Has the Watchtower Ever Lied, Covered Up, or Changed Important Doctrines, Dates, and Biblical Interpretations?/Program 5

By: Lorrie MacGregor; ©1989
The doctrine the Jehovah’s Witnesses have concerning blood transfusion. What does it cost the people that are Jehovah’s Witnesses. A portion of a Jehovah’s Witnesses called “disfellowshipping” or “excommunication.”


Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re dealing with a documentary film during this series concerning the Watchtower Society, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we’re showing excerpts from that film to you. We invited the president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fred Franz, to come and be a part of this program but he declined our invitation for his own reasons. I find that interesting, since all Jehovah’s Witnesses across the country must go door-to-door witnessing for their faith. He declined the opportunity to come himself or to send a spokesman to share his views with millions of you all at once.

Tonight we’re going to turn to a very serious area: the doctrine that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have concerning blood transfusion. This doctrine results in people losing their lives. Obviously, if you believe that the Watchtower Society is the channel for God to speak to all of humanity, if you really believe that, then it’s logical that you would follow what they say. And if they say “no blood transfusions,” then you obey them. But what does it cost the people that are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I want you to watch this excerpt so you’ll get a feeling of what they go through.

Excerpt from Witnesses of Jehovah

Narrator: The control tentacles of the Governing Body extend even into the life and death world of medical treatment.
Gipe: In the 17th Chapter of Leviticus in the 10th verse it states that one should not eat blood of any sort. This means that God does not want us to sustain our life off of the life of some other creature. And for that reason – because God has forbidden it – we abstain from taking blood.
Mr. Blizzard: The blood issue in the back of our minds was bothering us, because as Jehovah’s Witnesses, if we freely gave a blood transfusion to our daughter, we’d be excommunicated, we’d be disfellowshipped. Well, the doctors finally came to our room and it was just like an ultimatum. They said, “Listen, we know from our records that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness; we know that you don’t take blood transfusions.” And the doctor looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Blizzard, you have to make a decision: ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ whether your child lives or dies.” I remember going over to the bed and she had these cords and wires keeping her alive – life support systems – and holding this limp child that was our only daughter, and just going over to the window and looking out and watching the clouds in the sky and just started to weep. And I said, “Oh, God Jehovah.” and I prayed to Jehovah.
Mrs. Blizzard: We just had a real distinct impression that we were supposed to obey God’s law and go by what we had always been taught, and that we were to let our daughter die. And so we just called the doctors back in and told them that we just had to let her die, that we had to obey God’s law.
Mr. Blizzard: About a half an hour later, a sheriff deputy came to our room and gave my wife and I both citations and they told us that “a court order has already been issued. Your daughter is going to get the blood.” And they also warned the staff of the hospital not to allow us to take Jenny out of the hospital.
Mrs. Blizzard: And we were charged with “child neglect and abuse.”
Mr. Blizzard: The Witnesses, there were multitudes of them that came up to the room, just swarmed the room, giving us Watchtower articles about artificial blood and “You just can’t let your child take that blood!” And just putting this heavy guilt trip on us. The elders were relieved to find out that there was still time to get Jenny out of the hospital, and they would come up to me and say, “Hey, I’ve got a plan. We can hire a helicopter. We can sneak her out of this hospital. Just unhook the tubes and we’re gone.” And I said, “Wait a minute! You can’t do that! It’s against the law. I’ll be charged with murder.” They said, “That’s a chance you’re going to have to take.” And I just told them, “Look, I just can’t let my child die in that way.” And the elders were just so upset. They left in a huff. They were mad. And one of the elders said on the way out, he looked me in the eye and said, “You know what? I hope your daughter gets hepatitis from that blood.” And that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was just broken. Here, my own people, God’s organization, turning against me, cursing me, because I just wanted to see my child live. And so they left, and we were all alone. Even my own parents didn’t come to see us.
P. Gregerson: I think many times Jehovah’s Witnesses have really never thought the blood thing through. It’s either right or it’s wrong. If it’s wrong, the Watchtower Society is guilty of causing the deaths of thousands of people. That’s wrong. It’s evil.
Raymond Franz: I think the evil needs to be seen for what it is. It’s this concept, this organizational concept that the organization is everything. You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that this organization is God’s one channel that all of God’s direction for people on the earth comes through this channel. And the men on the Governing Body believe it. I believed it. And that’s the reason I was party to some things in the past that today I feel shame to think that I even had part in them.

Ankerberg: You know, as I watched that, Lorri, I can’t help but think that, you know, Jim Jones led over 900 people into the jungle and they lost their life there, and the world was shocked. And yet, as I think about all the Jehovah’s Witnesses through the last years of time that quietly one by one by one refused to have blood transfusions and died quietly in hospitals all over this country, I wonder why it is that our country is not as shocked about that. For those that might be facing that right now, what does the Bible actually say? What is the evidence concerning this doctrine that the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold up?
MacGregor: Well, it’s interesting that in prior years Jehovah’s Witnesses were forbidden to have vaccinations. And they used all the same Scriptures to forbid vaccinations that they now use to forbid blood. And as soon as you’ve committed yourself to the organization, you’re given a booklet called Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Question of Blood, and you’re expected to obey it completely, even should a family member die because of your decision.
So I want to take a few minutes and look at the Scriptures that are brought up in that booklet and straighten matters out with the Word of God. Genesis 9:4 is quoted first and it reads this way: “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” The Scripture is not saying, “Don’t take blood.” It’s not even saying, “Don’t eat blood.” It’s saying, “You shall not eat flesh with its life, its blood.” So what the Scripture was saying to the Jews was, “Don’t eat unbled meat. When you kill an animal, let the blood out onto the ground and then go ahead and eat the meat afterwards.” But it doesn’t imply anything more than that. Jehovah’s Witnesses, you see, use the term “eating blood” and equate it with transfusing blood. So any Scriptures that talk about eating blood, they say, “Well, you’re just by-passing your stomach and you’re putting it directly in your veins and your body is using it to nourish you, therefore it’s ‘eating blood.’” And so you must realize that as you read on.
They quote another Scripture, in Genesis 9:5-6, which reads, “And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require…the life of man; whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses are told this Scripture says don’t take blood transfusions. This Scripture doesn’t say anything of the sort. If you read it, it’s talking about murder or manslaughter. It involves the taking of life, and the person whose blood was shed in this Scripture died. Now, this is hardly the case with blood transfusions. The person donating the blood doesn’t die, and the person receiving it often has their life saved. So, the Bible is not saying anything that even remotely concerns their practices and their beliefs.
We should look at some examples, too, in the Old Testament where people did eat blood, because that would be the equivalent of Jehovah’s Witnesses taking blood today according to their doctrine. There’s an account in 1 Samuel 14:31-32 where the Israelites were out in battle, and it brings out that they ate sheep, oxen and calves with their blood. Now, what happened to these ones that were so unfaithful as to eat blood when they were told to pour it out on the ground? Well, there wasn’t even any punishment inflicted, and there isn’t even any notice of them repenting of any kind. So, nothing dreadful happened to them. A bolt of lightning didn’t come down and get them.
And what about a Jew that was under the law of God and had to obey it? What if a Jew ate blood; that is, he took an animal that didn’t have its blood poured out; it maybe died of natural causes or was torn or something and he ate it and it didn’t have the blood poured out? Was he guilty? What happened to him? Sure, he was guilty under the law. Leviticus 17:15 gives the penalty. It says, and I quote: “And when any person eats an animal which dies, or is torn by beasts, whether he’s a native or an alien [and here’s the penalty], he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean.” It was the mildest penalty under the law. “Go take a bath and wash your clothes and don’t do it again.” And we know there were many harsh penalties under the law but they weren’t for blood.
Also, the law and blood was never binding upon Gentiles. If someone chose to live in the camp of Israel and they were a Gentile, then they generally fell in and obeyed it if they converted to the Jewish faith. But if we read Deuteronomy 14:21 we find the law on unbled flesh says this, and I’m quoting: “You [that is “you Jews”] shall not eat anything which dies of itself. [But] “You may give it to the alien who is in your town and he may eat it, or you can sell it to a foreigner.” So, I say to Jehovah’s Witnesses, you know, you know you’re Gentiles. Only the 144,000 are allowed to be “spiritual Jews.” So even in those days the Gentiles could eat blood with no penalty. So, surely Jehovah’s Witnesses today can take blood transfusions, because they’re Gentiles. They’re not “spiritual Israelites.”
And in the New Testament, Jehovah’s Witnesses like to lift one phrase out of Acts 15 where it says, “Abstain from blood.” [Acts 15:20, 29]They only quote one phrase: “Abstain from blood. That means no blood transfusion.” But they never really read it in its context. Verse 20 says, “But that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.” Verse 29 mentions again, “Abstain from… things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourself free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
Now, as we consider these Scriptures, once again, what is the context? What is the setting? Well, it isn’t even eating blood like it was in the Old Testament. All these things mentioned together here are concerned with the temple rituals that were going on in the heathen idolatrous temples of the time. These were the temples that offered prostitutes to the idols, they had fornication rites, they used animal blood in their rituals and they strangled the animals and flung them around and did all kinds of things. For a Christian to participate in this would, of course, be blasphemous; and no Christian would want to have any part of it. So they were told to abstain from these things in their entirety. It isn’t even a teaching on blood, it’s a teaching on the temple practices. So, Jehovah’s Witnesses, it took them a long time to decide you would lose your eternal life for taking blood, but they have not got a biblical leg to stand on with this terrible doctrine.
Ankerberg: And they also changed the one on vaccination and on the fact of body organs could not be transplanted either. Is that correct? They changed their doctrine on that.
MacGregor: Yes. They’re always having “new light.” It’s interesting that blood transfusions didn’t even become an issue until 1948, and then it took them 13 years to decide that people taking blood were worthy of death. Of course, people smoking are also worthy of death.
Ankerberg: The reason that we’re pointing this out, obviously, is because it’s very important. Some people say, “Are you attacking the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?” No. Let me read to you a quote from the second president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this is what he said and we’re just following what he said.
If the message Jehovah’s Witnesses are bringing to the people is true, then it is of greatest importance to mankind. If it is false, then it is the duty of the clergymen and others who support them to come boldly forward and plainly tell the people wherein the message is false.
Who said this? The second president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judge Rutherford. And he said it in the Golden Age magazine on page 252. Now what we want to go to next is, “What happens to all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who decide to take a blood transfusion? They will be excommunicated, disfellowshipped. There’s been over a million Jehovah’s Witnesses that have gone through that, and we want you to look at the next segment that will explain to you just what they’ve experienced.

Excerpt from Witnesses of Jehovah

Narrator: One of the most intimidating devices used by the Watchtower Society is the threat of appearing before a judicial committee of elders. Public censure, even disfellowshipping, can be the sentence of this powerful court. The inflexibility of Watchtower policies has led to thousands of instances of mental distress, even suicide. Dottie Hite’s family experienced the cold steel of Watchtower doctrine when her 16-year-old son Billy became romantically involved with a married Jehovah’s Witness woman. Conscience stricken, Billy turned to his parents.
Dottie Hite: He was very upset, extremely distraught, and he just didn’t know what to do. And he was making statements like, “I just can’t go on! I just can’t face this!” And he was threatening to commit suicide. My husband and I talked with him for hours and did everything and said everything we knew to do to try to get him to realize that there’s no situation too bad that you can’t face. But things just were not getting any better. So, as Witnesses, you’re taught not to seek the professional help of anyone, so we felt our hands were so tied we didn’t know what to do.
Narrator: The family turned to an elder of the congregation for help. The elder called Billy outside and his parents felt a solution was near. But their hopes were short-lived.
Mrs. Hite: We felt the elder would really have some kind of words of consolation for him. Even though no one condoned what he had done, this boy was reaching out for help and he did need someone to console him. And he felt so guilty and so at a loss. And instead the elder just said, “The committee will deal with you tomorrow.” He went out to my husband’s truck where he kept a small amount of paraquat in a container, and Billy took the paraquat and he took one swallow of it. We had him in the hospital within 20 minutes. Exactly three weeks later he died.
L. Chretien: The Witness who breaks these executive commandments is subject to disfellowshipping, the Watchtower’s word for ex-communication.
W.T.S. Rep.: Jehovah’s Witnesses practice removing those who refuse to conform to right principles from among themselves. The Bible refers to this and supports this practice as preventing leaven or false thinking or teaching from entering into the congregation, thereby maintaining its purity or its cleanliness.
Former Witness: I went to a Christian church with my husband and they disfellowshipped me for that.
Former Witness: They believe that when you leave the organization, you go to the devil anyway; but if you ever join a church, this is the ultimate sin. They believe that it’s committing spiritual fornication with the devil.
Former Witness: In my job assignment at the Brooklyn Bethel headquarters I would often process disfellowshippings which came in from all the various congregations in the United States. And they literally amounted to hundreds that would come in every week. It just shows the magnitude of the number of people that are disfellowshipped by the organization. And, of course, careful records are kept on all of this, including all of the intimate details of what the individual did, what kind of offense it was. Mainly they are sex offenses, but there are other offenses, too, like smoking, perhaps celebrating the holidays, things like that that people also got disfellowshipped for.
Gipe: If one actually becomes a dissenter to the point of becoming apostate, then we follow the Bible counsel and we never invite him into our house or would say a greeting to him.
M. Chretien: If a person resigns, they are treated exactly the same as a person who is disfellowshipped. When my husband and I resigned by sending in a letter of disassociation, we were not merely dropped from membership, we were actually shunned as being evil.
L. Chretien: Even today, if a Jehovah’s Witness is caught associating with us, they are subject to being disfellowshipped themselves. There is no honorable way out of this religion.
Former Witness: Because of the way that they had treated my family, I disassociated myself from the Watchtower Society, never dreaming that my children would refuse to have anything to do with me. In fact, I have a little two-year-old grandson that I’ve never even seen.
Former Witness: My two children and my five grandchildren are forbidden to see me, their grandmother, because of the Watchtower. What kind of an organization going under the heading of “Christian” would disallow the children and grandchildren to see their mother and grandmother?
M. Chretien: Every person will recognize the Watchtower’s practice of shunning as a cold, unloving, evil thing.
Narrator: The lives of the disfellowshipped are filled with the chill of loneliness, the never-ending sadness of separation from family members. To find something to believe in, to trust in, is very hard.

