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Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Stance on Shunning

Submitted by Jaymes on September 19, 2012 - 12:57 pm 28 Comments

Here is the official Jehovah's Witness view on shunning membersI have heard it for many years, and I’ve seen quite a few comments on JWB, that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not shun former members. I’ve been called a liar, an apostate, and worse, each time I point out that this shunning behaviour is the sign of a cult.

Well, brothers and sisters, let’s turn to the Watchtower Society and see what they have to say about it. After all, for most Jehovah’s Witnesses, what the Watchtower says is the final word on any issue.

On the official Jehovah’s Witness website, there is an FAQ entitled, “Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?

The article begins like this, and see if you can spot the initial deception.

Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.

Did you get it? Let me point it out just in case you didn’t. Is that paragraph talking about former members? No. They are talking about ‘inactive’ ones, not ‘disfellowshipped’ ones. So most people would read this first paragraph, see the ‘not’ in italics, nod their head in agreement that they don’t shun, and carry on their lives. But not me. I kept reading.

The second paragraph says:

 If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped.

Tada! They admit it. Disfellowshipped people get shunned. Plain and simple. No two ways about it. Jehovah’s Witnesses official stance is that former members of their religion get shunned. In fact, the above sentence also indicates that being shunned is the same as being disfellowshipped. Being disfellowshipped means being shunned. (I threw the italics in there because the Watchtower inspired me. It was that or holy spirit.)

Next paragraph.

What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.

Ah! So if a man gets disfellowshipped, the marriage changes but carries on as normal… Are you confused? I certainly am. Let’s use an example. Say a husband gets disfellowshipped. All Jehovah’s Witness friends start to shun him. Obviously this can cause some stress in a marriage where a wife would want to carry on associating with people who treat her husband in such a way. Many marriages do carry on and problems get ironed out, but to say ‘normal family affections… continue’ is just a load of rubbish. Many Jehovah’s Witness marriages end in divorce when one member gets disfellowshipped.

That ‘normal family affections’ bit… That just isn’t true. I stopped being a JW only for my step-mother – the woman who raised me – to completely disown me and shun me. There are countless examples of teenage children being kicked out of their family home and shunned – here is a powerful example I encourage you all to read.

The shunning policy always seemed a bit harsh to me. I mean, I stopped believing that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the true religion. That’s all I did. I didn’t kill anyone or rape a child (which I might have gotten away with if you consider the JW policy on child abuse…). I simply had a different opinion to them. My punishment was to be completely shunned and disowned. I had the same punishment as someone who would get disfellowshipped for committing a crime.

The article concludes:

Disfellowshipped people who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a sincere desire to live by the Bible’s standards are always welcome to become members of the congregation again.

So what is ‘impoper conduct’, or grounds for being disfellowshipped? Well, in the Watchtower Study Edition of November 2006, it says ” Disfellowshipping takes place only if a member of the congregation unrepentantly engages in gross sin”.

A ‘gross sin’ sounds pretty bad. That must be like doing something illegal, right? Well, you can be disfellowshipped for having a different opinion to them, wearing clothes they don’t approve of in the Kingdom Hall, letting your child play with a Warrior Wizard toy, watching a magic show and even for saving your child’s life by giving him or her a blood transfusion. You can be disfellowshipped for going to the police when your child has been abused by a fellow Jehovah’s Witness. You can be disfellowshipped for reading JWB! Don’t believe me? If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness reading this, go to your elders and tell them you read JWB and will continue doing so. Basically anything you do that they don’t like, no matter how small, can be counted as a ‘gross sin’.

Before I finish up this article, I want to point you to the Wikipedia article on Shunning, which points out (with references) that “Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture.” Yes, folks, it is not an over-exaggeration to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses torture former members. Some people have committed suicide as a direct result of their friends and families shunning them in line with Jehovah’s Witness policies. According to several reports, Jehovah’s Witnesses commit suicide at a rate far exceeding (5-10 times greater) the general US population!

The article also says that there are two main reasons why shunning takes place. 1. To modify the behaviour of a member, and 2. To remove or limit the influence of a member. Yep. I thought it too – “Cult”.

