(you are right about the forum being biased - Welcome anyway)
I believe that everyone should have the right to choose for themselves whether to associate with another person or not. So I do not think that if a person "shunned" (i.e.chose to not associate with) another person that such conduct makes it automatically hateful. Depending on the reasons the shunning or not choosing to fellowship might be Christian or it might not be - it could be pharisaic.
It is always surprising to me that some of the same people that castigate the whole practice of shunning are sometimes overheard complaining about the treatment of child molesters or other bad persons within the Org. Certainly, they would agree that if these ones were shunned it would not be an evil?
So the issue is one of circumstance not principle.
The problem that I see with the practice of Disfellowshipping, as currently practiced, are the following.
1. The PROCEDURE or PROCESS is not in harmony with the scriptures. The scriptures, whether the Hebrew-Aramaic (OT) or the Christian Greek (NT) clearly shows that the process was public all the way. Persons were brought before the city gate or in the public square. In the NT, the scriptures say that after personal private attempts to clear up the matter fail to "set it before the whole congregation."
The reasons for this scriptural procedure were two-part: 1) so that the circumstances could serve as an instructive example to all and 2) because each individual would be responsible for carrying out the ultimate judgment (whether to cast a stone in the OT or to treat the person as a "tax collector" or person of the world in the NT).
Therefore, it was necessary that the matter be heard by all, in public, so that each could be sure of the judgment and stand in agreement of its righteousness.
IN CONTRAST, today's procedures within the Org are as you know held in secret tribunals - with the facts of the matter retained and compartmentalized and generally screened from the whole congregaton. In effect the decision to stone or to treat as a worldly person is made by a few persons but the JUDGEMENT is expected to be carried out by all. This is wrong in every sense.
Simply put the only reasons for such a secretive process iare 1) the fear of litigation in our modern society, 2) fear that the judgment might not be righteous or the correct one and 3) fear that in some cases such as "apostacy" etc. the underlying viewpoints of those being judged might contaminate the whole congregation.
Again these reasons are wrong in every sense.
Finally aside from the secrecy, the process is inherently flawed because it is open to too much private interpretation by the tribunal elders and even politicized. We don't have to read too many stories of elder's sons or daughter's getting away with a slap on the wrist for matters that others get crucified for to understand that. Problems like these might be cured by making the process open.
2. The Second problem with the current Disfellowshipping practice is that it is not a matter of personal choice. The decision has been made for us and we are all expected to just comply with it or risk disfellowshipment ourselves.
This is not only unscriptural it is overly paternalistic. Each of us as Christians are supposed to develop our own conscience to maturity and to be able to use our own bible-based wisdom and the mind of Christ to decide whether an associate is bad or good for us.
The bottom line is that instead of just paying lip-sevice to it being supposedly a personal choice - it must be made to be an actual conscience matter and persons who choose to associate with persons who others have chosen not to associate with should not be automatically punished (though some may choose not to associate with them in turn). In order to be a true conscience matter, however, one would need to know the facts and that means correcting the process.
3. The practice is not EFFECTIVE.
DFnig is not a deterrent to wrongful conduct - it only pushes it "underground." Those persons, sometimes young people, who say that but for possibly getting DF'd they would choose to engage in sex, get a tattoo, or whatever the choice may be are clearly not manifesting the "correct" view in the first place. (e.g. they don't see the badness or wrongness of premarital sex). Perhaps more importantly the underlying forces and stresses that are upon them are not resolved or mediated by the disfellowshipping policy, thus for many, these underlying forces or stresses eventually overwhelm their concern or the DF consequence and they engage in the proscribed action anyway.
As for any who get reinstated, we never really know if it is because they have repented (other than not doing the act or acts again) or whether they were motivated to give such an appearance because of being DF'd. Thus its usefullness as a rehabilitative measure is suspect.
Likewise, it is a strange paradox that we often blame the one disfellowshipped for transgressing because they were "spiritually weak" or had drawn away from the congregation, etc. yet the supposed cure is to put them out of it?! It would seem that the correct action would be to pull such sinners further into the congregation, offering them more love and counsel and fellowship so as to help them correct their actions or life course.
4. Disfellowshipping is problematic and questionable for some issues such as "apostasy", smoking, etc.
Again, these things come back to the main points above. Each Christian should hear what the person is promoting or learn what their conduct is (going to another church, celebrating Christmas, etc.) and decide for themselves whether association with such person(s) will be upbuilding or harmful.
In the area of apostasy especially the practice is often used as means of control and as a means of prior restraint and to silence legitimate criticism. All of which gives fuel to opposers and critics of the Organization - not too mention hampering development and reformative efforts from those who see the need for change and desire such change.
These are just some areas of concern. I have others but you get the idea.
Yes, I agree with you that in principle one should be able to choose their associates. But as it stands today, the practice of disfellowshipping does not allow for such true personal choice. Instead it is a tyranny of the mnority and a substitution of the judgment of a few "elders" in place of the exercise of one's sharpened Christian conscience.
-Eduardo Leaton Jr., Esq.