Ray Franz' Conscience
Ray Franz requested the following comments be posted by a friend on a public forum in September of 2002, as a way to respond to criticism of his stance on child abuse in the organization of Jehovah's Witneses. The bold (darker) areas are my reponses to each of the statements he made. His comments do an excellent job of exposing his position on the child abuse issue.
Ray Franz requested that I post the following comments written by him:
As has been stated already, the presentation made from the silentlambs source in connection with the child abuse issue completely misrepresents my position.
(The "source" appears to be William H. Bowen the first accusation is that Bill has"misrepresented" his position. If that is the case then of course Mr. Franz is calling him a liar. Is this true? Further comments by Mr. Franz clarify his position.)
When I spoke by phone recently with the author of that presentation, and pointed out that I had never expressed the views presented, his comment was that from his previous conversation with me (held some months earlier) he "got the impression that I was not on the same wave length" with him.
(Franz in effect did agree over the telephone that he had expressed the views presented. The 40 years of not hearing anything about abuse and the fact he had made negative comments to reporters. This was by his own admission to Bill over the telephone, in this instance we do not need "two eye witnesses" that Franz made these comments? No we have a confession. Franz "confessed" to talking to reporters and telling them he had never dealt with abuse and that he did not think it a greater problem than main stream religion. Thus this confirmed n an earlier suspicion that Mr. Franz would talk negatively to others about the abuse issue being a problem in the JW community. A request was made for Mr. Franz to not comment to others with a negative opinion about something he claimed to have no experience with. That was it. To make negative comments does not help those who are coming forward. They should be encouraged and told that they are believed and helped to understand they are part of a much larger problem.)
I could not help but be reminded of the events at the Watch Tower headquarters in 1980 when Governing Body members questioned Ed Dunlap and other members of the Writing Department to see if they, in effect, were on the same wave length with the organization in its official teachings and policies.
(In this instance Franz is basically saying to be asked to not talk negatively about something he claims to have no experience with is similar to when a judicial committee questioned and df'd Ed Dunlap. This is a rather harsh characterization of a simple request in the interests of helping abuse survivors. Dunlap and others had doctrinal objections to the teaching of the organization and were subsequently excommunicated for their position. Mr. Franz was not being threatened in anyway nor was he under duress to be excommunicated. He was simply asked to not make comments that could hurt the cause of helping abuse survivors. Why was this perceived or presented ot the reader as such a harsh threat?)
I would make clear that I look to God and his Son as the sole transmitters, by holy spirit, of any "wave length" with which I feel I should be in harmony, not any human source or movement.
(Here it appears "wave length" is being misrepresented as if it was said Mr. Franz should respond to the "holy spirit" directing silentlambs. No one made such claim nor was Franz in any way required to. Now when he states he does not wish to be in "harmony" with any human source or movement unless directed by holy spirit, is that saying he does not feel holy spirit is behind the silentlambs effort and thus the reason he chooses to not be in harmony with it? Why else would he not want to be on the same "wave length?")
Watch Tower leaders view negatively any "independent thinking" and feel justified with criticizing harshly those who do not line up with them.
(This is a clear insult/comment directed to the WT Society.)
I find it depressing that many former Witnesses who attack the Watch Tower organization, proceed to manifest a similar spirit and use similar tactics toward those who do not line up with their thinking.
(This is a clear insult/comment directed to anyone associated with silentlambs. It appears he is saying if he does not agree and insults abuse survivors then if they react it is like WT attacking apostates. If you hurt people by your comments and they react you cannot cry foul. This is a misleading and unfair characterization, in fact it is really a harsh criticism of anyone who disagrees with Franz's position.)
I am reminded of Pauls letter to the Romans in which he wrote of some who boasted of their relation to God, as knowing his will and determining what is best, seeing themselves as guides to the blind, a light to those in darkness, correctors of the foolish and teachers of children, and spoke of them as having no excuse since, when they engaged in adverse judging of others they passed judgment on themselves, because, as he said, "you, who judge, are doing the very same things."Romans 2:1-3, 17,18.
