Bill Bowen's Comments on Ray Franz

by silentlambs 181 Replies latest jw friends

  • silentlambs

    I have been approached by a couple of friends who say that a further comment needs to be made on the earlier fracas involving Ray Franz. I have thought about it a few days and decided to offer an explanation to help any abuse survivor or supporter of silentlambs to understand where I was coming from.

    To others on the board what has happened reminds me of emails I get every week from df or inactive/active JWs. They are insulted and angry, they say WT policy is fine and how dare I attack Gods organization. Then the email depreciates into outright threats against me personally or basically wanting to see the look in my eyes when Jehovah strikes me dead at Armageddon. How do I respond? To argue is pointless as they will never see the reality until someday they learn to overcome cult mind control and blind thinking. So I just try to encourage them to educate themselves and perhaps someday they might understand this issue better. I wish them peace. This usually results in a further spray of venom and angry verbiage that I generally ignore. You see there is no logic, reasoning, or evidence that I could present that would in anyway change the viewpoint of a person who does not want to see a different perspective. No matter what proof is given it is always discounted and discredited to defend a mindset that will not change.

    This example is offered as a way to explain what I believe has happened and will continue to happen after this post is read by certain ones. As with JWs certain ones will defend Ray Franz to the last man standing in order to preserve his holiness.

    What do I base those conclusions on? Certain evidence presented by Rays most ardent defenders was ignored, other evidence and research presented by others was defended with logic that is difficult to comprehend. As I read the comments it was a flash back of the many JW emails I have received. To help you understand what I mean by this I offer the following information:

    The 1973 book was called, "Organized for Kingdom Preaching and Disciple Making" it was referred to as the OR book. It was written as an elder/publisher guidebook in handling or organizing matters in the congregation. There was no elders book at the time. When elders went to school they were given a textbook that was blue called "The Kingdom Ministry" book. When the elder completed the school held at "Kingdom Farm" he was required to turned his copy in, nobody was allowed to take the book home other that what was written in their notes. The OR book was an attempt to provide direction to elders on how to handle problems in the congregation with specific instructions for doing so. Years later in 1982 the book "Organized to Accomplish our Ministry," OM, was changed to be more of a publisher handbook. The elders were given the first in a series of three elder booklets that eventually evolved into the KS 91 or "Flock" book as we know it today. This is significant in that the OR book was used to direct how judicial matters were handled, much of that material was removed from the OM book when it was released. With that being stated it is highly inconceivable to believe that the writer had no idea that those directives would be applied to wrongdoing involving child abuse. I have on my desk a case that was started in 1975, it is a child molestation case that involved correspondence to the Society and the Governing Body that spanned over four years. The individual who wrote the letters along with his wife were eventually disfellowshipped for not keeping quiet about it. I also have numerous pedophile surveys that go back into that time period, a part of which describe the service departments involvement with dealing with their case and cover up. When I hear the comment from Ray that in 40 years as a CO, DO and 9 year member of the Governing Body who served part of that time as a member of the Service Committee, that he never ONCE dealt with a case of a child being involved in underage sex. For anyone who has ever served in a position of responsibility in the organization and knows the way matters are handled it is a statement that is hard to believe at best. Child molestation is always considered a difficult problem and it invariably involves the Society as well as the CO and DO.

    Now the question is what is the truth? If I went on line and put up the pedophile surveys and all the correspondence that related to child molestation cases reported from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, would it make any difference to those who defend Franz? As mentioned earlier these comments are offered for those who may have concern about why I made my comments earlier and sincerely want a further explanation. I do not think Ray Franz is a bad man, I think he may suffer from a little CYA in his comments, I can certainly understand why.

    In the fall of last year I placed a telephone call to Ray Franz. The purpose was not to request support but to help track down a story of abuse in the area, I thought he might know some old timers in that area. After covering that information I asked Ray if he understood the extent of the abuse problem in the organization. Rays reply to me was he did not really think child abuse was a problem in the organization. I then went on to discuss my findings along with why I had come to my conclusions regarding this issue. Ray replied that in forty years he had not known of any cases coming up and that he thought the problem of abuse among JWs was no larger than in main stream religion. I said Ray you have it wrong it is far worse and gave further reasons. Toward the end of the conversation Ray agreed that the closed nature of the organization could cause problems, but he had yet to see evidence of it. I replied that the information on the silentlambs website provided a ton of proof, to which Ray stated it needed to be documented. At the end of the conversation I did not feel we were in agreement. So as a result I concluded with the comment, "Ray if you did not see this as a problem when you were in, it certainly has become a problem now, so if anyone asks you about this please make remarks that acknowledge this problem." I did not ask Ray to join silentlambs, I did not ask him to endorse the organization, I simply asked him to not be negative to others about child abuse not being a problem. My primary reason for making this comment was in the event Ray was called by media he would not give them a negative impression regarding the extent of abuse in the organization. Three weeks later I was contacted by an individual that had just talked to Ray, they were disturbed in that he stated to them, 1. He did not think child abuse was a large problem in the organization, 2. He had never dealt with the problem personally, 3. He did not think it a problem any larger than with mainstream religion. A couple of months later I was contacted by a reporter who stated they had talked to Ray asking about abuse, he again made the similar comments, the reporter stated to me that with all the overwhelming evidence they would not use his comment. I was later contacted by a second reporter who made basically the same comments. So was Ray being supportive of the story on abuse? I dont think so.

    Let me offer an example as a comparison, most are familiar with AJWRB and Lee elder who brought out information on the blood doctrine, suppose Ray were to make the two following statements to the press, 1. In his forty years of appointed service he never knew of one child dying from not taking blood, 2. He did not think any more children died from medical complications in JWs than any other religion.

    Would you consider that Ray supported or did not support AJWRB by his comments?

    For similar reasons I believe Ray has not supported the issue of child abuse being a problem in the organization to media and by personal comments to persons who ask him privately about this. His recent comment to me was we had sensationalized this issue and should only bring forth cases from adults where we have the facts in totality.

    Further if you review the comments in COC you will note Ray comments about writing/authoring the chapter, "Safeguarding the Cleanness of the Congregation" he even mentions the GB were not involved in the writing of it. Now in his comments through Amazing he wishes to say he had no idea the information would be applied to wrongdoing that involved child molestation. The chapter in the OR book applied to all wrongdoing in the congregation, and how judicial hearings were to operate. Incest was certainly considered part of that and incest was described as a sin to be handled according to the guidelines in Watchtower articles that discussed handling wrongdoing in that time period. Yet Ray had no idea? Wasn't he on the writing committee? The two eye witnesses ruling was used before Ray wrote the chapter it is true, but it was never defined as clearly to this point in a judicial setting than what was written in the OR book. A refinement was happening at this time regarding exactly how judicial hearings were to be established. There was an insert in the 1973 KM that provided detailed information on how a judicial committee was to be selected, it is sometimes referred to down to this day. Rays chapter on how judicial hearings were to operate was a crucial guideline. Think of it this way as an illustration, if I was to load a pistol and then give it to a child to play with and someone got killed who would be responsible? Would it not be the person who gave the child the gun? Ray Franz loaded the gun by writing the chapter on how judicial hearings were to be handled and gave it to untrained elders across the country. Hundreds if not thousands were harmed as a result and he now wants to claim it is none of his responsibility? I encourage you to read the chapter in the OR book and ask yourself if you were an elder and had an child abuse problem arise in the congregation at that time would you have used the direction given in handling the matter? You can read the chapter here,

    The detailed nature of that information is precisely the reason it was taken out in the OM book as it was too detailed and they wanted only elders to have that information. Also clearly stated in that chapter is the point of never making negative remarks about anyone in the congregation. This policy is the primary way abuse survivors are silenced in the congregation. It was yet another bullet in the chamber, but again Ray had no idea it would be used in this way and wishes to accepts no responsibility?

    While Ray acknowledges that two eye witnesses should not be required for proving the allegation of abuse by a child, he went on to tell me that if an adult comes forward they must absolutely be able to prove their allegations before coming forward. I disagree and think this is a mind set that silences adult abuse survivors. Does Rays position on this support Wt policy or abuse survivors?

    Ray repeatedly attacks the policy of the GB in COC. The policy regarding the political cards in and its inconsistency with the way things were handled in , the policy of the GB on military service and how many went to jail needlessly as a result of that policy, the policy of the GB on blood and how children have suffered needlessly as a result of their decision. In the latest edition of COC number 5, Ray brings up the policy of the GB in becoming an NGO with the UN and discusses that topic also. Yet the child abuse issue had been going strong for over eight months before the UN scandal erupted. I certainly find it odd that after all these attacks on the policies of the GB that in not one place in all five revisions Ray could discuss the policy of the GB regarding child abuse.

