Raymond Victor Franz is a key figure in Watchtower history. He graduated from Gilead in 1944, and went on to serve as a traveling representative and missionary. In 1965 he moved to Brooklyn Bethel, where he assisted writing Watchtower's first religious encyclopedia, Aid to Bible Understanding. He was appointed a member of the Governing Body in 1971. Franz resigned from the Governing Body in 1980 and was subsequently disfellowshipped on the grounds of Apostasy.
Ray Franz went on to write two books, Crisis of Conscience (1983) and In Search of Christian Freedom (1991). These outlined his experience serving as a full time Watchtower representative, the inner workings of the Governing Body, his research into Watchtower history, and issues he had with Watchtower doctrine and practices. These books continue to be influential in assisting people with doubts about the religion.
Ray passed away 2 June 2010 at the age of 89.
Ray was a kind hearted person that corresponded globally with people that would write to him. I had the pleasure of receiving several letters from him, and he was instrumental in my decision to publish my research online at jwfacts.com for people to read at no charge, rather than in book format.
Ray explained to me his perception of the motivation of the Governing Body members. Some were driven by the love of power. Others were more sincere, and whilst admitting the flaws of the religion, continued in their leadership positions in the belief that there was no other religion with anything better to offer.
Ray continued with a Christian belief, accepting some but not all Watchtower teachings, as outlined in his books and articles at www.commentarypress.net. He advocated meeting with like-minded Christians, but to be wary of organized religion and its inherent corruption. He continued to believe the Trinity doctrine was incorrect. Regarding the earth remaining eternally as a paradise. Franz felt the Bible was inconclusive on the topic. Whilst it is clear that Christians have a heavenly hope, he did not determine whether the Bible indicates earth has a literal role in the future.
I remember becoming aware of Crisis Of Conscience in the 1980s, though did not have the courage to read it. The initial release had some impact on the growth of the religion; however, the number of Jehovah's Witnesses continued to grow at impressive rates during the decade following it's release. The spread of the internet in the late 1990's provided greater access to the book and information about Jehovah's Witnesses, and Franz lived to observe the affect his work had on assisting people leave and his contribution to the rapidly slowing growth of the religion. In history, Ray Franz will be credited for his contribution to the demise of Jehovah's Witnesses in similar measure to his uncle Fred Franz's contribution to its growth during the 1900's.
Click here for an example of the type of letter Ray Franz would send as correspondence.
After Franz's death, www.commentarypress.net became a memorial to his life, without links to the articles he had published. Some of these addressed topics not covered in depth in his books, and I have republished the following.
As of 28 October 2018, the full list of articles could still be viewed at archive.org .