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About 1,200 people die each year because of this dope’s misreading of the Bible

This is Nathan Homer Knorr. He was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1905, and by the age of 18 he was so dedicated to his faith he was volunteering at the Watch Tower headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York.

He never went to college. He never got any medical education.

Instead, Knorr gradually worked his way up in the JW organization until, in 1942, he became its third president, a position he held until his death in 1977. He’s celebrated today for overseeing a huge amount of growth, particularly with outreach overseas. He grew the Brooklyn world headquarters, and is remembered for holding the biggest ever JW gathering, some 235,000 Witnesses at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds in 1958.

But his most lasting legacy is a lethal one.


As early as 1927, a Jehovah’s Witnesses publication extolled the sanctity of blood based on certain passages in the Bible. But other JW articles in ensuing years favorably noted the use of blood in transfusions.

It wasn’t until 1945, under Nathan Knorr’s leadership, that The Watchtower, the principal publication of the organization, made it clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses should not accept blood transfusions or they would risk being damned eternally…

Seeing, then, that the Most High and Holy God gave plain instructions as to the disposition of blood, in harmony with his everlasting covenant made with Noah and all his descendants; and seeing that the only use of blood that he authorized in order to furnish life to humankind was the use of it as a propitiation or atonement for sin; and seeing that it was to be done upon his holy altar or at his mercy seat, and not by taking such blood directly into the human body; therefore it behooves all worshipers of Jehovah who seek eternal life in his new world of righteousness to respect the sanctity of blood and to conform themselves to God’s righteous rulings concerning this vital matter.

Two years later, Samuel Muscariello caught a nasty case of strep throat that resulted in bleeding in his kidneys. His doctors wanted to operate, and told him that they’d need to give him blood during the procedure. Without it, they told him, he’d be dead in two years. But Muscariello, energized by the new Watchtower policy, walked out on his doctors and refused the operation. Sure enough, two years later, just as they warned him, he was on death’s door.

“Under pressure, I went to his bedside and said, ‘Sam, they want to give you blood,’” his brother Blosco is quoted in a Watchtower account of the incident. “Half drugged, half conscious, he tried to get out of bed [to avoid receiving blood, which never was administered to him] . . . our family, though saddened, was strengthened by Sam’s clear thinking and integrity to Jehovah even until death.”

So, by 1949 and the death of Samuel Muscariello, the pattern was set. Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused blood transfusions were not only glorifying God, they were held up by the Watchtower as martyrs to a beatific cause.

But what was this strict new doctrine based on? In 1994, Awake! magazine celebrated children who had martyred themselves by refusing life-saving blood transfusions.

It started in March 1993, when Adrian was 14 years old. A fast-growing tumor was found in his stomach. The doctors wanted a biopsy but feared excessive bleeding and said that a blood transfusion might be necessary. Adrian said no. He was adamant. He said, with tears in his eyes: “I just could not live with myself if I am given blood.” He and his family were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who reject blood transfusions on Biblical ground recorded at Leviticus 17:10-12 and Acts 15:28, 29.

Leviticus? Jewish dietary laws in the Old Testament are cited by Jehovah’s Witnesses as the reason they can’t accept blood in medical procedures?

Here are the three verses in Leviticus that the Awake! magazine article cites (we’ll go King James for that old-time religion feel)…

10. And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
12. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

And from the New Testament, those two verses in the Book of Acts…

28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Now, a couple of thousand years ago, when even the simplest cut or nasty cold could kill you, it probably made good sense to avoid drinking the blood of animals, especially when, as alluded to in that Acts verse, you were talking about animals sacrificed on some pagan altar somewhere.

Yes, avoiding the drinking of pig’s blood spilled in a pagan ritual is probably good advice, especially in the days before antibiotics.

But in 1945, Nathan Knorr, with no background in medicine, decided that these ancient texts were a clear message from God to avoid blood transfusions during modern medical procedures.

No other religious group that uses the Bible has come to that same conclusion.

But Knorr’s ignorance has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, more than a Jonestown massacre every year, according to one pretty well argued estimate.

And here he is, in his own words, explaining the reasoning behind this policy that leads children — children! — to be sacrificed by their parents upon an altar of ignorance, when a simple blood transfusion might give them a chance to live.


Because the Bible says that you should not take blood or eat blood, the blood must be spilled upon the ground. The life is in the blood. When God made man he put life in, in the blood of man, and that’s part of you. And you’re not supposed to take the life of someone else and put that life in you.

Are those words convincing? We’d love to hear from any Jehovah’s Witnesses who could help us understand why Nathan Knorr’s words are so compelling to them, that they might sacrifice their children to Knorr’s reading of Jewish dietary laws.

Please, help us understand.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 11, 2019 at 12:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


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