Shun Run/Walk 2012
I am planning a public awareness event for April 1, 2012, I calling "Shun Run/Walk 2012" to draw attention to shunning policies of Jehovah's Witnesses. I use to help out as a moderator on the ex-Jehovah's Witness Recovery Forum on yuku, so this is a cross post from that site. What you'll see below is a letter I have sent to "SDB:SSY", the otherwise anonymous JW author from US branch who wrote me. Any who would like to join in are certainly welcome. We are asking those that do to be warm and friendly and of course lawful in all that is done.
Shun Run/Walk 2012
Coping for Today, Hoping for Tomorrow
Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses
2821 Route 22, Patterson, NY
Dear Mr. SDB:SSY:
This letter is provided as a courtesy in advance of a public awareness event I am planning for Sunday, April 1, 2012. I am calling this event "Shun Run/Walk 2012" to draw attention to shunning policies of Jehovah's Witnesses. The plan calls for a three mile circular walk/run on the public land near the Casa Grande Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses here in the state of Arizona.
I can confirm two walkers for the event (Zechariah 4:10). Myself and friend who is a former member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be walking. As others become aware of our plans they too may join us. The intent of this event is not to embarrass Jehovah's Witnesses. Instead, I hope to be of encouragement to members of the ex-Jehovah's Witnesses community. Authors of The Watchtower and jw-media.org have sought to portray any who are shunned and critical of such as "mentally diseased"1 (1 Timothy 6:4) or unrepentant practicer of stealing, drunkenness or adultery2 (1 Corinthians 5:11). In reality many who leave do so, not for lack of moral fiber or sanity, but most reluctantly after discovering the awful truth, that many of the claims of the faith are not truly supported by evidence.
Once again I give you an opportunity to answer the following. I originally posed this question in my letter of June 30, 2010 then again on January 15, 2011.
Again, I ask your leadership to reflect on these policies. If there ever was a case of an individual being pursued in a punitive way simply for leaving the faith, it would be my case. If I am wrong in my views, please explain how anyone can leave the faith without being labeled "wicked" (1 Corinthians 5:13), short of continuing year-after-year to live by some undefined subset of the rules that govern active members.
Continuing to remain silent in effect gives an answer. I am reminded of words of 1 John 4:18-21:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint. Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love. As for us, we love, because he first loved us.
If anyone makes the statement: "I love God," and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.
Neither you nor I have seen God, yet we are all brothers - the evidence is in our DNA. Providing leadership for millions of Christians worldwide could, no doubt, make one fearful. Yet, in the spirit of these words, I ask you to throw such fear outside. Do not be afraid to let those who wish to leave do so without breathing threats of being cut-off by family members. Rather than demand unquestioned obedience to the dictates of a secretive "judicial committee," do not be afraid to let your members be guided by their own conscience as they contemplate the application of scripture in their lives (1 Timothy 3:9). Above all, do not demand of anyone that they should hate their brother!
cc: Casa Grande Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses
Casa Grande Police Department
Shun Run!! Hahahaha that's great!
If I lived in the area I might just participate....
Excellent! I hope it has good support!
This is a wonderful idea. It's not "in-your-face" like convention and memorial protests. If I were out there, I would run/walk.
This is awesome. Great idea! Hope it gets publicity.
Great idea! Good luck.
Lovely idea unfortuately it is too far away for us but will be with you in spirit.
The name "Shun Run" implies that the runners are running away from eachother rather than alongside eachother. Can you please just confirm that this won't be happening on the day?
Thanks for the all the encouragement. I have never been inclined to take such issues into the public sphere. But when I see how deep the indoctrination bites, even in those who have left it has motivated me to do something -- something that is both fun and positive, yet still reflects the serious issue at hand. As I mention in the letter to SDB:SSY the primary goal to to be of encouragement to ex-JWs. Just to show a couple things, that (a) what is said about folks who leave is often a "just-so" story that doesn't reflect reality and (b) it is okay to stand up and speak the truth about the real harm this policy brings into peoples lifes (for both the shunned and the one doing the shunning).
At first I called the event "Shun Run", but found the emphasis on "running" was distracting, as if you weren't a runner you couldn't participate. Hence the Run/Walk. Certainly we'll run/walk side-by-side in solidarity, not running away from each other ;-)
I don't know how many may come out, but if it is only a few, that is totally okay. If it is more, well that's good too. I know a couple of the moderators on yuku said they may hold an event in their area too. If they do, we'll then have one in England, one here in the USA and one in Australia. Since April 1 is just a few days before memorial it should be a good time to raise awareness of issue like this.
I'll come back and post exact details as they are determined.