Sep 11, 2017

Open Minds Foundation​: ​Saving a Thousand Lives a Year: Reforming Watchtower’s Policy on Blood – Part One

Lee Elder
Open Minds Foundation
September 11, 2017


​A brief history of Advocates for Jehovah’s Witness Reform on Blood (AJWRB) and Watchtower’s Blood Transfusion Policy

Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness

Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) and baptized at the age of nine, I was very serious about what I believed to be a unique life-saving religion. I was also deeply concerned by the coming “great tribulation” and the battle of Armageddon that I was assured would occur in my lifetime – a theme I heard constantly at the Kingdom Hall and from other JW’s who were glued to every word the Watchtower published.

At the age of fourteen, I received permission to stop attending public school and begin “pioneering”: first temporarily and a year later, a full-time pioneer. Most JW’s were expecting the “great tribulation” to break out in 1975, so I was trying to save lives by spending a 100 hours a month in the door-to-door ministry. It was an exciting time, because I was part of a tight-knit community convinced that the long hoped for “new order” would arrive any day.

Even the City Overseer sold his business and was pioneering, by October of 1975. I clearly remember stopping for a break in field service and having coffee with him, along with two other elders. It was the weekend of October 4th and 5th and we were sitting in the coffee shop of a Holiday Inn, certain the “great tribulation” was imminent, perhaps that very weekend.

Of course, nothing happened that remotely approached what the Watchtowerthe Watchtower had strongly suggested, both in print and through its appointed representatives. But, like most true-believing Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are handicapped by their lack of understanding of cognitive dissonance, I was able to consciously discard this reality. So, I continued pioneering, trying to save lives from an impending just-around-the-corner Armageddon, for another two and a half years.

However, something that would forever alter my path in life was happening. A friend in the congregation I attended was diagnosed with Leukemia, the same condition that, years before, had prematurely claimed the life of my Witness grandmother after she had refused blood.

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