The Friday Column: To the newly shunned

comfortLike many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of my family will soon be attending the 2016 convention entitled “Remain Loyal to Jehovah.”

Dubbed #worstconventionever by many in the ex-JW community, this convention features a number of videos and talks that will serve to further indoctrinate Watchtower’s followers and cause family strife.

Starting today, July 1 2016, my parents will attend the convention in the American Midwest. This afternoon, they will see a video that portrays a fictional character name Sonja who is disfellowshipped after she starts a romantic relationship with a nonbeliever she meets at work. This video shows the parents forcing Sonja out her family home and cutting all ties with her (even ignoring her phone calls) for fifteen years until she decides to seek reinstatement in the organization and is part part of a talk entitled “Shun Unrepentant Wrongdoers.”

I personally have a lot in common with Sonja. As a born-in Witness who left the organization without remorse, I have felt the sting of total shunning. My parents and only sister refuse to be a part of my life and by extension that of my daughter. Like Sonja, I have had to make a life of my own. Due to the fact that I refuse to follow the edicts of the Governing Body, I have been made an outcast by those who should love me most in this world.

Over the past fourteen years (one less than Sonja) I have had to come to terms with the fact that my family members truly are the victims of undue influence and may never be free of Watchtower’s grasp. Through a great deal of reading on websites like JWSurvey and JWFacts, and in books like Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan I have come to understand that Watchtower is a harmful controlling group that will stop at nothing to gain and keep its followers. It is clear to me that this year’s convention is one step further in their efforts to control the thoughts and behaviors of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Indeed, this talk also appears to tighten the rules on dealing with so-called faders, making it even harder to leave the Organisation with one’s family ties intact.

For many ex-JWs, the commands of this talk, both direct and implied, have caused great trauma. The fact that Sonja’s calls go unanswered seems to be in direct conflict with previous Watchtower guidelines. JW.org still has an article online that says:

“Although there might be a need for limited contact on some rare occasion to care for a necessary family matter, any such contact should be kept to a minimum.”

How do the parents in this video know that Sonja is not calling with an emergency? How can Watchtower possibly teach that ignoring phone calls is a loving provision?

Coping with shunning

screen-shot-2012-02-23-at-4-10-04-amSince the leak of this video and others being shown at the 2016 convention, my social media feeds have been peppered with posts by many in the ex-Witness community who are distraught over what this directive from Watchtower has done or will do to the already strained family relationships they may have managed to keep. I have seen children who are now being completely ignored by parents, parents who are being shut out of the lives of their children and grandchildren, and more. So many disfellowshipped and even inactive Witnesses are being harmed by this new brand of JW propaganda, even those who have gone to great lengths to come to agreements that keep at least some lines of communication open with those they love most.

To those of you just now facing the pain of total ostracism, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many of us who are dealing with what you are now facing. Please don’t think that you have done anything wrong by leaving Watchtower and its harmful teachings. Wherever you are on your journey away from Watchtower, know that there are others like you who understand what you may be now experiencing. I encourage you to reach out on social media or to the people who truly do show you unconditional love for comfort.

In addition, there is a sort of peace that comes with understanding that your family is not hateful by nature, but that they have been unduly influenced by Watchtower to believe that they are doing the right thing by shunning you. Please take the time to research mind-control so you can understand what is really happening to your family. Just like you, there is always a chance that they may wake up, be free of influence and reunite with you.

Even if that doesn’t happen though, you can still find comfort in the fact that you have made the right choice and that you no longer support an organization that causes so much harm.

You are free.

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148 Responses to The Friday Column: To the newly shunned

  1. Mama Joy says:

    Shunning isn’t about the disfellowshipped person, it’s about keeping people in fear.

    Jesus searched for lost sheep, not kicked them out.

    Since they really believe they are Gods ONLY WAY to salvation, then kicking out some sinners (not all sinners because we are all sinners) is a way to keep out people who question them, rebel against the made up rules, and have a hard time believing that they are Gods only chosen people to survive a genocide.

    It’s to keep out the smart ones who question things. They only want obedient people.

    According to the JW rules:

    -the Good Samaritan apostate should be avoided.
    – the harlot shouldn’t be spoken to until she proves herself worthy after months or years of meeting with the apostles and showing up to his sermons.
    – the Apostles should not stay in people’s homes, but instead should go door to door.
    – the numerous holidays that Jesus grew up celebrating as a Jew, Mary and Joseph should have been disfellowshipped over.
    – Mary should have been disfellowshipped for conceiving a child out of wedlock.
    – Jesus should not have offered the bread and wine to everyone in the crowd but only the 144,000 and should have been called into an elders meeting for it.
    – Peter should have lost his privileges in the congregation for betraying Jesus.
    – and more.

  2. Twmack says:

    The “Good Samaritan Parable” categorically shows,
    that you cannot love God and at the same time
    practice “Shunning”. Luke 10:25-37

    The Shunners who refuse even to answer the phone
    calls of shunned relatives or former friends. Could
    be ignoring a call for help.

    In that case they are like the “Priest” and the “Levite
    “Who passed by on the other side”

    • Winston Smith says:

      Excellent point Twmack.
      Much can be summed up with these two statements by Christ:
      “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
      “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ”

      By their shunning rules they utterly fail as followers of Christ, but they do a pretty good as followers of the Pharisees who Jesus condemned.

      WS

  3. Jose Torres says:

    I am an ex JW. Have been out for over 30 years. Became one back in 1958 when my mother joined. Growing up I liked and disliked being a JW. I liked the bonding but hated the rules. I went along out of respect for the family. Married a JW and eventually divorced and then got disfellowedshipped. I have two daughters from that marriage who are now shunning me. I know they are hurting and so am I. I will have to live with it but I am not going to die over it. They made their choice and so did I. If anything their actions have made me see that I could never believe in an organization that preaches this type of behavior towards loved ones. I love them and I know they love me, for now that will suffice.

    • Winston Smith says:

      It sounds like you have a good attitude about it Jose. Thanks sharing your perspective.

      WS

  4. rob says:

    In my opinion any organization/religion that even suggests that a parent should not speak to a child or vice versa, is not following the example set by Jesus.

    The shunning protocol actually defies the natural affection which is built into us from the day we are born.

    Also, I believe that it is inhumane to shun anyone especially grandchildren who are simply caught in the middle of this injustice.

  5. Outandabout says:

    I see Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has just gained more say in Australian politics and was in 2013 renewing his call for the establishment of a national cult busting agency to battle the likes of Watchtower, etc. Now is a good time to drop him a line.
    Interesting that Watchtower Aust. spokesman Vince O’toole once stated publicly that shunning was a ‘myth’.

  6. Gulf Coaster says:

    Mama Joy: “Shunning isn’t about the disfellowshipped person, it’s about keeping people in fear.”

    I agree. It’s a weapon of fear they wield over the JWs, to keep them in the cult. It’s a horrible thing to be socially ostracized and can cause some to end up homeless and destitute. Some even take their own lives.

    The fear of ending up like that, or of losing contact with your own children, parents, etc., is enough to keep many “in line”. I wonder how many JWs just go through the motions because they live in fear of losing their entire family and community?

    It’s not a “loving arrangement”, it’s nasty, malicious, hateful and damaging. It’s emotional abuse.

  7. Harry Cadanza says:

    The shunning policy is messed up. I remember some years ago at an elder’s school the instructor bringing out different scenarios when making a judgement. One case involved a young girl that got pregnant and SWORE that she never had sex with anyone….. she was disfellowshipped for having an unrepentant attitude. To make a long story short, it was revealed that her dentist raped her while under sedation. Obviously, this case was brought up with the view that the elders needed to be involved. She had the baby. It was a boy. She was disfellowshipped for two years and she never lost her faith in Jehovah. She knew to leave it in Jehovah’s hands.

    • Harry Cadanza says:

      I need to add, I remember my father telling me at the time he heard this, the young lady thought she had a vaginal infection. She didn’t understand she had been raped. She was shunned for two years. The truth didn’t come out for four years. That’s all I know.

      • VictorE says:

        VictorE

        A circuit overseer told me about a sister whose conscience bothered her for committing fornication with her boy friend who was a ministerial servant. The elders asked the brother and he denied it, so they put her on probation for lying and did nothing to him.

        My question is: Where is the two witness rule? They didn’t have two witnesses that proved she was lying. So how could they do anything to her?

        They didn’t have two witnesses against the brother and didn’t do anything to him. Just shows their hypocrisy!

        9 months later she had a boy.

        • Chantal says:

          @ Victor E, SUCH a male dominated organization! I encourage anyone with the SLIGHTEST doubt to read “Shepard the Flock”, the manual for Elders. Those who have not read it will be shocked as I was, I do sincerely believe. And then go on to the ARC testimonies….. what most blew my mind however, was the “Shepard” manual.

  8. Twmack says:

    I’m from Yorkshire , home of the notorious ripper
    who butchered 13 women, and was baptised as a
    JW in Broadmoor.

    Those studying with him are reported to be “Emphatic”
    that he now shows remorse for his crimes.

    It occurred to me, that were he paroled,( and he has
    applied for it,) He could walk into the local KH and be
    love bombed.

    The bizarre point of this is, when I’m out in the
    neighbourhood I frequently encounter a young woman.
    She never fails to mention the fact that her mother
    still won’t let her into the house. She’s being shunned
    by her family and the congregation.

    Now if she walked back into the congregation that she
    grew up in. She would not be spoken to, she would need
    to sit at the back and come and go quietly. Until such
    times as she proved remorseful. And for what?

    Her only crime is, she can no longer accept some of the
    things taught in the religion. But the gov, body, says
    that she is “Mentally Diseased and a Criminal”.
    WT,2011, July 15, p 11

  9. Chantal says:

    @ Victor E, SUCH a male dominated organization! I encourage anyone with the SLIGHTEST doubt to read “Shepard the Flock”, the manual for Elders. Those who have not read it will be shocked as I was, I do sincerely believe. And then go on to the ARC testimonies….. what most blew my mind however, was the “Shepard” manual.

  10. Ateasweet says:

    Well its simple when it comes to people jobs and income they will drop anyone even there children to be accountable to those the serve and worship or have click up with. I suppose I dont know people religion and I join this site to find out about certain things I needed to know and research for my piece of mind. So I cant grasps and understand different influences. Also If this watch tower is so proud of the God Jehovah and true to the group why havent I met anyfolks lately that when ask or volunteerly say why yes In a JW. I havent met anyone lately thats been around knocking at the door mentioning the wick we be destroy or anything lately. But we all know tge way the spirits moves so and the wiles of the enemies and lwa lord loas. The nations and so forth.

  11. alan says:

    What I do not understand is why are they inviting/encouraging the local press to write about the convention. Surely the press can only be negative?

    • Caroline says:

      alan, I don’t believe that newspapers are interested in the assembly conventions. I am pretty sure that the Society writes up what they want and sends it to the newspapers and the newspapers print it without asking any questions. I worked for a business man many years ago who was starting up a new store and he wrote up his “story” and gave it to the newspapers and the newspapers printed it and he said that is what they all do.

  12. Ex jw says:

    I am an ex jw for few months . I got expelled. At the time I’ve married a jw brother who abused me and was part of the sin I’ve committed . I am in a divorce procedure after 1.5 years of marriage with a narcssict . Even though I have confessed the elders said I do not really regret . I would like to know other jw who got expelled. I feel so lonely in my country and have no one to talk to .

    • Winston Smith says:

      @Ex jw
      Sorry to hear of your predicament. JW elders have often been slow to recognize that women have a right to leave an abusive relationship. I know a number of JW women who have stayed with abusers for decades because the elders said they could not leave. But here is the positive: you are getting out of an abusive marriage and you have been put out of an abusive cult. Regardless of the way it occurred freedom is freedom. It can be hard, but in the long run it is what is best for our emotional health. I’d suggest getting some professional help to work through some of the issues you have experienced in abusive relationships. I would also suggest getting involved with local community groups and slowly you will be able to make new friends who will care for you unconditionally. There are also some useful resources on the links page of this website.

      I realize it’s hard making the transition, but it only gets better from here. Keep your chin up!

      Best,

      WS

  13. Winston Smith says:

    I came across this report recently: https://culteducation.com/group/1267-jehovah-s-witnesses/11073-cast-out-religious-shunning-provides-an-unusual-background-in-the-longo-and-bryant-slayings-.html

    While a bit dated (2002) it shows how the JW practice of shunning can lead to some truly devastating results in some cases.

    WS

    • John Redwood says:

      Winston

      Thank you for the reference. The Longo murders were featured in the 2015 film True Story. The JW connection was mentioned in the opening scene of the movie, but the fine details were mentioned in the book by Michael Finkel which was the basis for this movie. I have read this book and was not surprised to see the extensive references to JW influence in the lives of Longo and his wife Mary Jane. Not only was shunning a factor, but the stagnation of Longo’s intellect because of the JW restrictions on education clearly had an impact on his life. Had he been allowed to have a normal upbringing, education, and get help for any mental health issues he had, the murders of his wife and children would likely have not occurred.

      I plan on releasing an article in the future featuring excerpts from True Story which reference the JW links.

      JR

  14. MJ Bachman says:

    The problem lies in the individual who chooses to follow these edicts. In the end it is an individual responsibility. Brainwashing control is a mechanism used through most if not all religions and yes I include non mainstream religions as well. Constant portrayal of a vindictive unholy narcissistic primitive god and people swallow the fairy tale without question. Zero for brains. When zombie jw family sticks around all they are going to do is preach non stop or try to indoctrinate your children. Been there, seen it, lived it. I cut out my parents because i caught them reading my book of bible stories to my eldest daughter one day after they had been told not to interfere with their religious programming. I left at 18 walked into the street with nothing 26 years ago and as hard as that first year was I have never once not even nostalgically regretted my decision. People cut off blood ties for all kinds if reason. No different than if your parents where destructuve evil people. Something’s just have to go no matter how painful.

  15. JEHOBO says:

    Get behind me SATAN! So you got the boot? How dare YOU doubt my rewritten King James Version and wildly inaccurate scripture interpretations? Where is my lazy and indiscreet slave? He must still be working on my elder- pedophile cover-up piece.

    JEHOBO God commands you!

  16. Garry says:

    Thanks jeni I’m sitting on a bus writing this having been shunned for three years by wife and three grown up daughters the rage sometimes is over whelming and starring again is one tough experience was elder for twenty years keep up the good work kind regards Garry

  17. Missy jay says:

    I disassociated last year after pioneering for 11 years. I am being shunned by my family. I didn’t know the implications of my action. I now attend a Pentecostal Church. I pray for my mum and siblings everyday of my life. May the Lord Jesus take the scales off their eyes.

    The So called Faithful and Discreet slave should be careful about the way they shine this so called light.