JWs & the Concept of Conscientious Objection

by Scully 22 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • hawkaw

    Thanks for all the hard work.

    Printing and will comment in a while if other things (hehehehe) don't get in the way.


  • Shakita


    Excellent post. What the Jehovah's Witnesses consider conscientious objection is actually an enforcement of Witness doctrine. For example, if a Witness years ago decided that his conscience would permit him/her to perform some type of non-service military activity, they would be disfellowshipped. Now, all of a sudden, it's up to the person's conscience. If that's the case it never was up to a person's conscience. It was in fact, the Watchtower Society's conscience.

    Also, I appreciated your comments concerning Jehovah's condemnation of Judah's disgusting practice of killing their own children by sacrificing them to Baal. As you pointed out, Jehovah was thoroughly disgusted with Judah for this, resulting in his desire to destroy the offenders. Would our Heavenly Father's reaction against child molesters be any different? Of course not. Yet, conscientious Witnesses disgusted with this gross injustice that dare speak against this are disfellowshipped. That is the equivalent of an ancient Judean running through a person with a sword. The effect is the same: silence the one exposing despicable practices.

    Hey Watchtower, you can't keep everyone silent. Your efforts are failing miserably. Thanks again for that Scully.

    Mr. Shakita

  • Warrigal

    Thank you, thank you, Scully! I would like to save this to my files for future use. Your gift of putting these concepts into words is wonderful. Thanks again.


  • MacHislopp

    Hello Shakita,

    I do like your comment:

    "For example, if a Witness years ago decided that his conscience

    would permit him/her to perform some type of non-service military activity,

    they would be disfellowshipped. Now, all of a sudden, it's up to the

    person's conscience. If that's the case it never was up to a person's

    conscience. It was in fact, the Watchtower Society's conscience."

    I know few who wrote a letter of disassociation to the WTBS Inc., just

    after "...the new light/idea/opinion/new viewpoint" and were quite upset

    for all the suffering endured for...nothing, only because some men decided

    "God's will "...on that matter!

    Greetings, J.C.MacHislopp

  • Kenneson


    Very well written. Good expose.' Thanks.

  • UnDisfellowshipped




    You should E-Mail [email protected] about this Thread, and he will probably add it to his Links on Free Minds!

    Scully said:

    Over the last 50 years, however, Jehovah's Witness doctrine - as published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in bi-weekly magazines such as The Watchtower and Awake! and numerous books - the viewpoint regarding alternate military service has been "refined" such that JWs can, in some instances and countries, remain members of their church in good standing and still perform alternate service in lieu of military service. The decision to do so is left to the individual JW's conscience.

    Watchtower Quotes on Alternative Military Service:

    The Watchtower, February 1st 1951 Issue, Page 77:

    13. Because they are wholly dedicated to God by their vows to him through Christ, Jehovahs witnesses are according to Gods Word no part of this world which is governed by the political systems. For this important Bible reason they tell officials of the government that they conscientiously object to serving in any military establishment or any civilian arrangement that substitutes for military service. Jesus told Caesars representative Pilate: My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source. Then Jesus told Pilate why he had not engaged in any military effort to liberate the Jews from Caesars domination, saying: For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. He came to be Jehovahs witness and to take followers out from this world, and make them Jehovahs witnesses like himself. So he told his apostles: Because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you. And when he prayed to God for them he said: They are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world. (John 18:36, 37; 15:19; 17:14, 16, NW) Concerning Jehovahs witnesses whom the world hated and mistreated Hebrews 11:38 (NW) says: The world was not worthy of them. So because they are no part of this world, they are forbidden to meddle and take part in its affairs and controversies. Spiritual Israelites are just as much separated from the nations and their armies as the natural Israelites were.

    Awake!, December 8th 1974 Issue, Pages 23-24:

    Authorities Begin to Listen

    On March 26, 1971, three representatives of Jehovahs witnesses met with a forum representing the ministries of Defense and Justice. The discussion lasted two and a half hours.

    One of the first points of discussion presented by the forum was this: That you wish no part in performing military service is clear and needs no further explanation. But what really is your objection to civil, alternative service?

    The Witnesses explained that it is not that they are opposed to civil service as such, but, rather, it is a matter of strict neutrality. Therefore, any work that is merely a substitute for military service would be unacceptable to Jehovahs witnesses.

    Other questions narrowed the issue down still further. When a person objects to military service, the governments agents declared, he passes from military jurisdiction on to civil jurisdiction and from that moment has nothing at all to do with the military. Why, then, is the accepting of such civil service still so objectionable?

    Willingly accepting such work is objectionable to the Christian because of what Gods law says about the matter: You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men. (1 Cor. 7:23) Civilian servitude as a substitute for military service would be just as objectionable to the Christian. In effect, he would thereby become a part of the world instead of keeping separate as Jesus commanded.John 15:19; 17:14-16.

    The discussion now took a new turn. What suggestion would you like to give as to the handling of cases involving Jehovahs witnesses? the committee asked. The answer: Exemption for the full-time as well as the part-time preachers of the Gospel, as the law provides. It was pointed out that members of certain religious orders in the Netherlands enjoy exemption, yet they do nothing more than live in an institution and brew beer.

    The committee voiced its concern over this suggestion by the Witnesses. It feared that this would open the gates for all kinds of persons whose only purpose was to avoid military service. But Jehovahs witnesses assured the committee that it would be nearly impossible for pretenders to get by the screening process that takes place in the local congregations of the Witnesses.

    Parliament Member Asks Questions

    Less than four months later a witness of Jehovah was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison on the military issue. His lawyer, Mr. Spermon, pleaded the case on the ground that his client was a minister of the Gospel. Then he issued a public statement in which he said, among other things: Catholic and Protestant theology students obtain exemption from military service as well as alternative civil service simply due to the fact that they attend a recognized theological school. Because Jehovahs witnesses in the Netherlands do not have a theological college and, moreover, their religion does not enjoy legal recognition as a religious denomination they do not come in line for the possibilities provided for in the law governing conscientious objection.

    "Man's Salvation Out Of World Distress At Hand" Book (1975), Pages 187-188:

    During World War I of 1914-1918 C.E., some of the remnant of spiritual Israel accepted non-combatant service in the fighting armies, and thus they came under bloodguilt because of their sharing in community responsibility for the blood spilled in war. However, in 1939, the year in which World War II erupted, all the remnant of spiritual Israel and also those of the great crowd of sheeplike companions declared themselves in favor of absolute neutrality toward all worldly conflicts, regardless of nationality. The publication of the article Neutrality in the issue of November 1, 1939, of The Watchtower set forth their position. They have not budged from this stand at any time since.

    1982 Year Book, Pages 226-227:

    As the number of Witnesses increased, the issue was continually brought to the attention of the public and the authorities alike. Finally, a law was approved decreeing that those who do not agree to do alternative service shall be sentenced to one single prison term, so that our young brothers are now given from 12 to 15 months imprisonment.

    The Watchtower, July 15th 1982 Issue, Page 26:

    Employment Factors to Consider

    When a Christian must make a decision about a certain employment, he should give thought first to what he would actually be doing. He might consider these two points:

    Is the particular work condemned in the Bible?

    The Bible condemns things such as stealing, idolatry and the misuse of blood, so a Christian could hardly engage in work where he directly promoted such things.

    Would doing the work so closely link a person with a condemned practice that he would be a clear accomplice?

    Even a janitor or a receptionist at a blood bank or a plant making only weapons of war is directly linked with work contrary to Gods Word.Leviticus 17:13, 14; Isaiah 2:2-4.

    Beyond what a person would actually be doing, some additional factors may have a bearing on the overall picture:

    Is the work a human service that is not Biblically wrong?

    A postman performs the service of delivering mail to homes and businesses. Would a Christian be condemned if among the places where he delivers mail are a few homes of thieves or a firm selling idols?Matthew 5:45.

    To what extent does one have authority over what is done?

    A Christian owning a store would not stock and sell idols or blood sausage. He is not in the same situation as an employee at a supermarket that sells cigarettes or blood pudding among thousands of other items.

    To what degree is the person involved?

    An employee working as a cashier and only occasionally handling cigarettes might conclude that his situation is not the same as another employee who stocks these on the shelves almost all day.

    What is the source of the pay or the location where it is done?

    In a land where the government gives a church oversight of all social programs, a man might get his paycheck from a religious corporation. But actually his work of maintaining public parks is not on church property. Nor is it religious in nature or viewed as promoting false worship.

    What is the overall effect of doing certain work?

    Would doing the work stumble many, bringing on reprehensibility? (1 Timothy 3:2, 10) How would it affect the workers conscience?

    "United In Worship Of The Only True God" Book (1983 Edition), Pages 167-168:

    14. An examination of the historical facts shows that not only have Jehovahs Witnesses refused to put on military uniforms and take up arms but, during the past half century and more, they have also declined to do noncombatant service or to accept other work assignments as a substitute for military service. Why? Because they have studied Gods requirements and then made a personal, conscientious decision. No one tells them what they must do. Nor do they interfere with what others choose to do. But when called on to explain their position, Jehovahs Witnesses have made it known that, as persons who have presented themselves to God in dedication, they are obligated to use their bodies in his service and cannot now hand these over to earthly masters who are acting contrary to Gods purpose.Rom. 6:12-14; 12:1, 2; Mic. 4:3.

    15. The result has been as Jesus said: Because you are no part of the world . . . the world hates you. (John 15:19) Many of Jehovahs Witnesses have been imprisoned because they would not violate their Christian neutrality. Some have been treated brutally, even to the point of death. Others have continued to demonstrate their neutrality during years of confinement. The book Values and Violence in Auschwitz (by Anna Pawelczynska, page 89) reports: Everyone knew that no Jehovahs Witness [in the concentration camp] would perform a command contrary to his religious belief and convictions or any action directed against another person, even if that person was a murderer and an SS officer. On the other hand, he would perform every other job, even the most obnoxious, to the best of his ability, if it was morally neutral for him.

    The Watchtower, September 1st 1986 Issue, Pages 19-21:

    Christians today should not instruct others personally as to what stand they must take on issues related to Christian neutrality. Each one must make his own conscientious decisions in line with his understanding of Bible principles.Galatians 6:4, 5.

    Whether the issue was shedding blood, noncombatant military work, alternative service, or saluting an image such as a national flag, faithful Christians took the position that there was no middle ground. In some cases they were executed because of this stand.Matthew 24:9; Revelation 2:10.

    The pursuit of peace and nonviolence by Jehovahs Witnesses was even recognized in the concentration camps. How so? In that only Witnesses were allowed to shave the S.S. guards using cut-throat razors, since only they could be trusted not to kill.

    1991 Yearbook, Pages 166-167:

    Renewed Attempts to Seek Compromise

    After this decision was made by parliament, attempts have been made to have us substitute compulsory work for military service. In the early 1970s, a governmental committee was appointed to review the handling of conscientious objectors. For the sake of uniformity, the authorities wanted Jehovahs Witnesses to serve on terms similar to those for other religious groups and do compulsory work as a substitute.

    Representatives of the branch office appeared before the committee, explaining that the Witnesses could not accept any substitute for military service whatsoever, no matter how praiseworthy the task. They showed that Jehovahs Witnesses already do a form of social work in their house-to-house ministry, helping people clean up their lives and become decent, law-abiding citizens. Then one of the committee members came up with a most surprising idea.

    He wondered if we would agree to engage in that house-to-house ministry on a full-time basis within our own congregations for a periodcorresponding to that of compulsory serviceand report this to the authorities as a substitute. The brothers explained that our service to God can never be compulsory or a State affair. Finally, the committee suggested retaining the 1966 decision, concluding in its final report: According to the committees opinion, there do not exist, at the present, other religious groups in our country that can be compared with Jehovahs Witnesses.

    The Watchtower, August 15th 1998 Issue, Page 17:

    Feelings of Having Suffered Needlessly

    6. In the past, some Witnesses have suffered for refusing to share in an activity that their conscience now might permit. For example, this might have been their choice years ago as to certain types of civilian service. A brother might now feel that he could conscientiously perform such without overstepping his Christian neutrality regarding the present system of things.

    7. Was it unrighteous on Jehovahs part to allow him to suffer for rejecting what he now might do without consequences? Most who have had that experience would not think so. Rather, they rejoice that they had the opportunity of demonstrating publicly and clearly that they were determined to be firm on the issue of universal sovereignty. (Compare Job 27:5.) What reason could anyone have to regret having followed his conscience in taking a firm stand for Jehovah? By loyally upholding Christian principles as they understood them or by responding to the proddings of conscience, they proved worthy of Jehovahs friendship. Certainly, it is wise to avoid a course that would disturb ones conscience or that would likely cause others to be stumbled. We can think in this regard of the example that the apostle Paul set.1 Corinthians 8:12, 13; 10:31-33.

    8. In order to please Jehovah, the Jews were required to obey the Ten Commandments and also a wide variety of about 600 additional laws. Later, under the Christian arrangement, obedience to these laws as such was no longer a requirement for serving Jehovah, not even for fleshly Jews. The laws no longer binding included those dealing with circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, offering animal sacrifices, and observing certain dietary restrictions. (1 Corinthians 7:19; 10:25; Colossians 2:16, 17; Hebrews 10:1, 11-14) Jewsincluding the apostleswho became Christians were released from the obligation to keep laws that they were required to obey when they were under the Law covenant. Did they complain that Gods arrangement was unrighteous in having formerly required of them things that were no longer necessary? No, they rejoiced in the broadened understanding of Jehovahs purposes.Acts 16:4, 5.

    9. In modern times, there have been some Witnesses who were very strict in their view of what they would or would not do. For that reason they suffered more than others. Later, increased knowledge helped them to expand their view of matters. But they have no reason to regret having earlier acted in harmony with their conscience, even when this possibly brought extra suffering. It truly is commendable that they demonstrated their willingness to suffer in faithfulness to Jehovah, to do all things for the sake of the good news. Jehovah blesses that kind of godly devotion. (1 Corinthians 9:23; Hebrews 6:10) The apostle Peter wrote with insight: If, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.1 Peter 2:20.

    Scully said:

    As well, JWs have refined their point of view regarding blood transfusions over the past two and a half decades. Currently, JWs are permitted to accept practically any fractionated blood product, including immune globulins, clotting factors, albumin, and even products like Hemopure which is a hemoglobin extract derived from bovine erythrocytes. The decision is dependent on the individual JW's conscience. They cannot, however, accept infusions of packed red cell concentrate, plasma, or platelets without judicial action being taken against them by their church leaders. Consider also that up until 1980, Jehovah's Witnesses were forbidden to accept tissue and organ transplants, and then suddenly the issue became a "matter of conscience" for individual JWs.

    Watchtower Quotes about Blood Fractions:

    The Watchtower, September 15th 1959 Issue, Page 575:

    Questions from Readers

    Are we to consider the injection of serums such as diphtheria toxin antitoxin and blood fractions such as gamma globulin into the blood stream, for the purpose of building up resistance to disease by means of antibodies, the same as the drinking of blood or the taking of blood or blood plasma by means of transfusion?N. P., United States.

    No, it does not seem necessary that we put the two in the same category, although we have done so in times past. Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the Scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with in its being forbidden. Thus when mankind for the first time was permitted to eat the flesh of animals, at the time of the restatement of the procreation mandate to the Deluge survivors, blood was specifically forbidden. (Gen. 9:3, 4) In the law of Moses blood was forbidden as food, and therefore we repeatedly find it linked with fat as things not to be eaten. (Lev. 3:17; 7:22-27) And so also in the days of the apostles; it was in connection with eating meat sacrificed to idols that the eating of strangled animals and blood was forbidden.Acts 15:20, 29.

    The injection of antibodies into the blood in a vehicle of blood serum or the use of blood fractions to create such antibodies is not the same as taking blood, either by mouth or by transfusion, as a nutrient to build up the bodys vital forces. 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 Gods 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, September 15th 1961 Issue, Pages 557-558:

    14. Disrespect for Gods law is so rampant that whole blood, blood plasma and blood fractions are used freely in numerous products that are sold for food. For example, it is reported that some meat packers include blood as a part of their regular recipe for wieners, bologna and other cold-meat loaves. They may not all call it blood; but, regardless of what they call it, if it is blood or part of the blood it is wrong. Not all meat packers do this by any means, but some do. In certain localities it is also known that hamburger is made up largely of fat with blood added. In Russia blood bakeries were put in operation years ago where seven parts of rye flour are mixed with three parts of defibrinated ox blood in the bread. In other lands some bakers use dried plasma powder in pastry as a substitute for egg white. And various tonics and tablets sold by druggists show on their labels that they contain blood fractions such as hemoglobin. So it is necessary for one to be alert, to be acquainted with the practices in his community, to make reasonable inquiry at places where he buys meat and to read and understand the labels on packaged goods. As the old world becomes more careless in its attitude toward Gods law on blood it is important for Christians to exercise increased care if they are to keep themselves without spot from the world.Jas. 1:27.

    16. Is Gods law violated by such medical use of blood? Is it wrong to sustain life by infusions of blood or plasma or red cells or the various blood fractions? Yes! The law that God gave to Noah and which applies to all his descendants makes it wrong for anyone to eat blood, that is, to use the blood of another creature to nourish or sustain ones life. Even as Tertullian in his Apology showed how the early Christians reasoned on the matter, so today it is recognized that if this prohibition applies to animal blood, it applies with even more force to human blood. It includes any blood at all.Lev. 3:17.

