Barb Anderson relates amazing info
about Knorr, also Senior Bethel Writers
"Is it possible that many of the organizational sexual policies began when (in the late 70s early 80s?) some of the people at Bethel and even some of the GB were found out to be visiting gay bars? And engaging in homosexual acts? That some of the GB were so repulsed by such activity that they then put policies in place which included private issues between married couples? Did some of these men just have their own sexual problems that they put onto all the members of the Society as what should be 'normal' between married couples?"
I've never heard that the GB were found to be visiting gay bars, but in light of what we know about Greenlees being gay, maybe that's who is meant in the question. I did hear about some Bethelites visiting gay bars or engaging in homosexual acts in the late 70s and early 80s and were asked to leave Bethel.
Shortly before that time, the president of the organization was Nathan Knorr. Before he married, I heard that he was quite a sexual prude. And then a single man, Fred Franz, held the reign of president. My friend, Maximus (pseudonym), who was part of the Bethel family in the 50s and eventually became a circuit overseer, verified Knorr's sexual prudishness. My husband agreed with Maximus because he also was in Bethel in the 50s. Both men told me how Knorr personally talked to groups of "new boys" and usually gave some pretty silly sexual advice. I won't go there, but I think that Maximus wrote about this a few years ago on an Internet discussion board. It seems that Knorr was very alarmed about young men masturbating, and Knorr had great influence over those who were very serious Witness young men. Today, some of the "old- timers" in leadership positions at Bethel were once these same "new boys" who Knorr nurtured. When I say leadership positions, I just don't mean GB. I mean men in the Writing and "Service" Departments, and they are GB advisers and certainly do influence policy.
Nathan Knorr was very Germanic in his thinking and was a hard-nose totalitarian from an old-fashioned community in Allentown, PA. It was Maximus who told me that Knorr's wife alluded to him that she lived a celibate life, but he could have misunderstood. I heard that marriage softened Knorr in some ways. He was known to often take his wife dancing at the Rainbow Room in NYC wearing a tuxedo and she a gown. Max Larson and his wife would accompany them. It was after Knorr married, the prohibition against Bethelites marrying and staying at Bethel was lifted. Also, the negative attitude in the literature towards marriage softened.
I have very little personal insight into the personality of Nathan Knorr although I became a Witness during his reign. But I do know that in the early 50s, Knorr put into operation the disfellowshipping arrangement in a way that was not known previously. It was because of a sexual scandal that involved Bethelites. There is a Kingdom Hall, the Brooklyn Heights Congregation, in the 107 Columbia Heights building, which building houses hundreds of Bethelites. Neighborhood Jehovah's Witnesses attend meetings at the Brooklyn Heights Congregation as well as many Bethelites. In and around 1953 or '54 (and I've forgotten the exact date, which my husband knows, but he's not home for me to ask), a number of young Bethelites who were assigned to the Brooklyn Heights Congregation were engaged in wife-swapping with couples who were not Bethelites, but who lived in the area. When the fat hit the fan, so to speak, Knorr was furious. That's when he used DISFELLOWSHIPPING and cleaned house. When I was in the Writing Department, I read the article in the Watchtower which introduced the disfellowshipping tenet to the members. It's quite an article to read, but what's not in the article are the details of the scandal that caused the article to be written in the first place. I remember there is an unspecific statement about immorality occurring amongst JWs and that's why, the Watchtower said, there was a need for disfellowshipping.
Many of us who have been around the organization since the 50s, or in close proximity to the leaders of the WT organization since the 50s have observed that the men who have had the most control and influence, and still do, have a 50s mentality. Just look at the art work or photos in the literature. Women don't wear pants. See pictures of the wholesome looking family out in field service--mother wearing a dress, dad in a suit and tie; each holding the hand of a small child--a boy in a suit and tie and a little girl wearing a dress.
Societal sexual attitudes and gender issues of the 50s are still reflected in the organization in other ways. For instance, I'll share an experience which will illustrate the point I'm making. I've been very reluctant to talk about this because it's so egregious, but I think it's time.
During one Writing Department staff meeting for writers, which was held every week on Thursday, an artist brought her cover picture for the Oct. 8, 1991 Awake! magazine and left it for critique. I was told that one of the unmarried older senior writers objected to the picture and the featured articles. The proposed cover color picture illustrated a young woman standing in front of a large mirror. She was touching the mirror, which reflected back her image, and there also was an overlay of a small, black and white image of a little girl, who obviously was the young woman as a child. The title under the picture was, "HEALING THE WOUNDS OF CHILD ABUSE. And just what was the objection the writer had to the picture and the articles? He said, "Everyone knows that a little girl who is molested brings it upon herself by climbing onto a man's lap!" It was a shocking statement to make, but it illustrates either one of two things: this man is a child molester or he still believes the rubbish of days gone by that women and children get raped because of something they have done.
The next story is an example of a non-anointed GB adviser who fits the category of "a worthless standard as a model for leadership." But, don't forget that the "anointed" members of the GB, as seen by the adoption and continuance of corrupt policies, have also proven themselves a "worthless standard as a model for leadership" for they assigned this man, and others like him, to positions which influence the public and private lives of over six million Jehovah's Witnesses.
At least once a month, on a Monday evening after the Watchtower Study, a Bethel "heavy" is assigned to give a talk to the entire Bethel family. In 1991, senior writer, John Wischuck, was assigned to give a talk about marriage. At that time, John was probably in his mid 60s, had never been married and, of course, had little experience with children. He had a close-knit relationship with his mother, who lived, I believe, in Valley Stream, Long Island, about 30 miles or so from Bethel and went "home" often. When my husband, Joe, went to live at Bethel in the mid 50s, John was already there and had an important job. So when we went to Bethel in the early 80s, John welcomed us as friends, not newbies! It was nice to be treated as a peer when I was invited to work, six years after my arrival at Bethel, with the Writing Dept. where John and other "old timers" worked. Everyone knew we had a son in Bethel. And because of being a mother, often I was asked for my opinion about different family issues.
That Monday evening, John opened his discussion on marriage by mentioning that he was not married and then said what we were all thinking: "Probably you are all wondering why I would be assigned a talk on marriage?" He continued by saying something to the effect that the information he was going to share was from the Bible, and wasn't his own, and one didn't have to be married to give advice on marriage if it was Bible-based, etc.
In those years at Bethel, there were many trained, capable men leaving to get married. Due to tremendous expansion in the organization, many of these men were allowed to bring their new brides into Bethel so they wouldn't leave. And, without going into details, most of the marriages suffered from extraordinary stress from the institutional lifestyle. And that in a nutshell is why our leaders decided the Bethel family needed to hear a talk on the subject of marriage.
Well, need I tell you that John's talk contained black and white information. He spoke emphatically that Christian men have to do such and such, and Christian women have to do such and such! Do I have to further explain? I think not.
After hearing John's talk, Joe and I were not impressed (by that time, we had been married 32 years), and knew the talk would not help solve any marriage problems, especially the information about wifely subjection! The next morning, I arranged with two other staff gals, mature married women about John's age (who were married to heavies), to wait outside of our office doors for John to walk by, and when he did, we started to tease him about his "marriage" talk, hoping to help him think outside of the box. At first, he laughed, then became irritated, and just before walking into his office, he tried to put us in our place by saying, "You don't have to be married to understand marriage. Just follow what the Bible says!" He gently but firmly shut his door to our soft laughter. (Remember, it was Bethel and there were rules that governed behavior.)
A few months later, I had to go to John's office for some reason which I can't remember now. And as I lifted up my hand to knock on his door, I could hear John's voice loud and clear. He was arguing with someone over the phone about education and Witness children. As I turned to go, I heard the phone slam down so I decided to knock. John yelled, "Come in!" When he saw it was me, he said angrily, "I've had enough of this! I'm never going to write any more articles on marriage, children, and education because, apparently from the scoldings I've been getting lately, I don't know what I'm talking about." Well, I certainly had to agree. After I expressed my opinion, I left a bit shaken. I remember leaving John sitting at his desk with sort of a stunned look on his face after I told him how I felt. I wasn't angry with him, just sincerely open and honest about some impractical direction and advice as found in the Society's literature. Privately, I had observed that the domestic recommendations given by some of these men reflected a 1950s mentality, the same mentality they had when they came to Bethel in the 50s when they were still boys.
Because of the confidentiality policy, few of the personnel in the Writing Department knew the names of the authors of any magazine article or book, including me. So I had had no idea that John was writing many of those dogmatic, dictatorial Watchtower study articles heavily sprinkled with scriptural texts about marriage and rearing children that frequently appeared in the magazine. Yes, a man who was not married was giving advice about marriage; A man who did not engage in sexual relations was helping to create policies about intimate behavior; A man who never reared children was giving advice about child-rearing. Yes, what madness.
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