Fred Franz – Rewarded For Being Inept

In the spring of 1975, Frederick W. Franz, considered since the mid-1920s to be the Watchtower’s “official oracle,” stressed the urgency of the Christian preaching work during his public speeches. Why? Because he believed that 6,000 years of human history would end that next September or soon after.

Franz said the timing coincided with the human species about to starve itself to death as well as being faced with poisoning by pollution and destruction by nuclear weapons. In talks from as far back as the mid-1960s, Franz emphasized that “Time is short.  Time is running out, no question about that.” The expectation fostered by Franz was that the battle of Armageddon would happen by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ would begin.

One staff worker at headquarters wrote,

“Proclaiming 1975 had helped to generate a tangible excitement about the nearness of Armageddon and had nearly doubled the number of Witnesses. Record numbers were being baptized and we were working day and night at the factory in Brooklyn to supply Witness evangelists with literature to distribute door-to-door. We were riding an emotional high of excitement full of confidence in our prophetic expectations. However, as the 6,000 year chronology became questionable, things began to unravel.

“As the year 1975 progressed with no ‘End’ in sight, suppressed doubts began to surface among many other Witnesses also. Was the End really so imminent? Many of us had said that the exact timing of the End was not important. We had dedicated our lives to Jehovah and we would continue in His organization regardless. Still, we had made life choices based upon the Watchtower Society’s 1975 chronology. Some of us had passed up higher education. Others had missed business opportunities or used up assets because ‘the time left was short.’ Some Witnesses had deferred marriage or having children.”

The nearer September 1975 came, the more backpedaling Franz did as uncertainty grew and this could be seen from articles in Watchtower literature. After 1975 came and went, Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders began to blame the flock for running ahead of Jehovah or accused them of reading more into the 1975 prediction than what was actually stated, much to the dismay of many of the Witnesses.

Nearly two years later, on June 22, 1977, two weeks after the third president of the Watch Tower Society, Nathan H. Knorr, died, 83-year-old Frederick W. Franz was elected to the office of president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.

Reporting on the election, note how Franz was described in the August 1, 1977 Watchtower:

“His outstanding reputation as an eminent Bible scholar and his tireless work in behalf of Kingdom interests has won him the confidence and loyal support of Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere.”

Really? – “Everywhere”? Not exactly true! Harry Peloyan, the Awake! editor, was furious that “Freddy” was elected president by the other members of the Governing Body as were many other insiders at headquarters. Peloyan went to see Lloyd Barry to tell him of his resentment and that of other important staff members because it was Franz that came up with the 1975 fiasco that resulted in as many as 500,000 Witnesses leaving the faith and the near collapse of the organization.

Donations were down. Subscriptions for the Watchtower and the Awake! magazines were few and far between. To many, electing Franz to the presidency looked as though he was rewarded for the 1975 debacle. Barry tried to defend the choice by saying Franz was next in line for the presidency, but that carried no weight with those who resented the choice that was made for the reasons given here and who believed Franz should have been skipped over and demoted. The sentiment among many at headquarters was that ineptness should not be rewarded.

By the way, a reporter, who worked for Time magazine, interviewed Franz when he became president of the WTB&TS in 1977 (he had been Vice-President of the Watch Tower Society). That interview actually resulted in a story appearing in the July 11, 1977 issue of Time.

Privately, the reporter said that in all his years as a reporter interviewing “important” people, after spending one hour with Fred Franz, he came away with the impression that Freddie was so deranged as to be “certifiably insane.”

Lectures by F. W. Franz regarding 1975 can be found at:

53rd Class of Gilead Graduation – ref: 1975/Elder Arrangement Fred Franz (1972)

“What is the Significance of 1975?” Fred Franz (1975)

“Hold Fast Our Faith in God’s Word” – ref: 1975 Fred Franz (1975)

“Time In Which We Are Now Interested” Fred Franz (1975)

“Life Everlasting in God’s Approaching New Order” Raymond Franz (1976)


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….and still you will get the “what abouts..” the class (!) of people who will defend the wt to the bitter end. These are fanatics who speak only kingdom speak, have only wt publications in their homes,have had the very minimum of education and nothing since leaving school, have no creative outlet in their lives.They see evil behind every bush.
“A fanatic is someone who cant change his mind and will not change the conversation.” Churchill.

John Plummer

John Plummer

Very interesting, Barbara. And I think there is an even more interesting time in our near future. The heightened expectations and non-appearance of Armageddon in 1975 was explained away with all the usual excuses (basically blaming the rank and file) but when the 1914 overlapping generation passes away (with no sign of Armageddon, of course) the G.B. won’t be able to use those excuses again. By invoking “increased light” as the source of this latest prophecy they have pulled the pin on a theological grenade! When they are forced to concede that the overlapping generation prophecy is false then either Jehovah lied or they lied. Take your pick, they’re screwed either way! And if they DARE to attempt to claim fallibility in interpreting that increased light then they open a can of worms re their interpretation of all previous instances of increased light! Can you imagine the response to “Well, yes, we made a mistake interpreting the overlapping generation light… but we’re sure we interpreted the blood transfusion “light” correctly!” Oh yeah, right! I hope I live long enough to see the house of cards come tumbling down!



Interesting article Barbara! It help us to understand what was going on ‘behind the curtain’ at the headquarters in 1975!
Why we did not leave at that time? Because we adopted the general thought at that time: “We are not serving for a date, but serving the truth!” It was a ‘spiritual’ reaction at the time, which kept us obeying the silly interpretations of the Governing Body for more than 30 years after ’75!!! What a waste of time and energies! We are so happy since we made our lives free from the chains of the WT! Sad for all those who are still mentally prisoners of this sect!

Love, Rosy

Kitty M

Kitty M

I almost bought the 1975 scare at the age of 12, but when my life got worse and worse I decided that I had to leave the religion AND my family and go to college in 1976 against their wishes. Im proud of myself for having the courage to start living a real life…and not a delusional one. I haven’t looked back till now….



I was raised as a JW from 8 years old till I had finally had enough at 32. My father was an elder, I married a man who became an elder after we were married. I have personally met Mr. Franz at my parents home in the 70’s. All my family are still JW’s and needless to say, they have not spoken to me in over 19 years because I left the religion, didn’t notify me of my mother’s death because as my Father said “I am dead to them”.. I have never been so content and happy in my life as I am now. I divorced my husband after 19 years of what was suppose to be a marriage, more like him thinking he was god himself and wanted everyone in the congregation to worship him. He is still a witness and doesn’t have much to do with our 3 grown children or his 4 grandchildren. He re married a witness gal and pretty much is living the life he thinks he deserves, in that she is the typical little witness wife who doesn’t question anything or him and just follows along, something I could NEVER do in that religion. Even as a child I questions and didn’t feel right about all they said we had to follow. So glad none of my kids are witnesses, they saw the hypocrites for what they are long ago!! I feel they are nothing but a cult and like to CONTROL people. SOOO GLAD I broke away years ago.