    The Watchtower, September 15th 1961 Issue, Page 559:

    19. In view of the emphasis put on the use of blood in the medical world, new treatments involving its use are constantly being recommended. But regardless of whether it is whole blood or a blood fraction, whether it is blood taken from ones own body or that taken from someone else, whether it is administered as a transfusion or as an injection, the divine law applies. God has not given man blood to use as he might use other substances; he requires respect for the sanctity of blood.

    The Watchtower, November 1st 1961 Issue, Page 669:

    Questions from Readers

    How can one tell if meat purchased from a butcher or in some other market has been properly bled? Also, how can one tell if cold-meat loaves, pastry or preparations sold by druggists contain any blood or blood fractions?A. R., U.S.A.

    This is of concern to God-fearing persons, because Jehovah God, in his law stated to Noah, which applies to all mankind, said: Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you. Only flesh with its soulits bloodyou must not eat. (Gen. 9:3, 4) The first-century Christian governing body, too, being directed by Gods holy spirit, pointed out that it is necessary for Christians to keep themselves free from blood.Acts 15:28, 29.

    If the bleeding of butchered animals is not the regular practice in your locality, or you are not sure what is the customary handling of the matter where you live, the best way to find out if meat has been properly bled is to make personal inquiry. In most cases, even if the one who sells the meat does not personally do the slaughtering, he is acquainted with the men with whom he does business and he knows their practices or at least the laws that govern them. If he is confident that the meat is properly prepared, the Christian may feel free to use it. However, if the one selling the meat does not know, simply ask: Who can give me the information? It is important to me for religious reasons. Then write a letter, if that is the only way to get in touch with the one who can answer your question. If for some reason one does not feel that he is being told the truth, he can always do business elsewhere, or he can buy live animals and arrange for the slaughtering himself, if he feels that is necessary.

    Simply the fact that meat appears to be very red or even has red fluid on the surface does not mean that it has not been bled. There may remain in the meat some very small amounts of blood even after proper bleeding has been done. Then, too, the fluid that runs out of the meat may simply be interstitial fluid. The important thing is that respect has been shown for the sanctity of blood, regard has been shown for the principle of the sacredness of life. What Gods law requires is that the blood be drained from the animal when it is killed, not that the meat be soaked in some special preparation to draw out every trace of it.

    In the case of other products, a similar procedure may be followed. If you have reason to believe that a certain product contains blood or a blood fraction, ask the one who sells it. If he does not know, write to the manufacturer. Sometimes labels show whether a blood fraction is used, but not always. For example, a label may say that a certain product contains albumin. Does that mean that it contains a blood fraction? Look up the word albumin in a good reference book, perhaps an encyclopedia in your local library or even a good dictionary. You will learn that albumin is found, not only in blood serum, but also in milk and eggs. The only way to find out the source of the albumin in the particular product in question is to make inquiry of those who prepare it. However, if the label says that certain tablets contain hemoglobin, similar checking will reveal that this is from blood; so a Christian knows, without asking, that he should avoid such a preparation. Clearly, these are matters that each individual can best check on locally.

    The Watchtower, November 15th 1964 Issue, Pages 682-683:

    The Society does not endorse any of the modern medical uses of blood, such as the uses of blood in connection with inoculations. Inoculation is, however, a virtually unavoidable circumstance in some segments of society, and so we leave it up to the conscience of the individual to determine whether to submit to inoculation with a serum containing blood fractions for the purpose of building up antibodies to fight against disease. If a person did this, he may derive comfort under the circumstances from the fact that he is not directly eating blood, which is expressly forbidden in Gods Word. It is not used for food or to replace lost blood. Here the Christian must make his own decision based on conscience. 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. Christians in the medical profession are individually responsible for employment decisions. They must bear the consequences of decisions made, in keeping with the principle at Galatians 6:5. Some doctors who are Jehovahs witnesses have administered blood transfusions to persons of the world upon request. However, they do not do so in the case of one of Jehovahs dedicated witnesses. In harmony with Deuteronomy 14:21, the administering of blood upon request to worldly persons is left to the Christian doctors own conscience. This is similar to the situation facing a Christian butcher or grocer who must decide whether he can conscientiously sell blood sausage to a worldly person.


    These few examples of how Christians may go about deciding on their employment may be helpful when it comes to considering types of employment mentioned here. The Christian should always consider Gods laws in everything he does; and whatever he does, he does unto Jehovah. (1 Cor. 10:31) If what he does is not contrary to Gods law and Caesars just laws, he is within his rights in doing it, and no one should criticize him. When a Christian is in doubt about what he should do, he should pray to Jehovah God. (1 Pet. 5:6, 7) He should read the Bible and consider Christian publications that deal with his problem. (The Watch Tower Publications Index contains many references under Employment.) He can talk to the congregation overseer. However, after doing these things it is the individual who, knowing all the circumstances and consequences, must analyze matters and then decide. Others cannot make his decision, if it is a matter of conscience.

    When faced with a decision, you may feel in advance that your conscience would bother you if you decided in a certain manner. The thing to do, then, is to avoid that which will cause you to have a troubled conscience. Christians desire to please Jehovah and so, whatever their employment, it should be the kind of work they can do with a clear conscience before Jehovah. Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.Col. 3:23; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19; 1 Pet. 3:16.


    Concerning these matters please see The Watchtower of September 15, 1958, page 575, and November 1, 1961, page 670.

    See The Watchtower of February 15, 1963, pages 122-124.

    The Watchtower, November 15th 1969 Issue, Page 697:

    the surgeon agreed not to use any blood or blood fractions. Therefore, the couple decided to have the operation performed.Acts 15:20.

    The Watchtower, June 1st 1974 Issue, Pages 351-352:

    Questions from Readers

    Is it proper for a Christian to accept medical treatment involving a serum prepared from blood?Germany.

