the loose and liberal talk for quite a while. The Towers and Squibb construction was complete, or near complete, and the Bethel population was growing very fast. It was buzzing and alive. Bible reading groups and bible commentaries were popping up everywhere. Construction and spending money, including new 4-color presses and faster bindery equipment, was foremost and took priority with the "management". Dealing with the heretics was put on hold a bit, at least until the great property grab in the Brooklyn Heights was completed.

    There were a couple new books published that were nothing like the typical FWFranzesque “prophetic calculus manuals.” These books were not typical fare, and you could see the puzzled looks when they reached the book study groups and meetings. Biblical commentary within scriptural context, with applied critical thinking, was a daunting task for the star-struck and lobotomized organizational faithful.

    There was a point when the committees finally started their inquisitions. I had a total of three, two of which that included Don Adams (twice), John Booth, and some Bethel elders I don't remember, and finally a one-on-one with Karl Klein in his writing department office (this was likely due to my relationship with Rinehardt Lengtat, who I had studied with for about a year). The Karl Klein meeting was most memorable. Karl got quite fired up, doing all the talking, and began drooling on himself. He always seemed to have a slight speech impediment. He had two open books in front of him marked on various pages that he read passages from and stated the heresy of the ideas and how opposed these ideas were to "Freddy's". He named the authors, clearly mentioning Ray Franz and Rinehardt Lengtat. The books were "Commentary on James" and "Happiness".

    I do not recall the particulars of the discussion now and which were the problem passages. It was an event to watch him so animated when he was simply sitting slouched in a chair. As far as the real purge, guilt by association was easier for the elders to deal with than figuring out what you really believed. I knew how to answer the "what do you believe" questions since I was primed by Chris Sanchez and Nestor Kuilan, who I had met with once, during their series of meetings with Bethel elders, and again, right after their liberation from Bethel. In the beginning of the purge, who I knew and talked to would be problematic. I was certainly "small potatoes" but the committees wanted information about others. I got away with mostly saying I didn't know anything about how any person believed on specific doctrines. The first committee I met was easy because it was early in the hunt, and the inquisitors were a bit lost as a group by not being very focused on anything in particular. The 2nd committee was a few months later and made me sweat a bit more. They had their people lined up and their questioning fine tuned, mostly with one person asking all the questions. Overall, the meetings were short and, for me, ended with a little talk about bad association and reading worldly Bible commentaries.

    This is all so much water under the bridge and much more since. I was never disfellowshipped and never resigned as a JW (with some criticism by a few others that I should do so). By 1984 I never thought to attend a Kingdom Hall again out of my own volition. I have never looked back with regret, or that my unpaid work at Bethel was a waste of my time. I was a little later than many in getting my college education and attaining other economic benefits, but it was an irreplaceable learning experience, being a progressive free thinker inside a closed minded group, and surviving relatively unscathed. I look back and retell the story for an interested audience. I reflect on who I am today, very different than who I was as a young JW. Bethel was an important turning point in my life. If it could have the same results I could only wish the experience for others.


    and last but the best, political cartoons from Bethel in 1979:


    Real Comments from the Bethel Breakfast table:


    Keith Casarona's story:


    and Quak's cartoons:


    My scrapbook from Bethel:


    Fred Franz Discredits Concept of a "Governing Body":


    25 Years After Bethel - Friends Reunited

  • designs

    Every Tyrannt has a henchman or Svengali.

  • Sic Semper Tyrannis
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

    Thanks for sharing, Randy. Between you and Barbara, it's nice to get the actual inside scoop from people who were there in the thick of things than from those of us on the peripheries or otherwise disconnected from the "source". I enjoyed reading Ray's books, especially COC, though I do realize that everyone has to tell the story as they saw and experienced it themselves. Though men like Russell, Rutherford, Knorr, Franz, and finally, Henschel and Jaracz are now gone, I don't think you can even get into the workings of the upper echelons of Jehovah's Witnesses without analyzing most, if not all of these men who have made such an indelible imprint on Witness doctrine, thinking, and organizational procedures. When I visited Bethel, I was simply amazed at why everyone wolfed down their food like they hadn't eaten at all during a day of hard labor. The text reading was distracting and I thought people ought to have been given the entire measly 15 minutes allotted for the simple pleasure of eating and some brief conversation. It had the feeling of a prison camp cafeteria. The idea of wearing shirts, ties, and suits to the cafeteria was even more over the top, and I laughed out loud at the thought of Fred Franz wearing that t-shirt as a protest. He was just probably miffed by Sydlik not running it by him first. It's a petty way of doing things, but I guess many of these men just loved the power their offices gave them.

  • Zordino

    People are getting more and more educated with the information age. I think the WT spin doctors know that THEIR "Time is reduced"

    Interesting post & articles.

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Since this seems like the Cedar's article meta-thread, is there anyone with real insight into the society's finances? Does anyone know if they suffered devastating losses in the stock market crash? I just find all the recent cost-cutting changes and sell off of properties at "low" prices to be sign in itself that something big financially happened back in the late 2000's. . . .

  • Phizzy

    Perhaps they were "spirit-guided" to invest with Bernie Madoff.

    If so, the old GB retirement fund needs a big top up.

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Sic Semper:

    from demanding that they not wear jeans at any time ...


    In the early 1970s flair leg and bell bottom pants became the rage. Both were prohibited at Bethel. NHK said if you wanted to wear them, confine their wear to your room or hallway. My roommate wore the sauciest bell bottom whites to the factory and got the hottest stares....


  • Room 215
    Room 215

    Here's a minority opinion of Knorr: Hardly a spiritual visionary, he was a pragmatist who harbored his own doubts about foundational doctines, notably 1914 --- Ray was on the money when he quoted NHK as syaing: "1914? I don't know; we'll wait and see," or something to that effect, lots of folks I know heard him voice such sentiments informally, in social settings; that's an attitude many, if not most of the Bethel family shared -- myself included.

    He was, as Randy and others descirbed, mean-spirited and vindictive, but he was willing to overlook someone's misgivings about doctrine or chronology, etc. as long as they didn't publicize or promote them outside of Bethel's precincts, especially if he favored the person, or considered him of too much usefulness to sacrifice on the altar of orhodoxy.

    His -- and Freddy's -- opposition to the Governing Body arrangement was also an open secret at Bethel -- he said more than once at the breakfast table, that the changeovert to the GB would occur "over my dead body;" prophetic words indeed.

  • Apognophos

    Good thread. Can anyone provide an update to FatFreek 2005's translated language counts for the Awake! on page 1?

  • prologos

    ron dogpatch: right! "only F--FRanz was the real bad cop-- inventing bloodtransfusion AND all--" no! "FOR" all. I remember a talk Franz gave in N Y Yankee stadium about mandatory refusing blood tranfusions for PETS! no kidding! with his high pitched voice; insecure looks, he could have passed for a re-incarnation of Joseph the Goebbels the mouthpiece of that other nutty "father figure" Power- mogul, the Ver-Fuehrer of the fatherland. peace.

    Ps. german-speakers might enjoy the term "Verfranzed" meaning hoplessly lost, as a 1930s pilot in the clouds. like "all balled up", appropriately synonimous derived from F Franz, the erratic theologian of the wtbts. "Ver franzed" like confused, misguided by/ or like Franz.

Share this topic

Related Topics