So, don’t ever let a Jehovah’s Witness tell you that they don’t ‘shun’ former members and call you a liar. It says they do, in context, right there on their website. They’ll try and justify it to you and themselves, but at the end of the day, that sort of behaviour is a clear cut sign that they are a controlling cult.

Follow me (Andrew) @MinotaurAndrew, Jaymes “Teeny Pyjamas” Payten @JaymesPayten, or our official account @JehovahsBlog on Twitter.

  • Jesse Levesque

    One of my neighbors has been diagnosed with a mental illness (ADHD) and had been disfellowshipped by the JW about five years ago. She is 61 and not able to work. Her husband is still an active member of the JW church and he had moved out of their house following her disfellowshipping. She told me he has an apartment nearby of his own, but she doesn’t know where it is. She told me her husband stops by the house every week or so to collect his mail. She also told me the house has gone in disrepair with mold and other issues. I noticed she had often tried to call her husband on the phone, but he shuns her constantly telling her not to call him! He also has control of the household income and gives her an allowance every week which he transfers into her bank account. He also comes by the house every so often and gets romantic with her, she told me. She treats him well, cooks for him, serves him food in the livingroom as he likes, but gets aggravated with her easily probably due to her ADHD. He has suffered, I’m sure. However, she has suffered anguish I can only imagine! Living alone? Guilt from being disfellowshipped? She always liked to talk about the JW church. I tried to help her once. I had contacted an attorney to ask advice, but the attorney didn’t want to get involved. She didn’t like the idea of talking to an attorney, either.


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  • Eric

    I was a JW and was disfellowshipped about 20 years ago. I still feel the effects, guilt, shame of leaving the organization!!! The programming does run really deep within me and for a long while I was really messed up! I try to be careful about labling myself as a victim.
    I was deeply saddened by the lack of support and the clicks in the organization. I had friends that were close as long as I was a good witness and was safe to be around. A lot of the time I was feeling left out with many who I called friends because I did not fit in with them and this was deeply hurtful. My father was dying of cancer at the time and I didnt know how deeply this was impacting me. My mother had already died when I was 11 years old. After my father died I wanted to experience the world fully. I was tired of living suppressed. I was threatened with disfellowshipping if I continued masterbation and who I dated was controlled as well. I was struggling deeply with my fathers death, masterbation and pornography. It was not too long after my fathers death that I was disfellowshipped for “indecent conduct” – a flagrant disregaurd for Jehovah’s laws. I WAS shunned by all who I knew. All but a few, and of course the elders would not talk to me. I was ignored and viewed as unsafe at meetings and in public when I was seen by fellow witnesses. I tried to force myself to repent. Which had a severe psychological and emotional impact, even to this day, 20 years later!!! I tried to go back many times. I tried deeply to stop masterbation and porn. I could stop the porn, but the masterbation I could not!!! I prayed with all my heart and being to jehovah and jesus for help and none came. I had never done drugs before I was 22 years old. After leaving the organization I reasoned that if I didnt go back Jehovah was going to kill me in a terrible and painful way and I would be dead for all of eternity. YES, they actually teach this, even to this day. So I became the worst person I could. I experienced everything the world had to offer. I went to the darkest places of my life and I was on a suicide run. Because to me, deep within I felt in a catch 22!!! I could not go to christianity because then I would go to hell. I could not go back to Jehovah because I was close to the unforgivable sin – apostacy!!! I felt ultimately and eternally screwed! I became a drud addict and an alcoholic. I started smoking cigarettes. I experienced much of the gambit of dark experiences. I suffered deeply and greatly. And through grace and my own Soul I am still here.
    I am 41 years old now. I have gone through 2 recovery programs and been homeless many times. I have struggled with gurus and cult organizations. I have deeply longed for redemtion and forgiveness for all of these years and it never came to me!!! I loved Jehovah and Jesus with all of my heart and Soul (yet they teach that we dont have a soul). I felt and still feel betrayed, left and abandoned from the one who I looked to the most – God in the form of Jehovah. I went to Hinduism looking for answers. And to many places in between.
    I now have a long term home. I am healing the addictions and becoming healthier. I was viably crazy for many years and rocked with psychological and emotional trauma, grief and loss. Today, I am a much more sane man and healthier than I used to be.
    Still though, I feel the indoctrination. I work very hard to stay within myself and not give my power away to gurus, belief systems, lovers and relationships. My time with the JW’s impacted me severely in all of these areas and much more of my life. In the life that I have thus lived I have learned and experienced that there is grace and a way through anything. I have faith and hope that there is freedom from this indoctrination and enslavement to what was once my world and my life.

