Bible study led to the ouster of a top Jehovah’s Witness.

“[In] 40 years of full-time service …, I endured privation, poverty, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, fever, dysentery, jailings, dangers of mob violence, of gunshots and war, the risk of life and liberty in dictatorial lands, along with constant toil.…”

That sounds very much like Saint Paul’s own litany of suffering, but the list belongs to one-time Jehovah’s Witness (JW) Raymond Franz. Raymond, 60-year-old nephew of JW president Frederick Franz, climbed high in the JW structure until he was removed from the Watchtower in 1980. Now he has been excommunicated from the cult. In the eyes of his 88-year-old uncle and other loyal JWS, Raymond Franz is as a dead man.

Until his resignation, the younger Franz was a member of the elite governing body, a group of about 15 men who oversee national JW activities from Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn. He resigned under pressure, and last December 31 Franz was disfellowshiped (the JW term for excommunication). The premise for the disfellowshiping was that Ray Franz had dined with a man who left the cult only months before.

Franz does not deny that he had dinner at a Gadsden, Alabama, steak house with Peter Gregerson. But Gregerson, who disassociated himself from the cult after having been a JW since the age of three, is Franz’s landlord and employer. Franz thinks it is difficult not to talk to (or eat with) the man who is your boss and who owns the land on which you live.

After his resignation from the governing body in 1980, Franz was mute. He chose not to comment on any of the problems he had with the cult (CT, Dec. 12, 1980, p. 68). But the recent disfellowshiping has spurred Franz and his friends to tell more of his story.

Raymond ...

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