Were you aware: Jehovah's Witnesses and a shaky history on blood transfusions?

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Charles Taze Russell, the first president of the Watchtower Society, referenced the Apostolic Decree recorded in the Bible in Acts 15:29. He wrote, “The things mentioned were merely to guard against stumbling themselves or becoming stumbling blocks to others.”
In 1909, Russell wrote concerning abstinence from blood, “it was necessary to the peace of the Church that the Gentiles should observe this matter also.” Regarding stipulations of the Apostolic Decree, Russell concluded, “these items thus superadded to the Law of Love should be observed by all spiritual Israelites as representing the Divine will.”
After Russell’s death in 1916, Joseph Franklin Rutherford succeeded Russell as president of the Watchtower organization. Under his administration, commercial and emergency uses of blood were commended.
In 1925, blood transfusion was mentioned in an issue of The Golden Age, where Mr. B. W. Tibble was commended for donating blood on 45 separate occasions. The article highlighted his refusal of payment for donating, and the honor accordingly bestowed upon him by Order of the king.
In 1927, the Watchtower organization addressed blood, stating, “God told Noah that every living creature… must not eat the blood…”.
In 1931 this was expounded by the Watchtower organization, teaching “that it was not the eating of the blood that God objected to, but it was bringing the blood of the beast in contact with the blood of man.” At this time the Watchtower organization taught that human blood was sacred and that it was wrong to contaminate human blood with animal blood.
In 1940 while discussing interesting medical news, the Watchtower organization reported on a woman who accidentally shot herself with a revolver in her heart and survived a major surgical procedure during which an attending physician donated a quart of his own blood for transfusion.
After Rutherford’s death in 1942, the Watchtower organization (under Nathan Homer Knorr’s administration) wrote in 1944, “the stranger was forbidden to eat or drink blood, whether by transfusion or by the mouth” and that this applied “in a spiritual way to the consecrated persons of good-will today, otherwise known as “Jonadabs” of the Lord’s “other sheep.””
In 1945, the application of the doctrine on blood was expanded to prohibit blood transfusions of whole blood, whether allogeneic or autologous. While the prohibition didn’t specify any punitive measures for accepting a transfusion, by January 1961 it became a disfellowshipping offence to conscientiously accept a blood transfusion.
This represented an admitted shift toward increased strictness by the Watchtower organization imposing additional obligation upon the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As part of this doctrinal shift, the Watchtower organization warned that accepting a blood transfusion could prevent them from living eternally in God’s new world, the hope held by members: “It may result in the immediate and very temporary prolongation of life, but that at the cost of eternal life for a dedicated Christian.”
In September 1961, the Watchtower doctrine stated that accepting fractions from blood was in violation of God’s law. Two months later, in November, the doctrine was modified to allow individual members to decide whether they could conscientiously accept fractions used from blood for purposes such as vaccination. This position has been expanded on since; the pre-formatted Durable Power of Attorney form provided by the Watch Tower Society includes an as an option for Jehovah’s Witnesses: “I accept all fractions derived from any primary component of blood.”
In 1964, Jehovah’s Witnesses were prohibited from obtaining transfusions for pets, from using fertilizer containing blood, and were even advised (if their conscience troubled them) to write to dog food manufacturers to verify that their products were blood-free. Later that year, it was stated that doctors or nurses who are Jehovah’s Witness would not administer blood transfusions to fellow dedicated members. As to administering transfusions to non-members, The Watchtower stated that such a decision is “left to the Christian doctor’s own conscience.”
In 1982, a Watchtower article declared that it would be wrong for a Witness to allow a leech to feed on his/her blood as part of a medical procedure, due to the sacredness of blood.
In 1989 The Watchtower stated, “Each individual must decide” whether to accept hemodilution and autologous blood salvage (cell saver) procedures.
In 1990, a brochure entitled How Can Blood Save Your Life? was released, outlining Jehovah’s Witnesses’ general doctrine on blood.
In 2000, the Watch Tower Society’s stand on blood fractions was clearly stated. Members were instructed to personally decide if accepting a fraction would violate the doctrine on blood. In a later article, members were reminded that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not donate blood or store their own blood prior to surgery.

