EX-JWs Stealing From a Widow

Many, perhaps most former Jehovah’s Witnesses and those on their way out of the Watchtower organization are understandably angry at the dishonesty, manipulation and outright lies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. That is very understandable. It is not unlike discovering your mother is not your mother, you were kidnapped from the hospital within hours of your birth by a woman who passed herself off as your mother, to you and to others. In addition, nearly everything of major importance about life which you learned unquestioningly at her knee was false and fabricated. It is emotionally crushing.

As a Jehovah’s Witness where do you get information which exposed the lies and deceit? Mostly from other former JWs, Christians and Christian ministries like Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. Some of the most powerful information comes from those who were high up in leadership for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, especially if it is produced with a kindly tone. It should be that way, after all the one giving out the information had also been in the ranks of the deceived. Enter, the late Raymond Franz. Raymond was the brother of the late Fredrick W. Franz, vice-President and then President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Raymond was not only the brother of Fred Franz but was himself on the governing body as well. So, when he left that shook up the Society a bit. When his book, Crisis of Conscience was published in 1983 it sent shock waves through the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was instrumental in causing quite a few to question things they had not openly questioned before. The book went through a number of reprints, Raymond passed away on June 2, 2010. The ownership of his intellectual property and copyrights went to his wife Cynthia.

Now, it should be noted that sometimes folks can unwittingly violate copyright law without evil intent. However, once the violation is known the proper thing to do is that good old fashioned word, repent and if possible make right the wrong done.

I mention this to make a point about Raymond Franz’s books. Some zealous former JWs with good intentions to get information to people they care about violated copyright laws in making full copies of Franz’s work and sending it to others. After Raymond passed away the problem grew. His widow, Cynthia, who was receiving income through the sale of his intellectual property suddenly saw that income disappear. Why? Because a few decided they could ignore the law, steal the material, print it themselves and sell it over the Internet as a slightly discounted price. These individuals were willfully stealing and doing do so at the harm of a widow who was unable to defend herself. How are they any better than the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society? This continued even after her death even though the copyright was still in full force and had been signed over to the person who have cared for Raymond and Cynthia in their last years.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Deborah Dykstra, the current sole owner of the copyrights of Raymond Franz’ works. She has been carrying out her due diligence and assessing the proper course of action in both addressing the illegal theft and distribution of pirated material as well as preparing future printings of the copyrighted works. She let me know that she has issued a Cease and Desist Demand on the Internet and sent a hard copy via UPS to at least one of the more blatant violators. Some friends of Snarky also put together a YouTube video explaining the situation:

While we encourage you to reach out to JWs and former JWs it seems important to be honest and act with integrity in carrying out this important work.

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