NEW YORK (AP) -- The Jehovah's Witnesses will continue to reject members who defy the group's prohibition of most blood transfusions, an official of the denomination said.
Spokesman James Pellechia dismissed as misleading news reports that the longstanding policy had been reversed.
The group acknowledges that it has ended its practice of ''disfellowshipping'' -- or excommunicating -- members who receive blood transfusions. But Pellechia said that a Jehovah's Witness who has a transfusion automatically ''revokes his membership.''
''It has the same effect,'' said Pellechia.
Why the semantic change? Pellechia said the group is simply stating more accurately that a person who rejects its tenets chooses to leave.
But Raymond Franz, a former Jehovah's Witness who once served on the group's Governing Body, believes the Jehovah's Witness leadership hopes that publicly ending the practice of disfellowshipping will lessen negative perceptions of the group in Europe.
Pellechia notes that for two decades some Jehovah's Witnesses have believed that the transfusion of fractions derived from major blood components is allowable.
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