- Facts About Jehovah's Witnesses
For every 100 Jehovah's Witnesses more than 1 is disfellowshipped each year; over 60,000(1). Two out of every three are never reinstated(2). Being disfellowshipped can result in serious emotional side affects because those that continue to believe Watchtower doctrine are told that whilst disfellowshipped they are condemned to everlasting destruction(3); whereas those who become unbelievers, with no intention of returning to the Watchtower Society, realise they are unlikely to freely associate with Witness family and friends for the remainder of their lives.
The Watchtower 1981 September 15 pp.22,25 explains:
It was not until 1952 that the Watchtower introduced disfellowshipping as now practiced and the following review of the Scriptural principles involved shows that there is no Biblical justification for the extent to which the Watchtower practices this unchristian form of manipulation. Though there is Scriptural precedence to limit association with brothers practicing wrongdoing, the Watchtower application of disfellowshipping seriously deviates from Bible guidelines in a number of ways;
This extensive article is arranged under the following headings:
The Watchtower divides punishment of wrongdoers into two categories, those deserving of marking(4) and those deserving of disfellowshipping (or "disassociation"(5)).
Marking is applied to mild wrongdoing and the person is not named. (not yet gross sin for which they might be disfellowshipped w82 2/1 p.31)
On the other hand, a disfellowshipped person is publicly named and must be avoided by all Witnesses in almost all circumstances.
It is important to note that the Bible never uses the term disfellowship and makes no such distinction from marking.
The Watchtower Society is very clear on how a disfellowshipped person is to be treated. A disfellowshipped person is not to be associated with under any social circumstances; in fact the word 'Hello' should not even be uttered to these ones, even in the kingdom hall. This treatment is far harsher than how a Witness would treat a person of the world. Yet, as discussed later in this article, the Bible only said that it is the Antichrist that one should not say a greeting to. This type of treatment was not to extend to other wrongdoers such as fornicators. The Society is bundling all forms of wrongdoing as the same, and treatment is to be of the same harsh standard for all disfellowshipped people regardless of the wrongdoing that was done. Hence once disfellowshipped, a former Witness must not be greeted regardless of whether their unrepented "sin" was murder, changing beliefs or simply smoking cigarettes.
Total avoidance of the member is extended beyond members of the congregation and to ones immediate family. Below are quotes from a number of articles on the treatment of disfellowshipped members and how they are to be viewed. It is even recommended that a disfellowshipped relative not be greeted. Due to these articles, former Jehovah's Witnesses have been shunned by Witness family members for decades. Note however, not all Witnesses strictly follow the Watchtower guidelines, but if they continue contact with family or friends they will conceal such association.
The current standard on how to treat the disfellowshipped was set in the Watchtower of September 15, 1981. The rules in this article have been quoted in the Kingdom Ministry August 2002 and the 2008 book Keep Yourself in God's Love. The discussion on disfellowshipping in Keep Yourself in God's Love shows that there has been no softening in recent times.
Further quotes outlining how the Watchtower Society expects Jehovah's Witnesses to treat disfellowshipped members are as follows.
If a person dies in a disfellowshipped state they still are not to be associated with, so Witnesses are persuaded from attending their funeral.
It is quite shocking that under certain circumstances even a parent can be disfellowshipped for associating with their own disfellowshipped children.
Bible discussion of shunning in 1 Corinthian's 15 and 2 John is limited to just the following areas; Fornication, Greed, idolatry, Revilers, Practicing Drunkenness, Extortion and One who does not remain in the teaching of the Christ.
This list should be the full extent of reasons for which to be disfellowshipped. In fact, Diotrephes was reprimanded for attempting to disfellowship people unnecessarily.
Following is the vast list of offences the Watchtower has created for which a Jehovahs Witness can be disfellowshipped or disassociated.
The abbreviations refer to the following publications.
Kingdom Ministry (km),
Jehovahs Witnesses - Proclaimers of Gods Kingdom (1993) (jv),
Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock (ks91-E),
Organised to Accomplish Our Ministry (om),
Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 or 2 (it-1 or 2)
Following is a summary of chapter 5 of the 2010 Elder's handbook titled "Shepherd the Flock of God". The chapter, "Determining Whether a Judicial Committee Should Be Formed", extends from pages 58 to 79 and lists reasons for which a person can be disfellowshipped. Page 58 clarifies that “This list is not comprehensive. There may be other matters that would also merit the attention of a judicial committee.”
