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Cultural Approaches to Pediatric Palliative Care in Central Massachusetts: Jehovah's Witness

This subject guide is a collaborative project with the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Palliative Care Team, the Lamar Soutter Library, and Interpreter Services.

Jehovah's Witness

Jehovah’s Witness 

Beliefs

  • No Holy Trinity. God is the Father, while Jesus Christ is His son, a separate person. The Holy Spirit is God’s motivating force.
  • Do not participate in nationalistic ceremonies (e.g. saluting the flag), and to not give gifts at holidays or celebrate traditional Christian days.
  • Believe that after world is restored to state of paradise; beneficiaries of Christ will be resurrected with healthy, perfected physical bodies, and will inhabit the earth.

Daily practices

  • Prayer and reading of Scriptures

Dying and death

  • Death is a state of total unconsciousness
  • Euthanasia forbidden
  • Autopsy acceptable if legally required
  • Donation of body or organs is a personal choice

Facilitating practices

  • Be sensitive to strong religious beliefs opposing use of blood or blood products
  • Encourage patient or family to consult with congregational elders or to contact the local Hospital Liaison Committee for assistance.

Food

  • Avoid food that contains blood

Health

  • Likely to be strongly opposed to blood transfusion
  • Medications from blood products may not be acceptable
  • Use of extraordinary means to prolong life or right to die is individual choice

Holy days and festivals

  • Meetings are held 3 times a week in local Kingdom Halls with focus on education
  • Weekly meetings in homes
  • Most important meeting of the year is a congregational celebration of the memorial of Christ’s sacrificial death

Pregnancy and birth

  • Abortion and artificial insemination by a donor are forbidden
  • Birth control is an individual choice
  • No infant baptism

Rituals or ceremonies

  • Adult baptism
  • No special rituals for sick or dying

Spiritual instruments, structure, and symbols

  • None

Reproduced by permission from George Handzo, BCC at ghandzo@healthcarechaplaincy.org 

Dictionary of Patients' Spiritual & Cultural Values for Health Care Professionals was developed by the Pastoral Care Leadership and Practice Group of HealthCare Chaplaincy, New York, NY. (Revision and update of earlier work by the Rev. Susan Wintz, BCC and the Rev. Earl Cooper, BCC)