Ray Franz' Conscience
4-10-03 revised 08-03-07
The following comments are offered for those who may have concern why many have concluded that Ray Franz and certain ones from his group have displayed a lack of support for child abuse survivors and taken a position that endorsed certain 'Watchtower Policy' positions instead.
It all started with the 1972 book authored in part by Ray Franz that 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 elder's 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 in upstate New York, he was required to turn his copy in and nobody was allowed to take the book home other than 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 OM book "Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry", was changed to be more of a publisher handbook (standard congregation member). The elders were given the first in a series of three elder booklets that eventually evolved into the KS 91 or "Pay Attention to Yourselves and all the Flock" book as we know it today.
This is significant in the fact 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 author of material written in the OR book could have no idea that those directives would be applied to wrongdoing involving child abuse. Silentlambs has in their records a case that was started in 1975 regarding a child molestation that involved correspondence to the Watchtower Service Department 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. Silentlambs also has numerous pedophile surveys that go all the way back to the 1940's, many cases are given, a part of which describe the Service Department's involvement with dealing with individual cases and cover up. For these reasons it is extremely suspect when Ray Franz chose to comment publicly that in 40 years as a CO, DO and nine year member of the Governing Body who served part of that time as a member of the Service Committee in the Service Department up until 1979, 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 Watchtower Service Committee as well as the CO (Circuit Overseer) and DO (District Overseer) in finding solutions.
In the fall of 2001 a telephone call was placed to Ray Franz. The purpose was not to request support for silentlambs but to help track down a story of abuse in the state of Georgia as it was thought he might know some old timers in that area. After covering that information Mr. Franz was asked if he understood the extent of the abuse problem in the organization. This was of concern as a few months earlier Franz had been quoted in one of the first articles written about the abuse problem. The article was in the "Associated Press," dated 2-11-2001 it was entitled "Elder Leaves Faith to Protest Child Molestation Policies" Franz was quoted as follows by the reporter:
"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."
At a time when we needed help, it appeared Franz chose to take negative ground on the issue. We were stating to media that the problem if abuse was far worse and that is why silentlambs was brought into existence to help the many harmed by WT Policy on abuse. If what Franz stated were true then there really would be nothing to blow the whistle about.
In the course of talking with Franz on the telephone he made the remark that he did not really think child abuse was a major problem in the organization. It was then related to him the hundreds of abuse survivors that had come to silentlambs as evidence, not to mention the seven Body of Elder letters written on the subject in the last ten years, it certainly gives clear evidence there must be a problem. Franz responded in spite of this evidence, in forty years he had not known of any cases of abuse and that he restated the thought that the problem of abuse among JW's was no larger than in main stream religion.
A few months later it was discovered that as early as 1992 Franz had been repeatedly approached by key people that gave him documented cases of rampant abuse in the organization. In 2003 Franz was handed the same fifty plus page report that was delivered to the Governing Body in 1992. This report included extensive documentation with actual letters and comments from JW therapists about how abuse was mishandled and covered up. Ray Franz had more documentation than anyone else had ever seen on this matter, yet how did he respond?
A simple request was made in 2001 and that was, "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, either offer no opinion or make remarks that acknowledge this is a problem."
Franz was not asked to join silentlambs, nor was he asked to endorse an organization that supports abuse survivors. All that was asked was a simple request to not be negative to others about child abuse being a problem in the Jehovah's Witness community. The primary reason for making this comment was in the event Franz was called by media, it was hoped he would not give them further negative impressions regarding the extent of abuse in the organization. Three weeks later silentlambs was contacted by an individual that had just talked to Franz, 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 worse than with mainstream religion.
A couple of month’s later silentlambs was contacted by a reporter that worked with a newspaper they stated they had talked to Franz asking about abuse, he again made similar comments. The reporter stated that considering the overwhelming evidence they would not use his remarks. Silentlambs was later contacted by a second reporter who got the same comment from Franz. So the question, is Ray Franz being supportive of the problem of abuse in the JWs? Was his position helping abuse survivors in any way?
For these reasons many believe Mr. Franz 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. Franz’ remark in telephone conversations was that silentlambs had sensationalized this issue and should only bring forth documented cases.
If you look back in history you will see that Mr. Franz comments in "Crisis of Conscience" on page 79, regarding the development of the OR book:
"The Governing Body was not asked to supply the material for the book (OR Book). The president had assigned the project of the book's development to Karl Adams, the overseer of the Writing Department. He in turn assigned Ed Dunlap and myself to collaborate and with him in the manual's development, each of us writing about one-third of the material.
(footnote) I was assigned chapters on "Your Service to God," 'Safeguarding the Cleanness of the Congregation," and "Endurance That Results in Divine Approval."
Mr. Franz makes very clear his authorship of the chapter, "Safeguarding the Cleanness of the Congregation". He even mentions the GB was not involved in the writing of it.
In 2002 Mr. Franz made public comment on the internet that he had no idea the information would be applied to wrongdoing that involved child molestation. Certainly all elders at that time knew the chapter in the OR book applied to all wrongdoing in the congregation, and how judicial hearings were to operate. Incest was 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. Note the following quote from a 1970 Watchtower on this very topic.
*** w70 7/1 pp. 404-405 Personally Benefiting from the Bible’s Laws and Principles ***
PURPOSE OF CONGREGATIONAL ACTION
15 In the Christian congregation there are definite laws against adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, murder, stealing and other things, any of which, when committed by a Christian, would bring reproach from the world against the congregation. These things the Bible has put under the authority of the congregation, that is, it is required to take some action. (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 13) This action is not the punishment that the law calls for, at least not by any means the full punishment for the deed. The congregation acts, not primarily to punish the person, but to clear itself of reproach, uncleanness and contamination by cutting off (expelling) such a one from membership in the congregation. It may, if he is repentant, take disciplinary measures and place certain restrictions on him. If he is disfellowshiped (expelled), it is not to discipline him, but to get him out of God’s clean organization. The action also serves as an example working for the disciplining of the congregation. This is how we are to understand 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:20, where we read: “Hymenaeus and Alexander belong to these, and I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.” “Reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear.”
Yet Ray Franz made this public remark on the internet,
“Of the many sexual crimes, child molestation is unquestionably one of the most despicable. Those who shield child molesters certainly bear a very heavy responsibility. Nonetheless, to focus on certain specific policies as if these are the root problem is, I believe, to think superficially.”
So according to Mr. Franz it is “superficial” to say that a policy caused an abused child to not be dealt with properly. Since he authored policy, it appears he is thus excusing his actions in writing a directive that has potentially harmed thousands of children. As a person who served as an overseer in the Service Department as part of the Service Committee, he certainly should have a basic comprehension level of how polices make certain things happen. So while the ‘two eye witnesses’ ruling was used and mentioned in previous books (Lamp Book, Qualified to Be Ministers)) and magazines, yet before Franz wrote about it in the OR book, it was never defined as clearly in a judicial settings pertaining to children than what was written in this chapter. On page 175 of the OR book a segment was entitled "Dealing with Minor Children and Married Couples." The first paragraph included this statement:
"A baptized child's being a minor does not shield him from reproof before the congregation by the elders, or disfellowshipping, if he commits serious wrongdoing. In minor trespasses, of course the child would be counseled and reproved by his parents, particularly the father, with whom the responsibility for rearing and training the children rests. However, where wrongdoing becomes a practice, or is of a serious nature, such as gross loose conduct or fornication, or is such that brings the congregation into a bad light in the community, then elders rightly are concerned."
If Mr. Franz had never heard of a case of an “under aged child having sex” then why did he write about how to deal with it judicially? This was new information in 1972 and was used time and again to disfellowship or reprove children that came forward with abuse allegations. When the child spoke of being molested and the accused molester denied the charge, the elders would then turn to the child and say that they had confessed to sexual misconduct and needed to be disciplined. This practice is ongoing as part of the child abuse policy of the organization. As recently as December of 2002, children were in fact being disfellowshipped for reporting being sexually assaulted due to this long standing policy that was authored by Ray Franz. How do we know this? Read the policy statement on pages 164-165 of the OR Book,
“Judgment of matters affecting the lives of servants of Jehovah carries with it a great responsibility, and for that reason, the judicial committee is obligated to be sure that it has all the facts before it renders its decision. (1Tim. 5:21; De. 13:12-14) For a matter to be established as true, there must be two or three witnesses. (1Tim. 5:19; De. 19:15; Heb. 10:28) These cannot be persons who are simply repeating what they have heard from someone else; they must be witnesses themselves of things concerning which they testify. No actions is taken if there is just one witness; it is not that the brother discredits the testimony but the Bible requires that unless the wrongdoer himself admits his sin the facts must be substantiated by two or three witnesses in these serious matters.”
“A Person may come and confess a serious wrongdoing and implicate another with him. If the other person denies any sharing in the wrong, then the other charge cannot be accepted without additional testimony to provide the necessary two or three witnesses; the committee would not act against the one accused, but the person confessing would be counseled and reproved as necessary for he has either committed the deed he confesses or is guilty of lying or both.”
In the seventies, a refinement was happening regarding exactly how judicial hearings were to be established. There was an additional insert in the 1977 KM (Kingdom Ministry) that provided detailed information on how a judicial committee was to be selected, it is sometimes referred to down to this day. Note this comment on handling wrongdoing.
*** km 9/77 p. 6 par. 42 New Arrangements for Congregation Organization ***
Once a judicial committee begins to handle a case, there are other factors to be kept in mind. Rather than only looking for rigid rules to govern how a situation should be handled, there is a need to determine whether a basic law of God has truly been violated. Bible principles, the circumstances involved, as well as the gravity of the sin committed, are factors that must all be weighed.
So by this directive, elders were required to consider that when a baptized or unbaptized child confessed to committing a sexual act repeated times they had to discipline the child as a wrongdoer. You see, it was Mr. Franz chapter on how judicial hearings were to operate that offered a clear new directive on baptized and unbaptized children in 1972. That directive was a fiasco that caused untold suffering to unbaptized children of JWs for almost seventeen years till it was repealed in 1988. What did it state?
OR page - 174
What of unbaptized persons that have been regularly associated with the congregation but who now have become involved in serious wrongdoing?...if they are not repentant and fail to turn from their wrongdoing, then the congregation would be advised that their conduct is “unbecoming a Christian” and that association with them would not be in harmony with the counsel as 1Cor. 15:33.
This heartless policy allowed the disfellowshipping (disapproved associate) of unbaptized children between the years of 1972 – 1988. Many children that were sexually abused and reported this to elders were subsequently “DAA’d” (disapproved associate) and put out on the street by their parents due to this policy that Ray Franz authored. Elders recall the immense relief that was experienced in 1988 when this hateful directive was finally removed as policy. As one who was given much Mr. Franz wrote an organizational directive that potentially harmed thousands of children he endorsed and authored.
Think of it this way as an illustration: If you were 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 through the Watchtower organization it was given to elders untrained in abuse issues across the country. Hundreds if not thousands of children were harmed as a result and he now claims it is none of his responsibility as he was unaware of the problem? We encourage you to read the chapter in the OR book and ask yourself if you were a elder and had a child abuse problem arise in the congregation at that time, how would you have been compelled to use the directives given in the OR book on handling judicial matters? How would you react if you were disfellowshipped as a child due to this policy? You can read the chapter here at this link,
As an example, the silentlambs website reported details about a case involving a young woman that reported her grandfather as a molester. It is called “She Was a Fine Sister” you can read it at this link, She Was a Fine Sister
The detailed nature of that information is precisely the reason it was taken out of the 1980 OM book (Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry) as it was too detailed and WT wanted only elders to have that information for legal reasons. Yet the detailed policy resulted in thousands of children being disciplined for reporting sexual abuse. This policy is one of the primary ways abuse survivors were silenced in the congregation allowing the protection of pedophiles. It was “a bullet in the chamber”, but again, while most see this as bad policy, why does Mr. Franz by his comments appear to have no idea it would be used in this way and wishes to accept no responsibility?
