Letter # 1 & Introduction (1 of 9)

The trail to resigning from the WT (page 9P)

Transfusion row rocks Jehovah's Witnesses

Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent, "Guardian"


Thursday June 15, 2000

Jehovah's Witnesses are braced for a flood of litigation following a vote by church elders in New York which may allow members to accept blood transfusions in critical medical circumstances providing they repent afterwards.

The revelation that transfusions might now be acceptable, apparently decided by the church's world governing body by a vote of eight to four at a secret meeting last month, caused anguish and astonishment to adherents that one of the central tenets of the faith - and the cause of death for thousands of members over the years - was being abandoned.

The decision means that members who accept transfusions may not be automatically expelled and shunned, so long as they repent and seek spiritual guidance.

The church fears that disaffected members whose relatives have died after refusing blood may now seek damages.

The witnesses' British headquarters at Watch Tower House in north London described the decision, which will be conveyed to members at Kingdom halls across the country by letter as "a minor procedural change".

Geoffrey Unwin, an author and former Jehovah's Witness specialising in writing about cults, who broke the story in Britain, said: "Witnesses are in a state of self denial at the moment. They will be shocked that the elders who are supposed to get their messages direct from God should have voted for a change like this.

"Countless thousands whose relatives have been allowed to die needlessly will be angered that this could now be changed by a bunch of old men hiding in a room in New York after supposedly talking to God. They must be terrified of litigation."

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that as life is a gift from God, blood should not be intermingled, taking their text from Acts chapter 15, verse 20, which instructs the faithful to abstain from things "polluted by contact with idols, from fornication, from anything that has been strangled and from blood."

The religion's 130,000 British adherents - among 6m worldwide - are not supposed to accept blood transfusions even if refusal results in their death.

In January Beverley Matthews, 33, of Stockport, Greater Manchester, died after refusing a blood transfusion and last week a teenager, Brent Bond, of Nottingham, accepted a transfusion only seconds before lapsing into unconsciousness after losing five pints of blood in a machete attack. The church said yesterday that he was not a Jehovah's Witness because he had not been baptised in the faith, although his mother who is a member, tried to prevent the operation.

Jehovah's Witnesses are well known for the strictness of their observance. Members do not give presents at Christmas or birthdays, exchange greetings with non-believers or allow their children to take part in games or plays at school. Even use of the internet is frowned upon.

The church insisted yesterday that the New York decision was clarification of existing rules and a simplification of the process of excommunication, though that came as a surprise to some witnesses.

Paul Gillies, the church's spokesman said: "If someone accepts a transfusion in a moment of weakness and then regrets it afterwards we can offer assistance, just as if they had committed adultery. But if they are no longer living by the rules they have excluded themselves.

"Nowadays the movement towards bloodless health care means we have had members who have had open heart surgery and liver transplants without using blood."


Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

From: "Randall Watters" <dogz.cyberfmi@gte.net>


Subject: these letters should be put up everywhere

Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 12:21 PM


These letters will blow your mind!

It's hard to beleive that one or two small-minded men in the Service Dept. could be responsible for thousands of medical emergencies going bad or even death. The truth must be told now.

Following is a remarkable dialogue between an active elder in the United States and the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses about the subject of blood transfusion. It exemplifies the deaf ear turned to so many of our brothers when they ask good questions that need answering.

At great personal risk to several Bethel administrators who are tired of seeing this treatment, the following letters were acquired with discreet permission from overseers. They are made available so that all can have a better sense of the sidestepping of important issues carried on by those at the highest level of authority among Jehovah's Witnesses.

We hope the elder who wrote these letters will understand why we had to make them public. Our prayers are for him and the many more like him.



Actual scans of letters will appear shortly as soon as the links are done.

Randy Watters

Sometimes the Truth hurts


NOTE > If printing this article allow for about 40 pages.




       Following is a remarkable dialogue between an active elder in the United States and the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses about the subject of blood transfusion. It exemplifies the deaf ear turned to so many of our brothers when they ask good questions that need answering.

       At great personal risk to several Bethel administrators who are tired of seeing this treatment, the following letters were acquired with discreet permission from overseers. They are made available so that all can have a better sense of the sidestepping of important issues carried on by those at the highest level of authority among Jehovah's Witnesses.

       We hope the elder who wrote these letters will understand why we had to make them public. Our prayers are for him and the many more like him.


February 16, 1998

From: R. Jensen 24 Running Deer Road Phenix City, AL 36870

To: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society 25 Columbia Heights Brooklyn, NY 11201

Re: Blood and upholding righteous standards

Dear Brothers

       I am an elder in the C-------- congregation in C-------- Alabama. What I write about in this letter has nothing to do with any past, present or foreseeable judicial activity in our congregation. The contents are concerning my own activity in the ministry with persons in the health care industry. The letter is quite long and I appreciate your perseverance in both reading and responding.

       In my secular employment I have need for somewhat close association with a few physicians and insurance claims examiners related especially to workers compensation issues. These individuals have heard expressions of my faith on opportune occasions, and beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses have been the subject of friendly and meaningful conversation. Our discussions regarding Jehovah's Witnesses have never been a point of contention between us, and indirect benefits have been reported by one physician regarding local publishers. On occasion some of these physicians or insurance claims examiners will call me with questions about Jehovah's Witnesses and the medical use of blood, usually they are quite simple questions. In the last few months questions have been presented for which I have no answer, it is these questions about which I write. Before getting to the meat of this issue I can tell you I have spoken with four (4) different elders and our current circuit overseer brother W---- Skogsberg, none could provide answers for the particular questions asked. Before writing this letter or speaking to those brothers, I studied and reconsidered many scriptures on this issue, and countless articles in our publications. It was suggested by some that I call our assigned hospital liaison committee, but I really don't want to bother them and that is not their intended assignment, to answer questions from the field ministry. I was encouraged by all to write the Society, so I am writing.

       On this subject the two type parties have different perspectives on this issue. Insurance claims examiners are interested in reducing the claims for their respective companies. Physicians are more interested in knowing how to deal with patients who happen to be Jehovah's Witnesses. All parties generally enjoy scriptural discussion. I have told both that our organization has a hospital liaison committee that would likely be glad to address their concerns in person. Each insist they are more comfortable with the informal setting of our personal one-on-one discussions (our meetings are rarely formal, usually it happens that a physician or claims examiner simply drops by my office for a visit or we may have a business lunch together).

       Of interest to the physicians is how our organization deals with persons who decide to accept blood components. They understand and respect elements of our judicial process, that of assisting those who have fallen into grave sin and protecting the spiritual interests of our brotherhood. They begin having the questions about which I write when we discuss how Jehovah's Witnesses deal with publishers differently due to particular blood components accepted. I have relayed to them what is stated in many publications (we spent considerable time in the w90 6/1 30-1). Specifically they question why we do not deal judicially with publishers accepting injections of blood components as long as they are from the fractions of protein, hormone, salts or enzyme components of blood, when we do deal judicially with publishers accepting any components of red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma (even if these have been accepted in their component form and not as whole blood). The most direct difference these physicians see between the two is in the relatively small measure of some blood components compared to other blood components and the amounts usually administered (they see all as being of blood), and that it appears our organizational tolerance (referring to actions left to conscience and not dealt with judicially) is somehow determined by individual conscience. They thus wonder why the entire matter is not left to personal conscience by our organization.

       Regarding conscience I reminded them that all among Jehovah's Witnesses are free to do whatever they wish as individuals, our brotherhood simply establishes with scripture what practices we permit among ourselves and who we thus recognize as fellow worshippers. It was made plain that while acceptance of some blood components is left to publisher's individual conscience, Jehovah's Witnesses do not endorse the use of any blood products. Further, I reminded them as physicians they are not spiritual shepherds and should concentrate on treating the whole person, respecting personal religious convictions of individual patients.

       They ask the following:

Regarding judicial / non-judicial status:

Is it the amount of blood or the particular components of blood one accepts that measures when we deal judicially with someone?

If it's the amount, what is the amount?

If it's not the amount is it simply left up to the conscience of the individual as to which component they are willing to accept and which they decline, or are there arbitrary reasons for the selection of some blood components for medical use requiring judicial action and others requiring no judicial action?

Regarding our understanding of the prohibition in Acts 15:29:

What is Jehovah's Witnesses' definition of blood?

Are all parts of blood "blood" or are there certain components of blood we do not define as "blood" as prohibited in Acts 15:29? (For example: Scripturally what makes red cells coming from whole blood different from proteins coming from whole blood, making one a matter of interest judicially and the other of no judicial interest?)

If certain components in blood are not "blood" as prohibited at Acts 15:29, how is this determined?

Are components of blood no longer viewed as "blood" once they are of small enough proportion, if so what is the amount?

Is it the particular component binding the relation to Acts 15:29's prohibition? If so what are the scriptural reasons for allowing these components as a matter of conscience by our organization while upholding God's requirements judicially in response to acceptance of other components?

       I understand there is some overlapping in the questions above. I have categorized the questions in an attempt to provide the different contexts in which they were asked. Also, regarding Acts 15:29, there was discussion about the passage of antibodies and proteins via the placenta. This did not seem to satisfy their questions from a scriptural position and there was reluctance to accept that only antibodies and/or proteins passed through the placenta. One asked: "How do you think water is delivered to an unborn child if not from the mothers blood, specifically from the plasma?" He added: "Even though their blood systems do not actually intermingle, the source of nourishment for the unborn is from the mothers blood." It seemed unlikely to them that God's Law stated to Noah had anything to do with the inner workings between fetus/placenta/mother.

       In the course of conversation I used the illustration of the alcoholic being advised by his physician to abstain from alcohol and how this prohibition would certainly include intravenous acceptance of alcohol. In response one physician asked: "If, as your doctor, I said "abstain from eating meat", should I object to your acceptance of an organ transplant which could serve to sustain your life?" Further he asked: "If I told you to abstain from alcohol, does that mean I should object to some medical use of alcohol to preserve your life?" I explained that my illustration was intended only to show that drinking or eating is similar to intravenous transfusion into the body, reminding him that intentional eating of blood is prohibited by God. Otherwise I had no response to his illustrated questions except by reminding him in this case it is not a physician requiring abstinence but our Creator, and since his standards call for abstention from blood, Christians should obey. He agreed, and then said "that's all well and good except for this, it seems Jehovah's Witnesses are selective on how to obey this command and how to uphold it in your congregations, either you should abstain from medical use of blood or not, it seems that "some blood" is allowed while "other blood" is not."

       We also discussed how Jehovah's Witnesses view misuse of blood in other ways, and how blood should be disposed of when no longer part of the individual or creature. Regarding general misuse of blood, I was asked if I had any idea how much blood had to be "misused" (by Jehovah's Witnesses' standards) to produce the blood components which our organization leaves to conscience, I had no idea (and still don't). He said it is a considerable amount, and that if I thought a single unit of blood being transfused was objectionable and considered misused I should go to a facility where blood is separated and processed and just look at the amount of blood being misused in order to gain the "accepted" fractions. Being ignorant of this particular process I did not have a response, but it seems reasonable that misuse of blood would be an important factor regardless of whether transfusion or injection into humans occurs, because we consider any misuse of blood to be serious as described in the October 15th 1981 Watchtower and elsewhere. (w81 10/15 30) One comment made in this Watchtower is "such commercialization of blood would not be in accord with deep respect for the life-representing value of blood." Is not the handling and processing of blood for medical products (which are bought and sold for profits) considered a commercialization of blood? Wouldn't this commercialization then be just as reprehensible as accepting whole blood transfusions, especially if it is true that large volumes of blood must be processed for the intended purpose of commerce? Could a brother be acceptable spiritual association if he owned and operated an establishment which specialized in the handling of large volumes of blood in order to separate for sale and use certain blood fractions which are left to individual conscience as to their use? It seems that the voluntary acceptance of blood fractions clearly and directly contributes to the wholesale misuse of blood because of the obtaining, storage and handling of the blood. (w75 page 216)

       These men have asked questions not simply because they work in the field of health care, they also seem to have interest in the Bible. They have not indicated to me any attempt to thwart our association, the subject of heath care happens to be their interest and naturally because of our position on blood they are inquisitive. Obviously numerous questions have arisen from worthwhile conversations with these individuals. I have attempted to simplify this letter, but much is being compressed into these few paragraphs. Please respond to each point as there is potential of advancing these discussions to higher ground, possibly starting a Bible study with at least one of these individuals upon clarification of the aforementioned.

       I too desire a better understanding of how we can determine Scripturally that elders should deal judicially with publishers because of a particular component of blood accepted, while not dealing with publishers accepting other components. Especially confusing is a statement made in the June 1st 1990 Watchtower on page 31, it says: "Others have felt that a serum (antitoxin), such as immune globulin, containing only a tiny fraction of a donor's blood plasma and used to bolster their defense against disease, is not the same as a life-sustaining blood transfusion. So their consciences may not forbid them to take immune globulin or similar fractions. They may conclude that for them the decision will rest primarily on whether they are willing to accept any health risks involved in an injection made from others' blood." (italics added) There are two things puzzling about this quote.


Doctors will admit that transfusion of plasma or red cells may save someone's life, but so does factor VIII. Both save lives, both are life sustaining. Without factor VIII hemophiliacs would be certain candidates for extremely short life. Since both save lives how can one be singled out for judicial action and the other ignored. Also there is the use of albumin for burn victims, this administered blood component certainly saves lives.


The italicized portion also indicates that individual consciences play a determining role in our decision about what we tolerate morally. What if someone's conscience allowed acceptance of components like plasma, concluding that their decision rests primarily with accepting health risks?

       With this information how can elders show individuals Scripturally why we tolerate acceptance of some blood components while dealing judicially with acceptance of other components? I have read countless articles on these issues and find no answer, nor could the elders I asked.

       Additionally there is another area I have questions about (briefly mentioned above). The w89 3/1 30 comments that Jehovah's Witnesses "DO NOT accept" certain autologous procedures. The reason for this is well stated: 'We have long appreciated that such stored blood certainly is no longer part of the person. It has been completely removed from him, so it should be disposed of in line with God's Law: "You should pour it out upon the ground as water."--Deuteronomy 12:24.' This bottom line reasoning can be found several times throughout the same article. With this bottom line scriptural law in mind it seems of importance that all blood fractions for medical use come from whole blood which has been intentionally: donated (or even sold), stored, processed, sold for commercial profit, and finally introduced into another person. How can it be Scripturally reasoned that all of this misuse of blood, explicitly to sell, buy or use blood fractions, can possibly be accepted by any Christian conscience? I can understand that even properly bled meat is going to have some blood remaining which is eaten together with the flesh, however, this eating of blood is not intentional, reasonable efforts have been made to 'pour out' the blood at the onset according to God's Law. My question arises because in the case of blood fractions administered medically there must first have occur several procedures which we "DO NOT accept", leading intentionally and directly to the product offered. Would not acceptance (and purchase) of the intentional end product be directly supportive of the process when there is no obligation on our part to accept such? Is the described process acceptable? (reference: w81 10/15 30, w90 6/1 30)

       Incidentally, regarding one insurance claims examiner (for workers compensation claims) who seemed initially concerned about the cost of nonblood medical management, I reminded him that many times workers compensation claims are astronomical, not because of the real needs of the individual but because of unscrupulous persons who are content to 'milk the system'. Some do this by feigning a work related injury when in fact the injury had occurred away form work, others by lazily manipulating some form of permanent total disability ('disability retirement' so-to-speak) on an otherwise resolvable though bonafide claim. After hearing how Jehovah's Witnesses teach good ethical and honest behavior in these areas he seemed convinced that these would not be issues with claimants who happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses and that in fact these claims likely would be easier to manage. Further I reminded the examiner that often claims can be resolved positively and more readily for all parties when the injured person knows and feels they are understood, appreciated and well looked after. He agreed and was glad to know more about Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs to that end.

       I look forward to reading your reply. I have understood and appreciated the Christian directive to abstain from blood for most of my life, and as an elder have several times assisted friends under stressful and even life threatening circumstances. Reading and studying further into this subject has only strengthened my resolve to abstain from blood, consequentially I look forward to your response. My personal questions are not intended as quibbling over the direction to allow mature Christians use of their own conscience in determining acceptance of certain blood products, I seek only understanding.

       You brothers are very busy up there, and we all surely appreciate your efforts. It is not my desire to burden you with additional work, I just can't nail down the scriptural answers to the questions above and need your assistance. I thank you in advance for your kind spiritual aid in this matter. Also I wish to thank all for the wonderful (though exhausting) Kingdom Ministry School we attended in November/December 97'. I enjoyed the positive nature of the program, all assignments were handled with excellence. Keep up the good work!

Your brother in Jehovah's service,

[Signed: R. Jensen]


March 23, 1998

From: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society 25 Columbia Heights Brooklyn, NY 11201

To: R. Jensen 24 Running Deer Road Phenix City, AL 36870

Dear Brother Jensen:

       This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of February 16, 1998. You ask about the propriety of a Christian accepting blood fractions for medical purposes. You say you have been discussing this matter with various medical doctors and have found it difficult to answer some of their questions.

       We note you have considered what the Society has published on this subject, especially comments under "Questions From Readers" in the June 1, 1990, issue of The Watchtower. As indicated, the Society has left it to the individual Christian to decide whether he of she can accept blood fractions such as proteins found in the bloodstream, believing this to be in a gray area and this not the same as accepting a life-sustaining transfusion of whole blood or a major component for the same purpose.

       Some take the strict position that since a serum injection or another medical substance is made from something that formerly was in the bloodstream, even though a minor fraction, it would not be right to accept it in fighting against disease or to heal a wound. And if a Christian's conscience will not allow him to accept a serum, we would encourage him to respect the dictates of his conscience. However, as you know, when we say "fractions," it is not meant that a few drops or even a drop of whole blood is involved. Rather, whole blood is broken down into its various parts and certain proteins or other minute substances are taken from the breakdown product, called immunoglobulins (a very minor fraction) in which antibodies are known to reside, and these are isolated for use in fighting against disease.

       It might be argued that if blood was properly disposed of, it would not be possible to make serum injections, thus removing any reason for a question to come up on this matter. But as to disposing of blood (apart from its use in sacrifice), instructions in the Bible pertain to the slaughtering of animals for food. It is mentioned that the blood of the animal should be poured out on the ground as water and covered over. (Leviticus 17:13; Deuteronomy 12:15, 16, 24) Why was this done? Would it not be done in order to show that the one slaughtering the animal did not wish to eat the blood? It was, in effect, given back to Jehovah by pouring it out on the ground and covering it over. But if blood is taken from a body and, before it is disposed of, is broken down by a medical procedure and in the process a small fraction is extracted, not to eat or to nourish the body, but to immunize against a disease, could it be said that there is a clear violation of God's law not to eat blood?

       Jehovah is reasonable concerning his laws and their application. For instance, the Mosaic Law clearly stipulated that no Israelite was to "do any work" on the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:10) Yet, Jesus recognized that there was a difference between "workers who harvested [others'] fields" and "plucking and eating the heads of grain" in such fields. (James 5:4; Luke 6:1-5) Certainly, to harvest a whole field or a major portion of it would clearly violate the law of not working on the Sabbath. However, plucking and eating some of the heads of grain that made up a very minor fraction of the field was not prohibited by the Law. Such plucking was not to be considered "work" that was prohibited.

       So, too, the blood derivative is only a small fraction of blood, as mentioned above. Such can be distinguished from the major components of the blood, such as the red cells. For instance, if a person is told to discard a bushel of potatoes and not to eat them, would this command be violated if the potatoes were cooked and in the process the starch from the potatoes was isolated and used for medical purposes? First of all, could the ingesting of the isolated starch for medical reasons be said to be eating potatoes? Taking a transfusion of blood is clearly contrary to God's law. But what about accepting a small injection, not of whole blood or even a primary component of blood, but of a breakdown product, whether it be salt taken from blood, sugar taken from blood, iron, calcium, a hormone, or another fractionalized part?

       You also ask why one can be disfellowshipped for taking a blood transfusion but not for taking blood fractions. While both may affect the life of an individual, the expression "life-sustaining" in connection with blood transfusions is synonymous with the idea of taking in food for nourishment. In this regard both whole blood and major components of it carry nutrients, oxygen, and other nourishment to the body. It is this aspect of taking in blood, that is, to provide nourishment, that links blood transfusions with the Biblical prohibition. Note that "Questions From Readers" of the July 1, 1975, issue of The Watchtower stated: "The Bible specifically forbids the taking of blood to nourish the body.-Gen 9:4; Lev. 17:1-14; Acts 15:28, 29." The motive or reason for taking a serum is significantly different. It is not to feed the body, as would be the case if there was an eating of whole blood (or a major component thereof) by mouth or by having it transfused intravenously. Rather, the antibodies that have been separated out are administered for the purpose of immunizing the body against a certain disease. While blood fractions in certain situations can be lifesaving, they do not operate to feed and nourish the body and in this way sustain life but, rather, utilize other mechanisms.

       We trust the above comments will be helpful to you in reasoning on this matter from the Scriptures. We take this occasion to send our warm love and Christian greetings.

With you in Jehovah's service,

[Signed: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc.]


Next Letter # 2


free hit counter