The following letter was mailed to the Governing Body on March 15, 1998. They never responded.
ASSOCIATED JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES FOR REFORM ON BLOOD
P.O. Box 190089 – Boise, ID 83719-0089 – U.S.A.
Website: http://www.visiworld.com/starter/newlight/ Email: [email protected]
March 15, 1998
Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
25 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483
As you are likely aware, the Associated Jehovah’s’ Witnesses for Reform on Blood is a diverse group of individuals who are opposed to the Watchtower Society’s current policy of forbidding blood transfusions, and taking judicial action against members who make a personal and conscientious decision to accept blood, or any of the currently banned blood products, when alternative treatments are exhausted or not available.
Among our members are numerous elders and Hospital Liaison Committee officials, and various professionals in the medical and legal field. In different countries the contradictions in the Watchtower blood policy have been presented to representatives of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and there is an increasing concern about the Watchtower Society’s refusal to deal with this problem. Additionally, some in the group have concerns about possible judicial action being taken against them by representatives of the Watchtower Society.
It is not within the scope of this letter to discuss the theological reasons for our position. These are carefully spelled out at our Internet website – “New Light on Blood.” Rather it is to express our earnest desire to cooperate in working out a compromise, and avoid the cost and negative publicity of litigation, and further media coverage.
We are well aware of the unfortunate position the Watchtower Society finds itself in on this issue, and strongly suspect that fear of litigation from family members who have already lost loved ones maybe holding up desperately needed reforms.
Still, we are sincerely and deeply convinced that a beneficial change must be made. We believe this change can be accomplished in a manner similar to that employed by the Watchtower Society when it revised it’s policy on issues like vaccination, organ transplants, hemophiliac treatments, blood serums, albumin, intraoperative autologous transfusions, and so forth.
We realize that any compromise reached must insure that the Watchtower Society remains financially viable. By the same token, we cannot tolerate any scenario where hundreds, even thousands of our brothers and sisters must choose between disfellowshiping, and a necessary – and potentially life saving – blood therapy. It is for this reason we are already working to educate other Jehovah’s Witnesses as to all of the facts regarding blood transfusions, not simply those that support the current official Watchtower view.
We would like to convey our willingness to work with you in establishing a timetable for implementing the necessary reforms. In return, we ask that you negotiate in good faith, and agree not to take judicial action against members of the group that present the suggested plan, their families, or those who are assisting them in the reform effort.
For our part, we would be willing to cease our efforts to inform other Jehovah’s Witnesses as to the problems with the doctrine, and remove our official website – NEW LIGHT ON BLOOD, as well as the various foreign language translations currently on the Internet.
We ask that you give this matter the serious attention that it demands. Please familiarize yourselves with the compelling evidence that we have amassed regarding this policy. In recent weeks we have received hard copy on magazine articles appearing in both England and Norway regarding the reform effort, and have enclosed one such article with this letter. The media attention will continue to intensify, as will the public outcry. A few points that you should be aware of:
We are aware of the press release issued by the European Commission on Human Rights regarding your application (No. 28626/95) against Bulgaria. Your application reportedly states: “…there are no religious sanctions for a Jehovah’s Witness who chooses to accept blood transfusion and that, therefore, the fact that the religious doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses is against blood transfusion cannot amount to a threat to “public health”. It shocks us to learn of such statements, and it will shock other Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as the rest of the world if this becomes widely known.
In May an article written by one of the physician’s in our association will appear in a major medical journal. Additionally, we are working with physicians to design a brochure for use with their Jehovah’s Witness patients.
We are already in consultation with attorneys in several countries, and are prepared to establish a non-profit corporation, and begin fund-raising for a media campaign, mass mailings, and litigation in lands where we anticipate a favorable outcome.
It is with heavy hearts that we consider the necessity of such measures, and it is our hope and desire to handle this matter internally. We shall await your timely response on this matter.
The Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood