Personal Experience: RICHARD RAWE (Tribute)



Richard M. Rawe was born May 10, 1934. He died in his sleep a little before midnight, October 26, 1012, in Soap Lake, Washington. richardrawe

In 1995, Richard had a major stroke that left him with damage to his vocal cords. Previous to the stroke he had a beautiful speaking voice and was much in demand as a speaker in Kingdom Halls in the Northwest when he was a Jehovah’s Witness prior to 1975. In his later years, Richard was the host with the raspy, croaky voice of the Dialogue telephone conference-line program which hundreds of people listened to twice a month on Saturday evening.

Up until his death, Richard was an attractive, partially balding, gray-haired man, still tall and elegant in appearance, who carried himself with class and dignity no matter how bad he physically felt. As someone recently said, when Richard walked into a room, he had presence.

Listening to him on the phone, one would never get that impression because due to his damaged vocal cords, the picture most listeners had of Richard, unless you personally knew him, was that of someone totally opposite of what he really looked like.

When the elder arrangement came into existence in 1972, Richard, as congregation servant and a regular pioneer for some twenty years, refused to recommend any man in the Ephrata Washington Congregation as elders, including himself, stating that the nobody in the congregation filled the requirements for elder as set forth by the then Governing Body.

He was of the firm conviction that the men in the congregation were committing sinful acts that did not allow for them to be appointed as elders. Consequently, these men, who believed that they should be appointed elders, began to work secretly behind Richard’s back spreading slanderous rumors about him. Read Richard’s exciting story of how he came to be disfellowhipped twice, the first time in September 1975.

In the years following his disfellowshipping, Richard devoted his time to his livelihood as well as more time to study the Bible and the history of the Watch Tower organization and of early Christian history. Richard, as well as others such as James Penton, Ray Franz, and Alan Feuerbacher promoted Bible study conferences where lectures about the Bible and religion were held. He also was actively working with other former JWs to do everything in their power to inform the public through the courts or the media of the unfair and sometime devious activity of the religion that at one time all of them would have given their life for.

Richard was very proud of the fact that he had over 1,000 newspaper and magazine articles in his huge library archive from across the United States and the United Kingdom that discussed Jehovah’s Witnesses organization negatively, which he in someway was involved with getting the message out about the harmful practices of the Watch Tower, Jehovah’s Witnesses legal arm.

It was Richard who contacted Richard Ostling, then a reporter for the Time Magazine, to talk to him about Fred Franz being appointed as the new president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, that article appeared in Time. Also, Richard Rawe and a number of other former JWs showed up in front of Bethel in Brooklyn, NY, in the late 1980s participating in a march against the Watch Tower’s disfellowshipping and shunning practices. Richard Ostling wrote about that event and the story appeared in Time Magazine too.

In 2001, when Richard found out about former Bethelite and XJW, Barbara Anderson, and others appearing on the Dateline news program to help expose the Watch Tower’s cover-up of child abuse, he jumped in and began to contact newspapers about the story. By then, Richard Ostling was the Associated Press Religion editor. Many stories revealing the Watch Tower’s true unloving and devious self that were carried by the Associated Press were due to Richard’s persistence.

Richard Rawe also knew one of the top producers at the Dateline organization who at one time was working for the 60 Minutes program some twenty years before 2001.

It was Richard that contacted Christianity Today and was directly responsible for their coverage of the Watch Tower’s child abuse problem in the February 2, 2001 Christianity Today magazine. He also contacted Peter Smith, Religion Editor for the Louisville Courier Journal in Kentucky who did a huge front-page story on February 4, 2001 on the same topic.

In his later years, Richard’s health declined precipitously, his eyesight diminished, yet he wouldn’t give up. As many as three times a week Richard called his research buddy, Barbara Anderson, to tell her what he was doing to get his message out to sincere and unsuspecting people who were searching for religious truth and maybe contemplating converting to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In no uncertain terms, Richard Rawe made it his life’s work to inform the public to beware of the Watch Tower because it’s not a harmless religion but could wreck their lives! He’d point out how easy it was to convert into the religion, but impossible to get out of without finding your life in ruins.

For two years Richard hosted his Dialogue program which he loved. Up until three weeks before he died, Richard was busy calling people arranging with them to tell their interesting stories on his Dialogue Conference Line about their experiences with the Watch Tower organization.

We all owe Richard a debt of gratitude for his bulldog-like persistence to tell the world to beware of the Watch Tower religion because Watch Tower’s leaders, past and present, might sound and look like sheep, but in reality these men were and are wolves that have brought harm to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families in the past 133 years of the religion’s history.

Richard is sorely missed. He certainly left his mark on the lives of thousands and it is doubtful that there will ever be another person to come our way again like Richard M. Rawe.


Editor’s Note:

Richard Rawe left some amazing documentation that reveals some of the workings of the Watch Tower organization that most people never see. One of these items which refers to large monetary donations going to Watch Tower Directors (Knorr, Franz, Suiter) is linked below:

Rawes Affidavit 8-2-08.pdf.

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