Friday, November 07, 2008

Vinny's Letter Of Disassociation.

Dear Brothers,

I am writing to share with you the recent turn of events, which have caused some very significant changes in certain viewpoints that I hold to, and in my life altogether. I truly believe that I have always been a zealous person for Jehovah throughout my entire life in the truth. I have been baptized for over 15 years now, since June of 1990, with another three years of studying before baptism. My family and I have always been regular at the meetings (as you all well know), regular and active in service, always present at our assemblies and conventions. We've always participated in our Kingdom Hall cleaning and maintenance assignments. We auxiliary pioneered often. I have served as an Elder for many years. I served as a magazine assistant and then servant years ago, did the literature for a while, handled the territory for years, as well as a couple years doing the accounts. I never refused a privilege (that I can recall) and like many of you have given more talks than I can remember. I conducted book studies as well as the Theocratic Ministry School during my years as an elder. My life in, and appreciation for the truth has always been something I valued tremendously. I've also made it a point to have a regular family-study with my wife and kids. I always tried to make the studies enjoyable and somewhat entertaining. Whenever they did make mistakes or developed less-spiritual attitudes, I always counseled, encouraged and tried to help them. When they made serious mistakes, in addition to my own corrective and helpful measures, I helped them to see the need to also go forward by going to the elders and getting the necessary discipline and counsel. Nothing was ever to be hidden. We all regularly participated in the meetings as well. I always invited my family to try to share at least one comment at each meeting if at all possible. I almost always kept up with the day's text and weekly bible reading schedule too. We socialized extensively, with more sleepovers and get-togethers than can be remembered. We were often one of the last ones to leave the Kingdom Hall after meetings. There have never been any doubts about my love for Jehovah. He has always been very real to me. My relationship with him is now and has always been very special to me!

Recently however, I've had some issues come up into my life that have challenged these convictions, my core beliefs and even my explicit trust in the organization itself. I have always simply "trusted" what the faithful slave teaches us even if I did not necessarily understand particular viewpoints. Back in early 1990 for example, when I was going over my baptism questions, I remember not being fully convinced of the society's position regarding no blood transfusions. During that second set of questions at my house, the elder suggested that I just try to trust the Society's direction for now (since this was the only serious doubt that I had) and perhaps later on down the road I would begin to see our position on this issue more clearly. Well, I did just what he suggested. If the organization can be right about a paradise earth, condition of the dead, rejection of the Trinity etc etc, I figured it must be right about this issue as well. After all, we do believe this is the only organization Jehovah is truly using today. Trusting it was always easy for me. No questions asked!

Well, while keeping up with the news one day back in November, I noticed there was a very flattering article on the MSNBC News Website front page; the title of the article was "Jehovah's Roofing Service". It was about Jehovah's Witnesses volunteering to put on a new roof for a Hurricane Katrina victim. The article was so encouraging that I e-mailed it to many friends in the truth; something I rarely do if at all. At the bottom of that article however, I noticed people were publicly commenting about the article itself. After the first day there were perhaps some 30 comments. The next day there was over 100. After a few more days they finally capped the comments off with almost three hundred altogether. Some were critical, (mostly "the Witnesses only help their own" variety) a few were casual and nice, but most were from other Witnesses like us, defending the truth against these so-called "critics". In fact I too at one point sent in a comment defending the truth, though it was never posted since there were many others similar to it. There was one comment near the end however, that stopped to make me think several times throughout the next few weeks. It actually shook my faith a bit you might say. It presented negative comments about the truth that I had never heard of before. So much so, that I had to look up Watchtower and Awake articles to verify if these statements were in fact true. Well, after a little research, I found out that these comments were indeed true. One of the claims had to do with the Golden Age magazine (now the Awake) years ago saying that vaccinations were not allowed for Jehovah's Witnesses. The article said that accepting a vaccine was: "a crime, an outrage, and a delusion". It also said that the smallpox vaccination itself would: "cause syphilis, cancers, leprosy and many other loathsome diseases". For 21 years the Society did not allow vaccinations for Jehovah's Witnesses. I had never heard of this before. Even more of an issue for me from this same comment, was that I learned from 1967 to 1980, the Society also forbid Jehovah's Witnesses from accepting organ transplants. Going so far as calling it "cannibalism". The consequences for those accepting an organ transplant was disfellowshipping; complete shunning for those that did not follow this decree. After over 12 years, the society did finally reverse this, instead making it a "conscience matter". My immediate thoughts after learning about these two facts were; I wonder how many people died from following the Society's direction regarding these two medical procedures? This information bothered me quite a bit.