  • Bonnie

    My daughter in law (who left the cult a year ago) recently penned two separate letters to our relatives who are still in the cult, prompted to do so by the recent tragic suicide of Eric Reeder (Oompa) after he could no longer take the ostracism and isolation and depression caused by being shunned. Her letter has given words to many others who were trying to find a way to broach the subject with their own JW family members. It’s rather long, but let’s face it, the lives of our loved ones are at stake here. Perhaps it will help others on this site, as well.

    Dear Family

    A member of the EX-Jehovah’s Witness community who was also a member of one of the support groups that I am a part of, has committed suicide. He could no longer deal with the depression that comes along with being SHUNNED simply for no longer believing in the MAN MADE organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He knew NO ONE that was not a Jehovah’s Witness and therefore lost EVERYONE overnight. Disfellowshipping and shunning is psychological torture. Your bible has been changed and manipulated to fit the teachings of the MEN that make up the governing body who claim to be used by God. The organization has made more false predictions that one can count and is a FALSE PROPHET even by the bible’s definition.

    IT IS FACT. You are being lied to and misled on a daily basis and it is the ones who discover the lies about the organization, as I did that are punished for it by being shunned and slandered. Such an organization IS NOT from God. I could keep my mouth shut if people weren’t DYING at the hands of this organization but they are and it happens more often that you know.

    I understand that you are programmed to think, “Well, if these ones hadn’t left Jehovah, this wouldn’t happen.” It is one of the many heartless responses that you have been programmed to say. The problem is that while you claim to be loyal to God, your loyalty REALLY lies with the handful of old men who claim to be God’s mouthpiece and who tell you what you are to believe and punish you if you don’t.

    I pray that someday you will consider the facts, historical, biblical and otherwise that prove the falsity of the organization. There is a reason the organization warns you against “apostates.” They are not evil, or being led by Satan. They are not “mentally diseased” as the Watchtower has recently labeled us. They are, quite simply good-hearted, loving people who know the truth about the organization and as you do not hold back from speaking to others about your beliefs, neither do they.

    Many of them, myself included have lost a great deal at the hands of the organization and wish to protect others from the same fate. The majority had to start COMPLETELY over in their lives upon leaving or being kicked out and have suffered incredible injustices. I realize you have been programmed to have very little empathy for those who do not believe in the organization but I had to try.

    g7/09p.29 Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?***

    “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.”

    (Straight from the mouth of the governing body. What unbelievable hypocrites).


    Dear Family

    Please consider. How can the WT Society say this…

    “What if we have a relative or a close friend who is disfellowshipped? Now our loyalty is on the line, not to that person, but to God. Jehovah is watching us to see whether we will abide by his command not to have contact with anyone who is disfellowshipped.—Read 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.

    “Consider just one example of the good that can come when a family loyally upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives. A young man had been disfellowshipped for over ten years, during which time his father, mother, and four brothers “quit mixing in company” with him. At times, he tried to involve himself in their activities, but to their credit, each member of the family was steadfast in not having any contact with him. After he was reinstated, he said that he always missed the association with his family, especially at night when he was alone. But, he admitted, had the family associated with him even a little, that small dose would have satisfied him. However, because he did not receive even the slightest communication from any of his family, the burning desire to be with them became one motivating factor in his restoring his relationship with Jehovah.” Watchtower 2012 Apr 15 p.12

    and then say this…

    g7/09p.29 Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?***

    “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.”

    The organization is saying that it is only okay for Jehovah’s Witnesses to make family members worship in a way they find unacceptable and make them choose between their beliefs and their relationships but it is NOT okay for people of OTHER religions to make those COMING INTO the organization choose between their beliefs and their family.

    If you cannot see the stunning hypocrisy, than the organization has blinded you as it has blinded 7 million others across the globe.

