A Responsible Discussion on Ray Franz's Role in the Lives of Former JW's

by AllTimeJeff 36 Replies latest jw friends

  • AllTimeJeff

    Since it was learned that Ray Franz went to the hospital and then passed away, most threads have in my opinion, correctly tried to give some honor and respect to a courageous, honest, and principled man.

    Some borderline trolls, who know many former JW's are easily upset (and they know this. I know this...) try to take advantage by hitting on a hot button. In this case, its to call you a follower of Ray Franz.

    We all know that isn't true.

    But I think that a legitimate discussion on this is in order. Is there any truth to that? Why or why not?

    What were the real ramifications for you as an individual and for the JW organization (esp the leadership) due to Franz leaving and writing his two books?

    One more thing: I have no problem if you are a person who genuinely feels that former JW's somehow either follow him or pay "too much respect." (don't know how you can give a good man too much respect, but whatever) And if you feel the threads on this or other forums upset you, say so.

    But have some class. Do so respectfully. And better yet, rather then just say you are upset, why don't you say why? How you think things should be.

    I won't tolerate on this thread anyone who tries to be a classless hack. If you have something to say, bring it. If you are here to insult grateful people, go somewhere else in your parents basement and watch TV.

    Anyway, feel free to discuss if you want. I will start by saying that overall, I have felt that the expressions have been heartfelt and were directed at a very unique, honest, good man. I don't sense worshipful adoration, and I certainly have never seen evidence at all that Ray Franz led a group ever.

  • mrsjones5

    Ray's book was confirmation that I wasn't crazy, bad, or lazy, that what I was feeling was OK and that there was something wrong in wonderland. Yesterday I tried to explain to my oldest son who Ray was and what he did and what I had to do to get his book. I think he understood.

  • Georgiegirl

    Forgive me if I just cut and paste what I wrote in a previous thread - but it really goes to your point - he was a good, kind, humble man - always. He is one of the few men that makes me think of the scripture that describes the difference between a righteous man and a good man. Ray was truly a good man.

    **When I was a child, Ray and Cynthia were friends of my parents' friends in our congregation. They would come to visit - I remember how excited everyone was that a Member of The Governing Body was coming - you know how that is - the barely concealed excitement that a Chosen One was visiting and you might actually get a chance to see them or maybe (gasp) talk to them! Talk about worship...

    Of course, I was lectured quite thoroughly about how to behave and what to do when in the presence of the Nearly Divine...

    And then I met them. They were the kindest, most down to earth couple. Even as a child, I felt that they were genuinely interested in me - not at all like what I had been prepared to expect. Humble, loving, kind. Over 30 years later, I still remember them so clearly. I remember thinking that this was a truly spiritual and loving man - turns out that I wasn't wrong.

    Then I remember ordering his book - only a couple of years ago - and reading it. Growing up, even having that book was grounds for DFing - remember? And so it was with a pounding heart and a paranoia I ordered it and kept it well hidden...of course reading it confirmed what I had already learned - but for those who say it is full of lies - I am a personal witness that the information in it is true. I KNEW these people - I lived through the Malawi horror - every bit of it rang true.

    And yet through all of the slander and maliciousness heaped on his head - it is still an extraordinarily kind and forgiving account.

    My heart is so sad today.**

  • PSacramento

    My first letter to Ray:

    Re: Raymond Franz

    Dear Mr.Franz, I hope this email find you and your family well and in good health. I wanted to take this time to thank you for publishing your two books, Crisis of Conscience and Christian Freedom. As a "non-denominational" Christian who has a RC wife and a Mother, Father and older sister that are JW's, it has been a struggle at times to keep my faith in God and his Son Jesus Christ. How can something like faith that is suppose to unite us all in Love, divide us and cause so much pain between family members? I can't tell you the times I have cried trying to find the answers to my own crisis of conscience, how many times my heart felt broken and my faith crushed by being in the middle, by being at times coerced in to believing in the "one true faith". At times I have even cursed at God, God forgive me, for bringing such pain and anger into my life. My mother and sister actively purse me to go to the Kingdom hall, if not for my benefit, for that of my children. My wife and I even did bible studies for a time, but, and I can't speak for my wife, the more I studied the JW's version of "the truth", the more I felt away from God and Jesus. It was like I was being part of something for the wrong reasons, because if I didn't I would not have eternal life and neither would my children and wife. How can a God be so cruel as to condemn millions to tribulation and death? It seemed at odds to all the love, faith and happiness preached by Jesus and his apostles. Then I ordered you book, Crisis of Conscience and realized I was not alone. It filled my heart with joy to see that it was right to question these things that seemed so wrong, so against Jesus' teachings. When I then read Christian Freedom ( which I am still reading by the way), it was as if I had found myself closed to Jesus. The personal relationship I have always wanted with Jesus and God was there and it was correct. Thank you for helping me to see what was always there. Words truly can't convey how much closer I am to Jesus and God, how much I love Jesus for all he has done and does for us. Thank you Mr., Franz. My our beloved Jesus and our heavenly Father keep you and yours. Yours truly, Paul Sacramento Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

  • PSacramento

    And his reply to me, soemthing I have never shown anyone but my wife:

    Dear Paul,

    Thank you for your letter and I am sorry to be a bit slow in replying. As of May 8 I will be 87 and in the year 2000 I suffered what was diagnosed as a moderate stroke, no paralysis resulted but it left me tired and with a reduced energy level. So I am not able to keep up with correspondence as I would like. Crisis of Conscience is now in 13 languages, which brings in more mail. My wife’s health has undergone some serious problems as well, requiring the giving of time in that direction. Cynthia underwent a heart catheterization process which revealed six blockages in her heart. The doctors wanted to do bypass surgery but she opted not to do so. On September of 2007 I underwent a surgical operation on my left carotid artery (one of the main arteries supplying blood to the brain). It took an hour and a half and I was conscious during the operation since only a local anesthesia was applied. The surgeon made about a 5-inch incision in the neck and then opened the artery and cleared out the blockage in it. My right carotid artery became totally blocked causing the stroke in the year 2000 and thus it was important to keep the left open and free of blockage. I only had to spend one night in the hospital, for which I was grateful. The popular use of the term "golden years" certainly does not describe what older age really brings. Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 gives a realistic picture.

    Many who write have expressed recognition that bitterness and anger only take away credibility from any discussion of the Witnesses. Unfortunately a large portion of the books and material put out by “ex-JW” sources on the subject are almost entirely negative. A man from England recently wrote:

    I'm currently an "active" Witness from England, and I just wanted to say how absolutely relieved I was to read your books ("Crisis of Conscience" and "In Search Of Christian Freedom"). I must confess, reading them was nothing like I expected. My only contact with ex-jw's has been through browsing the net, and to be honest, a lot of what's written doesn't merit much by way of consideration. A lot of sites are so absolutely blinded by bitterness, that even the truth they do provide is soured and unpalatable.

    I can sympathize with the adjustment you and others face. One invests so much as regards relationships and the seemingly unavoidable loss of many of these is painful. As you evidently recognize, simply withdrawing from a system that one has found to be seriously flawed is not a solution in itself. It is what one does thereafter that determines whether there has been progress and benefit or not. It is also true that any transition—even if only one in outlook—can require not only time but also mental and emotional adjustments. Haste is obviously not advisable as it often only leads to new problems or to new errors. There is always need to exercise patience, trusting in God’s help and direction.—Proverbs 19:2.

    It seems, however, that we can often learn as much from the “unpleasant” experiences of life as we can from the pleasurable ones—perhaps more that is of lasting value. While separation from a large organization and former associates unquestionably produces a degree of loneliness, even that can have its beneficial aspects. It can bring home to us more than ever before the need for full reliance on our heavenly Father, that only in Him have we genuine security and the confidence of his care. It is no longer a case of flowing along with the stream but of developing a personal inner strength, gained through faith, of growing up so as to no longer be children but grown men and women, a growth achieved through our growth in love for God’s Son and the way of life he exemplified. (Ephesians 4:13-16) I don’t view my past experience as all loss, nor feel that I learned nothing from it. I find great comfort in the words of Paul at Romans 8:28 (the New World Translation changes the meaning of this text by inserting the word “his” in the expression “all his works” but this is not the way the original Greek text reads). According to a number of translations, Paul states:

    > We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him.—Jerusalem Bible translation.

    Not just in “his works” but in “all things” or in “everything” God is able to turn any circumstance—however painful or, in some cases, even tragic—to the good of those who love him. At the time we may well find this difficult to believe but if we turn to him in full faith and allow him to do so, he can and will cause that to be the result. He can make us the better person for having had the experience, enrich us in spite of the sorrow we may undergo. Time will demonstrate this to be so and that hope can give us courage to continue on, trusting in his love.

