Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention – Program 4

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Joan Cetnar, Duane Magnani, Lorri MacGregor, David Reed; ©1999
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to take blood transfusions. What is the basis for this teaching? What have been the implications for members of the Watchtower Society?


Today on the John Ankerberg Show, you will meet four former Jehovah’s Witnesses who will share with you the startling evidence that proved to them that they had been deceived by their own religious organization.

David Reed became an atheist in his teens, went to Harvard University and after a year left in a determined search for God. Jehovah’s Witnesses befriended him and he joined the Watchtower, but over time, reading his Bible and examining the claims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he realized that he had been deceived. He left the Watchtower organization and put his belief in Jesus as his Savior.

Lorri MacGregor became a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses at age eighteen and later almost died refusing a blood transfusion. When she began to honestly question what the Watchtower taught, she was excommunicated and cut off. Eventually her study of the Bible brought her to true belief in Jesus Christ.

Duane Magnani was a child of Jehovah’s Witness parents. He left the Watchtower and later was recruited as an adult; eventually the evidence led him to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Duane is now recognized as a fully qualified expert in court cases on beliefs and practices and has testified in over 110 child custody cases.

Joan Cetnar was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness home and was one of the heirs to the S.S. Kresge fortune. Joan married a Jehovah’s Witness leader and joined him in Brooklyn Headquarters in New York. She was able to observe firsthand how the president and other leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses lived. She left the Watchtower Society and became a Christian when she realized the Watchtower was not teaching her what the Bible said. Her convictions separated her from her family and cost her an inheritance which would have made her a millionaire.

We invite you to listen as our guests present the evidence they discovered concerning the false teachings and claim of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.

Program 4: Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention
Blood Transfusions

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re here in Pennsylvania with people, the majority of whom were Jehovah’s Witnesses and left the Watchtower Society for reasons that we’re talking about. They are now called “Witnesses Now for Jesus.” On stage we have four former Jehovah’s Witnesses that left the Watchtower Society because of some of the things that we’re talking about and put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible. If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, I’d like you to stay tuned and listen today, because what they have to say is very important, especially concerning the doctrine the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been espousing for years concerning blood transfusions.
David, I’m going to start with you on this program. We’re all familiar with the untimely deaths of innocent people at Jonestown and Waco, Texas, and “Heaven’s Gate” in San Diego, so people across our country, they’ve got this word cult as a real dirty word here, okay? And how do Jehovah’s Witnesses compare with these other groups in terms of being dangerous and dangerous as a cult?
Reed: Well, those other groups made the headlines because you saw large numbers of dead bodies that could be scanned on the TV cameras. Jehovah’s Witnesses dying, refusing blood transfusions or organ transplants or vaccinations, are dying one at a time, usually in a very private situation without making the news. But occasionally the Watchtower has brought them together. On May 22, 1994 in the Awake! magazine, they show the picture of about 26 young people on the front cover and they called these “Youths Who Put God First.” What it turns out, though, is that these young people died refusing blood transfusions. On page 2 of this same May 22, 1994 Awake! magazine it says concerning these young people, it says, “In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms with blood transfusions the issue.” So, the Watchtower gives us some idea of the numbers of people dying refusing blood transfusions.
Ankerberg: Lorri, you were almost a statistic because of the doctrine of blood transfusion. Tell me why.
MacGregor: Well, I was a young mother in childbirth with my first child. I had complications followed by a massive hemorrhage, and they told me in order to live I had to take blood. I even had the nurses there in tears begging me not to let my child be an orphan and to please take the blood. But I stood firm. I was a Jehovah’s Witness. I would have laid down my life for that organization. I took four units of blood substitute, and somehow I pulled through and I lived. I was really in a near-death situation. I was a big hero at the Kingdom Hall. I was held up as an example. People phoned me and said what a lovely example of faith it was that I had nearly died at this time. But you know, it was eight years before my blood returned to full normal. That’s how far down I was. It was really a very difficult time in my life.
Ankerberg: Duane, a lot of us that are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, we don’t get it. What in the world is the Watchtower Society teaching about blood transfusions? Where did this start? Charles Taze Russell didn’t have this prohibition, did he?
Magnani: No. The Watchtower organization under Russell did not refuse blood transfusions. But it’s just another example of changing “new light.” The “new light” would be superior.
Ankerberg: So when did it first come in, then, this vaccination thing?
Magnani: That was in the 1920s and developed through the 30s and 40s and actually became quite crisis, particularly during the World War II period when you had large amounts of men isolated from others in the encampments.
Ankerberg: How did it start via vaccination? I don’t follow. How did that start?
Magnani: Well, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that the serums from the vaccinations were poisonous to the body, and so all of this results from a lack of medical understanding.
Ankerberg: Okay, so they tied that poison thing to… what was the next step?
Magnani: The next step was injecting anything into your body, and blood was the next step.
Ankerberg: Okay. And so when did they come out with their full-blown thing on blood transfusions?
Magnani: In 1945 they started teaching that blood transfusions were a violation of God’s law. By 1961 it was now a disfellowshipping offense so that if you got a blood transfusion in a dire emergency or you allowed your child to get a blood transfusion, you were kicked out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ankerberg: Duane, how many people died because of this doctrine?
Magnani: They don’t tabulate it, but in talking with literally thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses over a long period of time now and hearing the testimonies of people, it has got to be in the thousands, John.
Ankerberg: Okay, but now you’re telling me also—and maybe some of the Jehovah’s Witnesses listening in right now don’t realize that you’re saying things are starting to change on this doctrine—so here’s Lorri who almost dies upholding this doctrine, and all of a sudden the thing is starting to slip. It’s starting to change. What’s happening?
Magnani: Well, there’s an actual bombshell as to what has actually happened without the Jehovah’s Witnesses realizing it. Up until 1980, the Society had forbid organ transplants because they considered it actually cannibalism—taking someone’s body into your body, alright? But by 1980, apparently so many Jehovah’s Witnesses had died for lack of the medical care that they could have received with an organ transplant that they changed the teaching. Now, what’s interesting, and what the Jehovah’s Witnesses are now beginning to understand, is that an organ transplant contains whole blood. In fact, in the Watchtower of May 15, 1984, the question is pointed out to Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Could a Christian accept a bone marrow transplant,” now, get this, “since blood is made in the marrow?”
In other words, when you get a bone marrow transplant, you are receiving another person’s blood, and it’s like a time bomb. That bone marrow is there for only one purpose and that’s to produce human blood in your body—another person’s human blood. So when you receive a bone marrow transplant, and that’s allowed by Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and all other types of transplants, you are receiving whole blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses are receiving blood today.
Ankerberg: Let me see if I’ve got this right. In the name of God, you can’t have a blood transfusion, but you can have an organ transplant. And you can have bone marrow stuff done. Okay, now, Joan, something else is happening in Bulgaria. Bring us up to speed here.
Cetnar: Okay. In Bulgaria the Watchtower organization wanted to have their charter renewed as a religious organization there, and because they would not allow blood transfusions and they would disfellowship if someone received a blood transfusion, the Human Rights Commission took the Watchtower to court basically and said, “If you don’t change this, then your charter will not be renewed.” And so they essentially changed it that now it was up to the individual to decide if he wanted a blood transfusion.
Ankerberg: The Watchtower Society itself said that it was now up to the individual in Bulgaria.
Reed: I have the document. This is a document from the European Commission of Human Rights, March 9, 1998. And it contains the voluntary agreement between the Watchtower Society and the government of Bulgaria and in that agreement—I’ll read directly from it—the Watchtower said that “members should have free choice in the matter for themselves and their children without any control or sanction on the part of the association.” So that meant Jehovah’s Witnesses could choose a blood transfusion and there would be no penalties for making that choice.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break and, Lorri, you showed me that the charter of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was amended and it was amended to say that they had complete legal control of all the Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world, including Bulgaria. So now, when they make this little statement over here that Bulgaria is free to choose, I want you to explain to all the Jehovah’s Witnesses that are listening why they’re not free to choose here in America. We’ll do that when we come back.

