In 1997 the Watchtower Society took the Bulgarian government before the European Commission of Human Rights after that government suspended the Society's registration on the grounds that (1) its teachings on blood were a threat to "public health" and (2) its members refusal to bear arms for the country.
In a response to the Commission, the Watchtower has obviously stated that there are no sanctions should a Jehovah's Witness decide to take blood. In a press communique from the Commission, hearing no.28626/95 dated 3 July 1997, it states :-
In respect of the refusal of blood transfusion, the applicant association submits that 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 transfusions cannot amount to a threat to "public health"
(Click here to view the full Human Rights Commission Communique of 3rd July)
This certainly goes against the Watchtower Society's teaching and is, in fact, a deliberate lie. Any of the Jehovah's Witnesses know full well that if they accept a blood tansfusion they are liable to be disfellowshipped. See the statement in the Watchtower dated Jan 15 1961, page 64, which states
. . . the receiver of a blood transfusion must be cut off from God's people by excommunication or disfellowshipping
Since that time the Bulgarian government must have found out that there was in fact sanctions in force against any witness who accepted a transfusion because the March 1998 hearing of the Commission, speaking about the Watchtower Society, states
The case concerned the refusal to re-register the applicant association pursuant to a 1994 law, and the alleged suppression of its activities and those of its members. In settlement, the government agreed to introduce legislation as soon as possible to provide for civilian service for conscientious objectors, as an alternative to military service, and to register the applicant association as a religion. The applicant undertook with regard to its stance on blood transfusion to draft a statement for inclusion in its statute providing 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.
(Click here to view the full Human Rights Commission Communique of 2 - 13 March 1998)
This agreement with the European Commission on Human Rights may be the beginning of the end for the long standing law on blood transfusion. I cannot see how the Watchtower Society can strike an agreement with one nation but still hold to its current teaching in all other countries. It is interesting to note that the Commission holds sway over 40 other nations including Russia, England, France and Germany to name but a few. With this information freely available from the Commission web site to anyone who wishes to look there, I just cannot see how the Watchtower can hope to keep it secret. They obviously think they can, in fact, keep the matter secret as their own press release dated April 27 1998 states in part
Bulgaria has agreed to grant the Christian Association of Jehovah's Witnesses recognition as a religion. Bulgaria also agreed to create without delay a bill that will allow alternate civilian service for those whose conscience will not allow them to engage in military service. The agreement also includes an acknowledgment that each individual has the freedom to choose the type of medical treatment he receives. With the amicable settlement the Witnesses agreed to withdraw their complaint against Bulgaria
the press release goes on to state
The terms of the agreement do not reflect a change in doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses. Rather, the agreement reflects an increased understanding of the concerns and actions of both parties.
(Click here to view a scanned copy of the Watchtower press release of 27 April 1998)
[note that the date March 9, 1997 should read 1998]
The press release goes on to state that the Watchtower Society is pleased with the amicable agreement, followed by a brief history of how the case came to be, then the usual statements about how extensive the Witnesses are worldwide. Nowhere in the Watchtower Society's press release does it categorically state that they have agreed to let Bulgarian Witnesses exercise their free choice on blood transfusions without any form of sanction. It will be interesting to see what is stated in future issues of The Watchtower and/or Awake! magazine regarding this agreement
Now if, as the Watchtower Society press release states, there is no change in doctrine, then the Society have misled and lied to the European Commission of Human Rights. Perhaps they think that this comes under their heading of "War Strategy" whereby the Society deliberately encourages its members to lie when it comes to defending their beliefs.
If on the other hand they intend to allow the Bulgarian Witnesses to have a free choice - without the fear of disfellowshipping - then this action can only spell the end of this horrendous teaching which has, over the years, killed more people than Waco and any other mass cult death. If such a change should come one wonders how the remaining relatives will feel when they realise that their children, or partners, have given their lives as a result of another Watchtower Society error. Only time will tell !!!
For a link to a website run by elders and other Witnesses who claim to be active Witnesses and who are against the teaching on blood click here
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