Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

In Shocking Public Discourse, Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body Member Applauds Boy Who Died Refusing Blood Transfusion

It is a common misconception that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t accept medical treatment; in truth, they accept medical treatment and use medicines, but don’t accept whole blood transfusions.

While this isn’t as dangerous as some faith-healing cults and religions who reject all forms of medical treatment, whole blood can be necessary in emergency situations and for conditions like leukemia, or for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Jehovah’s Witnesses often try to downplay the seriousness of their refusal to accept blood, saying that there are many alternative forms of treatment available for patients. This can often be true, but this doesn’t mean that there are no risks involved for those who don’t accept blood transfusions, and that no deaths result because of it.

This is demonstrated in their own words, during a discourse given at the 2016 convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, wherein their governing body member Tony Morris outright brags about a “young fella” who refused a blood transfusion and who died because of it; the audience then actually claps of hearing of the boy’s death!

Interpretation, or Misinterpretation, of the Scriptures

It’s vital to first note that the way Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret the scriptures that seem to prohibit blood is decried by many bible scholars and experts; notes at this site:

“It is pertinent that Jews are allowed to have blood transfusions. Strict Orthodox Jews soak meat in water, salt it and then drain it in order to draw out all the blood. Yet no Jewish groups forbid blood transfusions. (Likewise, Muslims forbidden to drink blood are allowed transfusions as a life-saving procedure.) This is because Jewish kosher probation’s are waived in regards to life-saving medical use. Sustaining life overrules the Mosaic Law; a principle referred to as pikuach nefesh.”

There is also the hypocrisy of Jehovah’s Witnesses allowing members to take blood fractions, as if these fractions are somehow different than whole blood. Blood fractions are simply what’s needed to make up whole blood; prohibiting one but not the other is like saying you allow a person to eat ham and bread, but not a ham sandwich.


An especially noteworthy part of this experience is where Morris refers to doctors coming in to speak to the boy privately, telling him that he would die without a transfusion, as “persecution.” That’s interesting, because according to, one definition of “persecution” is:

a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group

Really, who was trying to “exterminate” the boy in this experience? Who was “subjugating” or controlling the child? The doctors were doing their job, in offering every medical treatment and option necessary and available. They wanted to discern if this was really his own decision or if his parents were pushing and goading him to follow their religion. How is this “persecution,” or picking on the boy? They wanted to save his life!

The parents, on the other hand, were subjugating or controlling him by forcing their beliefs on him; they were not necessarily looking to have him die, but they were willing to fight against a treatment that was needed to save his life. Truthfully, the parents were the ones allowing their child to be “exterminated” by vehemently denying him a lifesaving transfusion.

Buzz Words

Note another interesting point; Steve Hassan, a writer on cults and how they operate, has created a BITE model for determining if a religion or group is abusive. The BITE model refers to the control that is exercised over members’ Behavior, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions. One of the earmarks of this BITE model is:

“Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words.”

I would certainly say that trying to save a child’s life in any circumstances, and especially against the express wishes of his parents, could be considered a “complexity.” Yet, Morris here reduces the compassionate work of doctors, trying desperately to save a dying child, to “persecution.”

Think seriously about that for a moment; the parents were more than willing to let their son die based on a flawed, ever-changing doctrinal interpretation from their religion’s leaders, without ever doing any independent research as to the reliability of that interpretation, and the doctors who were trying to save him are the ones “persecuting” him.

Anyone who disagrees with Jehovah’s Witnesses is not simply suggesting their bible interpretation is wrong, or even trying to do their job in saving a child’s life; they are persecuting them, according to their governing body.

loadedHassan mentions in this same part of his BITE model that cults often create an “us vs. them” thinking. Calling the work of doctors, who are simply trying to save the life of a child, “persecution” can certainly accomplish just that. How dare doctors question you, how dare they offer to save your child’s life, how dare they show such disdain for your religion by offering an everyday, urgently needed medical option; how in the world do Jehovah’s Witnesses endure such “persecution”?

This type of loaded language can create an air of distrust from Jehovah’s Witnesses; doctors aren’t just doing their job and don’t have your best interests at heart, but are obviously agents of Satan, sent to test your faith by trying to save your child’s life, or so Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught.

Happy to Martyr Their Children

Obviously the most disturbing part of this video is the overall attitude that Morris and Jehovah’s Witnesses have about the fact that this “young fella” died because of this teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Morris refers to him as a “good example of faith,” and the audience applauds when they hear that he died.

blood-awake-19941Someone who dies protecting another person, I can understand being proud of them. Someone who dies because of refusing to back down to real, actual bullies, such as bullies who actually do “persecute” homosexuals or minorities, for example; I can get behind that.

However, doctors are not bullies, and this young man didn’t die protecting someone else. He died because of the religious beliefs of his parents, who follow a group of very flawed men in Brooklyn, men who have proven time and again that they have no real or authentic direction from god, and who have had to change their understanding of the bible and their teachings time and again. This young man didn’t just give up college or marriage or waste his time preaching that flawed doctrine; he died.

This young man won’t go to school, fall in love, get married, have children, see the world, or ever look up at the stars at night. All of those things were taken away from him because of this incessant need that the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has to control their members, and to insist on their flawed, horrific misinterpretation of blood, from which they will not back down.

Not only that, Jehovah’s Witnesses are proud when someone dies because of it. This child is a “good example” for others, someone to be applauded for dying for a pathetic religion.

There is no happiness when a child dies, there should never be applause when he or she gives up their life, or, more accurately, has that life stolen from them by arrogant, self-righteous, egotistical, self-serving men who have never had to face the same issues that they inflict on others. There is nothing exemplary about parents who would listen to such men, and who would put the empty sayings of strangers in New York above the life of their own child.