    I spoke with a friend recently who approached Ray about the abuse policy in the early 1990s, Ray at that time also refused to accept it was a problem. He even insisted the GB had no knowledge of a problem with child abuse in the organization to this person. Was that not supporting the GB by his comments? When you make the statement to media that the problem with abuse is not bigger with JWs than mainstream religion, is that exactly what Brown stated a few months back? Does that not support the position taken that the policy is not flawed but instead about the same as everyone else? In my opinion if you make that comment you support WT policy. If you make the statement to others that you never knew of a problem with abuse in forty years does that not make it appear WT policy must have been working fine? For those reasons I made the comment Ray supported WT policy. When the time came to help or remain silent Ray instead chose to make negative comments that put the abuse issue as a non-problem. In my opinion, he did not support abuse survivors by his comments. I have yet to find one person who is friends with Ray Franz that has ever come forward to say he supports what we are doing. The recent comments represent the first time to my knowledge Ray has publicly stated he disagrees with how wt policy works, I wish he would have made it that clear to the media when they called him.

    I made the statement, "He wrote a book that was dynamic in what it reveals, but his silence regarding abuse causes me to question his ability to stand for what is morally and ethically right."

    I have these reservations more confirmed by the attacks made by Ray after I attempted to make peace and let the matter go. By his admission to Amazing the conversation we had with one another went well, I really tried to end the matter, giving Ray a large benefit of the doubt by apologizing for any misunderstanding and making this public on the board. Even in good faith erasing all posts though there was no agreement to do so. Did that mean my original comments were unfounded and all lies? I remained silent after the second round of name calling from Ray and others on the board. Instead of calling for further clarification or in anyway working for reconciliation it appears he just had to take third jab. Did Ray really want peace? In the third commentary Ray goes on a long diatribe of theological mumbo jumbo while taking pot shots at me and those who support the abuse issue along the way somehow implying questioning his writing in the OR book is somehow challenging Jehovah Himself. While chastising me for misrepresentation, Ray then goes and does the same in his comments about me, characterizing several comments in a totally different way than I stated to him in private.

    I ask you the reader to carefully review the comments made by Ray about this issue, can you find any compassion for abuse survivors? Is this not similar to Wt when they defend their position? The silence from Ray on the GB abuse policy has been deafening until two weeks ago, now you think you can make a few fast statements and it will cover the twenty years of saying nothing? Why is it not in your book Ray? You attacked them on every other policy why not this one? Is the rape of children of less importance to you than young men going to prison for not participating in military service? Or was the chapter in the OR book on policy you authored used to hurt children and now you want to pretend you didn't know and do not want to get your hands dirty? How easy it is to condemn others for smaller wrongs but forget matters you were directly involved in. If you really want to come clean write a chapter in COC on child abuse and WT policy in your next edition and I will believe you are taking this seriously, why not apologize to abuse survivors for having any hand in causing part of their suffering, hey I would settle for one page as an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering heaped on victims of abuse by WT policy.

    As you well know I have never asked you once to join silentlambs organization, I have never demanded you to join anything. I simply asked you to support the idea that there is a problem with abuse in the organization and not make negative remarks that support the WT position to others. That is the truth and you know it. Jehovah, Jesus, Paul, and Moses would have not taken offense at that request, why did you?

    The silentlambs issue is far larger in its purpose as it directly addresses a problem that is hurting children as we speak. As some may recall I seldom take the energy or time to stand up to anyone on the forums, as a matter of fact the only times have been when abuse survivors were attacked or hurt by negative comments. I did this with mad apostate, Fred Hall, and others, if silentlambs does not stand up for abuse survivors what do we stand for? I stood up against the entire Watchtower organization over their policy on abuse and silentlambs as an organization with continue to stand against anyone who by their comments hurts abuse survivors and make that known.

    I have no war with Ray Franz, I tried to take the peaceful way out and let him have the benefit of the doubt, with the hope of comments more positive toward abuse survivors in the future. It appears Ray wants a war, well you have my comments it is the truth from the people I have talked to and my personal experience with Ray. I tried to let it go but sometimes an explanation needs to be given due to misrepresentation of the facts, well now you have it.