    Although I will always love them and miss them, I do not in any way have a “burning desire” to be with any of my family or past “friends” who choose to not be in my life because I do not believe what they do and I regret and repent of the times I have put people in that position when I was in the organization. I have rebuilt my life and am relishing in true relationships that are not founded on or dependent upon mutual belief. The only burning desire I have is to keep people away from this destructive, false and blood guilty cult and it is something I will never return to. I write these things with nothing but love in my heart and an earnest desire to stand up for what is right and what is the real truth.

    As the article above asks you to consider the “good” that comes from shunning, I will ask you to consider the bad: A 51 year old man takes his life because his family and friends “loyally uphhold the governing body’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives.” I am going to venture to say the bad far outweighs the “good.” All shunning is, is emotional blackmail and all it accomplishes is making people come back to the organization for the wrong reasons. They, for the most part do not return for God, they return because they love their families. They are forced to become hypocrites saying they believe in something that they don’t so they can have their relationships. This is what the organization sees as “good”.


  • Asia Nealy

    Who did you stay with after you were disfellowshipped? That must of been pretty painful to have your mother do that especially when your still in your teens

  • Michelle

    I was a baptised witness up to the age of 16 when i disassociated MYSELF.I saw it as my choice of a resignation rather than a sacking but ofcourse they can’t have that,so they disfellowshipped me. Anyways,they definitely do shun,i have it in writing from my own mother. She wrote me a letter when i was 16 stating that she could no longer associate with me as i had turned my back on Jehovah. Lovely,and the Witnesses say they do not destroy families!When the Witnesses now come to my door,i simply state,’i would rather go down with a sinking ship than live forever after with such people as my mother and other members of my family that turned their back on me.

  • Asia Nealy

    The WTS use Biblical “proof” for this, such as 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:
    In my letter I wrote YOU to quit mixing in company with fornicators, not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world. But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, while God judges those outside? “Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.”
    The Greek for the words “quit mixing in company” is “sunanamignumi”.
    This means according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
    “To ‘mix up together, i.e. associate with; (have, keep) company (with).”
    Also, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says of the same word:

    “to keep comany with, to be intimate with…”
    The same source further uses 1 Corinthians 5:9 and 11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14 as examples of how the word is used in the Greek text.

    This is in contrast with the Greek word “mita”. In Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance it is interesting to note that this word “sunanamignumi” is shown to mean a much closer association than that or the word mita which merely denotes:

    “accompaniment; amid (local or casual) – general association
    Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament also says regarding the Greek word sunanamignumi:

    “A fellowship far closer and more intimate than that expressed by mita, although in the N.T. (New Testament) this distinction is much oftener neglected than observed. So from here it can be seen that the word used in 1 Corinthians 5:9 and 11 denotes close association, as with a friend, or someone with whom one would normally share a meal with”
    So, you can see there is a clear distinction between “mita” (general association) and “sunanamignumi” (close association). This is clearly demonstrated in the Greek language.

    We can see why Paul recommended that there should be no “close, or intimate association”, or sunanamignumi

    When we look at the two words we can clearly see the expression Paul uses really does not suggest at all that one cannot say a simple “hello” out of common courtesy to such an individual. Paul’s warning is not to become “intimate” with the individual. However, he could have some “casual” or “general association” since this is what he would have with persons in general.

    Pauls councel at 1 Corinthians Chapter 5 does not suggest that a Christian cannot be cordial to disfellowshipped individuals. He could have “general or casual association” with such individuals, which is what the scriptures really indicate.

  • Nico

    Good for you Collette! I’m glad you’re doing better & rising above. I’ve made a really concentrated effort for a long time now not to think about my child hood or that messed up cult. After awhile it works. You live in the present & wow it’s nice. Until I go on a website like this & think about it. There really needs to be more support groups! lol