Since 1945 blood transfusions have been completely unacceptable for Jehovah's Witnesses. Since 1961, disfellowshipping was the consequence. This
position against blood transfusions has been well publicized with numerous articles throughout the years in many of the Society's publications. Transfusing certain "fractions of blood" has just recently become a "conscience matter", rather than forbidden. Storing our own blood for an operation, as well as donating our own to the world's blood supply have always been condemned as well. As I have already mentioned here, I have always been uneasy with this particular position by the society that blood transfusions (even as a last resort) are not allowed. However, like I also mentioned above, I have always simply taken the position to "trust the Society" with issues like this that I may not have agreed with nor fully understood. Realizing now however, from this newer information to me that the society has made incorrect stands in the past regarding vaccinations and organ transplants (and since reversed these), has caused an even greater sense of concern in my mind over this issue regarding blood transfusions today. After coming to learn about these things I have since dedicated enormous amounts of time and efforts to come to a better understanding of this position both in the eyes of the Society, as well as from the medical community during the last few months. I have researched and studied and compared notes from too many articles to list here. I have extensively compared scriptures from several bible translations to try to gain the fullest understanding possible. Because of the fact that people have died, and will continue to do so, it is imperative to me that I fully understand the reasons for our position. Though my children are now fully grown up and can make their own educated decisions, I still actively participate in the door-to-door ministry encouraging others to join us in worshiping Jehovah as his Witnesses. This position of abstaining from blood transfusions could very well affect those that I might happen to bring into the organization or their children. After many months now of continuous soul-searching, prayer, exhaustive research and meditation/reflection of this research, I have come to the firm conclusion that the society's position to abstain from blood transfusions is in error. Just like it was on vaccinations and organ transplants prior, which have since been reversed. I base this conclusion on many factors, which include:

*** A blood *transfusion* is not the same as eating or drinking blood as has been illustrated with the: "If a doctor told you to abstain from alcohol, but instead of drinking it, you transfused it into your veins..." illustration that the society often uses. If a person was starving to death and was given multiple blood transfusions instead of food, he would still die. A transfusion of blood replaces the volume of blood lost (much like replacing an organ) which is needed to sustain life, nothing more. No nourishment is gained by a blood transfusion, as would be the case when eating or drinking the blood, which is forbidden. This illustration often used by the society does apply with alcohol and other digestible foods, but not for blood. It simply stays in your system indefinitely.

*** The scriptures in both the Hebrew and Greek sections of the bible, which say: "blood must be drained out" and to, "abstain from... blood" were always referring directly to the eating or drinking of animal blood. The blood of the animal that had been killed was to be "poured out" rather than eaten or drank. This token act of faith demonstrated to Jehovah that the life that had been taken belongs to him. The blood of the animal represents the life of that animal. Humans do have the right to take animals for food only because the creator allows us to do so. Pouring out the blood first, acknowledges this arrangement. By including modern day blood transfusions in the current application of these verses however (which is not the same as eating or drinking of animal blood), the society is going beyond what is actually written in its application. In addition, the one supplying the blood for a transfusion has not died at all, which was always the case when an animal was bled. A "living" donor instead provides the needed volume of blood-fluid that has been lost for another "living" individual. And in many cases over the years, as a last resort this has been and can still be a life-saving medical act. In other cases by refusing this particular medical treatment because of our stand against blood transfusions, lives have been and will continue to be lost. Is this what Jehovah wants, and is this premature loss of life really necessary?

