The following is an article I found in my files this morning while I was looking for something else. It is short and pointed:
COURT BACKS “SHUNNING” BY RELIGIOUS GROUPThere are two issues here:
Examiner News Services, Friday June 12, 1987, Pg. A-3
The Jehovah’s Witness practice of “shunning” applied recently to singer Michael Jackson, was upheld Wednesday by a federal appeals court as an exercise of religious freedom.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the emotional harm suffered by one who is ostracized by friends and family must be tolerated under the Constitution “as a price well worth paying to safeguard the right of religious difference that all citizens enjoy.”
The court said the principle of religious freedom required dismissal of a suit in Washington state by an Alaska women against the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses for ordering members to have nothing to do with former members.
The sect considers “shunning” to be required by biblical language on casting out apostates from the Christian community. It is also practiced by the Amish and Mennonites, the court said.
Under the practice, Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden, under pain of being ousted and shunned themselves, from having contact with a member; family members are allowed an exemption for necessary family business.
1. For those thinking about bringing suit regarding being shunned, separating them from family love and affection will have to get past this ruling. It is not impossible, but does represent a matter of case law to tackle. Perhaps, if the DF person was wrongfully DF’d, they may be able to argue slander and seek compensation (compensatory and/or punative damages) for the emotional damage caused due to wrongful shunning treatment. This is something for lawyers to ferret out.
2. The Governing Body, having defended itself in this case, is inextricably the major component to and directs the practice of all Disfellowshipping and Shunning. The Watchtower organization and its Governing Body can never claim that this is the sole responsibly of the local JW Elders.
Following Bible principles, we will avoid trying to live - or demand others to live - by an extensive and rigid set of dos and don'ts that go beyond the teachings of the Bible. The Watchtower, 4-15-02, pg 22, pp 15