I would for those who have not read Ray Franz' books in their entirety, that he did not choose to leave the WTS. First, he was a true believer when was asked to leave NYC Bethel. He and his wife, Cynthia, re-established in a congregation near Gadsen, AL through the assist from an elder he was close friends with, housing and a job. Ray left at 60 and had to work to put in the 40 credits required by the US government to apply for Social Security and Medicare.
You qualify for Social Security by compiling credits when you pay Social Security tax on your earnings. You can earn up to four credits per year. Workers qualify for Social Security retirement benefits when they reach 40 lifetime credits. ... You become eligible to collect Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. Ray would have been eligible for Medicare at 65.
Ray and Cynthia had neither been reproved privately or disfellowshipped but had a good standing in that congregation. Some jws after learning the details about the incidents at Bethel at that time, (that's a another story that can't be told briefly here), and decided that the WTS did not have the truth. The elder that had helped Ray and Cynthia, disassociated himself. At that time, it was not a disfellowshipping offense to associate with jws who did that. But it gave the WTS a way to make Ray radioactive to other jws. Ray and Cynthia still associated with that brother and his wife (who had not disassociated and was not disfellowshipped). The WTS made a ruling retroactively making association with a disassociated jw was grounds for disfellowshipping. Thus Ray was disfellowshipped. But not Cynthia, Ray's wife (in fact she never was down to the day she died.)
Ray never formed or thought of forming a religious group about himself. But he did study the Bible with a small group of ex-jws, jws in good standing (some elders), and jws who left to join other religions. Those that attended varied, some came every time, some occasionally; it was a rotating group, none considered "members." He did not present his personal choices as those to be followed by others. They merely read from various translations of the Bible, one chapter at a time by each person in the group. Everyone had a chance to express what they learned from that scripture, not presenting it as the only possible viewpoint. No arguments or presentation of any religious doctrines. Ray was a "hang-them-by-their own words" kind of guy. In his books,he would present the facts he knew and the supporting information about WTS history and policies and how he saw that they contradicted the Bible, especially the Gospels contain Jesus' words as recorded by others.
Now I am sure not all agree with Ray's personal choices, but his books give jws and ex-jws a closer look at the inner workings of the WTS. He told me once that he read other non-jw books about religious history by other people who come to the conclusion that the religion they had associated with for many years and had a responsible position could no longer be an organization that could be part of, that worshipping God in an organized/organizational manner corrupted Jesus' intent for his followers. Ray saw the wisdom in that.
The book, A Question of Conscience, by Charles Davis.
While this tends to be quite a scholarly book, the basic idea is that when a religious group gets large and starts "organizing" they lose the basic teachings of Christ.
Now I understand that many ex-jws no longer self-identify as Christians, but I am discussing how Ray and Cynthia felt, and how Charles Davis felt. Was that an individual could read the Bible and be able to come to conclusions how to live their lives.
So, do I believe that many if not all on the GB are true believers, based on what I learned directly from Ray and other GB members I have met and talked with over the past 50 years.
They have too much of their lives, time, and energy invested in this. They may feel cognitive dissonance, but like many other jws push that aside and are also reconditioned at the meetings, conventions, and other occasions.
Perhaps some of you have elderly jw parents that are still true believers despite what you have shared with them or they might have seen and pushed aside.
As some on here have said over and over, it is a cult.