    I also wanted to make a comment about apologies I could best get into this by telling you a story. When I was a lad I can recall one occasion when we attended an assembly. As the program was getting ready to start as sister sitting about ten feet away fell out of her chair. Since I was a kid I just sat there, finally a friend who was sitting beside me got up and helped her. Though I said nothing at the time I felt really bad that I did not do anything, I just sat there. I resolved from that time forward that if that ever happened again I would immediately get up and assist a person in that situation, from that time forward I have always endeavored to live by that rule. I guess you could say at that moment it changed how I viewed that situation and would react for the rest of my life. If you span forward years later in the organization, I served as a ministerial servant for seven years and saw many things elders did that I was ashamed of but was required to support or remain silent. When finally appointed as an elder I thought I could truly make a difference and be a force to help people. I expended myself in that regard, from general operation and organization of the congregation, to quietly helping widows and others financially however I could. If you were elderly and your yard needed mowing we would get it done, car problems? It would be taken care of. Many of these little tasks mounted into the thousands over the years. I think in one sense my letters of recommendation are the many thank you cards sent over the years, I keep them put away perhaps someday my children might find them interesting. Does that mean I did all things right? Certainly not I made many mistakes and often apologized when I did. At the same time there are some mistakes you don't know how to apologize for. I can recall sitting on judicial hearings with women who had been abused, they obtained an unscriptural divorce and had now found someone outside the organization who was treating them good. They were living with the person but did not want to lose all friends and family during this difficult time. What possible decision could we make but to disfellowship? Did this really help this person at the lowest point in their life? My hands were tied by WT policy, but the memory of how we hurt these ones by policies we were required to enforce bothers me to this day. I am sorry for being a part of those decisions I am sorry for not being able to think past the organization to help a person in need. When I was a young elder I remember dealing with two specific judicial cases that involved child molestation. In one case a child was the molester, in the other a sixteen year old was the victim. In both cases we were instructed to not call the police and I followed instructions. I did break confidentiality and warn others in the congregation and could have been deleted for doing so but no one turned me in. What bothers me to this day is, have these people molested other children? I felt like the little boy sitting in the chair again, I was embarrassed and angry at myself for not doing what I should have. I resolved from that time forward I would never allow other children to be put in danger due to remaining silent and not standing up on abuse issues. I am sorry for not doing more to protect children at that time, I am sorry for being more afraid of the organization than doing what was morally and ethically right. When the events of the year 2000 unfolded in my life I was still trying to make it work as an elder. I thought I could make a difference within the organization and help people. When I investigated the local molestation case, I spoke to the victim who is now an adult. She lost ten years of her life being df and trying to come to terms with her molestation while her molester served as an elder in the congregation and was treated as a "glorious one." She was recently reinstated and cried as she told me it gave her hope to know something was finally be done about this. How could I fail her? When the society told me to cover it up even after evidence was discovered indicating he was molesting another child. Could I fail them both? I could not remain sitting in the chair, if I were truly sorry for what had happened in the past then how could I not take action to put this right. I think you know the rest of the story. Perhaps the irony of it all is the sister that caused me to start all of this is not allowed to speak to me because I am disfellowshipped for speaking out to protect children. Even so I do not regret my decision I could not sit in the chair.

    Perhaps Ray Franz is a different person and will just not allow himself to see how this problem has hurt so many. It is a free country and you can do as you wish. My fault may have been expecting too much, I just have difficulty understanding how a person who appears to be so compassionate for righteousness in his writings seems stone cold on a matter that has deeply hurt so many. It appears to me my passion in trying to educate and rally the support of JW abuse survivors makes Ray feel he is being pushed into something he has no interest in. Well I now understand his position and will leave him alone. An 80 year old man has the right to live out his days in peace and not do what he has no interest in. So I encourage you all to leave Ray alone about the abuse issue, he does not endorse or support silentlambs in any way, nor do I ask him to or will I ever. As I have explained to many when you work with silentlambs you do what your heart moves you to do and nothing more. Isnt that what true freedom is? Does that mean Ray is a bad person? No, he is just exercising his freedom and everyone should have the right to do that. That position angered me at first, but if I can be kind to Jehovah's Witnesses who do not understand this issue can I not be kind to Ray? I am sorry Ray for not respecting your freedom, I will leave you alone. There is no Ray camp or Bill camp this is not an issue about choosing sides, I would certainly hope that many people who support Ray can also find it in their hearts to support survivors of abuse and the ideals of silentlambs in changing WT policy. Time will prove how large the problem is and where the truth lay.

    In conclusion I want to make clear silentlambs is not part of any anti-jw movement nor do we have any intention of destroying the organization. We are a support group, we help people in need. We can respect your beliefs whatever they may be while having compassion for how you were hurt. Many have been moved in their hearts to support and assist with this effort, some are JWs, some are not it makes no difference as it is a labor of love not of bitterness or hate.

    With that being stated this will be silentlambs last post on JWD. I am starting a new forum on the new silentlambs website and all future posting will go there. The forum will be moderated and hopefully will be a kinder safer place for abuse survivors to interact. The forum should be up and running by the first part of next week. Anyone is welcome to come but it will not be the "wild west" atmosphere of JWD. No offense Simon, some need a place to say anything they want that is understandable. You have provided a great service and have helped many have a place to think and communicate. The SL forum will try to fulfill a different role. Thanks for the kind support and the good memories.

