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Watchtower Leaders Caught in Deception

The Bulgarian Files. The documented, incontrovertible proof that the WTS maintains two blood policies - one for Bulgaria and another for the rest of the world - or that the WTS has misrepresented it's blood policy before the European Commission on Human Rights.

In 1997 AJWRB began reporting that Watchtower leaders had filed a false and misleading application with  the European Commission on Human Rights .The case involving the Watchtower and the government of Bulgaria was settled in 1998 and as difficult as it is to believe,  the Watchtower Society has agreed, in a legally binding document, to allow Jehovah's Witnesses a free choice regarding blood transfusions. You may view all of the actual documents in the Bulgarian Files or go directly to a translation of the document (a portion of  the report is in French)

We initially found the following information regarding the settlement between Jehovah's Witnesses and the government of Bulgaria on the website for the European Commission on Human Rights in a press release which stated:

"The applicant undertook with regard to its stance on blood transfusions 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." (Emphasis ours)

Archived Documentation

As of this update (March 1, 2005) you can read the original digital files that are archived online. Please note that archived files are subject to change or deletion and it is difficult for us to keep up with all of the information and links on this site.


Scroll about half way down the page to section (B) "Examination of admitted applications." Subsection II - Reports Adopted (a).


II. Reports adopted

(i) Reports adopted under Article 28 para. 2 of the Convention (friendly settlement)

(a) One Report was adopted by the plenary Commission under Article 28 para. 2 of the Convention, concluding that a friendly settlement had been secured:

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 transfusions 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.

http://web.archive.org/web/20000606133553/ (This is the full document).

These documents appeared to signal a very significant development back in 1998, leading some to the conclusion that Jehovah's Witnesses would be able to make a "free choice" regarding the use of blood or blood products without any control or sanction on the part of the association - a complete departure from the previous official WTS policy as noted below:

In view of the seriousness of taking blood into the human system by a transfusion, would violation of the Holy Scriptures in this regard subject the dedicated, baptized receiver of blood transfusion to being disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation?

The inspired Holy Scriptures answer yes....According to the law of Moses, which set forth shadows of things to come, the receiver of a blood transfusion must be cut off from God's people by excommunication or disfellowshiping....if in the future he persists in accepting blood transfusions or in donating blood toward the carrying out of this medical practice upon others, he shows that he has really not repented, but is deliberately opposed to God's requirements. As a rebellious opposer and unfaithful example to fellow members of the Christian congregation he must be cut off therefrom by disfellowshiping. - The Watchtower 01/15/1961 pp. 63, 64

In an attempt to clarify these issues, we sent the following letter to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses:

P.O. Box 190089 - Boise, ID 83719-0089 - U.S.A.
Web site: http://www.visiworld.com/starter/newlight/ Email: jwreformers@anon.nymserver.com

April 23, 1998

Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
25 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483

RE: New blood policy in Bulgaria

Transmitted via Federal Express, return receipt requested

Dear Brothers:

We have not received your response to our letter of March 15, 1998, and can only assume that you do not intend to respond. Barring any response, we will proceed as we outlined in our correspondence.

It has come to our attention that you have reached an agreement with the government of Bulgaria regarding modifying your blood policy. The information is available for all to see at the web site for the European Commission on Human Rights, and the statement in question reads:

"The applicant [Watchtower] undertook with regard to its stance on blood transfusions 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." (Emphasis ours)
We are requesting clarification from you regarding this statute. Please explain to us: If it is your intention to modify or abandon the blood doctrine, we will cooperate with you and work to minimize the effects of the change on the members of the organization. If on the other hand, this is a ruse or stratagem - theocratic strategy as you might be tempted to say - we will issue a press release, and contact both the council and the government of Bulgaria. The blood policy was already lacking any credible foundation, but you have certainly provided a self-inflicted death blow to the policy.

It is important that you communicate with us regarding your intentions, as we are in the process of final edit for publication of articles in various journals and publications. We do not want this process to by anymore painful for the Society than is absolutely necessary, but you must cooperate with us, or there will be a flurry of media activity in the months to come. Help us help you.

In view of your past policy of refusing to communicate with us, we are advising you for the record that the European Commission on Human Rights has published that the Watchtower Blood Policy in Bulgaria has been effectively abandoned. If you disagree; if you intend to claim the matter has been misrepresented by your legal counsel or European representatives, we demand a response to this inquiry.

If we do not hear from you on or before May 1, 1998, we will conclude that you accept the Commission's statement as current Watchtower policy, and this letter will be circulated with a press release worldwide.

Your brothers,

The Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood

As additional information and reports continued to come in,  it became apparent that no real change has taken place in Bulgaria, despite the Watchtower's statements to the European Commission on Human Rights. Note the following email that we received:

Update 4-27-98

Dear Sirs,

I'm a Finnish journalist.

Two days ago in a local Christian Radio-Station was a debate where a local Watchtower branch-office committee member was interviewed. There was also discussion on blood and on the Bulgarian case and I decided to inform you on some observations I made.

It seems that the Watchtower leaders interpret words and texts in their own way. Here is my pretty much verbatim quote on how this Finnish JW leader commented the case in Bulgaria:

"...this deal by Bulgaria is such that when the European human-rights court gave two weeks ago a decision, that the Bulgarian government must register Jehovah's Witnesses, that Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be classified as a destructive sect or religion, so Jehovah's Witnesses do not tell what a particular individual does, so this deal means this, that every individual has a full freedom of conscience to do, and Jehovah's Witnesses do not tell in a centralized way what someone does or does not do. And that's what that deal means."

He said this and other things relating to this Bulgarian case in a way that it seemed that nothing is changed. As though whole time every JW has had a individual freedom of conscience to do as he wants. No coercion from the Society. Everybody freely chooses not to take transfusions. I hope you get my meaning.

If the Bulgarian decision is interpreted this way by the Society it means that Society is bluffing big way. In this case the Society should be demanded to use language that cannot be open to various interpretations as words seem to mean totally different thing to the Society than they mean to a normal reader.

I'm afraid that this interpretation may reflect the way the Society is going to view the Bulgarian case. Nothing changes. This is just another verbal slight-of-hand from the Society.


Pasi Turunen

Update 4-28-98

On April 28, 1998 we received a copy of the press release issued by the Watchtower's Public Affairs office. It appears below. Click here to view the actual press release that was faxed to us.

25 Columbia Heights

Phone:(718) 560-5600       Fax:(718) 560-5619

For Immediate Release   April 27, 1998

On March 9, 1997, the European Commission of Human Rights decided to accept the amicable settlement agreed to by the Government of Bulgaria and the Christian Association of Jehovah's Witnesses (Khristianski Sdruzhenie "Svideteli nu Iehova"). Word of this decision reached the attorneys for the Witnesses on March 20, 1998.

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 alternative 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. (Italics ours)

Jehovah's Witnesses are pleased that, through open communication, an amicable settlement was made between the Christian Association of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Government of Bulgaria. The terms of the agreement do not reflect a change in the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses. Rather, the agreement reflects an increased understanding of the concerns and actions of both parties.

The complaint before the Commission came because, on June 28, 1994, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers refused to renew the Association's registration as a religion. Following this decision, "various measures were taken against the activities of [Jehovah's Witnesses] and of its members. These included arrests, dispersal of meetings held in public and private locations and confiscation of religious materials," according to the Commission report.

"The more than 2,000 associated with Jehovah's Witnesses in Bulgaria feel confident that this agreement will allow them the freedom to practice their religion in Bulgaria," said Alain Garay, one of the attorneys for the Witnesses. "Not only is this a step forward for religious freedom in Bulgaria but it sets an example for religious freedom in all states with membership in the Council of Europe."

Jehovah's Witnesses, an international Christian brotherhood, number some five million worldwide. Presently, over 85,000 congregations, in some 230 lands, operate in conjunction with 104 branch offices.

Update 4-24-99

We later obtained a copy of the following letter from the WTS regarding their position on the Bulgarian agreement.

Just how the WTS leadership can reconcile this position with the facts is unclear. It is possible that they have rationalized that such deception constitutes "theocratic war strategy", as can be seen from the following quotation:

A great work is being done by the witnesses even in lands where their activity is banned. The only way they can fulfill the command to preach the good news of God's kingdom is by use of theocratic war strategy. ... So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. ... Today God's servants are engaged in a warfare, a spiritual, theocratic warfare, a warfare ordered by God against wicked spirit forces and against false teachings. ... At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work. —The Watchtower May 1, 1957, pages 285-286. 9 (italics ours)
Compare discussions of this policy in The Watchtower February 1, 1956, pages 76-90; June 1, 1960, page 252; Aid to Bible Understanding (1971) page 1061; Insight on the Scriptures (1988) vol. 2, page 245.

It is clear the Watchtower Society does not intend to honor the spirit of their agreement with Bulgaria, and the European Commission on Human Rights. There will continue to be "sanctions" and "control" despite their assurances to the contrary. This is truly a Crime, an Outrage, and a Delusion! The world must be educated about the deceptive practices of Watchtower leaders who have fully demonstrated that their word and even their sworn statements cannot be trusted, as was so amply demonstrated when leaders perjured themselves in their original application to the European Commission on Human Rights. Many sincere Jehovah's Witnesses and interested observers are dismayed by the conduct of the WTS leadership.

We encourage you to contact the WTS regarding their Bulgarian Blood Policy. You may email them at:

postmaster@watchtower.org or webmaster@watchtower.org

You may call, write, or send a fax and let them know how you feel about their deceptive policy.

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
Public Affairs Office
25 Columbia Heights
Phone: (718) 560-5600
Fax: (718) 560-5619

The Bulgarian Files. The documented, incontrovertible proof that the WTS maintains two blood policies - one for Bulgaria and another for the rest of the world - or that the WTS has misrepresented it's blood policy before the European Commission on Human Rights.