The Significance of Raymond Victor Franz

by AllTimeJeff 41 Replies latest jw friends

  • AllTimeJeff

    The Significance of Raymond Franz

    In the light of the passing of Raymond Franz this week, it is clear from the reaction that many were affected by the deeds of this man. While he was called gentle by those who knew him (for the record, I never got to meet him personally) his reputation preceded him both in the ex Jehovah's Witness community, and still to this day at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    While his writings were indeed fair and reasonable, (I challenge anyone to read his books and find bitterness associated with him toward his former peers) I think it would be a mistake to remember Ray Franz as somewhat of a gentle, doting old man. Mr Franz was a man of dynamic action.

    Consider his life. This was a man with the conviction to live in 3rd world countries as a missionary after WWII to preach what he thought to be the truth. This was a man who lived in remote areas, visited and taught strangers, all because of the deep conviction that he had. He spent his entire life through his 50's living below the poverty level, volunteering like many Jehovah's Witnesses do to preach.

    It was this same conviction that allowed him to be a leader within Jehovah's Witnesses, to accept a role as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. It was also this same conviction and dynamism that motivated him to follow his conscience when he saw the troubling activities and conduct of the Governing Body during the 1970's.

    Why would a man in his 50's resign his leadership position (though not leave the religion)? It was over principle. It was over what was right. When he resigned in 1980, up to the time he was disfellowshipped in 1981 for having a meal with a former Jehovah's Witness, Franz continued to to see the conduct of the Governing Body, and how it hurt people.

    It was with a desire to help people along with his conviction and courage that motivated this man of action to write what would be the book that would define him, (Crisis of Conscience), expose the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, and ultimately help tens of thousands of people negotiate their troubled relationship with a troubled cult.

    Anyone who is familiar with Jehovah's Witnesses knows that they view any dissenting opinion, any self expression, any expression of autonomy as on par with the activities of Satan himself. The Governing Body knows best of all their checkered past, their failed attempts at prophecy, their morphed dogma, all of which destroys their own claim that Jesus invisibly chose them in 1919, even though Jehovah's Witnesses believe practically nothing that they once believed back in that year.

    Ray Franz knew all of this. He knew he had an obligation to report what he saw.

    The two books that Franz wrote, Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom, are not light and easy reads. It is doubtful that unless one is familiar with the whole Jehovah's Witness hierarchy and activities that they would mean a whole lot to you.

    But to those who for decades had to live with doubts based on the changing doctrine and lies of the Governing Body, who had to put up with elders who were trained to treat their flocks with kindness only if they put up good numbers in the door knocking activity of Jehovah's Witnesses, who struggled with the cruelty of disfellowshipping, the inconsistency of the Witness blood doctrine, the unwelcome intrusion into the bedroom of married Witnesses, Ray Franz literally saved their life.

    When I was a Regular Pioneer, we used to say that we were looking for the most zealous person to convert. If they were a super zealous Catholic for example, there was no doubt they would make a super zealous Jehovah's Witness.

    The Governing Body missed on Ray Franz. They forgot to look at his past and see that this might have been a gentle and meek man on the outside, but inside, was a most zealous, courageous, and honest man.

    Like most of us, Ray Franz did what he thought was best at the time. It is difficult to accept the truth if it differs from how one was raised to view certain matters. At one time, Ray Franz was one of the most zealous Jehovah's Witnesses ever. He thought it was the truth©. When he learned otherwise, and the damage that this caused, his zeal turned, not against Jehovah's Witnesses, but toward a simple discussion of the facts, of what was true, to help others see for themselves the facts, the truth about the truth.

    Ray Franz was always about the truth. It was never about the truth© that Jehovah's Witnesses speak of. It was about honesty.

    In the end, Raymond Victor Franz was not just a man of deep thought, but of deep action and conviction. His latter years bear eloquent testimony to the good that an honest, thoughtful person of conviction can do, if they will just do it.

  • coffee_black

    Beautifully said... Thank you Jeff


  • not a captive
    not a captive

    Thanks for putting it together so.

  • no more kool aid
    no more kool aid

    Amen, Jeff. I have a friend who is ordering CoC, I can't wait for her to get the information but most of all to hear the tone it is written in. It's almost like you can tell what kind of man he was by looking at his picture. Beautiful words, thank you Jeff. NMKA

  • wobble

    Thanks Jeff,

    a very good account of what the man was, and what we have to live up to if we wish to be as revered and loved as him.

    I am grieving for the loss of a man I never met in person, but his love, kindness and concern for me, a stranger, were expressed via E-mail, when I had asked him not to trouble, I knew he was busy and not in the best of health.

    He wrote to me with many uplifting words of encouragement and direction, when I had simply wanted to thank him for his books and being who he is.

    The World is a poorer place for the passing of a truly courageous Warrior for the Truth, a humble loving man who was a true Christian.