It is well known Mr. Franz repeatedly attacks the policies of the Governing Body in his book ‘Crisis of Conscience’(COC). The policy regarding the political cards in Malawi and its inconsistency with the way things were handled in Mexico, the policy of the GB on military service and how many went to jail needlessly as a result of a policy that was later changed, the policy of the GB on blood fractions and how children may have suffered needlessly as a result of their decision. In the latest edition of COC number four, Mr. Franz brings up the policy of the GB cooperating in allowing Watchtower of New York to become an NGO with the United Nations and discusses that topic also. Yet the child abuse issue had been going strong for over eight months before the UN scandal erupted. There is no single event in the history of the Watchtower organization that has had so much worldwide media attention as the child abuse issue. In the latest media reporting in May of 2007, sixteen “documented” cases were settled out of court with major monetary settlements. It certainly seems odd that after all these attacks on the policies of the GB that in not one place in all four revisions Mr. Franz could in good conscience mention just once a discussion of the policy of the organization regarding child abuse.
A friend of silentlambs that more than once approached Franz about the abuse policy in the early 1990's, was surprised when Mr. Franz 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 individual. That individual in 1995 wrote an article entitled, Do You Practice Incest? It was the first mention of the words “Pedophile Paradise” in connection with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The article made the certain distinction that Jehovah’s Witnesses were far worse than main stream religion with regard to child abuse.
When a statement is made that the JW abuse problem is no worse than main stream religion, is that supporting abuse survivors or the GB by this type of comment? If the statement were in fact true that the problem with abuse is not bigger with JW's than mainstream religion, then why would silentlambs have any reason to exist? This was certainly the implication of JR Brown. PR spokesman of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Brown stated to media just two weeks before Franz made his comments to the Associated Press, in a Christianity Today article dated 01/26/01,
"Witness spokesman [J.R.] Brown says that the incidence of pedophilia is no worse in his religion than in others, but he admits that some elders have not reported suspicions of abuse."
So here we have William H. Bowen and hundreds of abuse survivors describing the problem as far worse than main stream religion, and then we have Ray Franz and JR Brown basically in the same camp saying it was not! Who was telling the truth? The comments were taken as a challenge and William H. Bowen wrote a piece he called the "Silentlambs Manifesto". It later evolved into "Is There a Problem?" What was the purpose? To establish with great detail and the thirteen questions asked at the end, that without a doubt the position taken by the abuse survivors was in fact the truth. This was published on the internet and on public forums for all to see. Many read the information and agreed that with the explanation it had the ring of truth.
Franz’ internet response in 2002 agreed with silentlambs that abuse is bad, while defending his position and authorship. At one point certain comments basically implied that questioning his writing in the OR book is somehow challenging Jehovah Himself.
Note Mr. Franz comment:
“If so, then Paul, and Christ himself, as well as Moses who first set out the principle, bear similar responsibility since I was being guided by and quoting from their teachings. And, if we accept the divine inspiration of what they taught and wrote, then the slur conveyed by this charge must reach back to God himself.”
You can read the complete statement with comments here, CLICK HERE
After this was written it is interesting to note in the next few months the Ray Franz “defenders” came onto forums to slam silentlambs and abuse survivors while supporting his position. While William H. Bowen was busy traveling around the world helping abuse survivors have a platform to speak out in United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Slovenia and other countries, the Franz “defenders” went on a campaign to discredit the testimony of abuse survivors and the character of Bowen. An example of this is when on a key forum James Penton, an author and college professor commented. What did Penton say?
“Bill seems to think that Jehovahs Witnesses are more guilty of child sexual abuse than members of other religions. I doubt that. I taught religious studies for some years at university level, studied many religions closely, and know that child sexual abuse has been and is rampant among Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, and Mormons. So like Ray Franz, I tend to think that the Witness sexual abuse of minors fits the norm.”