There is nothing commendable about an audience in an arena who would applaud this child’s death; shame on them for thinking this is something to acknowledge, much less celebrate.

My friend Bo Juel often refers to Jehovah’s Witnesses as  a “Jonestown in slow motion,” referring to the People’s Temple cult, led by Jim Jones, many of whom infamously died after drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses are just as guilty of drinking that Kool-Aid. They may not outright poison their members, but when parents fight against and resist lifesaving medical treatment for their children, based on blind obedience to their religion’s leaders, they are just as guilty.

When audience members applaud a child’s death based on that blind obedience, they are also guilty. How many more Witnesses, how many more children, need to die before others see that as well, and before Jehovah’s Witnesses are called to account for the blood they have on their hands?

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12 replies »

  1. This life is a mere blip…our children know this as well as us. How do you know the child may have died with the transfusion. Ok, so you don’t agree. Who are you? Is it your goal to condemn the JW’s, well done. Because of JWs fight for patient self determination of medical management, all patients’ rights are esteemed more than ever before. Study that and you may be surprised.

    • I was forced as a young, unbaptized child of Jehovah’s Witnesses to sign and carry around a “blood card” advising the medical community that I refused to accept blood under any circumstances, even if to save my life. I should have been given the right to make my own decisions regarding my health care; those decisions should not be dictated by a hierarchy group of men who have decided that my life is a “mere blip”, as you put it. You are free to consider your life and “this life” as a mere blip; however, I see life as very precious gift, and, consequently, I wish to live my life in accordance with my own conscience, and to make the most of this life, on my terms. After all, isn’t that what Free Will is all about?

  2. Yo soy Patricia de Argentina. Considero despues de mucha investigacion bíblica , histórica , sicológica que esta organizacion de los Testigos de Jehova es extremista en muchos sentidos. Dios es el dador o la fuente de la Vida y ellos se contradicen claramente cuando interpretan “a su manera ” el mandato divino que prohibe las transfusiones de sangre , justamente para salvar la vida ! Han errado muchas veces a cerca del fin de este sistema , o fin del mundo. Del mismo modo están errando las interpretaciones bíblicas ; arrogándose exactitud y validez únicas. Sin duda es una muy peligrosa organizacion que atrapa a muchas personas sensibles , escudándose en altos principios morales , que son muy válidos , pero por otro lado muestran un costado irracional y autocrático , fanático y desprovisto de toda compasión. Merecen como organización religiosa , un exhaustivo análisis.

  3. Donna, you say, “THIS IS A PERSONAL DECISION. NOT ONE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IS FORCED TO DO THIS. The JW elders’ manual says this on pages 111-12 under the heading “Willingly and unrepentantly taking blood: if the elders on the committee determine that he is unrepentant, they should announce his disassociation.” This is called ‘undue influence’ or coercion, threatening serious punishment for not obeying the rules as laid down by the Governing Body. Personal decision has nothing to do with it.

  4. If I ever needed to go to the emergency room, I sure wouldn’t want a JW nurse by my side. The woman responsible for driving a wedge between my wife and me is a nurse. She’s the one that conducted “Bible Study” with my wife for a year now. How can anyone trust a JW nurse to do her job if you’re half dead in ICU?

    • Dear Jerry. I am sorry to hear that your wife’s studying with the JW’s has a caused a wedge in your relationship. Unfortunately, it happens all the time – I’ve seen it. Most relationships require some basic common-shared beliefs as the foundation of their relationship, and so being that the JW religion is so extreme, what you and your wife once had in common has probably been shattered. Having said this, I also believe in taking responsibility for one’s own actions. I disagree that it was the nurse that caused the wedge, for she cannot force anything upon your wife that your wife accepts. Your wife, for whatever reason, is the one that allowed the study to occur and to continue, and it was your wife that, through acceptance of what she was being taught, has caused the wedge. Your post was written some time ago, so I don’t know where things stand right now with the two of you. If you are both still together and if she’s still studying, then it’ll be up to you to rationally and lovingly raise issues that concern you, for discussion with your wife, until such time that perhaps she will be able to see through the religion. Whatever the situation, I hope that your are well.

  5. The Bible clearly states to Abstain from blood. THIS IS A PERSONAL DECISION. NOT ONE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IS FORCED TO DO THIS. It is my free will of choice to Abstain from blood even if the medical Dr’s deem it essential for survival. It is my Faith that should I not survive….Our Creator Jehovah will in His due time correct this. I would rather die fulfilling His Laws than survive and NOT uphold His laws.
    Of course we are not rejoicing over the death of a loved one who dies from this….rather we are applauding the FAITHFULNESS of this one. We mourn the death but know that he is in Jehovah’s memory and that his life will be restored in due time. Please stop taking this issue out of context.

    • Sorry you say you have freedom of choice whether to accept whole blood or not. After spending 35 yrs in the religion I know for a fact that if you choose to accept blood to save your life you will be Disfellowship (shunned) from the rest of the Congregation. So if you choose to make the choice to accept blood you are choosing not to be part of the religion.

    • The bible clearly states that you can have your rebellious children stoned to death, but no one in the modern world would condone or follow it. Your loyalty is misplaced and misinterpreted and relies on the possibility of gaining life in a paradise earth that is not even written in the bible! Do a word search and see how many times paradise earth is referred to! You would be advised to examine your blind faith with broader reasoning, and not be controlled by a group of men who scare you into not looking at any other information than that which they provide! Any other rational thinking person reading what you have said will be abhorred at your comments and this issue. That alone should make you think. This so called faith is making children pay for their own pursuit of power and wealth and you are helping them without question.

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