How does the WTS define "former member"

by Cappuccino OC 14 Replies latest jw friends

  • patio34

    Despite what TTBoy says:

    A former member is someone who left. Once you leave you are no longer bound by their rules because you are no longer a Jehovah's Witness. If anyone shuns you (if you have just left) they are either going against the GB or are proving the GB liars.

    This is only in theory, not practice, because of what Cappucino says:

    You mention "give them a reason to DF you". Our actions should NOT be judged by the WTS. Why should we HIDE from them? Who are they to CONTROL our lifes? By "never gifing them a reason to DF you" means giving them POWER over your life. Letting them govern your life style and actions and or living in fear because you'll be seen for example taking your child to the neighbor's b-day party or going trick-or treating. This isn't psychologically healthy for anyone

    This is true in my life. I haven't been to a meeting in 1 1/2 years, but hesitate to be overt in holidays, patriotism, etc. I have two grandkids still "in" and don't want to be their df'd grandma.

    Moreover, what about the infamous question asked by investigating elders: "Do you still want to be known as a JW?" I thought this was grounds for da'g action, if answered negatively. And what if you wanted to join another church--that's automatic grounds for da'g, n'est pas?


    Edited by - Patio34 on 6 October 2002 9:55:40

  • thinker


    Interesting post concerning membership. Despite the fact that I've never been a JW I wrote the following:

    I am a Jehovah's Witness, however:

    1) BAPTISM: I have NOT been baptized.

    Accordiing to baptism is a two-step process: First, dedication to God and Second, showing "everyone". ( "After you have made your dedication to God, you should be baptized. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Baptism lets everyone know that you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah.")

    Of the two steps stated above, the first seems to be the REAL baptism, the second is merely a show for "everyone". If I can locate other real JWs I would get baptized in front of them.

    2) BOOKS AND MAGAZINES: I DON'T distribute books and magazines for a corporation. These books and magazines are published and printed by the Watchtower Corporation. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was incorporated

    "To act as the servant of and the legal world-wide agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovahs Witnesses;.." (from the Watchtower charter). The Watchtower Corp. is current run by those members of the Governing Body who are on the WT board of directors. Few people who call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses even know the names of the Governing Body and NO ONE who calls themself a JW has had any say in who is a member of the Governing Body. Therefore, the Corporation known as "Watchtower" does NOT serve Jehovah's Witnesses and I see no reason to help distribute their literature.

    If and when the GB is elected by rank&file JW's and WT, Inc. begins to SERVE JW's, then I may reconsider my position concerning their literature. Those who falsely call themselves "Jehovah's Witnesses" are in reality unpaid employees of Watchtower, Inc. TRUE JW's would be the masters of the Corporation, not it's employees!

    3) BELIEFS & PRACTICES: Those who falsely call themselves JWs follow the beliefs and practices set out by the Governing Body. The GB is an unelected, self-perpetuating, unrepresentative group of men. The GB calls itself the "Faithful and Discreet Slave" chosen and directed by the Holy Spirit.


    "God uses his spirit to enlighten those who serve him. David prayed: "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your spirit [ru'ach] is good; may it lead me in the land of uprightness." (Psalm 143:10) When 70 capable men were appointed to help Moses, God said to him: "I shall have to take away some of the spirit [ru'ach] that is upon you and place it upon them."-Numbers 11:17.

    (The Holy Spirit is available to ALL men, not just the leaders)

    Bible prophecy was recorded when men of God were "borne along by holy spirit [Greek, from pneu'ma]." (2 Peter 1:20, 21) In this way the Bible was "inspired of God," the Greek word for which is Theo'pneustos, meaning "God-breathed." (2 Timothy 3:16) And holy spirit guided certain people to see visions or to have prophetic dreams.-2 Samuel 23:2; Joel 2:28, 29; Luke 1:67; Acts 1:16; 2:32, 33.