  • Collette

    Dear fellow former Witnesses,
    I dissfellowshiped myself back in 1998. I wrote a letter and shove it under the Kingdom Hall door. At the time I admitted myself to a phsychiatric klinic due to having repeated and intense panick attacks. I had no idea why – back then. I tried going to the elders but they just said I wasn’t praying enough, I should pray harder and do more. Well I did, but things got worse for me. I felt so alone and abandoned and all they were asking was how many hours of preaching work I had managed. In the end I remember I only managed to do 10. Well the look on the faces………….. I wrote that I didn’t feel worthy enough of serving Jehova. I felt I wasn’t good enough to be there. Can you imagine that? I didn’t feel good enough. So I chose rather to leave the Org than to soil it with my presence. That was my reason for leaving. I still get these dirty looks and laughs behind my back when I see former sisters walking down the road. I’ve learned to cope with that by smiling very sweetly and saying hello. Well then you should see the faces. :) I decides just because they weren’t going to be christianlike, I was. These people are not only pretending to serve the true God, no, they take it many steps further – they actaully become Gods. They are your judges and they have power to shunn you away. The think for you, and tell you what to do, how to do it and when. They lie like it is the truth. What God are they trying to please? I think I know.
    I still have problems in my life to this day – psychologically that is. 14 years ago, and it still hurts. But I know I’m not alone. Many of you ex-witnesses have come out due to seeing through the illogical teachings of the organisation. That Organisation does not own me. Not anymore.

  • http://www.JehovahsWitnessBlog.com Andrew

    Yeah, we’ll be posting more regularly again now!

  • http://www.JehovahsWitnessBlog.com Andrew

    Hi Number6 – I think we’ve all said it up to this point 😀 You are right, of course.

  • Number6

    Your parents must be as close-minded as mine – I guess most JWs are, seeing as they all sing from the same hymn sheet, literally.

    I showed my dad, a long-time elder, all the WTS spiel about the 1975 false prophecy, the non-apology, reminded him of how our family endured all those fervent 70’s meetings and assemblies, etc, the JW’s masonic origins – I threw everything at him and we finally got to the point where he said, “I know, but what else is there?”

    I thought I’d made a breakthrough until a week later when I got a postcard from him with this cryptic quote on the front: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

    I’m wondering whether he stays in the cult because he enjoys the lifestyle and social life, doesn’t know any better or just does it to keep my devout pioneer mum happy.

    I ‘shun’ my parents now, I posted why above. God, it’s a f***ked up religion.

  • Number6

    I can tell you my what view my zealous pioneer mum and ‘company man’ elder dad have on the shunning policy.

    They regularly visit and holiday with two of my dfed brothers, who both live far enough away that no one from the home congo* will ever find out. They’ve done this consistently for over a decade.

    I’ve been out of the bOrg for even longer than that so I thought the shunning policy had been relaxed. Some of the stories I’ve read are truly heartbreaking. All this for a MLM book publishing company. Jesus wept, it’s sickening.

    Sadly, my wife and I recently decided to cut ties with my parents because we’d had enough of them poisoning our kids’ minds (and ours) with their skewed world view and cult armagenobabble.

    * and especially anyone my dad has bollocked on a judicial committee.

    “Keep up the great blog”
    Yeah, ditto that. I love the gallows humour, just wish you’d post more often.

  • Number6

    I’ll say it if no one else will: religions that advocate shunning are a bunch of cults.

  • Pete

    As a former JW for over 20 years, I can attest to the very plausible sound of all of the comments under this blog subject so far.

    I slaved as a Pioneer, ministerial servant, elder and even did some circuit work and assisted with the WTBS legal department, on child custody cases. 

    Normal family affections do not continue, how could they, it’s a preposterous statement. I was considered an apostate, how could my zealous wife hold my hand while around other witnesses, let alone continue to be ‘evenly yolked’ when she could not even speak about anything of substance anymore with me. 
    I chose to write a letter of dissasociation (which isn’t even a word) as I felt it would have more impact on others and they would not simply conclude that I grew weak and drifted away. 

    My involvement was huge, I performed many acts of kindness far beyond the usual. Helping the ‘fatherless boys’, supporting single parents, visiting the sick and elderly, building Kingdom halls, Bethel construction, giving speeches (talks) both public (Sunday) and at other meetings & assemblies (once at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to over 14,000 people) , sat on judicial committees (to judge and disfellowship others, and appeal committees), conducted countless bible studies and meetings. 

    After I withdrew, my Mother (a JW) wrote to my former wife, calling me ‘worse than the devil’ (among many other things) because I celebrated a birthday with my special needs daughter. This is far from normal family affection. She continues to shun me after 10 years and has not attempted to contact me.