    You will find that many of what are called “ex-JW ministries, ” have often simply exchanged their previous beliefs for what is known as “orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy undoubtedly contains its measure of what is sound. But it also contains elements that are the result of imposition of religious authority, rather than belief clearly set forth in Scripture. It is difficult, for example, to find any reputable reference work that does not acknowledge the post-Biblical origin of the trinity doctrine. I feel that the main problem with the trinity doctrine is the dogmatism and judgmentalism that customarily accompanies it. That to me is but another evidence of the fragility of its foundation. Were it clearly taught in Scripture, there would be no need for authoritarian imposition of the teaching and heavy pressure to submit to it.

    So many former Witnesses are at a disadvantage when pressured by others to conform to views these have adopted. Dogmatic assertions from sources that claim to base their arguments on knowledge of Biblical Greek often awe former Witnesses—even as they were previously awed by claims of a similar nature from the Watch Tower organization. So many points could be clarified if people were simply to read the same text in a variety of translations. They would then at least see that where translation is concerned, dogmatism is greater evidence of ignorance than of learning. I find this to be the case with many who adopt the Trinity doctrine.

    Paul stressed that knowledge has merit only when it is expressive of, and productive of, love, that while knowledge often puffs up, love builds up. Human language, remarkable though it is, is limited to expressing what relates to the human sphere. It could never adequately be used to describe in detail and fullness things of the spirit realm, such as the exact nature of God, the process whereby He could beget a Son, the relationship resulting from such begettal, and similar matters. At the very least, it would take the language of angels, themselves spirit persons, to do this. Yet Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”—1 Corinthians 8:1; 13:1-3.

    When I listen to some harp on a particular doctrine which professes to express in specific terms things which the Scriptures state in general terms, to set out explicitly things on which the Scriptures are not explicit, and define what the Scriptures leave undefined, I ask myself how much love this shows, what loving benefit they think results from this, how it could possibly be of comparable benefit to discussing something that is presented straightforwardly and unambiguously in Scripture and the appreciation of which would have real meaning and benefit in the person’s life. I’m afraid much of what many hear carries echoes of the noisy gong and clashing cymbal.

    It reminds me of a statement found in the book The Myth of Certainty, in which university professor Daniel Taylor writes:

    > The primary goal of all institutions and subcultures is self-preservation.
    > Preserving the faith is central to God’s plan for human history; preserving
    > particular religious institutions is not. Do not expect those who run the
    > institutions to be sensitive to the difference. God needs no particular
    > person, church, denomination, creed or organization to accomplish his purpose.
    > He will make use of those, in all their diversity, who are ready to be used,
    > but will leave to themselves those who labor for their own ends.
    > Nonetheless, questioning the institutions is synonymous, for many, with
    > attacking God—something not long to be tolerated. Supposedly they are
    > protecting God . . . Actually, they are protecting themselves, their view of
    > the world, and their sense of security. The religious institution has given
    > them meaning, a sense of purpose, and, in some cases, careers. Anyone
    > perceived as a threat to these things is a threat indeed.
    > This threat is often met, or suppressed even before it arises, with power. . .
    > . Institutions express their power most clearly by enunciating, interpreting
    > and enforcing the rules of the subculture.

    Having seen the truth of this in the Witness religion and its organization and creed, we should not nearsightedly fail to realize how equally true it is in the larger religious field.

    As regards association and fellowship, I recognize the dilemma some face. But I do feel that as time goes on one can find others whose association and companionship can be healthful and upbuilding, whether among former Witnesses or others. In one’s daily course of life one meets a variety of people and over a period of time may find at least some whose association is healthful and upbuilding. We get together with others for Bible discussion and though our group is quite small we find it satisfying. Naturally there is a certain benefit to similarity of background, but it doesn’t seem as if this should be a major goal. I personally have no interest in affiliating with a denomination. Some have expressed that most denominations have more in common than the points on which they disagree, which has some truth in it. Yet they still prefer to remain as separate denominations and affiliation with any of them does have at least some divisive effect, since one is expected to uphold and favor the growth and distinctive teachings of the denomination involved.

    In a recent letter from Canada a brother writes:

    I have started witnessing informally to people who have Bible questions or when I see it is an appropriate time to witness. I offer a free discussion
    on the Bible, its theme concerning Jesus and the Kingdom, the main divisions and how to study it to profit personally. No obligations, no church, no
    religion, just a Bible discussion. I do not associate with any group and do not feel the need to really. I also do not give personal opinions wherever the
    Scriptures are not clear or are a decision of conscience. However, I do feel
    the need to let folks know that the Bible's way is the only way to live and
    freedom, true freedom, comes through knowing Jesus Christ. On occasion I see myself saying things that must be verified for the correct understanding, but
    I at least feel I know the basics to help someone profit from a personal
    study of the Bible. It takes a long time to get out of the woods, and I sometimes ask myself if total eradication of WT influence is possible. When it has
    been a part of your adult life for so long, you still find yourself thinking a
    certain way and then realize it is learned thoughts, not logically thought
    out sometimes. There are some things you want to hold on to of course, but their programming gets in the way more often than you would like to believe.

    I hope that things may go well for you and wish you God’s guidance, comfort and strength as you face up to life's problems.




    Good Morning ATJ..

    I don`t know of anyone that followed Ray..Not a Soul..

    Many admired him though..

    He was one of the few that had the courage to speak up,about the WBT$..

    Saying Ray was a Leader in exJW World,is an insult in Watchtower World..

    It`s a way to discredit Ray and anyone who left the WBT$..

    There are no Leaders in exJW World..

    No one to point to and say,thats the Leader of the exJW`s..

    We are a World Wide Collection,of Indepentant People..

    Who are all Pissed Off,about the Corruption in the WBT$..

    Ray was one of us..

    .............................. ...OUTLAW

  • neverendingjourney

    I bring a slightly different perspective to this conversation than most. Ray Franz didn't "free me from the Watchtower" so much as my own doubts buttressed by what I read on JWD. I learned of Ray's views and experience through JWD first. For some reason, Crisis of Conscience was always a point of no return for me. I felt that reading the book was the ultimate sin that would preclude my return to JWism forever. It was much easier for me mentally to absorb his knowledge indirectly through this forum.

    That being said, Ray has touched the lives of every one of us to varying degrees. He's been the only governing-body member to bring to light practices and procedures concealed which were formerly concealed to those outside of the GB. Some of us "dipped our toes" in "apostasy" directly by reading Crisis of Conscience. Others figured it out mostly be themselves and had their suspicions confirmed by Ray's books.

    With the disclaimer that I've not read through all of the Ray Franz threads, I'll say that some of the complaints probably are really targeted at the groupthink and group hug mentality that often dominates online forums in general, regardless of the forum's topic. I imagine that some people may have gone overboard with the flattery, which only stimulates more flattery pile on. That's the nature of discussion boards. Forums like these often attract online bullies (aka "trolls") who like to get a rise out of people, mostly because most of them would never behave such way in public.

    When I read the latest edition of Crisis of Conscience not to long ago, I noticed a minor discrepancy between what appeared in the body of the text versus what appeared in a footnote. I thought about posting a thread on the subject, but despite having typed it out, I decided against it because I didn't want to deal with the criticisms that would certainly ensue. Such criticisms, regardless of how minor, where frowned upon when he was alive, and I'm sure they will be amplified in light of his recent passing.

    Nevertheless, Ray Franz provided an invaluable service to all of us who dared to exercise independent thought. For that I will always be grateful.

  • EmptyInside

    Honestly, I never heard of Ray Franz until I came to this board. I'm still in the process of reading "Crisis of Conscience". When I first started reading it I had to stop, because it was too hard for me. And it was touching to read that it was hard for him to write.

    And when he left the organization, I was still in elementary school, so I was too young to understand all that was happening. I don't think most Witnesses knew or will ever know what actually took place, unless they talk to someone who was there.

    And in reading "Crisis of Conscience", it seems he was not bitter and was a very caring and sensitive man. I can only speak for myself personally, I never had an opportunity to speak with him either in person or e-mail. But, what he wrote really opened my eyes, and I can never feel the same way about the religion that technically I'm still apart of. But, in saying that, don't you think that most Witnesses or ex-Witnesses who start reading one of his books, has already made up their mind that something in the org. isn't right? It may be the final piece of evidence we needed to convince ourselves. So, no, I don't think anyone here is claiming to follow or worship another man. I certainly have no intention of following anymore men. But, I do respect the man and all that he endured as a Witness and then, how hard he had it after. I'm sad that most Witnesses will still think of him as someone part of the "evil slave class", when he just was a very good man. And finally, I especially appreciate his sincerity and conviction on doing what he felt was right no matter how challanging it made his life. He had a lot to lose and not much to gain from it all.

  • designs

    Ray's inadvertent accomplishment in 1980 was to set the fires for the Apostate witch hunts that followed in the 80s and 90s.

    If anyone had reservations about how crazed the Leadership could become over spilling the beans and criticism this event left no questions.

    If you were a target of those witch hunts (Me and countless others), you remember how awful it was and that alone paved the way for our Enlightenment.

    Thanks Ray, well worth the stripes.

  • not a captive
    not a captive

    Thank you Psac and Georgie Girl, What wonderful things these are to share with us. maeve

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