    (The history of the GB has NO evidence of "visions or prophetic dreams")

    By his spirit, God carries out his judgments on men and nations. (Isaiah 30:27, 28; 59:18, 19) And God's spirit can reach everywhere, acting for people or against them.-Psalm 139:7-12.

    (Again, the Holy Spirit is "everywhere" not just in a few men on a Governing Body)

    'Power Beyond Normal'

    GOD'S spirit can also supply "power beyond what is normal" to those who serve him. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

    (The GB has never demonstrated "power beyond what is normal" )

    God's spirit also empowered the disciples of Jesus to do miraculous things. Acts 2:1-4 relates that the disciples were assembled together at Pentecost when "suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze, . . . and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance."

    (The GB does NOT speak in tongues)

    So the holy spirit gave Jesus and other servants of God the power to do what humans ordinarily could not do."

    (By their own admission, the GB are just "imperfect men")

    I see no evidence that the GB is chosen or directed by the Holy Spirit. I have no desire to follow the teachings of an unelected, unrepresentative group of men which claims to hold powers it does not have.

    4) KINGDOM HALLS: I attend NO kingdom hall.

    The unpaid employees of WT Inc. buy or build kingdom halls to help distribute literature and to hold meetings. This makes these halls function as distribution centers and union halls for the unpaid, non-unionized employees of the corporation. As stated earlier, I am a Jehovah's Witness and I have no intention of working for a corporation designed to serve me and which does not represent real JWs.

  • blondie

    Hi thinker. If I remember correctly, your wife is an ex-JW. Yes, those quotes I keep because I can remember when I became inactive, one brother told me I was no longer a JW, but then 2 other brothers said I still was and that I was still required to keep all the commandments of the WTS although I had not attended or identified myself as a JW for several years. So you aren't a JW when you might benefit from being so (as far as salvation) but you are a JW when you can be humiliated and punished for something you've done.

    And you are right, "it is all for show." JWs worship the organization.

  • UnDisfellowshipped

    Great Quotes blondie, Thanks for Posting them!

    Here is another Article, which is on the Official Watchtower Website at this Address:

    This Article Originally Appeared in The Watchtower April 15th 1988 Issue:

    Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit

    "No discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness."HEBREWS 12:11.

    THINK back to your childhood days. Can you recall your parents disciplining you? Most of us can. The apostle Paul used that as an illustration when commenting on discipline from God, as we read at Hebrews 12:9-11.

    God's fatherly discipline, which can affect our spiritual lives, can take many forms. One is his arrangement to exclude from the Christian congregation a person who no longer wants to live by God's standards, or who refuses to do so. A person who is thus strongly chastised or disciplined may repent and turn around. In the process, the congregation of loyal ones are also disciplined in that they learn the importance of conforming to God's high standards.
    1 Timothy 1:20.

    '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. What was the outcome, and how might this affect you? In order to understand the matter properly, let us see what the Bible says about the related subject of disfellowshipping.

    Why This Firm Stand?

    "Cutting ourselves off completely from all association with [my disfellowshipped sister] Margaret tested our loyalty to Jehovah's arrangement. It gave our family opportunity to show that we really believe that Jehovah's way is best."Lynette.

    Most true Christians loyally support God and his righteous laws. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-7; Hebrews 6:10) Occasionally, though, a person deviates from the path of truth. For example, despite help from Christian elders, he may unrepentantly violate God's laws. Or he may reject the faith by teaching false doctrine or by disassociating himself from the congregation. Then what should be done? Such things occurred even while the apostles were alive; hence, let us see what they wrote about this.

    When a man in Corinth was unrepentantly immoral, Paul told the congregation: "Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man." (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) The same was to occur with apostates, such as Hymenaeus: "As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning." (Titus 3:10, 11; 1 Timothy 1:19, 20) Such shunning would be appropriate, too, for anyone who rejects the congregation: "They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort."1 John 2:18, 19.

