Jehovah’s Witnesses and Shunning

Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a very harsh form of shunning, directed at anyone who officially leaves the religion (“disassociated”) or who has been excommunicated (“disfellowshipped”) no matter the reasons for their leaving. This shunning is complete and all-encompassing, and even includes family.

“Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail.”

January 15, 2013, Watchtower

Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently applaud personal experiences of congregants who have shunned others, including family.

Those personal experiences also include shunning extended family never associated with the religion, including children.

“A sister whose disfellowshipped daughter left home admits: “I looked for loopholes in our publications so that I could spend time with my daughter and my granddaughter.” But her husband kindly helped her to see that they were no longer responsible for their daughter and that they needed to be loyal to Jehovah.”

March, 2018, Watchtower (simplified edition)

Dr Savin Bapir-Tardy, a counselling psychologist at the the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) and a lecturer in psychology at the University of West London, has said, “…researchers in psychology have observed a high prevalence of PTSD amongst people who have been shunned. To get a more clear idea of the pain that shunning can cause, researchers have observed that even being a bystander to shunning can have dire psychological consequences. The psychological consequences of being shunned are long. Although, externally there may not be any wounds, internally the wounds are deep and long-lasting.” (As quoted in SEEDA, November 11, 2016, this link)

According to Purdue psychologist Kipling Williams, “…people who are ostracized suffer deeply, including the obvious loss of self-esteem and depression, but also including physiological symptoms such as ulcers, suppression of the immune system, anxiety, psychosis (in prolonged isolation, such as prisoners kept in solitary confinement), and a loss of feeling valued or having any meaningful existence. But perhaps more troubling is the rage that is associated with being ostracized.” (As quoted in Psychology Today, September 4, 2013, this link)

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that only a baptized Witness who “makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent” is shunned and disfellowshipped, the elder’s handbook, “Shepherd the Flock of God in Your Care,” (April 2020 edition; chapter 12) includes a long list of disfellowshipping offenses, including “extreme physical uncleanness,” “gluttony,” “obscene speech,” “misuse of tobacco,” and many others.

%d bloggers like this: