The history of disfellowshipping in the WTS

by greendawn 6 Replies latest jw friends

  • greendawn

    Does any one know how the history of disfellowshipping arose and unfolded in the JWs? I have the impression that it started after Rutherford died though he would very occasionally expel his troublesome opponents as "enemies of Jehovah's people". It was also rare in Russell's days as far as I know. Was it Knorr and Franz that gave it the form we know today?

  • bythesea

    I found a couple of places in R. Franz' second book, In Search of Christian Freedom, where he outlines some of the early history of the disfellowshipping process in the WTS. There is a blurb on pg 96 & 246-9. What he says on pg 96 verifies your comment about DF being rare during the presidency of both Russell and Rutherford, at least for persons who conscientiously objected to certain teachings.

    Following Russell's death and Rutherford's election to the presidency a very different tone and spirit manifested itself in the org's administration. The legalistic manner which we now see within the org had its roots with Rutherford, from what Franz tells us. It was during the 1950's, though, that a code of rules began to be outlined, going beyond scriptures such as 1 Cor. 5. Much of that code of rules was determined by Fred Franz during his vice presidency to Knorr. I liked this comment from the book:

    "I do not question the sincerity of Fred Franz' efforts in this area. but the result, I believe, illustrates how wrong it is to allocate to any man, not the mere extending of counsel or advice, but the actual deciding of matters that rightfully should rest with the individual consciences of those personally involved."

    Hope this is some help to you... bythesea

  • greendawn

    Thanks bythesea, I had gathered as much from the JW history it was Franz that was guilty of introducing the DFing rules which have caused so much suffering to countless people destroying families etc, that guy was a criminal. I am surprised Rutherford was more tolerent on dissenters given his dictatorial nature and the way he went about centralising power.

  • jwfacts

    In 1930, under Rutherford, disfellowshipping was criticised as a method of control. Watchtower 1930 October 1 p.301 “Satans organization sails under the high-sounding name of "Christendom". It boasts of a membership of over 500,000,000 persons. Its members are in bondage to creeds, customs, rites and ceremonies; they dare not disown these or criticize or expose them. To do so would bring down on their heads taunts, reproaches, disfellowship and persecution. Many thousands of the Lords people are held in these denominations as prisoners , afraid to express their disapproval of the creeds, methods and customs of the organization."

    A formal policy on disfellowshipping was not introduced until Knorr in the 1950’s. It was in 1952 that an extensive look a disfellowshipping occurred, with the Watchtower 1952 March 1 being devoted to the issue. The opening paragraphs on page 131 are interesting;

    "We might wonder, then, since this congregation which God is developing or bringing into existence is based on love, why anyone should ever want to talk about disfellowshipping or putting people out of this congregation. There certainly must be some reason. Well, the reason for disfellowshipping is that some persons get into this congregation of God that do not love Christ. ... Those who are acquainted with the situation in the congregation should never say `Hello' or `Goodbye' to him. He is not welcome in our midst, we avoid him."

  • greendawn

    One wonders why they care about Christ since they are almost entirely jehovah based. Franz introduced two rules that mark this org as a destructive cult DFing and the blood ban, things got more and more extreme over time. In my view DFing is ultimately there to combat dissent more than anything else.

  • slimboyfat

    According to a poster on here who was in Bethel in the 1950s this is how it unfolded:

    At bethel men were not allowed to marry. A lot of them were homosexuals and had open relationships with each other. Knorr got to hear of this and expelled as many bethelites as he could determine were involved. But throwing them out of bethel was not enough and he got Fred Franz to write articles explaining how all members of the congregations should shun such ones. So disfellowshipping proper was instituted in the 1950s as a result of a group of homosexuals being exposed in bethel. That is not to say there was not an informal sort of disfellowshipping before. But Rutherford was much more interested in victimizing people for their questioning of doctrines or his authority than for moral indiscretions.

    In the articles Franz wrote that kicked off disfellowshipping there are supposed to be hints at the events in Bethel that sparked it off...


  • greendawn

    Interesting bit of history but then once they started with it they went completely overboard eventually DFing people for really silly things like celebrating Christmas and birthdays or even for dissent eg Barbara Anderson merely for opposing their child abuse policy or Jonnson for opposing the 607 BC date.

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