    For those of you who see no good from this post, I encourage you to continue to educate yourselves and try to see this from a larger perspective. I hope you have peace. For others it should let you know that silentlambs has not changed, we still operate the same way as the day the organization was started, that is, we support and defend abuse survivors against anyone who in anyway does not do so. If you believe that to be a positive then I encourage you to support silentlambs.


    Edited by - silentlambs on 27 October 2002 22:1:2

  • kelsey007

    As one that was raised in the WT and have had experience with Bethal I personally do not find it hard to believe that A Ray Franz might not be aware of the problem. Given his reasonable nature I also can see why he would ask for more documentation and proof. It seems this whole thing was started due to his lack of supportive statements to the press. Again, Mr Bowen you are the one that has been dealing with the hundreds of alledged victims and you are the one that has a feel for the validity of the seriousness of the matter. At 80 years of age I doubt that Mr Franz is seeking to CYA so to speak. Could it not be that only certain members of the GB are privy to knowledge of the amounts of abuse accusations in the org? At any rate such public statements (online or otherwise) take away from the stated intent of silent lambs IMHO.

    In 1993 at Bethal I sat with A. Schroder at the Bethal breakfast table- Was his mind on oraganizational or spiritual matters? No, he was reading the Wall Street Journal. My point being that just by being a member of the GB does not nake one a spritual giant or make them tuned in to organizational matters. What I saw at Bethal at that time was what made me run from the org. I already had years of concerns with organizational procedures and my volunteer stint at bethal was my last visit to a KH. The things I saw had such a profound effect on me that I literally packed and left after my assigned work one day. Bethal is not a seat of spiritual activity. The GB is more tuned in to financial matters than WT policy that so drastically effects 6 million people daily.

  • bjc2012

    Hi Bill:

    Excellent, informative post!


  • abbagail

    Thanks for the detailed and heartfelt explanation (not that I needed one...) but here's hoping it helps some of the others.
    Fantastic about the new silentlambs forum. Congratulations!
    I look forward to signing up!
    Best regards,

  • izobcenec

    strong post bill!
    silent lambs have full support from slovenia!

  • Dutchie

    You will always have my support Bill and I didn't even need an explanation.

  • ballistic

    You see there is no logic, reasoning, or evidence that I could present that would in anyway change the viewpoint of a person who does not want to see a different perspective. No matter what proof is given it is always discounted and discredited to defend a mindset that will not change.

    aka why there is a lack of peace in the world.

  • IslandWoman


    Your desire to burn bridges when you do not meet with agreement is evident again in your stated intent to leave JWD and start your own forum.

    I hope it works out for you.


    Edited to add: There are some who have stated that the forum on Silentlambs was planned months ago. I did not know that. Bill though did state:

    With that being stated this will be silentlambs last post on JWD.
    He is burning bridges.

    Edited by - IslandWoman on 27 October 2002 19:23:29

  • deceit

    TO: IslandWoman


  • Gopher

    That was a well-worded post, and a nice olive branch to Ray and those who choose non-involvement in the child molestation/JW's issue.

    Like IW, I will miss your contributions to our forum. Yes, there have been unwarranted attacks on you. Maybe I'm missing something, but even with such disagreements, does that mean that the victims are necessarily being attacked too? I wish you well in your new forum -- but I will miss the information and perspective you brought to the board. Please reconsider leaving.

    I went back to the 2/11/01 AP news article regarding Ray Franz's first-published comments on the child molestation issue. Here they are.

    Raymond Franz, a high-ranking Jehovah's Witness who was disfellowshipped and then wrote two books about the inner workings of the faith, said he doesn't believe cases of pedophilia are any more prevalent in the denomination than in others. But the religion's insularity leads to problems, he said. "The thing is to keep everything within the system," Franz said. "That's a natural reaction for Witnesses because they are essentially a closed community . . . "
    So while he didn't take a stand on whether there are STATISTICALLY more child molestation cases among the JW's than others, he DID state that there was an important difference in how JW's handled such situations that made them more subject to criticism than other groups. (At least that's how I understand his comments about a the JW's being a "closed community", which sounds like a criticism to me!)

    Thanks for all your hard work and integrity on these issues. I can't wait to see the WT squirm as they are proved more and more guilty of heinous crimes that they have been previously able to sweep under the carpet.

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