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Raymond Victor Franz (born 1922) was a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses from 1971 until May 22, 1980,[1][2] 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.[3] 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.

Contents

Watch Tower career

Franz was born in 1922. His uncle, Frederick Franz, was influential in the religion's development, practices and doctrines.[4] 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.[5]

In 1944 Franz graduated from Gilead, the religion's school for training missionaries,[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] In his personal memoir Franz said that at the end of 1979 he reached a personal crossroad:[10]

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.[11]

Expulsion

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.[12][13] Franz says that on 8 May 1980, he was told that he had been implicated as an apostate.[14] He was called back to Brooklyn on May 20 for two days of questioning[15] 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[16][2] 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".[17] The Governing Body investigation resulted in the disfellowshipping of several other headquarters staff.[18][19][20]

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".[21][15]

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[22] 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.[23][2][24]

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.

References

  1. ^ "Announcements", Our Kingdom Ministry, August 1980, page 2, "This is a notification that Raymond Victor Franz is no longer a member of the Governing Body and of the Brooklyn Bethel family as of May 22, 1980."
  2. ^ a b c "Witness Under Prosecution", Richard H. Ostling, Anne Constable, Time Magazine, February 22, 1982.
  3. ^ "Church Told to Break Privacy, Report 'Sinner'", by John Dart, Los Angeles Times, August 27, 1987. Part 1."Church Told to Break Privacy, Report 'Sinner'", part 2.
  4. ^ Rogerson 1969, p. 66
  5. ^ Franz 2002, p. 11
  6. ^ "Gilead’s 61st Graduation a Spiritual Treat", The Watchtower, November 1, 1976, page 671.
  7. ^ Franz 2002, p. 16
  8. ^ Franz 2002, p. 19, 20
  9. ^ Franz 2002, p. 31
  10. ^ Franz 2002, p. 273
  11. ^ Franz 2002, p. 274,275
  12. ^ Penton 1997, p. 119-121
  13. ^ Franz 2002, p. 298,299
  14. ^ Franz 2002, p. 312, 313
  15. ^ a b Beverley 1986, p. 71
  16. ^ Franz 2002, p. 331
  17. ^ Franz 2002, p. 332
  18. ^ Penton 1997, p. 121
  19. ^ Botting & Botting 1984, p. 161
  20. ^ "Branch Letter", Our Kingdom Ministry, August 1980, "We are saddened to report at this time that five members of the Bethel family, and a few others in the New York city area have recently been disfellowshiped. There has been some apostasy against the organization and the promoting of sectarian divisions in some of the congregations of God’s people. (Titus 3:9-11) Living as we are in times difficult to deal with, it should not be surprising that such things occur. The first-century congregation also experienced deviations as we well know from our reading of the Holy Scriptures.—1 Tim. 1:20; 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:17, 18; 1 Cor. 15:12, 13; Acts 20:29, 30."
  21. ^ Protecting the Flock, Watch Tower Society letter to district and circuit overseers, September 1, 1980, part 1. Protecting the Flock, Part 2.
  22. ^ "Disfellowshiping — How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 23, "One who has been a true Christian might renounce the way of the truth, stating that he no longer considers himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or wants to be known as one. When this rare event occurs, the person is renouncing his standing as a Christian, deliberately disassociating himself from the congregation ... Persons who make themselves 'not of our sort' by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshiped for wrongdoing."
  23. ^ Franz 2002, p. 357-369
  24. ^ "Expelled Witnesses Claim Group is Ingrown", Miami News, March 19, 1983.

Bibliography

  • Beverley, James A. (1986). Crisis of Allegiance. Burlington, Ontario: Welch Publishing Company. ISBN 0-920413-37-4. 
  • Botting, Heather; Botting, Gary (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6545-7. 
  • Franz, Raymond (2002). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. ISBN 0-914675-23-0. 
  • Penton, M. J. (1997). Apocalypse Delayed (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3. 
  • Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Constable & Co, London. ISBN 09-455940-6. 

External links

  • Time magazine The February 22 1982 article about the expulsion of Raymond Franz
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