Ankerberg: Lorri, if that doctrine of disfellowshipping is actually biblical, then we can agree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But if it’s not biblical, then you have an organization that is showing no mercy to its people. What does the Bible actually say?
MacGregor: Well, the Bible does talk about disfellowshipping and there are instances where it is proper for one to be disfellowshipped out of a Christian congregation. For instance, when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he was shocked because there was a relationship going on between a stepmother and stepson. And he was shocked that they had not done anything about it. And down in 1 Corinthians 5:11 he said, “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is [and here’s the reasons] an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one.” And he goes on to say, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” [1 Cor. 5:13]
However, as we read the Scriptures on discipline in the Bible, it becomes very obvious that God disciplines those whom He loves, and there is forgiveness for people even for such things as sins of the flesh and so on. They can be dealt with, they can be corrected, and the person can receive mercy and forgiveness. We’re told in 1 John that if we confess our sins that Jesus is merciful and He’s righteous and He’ll forgive us of our sins. [1 John 1:9] The Bible does make a difference between unintentional sin and an ongoing practice of sin. And this person was practicing sin; was not showing repentance.
Now, you’ll notice that in this mention of the things that a person might go on doing without repentance, asking honest-hearted questions is not in this list. And most of the disfellowshipping today is done to people who are asking honest-hearted questions: maybe about the blood issue; maybe about who Jesus Christ is; maybe they’re asking about some of the false prophecies and why, if our organization is from God, did we have these false prophecies? Maybe they’ve decided they would rather read the Bible alone than with the aid of a Watchtower magazine. Maybe they smoke and haven’t been able to give it up. Any number of these things. And for that, they can lose their eternal life. There is no mercy.
Ankerberg: Yeah. And actually in 1 Corinthians Paul was talking about excommunication as being the final means to bring a person to repentance.
MacGregor: Right!
Ankerberg: And when he comes to repentance, you bring him back and you take him back in.
MacGregor: That’s right.
Ankerberg: Now, Lorri, for those who have been excommunicated – over a million Jehovah’s Witnesses – many of them have turned away from the things of God and they’ve cast away all religion. And they’re bitter inside, or they’re angry with the organization. They feel like they’ve been taken. We can understand that. What would be your advice, and maybe I’d like to ask you tonight to say a prayer for every Jehovah’s Witness, both those that have been kicked out and those that are in that would say, “This can’t be God’s organization. That is not biblical. That is not what God said. And I would like to know and serve the true God, and I’d like to receive His free gift of salvation where He doesn’t require any works, He just gives it because Christ died on the cross.” Would you say a prayer for us that they could say right where they’re at in their home right now? And if they mean it with all their heart, the Lord Jesus Christ would change their life and make them a Christian.
MacGregor: Right. Let’s just pray then. “Heavenly Father, I come to you at this time, and I am the most miserable of persons at this moment. I recognize that I served an organization and I am now out of it, whether I left by my own choice or they put me out for some real sin or some imagined sin. But, God, you’re not finished with me yet. I feel the tuggings that you have at my heartstrings, and, Lord, I do turn my life over to you, and I do give myself into your care and keeping. And I do ask that Jesus Christ, the real Jesus of the Bible, would come into my heart now and save me and turn my feet to the paths of righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Ankerberg: Amen. Next week, if you haven’t been persuaded by this information that you’re following a false organization, then tune in next week. We’re going to go through the false prophecies and document them where through the years the Watchtower Society has set a date and been wrong. If you don’t believe me, tune in next week.


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