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Wow you are really following our story. I felt privileged. I hope you are giving the same amount of time in helping people know what the bible teaches not just what JWs teach. Why? Population of JWs is not even 10% of world population. More people needs your help. Not us 🙂


I gave Jehovah’s Witnesses a contrarian Bible tract from the website below and they haven’t visited me in months!

Unsilenced Lioness

leadership of the religion arguably no longer believes, yet the doctrine is still enforced by the religion under pain of extreme communal shunning.
For what became its blood doctrine, in 1945 the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses (the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) set forth its primary doctrinal premise as: blood is a sacred
substance.1 As the doctrine progressed additional premises were developed. God restricted the
use of blood solely for sin atoning sacrifices and blood belongs to God alone are two such
2 Based on the doctrine’s central premise Watchtower leadership asserted very strict conclusions
about blood and how its members should and should not use the substance, particularly of eating
or infusing it. One of these conclusions asserted it as sinful to accept a medical transfusion of
blood, even if it was essential to saving the life of a member or of a member’s child.
3 Beginning in 1961 Watchtower started imposing its blood doctrine by enforcing organized
communal shunning of members who conscientiously accepted blood transfusion.
4 This shunning is severe. It requires members to avoid all social fellowship with the individual. Even
immediate family members who do not live in the same house are to shun the individual by
avoiding association, including keeping any business dealings to an “absolute minimum”. In
effect, this shunning transforms the target individual into a social outcast who should not be
recognized with as much as a “Hello”
5 This shunning is for life or until the individual “repents”of their sin, whichever comes first
6 Stated reason for the doctrine Watchtower has consistently expressed the same primary reason for its blood doctrine by asserting that blood is sacred.
7 This was true in 1945 at the doctrine’s beginning, and to this day Watchtower asserts the same premise as the fundamental reason for its position on blood. Of its position of a biblical prohibition on blood transfusion, in 2006 Watchtower stated, “The prohibition was based, not on health concerns, but on the sacredness of blood.”
8 Manifestation of the doctrine Contrary to the consistency of the doctrine’s primary reason for existing, Watchtower has inconsistently asserted how its members should manifest belief that blood is a sacred substance.
Relatively early in the doctrinal position, members were taught the sanctity of blood meant they
would accept “no form of blood to be transfused”.
9 Though at the time Watchtower’s position
was against Witnesses accepting infusion of any fractions from blood, it specifically named albumin and hemoglobin as forms of blood that should be avoided.
10 As late as 1998
Watchtower’s doctrinal position cited hemoglobin as a form of blood it was against members
11 Decades after the doctrine expressed it as sinful to accept any form of blood, Watchtower’s
position changed to allow acceptance of some forms of blood. In 1978 Watchtower no longer
took a position against its members accepting infusion of albumin from blood.
12 Later on, in 2000 Watchtower no longer took a position against members accepting hemoglobin from blood.
13 Today members are taught they can “accept all fractions derived from any primary
component of blood”.
Watchtower’s stated reason for its blood doctrine has remained static, yet its projection of that
doctrine has changed. We have the following distinctly different manifestations of the doctrine:
– Blood is sacred therefore accepting any form of blood for transfusion is wrong and
members who act otherwise should be shunned by family and friends in the religion for
the rest of their lives or until they repent for their wrongdoing.
– Blood is sacred but the only forms of blood that it is wrong to accept are those of whole
blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma. Otherwise if the blood is sufficiently
fractionated then accepting all of it is not necessarily wrong.
The doctrinal projection went from prohibiting everything to accepting everything (so long as it
is sufficiently fractionated).
This dramatic change in doctrinal projection stirs the question: Does Jehovah’s Witnesses’
current leadership believe the tenet “blood is sacred”? If so it means the leadership believes
respect for a supposedly sacred substance that belongs to God alone is consistent with consuming
everything of that sacred substance so long as it is sufficiently fractionated beforehand. In other
words, in the absence of express permission we should be able to dismantle someone’s
automobile, convert it into our own property and do this without stealing it. Since such a notion
is absurd then it is questionable, at the very least, whether Watchtower leaders of today believe
the premise “blood is sacred”.
Watchtower leaders of today would be disfellowshipped by former leaders of the religion for
their current position. Without a doubt the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has experienced
profound change in its own belief regarding blood. Arguably this leadership no longer believes
the primary tenet that blood is a sacred substance that belongs to God alone. Yet it continues
teaching and enforcing its blood doctrine among the membership as if it does.


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