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Most AJWRB members must remain anonymous, or face severe sanctions from the WTS. There are some members who are now able to work openly, including our Public Affairs Director, pictured at right.
Manipulating the Media - The Watchtower Society's Strategy and Tactics for Dealing with the Press
BBS Interview - AJWRB founder Lee Elder and WTS spokesman Paul Gillies are interviewed by radio show host Roger Bolton.
Q: Who are the AJWRB?
A: The Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood is a diverse group of Witnesses and other concerned citizens from many countries. Some members are elders and Hospital Liaison Committee members or have previously served in that capacity. Additionally, other members are from the medical field or have friends or relatives who are Witnesses. All have volunteered their time and energies in an effort to bring about an end to a tragic and misguided policy that has claimed thousands of lives, many of them children.
Q: How widespread is the AJWRB?
A: Because of the necessity of strict confidentiality, the group is organized mainly on the Internet. We are in over 23 countries, including Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the U.S.A. Our members include congregation elders, former overseers and members of the Hospital Liaison Committee, (a specialized group of elders who mediate between physicians and Jehovah's Witness patients).
Q: Why do you propose a reform of the blood policy?
A: We believe informed consent or refusal of any medical treatment should be based on personal decision after consideration of risks, benefits and, in our case, religious consideration. The Bible mentions that we should not eat blood under certain conditions, but nowhere in the Bible are blood transfusions prohibited for the purpose of saving human life and treating disease. Moreover, the policy has numerous contradictory rules which have no biblical basis. For example, we believe it is absurd to refuse plasma while accepting every component of plasma as long as they are taken separately.
The WTS has recently taken a public stance that each Jehovah's Witness patient has a freedom to choose their medical treatment without sanctions from the organization. The reality is that the WTS continues to threaten the penalty of expulsion and ostracism of any Jehovah's Witnesses who conscientiously choose to receive blood transfusions, and thereafter do not confess repentance of their actions. We believe deeply that such religious sanctions are wholly unjustified. They are imposed to coerce every Jehovah's Witness to refuse blood, even at the cost of their lives. We believe that the WTS should teach all Jehovah's Witnesses to decide what medical treatment they may accept or refuse based on their Bible-trained conscience, and that none of us should be punished because of such a personal decision.
Q: Why are you anonymous?
A: Questioning the WTS makes us targets. Any WTS member who questions the organization’s policies is considered apostate and will be expelled from our religion and shunned by our community. Since our purpose is to influence reform of this ill-fated doctrine as members from within the organization, we are forced to remain anonymous.
Q: Are you trying to draw people away from the Jehovah's Witnesses?
A: No. We are re-affirming their right to remain as members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and to make their own conscientious decisions about the medical use of blood, without control or sanctions from the Watchtower Organization.
Q: Are you trying to destroy the Watchtower Society or depose of its leaders?
A: No. The AJWRB has no agenda to overthrow our religious organization or to remove the members of the current Governing Body. Our fight is not against men, but against the policy that prohibits free choice of medical treatment for members of the JW community.
Q: Is it unrealistic to hope for a change in the blood policy?
A: The quest for religious freedom has always been a difficult battle. It may seem impossible to reform the blood ban. But reform has occurred before. Previous bans were lifted against vaccinations, organ transplants and many products that contain blood fractions. There are indications that eventually the use of all blood products may become a personal choice. We seek to save lives by speeding up the rate of reform and by educating the JW community of all the facts about blood, and by helping the medical community to deal with their JW patients. We firmly believe that "with God, all things are possible".