*** We can also learn something about this from Jesus very own example. Jesus was also willing to perform miracles on the Sabbath (something against the mosaic law) in order to save lives, or even just heal the sick. Would not Jesus have made an exception then to a dietary rule in order to save a human life? In Luke 14:5-6, the bible account says: "And he said to them: "Who of YOU, if his son or bull falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?" 6 And they were not able to answer back on these things." The account in Mathew 12:11 goes even further, it says: "So they (Pharisees) asked him "Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?" that they might get an accusation against him. 11 He said to them: "Who will be the man among YOU that has one sheep and, if this falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not get hold of it and lift it out? 12 All considered, of how much more worth is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do a fine thing on the Sabbath." If Jesus was willing to value the life of an ANIMAL enough to rescue that animal's life despite this "work" being done on a Sabbath, how much more so then should the life of a human being be given priority over the strict interpretation of the law? Well, we need not really ask since Jesus answered this himself when he said in verse 12, "All considered, of how much more worth is a man than a sheep!". Yes rescuing a sheep from a pit on the sabbath is the loving and merciful thing to do. Additionally, Jesus performed many other miraculous works on the Sabbath. Yet to work on the Sabbath was to bring the death penalty upon oneself. And in fact, the scriptures actually record this penalty being meted out to a Sabbath violator. (See Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36. Here we see clear evidence though that Jesus appreciated the principle that love triumphs over law. That when life is at stake, (even an animal's life), rules can be set aside as circumstances require. LIFE is valuable and precious. Jesus showed this love for life and people over and over. While by contrast the oppressive, rule-keeping religious leaders often missed the entire purpose of the law. By not allowing a blood transfusion to be given, especially in last-resort situations, but rather allowing these ones to die instead, is the proper "respect" for life being shown as Jesus clearly demonstrated? Imagine if this involved allowing one of "our own" to die due to such a strict stand by the society.

*** I've also appreciated another example that demonstrates this same "principle" of Jesus' valuing a person's life over the written law. It had to do with the woman who had a flow of blood for 12 years. Under the Mosaic Law a running discharge made her "unclean", and anyone even touching her would also have to wash and be considered unclean until evening. However, she went even further than this by actually touching Jesus garment secretly in hopes of getting healed without anyone knowing. Jesus as we know, perceived that power went out from him and realized what she had done. Others too were watching. Notice though, that rather than condemn this woman for what she did, Jesus instead compassionately tells her: "Your faith has made you well. Go in peace, be in good health from your grievous sickness...." Once again we can see the spirit of the law (and the value of a human life) taking precedence over the supposed letter of the law, which the woman had clearly broken.

*** Acts 15:28-29 (which is the foundation scripture for society's position against blood transfusions since the Mosaic Law is no longer in force -this too is the society's view-) reads: 28 "For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to YOU, except these necessary things, 29 to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If YOU carefully keep yourselves from these things, YOU will prosper. Good health to YOU!" The society considers this to be an all-encompassing, absolute, eternal command. However, notice that along with abstaining from blood, we also hear the command to abstain from "things sacrificed to idols" Now, if you read 1 Corinthians 8:4-8, we can see that Paul there says that the "eating of food sacrificed to idols" was really a conscience matter. Obviously then, the Acts 15:28-29 could not have such a broad, absolute meaning since another part of that same scripture is considered a conscience matter by the apostle Paul in another verse. This decision instead was rendered so that the newer "Gentile" Christians would be conscious not to stumble the more traditional Jewish Christians, many of which were still rooted in Mosaic Law. The decision was acknowledged that they were not under Mosaic Law any longer. However to prevent unnecessarily stumbling of these ones, this decree was given. This is also how bible scholars today understand these verses. Paul's words quoted above at 1 Cor 8:4-8 verify this since again, he there states that eating foods sacrificed to idols is a personal decision. The command to abstain from fornication is an absolute, eternal command, since it is clearly repeated often throughout the Christian Greek scriptures. Not the case at all regarding blood. Nowhere else is this mentioned. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5: 19-21 contain many specific warnings for Christians, but blood is not one of them. Nor is it mentioned anywhere else in the Greek scriptures.

*** If consuming blood was such a capitol offense, why were Saul's men not executed when they fell to eating blood along with the meat? (1 Sam. 14:31-35)

*** I also wanted to find out how the most traditional, conservative and orthodox Jews today felt about accepting blood transfusions, since they still object to any traces of blood in their meat and other strict dietary guidelines from the bible by insisting on kosher foods. After researching, I found out that they DO accept blood transfusions, considering these bible commands to be based on the eating and drinking of animal blood; something a blood transfusion is not.

