The Jehovah’s Witnesses may be changing their approach to blood transfusions, as different branches of the movement allow their members to remain in fellowship with the group after undergoing the once-taboo medical procedure.
The Christian Research Journal (Volume 23, Number 2) reports that the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was quick to deny that they were making a substantial change in their teachings that condemned blood transfusions and disfellowshipped (or excommunicated) members who receive transfusions after news reports alleged that the group had loosened its prohibitions. The Watchtower — the JW’s leadership — said that no change had occurred, only a minor revision in procedural language. But observers and critics note that while the organization still condemns the practice, “several of the ways in which the doctrine is lived by Jehovah’s Witnesses have changed dramatically,” according to the magazine.
Members who do receive blood transfusions have a greater possibility of avoiding disfellowshipping. Most of the changes were ignited by a case in Bulgaria when the Watchtower Society agreed to allow members the choice in accepting transfusions without any “control or sanction on the part of the society” in order to be recognized by the government.
Although the society was quick to say that its doctrine had not changed, various branches have followed the Bulgarian lead. The Watchtower spokesman in Sweden told the press that “To receive blood is a question of personal conscience. Earlier members were disfellowshipped if they accepted a blood transfusion. This is not the case now.”
(Christian Research Journal, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Magarita, CA 92688-7000)