    The Bible is plain as to Gods high regard for blood, showing that He views it as representing the soul or life. (Lev. 17:11, 12, 14) Understandably, then, the divine command given to our common ancestor Noah stated: Only flesh with its soulits bloodyou must not eat. (Gen. 9:4) Noah and his descendants, including all of us, were not to sustain their lives by using blood as food. And this important outlook was even repeated, showing its application to true worshipers today, for Christians were told: Keep abstaining . . . from blood and from things strangled. (Acts 15:29) For this reason we cannot endorse the many modern medical practices employing blood. And we have repeatedly shown that accepting a blood transfusion would unquestionably be contrary to the Bibles prohibition on the using or eating of blood to sustain ones life.

    Some Christians, though, have been urged on occasion to accept a serum injection prepared from a small quantity of a blood fraction. In order to evaluate this matter, it is helpful to understand just what serums are and why they are used. It is also helpful to understand how serums differ from vaccines.

    In the normal course of life humans come in contact with viruses or bacteria that cause disease. For instance, a person may at one time or another be exposed to mumps, measles or tuberculosis. To fight against the assault or attack by viruses or bacteria, the body produces substances called antibodies that attempt to neutralize or reduce the harm done by these invading germs. A person who has these antibodies in his blood for a particular disease is temporarily or permanently safe from contracting this disease.

    To provide advance protection, scientists have developed vaccines (toxoids) or inoculations that stimulate a persons body to produce antibodies against certain diseases. Smallpox, polio, tetanus, cholera, rabies, typhoid fever and yellow fever are some of the diseases for which vaccines or inoculations have been prepared. These vaccines, designed to make one immune to such diseases, are not produced from blood. (For details, see Awake! of August 22, 1965, pages 18 and 19.) Often vaccinations or inoculations, which are not made from blood, are required when children enter school or when tourists or missionaries travel to foreign countries. The objective is to stimulate the producing of antibodies in advance to prevent a person from contracting a certain disease should he be exposed to it.

    But what if a person has recently been exposed to a disease or has definitely contracted diphtheria, tetanus, viral hepatitis, rabies or some other disease? Before his body has time to produce the needed antibodies, he might become seriously ill. So doctors have devised a way of providing immediately the antibodies that would help one to resist the diseases assault. Serums or antitoxins are used. These are obtained from the blood of humans or animals that have already developed the antibodies for fighting the disease. Usually the blood is processed and the blood fraction (gamma globulin) containing the antibodies is separated and made into a serum. When this is injected into the patient it gives him temporary passive immunity. This is temporary, for the antibodies do not become a permanent part of his blood; when these pass out of his body he is no longer immune to the disease. It can thus be seen that serums (unlike vaccines) contain a blood fraction, though minute.

    As initially stated, out of full respect for what the Bible says about blood, we refrain from endorsing any use of it outside the body of the animal or human to whom it naturally belongs. We believe that the use of blood as a transfusion, or the use of a blood component to accomplish a similar purpose, is obviously in conflict with the Scriptural command to abstain . . . from blood. (Acts 15:20) What, then, of the use of a serum containing only a minute fraction of blood and employed to supply an auxiliary defense against some infection and not employed to perform the life-sustaining function that blood normally carries out?

    We believe that here the conscience of each Christian must decide. Some may feel that accepting such a serum does not constitute an act of disrespect for the sacredness of life and of God as the life Source, that it does not constitute a flouting of Gods expressed will concerning the use of blood to feed the body. On the other hand, the conscience of others may call on them to reject all such serums. Each must answer to God as his or her judge with regard to the reason for ones conscientious decision.1 Cor. 4:4; 2 Cor. 5:10.

    We trust that this review of Bible principles will be helpful and aid in viewing the initial question and related questions in a considerate way. While refraining from approving or condemning in such areas where we believe the decision must be left to individual conscience, we do, nevertheless, urge all to seek to maintain their conscience clean before God, never showing deliberate disrespect for his Word.1 Pet. 3:16; 1 Tim. 1:19.


    Similar serums are used to treat a person bitten by a poisonous snake or a black widow spider. Also, in cases where there is an Rh incompatibility between a mother and her newborn child, doctors may urge her to accept a specialized serum injection. If the mother has not yet become sensitized to the childs blood type, the serum (made from the blood of a woman who has already produced the antibodies) might be administered so her system does not produce antibodies that might adversely affect a future child.

    See The Watchtower, November 15, 1964, p. 682.

    "Reasoning From The Scriptures" Book (1989), Page 71:

    Similarly, any food to which whole blood or even some blood fraction has been added should not be eaten.

    Blood Brochure (1990), Page 17:

    Witnesses do not accept transfusions of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets, or blood plasma. As to minor fractions, such as immune globulin, see The Watchtower of June 1, 1990, pages 30-1.

    The Watchtower of March 1, 1989, pages 30-1, considers Bible principles that bear on methods of blood salvage and on blood-circulating (extracorporeal) equipment.

    The Watchtower, June 1st 1990 Issue, Pages 30-31:

    Questions From Readers

    Do Jehovahs Witnesses accept injections of a blood fraction, such as immune globulin or albumin?

    Some do, believing that the Scriptures do not clearly rule out accepting an injection of a small fraction, or component, taken from blood.

    The Creator first laid upon all mankind the obligation to avoid taking in blood: Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you . . . Only flesh with its soulits bloodyou must not eat. (Genesis 9:3, 4) Blood was sacred and so could be used only in sacrifice. If not used in that way, it was to be disposed of on the ground.Leviticus 17:13, 14; Deuteronomy 12:15, 16.

    This was no mere temporary restriction for Jews. The need to abstain from blood was restated for Christians. (Acts 21:25) Around them in the Roman Empire, Gods law was commonly broken, since people ate food made with blood. It was also broken for medical reasons; Tertullian reports that some men took in blood thinking that it could cure epilepsy. They quaffed with greedy thirst the blood of criminals slain in the arena. He added: Blush for your vile ways before the Christians, who have not even the blood of animals at their meals. Jehovahs Witnesses today are just as determined not to violate Gods law, no matter how common it is for others to eat food made with blood. In the 1940s, blood transfusions came into widespread use, and the Witnesses saw that obeying God required that they also avoid blood transfusions, even if doctors urged these.

    At first, most transfusions were of whole blood. Later, researchers began to separate blood into its primary components, for doctors concluded that a certain patient might not need all major parts of blood. If they gave him only one component, it would be less risky for him, and the doctors could get more use out of the blood available.

    Human blood can be separated into dark cellular material and a yellowish fluid (plasma, or serum). The cellular part (45 percent by volume) is made up of what are commonly called red cells, white cells, and platelets. The other 55 percent is the plasma. This is 90 percent water, but it carries small amounts of many proteins, hormones, salts, and enzymes. Today, much of the donated blood is separated into the primary components. One patient may be given a transfusion of plasma (perhaps FFP, fresh frozen plasma) to treat shock. But an anemic patient might be given packed red cells, that is, red cells that had been stored and then put in a fluid and transfused. Platelets and white cells are also transfused but less commonly.

    In Bible times men had not devised such techniques for using these components. God simply commanded: Abstain from blood. (Acts 15:28, 29) But why should anyone think that it would make a difference whether the blood was whole or had been separated into these components? Though some men drank blood, Christians refused even if it meant death. Do you think that they would have responded differently if someone had collected blood, allowed it to separate, and then offered them just the plasma or just the clotted part, perhaps in blood sausage? No, indeed! Hence, Jehovahs Witnesses do not accept transfusions of whole blood or of its primary components (red cells, white cells, platelets, or plasma) used to accomplish a similar purpose.

    As the question suggests, though, scientists have learned about specialized blood fractions and how to employ such. A common issue involves the plasma proteinsglobulins, albumin, and fibrinogen. Likely, the most widespread therapeutic use of such is injecting immune globulin. Why is that done?

    Your body can produce antibodies against certain diseases, giving you active immunity. This is the basis for advance inoculation with a vaccine (toxoid) against polio, mumps, rubella (measles), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, and typhoid fever. However, if someone has recently been exposed to certain serious diseases, physicians may recommend an injection of a serum (antitoxin) to give him immediate passive immunity. Until recently such injections have been made by extracting immune globulin, which contains antibodies, from a person already immune. The passive immunity gained from the injection is not permanent, for the injected antibodies pass out of his system in time.

    In view of the command to abstain from blood, some Christians have felt that they should not accept an immune globulin (protein) injection, even though it was only a blood fraction. Their stand is clear and simpleno blood component in any form or amount.

    Others have felt that a serum (antitoxin), such as immune globulin, containing only a tiny fraction of a donors blood plasma and used to bolster their defense against disease, is not the same as a life-sustaining blood transfusion. So their consciences may not forbid them to take immune globulin or similar fractions. They may conclude that for them the decision will rest primarily on whether they are willing to accept any health risks involved in an injection made from others blood.

    It is significant that the blood system of a pregnant woman is separate from that of the fetus in her womb; their blood types are often different. The mother does not pass her blood into the fetus. Formed elements (cells) from the mothers blood do not cross the placental barrier into the fetus blood, nor does the plasma as such. In fact, if by some injury the mothers and the fetus blood mingle, health problems can later develop (Rh or ABO incompatibility). However, some substances from the plasma cross into the fetus circulation. Do plasma proteins, such as immune globulin and albumin? Yes, some do.

    A pregnant woman has an active mechanism by which some immune globulin moves from the mothers blood to the fetus. Because this natural movement of antibodies into the fetus occurs in all pregnancies, babies are born with a degree of normal protective immunity to certain infections.

    It is similar with albumin, which doctors may prescribe as a treatment for shock or certain other conditions. Researchers have proved that albumin from the plasma is also transported, though less efficiently, across the placenta from a mother into her fetus.

    That some protein fractions from the plasma do move naturally into the blood system of another individual (the fetus) may be another consideration when a Christian is deciding whether he will accept immune globulin, albumin, or similar injections of plasma fractions. One person may feel that he in good conscience can; another may conclude that he cannot. Each must resolve the matter personally before God.


    With recombinant DNA, or genetic-engineering, techniques, scientists are developing similar products that are not made from blood.

    One example is Rh immune globulin, which doctors may recommend when there is Rh incompatibility between a woman and her fetus. Another is Factor VIII, which is given to hemophiliacs.

    Evidence shows that nonblood volume replacement fluids (such as hetastarch [HES]) can be used effectively to treat shock and other conditions for which an albumin solution might have been used previously.

    Awake!, February 22nd 1995 Issue, Page 22:

    The decision to use immunoglobulins, which contain a tiny fraction of blood, is left to the individuals conscience, as discussed in The Watchtower of June 1, 1990, pages 30 and 31.

    "Our Kingdom Ministry", September 1999 Issue, Page 7:

    Review articles on blood fractions and alternatives to blood. (Recommended: The Watchtower, October 1, 1994, page 31; June 1, 1990, pages 30-1; March 1, 1989, pages 30-1; Awake!, December 8, 1994, pages 23-7; August 8, 1993, pages 22-5; November 22, 1991, page 10; and Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1992 and November 1990 inserts. Keep them in a folder for ready access.)

    Decide conscientiously if you can allow use of machines that circulate blood outside the body or if you can accept products containing blood fractions. (If you complete a health-care durable power of attorney, or proxy, formwhich is advisableyou will see that provision is made on the form for you to declare your own informed choice of treatment.)

    Before going to the hospital, if at all possible, let the elders know so that they can support you and contact the Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) if necessary. In the case of a young child, ask the elders to notify the HLC early.

    The Watchtower, June 15th 2000 Issue, Pages 29-31:

    Questions From Readers

    Do Jehovahs Witnesses accept any medical products derived from blood?

    The fundamental answer is that Jehovahs Witnesses do not accept blood. We firmly believe that Gods law on blood is not open to reform to fit shifting opinions. Still, new issues arise because blood can now be processed into four primary components and fractions of those components. In deciding whether to accept such, a Christian should look beyond possible medical benefits and risks. His concern should be what the Bible says and the potential effect on his relationship with Almighty God.

    The key issues are quite simple. As an aid to seeing why that is so, consider some Biblical, historical, and medical background.

    Jehovah God told our common ancestor Noah that blood must be treated as something special. (Genesis 9:3, 4) Later, Gods laws to Israel reflected the sacredness of blood: As for any man of the house of Israel or some alien resident . . . who eats any sort of blood, I shall certainly set my face against the soul that is eating the blood. By rejecting Gods law, an Israelite could contaminate others; thus, God added: I shall indeed cut him off from among his people. (Leviticus 17:10) Later, at a meeting in Jerusalem, the apostles and older men decreed that we must abstain from blood. Doing so is as vital as abstaining from sexual immorality and idolatry.Acts 15:28, 29.

    What would abstaining have meant back then? Christians did not consume blood, whether fresh or coagulated; nor did they eat meat from an unbled animal. Also ruled out would be foods to which blood was added, such as blood sausage. Taking in blood in any of those ways would violate Gods law.1 Samuel 14:32, 33.

    Most people in ancient times would not have been troubled over the consuming of blood, as we can see from the writings of Tertullian (second and third centuries C.E.). Responding to false charges that Christians consumed blood, Tertullian mentioned tribes that sealed treaties by tasting blood. He also noted that when a show is given in the arena, [some] with greedy thirst have caught the fresh blood of the guilty . . . as a cure for their epilepsy.

    Those practices (even if some Romans did them for health reasons) were wrong for Christians: We do not include even animals blood in our natural diet, wrote Tertullian. The Romans used food containing blood as a test of the integrity of real Christians. Tertullian added: Now, I ask you, what sort of a thing is it, that when you are confident [that Christians] will turn with horror from animals blood, you should suppose them greedy for human blood?

    Today, few people would think that the laws of Almighty God are at issue if a physician suggested their taking blood. While Jehovahs Witnesses certainly want to keep living, we are committed to obey Jehovahs law on blood. What does this mean in the light of current medical practice?

    As transfusions of whole blood became common after World War II, Jehovahs Witnesses saw that this was contrary to Gods lawand we still believe that. Yet, medicine has changed over time. Today, most transfusions are not of whole blood but of one of its primary components: (1) red cells; (2) white cells; (3) platelets; (4) plasma (serum), the fluid part. Depending on the condition of the patient, physicians might prescribe red cells, white cells, platelets, or plasma. Transfusing these major components allows a single unit of blood to be divided among more patients. Jehovahs Witnesses hold that accepting whole blood or any of those four primary components violates Gods law. Significantly, keeping to this Bible-based position has protected them from many risks, including such diseases as hepatitis and AIDS that can be contracted from blood.

    However, since blood can be processed beyond those primary components, questions arise about fractions derived from the primary blood components. How are such fractions used, and what should a Christian consider when deciding on them?

    Blood is complex. Even the plasmawhich is 90 percent watercarries scores of hormones, inorganic salts, enzymes, and nutrients, including minerals and sugar. Plasma also carries such proteins as albumin, clotting factors, and antibodies to fight diseases. Technicians isolate and use many plasma proteins. For example, clotting factor VIII has been given to hemophiliacs, who bleed easily. Or if someone is exposed to certain diseases, doctors might prescribe injections of gamma globulin, extracted from the blood plasma of people who already had immunity. Other plasma proteins are used medically, but the above mentioned illustrate how a primary blood component (plasma) may be processed to obtain fractions.

    Just as blood plasma can be a source of various fractions, the other primary components (red cells, white cells, platelets) can be processed to isolate smaller parts. For example, white blood cells may be a source of interferons and interleukins, used to treat some viral infections and cancers. Platelets can be processed to extract a wound-healing factor. And other medicines are coming along that involve (at least initially) extracts from blood components. Such therapies are not transfusions of those primary components; they usually involve parts or fractions thereof. Should Christians accept these fractions in medical treatment? We cannot say. The Bible does not give details, so a Christian must make his own conscientious decision before God.

    Some would refuse anything derived from blood (even fractions intended to provide temporary passive immunity). That is how they understand Gods command to abstain from blood. They reason that his law to Israel required that blood removed from a creature be poured out on the ground. (Deuteronomy 12:22-24) Why is that relevant? Well, to prepare gamma globulin, blood-based clotting factors, and so on, requires that blood be collected and processed. Hence, some Christians reject such products, just as they reject transfusions of whole blood or of its four primary components. Their sincere, conscientious stand should be respected.

    Other Christians decide differently. They too refuse transfusions of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets, or plasma. Yet, they might allow a physician to treat them with a fraction extracted from the primary components. Even here there may be differences. One Christian may accept a gamma globulin injection, but he may or may not agree to an injection containing something extracted from red or white cells. Overall, though, what might lead some Christians to conclude that they could accept blood fractions?

    Questions From Readers in The Watchtower of June 1, 1990, noted that plasma proteins (fractions) move from a pregnant womans blood to the separate blood system of her fetus. Thus a mother passes immunoglobulins to her child, providing valuable immunity. Separately, as a fetus red cells complete their normal life span, their oxygen-carrying portion is processed. Some of it becomes bilirubin, which crosses the placenta to the mother and is eliminated with her body wastes. Some Christians may conclude that since blood fractions can pass to another person in this natural setting, they could accept a blood fraction derived from blood plasma or cells.

    Does the fact that opinions and conscientious decisions may differ mean that the issue is inconsequential? No. It is serious. Yet, there is a basic simplicity. The above material shows that Jehovahs Witnesses refuse transfusions of both whole blood and its primary blood components. The Bible directs Christians to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from fornication. (Acts 15:29) Beyond that, when it comes to fractions of any of the primary components, each Christian, after careful and prayerful meditation, must conscientiously decide for himself.

    Many people would be willing to accept any therapy that seems to offer immediate benefit, even a therapy having known health risks, as is true of blood products. The sincere Christian endeavors to have a broader, more balanced view that involves more than just the physical aspects. Jehovahs Witnesses appreciate efforts to provide quality medical care, and they weigh the risk/benefit ratio of any treatment. However, when it comes to products derived from blood, they carefully weigh what God says and their personal relationship with our Life-Giver.Psalm 36:9.

    What a blessing for a Christian to have such confidence as the psalmist who wrote: Jehovah God is a sun and a shield; favor and glory are what he gives. Jehovah himself will not hold back anything good from those walking in faultlessness. O Jehovah . . . , happy is the man that is trusting in you!Psalm 84:11, 12.


    See Questions From Readers in The Watchtower of June 15, 1978, and October 1, 1994. Pharmaceutical firms have developed recombinant products that are not taken from blood and that may be prescribed in place of some blood fractions used in the past.

    [Box on Page 30]


    If you face surgery or a treatment that might involve a blood product, ask:

    Do all the medical personnel involved know that, as one of Jehovahs Witnesses, I direct that no blood transfusions (whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets, or blood plasma) be given to me under any circumstances?

    If any medicine to be prescribed may be made from blood plasma, red or white cells, or platelets, ask:

    Has the medicine been made from one of the four primary blood components? If so, would you explain its makeup?

    How much of this blood-derived medicine might be administered, and in what way?

    If my conscience permits me to accept this fraction, what medical risks are there?

    If my conscience moves me to decline this fraction, what other therapy might be used?

    After I have considered this matter further, when may I inform you of my decision?

    I would love to hear everyone's comments on these changes and flip-flops.

  • Scully

    Thanks, everyone for the compliments. This subject has been one that's bugged me for a long time, particularly in light of what happened to Shunned Father, and what is now happening with regard to the issue of child sexual abuse in the organization, and I finally decided to sort through the topic myself and put it into words.

    Thank you, too, Undisfellowshipped, for all those supporting quotes. I do appreciate all the effort that went into the compilation.

    Love, Scully

  • hillbilly

    I seem to remember discussing what the young fellas were told to say at the Draft Board appeals back in the Draft days. The answers indicated to me ( at least at this juncture in time) that JW's are NOT pacifists or Conciencous Objectors. The same line of questions came up for those seeking release from the US military too.

    Draft Board: Do you believe there are "just" wars?

    JW: All of (mans) wars are unjust. (but Jehovah can fight a just war)

    The fact of the matter is a true pacifist will answer the question honestly- they dont think that God would wage war, or take lifes. JW in priciple think that a war sponsered by God is ok (and we can see how the "death spiral" of logic and lying by ommision takes over from here).

    CO status and the punishment and social marking that come from it are simply a tool that the WT uses to make its membership "look" better that the Christian population that surrounds them. The Roman Centurion that accepted Christ continued his military service- did he not?

    Scully- you have a good mind and pitch an excellent argument.


  • insearchoftruth

    BTTT, a great article!

  • Farkel

    Although I'm a friend and a big fan of Scully, I missed this one the first time around. I'm glad it was revisited, because I have a very personal connection with the whole "conscientious objector" thing. Many here already know this.

    First let me expose the BIG LIE in all of this: my "objection" to military service (and in my case alternative service) had as much to do with being my "conscientious objection" as a fish has to do with snow skiing.

    Today, when a young dub is drafted, that dub can (and always does) choose non-military alternative service. This is service working for charities that have nothing to do with the military. Today, if a dub does that, there is no punishment from the Watchtower Corporation for doing so.

    That was not so in the late 1960's. We were not allowed by our religious masters to accept alternative military service. If we did, we were disassociated. Period. No discussion. In all cases in the USA, refusal to submit to a military draft or to take alternative military service was a crime. A Federal Crime, in fact a FELONY, and was vigorously prosecuted. I was charged, tried and convicted for this crime. Now, if a judge sentenced me (in lieu of prison) to serve my time doing alternative military service, that was ok in WatchtowerThink(tm)! I'm talking about the very SAME alternative military service that I was NOT allowed to voluntarily accept in the first place!

    What kind of crap is that? It's Freddie Franz crap, that's what. Freddie's "logic" was we were "compromising our Christian integrity(tm)" if we voluntarily took alternative service, but if we were sentenced by a judge to the same service, it was not a compromise. Now, any moron can figure out that if one does something that is wrong in the first place, it doesn't matter what the reason for doing it is, but not Freddie.

    Alternative military service is a compromise.

    Voluntarily accepting such service is therefore a compromise.

    But being ordered by a court to accept such service is NOT a compromise.

    To be Logical and consistent with the commonly understood meaning of a compromise, the WTS would have ordered young dubs like myself to ask for prison at sentencing, rather than accept alternative military service. But they didn't do that. Why? Here's a guess: with hundreds of thousands of young male US citizens being drafted, including JWs, we would no longer be able to sell Watchtower books if we were in prison, so they found a way to keep us out of prison by magically waving their hands and saying we didn't compromise our Christian integrity at all, doing the VERY SAME work we would have done had we been able to do it voluntarily.

    As a result, I am a convicted felon. Fortunately, I later received a full and unconditional Presidential Pardon, but the WTS didn't know that was going to happen years after my sentence. So, basically the WT said to me "Fuck you, felon. Those are our rules. Too bad you have to live your life as a convicted felon. We are speaking for God." And I was luckier than my dub friends who were just one or two years old than me. They had to go to prison instead of being offered alternative service to fill out their sentence.

    Years later, the WTS quietly dropped that policy and allowed drafted dubs to take alternative military service voluntarily (without being charged, tried and convicted). True to their form, they offered no apologies to me and tens of thousands of other young dubs like me whose lives they stained as convicted felons.


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