*** Another thing that now clouds the blood transfusion issue altogether for me is the 2000 decree that certain blood "fractions" are now permissible. Many of these are now considered a "conscience matter". Just a few years ago most of these were forbidden. I have studied this very carefully and thoroughly as well. Some of these "fractions" take far more blood and donors to make them, than accepting the whole blood unaltered takes. Some hemophiliac treatments for example, (which have been long permitted) require the collection and storage of massive quantities of blood (up to 2500 blood donors for a single treatment). These are not just some made-up numbers thrown out here, but can be easily verified. Other more common "fractions" still require many liters of blood, from many different people to donate. It is often just a "concentrated" form of blood. These facts bring up two different, problematic issues in my mind then. For one, how can we say that we as Jehovah's Witnesses "abstain from blood", since all of these fractions that Watchtower Society now permits like albumin, EPO, hemoglobin, blood serums, Immunoglobulins, and hemophiliac treatments (clotting factors VIII & IX) clearly tap into the world's blood supply and can be (and are) used by Jehovah's Witnesses today? And two, if then, we as Jehovah's Witnesses can with a clear conscience now USE these fractions that come from the blood supply, why are we then forbidden from donating to this same blood supply that we now are allowed to tap into? And, why are we still not allowed to store our own blood? The pouring of blood "back to the ground" was long ago nailed to the torture stake when Jesus sacrificed his life; hence we are no longer under that Mosaic series of laws. It sure appears to me then, that we no longer abstain from blood, and can and do dip into the worlds blood supply, often in great quantity, yet we are still not allowed to put back into this same supply, nor can we store our own blood.

Another problem with "fractions" (for me) is that certain fractions such as "Albumin" ARE acceptable by the society, but others making up even smaller amounts are not. "Albumin" for example is a blood plasma protein that is produced in the liver and forms a large proportion of all plasma protein. This "authorized" fraction, Albumin, however makes up just 2.2 percent of the whole blood and again IS approved by the society today. White blood cells on the other hand are NOT allowed, not authorized by the society, yet these white blood cells make up less that one percent of whole blood. White blood cells are absolutely needed to fight infections and are often very important for accident and post-surgical patients. Yet again, these white blood cells are not acceptable by the society. Another fraction, Blood "Platelets" are needed to help cause clotting, so people do not bleed to death (especially important with chemotherapy, other cancer treatments and hemophiliacs). Yet platelets are another fraction NOT authorized. Platelets make up only .17 percent of whole blood. That's not even one quarter of one percent, (a far smaller portion than albumin). Yet these platelets are forbidden by the Society. I have read the literature and fail to see the logic of this "approved" and "disapproved" list with no explanations anywhere. It's also worth noting that if you add up all of the fractions that ARE acceptable by the society, you come up with a total of 97 percent of what makes up whole blood that is pumping through our veins right now. However, these cannot be taken together as whole blood, but must be instead broken down and taken separately, in minute fractions. It has been compared before to being allowed to eat ham, bread and cheese, as long as they're kept and eaten separately. Yet not being allowed to eat them together for instance as a ham and cheese sandwich. I just fail to see the reasonableness in this kind of doctrine. "Hemopure" is an acceptable blood-product that Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to use. It is made from purified bovine, or in simpler terms, Cow's Blood. How can we as humans be allowed to use this purified animal blood today, yet not be allowed to use our own blood, or that of another living human donor?

So then, when I add up all of the facts listed above here; that blood transfusions are not the same as eating blood. That the scriptures themselves are always referring to the "eating or drinking" of animal blood that is forbidden (not transfusions). How Paul shows at 1 Corinthians. 8:4-8 that the Acts 15:29 command is not all encompassing command but had a particular purpose. That Saul's men were not killed after eating blood. How the strictest of Jews today allow blood transfusions. That Jesus clearly demonstrated how life (even that of an animal) was more important than a narrow, strict interpretation of the law, with the "animal that fell into a pit on the Sabbath" illustration he used, and the "Woman with a flow of blood" real-life example. How the one donating blood is a LIVE donor and offering this blood to another person that is also alive and in need. That the Society was wrong before about forbidding vaccinations and organ transplants and then reversed these decisions. Many loyal Witnesses nonetheless died from such stands. And, the Society has now changed its position once again, instead of saying no to all blood, to now say "fractions" of blood are acceptable, even though the particular fractions approved and disapproved seem to have no particular rhyme or reason and we are still not allowed to donate blood nor store their own. Though we can use cow's blood. It seems fairly easy for me then, to come to the conclusion that I can no longer support the society's position on blood transfusions today. In fact I believe it was an erroneous decision from the beginning, and has only been made even more confusing and unstable with the latest "fractions" adjustments.

So, what does one do then? I do love the truth, and certainly the friends in the truth. I have no problems at all with any people in the truth and have spent almost half of my life now in the organization. I believe I get along with about everybody. No exaggerating. This is solely a personal position, a conscience matter regarding organizational policies that I can no longer agree with and accept. If a person I brought into the truth allowed one of their own to die because of this stand, that I helped them to take, I would have a difficult time living with myself. Not only can I no longer support this blood position with a clear conscience, but after thoroughly investigating, I believe it is truly wrong. I can also no longer with a clear conscience bring other people into the organization, since blood is a very integral and well-known position of Jehovah's Witnesses. I cannot see a way around this. Even if the Society were to reverse itself entirely, how would anybody feel about losing a loved one during the last 60 years this has been in force, only to have the policy changed altogether? And what took them so long would be monumental issues in the eyes of many. Imagine how much work would be involved in overhauling all of the literature if this position were reversed. The Bible Topics for Discussion sections for example in the new world translation bibles would have to be changed, and many other things... too many to list here. So I cannot quite see this reversal happening anytime soon if at all. Though others feel a reversal is imminent.

What complicates this entire issue even further for me now, and adds another problem with the organization in my mind, is another entirely separate issue (which I also find greatly disturbing) that will follow my change of position here now. IF I cannot support this doctrine on blood any longer, and if I cannot with a clear conscience have my blood card signed to refuse blood transfusions, I would then be considered as having "disassociated" myself from the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses by this particular stand in and of itself. If another brother or sister were to ask me "why are you no longer going out in the ministry", or "what has happened to you spiritually", or things appear to have changed with you etc. etc.; if I were to reply to them by sharing my honest opinions about the organization's past mistakes, and my opinions disagreeing with the Watchtower Society, I would then be disfellowshipped for Apostasy. This fact in itself does not sit too well with me since I have done nothing wrong here. I still love Jehovah; I love my wife and family. I do not drink, nor practice anything the bible tells me not to. I pay my taxes, try to live honestly and remain a good influence for my family and others. I have not changed as a person at all here. Yet because of a "conscience" issue, and because I can no longer support the society on what I truly believe is a flawed issue, I will be cut-off from my all of my brothers and sisters throughout the organization. This policy too, is just wrong! The Watchtower Society has stated in print several times that it is not infallible; that they DO make mistakes. Yet even though it admits mistakes have been made, it still insists that we as publishers accept whatever it teaches as if it were coming from God himself. Those that do not agree with these teachings and share those opinions (even though nothing else bad or unscriptural has been done) are subsequently disfellowshipped. Your life, as you know it, is ripped apart. To disfellowship another simply because that person might disagree with a particular interpretation of a teaching is not right, just or fair. Past history fully supports the idea that the society has been wrong before and can be wrong now. Organ transplants, vaccinations, end of the world predictions and other doctrinal errors to name just a few. Clearly they were wrong about these issues. Lives have been and are now involved with the current policy on blood transfusions. To be expected to fully support this policy or be expelled is just unreasonable and not in harmony with what we know about Jehovah. To encourage other people we meet in the ministry to "examine their religion", yet at the same time to forbid us to do the same is nothing short of hypocritical. We are told that we can examine our faith, though this must be done "In-house". In other words, only through the society's publications can we examine our religion. Any other sources that are critical are considered apostate and dangerous. I consider this position by the organization to be very similar to my wanting to buy a new Nikon camera for example. Imagine if Nikon told me that I could ONLY use their-own reference material to gain information? Consumer Reports, Popular Photography or any other "Non-Partisan" publication would be completely off limits. And, if I did go to these "outside" sources, and shared any critical opinions/reviews with others, I would no longer be allowed to even buy their camera, plus other people who like Nikon cameras would have to now shun me altogether. How reasonable is this? This is exactly what the society is doing. Those that know me will tell you that whenever I make any type of serious purchase, I do my homework and extensive research. We just recently purchased a high-end scanner; I spent perhaps two months or more comparing scanners, reading reviews, learning as much as I possibly could about this piece of equipment before purchasing. If it is reasonable then to carefully "examine" the purchase of a piece of equipment, and it is reasonable to ask others in our ministry to carefully "examine" their own religion, why is it unreasonable then to carefully "examine" our own religion and means of worshiping God? And, if one does examine his faith and does find problems and then expresses these concerns about what he has learned, how can the "complete removal" of that person be considered anything but completely unfair?

This position also has nothing to do with my own son being disfellowshipped, though some I am sure will choose to believe otherwise. I will however add this information about this personal ordeal that brings to light another problem; After receiving a very emotional phone call from my disfellowshipped son thousands of miles away in September 2004, I was told by one of our elders that it was, "wrong for me to have accepted that phone call". Instead he said I should have told him to "locate the elders in his territory" and that "we need to tighten up things around here in our congregation". This was the most insensitive counsel that I have ever heard in my years in the truth. His mother had recently committed suicide just a couple of years before, he had just turned 18, was own his own for the first time in his life, disfellowshipped, was 5000 miles from home and felt extremely lonely, sad and despondent. Sure, I could have "turned down" that call all right. Who in his right frame of mind though would have done such a thing to their own son or daughter, in such a time of need? Then, nine months later, after discussing it with the rest of my family, we agreed to allow him to return to living in our house, from Maui. (This decision was due to his very deep depression, suicidal tendencies, a drug dependency problem, and having the ACL torn out in his knee...all at the same time). We agreed to allow him back home to get the help needed to get back on his feet, under very strict circumstances I might add (as the watchtower allows) which included his going to meetings, bringing no leaven into the home, turning his life back around by serving Jehovah, (which he did for six months by the way). I was then told by this same elder that my decision to allow him home was "cutting the hand of Jehovah short, and another big mistake", and because of this erroneous decision on my part, I as his father "might be the one destroyed at Armageddon". This same elder then took me off the watchtower reader's list for the first time in my eight years living on this island. (I had no problem with this, but felt I should at least be told about it) When I inquired as to whether it was just a coincidence or by design that I was missing from that list, he told me that it was by "choice" and that there would be "more where that came from". While this "list" of unreasonable responses about my helping my own son after his being disfellowshipped may seem completely unfair and far less than loving, the brother himself truly believed what he was doing was the correct thing. I will also add that there was very little personal resentment on either of our parts. He sincerely believed he was just doing what the society wanted. One of the things I cannot understand then, is how we as Jehovah's Witnesses can spend enormous amounts of time assisting other people in our ministry --people that are often depressed, fighting addictions, language issues, living at times as we know very ungodly lives--, to do better and we ultimately give these ones the help and assistance needed so they can serve God in an acceptable manner. However, if one of our very OWN people or family members has been disfellowshipped, and happens to fall into a similar dangerous pattern (one that often begs for loving assistance now more than ever) we have minimal provisions at all to help these ones of our own to get back onto their feet. They in fact must be "cut off" and completely shunned by all at a time when many will actually need help the most. The example of my son above illustrates this well. For someone to lose their mother at such a young age (15) via a gun in her mouth, and then spiral into a course of rebellion is not that uncommon. But to completely have to cut that person off, without any assistance whatsoever from the congregation, when help is MOST needed at this time, is contrary to what the scriptures teach us about Jehovah. He continued to ask the Israelites to come back to him over and over. Even assisting these former rebels to gain his favor once again. Now, because this same individual (my son) now moves out of my home, I too, as his father, am expected to cut off all ties and association with him. Even keeping business dealings to a minimum. There are downtimes in our lives when we need help and support and love, rather than just blindly cutting these ones off indefinitely. Where is the balance, the love and the help in such a policy as this today? Even if these disfellowshipped ones did turn their course of life around, and did become married, faithful, honest etc. By not agreeing to go back to the meetings for six months (minimum) or sometimes much longer in this shunned state, and then to go back in front of a judicial committee for judging whether they have truly repented, these people would remain disfellowshipped for the rest of their lives.

This letter here and my changes in position toward the organization itself are not based on this situation with my son, or any other "personal" problems. It is solely because of my making a reasonable, logical and careful examination about certain policies that we as Jehovah's Witnesses often blindly accept without questions. This change is not based on any personal problems or, my wanting to leave the organization. In fact leaving is the LAST thing I have even wanted to do. I have always valued the organization. After an exhaustive examination, that has taken many months to go through. And after coming to learn many things I did not know before when I was younger and much more naïve than now. There are four specific issues that have changed my opinions about and support for the Watchtower Society today.