The following categories and subcategories are as laid out in the book.
“immoral use of the genitals … with lewd intent.”
“Brazen conduct, loose conduct: pp.60,61”
“an insolent, contemptuous attitude made evident
by a practice of these things:”
“Gross uncleanness, uncleanness with greediness:” pp.61-65
“vices that are not classes as por.nei’a but that
could lead to one’s being disqualified from God’s
“Misuse of addictive drugs:” p.65
“Stealing, thievery:” p.67
“Deliberate, malicious lying; bearing false witness:” p.67
“Fraud, slander:” p.67
“subjecting a person to insulting speech, heaping
abuse upon him.”
“Obscene speech:” p.69
“Greed – gambling, extortion: pp.69,70”
Includes “A Christian who greedily and
unrepentantly extorts a high bride-price”
“Adamant refusal to provide materially for one’s own family:” p.70
“Fits of anger, violence: p.70”
Includes “professional boxing”
Disfellowshipping was not practiced in its current form by the Watchtower Society until 1952. Originally, the congregation as a whole discussed an individual's wrongdoing and if they came to a near unanimous decision to disfellowship, the unrepentant sinner was not shunned but treated as a heathen.
Russell and Rutherford were lenient towards doctrinal disagreements, recognizing that making all followers think alike on doctrine is what originally caused the great apostasy and a method of control.
As late as 1947, the Awake described the practice of excommunication as an unscriptural, pagan practice, using Hebrews 10: 26-31 to show it should be left to God to judge individuals.
Quite remarkably, it was in the years surrounding the above article that Knorr was setting up the disfellowshipping arrangement followed to this day. In the Watchtower 1944 May 15 p.151, responsibility to judge an individual was moved from the congregation to judicial committees. A 1952 Watchtower article dismissed Jesus remarks to refer a wrongdoer to the congregation, but with no explanation as why:
This 1952 Watchtower was devoted to delivering clear guidelines on updated Watchtower disfellowship policy, clarifying what was to become an ever increasing list of offenses. It denounced the disfellowshipped person in the strongest of terms.
In the Watchtower 1955 October 1 p.607, even to associate with a disfellowshipped person became a reason to be disfellowshipped:
Members of the congregation are instructed to watch each other and alert the elders to any noticed indiscretions. With a degree of persuasiveness members are told that the Highest Level of authority demands they even break their countries law to report on their brothers.
Since the introduction of disfellowshipping there have been a number of changes in Watchtower doctrine and hence
the reasons for being disfellowshipped have also changed back and forth. How can this occur if an organizations
rules are directed by Jehovah? When a situation arises in a congregation that is not clearly specified in the Bible
or a Watchtower publication and the elders and branch feel unable to deal with it this is referred to the Governing
Body. How does the Governing Body arrive at a new principle for being disfellowshipped? Does the Holy Spirit guide
them to examine scripture and arrive at a uniform consensus on what Gods standard is? No.
No, the vote does not have to be unanimous. When deciding on new laws, a two-thirds majority vote decides the outcome.(6)
The vote does not have to be unanimous. For this reason both the regulation on organ transplants and oral sex was able to be changed back and forth within the space of little over a decade, with huge affect on members lives.
For instance, the practice of smoking did not become a disfellowshipping offence until 1973. Having an organ transplant was an offence worthy of being disfellowshipped for over a decade, but is no longer viewed as wrong.
Oral or anal sex between married couples was classified as;
One may have hoped that the draconian system of disfellowshipping may have eased over the years, yet the opposite is true. In 1974 there was a softening of the 1952 stance, with release of the following article, but this was short lived;
Unfortunately, this more reasonable stance reverted back to strict shunning in 1981, with a comprehensive discussion in the Watchtower Sep 15. The 2008 book Keep Yourself in God's Love continues to refer to the 1981 Watchtower as the standard to be followed.