(So now Franz is calling for a Biblical context to say we are "blind" and involved in "adverse judging" when in reality is he not doing exactly the same thing? Is he not judging us as being wrong for requiring him to act responsibly toward abuse survivors?)
As related in the book Crisis of Conscience , I was assigned to write a chapter in the manual titled Organization for Kingdom Preaching and Disciple-Making dealing with the handling of judicial hearings.
(Here we have further confirmation that Mr. Franz wrote the chapter in the OR Book by his own admission.)
The fact is that in that material I simply repeated the words written by the inspired Apostle Paul at 1 Timothy 5:19 when he says: "Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses." Paul quite evidently was drawing upon the provision in the Mosaic Law at Deuteronomy 19:15 which states: "A single witness shall not suffice to convict a person of any crime or wrongdoing in connection with any offense that may be committed. Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be sustained." Christ Jesus himself referred to this "two or three witnesses" principle. ( Matthew 18:16) And his apostle, Paul, not only wrote it to Timothy but also included it in his second letter to the Corinthian congregation.2 Corinthians 13:1.
(Franz has now stated the basis of his comments in the OR book.)
What I wrote back in 1972 has now been portrayed by the silentlambs source as being the basis for the Watch Towers twisted policy regarding the handling of child molestation cases.
(Yes that is exactly what Bill was saying and what is clarified by the OR book. As a mater of fact in that same chapter new directives were given for dealing with unbapitzed associates. This chapter gave authorization for treating minor children as disfellowshipped or as we called it DAA, disapproved associate. This was later retracted around 1988 for the great harm it caused to children. Later in that same chapter it brought up specifically how to deal with baptized "children" that were found guilty of "gross loose conduct" along with fornication. Funny if there was no underage sex to his knowledge as Franz claims, then why did he write a whole section about it in chapter he wrote in the OR book? Interesting also is the fact that many children were judicially reproved when they came forward to report abuse due to the directives given on dealing with children who are guilty of sexual misconduct. The abuser with denial remained an innocent man the child was reprovedor even disfellowshipped for confession of sexual misconduct.)
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.
(The implication here is if Franz did anything wrong then God and everyone else did to.)
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.
(So again if Mr. Franz did anything wrong, then God must have done wrong also. Is this a bit arrogant?)
Paul makes plain that he knew what it was to have his statements and teachings distorted so as to convey something completely at odds with his intent. As he writes at Romans 3:8: "And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say ) Let us do evil so that good may come? Their condemnation is deserved."
(Mr. Franz appears to be saying if anyone disagrees with his assumptions then they are condemned by Bible/God. If anyone says what he does not want them to say, same result.)
The fact that the Watch Tower Society distorts the purpose of that law principle referred to by Paul and Christ (which was to protect the innocent against a false accuser) does not justify ones distorting the meaning or intent of a quotation of that principle such as is found in the chapter of the manual referred to.
(It is odd that here Franz is stating that WT distorted the very rule that he wrote on how judicial committees investigate any wrongdoing. Then he is turning around and saying by Bill pointing this out that Bill is distorting what he wrote and Wt distorted. Is this double talk? What was the intent? Was it not ALL judicial hearings? How is that distorted? It appears very clear to anyone else who was an elder that dealt with abuse what the actual instructions were.)
As I have already expressed, I do not believe the Mosaic Law was designed to be rigid and "cut and dried."
(FYI we are not under the Mosaic Law. No one believes it is to be "cut and dried" unless you are a practicing Jew.)
One person (Robert Frazier) commenting on this issue cites an example from the Law itself that gives evidence of circumstances where the two or three witness rule might not apply and this example cited simply exemplifies the point I have made. In a similar manner, the law regarding the Sabbath was very forcefully stated: "the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God; you shall not do any work you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns." Yet, when accused for doing healing on the Sabbath, Jesus said to his acc user s: "Suppose one of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold on it and lift it out? . . . So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath." ( Matthew 12:11, 12; in Luke 14:5 he refers to an ox falling into a well; obviously in both cases the extraction of the animal involved work, even heavy work, even though on the sabbath day.) God had good reason for inspiring each of the provisions in the Law given through Moses, and all of its provisions were designed to benefit and do good. That is why the Psalmist could write: "Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of Jehovah, and on his law they meditate day and night." "Oh, how I do love your law! It is my meditation all day long."Psalm 1:1,2l 119:97.