Ankerberg: We’re back. And just before we went to break, we found out that Bulgaria has been allowed to choose whether or not they’ll have blood transfusions so that their Human Rights Commission there in Europe will not forbid them from existing.
Now, what’s interesting about that, Lorri, is you showed me some of the changes in the charter that were brought about, and I want to read one little statement in the charter of the Watchtower. It says, “The purposes of this Society are 1.) To act as the servant of, and the legal worldwide governing agency, for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.” So they’re the legal worldwide governing agency. In other words, God is speaking through them not only theocratically, but the fact is, legally we’re going to tell you what to do here.
Now, Bulgaria had to get permission from the boys in New York at the Watchtower. Now explain to all the Jehovah’s Witnesses that are listening in why they can’t make up their own mind about whether or not to have a blood transfusion; why you almost died and nobody said, “Listen, Lorri, we’ll let you choose.”
MacGregor: Well, wouldn’t it be lovely if that was binding on all the rest of the world and Jehovah’s Witnesses could really make a choice about blood. Jehovah’s Witness leadership thought they were doing something in an obscure little corner of the world before a non-religious commission that nobody would notice anyway, but they forgot about the Internet. The Internet was just buzzing with all this information and many questions were going back and forth.
So what does the Society do when they’re confronted with a lie? They throw up a great big smokescreen. I have here a letter from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to a person inquiring about what happens in Bulgaria, and here they say, “Does this agreement mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses have changed their stand in connection with medical treatment? No.” So they’re taking the hard line there and they’re saying if one refuses to uphold Bible standards, including the Bible standards regarding the misuse of blood, then this may at times lead to the scriptural action of disfellowshipping. So they did it in Bulgaria; it’s a matter of record. But, again, here’s the justified lie. They say in here that this has always been what they’ve done and it will be what they continue to do. This has always been their viewpoint. And it hasn’t.
Ankerberg: Duane, this is going to have to hit the fan.
Magnani: Yes. You know, it’s already causing dissension among Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, one of the most exciting things about this whole thing—and I couldn’t be more excited about this issue because I think it truly is life and death for people, and in fact it comes down to that for people to make a decision for Jesus Christ—but what’s so neat about it is, there was a tract that was just put out by people who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, alright? They are Associated for Reform on Blood. It’s a diverse group of Witnesses from all kinds of countries, including Elders and former members of hospital liaison committees. Those are the agencies that operate from the Watchtower Society with hospitals on blood transfusion issues. And they are now fighting. And we’ve been in contact with them. It’s a matter of all like-minded people, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to stand up right now particularly for the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t have the choice.
Ankerberg: Is the Watchtower in big trouble here? Could they be sued for this thing if they are the legal arm and they’re allowing some in another part of the world? Is this going to hit the fan legally?
Magnani: It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, because obviously you do have different rules for different Jehovah’s Witnesses. So as regarding the legal, I can’t speak as an attorney on that and I don’t want to, but I can say this. I have talked to a lot of doctors about this issue and they are scared because they don’t know exactly what the ethical part of this is. What are they supposed to do in a given situation for a person who is unconscious if he’s a Jehovah’s Witness? Where is he living at the time? What are they supposed to do? I think the legal ramifications are tremendous.
Ankerberg: Joan, take us back biblically. You fought this thing through in your own mind. You believed this thing about blood transfusions. Your own parents faked a vaccination on your arm and so on. But somewhere along the line you went back and researched what the Bible really had to say about this. Tell us what you found out.
Cetnar: Well, the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about blood transfusions in the first place. It’s an interpretation of the Watchtower Society that eating blood is transfusing blood because they tried to combine intravenous feeding with blood transfusion, and there is no connection between the two. We’ve got medical people in the audience that can tell you that very quickly that blood transfusion and intravenous feeding are different. The body does not feed on the blood that is being transfused into the body. And so this is what we began to see is that blood transfusion, intravenous feeding, are different. But I think what’s interesting and what Witnesses should realize is that in their own booklet, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood, on page 41 it says, “Blood transfusion is essentially an organ transplant.” And so it is. It’s just using a different word, “transfuse,” because we’re talking about liquid instead of a solid, basically. And so if a Witness would look in his own blood booklet, he’s allowed to have a transfusion.
Ankerberg: Yes; because if you can have an organ transplant, then you can have a transfusion.
Cetnar: That’s right.
Ankerberg: Lorri, what I am really curious about is the fact of, alright, you almost died upholding the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine about blood transfusion, namely, that you can’t have one. What made you go that far that you were willing to give your life for this thing?
MacGregor: It’s because above all else, at all times in my life, I have loved God above everything. And I really believed I was serving God in the Watchtower organization. I now know that I was deceived, but I was doing it because I thought God required it of me.
Ankerberg: Now, what I’m saying is, there are probably a whole bunch of other people out there that are listening that are right in the spot that you were at, where the Watchtower here in America is saying you can’t have one and they desperately need one. And they’re planning to tough it out and see if they live. And they may die. I want you to talk to those ladies right now. What would you say to them?
MacGregor: I would say to them that there is no biblical basis for refusing sound medical treatment, and if that takes a blood transfusion to save your life, so be it. There’s nothing in Scripture that would indicate that they could not have it. So, for goodness’ sakes, think of your families above the organization.
Ankerberg: And, David, you were in the organization and you left Harvard and didn’t return to Harvard simply because the organization put you in a different direction. How did you break the grip of the Society and the fear of going against the Society? You came to the conclusion that the Bible was saying one thing, the Society was saying something else, but you still had to cross the Society. How did you do that?
Reed: Well, we actually learned… my wife and I felt that we were relying on God and Christ, and as long as we were loyal to God and Christ, an organization could be either faithful or unfaithful. We saw the examples in Scripture, times when God’s organization in Israel consisted of unfaithful kings and unfaithful priests at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. And there were faithful individuals who were prophets who looked to God himself, and we felt that was the example to follow.
Ankerberg: Alright. I sure appreciate this information. Next week we’re going to talk about one of the key things that keeps Jehovah’s Witnesses from putting their faith in the Jesus of the Bible, and that’s the doctrine of the Trinity. If there’s only one God, how can the Father be God, the Son be God, and the Holy Spirit be God? They say, “Isn’t that a confusing doctrine?” And you guys all taught that it was and it was a satanic doctrine, and yet you changed your mind and we need to find out in a hurry how you did that and what evidence brought you to that conclusion to help a lot of other folks that want to know about that as well. We’re going to talk about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and how you might inform a Jehovah’s Witness that the Trinity is actually taught in the Bible; not the word but the concept, the teaching. We’ll talk about that next week.

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