1- For the many reasons clearly stated above, I am thoroughly convinced the position to abstain from blood transfusions is wrong. Lives, in my honest opinion, are needlessly lost because of this dangerously flawed doctrine. Allowing certain blood "fractions" since the year 2000 only complicates and muddies this position even further. Being allowed to USE some fractions from the world blood supply, but not being able to donate towards this same supply, nor store my own blood for medical use, only adds the additional element of hypocrisy to this stand that Jehovah's Witnesses are known the world over for taking. The lack of reasons why some fractions are allowed and other (though smaller) fractions are not allowed adds further to the quandary the society has found itself in today. This stand usually does not give a good witness nor leave a positive impression on people's minds at all.

2- The Society has a lengthy history of other doctrinal mistakes and medical blunders such as not allowing vaccinations and organ transplants in the not so distant past. These mandates were wrong when they first came off the presses and they were wrong many years later when finally reversed. To attribute these flip-flops to "the light getting brighter" is just irresponsible. Jehovah does not change his mind like this. He is a "God of truth"... "Who cannot lie". Imperfect men in positions of oversight have made these doctrinal decisions, which have caused lives to be cut short without justifiable reasons. There were no apologies made either. This poor historical record of mistakes only makes the current blood transfusion policy even more suspect. Implicit trust in an organization that has a track record of mistakes and errors like this is simply foolish, dangerous and irresponsible. Especially when we must force these policies on younger, inexperienced, helpless ones. To be forced into "practice sessions" with our young people so they can make a better stand against blood transfusions does not sound right either.

3- The number of times the Society has predicted the "end of the world" is surprisingly large. I never knew just how often this was the case. The end of the system was predicted, in writing, in these years: 1874, 1875, 1881, 1888, 1914, 1915, 1918, (could occur in 1920), 1925, ("resurrection of Princes" in 1929), 1932, 1940, ("any day now" in 1942), ("why not now" in 1951), 1975, and before the generation that was born in 1914 dies, which was dropped in 1996 after it was clearly another false prediction. Every one of these predictions, in writing, has proved false. People sold homes, gave up opportunities to start families, secure employment, gave up opportunities for an education and instead spread a message of doom that was simply untrue with each prediction made. All of these failed. We really are known the world over for these continuous false "end of the world" prophecies. When looking up information from secular (non-apostate, such as encyclopedia) sources, each authority said basically the same thing; that Jehovah's Witnesses are known the world over for our "many end of the world proclamations", that did not come true. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 pointedly states this: "However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 21 And in case you should say in your heart: "How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?" 22 when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.'"

4- Despite the numerous errors in doctrine, medical mistakes, end of the world false predictions and unscriptural blood transfusion bans that fill its pages of history, the society still demands full support of its policies and doctrines today. Notice this comment from a 5/1/72 WT (page 272): "That they [Jehovah's Witness] must adhere absolutely to the decisions and scriptural understandings of the Society because God has given it this authority over his people." If this is God's true and only channel, how then can they be so wrong, so often, on doctrine, medical issues, end of the world predictions, and yet still demand complete obedience from its members or face risk of complete shunning? If any baptized Witness *expresses* his thoughts (even if only as opinions) that are contrary to what is taught in the Society's publications right now, they will be disfellowshipped for disrupting unity. Squashed like a bug. This "squelching mechanism" that I like to call it keeps an unhealthy fear in its rank and file members to stay in line. Losing all contact with friends and family is just too much to bear for many. Life as you know it is gone. In addition, we are also told time and again not to even consider looking at outside sources. All of this "outside material" is called "apostate literature." The term "Apostate" applies based on one simple criterion; is it critical of the organization? Most sources critical of the organization are not apostate. They are secular; and they are often simply stating the facts about this organization. Facts, that the society does not want its members to know anything about. Our examining the society can ONLY be done, we are told, if it is done within the organization. So, by not being allowed to examine our own faith through outside sources, and by having the ever-present threat of disfellowshipping hovering over us if we were to speak critically of the organization, most Jehovah's Witnesses do not even know about these many issues that I have just posted above. As a nearly 20 year member, I too never knew many of these things (because we are told not to) until I finally decided to examine based on the unusual circumstances mentioned above about seeing an article on a national news website that allowed critical comments about the organization after the article. Comments that shook my faith so much I decided to investigate things further. Comments that I was not supposed to look at not even think about because they are called "Apostate".

Additionally, I have other (though perhaps less serious) issues that raise doubts in my mind as well. For example, many of the brothers are far more concerned about their "positions" than they are with the genuine well being of the PEOPLE in the congregations. Over and over I have seen this clearly demonstrated. It is sad to watch. Nowhere is it more obvious that when the circuit overseer visits twice each year. The manner in which many people change for these visits regarding their comments, showing up for service, finally arriving on time and being friendlier is remarkably transparent at times. Also, having to count our time each month and then turn in that time to the headquarters just seems to take away from the value of really wanting to talk to others. Service can at times just be about getting in our double-digit numbers rather than about truly helping people. The real meaning of witnessing can be lost. I know of many others that feel this way as well. There just seems at times to be so many rules if one wants to remain in good standing. Brothers cannot grow any type of beards. Cannot even work on military or church buildings if self-employed. We're not talking about worshiping there, but even performing a service in these places is forbidden. We cannot even go into another church for a funeral or wedding of another friend, family member or relative. Our children are not allowed to play any organized sports or join other clubs in or out of school. We are "not encouraged" to get pschycological help for those that really need it. Sisters have to wear dresses at all meetings, service, assemblies etc. I realize many of these are minor to some, but they just illustrate the point that we are governed, as an organization by a set of many rules and regulations that are not all scriptural. This list can just go on and on.

Any ONE of these many issues that are listed above could raise serious doubts in my mind about whether this religion is in fact the one and only truth. However, when I add up ALL these issues together (and many more things not even listed here), I cannot help but come to the inescapable conclusion in my mind, that this is not the sole truth on the earth today. That this is not the one single organization used by God that I had always believed it to be. This has been and will continue to be one of the most difficult things I have ever had to realize and accept. I do love the friends and have no ill feelings or animosity towards a single one. Not even one. This decision is not about people in this organization. I have many friends and have enjoyed my associations with all of Jehovah's Witnesses. This is instead about the "policies", the doctrinal policies that my conscience will no longer allow me to be a part of. Yes, I still see positive things being accomplished by this organization and have tried to balance it all out before making any definitive decisions. So I am not one-sided when it comes to evaluating the organization and my own subsequent position on what to do. I might compare this quandary I am in to something like driving a fancy sports car; there might be some truly "good" things it can do. Lots of power, great handling, maybe even a real beauty on the outside. But if you also knew it had these so-called "problems"; perhaps the brakes are known to just go out, or the gas tank explodes when hit from behind or has a lousy track record in terms of reliability, it would still be irresponsible in my sincere opinion to just disregard or "look the other way" when it comes to the apparent flaws that are obvious here... even though there is a measure of good too. The vehicle that I have chosen to use to worship God (this organization) is very flawed in my honest opinion. So much so, that I no longer find it acceptable to use to worship God. I am not trying to use some type of magnifying glass to intensify the negatives with the society in general or with regards to the blood transfusion position in particular. I am also not influenced by any so-called "apostate" propaganda. What I have written above here is entirely my own. How I personally feel, from my own evaluations, as carefully as I know how. These issues are real, and in my mind they are all very significant problems.

Because I am willing to share this research and information with those that may wish to ask why I no longer can support the organization today (as I'd hope others would do for me), I would soon be disfellowshipped from the organization by my local congregation. Disfellowshipped for simply sharing information that the organization does not want its members to find out on their own. Disfellowshipped for offering unbiased, reasonable, logical and well-researched opinions that are not supported by the Watchtower Society. I am therefore left with no other alternative that I can think of, but to disassociate myself from the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. It would hopefully be fair and reasonable to expect to be able to just go out into my own new direction while respecting each other's beliefs along the way. But instead, I will have to be treated as an outcast. Considered as one in the same light now as an unrepentant thief, murderer, drunkard, adulterer etc. Completely shunned, simply for disagreeing with the Watchtower Society's doctrine. Doctrine that has been proven to be wrong many times before. If anyone has another suggestion or idea that I have not already mentioned, or that might help, I am still open and willing to consider these as well. But I have already looked at all things as conscientiously and thoroughly as I am capable of doing for several months now. I sincerely appreciate those of you taking the time to of read all of this. At least you will know why I will no longer be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I wish everybody in the organization only good things. I have very fond memories too.

My very best to each and every one of you,


1 comment:

Edward Albright said...

Why would we care about one person's lack of faith and misinterpretation of the religion's beliefs?