    My whole family abandoned me, all of my friends and acquaintances cut off all contact, like I should be despised as the worst of monster criminals.  

    I have seen more pain from this cult on both a personal level in my life and others that I have reconnected with after they have left. I know of suicides either directly because of the shunning or of people not being true to themselves and not being able to face the prospect of being shunned. I myself was in the darkest part of my life and wondered if it was still worth living, no friends, my hopes and dreams destroyed, no resources or money, many years dedicated to a worthless cause. No place to turn.

    This cult has torn apart three generations of my family either directly or indirectly. 

    My special needs daughter is forced to go to meetings, and preach, taught to flog magazines. Told she must marry a man that loves Jehovah. Has cried saying, she doesn’t want Jehovah to kill me… Has cried many times about how her mom slaps her when she doesn’t listen (corporal punishment is still allowed, even encouraged). Cries when she can’t attend Christmas concerts or school assemblies for her mother’s religious reasons.

    I extend my heart to anyone who wishes to contact me. I would gladly assist people to deprogram themselves from this destructive mind controlling cult. I’ve seen all sides of it, pulled apart their beliefs and reasonings and techniques. I have no anger or bitterness toward the sheep that are mislead and still in the grips of this tyranny.  I would love to see this cult exposed and dismantled, I offer my service as an experienced speaker and confidant to any that need support, specifically with the JW’s

    May you find peace in your hearts and know that leaving the JW’s is very much like torture, but you are not alone and your strength will help others find courage as well. There is no god like the Jehovah God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.


  • Dillen

    JWB, it’s true what they do in that cult…you’ll get into trouble for the smallest mistake you do and next minuet you know, you’re shunned or disfellowshiped from your family and friends! Too many young people are dying from attempting suicide and it has to stop. JWs deny all sorts of things when an inactive one like me says something bad about it and it’s sick! Life is a beautiful thing but the WTS steal that away from you and act like nothing has happened when an innocent person like you is shunned. They are disgusting people!

  • Sizemik

    Spot on with the description Andrew . . . as anyone who has lived it will concur.

    There’s not much in the way of mental health research data available, as both JW’s and ex-JW’s alike don’t always state their religion in medical records. But I remember reading an Australian report some years back which put the incidence of suicide at 4 times the average, and mental health disorders at 16 times. Only confirmed cases were used so the figures were believed to be conservative. The practice of shunning, or fear of it, doubtlessly plays a significant role.
    It’s a psychologically barbaric practice fomented by those who are either very ignorant or totally callous . . . or both.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Carol Ali

    I had a friend from the age of 3 years. We were inseparable. Both our parents started studying and we all became JWs. In my 20’s I was disfellowshipped. My friend and I weren’t allowed contact again. She died in her 40s. I’ll never forgive that religion.

  • Frank

    I used to be a “would be hopeful follower” of the JW’s back in the early 1990’s. I abandoned my old church in 1992 to jump on the JW bandwagon. I was so vulnerable at the time and seeking spirituality that when they talked to me and everything, I believed everything that they taught and swallowed everything hook, line and sinker. I actually was active going to door, attending the meetings, enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School and gave talks on those nights. For a while, I actually was enjoying everything that I did. I had a zeal and enthusiasm for all of it like you wouldn’t believe. They had me convinced that what I was doing was helpful to others and that it was part of being a “true Christian” in “the one true Christian congregation on Earth”.

    As those two years wound down, I started losing interest in the work. I wanted to leave at one time, but was talked out of it and gave it another try. But it wasn’t the same anymore. I continued attending the meetings, but stopped going out on their door to door ministry as I was getting sick of getting up and doing all of that. I was also the victim of lies when a few young ladies made up false stories about me and told the elders about them, and though I defended my innocence, and I was innocent of the accusations, the elders took the word of the young ladies and when the time came, when they went to their annual district convention in August 1994, I decided to stay home and then, I dropped out of the cult, stopped my associations with them and washed my hands of my entire relationship with them.

    Yes, they shunned me and also accused me of abandoning them, when in reality, they were the ones who did the abandoning. For a while, the shunning did hurt, but I really don’t care anymore. I now have friends and I am back in my old church after many years and it has been wonderful.

    As far as the JW’s go, they can all “GO TO HELL!” for all I care now. They don’t matter to me anymore.

    Thanks for this blog.

  • http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com Jacqueline

    You would be a great help on this call in. Please attend if you can. We are trying to prevent suicides. We just had one in AU. this July, a victim of the pedophile abuse scandal in AU.
    Thank you. And I will post this site in a comment today so ones can read this.


  • Nico

    That was probably unclear I moved again in 2006, & again in 2007, & again in 2009 so there’s no way she the lady knew me either. She just assumed!

  • Nico

    I was just shunned a few months ago. I was so randomly too. Was on an Art Walk with my mother & some JW woman, who knows absolutely nothing about me, said hi to my mother hugging her closely. Then stuck up her nose as she walked past my husband, 2 well behaved small children, myself, & two of my Uncles. Considering we’re 1300 miles & oh 8 or maybe 10 years from the last time I attended a meeting I just started laughing. None of the rest of the family ever set foot in a hall but she didn’t know that! I loudly asked my mother what stick was up her butt but my mother said she just doesn’t like kids. Oh yeah right! You don’t own God so get over yourselves JoHo’s!

    Never did understand the “Disassociating Letter” so I didn’t do it. Seems kind of pointless am I right? “Hi, You don’t know who I am but I moved down here in 1997 to escape my JW mother & her cheating abusive upstanding MS JW husband. I think I went to 4 or 5 meetings between then & 2002 but just in case you’re unsure of my status I think you’re all full of it. If there’s an inactive publisher card in your basement offices somewhere with my name on it please Recycle. Sincerely…” LMBO

  • http://www.eliasbarton.com Elias Barton

    It is completely untrue that “normal family affections and dealings continue.” My father was disfellowshipped for smoking cigarettes when I was a child. Throughout my entire childhood into adulthood, the congregation and the elders had me believing he was an awful person and horrible father. Anyone who came over would ignore him and pretend he wasn’t even in the room (those that even would come over to a house tainted with a non-believer).

    This damaged my relationship with him beyond belief. It blinded me to the fact that he was a great father and a better man than many JW’s. He even put up with all of this inhumane treatment because he loved his family. It was only recently that I apologized to him (for the congregation’s behavior) and explained to him how damaging the church had been to our family and our confidence.

    Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, dispite not believing their doctrine, he returned to the JW’s solely so he could have contact with the grandkids. Sad.

  • andy

    my elderly parents and my brother and family have all shunned me because i…….. dum dum dum …remarried (and thats what i was DF’ed for as well). my ex who is still a JW divorced me because i left her because i couldnt stand her controlling behaviour anymore after 12 years of marriage. now they miss out on seeing their grandchildren and apparently its all my fault.

    they wont ever accept its a cult without opening their mind to believe it because they are programmed to believe only the watchtower is true and everything else is lies even if you can prove it..

  • Brad L. Wilson

    Another problem that exists is the lack of continuity in the application of this policy. Over 3 years before I decided to disassociate myself on many occasions I was both shunned and chatted up at a few gatherings I attended. The average jw knows not what the real policies are often as not, and just seem to muddle along.
    And like you all I did was stop going.

    A sad sad situation. Keep up the great blog – Brad

  • http://smmcroberts.net smmcroberts

    So true, Andrew.

    When my sister was disfellowshipped her best friend and former room-mate, whom she had pioneered with in rural Minnesota, would no longer speak to her. It was only 25 years later that they spoke again, and only because they were both out of the org by then.

    I can also relate to the suicide statistics: I was nearly one myself. I was massively depressed as a Witness contemplating the deaths of my non-Witness family members at the hand of my “loving” god.

    Leaving the society and waking from the false hopes was a crushing blow for me; it had been the only place I had ever felt like I “belonged” (though towards the end I realized I didn’t fit in there either). With no friends and no way to relate to “the world”, I eventually hit rock bottom and attempted suicide.

    That landed me in the hospital for a few weeks for injuries, and afterwards they put me in the psych ward for a few more weeks. It was the unconditional love of the nurses there that gradually rekindled the spark of life in me.

    Shunning is real, and it is evil. I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. That’s why I applaud your efforts on JWB.

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