(Anyone could agree the law made accommodation for suffering animals along with other matters for clarification. What application this has to child abuse is beyond the reader.)
I am puzzled that in commenting on this point (from that source citing the example from the Law indicating an exception to the "two or three witness" rule), some, in effect, seem to seek to discredit or tarnish the use of Pauls statement in the Organization book by reference to the fact that as Christians we are not under the law.
(Wait a minute is silentlambs being accused of tarnishing Paul's words?? Who put those words in the book Mr. Franz? Are you claiming we are now insulting Paul by the challenge of your application to judicial committees of the "two eyewitness" principle? Again an arrogant assumption.)
This is of course true. But, as such individuals must realize, it is also true that the Christian writer who most forcefully taught that truth (Paul) is the same writer who applied the principle of this particular rule (regarding two or three witnesses) in his writing to Timothy (and to the Corinthians). What is here stated is in defense of the rightness of Gods law and the validity of citing its principles, not in defense of the misuse of that law by a religious system.
(Here we have clear support of the two eye witness principle by Franz)
One would have to be blind to the evidence of history not to realize the value of this principle contained in the Law and referred to by Paul.
Unsubstantiated accusations have brought untold suffering and even death to countless persons down through the years, notably in the Inquisition, as also following the French Revolution when one person could accuse another and the accused be tried and even executed on that basis (the resulting period becoming known in France as the time of le Terreur ) and more recently in the vilifying, ravaging and slaughter of the Jewish people in the Holocaust. Gods own Son was the victim of false charges and untrue accusations. Who today would wish to turn the clock back to the dark period before enlightened nations began to apply the principle that a person is to be considered innocent until proved guilty?
(The implication here is that abuse survivors will in essence bring on the French inquisition if they come forward with allegations. This is just simple misinformation. We have never stated that people should be put in jail over unsubstantiated allegations. A court of law makes that determination based on the evidence at hand. The victims on the other hand should not be called liars if they cannot absolutely prove their case. This is certainly not the Holocaust or the Inquisition, it is simply not hurting further those who suffer. Franz draws a drastic implication and applies this to abuse survivors allegations. This is unfair at best.)
As with other principles, this principle of the divine Law can be misused in a harmful way and this is evidently the case with Watch Tower policies regarding child molestation cases.
(Here is an admission that policy is hurting children, but what does Mr. Franz do next?)
But that does not argue against the value of the law regarding witnesses here being discussed. In the same letter to Timothy which includes his reference to this principle, Paul, after referring to persons who presented themselves as teachers, but "without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions," then went on to say: Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient." (1 Timothy 1:7-9)
(He defends the two eye witness principle. Now at silentlambs have we in anyway suggested that people should be put in jail on simple allegations? Never. Have we ever stated we are against the biblical edict of two eye witnesses as a good principle in establishing many matters? Absolutely not. Why this lengthy defense of a non issue?)
At Romans 7:12 he said that "the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good." An organizations misuse or perversion of any part of that law is no basis for our viewing a particular principle as though something noxious and hurtful, so that the mere quoting of it can be seized upon as basis for tying one in with the perverters of its good and just principle. (This is known in the field of flawed argumentation and flawed logic as "tarring others with the same brush.")
(Now the insults start to all abuse survivors, here is an accusation we are doing something "noxious and hurtful" by challenging the two eye witness principle on abuse. Also once again with the policy he authored he accepts no responsibility for those who it may have hurt.)
Any who would make it appear that way are once again doing the same thing as those toward whom they express condemnatory judgment, condemning those who engage in perversion and misinterpretation of information, while themselves engaging in perversion.
(So again anyone who disagrees with Mr. Franz is condemned. The arrogance is flaring again.)
Similarly, to say that because one does not choose to align himself with a certain movement (whether Silent Lambs or any other anti-Watch Tower movement) he thereby can be labeled an apologist for the skewed Watch Tower policies is unjust and hence un christian.
