(Investigator 77, 2001 March)

The Times of England reported:
 "Jehovah's Witnesses are to be allowed to accept blood transfusions after an extraordinary U-turn by leaders of the controversial religion. Elders have decreed that Jehovah's Witnesses who accept blood transfusions under life-or-death circumstances will no longer face excommunication from their religion." (2000 June 14)
Actually, there is no practical change. The article cited JW spokesman Paul Gillies who explained that anyone who "regretted this decision" [to accept a transfusion] would get "spiritual comfort and help. No action would be taken against them."  However if the blood recipient did not regret and repent: "they…would be viewed as having disassociated themselves from the religion."

Someone who "disassociates" himself gets treated the same as someone excommunicated/disfellowshipped – the person is shunned, not even greeted.  "Disassociation" occurs when a JW declares, usually by letter, that he is no longer a JW. The difference now – if he accepts blood without regretting it – is that he's treated as if he prepared such a letter when in fact he didn't.  Alternatively he is treated as if disfellowhsipped when in fact he's not.

A letter in another paper, Evening Standard, by Paul Gillies public affairs coordinator for JWs in Britain, confirmed:
The individual revokes his own membership by his own actions, rather than the congregation initiating this step, which happened until recent procedural changes. (2000 July 3)
Why did the Watchtower Society make this change that isn't really a change?

To achieve registration as a religion in Bulgaria the WTS, in 1998, agreed with the Bulgarian Government to allow JWs "freedom to choose … medical treatment…without any control or sanction…" (See report in Investigator No. 61) This agreement gave the impression that JWs now had different policies on blood in different countries. This impression had to be ended because the anti-blood doctrine is supposed to be from the Bible and the Bible is the same in all countries.

The "freedom to choose" part of the agreement the WTS tackled by telling JWs that they all choose to reject blood "as free moral agents". (The Watchtower 1998 March 15) Therefore every JW now claims to be against blood transfusion not because his religion teaches this but because he sees this taught in the Bible and freely follows it.

The idea that JWs follow the Bible on their own free initiative is, however, refuted because during the 20th century the sect changed thousands of its doctrinal interpretations. We would have to believe that thousands of people – and later millions – simultaneously got the Bible wrong thousands of times in identical ways without being under any pressure to do so!

In previous Investigator articles it was suggested that the JW leaders will hang on to their "bloody doctrine" in the hope that new medical technology will eventually make blood transfusions unnecessary.

Meanwhile, JWs keep dying needlessly. The Times article mentioned a 33-year-old mother, Beverley Matthews, who refused an emergency transfusion the previous January and died. The article also mentioned Brent Bond of Nottingham who changed his mind seconds before losing consciousness — and was saved.
(B S)

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: