|Part of a series on Jehovah's Witnesses|
|Jehovah's Witnesses by country|
Faithful and Discreet Slave
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
Corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses
|Bible Student movement
Jehovah's Witnesses splinter groups
|Beliefs & Practices|
|God's name · Eschatology · Blood · Disfellowshipping|
|The Watchtower · Awake!
New World Translation
|Watch Tower Presidents|
|W.H. Conley · C.T. Russell · J.F. Rutherford · N.H. Knorr · F.W. Franz
M.G. Henschel · D.A. Adams
|William Miller · N.H. Barbour · George Storrs|
|Notable Former Jehovah's Witnesses|
|Raymond Franz · Olin Moyle|
Raymond Victor Franz (born 1922) was a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses from 1971 until May 22, 1980, and served at the organization's world headquarters for fifteen years, from 1965 until 1980. Franz claims the request for his resignation and his subsequent disfellowshipping resulted from allegations of his apostasy from the faith. Franz has written two books that relate his personal experiences with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and his views on Jehovah's Witnesses teachings.
Franz was born in 1922. His uncle, Frederick Franz, was influential in the religion's development, practices and doctrines. His father was baptized in 1913 as a Bible Student (as Jehovah's Witnesses were known prior to 1931). Franz joined the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1938, and became a baptized member in 1939.
In 1944 Franz graduated from Gilead, the religion's school for training missionaries, and temporarily served the organization as a traveling representative in the continental U.S. until receiving a missionary assignment to Puerto Rico in 1946. Franz became a representative of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the Caribbean, traveling to the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, at least until 1957 when Jehovah's Witnesses were banned in the Dominican Republic by dictator Rafael Trujillo. At the age of 37 Franz married his wife, Cynthia, who joined him on missionary work. Both returned to the Dominican Republic in 1961 to evangelize for four more years before taking up work at Watch Tower headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
Franz says he began working in the organization's writing department and was assigned to collaboratively write Aid to Bible Understanding, the first religious encyclopaedia published by Jehovah's Witnesses. On October 20, 1971 he was appointed as a member of the Governing Body. In his personal memoir Franz said that at the end of 1979 he reached a personal crossroad:
|“||I had spent nearly forty years as a full time representative, serving at every level of the organizational structure. The last fifteen years I had spent at the international headquarters, and the final nine of those as a member of the worldwide Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. It was those final years that were the crucial period for me. Illusions there met up with reality. I have since come to appreciate the rightness of a quotation I recently read, one made by a statesman, now dead, who said: 'The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.' I now began to realize how large a measure of what I had based my entire adult life course on was just that, a myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.||”|
Frustrated by what he viewed as the Governing Body's dogmatism and overemphasis on traditional views rather than reliance on the Bible in reaching doctrinal decisions, Franz and his wife decided in late 1979 they would leave the international headquarters.
In March 1980 Franz and his wife took leave of absence from the world headquarters for health reasons and moved to Alabama, where he took up laboring work on a property owned by another Witness. The following month a committee of the Governing Body raised concerns over the spreading of "wrong teachings" emanating from headquarters staff and began questioning headquarters staff on their beliefs. Staff were also questioned about comments Franz had made that may have contradicted Watch Tower doctrine. Franz says that on 8 May 1980, he was told that he had been implicated as an apostate. He was called back to Brooklyn on May 20 for two days of questioning by the Chairman's Committee. Franz claims the discussion concerned allegations that some Witnesses were meeting privately to discuss various teachings of the Watch Tower Society that may have constituted apostasy.
Franz says that on 21 May 1980 he was called to a Governing Body session, questioned for three hours about his Bible viewpoints and commitment to Watch Tower doctrines and agreed to a request to resign from the Governing Body and headquarters staff. Franz says he refused the Watch Tower Society's offer of a monthly stipend as a member of the "Infirm Special Pioneers". The Governing Body investigation resulted in the disfellowshipping of several other headquarters staff.
On 1 September 1980 the Governing Body distributed a letter to all Circuit and District overseers stating that apostates need not be promoting doctrines to be disfellowshipped. The letter stated that individuals who persisted in "believing other doctrine despite scriptural reproof" were also apostatizing and therefore warranted "appropriate judicial action".
On March 18, 1981 Franz's employer in Alabama submitted a letter of disassociation from Jehovah's Witnesses. A Watchtower article on September 15, 1981 announced a change of policy on disassociation, directing that those who formally withdrew from the religion were to be treated by Witnesses as a disfellowshipped wrongdoer and Franz, who continued to socialize and eat with his employer, was summoned to a judicial hearing on November 25 and disfellowshipped for disobeying the edict.
Franz has since written two books presenting detailed accounts of his experiences as a Jehovah's Witness, a Governing Body member, and his experiences throughout various levels of the organization. These books are Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom.