Actually, my impression was that DAing was worse because the person was making a deliberate decision to leave to reject the doctrines of the WTS, not accidentally falling into sin and not seeing the need yet to be repentant.
*** w88 4/15 p. 26 par. 3 Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit ***
But,’ someone may ask, ‘is it not harsh to expel and then refuse to talk with the expelled person?’ Such a view surfaced in a recent court case involving a woman who was raised by parents who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Her parents had been disfellowshipped. She was not, but she voluntarily disassociated herself by writing a letter withdrawing from the congregation. Accordingly, the congregation was simply informed that she was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She moved away, but years later she returned and found that local Witnesses would not converse with her. So she took the matter to court.
The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum, in line with the divine principle: "Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person [or guilty of another gross sin], . . . not even eating with such a man."—1 Corinthians 5:11.
The Court Decision
You may want to know the outcome of the court case involving a woman who was upset because former acquaintances would not converse with her after she chose to reject the faith, disassociating herself from the congregation.
Before the case went to trial, a federal district court summarily granted judgment against her. That judgment was based on the concept that courts do not get involved in church disciplinary matters. She then appealed. The unanimous judgment of the federal court of appeals was based on broader grounds of First Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution) rights: "Because the practice of shunning is a part of the faith of the Jehovah’s Witness, we find that the ‘free exercise’ provision of the United States Constitution . . . precludes [her] from prevailing. The defendants have a constitutionally protected privilege to engage in the practice of shunning. Accordingly, we affirm" the earlier judgment of the district court.
The court opinion continued: "Shunning is a practice engaged in by Jehovah’s Witnesses pursuant to their interpretation of canonical text, and we are not free to reinterpret that text . . . The defendants are entitled to the free exercise of their religious beliefs . . . Courts generally do not scrutinize closely the relationship among members (or former members) of a church. Churches are afforded great latitude when they impose discipline on members or former members. We agree with [former U.S. Supreme Court] Justice Jackson’s view that ‘[r]eligious activities which concern only members of the faith are and ought to be free—as nearly absolutely free as anything can be.’ . . . The members of the Church [she] decided to abandon have concluded that they no longer want to associate with her. We hold that they are free to make that choice."
The court of appeals acknowledged that even if the woman felt distress because former acquaintances chose not to converse with her, "permitting her to recover for intangible or emotional injuries would unconstitutionally restrict the Jehovah’s Witnesses free exercise of religion . . . The constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion requires that society tolerate the type of harms suffered by [her] as a price well worth paying to safeguard the right of religious difference that all citizens enjoy." This decision has, in a sense, received even more weight since it was handed down. How so? The woman later petitioned the highest court in the land to hear the case and possibly overturn the decision against her. But in November 1987, the United States Supreme Court refused to do so.
Hence, this important case determined that a disfellowshipped or disassociated person cannot recover damages from Jehovah’s Witnesses in a court of law for being shunned. Since the congregation was responding to the perfect directions that all of us can read in God’s Word and applying it, the person is feeling a loss brought on by his or her own actions.
*** w86 10/15 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
They would then simply announce to the congregation that such one has disassociated himself and thus is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such a person would have ‘abandoned his previous loyalty,’ but it is not necessary for any formal disfellowshipping action to be taken. Why? Because he has already disassociated himself from the congregation. Likely he is not trying to maintain contact with his former brothers so as to persuade them to follow him. For their part, the loyal brothers are not seeking fellowship with him, since ‘he went out from them, for he was not of their sort.’ (1 John 2:19) Such a disassociated person who ‘has gone out from us’ might begin to send letters or literature promoting false religion or apostasy. That would underscore that the individual definitely ‘is not of our sort.’