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Jehovah's Witnesses–the blood transfusion taboo
  1. Richard Singelenberg
  1. Department of Cultural Anthropology Faculty of Social Sciences Universiteit Utrecht PO Box 80140 3508 TC Utrecht The Netherlands

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    There is nothing wrong with Dr Gillon's suggestion to doctors that they ask Jehovah's Witness patients why they refuse a blood transfusions and present alternative viewpoints.1 However, enforcing the argument with reference to fellow believers who do accept a transfusion will be perceived by many believers as a contradictio in terminis. Since the dualistic theology of the Jehovah's Witnesses hardly accommodates doctrinal ambivalence, any member who wilfully infringes basic teachings is simply considered a non-member.2 Worse than that, the umbrella organisation will anathematise such an unrepentant transgressor and symbolically rank him or her with the persistent fool in Proverbs 26, who, “just like a dog, is returning to its own vomit”.3 Viewed within this context, one may wonder about the advisability of referring to these and similar dissident opinions.