Conscience and Courage

June 4th, 2010

By “Watersedge2009″

Ray Franz struck me as the kindest of souls - a truly honest, incorruptible, and humble man. He was faithful to his conscience and to the God he served.

Without his books, the real truth about the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society would have been more difficult to uncover because those facts would still be hidden under layers of bitterness, revenge and animosity. Ray’s candid writing about his disbelief, disillusionment, and eventual disassociation from the Watchtower organization, made a lasting impression on all who have had the courage to read it.

Sure, the Watchtower leadership blacklisted him and tried their best to cover up what happened. But you’ll notice that “God’s Organization” filed no charges – nor did they take any legal action – to clear their name of the “slander” they accused Ray Franz of dishing out at them. Doing so would have been even more extensively damning to them. They knew he was right and went into their standard-issue damage control mode, casting both Ray and his wife out of the organization – as well as anyone else who befriended them.

To start over again at his age (in his late 50s) with basically nothing to his name – save his conscience and moral ethics – was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen. Think for a minute how difficult it has been for many of us who left the WBTS – our pain and suffering, the loss of our family and friends, not to mention an entire way of life suddenly being gone.

Raymond Franz tells his own story…

Ray knew the resources the Society had at their disposal. He knew he could not financially afford the expenses to defend himself. But what he had was all the defense he needed – the truth about the Watchtower. Once he had a chance to let the dust settle, his conscience continued to plague him, leading him to pen two volumes that would change the lives of thousands of wondering, wandering Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I sincerely hope his widow will find some comfort in the words of support written by people like us – through our letters, emails and online communities. Our love and gratitude for their sacrifice and honesty runs deep and has been expressed as freely and openly as his was. This must have brought them both a great deal of happiness – maybe not financially, but morally and spiritually.

We’ve all lost a member of our family, our patriarch. May we continue to help others with the same spirit of selflessness that Ray Franz demonstrated. That was his most wonderful gift.


The author of this article has asked to remain anonymous, but she is known as “watersedge2009″ on several Jehovah’s Witness discussion forums. [Link to original posting.] When “Watersedge” gave me permission to republish her thoughts about Mr. Franz on Ex-JW.com, she added the following comment:

“Like so many, his writings had a profound effect and enabled me to check out of the Hotel Watchtower much more easily. The title of the book [Crisis of Conscience] does such justice to it’s contents and to Ray’s motivation and intent.”

We agree…

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  1. Emily Walker

    thank you for this article. My husband and I are both very sad to hear of Ray Franz’ passing – we have only just heard of it. We will remember him with deep thankfulness and inspiration at the stand he took and the risks he ran in order to uncover so many injustices. We offer our condolences and will be praying for his widow.

  2. Editor

    Emily,
    Many ex-JWs have mixed feelings about some of the Governing Body members, ex-JW activists, and others who have gone on to start their own churches and organizations. There are many who have left the organization and not been missed because of their often self-serving attitudes. Ray Franz had few detractors because he was calm, mild-mannered, and not dogmatic. I think he would have preferred to remain a JW and to have become an instrument for change within the Watchtower’s Governing Body, but even with his own uncle sitting as president it was not to be. The Watchtower took one of its own, a dedicated servant, missionary, and researcher – not to mention an excellent writer – and treated him like he was the worst kind of criminal. In his own way he probably accomplished more by being on the outside of the organization than he ever could have if he’d been allowed to stay in. He’ll be missed for many more years to come.

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