On my way to work this morning I was perusing the headlines of the papers.  One headline caught my attention.  This was the story of a mother of twins who apparently died after refusing a blood transfusion on the grounds of her religious beliefs.  Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions because they believe that God has forbidden it in the Bible. They believe that accepting a blood transfusion is a sin.  Whether the story is true or not is another issue.

Now, many of you know that I’m an atheist who has some particularly strong views against religion.  It is just this sort of thing that really gets me angry about religion.

My many recent debates on Bill’s site have tempered my usual rant somewhat.  I think that you’ll agree that tempering my usual rants about religion is something of a good thing. 😉

However I’m still disgusted that anyone would prefer to die and leave their children without a mother than break a rule of their church.  Note please that this is a church rule.  It is an interpretation of a particular passage in a holy book.  It is just as valid as any other interpretation of any other passage in any other holy book.  People of faith may consider the death of this woman as abhorrent as I do and some may consider it laudable. 

I think that self sacrifice in the cause of something that you believe in is possibly the noblest reason to die.  If any reason for dying can be said to be noble.  I also think that living for something that you believe in is by far the better option even if you have to compromise occasionally.  I’d rather be alive and compromised than dead and right.  You don’t get to apologise once your dead.


Filed under Atheist, Debate, Religion, You decide

20 responses to “Headlines

  1. I agree with you totally. It’s like the suicide bombers – it’s just their interpretation of the Koran that says all that crap about martyrdom (sp) gah

  2. Fabulous

    Its to do with them believing that its dirty blood and that we should have clean blood. I think its stupid but you know its what they believe in and they have to live with there own beliefs

  3. Jellyface, you spelt “martyrdom” correctly. You’re quite right though.

    F.A.B I think it’s stupid too but you and I don’t know if that particular interpretation is right or not. I think the whole idea is a load of rubbish but on the chance that I’m wrong (and I’ve been wrong before) what does a recipient of a blood transfusion say the the almighty?

    Sorry I just thought it meant I wasn’t supposed to drink blood. Gah! the fiery plane of Gehenna is burning my toes. Whoops.

    How is it any more stupid that refusing a pig’s heart valve or strapping a bomb to your chest?

    OK that last one is more stupid.

  4. M

    I always remember this sequence from Red Dwarf…
    (although, right or wrong, believe everyone is entitled to believe what they chose)

    Rimmer: I never agreed with my parents’ religion but I wouldn’t dream of knocking it.
    Lister: What were they?
    Rimmer: Seventh Day Advent Hoppists. They believed that every Sunday should be spent hopping. They would hop to church, hop through the service and hop back home again.
    Lister: What’s the idea behind that then?
    Rimmer: Well, they took the Bible literally. Adam and Eve, the snake and the apple, everything. Took it word for word. Unfortunately their version had a misprint. It was all based on 1 Corinthians 13, where it says “faith, hop and charity, and the greatest of these is hop.” So that’s what they did every seventh day. I tell you, Sunday lunchtimes were a nightmare. Hopping around the table serving soup. We all had to wear sou’esters and asbestos underwear.

  5. Mas, you are quite correct. Everyone is entitled to believe what they choose. Where do we draw the line though?

    If I believe that the eating of processed food (aka crap) shortens my life and choose to avoid it then no harm is done. If I believe that anyone who eats a hamburger is filth and deserves death then I should be stopped before I kill someone.

  6. This WatchTower Society requirement that Jehovah’s Witnesses must refuse to accept any blood transfusions dates back only to 1945. Misinterpreting the Old Testament prohibition against eating animal blood as a routine food item, the WatchTower Society began teaching in 1945 that receiving a blood transfusion was “eating human blood”. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body’s circulatory system is scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body’s digestive system.

    “A patient in the hospital maybe fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions are given intravenously it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital’s own terminology recognizes as feeding the process of putting nutrition into one’s system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion is feeding the patient through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating through his veins.” — The WATCHTOWER magazine, July 1, 1951.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that when human blood is transfused into their body’s circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that if blood is eaten, then the ingested blood enters the body’s digestive system, where the blood would be treated by the body exactly the same as it would treat a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other food item. Ingested blood would be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste; which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.

    The WatchTower Society uses scriptures which speak about the blood of slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah’s Witnesses that blood is “sacred” because blood is the “symbol of life”. Then, the WatchTower Society turns around and requires Jehovah’s Witnesses to sacrifice their own “life” to maintain the alleged “sacredness” of a “symbol” of the very thing they are sacrificing — their life. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that the WatchTower doctrine on blood moronically places a higher value on the SYMBOL than it does on the THING SYMBOLIZED.

    In fact, the Old Testament scriptures permitted the eating of unbled animal meat, which the Bible treats exactly the same as eating animal blood itself. In isolated occasions, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their own human life, the Mosaic Law permitted such, but then required the eaters to fulfill the requirements of being “unclean” for a few days. Thus, the Bible recognized that the sustaining of human life was more “sacred” than maintaining the sacredness of animal blood. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the moronic WatchTower Society does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.

    In fact, the WatchTower Society is leading Jehovah’s Witnesses to disobey GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. Because humans were created in GOD’s image, GOD considers human life sacred. A Jehovah’s Witness who sacrifices their SACRED LIFE in order to maintain the sacredness of a SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane life by committing suicide. Those Jehovah’s Witness Elders who teach and police this moronic doctrine vary little from common accessories to murder. The Bible is fairly clear in how GOD views murder, and how He deals with Murderers.

    This moronic twisting of scripture would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the pointless deaths of numerous Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past, and it will continue to lead to the pointless deaths of many more Jehovah’s Witnesses in the future.


    The following website summarizes over 315 U.S. court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents, including 200+ cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:



  7. Ah, M. I love this piece of dialogue too.
    Rimmer is great.

    Frog, I eat hamburgers (though not often, as they are full of lips and eyes), do really think I’m filth?

  8. No Span, it was an analogy.

    *loads sniper rifle*

    You’ve nothing to worry about.

    *takes aim*

  9. I agree Hov, this kind of stuff makes me cringe. It is SO not what is true…I don’t know how people get so far off track…thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  10. Oh and thanks for all the information Jerry. Your comment was caught by the spam filter but I heroically rescued it.

  11. Deb, you say that it is off track but I say that it is an interpretation of the text. OK I think that the interpretation is flawed as do you but then I think that most of the text of the bible is open to flawed interpretation or even to deliberate misreading. You know as well as I how atheists like me enjoy taking a bit of scripture and twisting it’s meaning to highlight how daft it sounds.

    The problem (it seems to me) is that the lessons that religion offer (to live a good life, to treat others as you would hope to be treated, to forgive things done to you, to act as good custodians to the world, etc) are ignored in favour of a “sound bite”.

  12. Pingback: FriendlyChristian.com » Archive » Confusing the message

  13. brightshinyobject

    I agree that this is nuts, as I said over at FC, I watched a guy bleed to death in a Emergency Room because of this.

    But to see such horror and transplant it so broadly and prejudiciously is a double-edged sword. The same broad swipes can be made about all sorts of worldviews, certainly not excluding those based on an atheistic world view.

    In fact, this very style of thought is the type of thing that I am fairly certain you would rightly decry, if a person had had a bad experience or heard a bad story about a few of one particular racial group and then say “look at them. what’s wrong with them”

    People are nuts. They will find a reason to be nuts. No group should be painted broadly because of an insignificant sample size. That is an -ism.

    Please, be reasonable and think about your own prejudices and how they are borne out in discourse.


  14. brightshinyobject

    Hiya Mr. Frog,

    “Deb, you say that it is off track but I say that it is an interpretation of the text.”

    This reminds me of our dear 42nd president Mr. Clinton and his circumnavigation of the meaning of words.

    I understand that you think it would mean that, but, for instance, via the avoidance of the meaning of words, you’re able to make broad prejudicial strokes like, “The problem (it seems to me) is that the lessons that religion offer (to live a good life, to treat others as you would hope to be treated, to forgive things done to you, to act as good custodians to the world, etc) are ignored in favour of a “sound bite”.

    This applies to those circumstances with which you have chosen to make a point, which allows you to make your case with more force, to the obscurance of so much more, namely a systematic, contextual, biblically theological look at what is being said in Leviticus 17:4.

    Again, let me just field this: If I picked up some Che Guevera and found what would seem to be the most disjointed and vicious part to me, and then blamed communist abuses in the Western Hemisphere on your own personal philosophy you would rightly scream non-sequitur. There is more there. Please, I am asking, not being snotty, include that in the dialogue.

  15. ash

    hello again, mr. frog (now i feel like a bond villain)

    off subject (FC) ;-

    was also interested to find a fellow OU student (and a lil bit weirded out when you linked TMAs to anotherblogger, who then mentioned palmeira square – my world is shrinking), whatcha working towards?

  16. Hi Hover, I had written quite a lengthy response to your statement….then poof….into cyberspace…..*sigh*

    For me and my beliefs, I don’t just “read and believe”. There are things, issues which to me are black and white in the Bible, which is my guide for living my life. Other things, parables, symblism etc. also exist, and there are some things which I have to go back to Hebrew/Greek, and try to figure out the true meaning behind the text. I remember tho, when I was a non-believer, and tried to read God’s word and understand. Except for flannel board stories, not much of it did. Now it does. I’m not sure what you meant by “sound bite” so maybe you could explain that to me. I see believers and non-believers have the attributes that you listed. Having common sense and knowing the difference between good and evil does not make you a Christ follower. I know some really cool non-believers, (present frog included) that I would hang out with for a cup o’ jo, before some believers I know. So focusing on morals of a person really has little bearing on their eternal state.

  17. Jason

    This is a really sad story Mr Frog, and I would like to think that I can see both sides of the argument; standing up for your beliefs versus compromise to save a life.

    I have to say that personally I lean towards the compromise in this particular case, but that might be because I have a fairly strong negative reaction to Jehovas’ Witnesses generally.

    I have a personal reason for this dislike however; My best friend at School was a Jehovas Witness. Some 2 years or so after we left school at 16, he committed suicide by suffocating himself in his car, having left a note explaining that he had done this because they wouldn’t let him be with the girl (also a JW) that he loved, despite trying to do it within the tenets of what was permitted.

  18. There are now too many Jasons commenting here.

    Bright Jason, you have a point but I only have so much time to write down my thought. I see adherence to archaic rules and adherence to made up rules caused by interpretations of ancient text as disturbing. Society evolves so why not keep a core of values and discard the rules that no longer make sense?

    Ash, Brighton isn’t that far. Just a couple of counties over. Actually I’m working in Uckfield on Tuesday. I often stop over in Brighton for a pint. Sadly I don’t know much more than the train station and a couple of pubs. Have you got your own blog? If not then you should start one. It’ll give you some relief from all that studying. I’ve just finished MT262 and I’m heading for a computing and something degree. I’m also half way through an English degree but that’s another story.

    Deb, you’ve also made comments on FC I think so nothing has really been lost….well probably not. A sound bite is a short catchy phrase that is easy to latch onto. Think “I have a dream” or “For the people, by the people”. Alone they form simple mnemonics that are often repeated.

    Purple Jason, it’s not actually her dying that bothered me. If someone wants to allow themselves to die or even to kill themselves then fine. That’s their decision. It’s the reason for it that bothers me. OK I’m biased because I think the rule is stupid and I think that you should break a rule if you disagree with it. It’s just such a waste. Sorry to hear about your friend.

  19. Jason

    You can call me Lard Ass.

  20. brightshinyobject

    Lard Ass here,


    “Society evolves so why not keep a core of values and discard the rules that no longer make sense?”

    Firstly, society is us. do you want me determining the core to which we must adhere? How is it that you think I want you doing the same to me? No longer makes sense to whom? Why is that whom more valid than this whom? In that scenario one group ends up forcing its morality on others in the same way that you despise.

    It is impossible to get away from the fact that somebody decides what is going to be “right” and “wrong”. No society exists apart from such an organization. No pure ochlocracy exists, eventually the guy with the biggest stick is back in power just like before.

    Additionally problematic is the fact that iif it is only the group in power decides what moral lines are to be drawn then nothing is actually right and wrong. Truth is perpetually abrogated from prediliction to prediliction and from power structure to power structure.

    That makes morality democratic, in the same way as the applying of archaic rules because they are a facet of our legal heritage does.

    As well, I am certain that there are societies with whose moral baseline you, and I, are in great disagreement. They have achieved these baselines via the process you cited.

    Is there anything wrong with what, say for instance, North Korea does? Did they not fight for the right to proceed forth into the system under which they currently suffer? What is wrong with it now?

    I could seriously do this all day, but..life pinches in..

    Thanks for coming over, Right!

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