(You were not asked to align with anything. You were asked to not speak against it. You did and now you are saying it is "unchristian" for anyone to disagree with your position.)
In his second letter to the Corinthians the apostle wrote: "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does . The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to tear down strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV.) If some choose to engage in what might be termed a form of media-oriented, political activism to fight wrongdoing, that is their privilege. If the goal is the protection of the innocent it is a worthy goal.
(What other goal are you implying we may have Mr. Franz?)
The worthiness of the goal, however, gives no justification for impugning the motives of any who make a personal choice not to pursue that same media-oriented route.
(We never questioned your motives, we questioned your actions. Your actions in writing a chapter in a book used by elders to deal with molestation, your actions in making negative comments to the media about abuse. Those actions are what brought the criticism.)
As I have stated, during my 40 years of Witness membership any cases of child molestation never came to my attention. During my 9 years on the Governing Body and my years on the Service Committee of the Governing Body, the issue was not presented, though matters of sexual immorality of many kinds did surface. I recently spoke with a man in Nevada who was baptized in 1951. His father was a very prominent Witness in the southern California area where this man grew up. He says that he likewise did not hear of child molestation charges during his decades of association.
(This comment is viewed by many to be absurd. The implication is there was not a problem with abuse and your friends agree. Why would you comment about something you admit you know nothing about?)
It is quite naive of persons to assume that the intense publicity on this issue in recent times necessarily means that the situation was similar in earlier periods.
(Who are you accusing of being "Naive"? Is it those who believe this is a long term problem in the organization? What about the numerous abuse survivors who have reported to silentlambs being abused in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's are you saying they are liars?)
The issue of legalizing homosexual unions is prominent in current times but was definitely not so in previous decades. Regrettably, the willingness of some former Witnesses to accept sensational claims made if made with a pretension of insider knowledge betrays a lack of critical thinking, the same lack of critical thinking endemic in the Witness membership.
(Here we have a clear insult to all abuse survivors, "the willingness of some former witnesses to accept sensational claims," what are you talking about Mr. Franz? Abuse survivors who come forward? Then you say if they accept this they "lack critical thinking"? Would that basically be they are stupid? Now you say those who accept abuse claims lack "critical thinking" are like all JW's? It appears you just insulted abuse survivors and Jehovah's Witnesses with this comment)
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.
(From day one we have challenged WT policy as the basis children have been hurt. That policy was written in part by you. Now you wish to say if Policy is challenged those who do this are thinking "superficially?" What suggestions do you have to protect children and stop WT from hurting them by their polcy?)
There is a more basic problem underlying not only these but all the legalisms promoted by the system here involved.
(Now going to the courts is wrong also? Does that not take away the very legs for anything to be done about WT Policy?)
In Jesus day people were in awe of religious leaders from the Pharisee division of Judaism. The blind trust and subservience this produced was harmful to the people. Jesus did not seek to achieve their relief by endeavoring to create problems for the Pharisee movement with the Roman officials, so that the government would take punitive action toward them. Rather, Christ Jesus spoke truths which enabled people in his time to free themselves from domination by the thinking and traditional teaching of the Pharisees and any like them, enabling people to see that God is not honored by mens "teaching human precepts as doctrines". Matthew 15:8, 9 (note that in his exposition of matters, Jesus had no hesitation in quoting [verses 1-6] from the Law given through Moses, calling it "the word of God.")
(So with the above reasoning it would appear we should "Wait on Jehovah" and read the Bible till the problem is solved by God. Who does that sound like?)
I wrote two books, Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom , and in these endeavored to help people realize that there is no Scriptural basis for subservience to any human religious organization and its decrees and humanly-originated policies; in both books emphasizing the crucial importance of a personal relationship with God and Christ, and the importance of being true to personal conscience and conviction.
(Yet you expect everyone to agree with your position or they are condemned by God)
How anyone could read their contents and then seek to portray the author as a sympathizer with the Watch Tower organizations legalistic policies of whatever kind is difficult for me to understand and I cannot fathom what motivation would cause a person to do this.
(Your comments betray you.)