So Jim Penton who is a good friend of Ray Franz stated that he basically agreed with Franz position. This was after Dateline aired and there were over one thousand stories of abuse on the silentlambs website, yet Penton carefully chose to not go against Franz position on the matter. Shortly there after in January of 2003, Carl Olof Jonsson came to the JWD forum as a first time poster and offered this comment in support of Franz,
“Because of the campaigns carried on in the media in some countries to publicize child molestation cases among Jehovahs Witnesses, some seem to have concluded that this crime is more common among Jehovah’s Witnesses than elsewhere. I have discussed this with some former Witnesses here, including Rud Persson (Wolfgang Herbst), the co- author of the book, The Sign of the Last DaysWhen?. Our conclusion is that child molestation is no more common among the Witnesses than in the community at large.”
“Some former Witnesses here in Sweden are now planning to start a media campaign about child abuse among the Witnesses, similar to the one going on in the United States. Neither I nor Rud Persson have any wish to become involved in it. Why not? Have we done or do we know about something that we are "covering up", something we "do not wish to reveal"? No. The simple reason is that we have no evidence to present against anybody, nor do we have any evidence to show that child abuse is more common among the Witnesses than in other organizations or in the community at large. If we were to partake in an organized attempt to control this particular crime, and had the time, energy, and resources for it, we would find no reason to pick out the Watchtower organization in particular as the sole object of our activity. In this matter, we fully understand the position taken by Ray Franz, and undoubtedly thousands of other former Witnesses, because we have taken the same position.”
So the “Franz Defenders” banded together to make sure that none of them supported the abuse survivors that were coming to media to speak about the cover up of abuse in Jehovah’s Witnesses. Swedish television eventually aired four different programs that covered most of Europe but the old time Ray Franz supporters sat on the side line and offered no assistance. It seems when these men have other support work they rally to each others aide as ambassadors to promote their personal agendas. But when it comes to a volunteer effort to help abuse survivors,
“Neither I nor Rud Persson have any wish to become involved in it.”
So now it is the year 2007. There have been twenty one documentaries along with hundreds of newspaper, magazine, radio, and other media that have in fact shown that abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses is far worse than main stream religion. The documentaries have shown in over fifty countries around the world and collectively the body of evidence is irrefutable. With all this information available, what has been the response of these XJW scholars on the mountain of evidence that shows their “opinions” to be completely wrong?
The real issue at stake is abuse survivors and the need to support them as well as provide a support structure for them to speak out about abuse. It is discouraging that an individual would declare war on a small non-profit organization, using his supporters to attack and discredit silentlambs as a basis to cover up his course of action in having a negative view of child abuse being a problem in the Jehovah's Witness community. Anyone that would openly endorse the past position of these men shows by their association, that they do not support abuse survivors.
We ask you the reader to carefully review the comments made by Franz and his “defenders” about this issue, can you find any compassion for abuse survivors? Is this not similar to WT when they defend their position? Watchtower spokesmen say, “We abhor abuse” out of one side of their mouths and then go on to defend their policy of requiring “two eye witnesses” before a child can be believed. The comments of Mr. Franz and certain supporters appear to reflect much the same thought.
If Mr. Franz really wanted to express a cleansing, why not write a public statement to be posted on the internet or in his book on his role in Watchtower's child abuse policies and apologize to abuse survivors for having any hand in causing part of their suffering. Many elders have done this as a matter of record.
We would certainly hope that many people who feel helped by Mr. Franz can also find it in their hearts to support survivors of abuse and the ideals of silentlambs in changing WT policy. To date the evidence has went forward in the many documentaries have been shown around the world with the support of silentlambs helping abuse survivors to come forward. The problem has been well established and thousands of children have been protected even without Watchtower changing their misguided policy. Many brothers and sisters are more aware of the abuse issue than ever before in history and have quietly made up their minds what they will do if the problem ever arises no matter what WT Policy states. Who can you thank for this?
The courageous abuse survivors who went before cameras around the world and did so with only one thought, to protect children. It is true silentlambs was part of this, but without these heroes we would be nothing. The evidence that has been developed will be useful for years to come to educate and protect children from abuse and that will come through silentlambs. Why would anyone in their right mind want to stop that?
In conclusion, we 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 JW's, some are not, it makes no difference as it is a labor of love not of bitterness or hate.
For those who read this material 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 we encourage you to support silentlambs. On the other hand if you want to support the position of those that by their words openly oppose the children that have been hurt by this organization, we wish you peace.