  • WTWizard

    I wonder what the religion would be like to this day if Raymond Franz would have been successful at fixing the problems. He did his utmost to bring it into compliance with the Bible, only to be hindered by the Filthful and Disgraceful Slavebugger surrounding him. He succeeded with the oral sex among married couples, reducing it to a conscience matter. He hated rules that were not in the Bible--I wonder if, had he had his way, he would have been successful at reinstating Christmas celebrations according to Luke 2:10-14, or allowing people to celebrate birthdays as a conscience matter as long as they do not chop off people's heads in doing so. And, if college would have been something that children would be looking forward to.

    I can also envision a religion in which children under 18 would not be getting pressured into baptism. Raymond Franz would expect children to be mature enough to make a proper decision before baptism. Also, there would be no penalty for a person wishing time out--I have seen people on these forums getting time out, only to come back without penalty after a time. You are looking at blood transfusions as conscience matters (not judicial matters, not fractions). Voting becomes a personal preference matter. People would be allowed to support their country in matters of improving such places, and they would be allowed to donate to charities or volunteer their time to such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army without reproach. There are no stupid rules on dress and grooming when visiting headquarters--just casual business attire would suffice (also, flexibility when out in door to door in extreme weather). Fun is permitted: Though isolated incidents of gatherings getting out of hand happen, most go without a problem.

    Too bad Raymond Franz did not succeed. So he did the next best thing: He wrote a book exposing the truth, his efforts to reform the religion, and what they did to him to make sure he did not succeed. Which got people out of the religion--if they won't allow people any freedom, they don't deserve to have people at all.

  • Scarred for life
    Scarred for life

    Beautiful, Jeff. You and Randy write really well. A new generation of current JWs await YOUR books.

  • Dogpatch

    Well said, Jeff.

    Ray seemed meek because he was never one to attract attention to himself. While I was at Bethel from 1974 to 1980 (a few months after he had left Bethel) he never stood out to me as anyone special. I found ALL of the GB to be rather uninteresting and uncharismatic, except for Freddy his uncle (for being so weird) and George Gangas (for acting kooky). Ray seemed rather dull and pedantic like the rest, and his talks rather uninteresting. So I never bothered to try and meet him (or any of the other GB - there were 18 when I was there at the end) until my friend Ron McGee from New Jersey was married by him. We got to chat a little. I knew instantly that he was not a man who had a large ego. But he was kind - the kind of man you knew was Christian at heart. Because of this, he had a great number of friends all over the world who regularly enjoyed visiting with he and Cynthia.

    What was so interesting to me, and VERY different from schisms in large church organizations (especially cults), is that not only Ray but ALL of those implicated in the 1979-1980 witchhunts at Bethel had no interest in drawing attention to themselves. They desired NO FOLLOWING. Cris and Norma Sanchez and the others were the same way - they loved the Bible and were always smiling and humble people who loved being at Bethel for most of their tenure. The last thing on their minds was to break off and start a new version of the Watchtower organization. They worked for nothing and gave up having children and the better things of life; because they loved people. (I am very happy that Tom and Gloria Cabeen managed to escape and have children!)

    No one can accuse me of supporting Ray because he was my "buddy." I had no desire to know the man, even during my final days at Bethel when all hell was breaking loose. He was simply uninteresting from my point of view. I was interested in what he was sharing with a select trusted few Bethelites about Romans and Galatians, and what Christianity was REALLY all about. For that, I owe the man a great deal, as well as the Cabeens. (Tom, on the other hand, would make a good cult leader!)

    Ray never particularly liked me after leaving Bethel and my publishing the tract, "What Happened at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Spring of 1980?" in 1981. It was a little too "Trinitarian" for him, and certainly not written in his pedantic style that all the GB had. He made that known to me, but with no specifics. Ray resented the churches to the end, and I guess that is what I stood for to him. Over the years I have sold hundreds of his books, probably thousands actually, always ordering from him (he was, for the most part, really the only one that ran Commentary Press, so it was always him that answered the phone). He never signed his name on any letter or email to me, only "Commentary Press." SO LIKE BETHEL. If I called him on the phone, he was pleasant but like a distant business person or something. But that was okay with me; I wasn't into kissing anyone's butt. He spoke the truth, and I witnessed most of what was in his books firsthand, and that message needed to be known. His book has literally saved the lives of thousands and helped hundreds of thousands get out of the Watchtower cult.

    Sometimes people cross paths that stand for the same thing but are not really "friends" in any personal meaning of the word. That was my relationship with Ray. That's why I laugh when people think some that leave are "followers of Ray Franz." What is to follow in Ray Franz? I would have picked 100 personalities over him as a leader to follow. But he had great courage and was not afraid to lose everything to free others from bondage. For that, I greatly admire him. I would hope that there are those at Bethel even now who will follow in his footsteps and have the courage to speak the truth.


  • mouthy

    Nicely put Randy,About a very honest man from an very honest man .Good tribute.
    I loved him dearly ,was invited to his home for supper,Was treated royally.
    I didnt care that the Trinity teaching bothered him somewhat,I feel God,examines our hearts
    in my humble opinion he was the most humblest man I ever met. (& Boy! I have met my 83 years.

  • Dogpatch

    Now Grace, on the other hand, would have made a good cult leader. :-))


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