    Hopefully, such a one will repent so that he can be accepted back. (Acts 3:19) But meanwhile, may Christians have limited fellowship with him, or is strict avoidance necessary? If so, why?

    Cut Off Thoroughly?

    Christians do not hold themselves aloof from people. We have normal contacts with neighbors, workmates, schoolmates, and others, and witness to them even if some are 'fornicators, greedy persons, extortioners, or idolaters.' Paul wrote that we cannot avoid them completely, 'otherwise we would have to get out of the world.' He directed that it was to be different, though, with "a brother" who lived like that: "Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that [has returned to such ways], not even eating with such a man."1 Corinthians 5:9-11; Mark 2:13-17.

    In the apostle John's writings, we find similar counsel that emphasizes how thoroughly Christians are to avoid such ones: "Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God . . . If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting [Greek, khai'ro] to him is a sharer in his wicked works." * [FOOTNOTE SAYS: John here used khai'ro, which was a greeting like "good day" or "hello." (Acts 15:23; Matthew 28:9) He did not use aspa'zomai (as in verse 13), which means "to enfold in the arms, thus to greet, to welcome" and may have implied a very warm greeting, even with an embrace. (Luke 10:4; 11:43; Acts 20:1, 37; 1 Thessalonians 5:26) So the direction at 2 John 11 could well mean not to say even "hello" to such ones.See The Watchtower of July 15, 1985, page 31.] 2 John 9-11.

    Why is such a firm stand appropriate even today? Well, reflect on the severe cutting off mandated in God's Law to Israel. In various serious matters, willful violators were executed. (Leviticus 20:10; Numbers 15:30, 31) When that happened, others, even relatives, could no longer speak with the dead lawbreaker. (Leviticus 19:1-4; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 17:1-7) Though loyal Israelites back then were normal humans with emotions like ours, they knew that God is just and loving and that his Law protected their moral and spiritual cleanness. So they could accept that his arrangement to cut off wrongdoers was fundamentally a good and right thing.Job 34:10-12.

    We can be just as sure that God's arrangement that Christians refuse to fellowship with someone who has been expelled for unrepentant sin is a wise protection for us. "Clear away the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment." (1 Corinthians 5:7) By also avoiding persons who have deliberately disassociated themselves, Christians are protected from possible critical, unappreciative, or even apostate views.
    Hebrews 12:15, 16.

    What About Relatives?

    God certainly realizes that carrying out his righteous laws about cutting off wrongdoers often involves and affects relatives. As mentioned above, when an Israelite wrongdoer was executed, no more family association was possible. In fact, if a son was a drunkard and a glutton, his parents were to bring him before the judges, and if he was unrepentant, the parents were to share in the just executing of him, 'to clear away what is bad from the midst of Israel.' (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) You can appreciate that this would not have been easy for them. Imagine, too, how the wrongdoer's brothers, sisters, or grandparents felt. Yet, their putting loyalty to their righteous God before family affection could be lifesaving for them.

    Recall the case of Korah, a leader in rebellion against God's leadership through Moses. In his perfect justice, Jehovah saw that Korah had to die. But all loyal ones were advised: "Turn aside, please, from before the tents of these wicked men and do not touch anything that belongs to them, that you may not be swept away in all their sin." Relatives who would not accept God's warning died with the rebels. But some of Korah's relatives wisely chose to be loyal to Jehovah, which saved their lives and led to future blessings.
    Numbers 16:16-33; 26:9-11; 2 Chronicles 20:19.

    Cutting off from the Christian congregation does not involve immediate death, so family ties continue. Thus, a man who is disfellowshipped or who disassociates himself may still live at home with his Christian wife and faithful children. Respect for God's judgments and the congregation's action will move the wife and children to recognize that by his course, he altered the spiritual bond that existed between them. Yet, since his being disfellowshipped does not end their blood ties or marriage relationship, normal family affections and dealings can continue.

    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.