Examining the Scriptures used to justify disfellowshipping, it becomes apparent that Christian writers prescribed marking a Christian wrongdoer but did not provide for the Watchtower practice of disfellowshipping and strict shunning.
Jesus commanded that we not judge but love all, particularly those we consider our enemies.
Jesus introduced the standard on how Christian wrongdoers should be treated, saying at Matthew 18:15-17:
Jesus did not say to never utter a word to an unrepentant wrong doer but to treat them as a tax collector. He himself spoke to and ate with tax collectors. (Matthew 9:11).
The majority of information on how to treat wrongdoers within the congregation comes from Paul and the main support the
Watchtower uses to enforce shunning is from 1 Corinthians 5.
Paul showed a balanced approach to wrongdoers, advising not to socialise with such ones, but to still admonish [them] as a brother. 2 Thessalonians is key to understanding that wrongdoers should be marked, not disfellowshipped.
Paul did not indicate that marking was only for non-serious sin as the word through this letter at 2 Thessalonians included those not glorifying the name of our Lord Jesus, those refusing to work for a living, and any who had been seduced by apostasy. Paul did not say to disfellowship and shun such people, but rather instructed the congregation to mark or take note of such a person, yet continue admonishing him as a brother. In similar vein the following scriptures do not instruct complete shunning of the person, but rather to take note so as not to be influenced by their wrong ways.
At 1 Corinthians 5 Paul specifically outlined practices for which to cease mixing with a brother, yet this too is similar to the advice given when marking a brother.
1 Corinthians does not say to totally shun a brother who is a wrong doer, rather it says to quit mixing in company with such a person and not eat with such a man and hence refers to socialising. As the Watchtower has explained, this refers to socialising as friends.
This does not state that this type of person must never be spoken to.
As Paul explained at 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 (quoted earlier), if they are at a meeting it would be reasonable to encourage them.
Most certainly a polite greeting is acceptable.
1 Corinthians is also specific as to who these words apply to. This advice is in regards to a person "called a brother" who "is" a wrongdoer. No indication is given that they should be avoided when they are no longer recognised as a Jehovah's Witness brother. Nor does it say to shun a person who has stopped their wrongdoing. It is regularly the case that a teenage Witness is disfellowshipped for smoking or fornication. Years later they no longer practice what they were disfellowshipped for and are no longer known in the community as a brother, and so their continued shunning is unjustified.
It can also be noted that Paul did not insist that everyone participate in the shunning. Later he wrote that the "majority" participate in the rebuke, showing that some in the congregation may choose not to show rebuke to the person.
The New World Translation reference M shows Paul was here referring to the situation discussed at 1 Corinthians 5, (as do Christian scholars).
Paul gave similar advice on a number of occasions to 'mark' and 'avoid' wrongdoers. This does not mean that the person must be totally ignored, never uttered a greeting, avoiding eye contact, crossing the street to get away from, all common experiences of disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses.
Watchtower extreme treatment of not even saying "hello" to a disfellowshipped Witnesses is not based on the above scriptures, but rather on a single statement at 2 John 7-11:
2 John is referring to the antichrist and should not be applied across the board to all forms of sin,
as done by the Watchtower Society.
In order to justify their stance, the Watchtower describes those that stop being Witnesses as apostate and of the Antichrist, saying that "the word apostasy comes from a Greek word that literally means a standing away from but has the sense of desertion, abandonment or rebellion ... [and included] abandonment of right moral standards ... willfully abandoning the Christian congregation thereby become part of the 'antichrist." Watchtower 1985 Jul 15 p.31 In reality, many who stop being Witnesses continue to follow Jesus and Bible morals, but have come to believe that the Watchtower Society is not directed by Jesus.
Interestingly, Johns advice here was not limited to former Christians. It included anyone denying Christ. This included Jews that rejected Jesus and people of the nations worshipping other Gods. Yet the Watchtower stance is to apply this only to Jehovah's Witnesses.
The meaning of the phrase never receive him into YOUR homes should be understood in the context of the hospitality of first century Jerusalem. Since Christians held congregation meetings in their homes John possibly felt that inviting a denier of Christ into a home could be viewed as sharing worship with non-Christians.
