Some of the Watch Tower/JWs leaders' history of rulings about blood and
the medical use of it
You can have ham, lettuce, tomato, or bread, but you can't have a ham
Blood transfusions aren't the only things the Watchtower leaders have had
distinctive medical ideas or rules about
A brief summary of what a claimed Biblical guarantee of the JWs leaders'
blood transfusion ban has to contend with
Judging something on its own terms
Some of the Watch Tower/JWs leaders' history of rulings about blood and
the medical use of it
Thanks to the Freeminds and AJWRB web sites for many of the following quotes.
In 1892, the 1st Watch Tower president, Russell, wrote about Acts 15:29: "He
(James) further suggested writing to them merely that they abstain from pollu-
tions of idols (verse 29), and from things strangled and from blood--as by eat-
ing such things they might become stumbling blocks to their Jewish brethren (See
1. Cor. 8:4-13)--and from fornication." ("Zion’s Watch Tower," Nov.15, 1892,
p.1473 reprints) (This is a pretty common interpretation, by the way.)
In 1909, Russell, didn't consider the food rules of Acts 15 to be created as
law for Christians but as given to the Gentiles in consideration of the Jews who
followed Mosaic law as "necessary to the peace of the church."
"These prohibitions had never come to the Gentiles, because they had never
been under the Law Covenant; but so deeply rooted were the Jewish ideas on this
subject that it was necessary to the peace of the church that the Gentiles
should observe this matter also.
"(1) Abstain from sacrifices to idols;
(2) and from blood,
(3) and from things strangled:
It is our opinion, therefore that these items thus superadded to law of love
should be observed by all spiritual Israelites as representing the divine will."
("Watchtower," April 15, 1909)
(Reversal on eating meat with blood in 1927 or 1939--see if you can play "fol-
low the rule reversals")
According to the AJWRB web site, "In 1921 there were 100,000 cases of smallpox
in the U.S. alone, with mortality as high as 40%." I'll also recommend you look
at the information at the web sites at the links given below. The JWs leaders'
teaching against vaccination (see 1923 below) wasn't reversed (see 1952) till
well after vaccinations arrested the high mortality rate from it, in the U.S. at
least, in the 1940's.
In 1923, vaccinations were first opposed. "But the dog-rabies-vaccine imposi-
tion is the latest.... Rabies! When it has been shown conclusively that there
is no such thing as rabies (hydrophobia)!...a mental hoax.... Vaccination,
summed up, is the most unhygienic, barbaric, filthy, abhorrent, and most danger-
ous system of infection known. Its vile poison taints, corrupts, and pollutes
the blood of the healthy, resulting in ulcers, syphilis, scrofula, erysipelas,
tuberculosis, cancer, tetanus, insanity, and death." ("The Golden Age," Jan.1,
1923, p.214) (Vaccination wasn't discouraged due to an outlook on blood, but
see the entry for 1931.)
In 1927, "human goodness" is shown in the response to "a little lad needing a
blood transfusion to save his life"--"fifteen hundred people had gathered, urg-
ing that they be given an opportunity to give some of the blood to help the lit-
tle fellow." ("The Golden Age," 1927, pp.582,583)
(Reversal on blood transfusions in 1945)
In 1927, "God told Noah that every living creature should be meat unto him;
but that he must not eat the blood, because the life is in the blood." ("Watch-
tower," Dec., 1927, p.371)
In 1931, "Vaccination is a direct violation of the everlasting covenant that
God made with Noah after the flood. Quite likely there is some connection be-
tween the violation of human blood (vaccines) and the spread of demonism...sex-
ual immorality...Vaccination has never saved a human life. It does not prevent
smallpox." from "The Sacredness of Human Blood (Reasons why vaccination is un-
scriptural)." ("The Golden Age," Feb.4, 1931, p.293)
(Reversal on vaccinations in 1952--see if you can play "Follow the rule rever-
In 1939, "Life is in the blood" and "the blood must not be eaten." (The Watch-
tower," Feb.15, 1939, p.62)
Left to right: Lyman Swingle, Sullivan, Grant Suiter, Hugo Reimer, Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz, and Milton Henshel
In 1945, "Blood transfusions (are) pagan (and) God-dishonoring" "See, then,
that the Most High and Holy God gave plain instructions as to the disposition of
blood, in harmony with his everlasting covenant made with Noah and all of his
descendants; and see that the only use of blood that he authorized in order to
furnish life to humankind was the use of it as a propitiation or atonement for
sin; and seeing that it was to be done upon his holy altar or at his mercy
seat, and not by taking such blood directly into the human body; therefore it
behooves all worshipers of Jehovah who seek eternal life in his new world of
righteousness to respect the sanctity of blood and to confirm themselves to
God's righteous ruling concerning this vital matter." ("The Watchtower," July 1,
(The transfusion of whole blood remained banned, allegedly by scripture, from
here to the present. Vaccinations were also banned at this point, but rules on
vaccinations, then minor and major blood fractions, then blood storage, wa-
A Wikipedia article about blood transfusions is at the next link:
Blood fractions can be major blood fractions (plasma, red blood cells, white
blood cells, and platelets) or minor blood fractions (clotting factors, albumin,
growth factors, and immunoglobulins).
In 1951, "What are the Scriptural grounds for objecting to blood transfu-
sions?" "Jehovah made a covenant with Noah following the Flood, and included
therein was this command: ‘Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood
thereof, shall ye not eat.’ (Gen. 9:4)" ""And let the transfusion enthusiasts
with a savior-complex ponder the fact that on many occasions transfusions do
harm, spread disease, and frequently cause deaths, which, of course, are not
publicized." "Each one decides for himself, and bears the responsibility for
his course. Jehovah's witnesses consecrate their lives to God and feel bound by
his Word, and with these things in view they individually decide their personal
course and bear their personal responsibility therefore before God."
On Dec.15, 1951, Clayton J. Woodworth, editor of "The Golden Age" and "Conso-
lation" (which preceded the 1946 and onward JW tract "Awake!") passed away.
In 1952, according to the AJWRB site: "In a letter dated April 15, 1952, vac-
cinations, such as smallpox, are now officially allowed. Many Witnesses have
already been taking them for a dozen years or so, and the Society has known that
smallpox vaccination does not contain blood ever since being advised of this by
a Witness named William Cetnar. It is certainly reasonable to speculate that
the ban wasn't officially lifted until 1952 out of respect for Clayton J. Wood-
worth who was so strongly opposed to vaccines." ("The Watchtower," Dec.15, 1952,
In 1952, "After consideration of the matter, it does not appear to us to be in
violation of the everlasting covenant made with Noah, as set down in Genesis
9:4, nor contrary to God's related commandment at Leviticus 17:10-14. Most cer-
tainly it cannot reasonably or Scripturally be argued and proved that, by being
vaccinated, the inoculated person is either eating or drinking blood and consum-
ing it as food or receiving a blood transfusion. Vaccination does not bear any
relationship to or any likeness to the intermarriage of angelic 'sons of God'=
with the daughters of men, as described in Genesis 6:1-4. Neither can it be put
in the same class as described at Leviticus 18:23-24, which forbids the mingling
of humans with animals. It has nothing to do with sex relations." ("The Watch-
tower," Dec.15, 1952, p.764)
In 1954, "We are told that it takes one and a third pints of whole blood to
get enough of the blood protein or "fraction" known as gamma globulin for one
injection. And since from the foregoing it must be admitted that such use of
human blood is highly questionable, what justification can there be for the use
of gamma globulin? Further, those interested in the Scriptural aspect will note
that its being made of whole blood places it in the same category as blood
transfusions as far as Jehovah's prohibition of taking blood into the system is
concerned.--See Leviticus 17:10-14; Acts 15:20,28,29." ("Awake!" Jan.8, 1954,
(Reversal on this minor blood fraction, and allowance for all blood fractions
made clear, in 1958)
In 1958, "While God did not intend for man to contaminate his blood stream by
vaccines, serums or blood fractions, doing so does not seem to be included in
God's expressed will forbidding blood as food. It would therefore be a matter
of individual judgment whether one accepted such types of medication or not."
("The Watchtower," Sept.15, 1958, p.575)
(Reversal on fractions on Sept.15, 1961)
(There is confusion about the Watchtower statements about blood serums so the
blood serum ban is reinforced in 1963.)
According to Wikipedia: "Serum refers to blood plasma in which clotting fac-
tors (such as fibrin) have been removed naturally by allowing the blood to clot
prior to isolating the liquid component."
In 1961, "Is it wrong to sustain life by administering a transfusion of blood
or plasma or red cells or others of the component parts of the blood? Yes!
...the prohibition includes 'any blood at all.'" ("Blood, Medicine and the Law of
God," 1961, pp.13,14)
In 1961, "They know that if they violate God’s law on blood and the child dies
in the process, they have endangered that child’s opportunity for everlasting
life in God’s new world." ("Blood, Medicine and the Law of God," 1961, p.54)
In 1961, "The blood in any person is in reality the person himself...poisons
due to personal living, eating and drinking habits.... The poisons that produce
the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood. Moral insan-
ity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes, petty crimes--these
often follow in the wake of blood transfusion." "While it may produce seemingly
beneficial results at the moment, it may ultimately take its toll in disease and
stillborn children as a direct result of such an ill-advised course. Even if no
physical harm results to the patient or to one's off-spring, violation of the
law of God sin God's new world." ("The Watchtower," Sept.1, 1961, pp.564,565)
In 1961 blood transfusions became a disfellowshipping offense. Blood frac-
tions weren't allowed for medical treatment. ("Respect for the Sanctity of
Blood," Sept.15, 1961)
(The JWs leaders' banned uses of blood aren't listed in the New Testament as
activities that require someone to be expelled; 1 Cor.5:11,12.)
In 1961, "If you have reason to believe that a certain product contains blood
or a blood fraction…if the label says that certain tablets contain hemoglobin
this is from blood...a Christian knows, without asking, that he should avoid
such a preparation." ("The Watchtower," Nov.1, 1961, p.669)
In 1961, "The Bible is very clear that blood could properly be used only on
the altar; otherwise it was to be poured out on the ground. (Lev. 17:11 - 13)."
(Partly reversed for the temporary storage of one's own blood for hemodilution
In 1961, "The entire modern medical practice involving the use of blood is ob-
jectionable from the Christian standpoint. Therefore the taking of a blood
transfusion, or, in lieu of that, the infusing of some blood fraction to sustain
one's life is wrong."
"As to the use of vaccines and other substances that may in some way involve
the use of blood in their preparation, it should not be concluded that the Watch
Tower Society endorses these and says that the practice is right and proper.
However, vaccination is a virtually unavoidable practice in many segments of
modern society, and the Christian may find some comfort under the circumstances
in the fact that this use is not in actuality a feeding or nourishing process,
which was specifically forbidden when God said that man was not to eat blood,
but it is a contamination of the human system. So, as was stated in The Watch-
tower of September 15, 1958, page 575, 'It would therefore be a matter of indi-
vidual judgment whether one accepted such types of medication or not.' That is
still the Society's viewpoint on the matter.--Gal.6:5." ("The Watchtower," Nov.
1, 1961, pp.669,670)
In 1963, "As to blood transfusions, he knows from his study of the Bible and
the publications of the Watch Tower Society that this is an unscriptural prac-
tice. (Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:28,29)." "The Christian may not be well versed in med-
ical matters. Shall he call his congregation servant or the Society? That
should not be necessary, if he is prepared to carry his own load of responsibil-
ity. He need only ask the doctor: 'From what was the plasma taken?' 'How are
the red cells obtained?' 'Where did you get this substance?' If the answer is
'Blood,' he knows what course to take, for it is not just whole blood but any-
thing that is derived from blood and used to sustain life or strengthen one that
comes under this principle.
Someone may argue with you that the Scriptures are referring to the 'eating'
of blood but that blood is not taken into the digestive system during a trans-
fusion. True, but the fact is that by a direct route the blood serves the same
purpose as food when taken into the stomach, namely, strengthening the body or
sustaining life." ("The Watchtower," Feb.15, 1963, pp.123,124)
(Reversal on fractions in Nov., 1964)
In 1964, "Some doctors who are Jehovah’s witnesses have administered blood
transfusions to persons of the world upon request. However, they do not do so
in the case of one of Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses. In harmony with Deuteron-
omy 14:21, the administering of blood upon request to worldly persons is left to
the Christian doctor’s own conscience.
"Would it be a violation of the Scriptures for a Christian to permit a veter-
inarian to give blood transfusions to a pet? By all means, to do so would be a
violation of the Scriptures. To use blood for transfusion purposes, even in the
case of an animal, would be improper." ("The Watchtower," Feb.15, 1964, pp.127,
(Different.... That's due to the JWs leaders' ideas added to what I call the
"pour and bury" verses--see p.18. A JW is to dispose of any blood taken from a
body, but a JW doctor can give a non-JW a blood transfusion, though a JW can't
have a veterinarian give a blood transfusion to their pet.)
In 1964, "Inoculation is, however, a virtually unavoidable circumstance in
some segments of society, and so we leave it up to the conscience of the indi-
vidual to determine whether to submit to inoculation with a serum containing
blood fractions for the purpose of building up antibodies to fight against dis-
ease." "Therefore, whether a Christian will submit to inoculation with a serum,
or whether doctors or nurses who are Christians will administer such, is for
personal decision." ("The Watchtower," Nov.15, 1964)
(Reversal for blood fractions in 1975)
In 1967, "Whereas the Mosaic law with its provisions about fat was abolished
when Christ died as a sacrifice, the Apostolic Christian Council of Jerusalem
reaffirmed God's law to Noah and applied it to the true Christian congregation.
Christian fathers are obliged to teach this law and enforce it with regard to
their minor children, for by God's law the fathers are the spiritual, religious
guardians as well as the domestic parental caretakers of their underage chil-
dren. The Christian witnesses of Jehovah today recognize that fact and follow
the divine rule of conduct. They endeavor to keep their children from violating
God's law to Noah and also the Jerusalem Council's decree. (Eph. 6:4) Rightly
they try to protect their children from taking foreign blood into them." ("The
Watchtower," Dec.1, 1967)
In 1975, "Certain clotting 'factors' derived from blood are now in wide use
for the treatment of hemophilia, a disorder causing uncontrollable bleeding.
However, those given this treatment face another deadly hazard: the Swiss medi-
cal weekly Schweizer Med Wochenschrift reports that almost 40 percent of 113
hemophiliacs studied had cases of hepatitis. 'All these patients had received
whole blood, plasma, or blood derivatives containing [the factors],' notes the
report. Of course, true Christians do not use this potentially dangerous treat-
ment, heeding the Bible's command to 'abstain from blood.'" ("Awake!" Feb.22,
(Reversed for Factor VIII or IX depending upon who you asked in 1975--see the
listing for 1983 below)
Some of the 1975 to 1978 Governing Body concerns about blood transfusions are
revealed in the non-JWs book "Crisis of Conscience," 1983, by Raymond Franz, who
was a Governing Body member through that period and resigned in 1980.
He wrote that hemophiliacs who had written or phoned headquarters were told
they could take a clotting factor derived from human blood, Factor VIII or IX,
once as "medication," but doing it more than once would be "feeding" on blood.
The Governing Body voted on June 11, 1975, to allow hemophiliacs to take the
blood fraction repeatedly. Some who had written or phoned before, whose ad-
dresses were on record, were told, but not many others. An address wasn't made
to all the JWs about it until June 15, 1978 (see below). It's not known how
many JWs died for not having the inside information about it. See "Crisis of
Conscience," 1983, by Raymond Franz, pp.106-107 and 358-359.
Raymond Franz also wrote about some of the Governing Body concerns about blood
transfusions in chapter nine, "Blood and Life, Law and Love," of his book "In
Search of Christian Freedom," 1991.
(The above reversal for Factor VIII or IX made clear to all in 1978)
In 1978, "What, however, about accepting serum injections to fight against
disease, such as are employed for diphtheria, tetanus, viral hepatitis, rabies,
hemophilia and Rh incompatibility?.... This seems to fall into a 'gray area.'"
"Hence, we have taken the position that this question must be resolved by each
individual on a personal basis.... How concerned should a Christian be about
blood in food products?.... This may call for a degree of care.... Christians,
individually, must decide what to do." ("The Watchtower," June 15, 1978, pp.29-
(The rest of the fraction ban reversed to make fractions allowed in 1982)
In 1982, "While these verses are not stated in medical terms, Witnesses view
them as ruling out transfusion of whole blood, packed RBCs, and plasma, as well
as WBC and platelet administration. However, Witnesses religious understanding
does not absolutely prohibit the use of components such as albumin, immune glob-
ulins, and hemophiliac preparations; each Witness must decide individually if he
can accept these." ("Awake!" June 22, 1982, p.25)
In 1983, "It is with this in mind, and not just to honor the requests of Jeho-
vah's Witnesses, that Denton Cooley (of Houston, Texas) has performed open-heart
operations now for over seven years, limiting transfusions wherever possible by
substituting hemodilution, diluting the patient's blood with a glucose and hepa-
rin solution. If this method has given excellent results since then...one won-
ders why it has not been extended to present-day surgery." ("Awake!" March 22,
in 1983, "But what if the doctor says that, during surgery or in the course of
other treatment, your blood would be channeled through equipment outside your
body, and then, right back in? Would you consent? Some have felt that, with a
clear conscience, they could permit this, provided that the equipment was primed
with a nonblood fluid. They have viewed the external equipment as an extension
of their circulatory system. Of course, situations vary, and it is you that
must decide." ("United in Worship of the Only True God," 1983, p.158)
(Reversal on blood storage in 1990)
A Wikipedia article about intraoperative blood salvage is at the next link:
"Consider a man who is told by his doctor that he must abstain from alcohol.
Would he be obedient if he quit drinking alcohol but had it put directly into
his veins?" ("Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1985, 1989)
An AJWRB article about a blood transfusion not being a matter of eating, and
the misrepresentation of the issue by the JW leaders, is at the next link.
In 1989, "The faith of Jehovah's Witnesses is under attack from all sides--by
the clergy of Christendom who hate the Kingdom message we take from house to
house, by apostates who collaborate with Christendom's clergy, by medical au-
thorities who want to impose blood transfusions on us and our children, by athe-
istic scientists who reject belief in God and the creation, and by those who try
to force us to compromise our neutrality. All this opposition is orchestrated
by Satan, the ruler of darkness and ignorance, the enemy of accurate knowledge."
("The Watchtower," Dec.1, 1989, p.12)
In 1990, “Contrary to how some today reason, God’s law on blood was not to be
ignored just because an emergency arose…our Life-Giver never said that his
standards could be ignored in an emergency.”
"...a transfusion is a tissue transplant."
"A healthy person may tolerate a 50 percent loss of red blood cell mass and be
almost entirely asymptotic if blood loss occurs over a period of time."
"...to force blood on a Christian would be the equivalent of forcible sex--
"Each year thousands die as a result of transfusions; multitudes more get very
sick and face long-term consequences."
"Witnesses believe that blood removed from the body should be disposed of, so
they do not accept autotransfusion of predeposited blood. Techniques for intra-
operative collection or hemodilution that involve blood storage are objection-
able to them."
("How Can Blood Save Your Life?" 1990, pp.4,8,14,20,22,27)
(Reversal on blood storage to a matter of conscience in 1995)
In 1990, "Do Jehovah's Witnesses accept injections of a blood fraction...?
Each must resolve the matter personally before God." ("The Watchtower," June 1,
In 1991, "How strenuously should a Christian resist a blood transfusion that
has been ordered or authorized by a court? God's law must be obeyed! ...if a
court-authorized transfusion seemed likely, a Christian might choose to avoid
being accessible for such a violation of God's law.... If a Christian did put
forth very strenuous efforts to avoid a violation of God's law on blood, author-
ities might consider him a lawbreaker or make him liable to prosecution. If
punishment did result, the Christian could view it as suffering for the sake of
righteousness." ("The Watchtower," June 15, 1991, p.31)
In 1994, the JWs leaders called attention to some of those children who'd mar-
tyred themselves, or whose parents martyred them, for the sake of the JWs lead-
ers' rules, given by the JWs leaders as God's rules, about the medical use of
blood and major blood fractions--"thousands of youths died for putting God
first"--for their infamous "Awake!" of May 22, 1994.
In 1995, "Because of such dangers, the Center for Bloodless Surgery utilizes
alternatives to blood transfusions, including the reinfusion. of a patient's own
blood, a technique that some Witnesses may find unobjectionable under certain
circumstances." ("The Watchtower," Aug.1, 1995, p.30)
In 2000, in October the Journal of Medical Ethics publishes what amounts to a
crushing defeat of the Watchtower's lawyer Ridley's positions in the medical
ethics community. These groundbreaking articles open the door to the larger
In 2000, the 1982 ruling on minor blood fractions was reaffirmed: the medical
use of fractions of red cells, fractions of white cells, and fractions of plate-
lets were a matter of conscience. "The Watchtower, June 15, 2000.
And Hemopure, made from fractionated cow blood, was ruled as acceptable for
In 2000, the Watchtower Society issued a press release in response to an arti-
cle in a June 14, 2000, issue of a British newspaper that said the JWs leaders'
policy on blood had changed:
"If one of Jehovah's Witnesses is transfused against his or her will, Jeho-
vah's Witnesses do not believe that this constitutes a sin on the part of the
individual. This position has not changed."
"If one of Jehovah's Witnesses accepts a blood transfusion in a moment of
weakness and then later regrets the action, this would be considered a serious
matter. Spiritual assistance would be offered to help the person regain spirit-
ual strength. This position has not changed."
"If a baptized member of the faith willfully and without regret accepts blood
transfusions, he indicates by his own actions that he no longer wishes to be one
of Jehovah's Witnesses. The individual revokes his own membership by his own
actions, rather than the congregation initiating this step. This represents a
procedural change instituted in April 2000 in which the congregation no longer
initiates the action to revoke membership in such cases. However, the end re-
sult is the same: the individual is no longer viewed as one of Jehovah's Wit-
nesses because he no longer accepts and follows a core tenet of the faith. How-
ever, if such an individual later changes his mind, he may be accepted back as
one of Jehovah's Witnesses. This position has not changed."
The Watchman web site at the next link adds that JWs who have a blood tranfu-
sion and are repentant can remain JWs with restrictions. "A letter reportedly
sent by the Society to all the local branches allegedly dictates that Witnesses
who receive transfusions should not serve in any '"privileged capacity", such as
an elder, ministerial servant or pioneer.'” (“Breaking News” [Online])
As shown in the listings for 1990 and 1991, the JWs leaders' stance included
that JWs parents should refuse a blood transfusion for their child and disobey
man's rules when they conflict with what the JWs leaders' allege are God's
rules. JWs were told to avoid a court authorized transfusion for their child as
if it was rape. (They could go to a JW midwife instead of a hospital, too.)
But they could remain JWs parents if the transfusion was administered out of
their hands or remain JWs, in a restricted way, if they had a moment of weakness
by agreeing to a court authorized transfusion (if there was time before the
child died) then acted repentant about it afterward.
In 2004, the June 15, 2004 Watchtower expanded on the June 15, 2000 article.
Some JWs learned that hemoglobin was now allowed as a matter of personal choice.
(Insiders and members of the Associated JWs for Reform of Blood (AJWRB) have
known for four years. JWs had been using Polyheme and Hemopure when it was
available in clinical trials, too.)
As of this writing, 2009, the medical use of Whole blood and major blood frac-
tions--red and white cells, platelets, and plasma--have been banned for over
sixty years by the JWs Governing Body's doctrine.
The fatalities are boasted about by the JWs leaders as martyrs--see the list-
ing above for 1994 and compare it with the listing for 1989 in the timeline on
p.6. There, the JWs leaders' regard for the fatalities of JWs followers, large-
ly due to the elitist blundering of JWs leader Rutherford (see the listings for
"The Declaration of Facts," June 25, 1933, and Feb.9, 1934 on p.6), in Germany
during WWII is that the JWs fatalities were the only martyrs of WWII. (You
might want to make sure you read that last phrase right.)
You can have ham, lettuce, tomato, or bread, but you can't have a ham sandwich
Thanks to Raymond Franz, "In Search of Christian Freedom," 1991, 2002, for the
idea of the name of this segment.