    Understandably, this may be difficult because of emotions and family ties, such as grandparents' love for their grandchildren. Yet, this is a test of loyalty to God, as stated by the sister quoted on page 26. Anyone who is feeling the sadness and pain that the disfellowshipped relative has thus caused may find comfort and be encouraged by the example set by some of Korah's relatives.Psalm 84:10-12.

    # [FOOTNOTE SAYS: For a discussion of a relative's being disfellowshipped, see The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, pages 26-31.]

    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% [FOOTNOTE SAYS: 819 F.2d 875 (9th Cir. 1987).] 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 freeas 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.^ [FOOTNOTE SAYS: Though various individuals have brought suit, no court has rendered a judgment against Jehovah's Witnesses over their Bible-based practice of shunning.] 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.

    DisciplineMany Benefit

    Some outsiders, upon hearing about disfellowshipping, are inclined to sympathize with a wrongdoer who can no longer converse with members of the Christian congregation. But is not such sympathy misplaced? Consider the potential benefit that the wrongdoer and others may receive.

    For example, on page 26 we noted Lynette's comment about her choice 'to cut herself off completely from all association' with her disfellowshipped sister Margaret. She and her Christian relatives 'believed that Jehovah's way is best.' And it is!

    Lynette's sister later told her: 'If you had viewed the disfellowshipping lightly, I know that I would not have taken steps toward reinstatement as soon as I did. Being totally cut off from loved ones and from close contact with the congregation created a strong desire to repent. I realized just how wrong my course was and how serious it was to turn my back on Jehovah.'

    In another case, Laurie's parents were disfellowshipped. Yet she says: 'My association with them never stopped but increased. As time went on, I became more and more inactive. I got to the point of not even attending meetings.' Then she read material in The Watchtower of September 1 and 15, 1981, that stressed the counsel of 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 John 9-11. "It was as if a light bulb were turned on in me," she writes. 'I knew I would have to make some changes. I now better understand the meaning of Matthew 10:34-36. My decision was not an easy one for my family to swallow, for my son, five, is the only boy, and they love him dearly.' It is hoped that losing such association will touch the parents' hearts, as it did Margaret's. Still, the discipline involved helped Laurie: 'I am back out in the field ministry. My marriage and family are stronger because of my change, and so am I.'

    Or consider the feelings of one who was disfellowshipped and later reinstated. Sandi wrote: 'I would like to thank you for the very helpful and instructive articles [mentioned above] on reproof and disfellowshipping. I am happy that Jehovah loves his people enough to see that his organization is kept clean. What may seem harsh to outsiders is both necessary and really a loving thing to do. I am grateful that our heavenly Father is a loving and forgiving God.'

    So our God who requires that an unrepentant wrongdoer be expelled from the congregation also lovingly shows that a sinner can be reinstated in the congregation if he repents and turns around. (A disassociated person can similarly request to become part of the congregation again.) Thereafter he can be comforted by Christians who will confirm their love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 7:8-13) Truly, it is just as Paul wrote: "No discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness."Hebrews 12:11.

    ExcommunicationWhat Effect?

    English historian Edward Gibbon wrote about the propriety and effect of disfellowshipping nearer the time of the apostles:

    "It is the undoubted right of every society to exclude from its communion and benefits such among its members as reject or violate those regulations which have been established by general consent. . . . The consequences of excommunication were of a temporal [earthly] as well as a spiritual nature. The Christian against whom it was pronounced was deprived of any part in the oblations of the faithful. The ties both of religious and of private friendship were dissolved."


    Can't you all see the love?

    Also, notice how they completely contradict themselves on their own Official Website!

  • TTBoy


    I agree with you. I was just trying to give some advise for people who have family still in and want to try to keep their relationship. I agree you should be proud of what life you live and not let them dictate your actions. Yes many are hunted down and killed in JW trems.

    Just was stating it's possible, yet very hard, to do as I did, and fade. I'm sure they don't clarify the "former member" thing to keep the R&F confused.

    Thanx for your rebuttle, appreciated


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