Likewise the term to never say a greeting to him needs to be understood in light of first century practice. It is wrong for the Watchtower to claims that John used the term a greeting to indicate a simple hello.
This article claims the word khairo is used to forbid a simple greeting, instead of aspazomai which means a more affectionate embrace, enfolding in the arms, kiss, greeting or welcome. The writer seems to be confused as the very opposite is true. Strongs states;
2 John does not indicate a polite greeting is wrong. John here shows that a person is a sharer in the Antichrists wicked works
if he shows acceptance and agreement with the evildoers cause or teachings, or wishes them favour and success.
The Watchtower Society uses this single scripture in 2 John to dictate that every disfellowshipped or disassociated person should not even be politely greeted. This is applied regardless of what the person was disfellowshipped for, including a long list of Society originated rules such as gambling, smoking, or authorising a blood transfusion. Every single one of a disfellowshipped persons Witness friends is told to never greet them again, unless they repent and are formally reinstated by the Watchtower Society. I am aware of friends whose own mothers or their own children have not spoken to them for upwards of 20 years. Yet such shunning is only ever discussed once, was only to apply to the Antichrist, and as such is being misused to its extremity.
The process Jehovah's Witnesses follow for disfellowshipping strays from biblical principles in a number of areas.
There should always be clear Scriptural reason for disfellowshipping. John reprimands Diotrephes for attempting to disfellowship people unnecessarily.
Bible discussion of shunning by Paul and John is limited to just the following areas; Fornication, Greed, idolatry, Revilers, Practicing Drunkenness, Extortion and One who does not remain in the teaching of the Christ. Revelation 21:8 does not relate to shunning but at a stretch could be drawn on, and adds adultery, men kept for unnatural purposes, men who lie with men, thieves, cowards, those without faith, those disgusting in their filth, murderers, spiritism, and liars. This list should be the full extent of reasons for which to be disfellowshipped. The long list of Watchtower offences includes a number of practices never mentioned in regards to shunning, such as use of blood. However, the Watchtower goes even further. Common practices never specified in the Bible as sins have become grounds for being disfellowshipped. These include:
If Jehovah wanted his followers to shun those for engaging in these common practices, the Bible would state so. Should the Society be creating disfellowshipping decrees beyond Bible offences? Of course not! Jesus condemned the Pharisees for creating thousands of laws for every situation, rather than promoting Godly principles and understanding the meaning of mercy. When a Pharisee expressed surprise that Jesus did not do ritual washing before dinner, Jesus' rebuke was particularly harsh.
If God spoke directly to the Governing Body as he did with the Apostles and they were infallible, then it may have authority to add to the scriptures. By their admission this is not the case. The Governing Body is not infallible and not inspired by God to write additional rules that do not appear in the Bible. For this reason the list should be based strictly on scriptures.
Further rules continue to be introduced, such as the Watchtower 2006 Jul 15 pp.29-31 explanation that "gross uncleanness" and "uncleanness with greediness" allows disfellowshipping to at times extend to heavy petting, sexual phone calls and viewing pornography.
In determining if a person should be disfellowshipped the elders form a (judicial committee) to meet with the wrongdoer. This is done in private, and the wrongdoer is not allowed an onlooker, lawyer or recording device. The word "judicial committee" does not appear in the Bible and both the Israelites and early Christian congregations kept matters open to ordinary persons. Rather than being done in private in front of elders only, matters were done at the city gates so a fair discussion with onlookers could be made. This prevented the injustice that can take place before small closed bodies of elders.
Jesus instructed at Matthew 18:17 that unresolved wrongdoing should be taken "to the congregation", not a select committee of congregation leaders. This is how misdeameaners were originally dealt with. As discussed above, the judicial committee arrangement was not inaugurated until 1944 by Knorr.
When the person was disfellowshipped or publicly reproved the congregation was to know why. Paul openly told the congregation of the wrong conduct of Peter, Hymenaeus, Alexander and Diotrephes. To avoid legal problems, the Society does not follow this scriptural advice. The extent of both the disfellowshipping and disassociating announcement is now stated in Organised to do Jehovahs Will (2005) p.154 to be restricted to;
In the scriptures it makes no mention of a time limit over which the process must take place. It does indicate that quite some period of time may be involved;
To readjust a brother could take considerable time. If a person is addicted to certain practices or if they are having doubts about doctrine it could take months of effort to overcome these. Yet in many cases when a Jehovahs Witness confesses or another person reports their activities to the elders they are disfellowshipped within a few weeks.
Shunning was to be used for readjustment or to protect the congregation. However it is regularly used as punishment. When a person confesses to a wrong practice committed and ceased many years ago they have often been disfellowshipped for a wrong attitude, which is clearly done for punishment.
A review of Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.788 Expelling shows that many scriptures that relate to disfellowshipping discuss assisting or reproving the person.
Persons can be so traumatised by being disfellowshipped that many contemplate and carry out suicide. It is common to suffer Post Traumatic Shock Disorder. The harsh stance of the Watchtower has a counter productive affect. Being Disfellowshipped has been the catalyst to cause many to doubt whether the Watchtower is the true religion. The trauma and effort involved in being reinstated that caused them to begin researching outside Watchtower publications and to come to the conclusion that the Watchtower it is not Gods chosen way.
With many religions when a person no longer believes or is practicing sin they will tend to drift away from Church and associate with like minded individuals outside the congregation. This is how it is with unbaptised Witness youths; they leave over time, generally in their teens. Most that do not follow Watchtower guidelines or that do not believe it is the Truth stop going to meetings. However disfellowshipping is a form of entrapment that forces baptised Witnesses, including myself to spend years going to meetings whilst not believing or adhering to Watchtower regulations. This is done to avoid being disfellowshipped, in order to prevent being shunned by family. By encouraging people to stay and lead double lives disfellowshipping possibly results in more people being influenced than if the wrongdoers are encouraged to drift away.
Since the word disfellowship does not appear in the Scriptures, the New World Translation Reference Bible "Bible words indexed" directs the reader to the term "expelled".
Under Expelled the Scriptures are
Both references are regarding the Pharisees practice of expelling from the Synagogue.
The closest Scriptural example the Watchtower can find for the term disfellowship is that of the Pharisees.
The direction given in the Watchtower goes strongly against Christian examples when demanding members hate an apostate.
Jesus and Paul both said we should not hate but rather love our enemies. This was to apply even when someone is attacking our faith and practice.
When discussing a person seduced by apostasy Paul said at 2 Thessalonians 3:15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.
When discussing that for everlasting life it is necessary to love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus used the illustration of the Good Samaritan to explain who ones neighbour is. (Luke 10:25-37) The Jews regarded the Samaritans as apostates of the Jewish religion, yet Jesus says our love is to encompass these people as well.
A former Jehovahs Witness recalls:
The New Testament never specifically extends shunning to immediate family members. Rather Paul stated at 1 Timothy 5:8 Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.
In the parable of the prodigal son Jesus outlined the type of love the Father has for us and that we should show each other. (Luke 15:11-32) The youngest child of a rich family spent years squandering his inheritance living a life involved in numerous contemptible sins. Jesus showed that despite this, on seeing his son return home the aged father ran to his child with open arms. He did not wait to question the sons current actions, did not attempt to determine his sons motives and repentance, nor give him a period of lower status as punishment.
Nowhere in the Bible does it discuss a detailed process for reinstatement, nor give a timeframe in regards to how long before reinstatement can take place. Paul simply stated that a person who is a wrongdoer should be avoided. When they are no longer practicing the wrongdoing there is no reason to keep shunning them. The Watchtower specifies a period of time to pass, even though acknowledging the Christian example allows for shorter periods.
Though the scriptures give no legalistic approach to determine when a wrongdoer is to be associated with the Watchtower Society has developed a formalistic procedure for determining if a person is worthy of having their disfellowshipped status removed. They must attend meetings regularly for several months whilst being shunned before an application for reinstatement will be considered. After this they must be examined by the elders to determine if they have ceased the wrongdoing and have a repentant attitude. Once this is determined a public announcement is made. Only after this procedure and announcement are family members and others within the congregation free to talk to that person.
Take the fairly common example of an engaged couple that commit fornication in the weeks prior to their wedding. If discovered they may be disfellowshipped. Once married they are not immediately reinstated as time is made to pass before their request for reinstatement will be considered. They then are forced to go through the formal process of being deemed repentant. Yet on the day of their marriage they are no longer fornicators as they are scripturally married. There is no scriptural reason they should no longer be associated with. That they are not automatically and immediately reinstated indicates that the Witness practice is based on punishment. This punishment extends for some months after their reinstatement until the elders determine they are worthy to once more participate at meetings.
Likewise, many are disfellowshipped as teenagers for drunkenness, smoking or immorality. Over the years they stop this behaviour, possibly marrying and having children. Scriptural principles show that since they are no longer practicing wrongdoing and are not known in the community as a brother it is acceptable for them to be spoken to. On the other hand, Watchtower legislation dictates they must not be spoken to until they resume meeting attendance, apply for reinstatement, are approved and then had a public announcement made. For a high percentage of those raised as Jehovahs Witnesses there is no desire to return to the Watchtower Organization and so this process is never initiated, meaning their family relationship is damaged for the remainder of their lives.
Once reinstated more rules have been created to outline what activities they may participate in. Over time they will be allowed to resume field service, then answering at meetings, then giving talks. It will be several years before they finally are in line for privileges such as pioneering or being considered a Ministerial Servant. The Bible writers gave no such rules.
Sharing in the field service is restored when the individual is reinstated. Other privileges, such as commenting at meetings, handling parts on the program, and offering prayer at meetings, can be restored progressively when it is determined that the individual has progressed spiritually to the point that he is qualified and when it is judged by the elders that the extending of such privileges will not be offensive to the congregation.
Since 1985 the second Jehovahs Witness baptism vow became;
At baptism a person commits themselves to the Watchtower Organization, despite the word organization never appearing in the Bible. Few realise that they have committed their bedroom lives, work choices and life long relationship with family and friends to the Organization. Terms such as ecclesiastical government of Jehovah's Witnesses are never used in the Watchtower publications that are issued to the public, but are terms used within confidential letters to branches and the elders. Would as many people be baptised if they realised it was not only to Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that they were being baptised but to an ecclesiastical government that had the right to introduce any rule at any time?
When a person is baptised, very few have even an inkling of the true history of the religion. No person that gets baptised has any idea of the full list of things that they could be disfellowshipped for as this list is unattainable, and many of the reasons are not clearly specified in the Bible. Most of the reasons are scattered through various Watchtower publications, but a newly interested one is rarely shown all of these. Neither do the Watchtower publications contain a full list of reasons for being disfellowshipped. Even people involved in the organization for years are generally unaware of all the reasons. In regards to disfellowshipping, Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock states on page 101 that elders should be sure to proceed "in harmony with the most recent statements by the Society."
Only elders have access to Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock and letters from the Society. Even elders do not get to know the guidelines for all situations as more difficult situations are discussed in letters specifically to the Bethel Branches. Most people are baptised with no knowledge that these books and letters even exist, let alone know what is contained in them.
It is particularly disturbing that the Watchtower encourages children raised as Jehovahs Witnesses to be baptised as minors. Even a pre-teenage child can get baptised and for the remainder of their life be subject to the principle of being disfellowshipped.
Baptism as a Jehovahs Witness is a binding verbal contract with the Watchtower Society and as such baptising minors is wrong both legally and scripturally. Never is the baptism of a minor mentioned in the Bible. Jesus was not baptised until he was 30 and Jews felt a person became an adult at 30. When Cornelius and his family were baptised it does not state that any non adults were baptised and there is no scriptural evidence of any children or teenagers ever being baptised. A childs knowledge and ideas change dramatically between the teens and twenties, and for this reason the law protects the rights of minors. A minor is usually not permitted by law to enter contracts, drink, vote, join the army or marry.
When a person baptised as a minor chooses they no longer wish to be known as a Jehovahs Witness they are regularly disfellowshipped. Once this happens that teenager may not associate freely with family or friends for the remainder of their life! Even a person that is still a child they can be disfellowshipped.
Hundreds of thousands of Witnesses are currently disfellowshipped and estranged from their families and friends. This has a dramatic effect on a person, often at a time when they most need help from others.
The Watchtower Society claims love is one of its distinguishing factors and that Jehovahs Witnesses are a loving brotherhood. Total alienation from this brotherhood and being cast into the world builds fear of removal. At first glance this may seem justifiable. A comparison between how the Bible says to treat wrongdoers with how the Watchtower enforces disfellowshipping shows the Organization has gone beyond the scriptures, using this for control over its members. One of Jesus greatest commands was to show love to ones brother and to ones neighbour (Luke 10:27). The doctrine on disfellowshipping puts serious question marks over any claim of love that Jehovahs Witnesses attempt to make.
(1) Watchtower 1992 July 1 p.19 "In recent years disfellowshippings worldwide have been approximately 1 percent of publishers."
(2) Statistics provided in Watchtower 1974 August 1 p. 466 and Watchtower 1960 Dec. 1 p.728 indicate that roughly only 1/3 return.
(3)"Disfellowshiping means the casting of a member out of God’s household; and if one should remain in this disfellowshiped condition till he died, it would mean his everlasting destruction as a person who is rejected by God. Staying away from meetings leads in that very direction." Watchtower 1965 Dec 15 p.751
(4) When a person is marked they are not named and are allowed to continue contact with others. Only those who specifically know of the person's wrongdoing are advised to stop associating with the person socially, but may still speak to them at the meetings.
(5) A second term used is disassociation, where a Witness voluntarily removes themselves from the congregation. For the sake of this article disfellowshipping and disassociation will be considered the same as the implications to the individual are almost identical, in both cases leading to shunning.
(6) Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience (Commentary Press Fourth Edition 2004) p.85
Why Jehovah's Witnesses Shun People
|Experiences of Disfellowshipped People|
I Have My Sister Back
My sister has been disfellowshipped for well over a decade. At that time, I was busy wooing my wife-to-be, and very busy with starting a life of my own. I shunned her completely just like I was supposed to. She wasn't even invited to my wedding.
At first, I felt self-righteous in shunning her. As the years have gone by, I have become increasingly aware of all that is being missed. She has a family that I don't know. A life that I'm not a part of. She has never met my children. My kids dont know this Aunt and Uncle and Cousin. This awareness has become more and more heavy, and has turned into a sense of guilt and remorse. How could I turn my back on my own sister?
I couldn't waste any more time. This weekend I found her through google. I sent an email, just hoping that it would reach her.
And today, she replied! We are going to talk soon. We have so much to catch up on! I don't even know where to begin. Actually, I do know where to begin.
It will begin with an apology.
The Walk of Shame
It all starts after you hear "these things we pray through Jesus Christ, Amen".
I gather my books and the kid's books and put them away. By that time people are walking over to us and talking to my wife and playing with my kids. They will talk to her about the weather, the meeting, her pregnancy or anything. Do they ask about me? No. Do they talk to me? No. Not only will they not talk to me, they don't even acknowledge my existence with a nod, a smile or even eye contact. See, I'm dead to them. Who are these people? Well, they are ones who claimed to be my best friends, my spiritual brothers, people who loved me, well, only until 3 men judged me as a sinner worthy of death, now I suppose I'm not worthy of even a "hello" from them. Screw 'em. I stay at my seat for a while because with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 1/2 year old my wife needs help keeping an eye on the kids. After a short while I just can't take it anymore. Thus the walk of shame begins. I navigate my way through the forest of people all the while noticing people....not noticing me (or at least pretending not to). I walk right past a friend of mine who doesn't even look at me even though over the summer we sat on my patio after putting up a fence and shared a six pack and played with my dog. Then there are the elders, the Shepherd's of the flock that see a sheep having trouble and offer no help, again not even a glance. Then the real hurt and anger hits. I see little kids, most of who play with my son and daughter. They won't even say hi to me. These are otherwise innocent little kids who know they can't talk to "that man". I get my coat on and walk out the door, I go to the car to sit and stare at the night sky wondering if I am indeed the kind of person that deserves this type of treatment.
Thanks for reading, I just needed to vent. It's been about 2 months or so since my DF announcement and it's just getting hard to do the walk of shame 3 times a week.
Out of the mouth of babes
A grandmother has not seen her six year old grand daughter for 18 months because her son is disfellowshipped. The six year old made the following comment to her mother.