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Ray Hemming

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The Ray Hemming Story

Watchtower Society Attacks AJWRB member

We have been closely following this story as it developed over the last few months and can now share the details with you. It clearly illustrates that despite claims to the contrary, there is no room for debate or even discussion of the blood issue within the Witness community at this time. Additionally, it also is symbolic of the sacrifices that AJWRB members around the world are making in the interest of the welfare of the Witness community. It is bewildering to see how an organization that demands freedom and human rights for its members from the governments of this world can be so quick to deny these same rights to its own members.

View the WTS letter to Br. Hemming

September 28, 1999

Dear Brothers,

If there is one doctrine that people identify with Jehovah's Witnesses, it is their teaching on blood and their refusal of blood transfusions. This doctrine is an intrinsic part of their faith. It was a doctrine I sincerely believed in, and was willing to die for. As for my children, I believed that if an emergency arose, non-blood management would be the answer, but I would not see blood transfusion as an option. Hopefully things would work out well in the end. My faith in this doctrine was soon put to the test.

About 3 years after my baptism, my daughter who was then 7 years old fell very ill with severe Tonsillitis she had lost a lot of weight through it, and become quite weak. Our family doctor referred us to a nearby hospital for consultation, it was advised that her Tonsils should be removed. But physicians would not agree to perform the operation without the back up of blood, even though it was a relatively straightforward procedure. I remember nervously asking him to read our Blood booklet "Jehovah's Witnesses and the question of blood" that's all we had in those days, there was no Hospital Liaison Committees etc. at that time. He said he had read this booklet and refused to discuss the matter any further. So we had a choice, should we risk it and agree to the physicians terms? The question did not even enter our heads, we sought help from another source, namely Homeopathy. Fortunately the help we received, helped our daughter through that critical period and she regained her strength and health.

This doctrine raises people's temperatures, like no other Bible subject when discussed in the ministry. It is a subject that I and many who I worked with, in the ministry, would try to avoid, because of the emotional and adverse reaction that often followed. Never would I have dreamt, that one day I would be arguing the fact, that the Watchtower's blood policy is very wrong. This blood issue, is what finally led me, to being dissfellowshipped from Jehovah's Witnesses.

It all started one day, while I was looking up information on the internet, concerning the1914 Generation doctrine. I came to the Website "New Light on Blood". I was stunned! This Website had people who are Elders and HLC members, still operating within the Organization. How can this be I thought?

The enormous amount of information presented, Biblical and scientific, the experiences of those affected by this policy, the history of the Watchtower's shifting position with regard to medical issues, caused me to overturn "strongly entrenched things" (2 Corinthians 10:4). I presented some of this information, in the form of a letter to an Elder who's relative was a HLC member. I got no response. I then sent out letters to brothers who were appointed men in the congregation, inviting their comments, none responded. These brothers who were once close to my family and I, proceeded to report me. I soon got a visit from the Elders.

It became apparent that the control mechanisms that operate in this Organization strangled open comment, all were fearful of speaking, even in private to me.

Soon a judicial committee was set up, the charge? Apostasy! I agreed to attend the meeting in the hope of making them think about this doctrine differently, and perhaps strike a cord in their hearts. I never expected them to agree with me on the subject, it would have put them in the same position as myself. I had four meetings, the first one there were three elders, the second, third and fourth meeting, there were four elders.

I believe that to a degree, I did make them think about the blood issue in a way they had not done so before. Jesus Christ spoke about worship to God, he said "learn what this means ‘that I want Mercy not Sacrifice’". He demonstrated this when he gave the example of David, while on the run from King Saul. A priest gave him some of the Show bread at the Temple, something unlawful under their law. The same principle would logically apply today, even if we were under this law, Jesus was demonstrating that the spirit behind the law was love. The religious leaders could not see this, that's why they objected to Jesus disciples plucking grains of wheat on the Sabbath. Does God want the sacrifice of thousands of men, woman and children over this law? Does this seem reasonable, when we reflect on Jesus words? Jesus said "learn what this means". Jehovah's Witnesses as an Organization have not yet learned this principle with regard to blood.

There were many points that I brought to their attention, the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses don't actually abstain from blood anyway, they accept many blood components. The fact that serums (with blood components) became acceptable to the Watchtower, on the basis that it was not feeding on blood, and they are now acknowledging that a blood transfusion is essentially an Organ tissue transplant. Is this feeding on blood? I think not. So what basis is there for now refusing blood?

There were some questions raised by the New Light on Blood web-site, which I presented to them. The elders asked why did I not raise these questions with those at London Bethel, I think hoping to shift some of the responsibility away from themselves. So I did just that. I sent a letter. The answer I got back was much as I expected. There was no attempt to answer any of the questions. I don't think this is what the elders were hoping for because it was some weeks before they met with me again and only after I reminded them about the matter.

At the end of the final meeting, they informed me that I was disfellowshipped. This was no surprise to me. I then appealed to their humanity, "Do you believe that this is Jehovah's justice and you have acted with the love of Christ?" I said this because these brothers knew the work I had done in this Congregation and the sincerity in which I applied myself. The presiding overseer said coldly, that I would "die at Armageddon", if I continued as I was. I left with a "goodbye".

The irony of all this is the Watchtower could change its position regarding blood, as it has done in the past and these same brothers would then have to argue in favor of the new policy. The truth then is not the issue in these cases or loyalty to Christ or ones own conscience, but loyalty to Organizational directives.


Ray Hemming