The JWs leaders' doctrine allows the use of hemoglobin, interferons, inter-
leukins, etc. (see p.35) as a matter of personal conscience. This is due to the
JWs leaders' tempering of their debatable stance on "blood" with their debatable
stance on "things offered to idols" (pp.37-39).
At 1 Cor.8; 10-11:1,17-34, Paul compares eating at an idol temple with eating
the Lord's Supper: whether or not one has true worship of the one God makes the
difference in both situations--if one gives thanks to the one true God for
everything and eats at an idol temple, they're not an idolater, and if one eats
at the Lord's Supper without faith, they're just getting something to eat. The
imagined bad connotations about the things involved at the idol temple are only
a worry to the weak of faith (1 Cor.8:7; 10:20-29). Exceptions to freedom about
it are circumstantial considerations of others, abstaining to not leave the mis-
taken impression of idol worship on another, not blanket rules about taboo
things. This is reaffirmed at Col.2:16-23.
(Did you ever hear of an atheist who worried that they might be a Christian
and have to go to church once a week because they ate something near a church?
It doesn't work that way by common sense or apostle Paul.)
The JWs leaders can't credibly claim "144,000" righteousness and use what Paul
calls weak faith in making rules that ban things for such connotations at the
same time, only affect exclusiveness.
The JWs leaders' teach that "things offered" are foods that are close to an
idol ceremony or temple, or offered by an idolater to partake of in an idola-
trous understanding of it, so carry an idolatrous connotation regardless of per-
sonal conscience and strength of faith. A follower can eat the food if they're
far enough away from the situation that the food doesn't have an idolatrous con-
notation. Likewise, the JWs leaders lately interpret minor blood fractions as
being a small enough part of whole blood that they don't carry the connotation
of whole blood as determined by the JWs leaders' interpretation of the scrip-
Blood transfusions aren't the only things the Watchtower leaders have had dis-
tinctive medical ideas or rules about
Many are shown in the Watchtower publication "The Golden Age," 1919 to 1937,
which was named "Consolation" to 1946, and since then has been called "Awake!"
See the section on "Quackery and Pseudoscience" in the article on "The Golden
Age" at the next link.
Examples from a broader range of years are given in the article at the next
1881--1890's Russell didn't just make some general statements comparing spir-
itual health to physical health. I followed through on a couple of sources that
indicated something more:
A list of Watchtower quotes from an elder are at the next link. It says Rus-
sell used healing handkerchiefs in the 12th from the last entry for 1874:
An apologist for Russell, reslight, at the next link gives examples of Rus-
sell's published statements that the especially consecrated, Jesus and the
apostles, healed others but not each other, and that the apostles could become
sick but only used handkerchiefs to heal others. In those statements, Russell
(who claimed to be a special spokesperson for a literal 144,000 especially
righteous Christians) doesn't offer to send such handkerchiefs to heal others.
However, I found statements that substantiate the claim that Russell did some-
thing that amounts to the same thing as promoting his career of claiming to be
an exclusive leader of a literal 144,00 by promising healing. He persuaded his
readers to consider donating to the best Christian cause (guaranteeably implying
himself) as more important for not just their spiritual but physical health--
that giving money for spiritual health (as in to him) was more important than
saving money in case of medical need.
I looked at this claim:
"At first Russell solicited donations under the pretension that the donators
would neither die nor get sick 'except by God’s will.' When some did die the
offer needed amending. But miraculous healings allegedly continued, including
arthritics, deaf people, and even old persons restored to youth. This was dis-
continued in the 1890s." ("Watch Tower Reprints," Jan., 1881, p.181) ("Watch
Tower Reprints," 1883, pp.436,437; 1885 pp.748,749; 1885 pp.782,784)
There's some coverage of the Jan., 1881 issue, except it's p.187, at the Free-
minds forums. Also click the jehovahs-witness.net link for "Donate and you will
not get sick or die":
A bigger coverage of Russell's quotes on the issue is shown at the listing for
"Health insurance payments" at 1881 in the timeline on p.1a at this site.
In those quotes, Russell didn't want his readers who donated money to him to
worry that they wouldn't have enough money for medical care if they needed it.
He claimed that now that the "little flock" of Russell and followers had been
chosen as the only ones to go to heaven (guarateeably implying he was an especi-
ally consecrated one or such), a follower who followed his teachings about how
to follow the Lord properly would be less liable to get sick and might be one of
those who received a miraculous healing.
His prophecy claims otherwise encouraged donations by promising that followers
would join him soon in a Rapture to heaven instead of facing life and possible
sickness on Earth, too.
Clayton J. Woodworth, editor of "The Golden Age" (1919-1937) and "Consolation"
(precursors of the 1946 and onward JW tract "Awake!"), besides being against
vaccinations as a Satanic plot, as mentioned before, vilified the medical pro-
fession, distrusted the idea that germs cause sickness, and taught that sickness
causes germs, etc.
Clayton J. Woodworth
1920 "Bloomington, Illinois, has produced a prodigy. He can give an immedi-
ate answer to almost any mathematical question, and reels off millions as the
ordinary citizen handles units. Ask him how many years, days, minutes or
seconds in one's life, and out comes the answer faster than one can write it. A
noon-hour diversion is to memorize and repeat all the freight car numbers on the
trains that dash by at the station.
"Tell him it is 155 miles to Chicago, and ask how many pounds of rails in the
track at eighty pounds to the yard, and without hesitation comes the answer,
'534,448,000.' Try him on an automobile wheel thirty inches in diameter, for
the number of revolutions made in going to Chicago, and the result is,
'104,476.' Taking silver dollars one and a quarter inches across, ask him how
many it takes to belt the 25,000 miles around the earth: the answer is
'1,267,200,000.' Ask the total of all the numbers up to 9,600 and you get
'46,084,000.' The total up to 78,000 is given as '3,042,939,000.' The number
of bricks required to lay a brick pavement for the 3,578 miles from New York to
San Francisco, the pavement to be sixty feet wide and the bricks each eight by
two inches, is '10,201,377,600.' Divide 68,719,476,736 by 32,768; and the pro-
digy says, '2,097,152.'
"Mr. Stong has had this talent from boyhood, and says that he sees the answers
instantly standing out in front of him, and that there is no particular mental
strain in this test.
"Two explanations are given for the strange abilities of such prodigies. One
is that no one takes the trouble to check up the answers and that any string of
figures is enough to satisfy the hearers. Perhaps some readers would like to
check up the answers and see if they are correct. Another explanation is that
such prodigies do these wonders, not by the power of their own minds, but that
they are possessed by an evil spirit that has the powers of the spirit plane and
can give the audigy a vision of the answer at once."
You might give them a break considering people didn't understand savant syn-
drome and such back then. But isn't the Devil supposed to be the father of lies
(John 8:44)? What would he be doing helping people tell the truth? Why would
he help people do math? "Could I have the name of your accountant?" "The Dev-
il." "I've heard he's good--look what he did for Rainman."
Beginning in 1925 and ending (probably related to Woodworth passing away on
Dec.15, 1951) with a Sept.22, 1953 "Awake!" tract, the JWs leaders sold an exam-
ple of an ERA, Electronic Reactions of Abrams, quack cure device invented by Dr.
Albert Abrams. Dr.R.A.Gamble, a JW, invented the version of it the JWs leaders
endorsed--it was called the Electronic Radio-Biola.
1925 "I have named this new discovery, which I believe will be epochal in the
history of the treatment of disease, and which I am exclusively announcing in
THE GOLDEN AGE prior to its general publication elsewhere, The Electronic Radio
Biola, which means life renewed by radio waves or electrons. The Biola auto-
matically diagnoses and treats diseases by the use of the electronic vibrations.
The diagnosis is 100 percent correct, rendering better service in this respect
than the most experienced diagnostician.. The principle of operation of the
Biola is the collection...of the disease vibrations...the fluid containing the
same waves or vibrations enters the body, meets the disease waves and destroys
them... This is a great step forward, marking the Biola as the most valuable
treatment apparatus obtainable today, and well worthy of notice in the columns
of a magazine like THE GOLDEN AGE.." ("The Golden Age, April 22, 1925, p.454)
(An advertisement for the sale of "The Electronic Radio Biola" for $35 appears
on page 479)
1926 "Disease (is) caused by fermentation and heat...not germs. (It cannot
be) proven (that) any disease was caused by germs (including) so-called infec-
tious diseases...chicken pox and small pox." ("The Golden age," Aug. 25, 1926,
751/4) (The WTBTS position was that all scientists had it backwards--diseases
1929 Several decades began of articles warning against the dangers of cooking
with aluminum: "Avoid the use of aluminum cooking utensils and alum baking pow-
ders as they are injurious to your health, poisoning your blood stream...."
1931 "Mr. West mentions so-called 'syphilis.' Why does he not prove that
there is such a disease? He simply accepts the existence of the protean monster
on faith.... We do well to bear in mind that among the drugs, serums, vaccines,
surgical operations, etc., of the medical profession, there is nothing of value
save an occasional surgical procedure. Their whole so-called 'science' grew out
of Egyptian black magic and has not lost its demonological character." ("The
Golden Age," Aug.5, 1931, pp.727,728)
1934 "The Journal of the A.M.A. is the vilest sheet that passes the United
States mail.... Nothing new and useful in therapeutics escapes its unqualified
condemnation. Its attacks are generally ad hominem. Its editorial columns are
largely devoted to character assassination.... Its editor (Morris Fishbein) is
of the type of Jew that crucified Jesus Christ." ("The Golden Age," Sept.26,
Rutherford is the 2nd man from the left and Woodworth is the 3rd man from the right
1935 "Aspirin--The Menace of Heart Disease" (aspirin is alleged to cause
heart disease and other illnesses) ("The Golden Age," Feb.27, 1935, pp.343-4,
and Sept. 23, 1936, p.822, "Consolation," Oct. 5, 1938, p.7)
1937 "APPENDICITIS. Take one ounce each of elder blossom, peppermint and yar-
row and simmer in three pints of water for twenty minutes. Sweeten with old-
fashioned black treacle (molasses), and take a wineglassful every fifteen min-
utes until relieved. It must he taken hot every time, and must be continued,
sometimes for twenty-four hours. Do not be afraid of the perspiration caused,
or if you vomit. You will be better off with an empty stomach. Use the leaves
left over from each infusion to make a hot compress to cover the abdomen. No-
thing should be eaten until a cure is brought about, which is usually certain,
even in severe cases.
"CANCER. Vegetarians do not have cancer. It is rare among the Jews,
whoso flesh foods are carefully inspected. A natural diet has been known to
cure cancer. A remedy that has cured many severe cases is made of violet
leaves, yellow dock and red clover tops. Simmer one ounce of each in three
pints of water for twenty minutes. Strain and take a wineglassful every four
hours. For external sores made a poultice of the used herbs and apply fresh
night and morning." ("The Golden Age," Feb.10, 1937, pp.309,310)
In 1937, "At Los Angeles a youth of 20 years was caught in the act of choking
a woman of 75. Arrested, and suspected of three murders, he claims the urge to
kill came as a result of serum inoculations...." ("Consolation" Dec.1, 1937,
Probably related to Woodworth passing away on Dec.15, 1951:
In 1953 "Vaccinations are no longer considered feeding on blood and no longer
considered related to sex relations." ("Make Sure of All Things (Hold Fast to
What Is Fine)," 1953, 1957, 1965, p.48) (?????--"Don't worry, this won't hurt--
it'll just be a little pr**k." Sorry.)
In 1961, donating eyes for transplant was up to one's conscience. "The
In 1963, "Psychiatry stresses, 'Know thyself,' as if an enlightened self-love
is sufficient for successful living. More than ignoring God, analysts often
contradict God by advising those with guilty consciences that fornication,
adultery and sodomy are not wrong in themselves. The charge rightly has been
made that such counsel tends to exterminate the conscience." ("The Watchtower,"
Jan.15, 1963, pp.37,38)
In 1967, organ transplants were banned as being cannibalism. "The Watchtow-
er," Nov.15, 1967.
1971 "How Is Your Heart?...The heart, nevertheless, is intricately connected
with the brain by the nervous system and is well supplied with sensory nerve
endings. The sensations of the heart are recorded on the brain. It is here
that the heart brings to bear on the mind its desires and its affections in ar-
riving at conclusions having to do with motivations. In reverse flow, the mind
feeds the heart with interpretations of the impulses from the senses and with
conclusions reached that are based on the knowledge it has received, either at
the moment or from the memory.
"There is a close interrelationship between the heart and the mind, but they
are two different faculties, centering in different locations. The heart...more
significantly (has) our emotional and motivating capacities...built within it.
Love, hate, desire (good and bad), preference for one thing over another, ambi-
tion, fear--in effect, all that serves to motivate us in relationship to our af-
fections and desires springs from the heart....
"It is significant that heart-transplant patients, where the nerves connecting
the heart and brain are severed, have serious emotional problems after the oper-
ation...the new heart in turn registers few, if any, clear factors of motivation
on the brain. To what extent the nerve endings of the body and the new heart
are able to make some connections in time is not clear, but this cannot be ruled
out as one of the several factors causing the serious mental aberrations and
disorientation that doctors report are observed in heart-transplant patients.
"These patients have donor-supplied pumps for their blood, but do they now
have all the factors needed to say they have a 'heart'? One thing is sure, in
losing their own hearts, they have had taken away from them the capacities of
'heart' built up in them over the years and which contributed to making them
who they were as to personality." ("The Watchtower," March 1, 1971, pp.133-9)
(Heart transplants were taught as changing personalities.)
In 1975, "Is the turning of people from the clergy to the psychiatrists a
healthy phenomenon? No, for it really is a case of jumping from the frying pan
into the fire. They are worse off than they were before.... That (psycholo-
gists and psychiatrists) are not the ones to go to for help when one is de-
pressed and beset with all manner of problems is to be seen from the fact that
suicides among them are twice as frequent as among the population in general...
"what is needed at such times is not worldly psychiatrists who may wholly ig-
nore the change that the truth and God’s holy spirit have made in one’s life and
who know nothing of their power to help one put on a new Christian personality.
Rather, what is needed at such times is a mature Christian in whom one has con-
fidence and who is vitally interested in one’s welfare and who will not shrink
back from administering needed reproof or counsel so that one may get healed."
("Awake!" Aug.22, 1975 p.25)
(23% in N. America are supposed to suffer some kind of mental illness. 23%
out of currently 6 1/2 million...never mind.)
In 1977, Blood transfusions are matters of cannibalism. "Jehovah's Witnesses
and the Question of Blood," 1977, p.41.
In 1980, organ transplants are a matter of conscience. "The Watchtower,"
March 15, 1980, p.31.
If the same allowance to have an organ transplant without requiring it to be
considered a matter of eating human flesh is applied to undermine the JWs lead-
ers' teaching that a blood transfusion needs to be thought of as like eating hu-
man blood, that removes one of the forced points the JWs leaders have made about
In 1984, a bone marrow (where blood is created) transplant is a matter of
conscience. "The Watchtower," May 15, 1984, p.31.
A brief summary of what a claimed Biblical guarantee of the JWs leaders'
blood transfusion ban has to contend with
I could do this a lot quicker than I do here. "The Bible doesn't refer to
modern medical uses of blood, let alone white cells, etc. Goodnight--drive
safely." (Rom.4:15 "But where there is no law, neither is there violation.")
If a JWs follower that goes door to door was to cover their view quickly, they
might say that they refuse transfusions because the Bible says "abstain from...
blood" (the Council of Jerusalem of Acts 15:20,29; 21:25)--that they have the
most face value interpretation. But this takes the phrase in a broad sense out
of context. The JWs leaders' view actually has the most strained and the least
face value interpretations of some of the most pertinent verses that "abstain
from...blood" has to jibe with of the ones I review (pp.12-42).
To give the JWs leaders' doctrine a consistent internal logic, the JWs lead-
ers' ruling forces the point:
- about how to interpret Gen.9:3,4 about blood, literal or figurative, animal
blood removal and the degree of it, and how it relates to the whole world and
other verses thereafter, including Deut.14:21 and the events of Act 15 and
Paul's writings about food,
- about how to interpret "blood" and "things offered to idols" compared to
how they were understood in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish religion, at the
time the Christians used those phrases in Jerusalem of Acts 15,
- about which issues the Acts 15 rules addressed--the JWs leaders' literature
doesn't clearly explain a balanced coverage of how the "common view" on p.35 re-
lates the concerns of Acts 15 to scriptural and historic context and the phras-
ing of the same two food rules, let alone prove the JWs leaders' interpretation
over it (omitted evidence),
- about council participant apostle Paul's later writings on food (usually
omitted evidence in JWs leaders' literature on the topic since Paul denies a ban
of a food per se and only recommends circumstantial or optional conscience prob-
lem abstinence; given among the more forced forced point treatments if in-
- of a lesser idea of degree of animal blood removal (about half--it qualifies
as a generalization if more than half) in rules given to Noah and Moses though
the OT doesn't clarify which degree of removal was the original idea in writing
and the Jewish view of the time of Acts 15 is different,
yet a broader idea than context indicates for what "abstain" from a food per-
tains to, eating, and add modern medical uses of blood to what could be in-
tended for "abstain from...blood" in Acts 15,
and a broader idea than context indicates--slaughtered clean animal blood was
to be disposed of--for what I call the "pour and bury" verses (pp.18,19) of Mo-
saic law to add that they require the disposal of any blood that comes from a
body, and add that "abstain from...blood" at Acts 15 carries that broadened
- and force that all blood (not just Jesus'--Eph.1:7) is indicated as being
of special holy value for Christians in Hebrews 9 and 10, etc., and that it
therefore couldn't be used for medical treatment.
The JWs leaders' alleged guarantee about the blood verses of Acts 15 should
have a structure of guarantees to stand on or the whole structure falls and
their claim isn't a guarantee. Such a guarantee isn't made by a recently-
created combination of possibilities, forced points, and fabrications until the
truth is bent out of shape just to give it a sense of internal logic, with no
sign of God to usher it into being necessary. The JWs leaders' rules on blood
transfusions puts the "forced" in forced point to the point of running roughshod
over the issue.
You might choose it as a personal belief, although I wouldn't recommend anyone
having a hope commitment for something which can result in unnecessary death,
but it isn't truly a doctrine a church can require of a follower as guaranteed
by a conservative Bible interpretation alone. Historical context doesn't help
indicate the JWs leaders' case, either--see my coverage of the issue to see a
lot of it that's omitted their presentation (pp.12-42).
The JWs leaders are the only ones that teach their particular set of ideas
that make up their doctrine of a ban of the medical use of blood. And JWs lead-
ers' literature has us recognize that the JWs leaders and writers are familiar
with the common seminary library research books and commentaries, etc.
If I should also assume that anyone who teaches something people could die
over would do their research about it, this means that anywhere in non-JWs lead-
ers' literature they looked, they saw the non-JWs leaders' views about it, in-
cluding non-forced explanations and alternate explanations about it. But in-
stead of honing their idea to whatever guarantees are honestly left to make, not
making them otherwise, they used this research, along with pressure for JWs to
avoid people and literature critical of distinctive JWs leaders' doctrines, to
decide how to force their forced points and decide what to leave out, to try to
keep JWs convinced of it and their own exclusive authority.
There's such a thing as sincerely believing in something merely possible.
But the JWs leaders'/writers' use of...
- forced points in teaching their distinctive/relatively distinctive doc-
trines, and/or of making a pretense of the best presentation of the opposing
view in alleged comparisons of views of JWs leaders' doctrines likewise, when it
seems most likely they'd know better, and/or
- occasionally using quotes of a variety of non-JWs leaders, even JWs (which
is weird), literature out of context to create the false impression of support-
ers for JWs leaders' views and opposition to opposing views, and/or
- omission of pertinent evidences, though it seems most likely they'd know
better than to exclude it (Paul's writings, after the Council of Jerusalem of
Acts 15, indicating he didn't have a blanket ban of a food per se are in the
JWs leaders' New World Translation of the Bible),
...in JWs leaders' written or approved literature meant to teach distinctive/
relatively distinctive JWs leaders' stances indicates something cynical instead
about their part in the literature sales mix (the prophet to profit ratio...sor-
ry). I don't remember certain basics of non-JWs leaders' ways of looking at the
JWs leaders' transfusion ban being brought up more than briefly alluded to, if
at all, in JWs leaders' literature on the issue, even when making a pretense of
comparing their minority view to others to make the case for it.
See some complaints that authors have made about the JWs leaders' misuse of
their research material on pp.1a,1c,5,6b,9, and 14.
Judging something on its own terms
Scriptural context itself weighs heavily in favor of giving the JWs leaders'
blood doctrine as a scripturally guaranteed idea only if it is one and not com-
bining merely possible recent interpretations and outside belief (unless a guar-
antee beyond the scripture is revealed by God through a prophet, indicated by a
sign of God explainable no other reasonable way, to stick with the rules of the
main source material, but see p.1a).
The Bible can be guaranteed as intending the teaching that, outside of how the
Lord may allow or direct it to happen, the killing of a person is a sin (Gen.9:
5,6; 14-15:1; Ex.21:12-14; Deut.5:17; Luke 22:35-38; John 15:13; Rom.12:17-13:4;
1 John 3:15-17). (I won't cover all such debates here, but one example would be
a Mosaic law follower required to execute a murderer. See a bunch of verses in
Ex.--Deut.. Another would be if Christians should think the police or military,
which are the same in many countries, can do that in their line of work of keep-
ing crime down. Rom.13:1-5.)
Over the couple of generations or so that one variety or another of the JWs
leaders' doctrine has been taught, there have been circumstances in which the
odds of refusing the medical use of blood or blood products carried a greater
chance of death than by contracting a blood-borne contagion when using it.
There are now a greater number of medical alternatives that are at least as suc-
cessful as some, if not all, medical uses of blood, mainly in the surgery and
emergency rooms. And the medical use of the minor fractions of blood have be-
come a matter of a JWs' personal conscience in the latest part of that period.
But the number of JWs and their children have grown through that period, too,
and non-blood alternatives aren't always available all over the world. It's
then important by scriptural context to determine if the JWs leaders' doctrine
is a guaranteed exception to the verses about harming or even taking a human
life without God's consent being a sin.
An adherent to the Bible teachings can't responsibly guarantee that the Bible
requires followers of it to do something that creates a greater chance of death
unless they're certain it's the objective fact anymore than they can fire a gun
for target practice into a darkened house unsure if there's someone in there who
could be wounded or killed. They couldn't responsibly tell someone else think-
ing of doing that with a gun that nobody is in the house when they weren't sure
of it, either.
Compare Ex.35:2; Num.15:32-36; and Matt.12:9-17. Under Mosaic law, working on
the Sabbath (unlike the eating blood rule) took a cut off penalty that specified
death. But Jesus demonstrated and explained that alleviating suffering was an
exception to the law about that. As he explains, if it's so regarding the suf-
fering of a lamb, how much more so regarding a human. I'd add if true regarding
a law that specified the death penalty, how much more so for one that didn't
clearly specify it? (See p.42 for possibilities about the Mosaic law "cut off"
penalties, which aren't required for Christians.)
The advancement of non-blood medical treatment has been sped by JWs acting as
guinea pigs by refusing the medical use of blood and blood products. If the JWs
leaders' doctrine is less than a guaranteed scriptural view, it makes a big dif-
ference in how to view what the Governing Body led those people to do. A Bible
believer doesn't determine which of two streets a murderous sniper is active on
by telling a group of believers the Bible needs them to walk down both, then
claim they acted out of the humanitarian concern of determining the safe street
for others. A proper scripture based act is to be honest about the situation.
If anyone in the group wants to play the guinea pig, that's their regrettable
choice, but you don't mislead them.
That said, best wishes to the JWs followers and I hope, especially due to the
JWs leaders' stance about restricted care, that many medical advances come soon.
The next link is about bloodless surgery, which has made some advances recently.
The previous pages showed some of the Governing Body's methods of teaching
other distinctive doctrines. I'll give a more balanced coverage than JWs lead-
ers' literature provides about the interpretation possibilities for, and history
related to, the scriptures pertinent to the JWs leaders' doctrine on the medical
use of blood. So pack a lunch and bring a change of clothes--this is going to
take a while.