GOVERNING BODY MEMBERS
JOHN BARR; RAYMOND FRANZ; THEODORE JARACZ
(Investigator 142, 2012 January)
Governing Body (GB) members of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) dominate millions of people who consider them substitutes for God. I'll discuss three who died in 2010.
John Edwin Barr (1913-2010)
John Barr was born in Scotland of parents who followed Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) whose cult developed into Jehovah's Witnesses. Barr's grandmother was baptized in 1908, his father in 1912.
Barr was baptized in 1932; joined the British headquarters staff in 1939; is listed as an "ordained minister" in JW Yearbooks of the 1940s; and served full time in the British Isles 1940-1977.
In 1960 Barr married Mildred Willett a graduate of Gilead (the JW missionary school) who was preaching in Ireland. In 1975 he was made secretary/treasurer of the International Bible Students Association (the JW legal channel in England).
Barr was appointed to the Governing Body in 1977 and moved to the New York headquarters. (Watchtower 1987 7/1)
Raymond Victor Franz (1922–2010)
Raymond Franz joined the GB in 1971, resigned from it in 1980, and was excommunicated in 1981.
Franz's parents, three grandparents, and four uncles were Russellites. His uncle Frederick Franz (1893-1992) was already influential in administration and theology when Raymond and his sisters began door-knocking in 1938 and became president of the Watchtower Society (JWs main legal and publishing channel) in 1977. Another uncle (a younger brother of Fred Franz) left the cult when its prophecy that the Old Testament heroes would live again on Earth in 1925 and rule the world failed.
Raymond Franz was baptized in 1939. In 1944 he did the five-month missionary course at Gilead, and became a "circuit servant" (an official representative, now called "circuit overseer", who visits congregations).
From 1946 Franz served in Central America, married "Cynthia" in 1959, and in 1965 moved to the New York headquarters. Franz worked in the writing department as a collaborator on Aid to Bible Understanding a Bible dictionary with JW interpretations.
After his excommunication Franz wrote Crisis of Conscience (1983) which sold 70,000 copies, and In Search of Christian Freedom (1991).
On 30 May 2010 Franz suffered a stroke and two days later doctors removed life support.
Theodore Jaracz (1925-2010)
"Ted" Jaracz was born in Kentucky, baptized about 1941, and graduated from Gilead in 1945. He became a circuit servant in Australia, and in 1951 was put in charge of headquarters in Sydney. He suffered from migraine headaches due to which he sometimes cancelled speaking appointments.
Jaracz returned to the USA in the mid 1950s, again served as a circuit servant, married Melita Lasko a Canadian beautician, and was a "district servant" through the 1960s.
In 1971 Jaracz partook of the unleavened bread and wine at the yearly Memorial of Jesus' death which only JWs do who claim to be of the "heavenly class" or 144,000. Since GB members have to be of this group, Jaracz was clearly planning ahead. In 1974 he was invited to join the GB, and by 1976 was in two of its most influential committees, the Service Committee and Teaching Committee.
One topic Franz researched as collaborator for the Aid book was "Elder". He discovered that the JW arrangement of one "overseer" per congregation was unbiblical. He presented this to "uncle Franz", the vice president of JWs, who initially resisted making changes: "He said calmly that he did not think it would cause a problem, that the existing arrangement could be "accommodated" to the information in Aid." (Crisis of Conscience, p. 24)
"Uncle" later changed his mind and the adjustments were made in 1972.
Franz also had the topic "Chronology" assigned to him:
Months of research were spent on this one subject of "Chronology" and it resulted in the longest article in the Aid publication. Much of the time was spent endeavoring to find some proof, some backing history, for the 607 B.C.E. date so crucial to our calculations for 1914. Charles Ploeger, a member of the headquarters staff, was at the time serving as a secretary for me and he searched through the libraries of the New York City area for anything that might substantiate that date historically. We found absolutely nothing in support of 607 B.C.E. (Crisis, p. 25)
The date 1914 was the only piece of Charles Taze Russell's prophesying still part of JW teaching. Every prophecy of Russell had failed and only the date remained, but with different prophetic significance than Russell had given it. To JWs 1914 marks the return of Christ, the end of the "Gentiles times", the start of God's kingdom, the "time of the end", the last generation before Armageddon, and the throwing out from heaven of "Satan the Devil". A 3½ year addition to 1914 i.e. 1918/1919 marks the start of the resurrection to heaven of the 144,000, the inspection of all religions by Christ, the appointment of Christ's "faithful slave class", the "fall of Babylon", and the start of the modern JW preaching.
With so many doctrines tied to 1914 the authority of the GB was also tied to 1914 which therefore could not be discarded and wasn't.
In Crisis of Conscience Franz exposes the JW prophetic record with photocopies from its publications. (Chapters 7-8) He shows that despite attempts to connect the GB to the Apostles, the notion of a "Governing Body" was not introduced until 1944, and the GB was not fully functional until 1975. (Chapter 3)
Chapters 3 to 6 reveal the GB's efforts to rule the personal lives of JWs, even legislating on permissible sexual conduct between husband and wife. (Watchtower 1972 12/1 734-736) Many marriages broke up as a result, but 7 years later the GB reversed its policy. Chapter 9 is about the prophecy of Armageddon to occur in 1975 to coincide with the start of the 7th millennium from Adam — JWs were even encouraged to sell their homes.
In 1980 Franz resigned from the GB and left headquarters. The monthly meeting guide Our Kingdom Ministry (August) carried the announcement, "This is a notification that Raymond Victor Franz is no longer a member of the Governing Body and of the Brooklyn Bethel family as of May 22, 1980."
Franz's employer at this time was "disassociated" — i.e. an ex JW who left the sect by sending a letter saying in effect, "Count me out." The GB now announced a change in policy — disassociation would henceforth incur the same treatment, i.e. shunning or ostracism, as excommunication, and any JW who talked with someone disassociated would be excommunicated. (Watchtower 1981 9/15) When Franz subsequently ate in a restaurant with his employer he was excommunicated.
In both his books Franz discusses the generation that experienced 1914 (which JWs predicted would live to see Armageddon), confessing he didn't know what the new "truth" would be when that generation died out.
Franz quotes Awake! 1968, October 8 which suggests, "youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914." When Franz wrote Crisis of Conscience, the 1914 youngsters were aged 84 — and would now be 112!
The Watchtower 1978 October 1 states, "the generation logically would not apply to babies born during World War I." But The Watchtower 1984 May 15 includes "those born around the time" and says "the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older." Franz comments that the passage of six years between these two references: "caused the illogical to become logical." (In Search of Christian Freedom, p. 479)
Betsan Powys, reporter for the BBC current affairs program Panorama, confronted Jaracz in 2002 regarding child abuse among JWs and their secret database of over 20,000 suspected pedophiles:
POWYS: Ted JARACZ is one of the men responsible for the church's child protection policy. For more than two months we've been asking them for an interview. We want answers to some simple questions. Why do they keep their database of suspected pedophiles secret? Why don't they report all allegations of abuse to the police? Why do they send children back to the arms of their abusers? They refused to talk to us. But here at last we had our chance.
Mister JARACZ, tell me about the database. How do you justify keeping a list of people, men in some cases who have confessed to pedophilia, but you have not reported them to the authorities. What justification is there for you to keep that list?
Jaracz avoided a straight answer. (See transcript at: www.randytv.com/panorama.htm)
Barbara Anderson, a JW for 43 years, assisted Jaracz in research for his book Jehovah's Witnesses Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (1993).
She observed his preparedness "to let child molesters hold positions of authority", and was excommunicated in 2002 after going public about it. On the Internet Anderson says: "For nearly 36 years, Theodore Jaracz was one of the most powerful members of Jehovah's Witnesses Governing Body…responsible for…grief…to an enormous number of people… I could see the fear of him present in many of his fellow workers at Bethel [i.e. headquarters]. For almost eleven years I lived and worked in close proximity to Ted Jaracz."
She says Jaracz was "humorless", "active in the field service", and very emotional when giving talks about the large numbers joining JWs and attending conventions: "His voice expressed so much emotion that the audience was uncomfortable. We thought he was crying…"
Barr (Watchtower 1987 7/1) says his grandmother and her daughters, in 1906, read Russell's book The Divine Plan of the Ages (1886) and: "began to see the light of truth shining through the mists of false doctrine taught by the United Free Church of Scotland."
The GB routinely describe old WTS publications as containing "the truth" and "light of truth", despite containing hundreds of teachings that contradict later doctrine. The following sentence, for example, has four claims (underlined) that contradict current doctrine:
...we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A. D. 1878, and that the "battle of the great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14.), which will end in AD, 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. (The Time is at Hand, 1889, p. 101)
The GB claim that all their interpretations come from God and Jesus:
As fast as the superior authorities Jehovah and Jesus Christ reveal the interpretations through their provided channel that fast do God's people publish them… (Watchtower 1952 4/15 253)
As Jehovah revealed his truths by means of the first-century Christian congregation so he does today… (Watchtower 1964, 6/15 365)
The 1914-generation prophecy was: "Jehovah's prophetic word through Jesus Christ". (Watchtower 1984 5/15 6)
Such claims imply infallibility but when doctrines change and prophecies fail amount to calling God and Jesus liars.
Many informed people have exposed the JW foolishness of professing to believe the Bible when their "Bible truth" constantly changes. How then does the GB prevent mass defection? The method is:
• Constant repetitive indoctrination affirming JW rightness and everyone else's wrongness;
• Keep followers too busy to do research;
• Remove old JW publications from circulation;
• Cut followers off from outside information.
JWs have to obey the following or risk excommunication:
• Refuse to talk with ex JWs or informed others who criticize;
• Refuse to read other religious literature;
• Avoid internet discussion and religious websites;
• Report anyone who flouts these requirements.
Franz says: "The climate of fear…in the "spiritual paradise"…is strikingly like that found in countries controlled by a totalitarian system, where one must be constantly on guard due to an informer system." (In Search of Christian Freedom, p. 592)
Jaracz, Barr and other Governing Body members inherited positions built on a rotten foundation that generates schism but also comes with established methods for retaining power and control. Franz inherited the same power but relinquished it to search for "Christian Freedom".
The truth about JWs — their history, doctrines, prophecies and leaders — on this website: