There is one very important question they should ask you before you get baptized, but for some odd reason they don’t. That question should be: “Are you aware that if you join this religion by getting baptized, if you ever change your mind at any time in the future and decide to leave it, you will be shunned? This means your friends, parents, children and relatives will have nothing to do with you for the rest of your life.”
So what is this shunning all about? This is the biggest tool The Watch Tower and Tract Society has to control its members.
The dictionary says shunning is to persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through antipathy or caution. To avoid, evade, steer clear of, keep one’s distance from, have nothing to do with.
Yep, shunning is a pretty powerful tool. How many people out there could handle being shunned by all your family members? Yet, if you ever decide to leave this religion that is what could be in store for you.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if they ask this question because most eight and nine year olds would probably say yes anyway.
Wouldn’t it be funny if they said no? “Mom, Dad, I changed my mind! I’m not getting baptized. Since there is a strong probably I might decide to be a homosexual in twenty years from now, I’ve decided not to get baptized after all. This way we can still be friends and you won’t have to shun me!”
This really isn’t that funny because if thousands of kids could see their lives down the road many years later, they would certainly have never allowed themselves to get baptized in the first place. Sometimes joining the club is the worst thing you can do.
If you are unrepentant and get dis-fellowshipped and thus shunned that’s one thing. If you are dis-fellowshipped but are repentant and want back into their organization, this is a whole different ball game. You must endure a brutal reinstatement process. Since they love you so much, they let you come back to their meetings. You can sit in the back of the Kingdom Hall with your eyes looking down, feeling the shame of your transgression. No, they don’t put a large scarlet letter on your clothes, but they might as well for how they treat you. No one can talk to you. You will get a lot of stares. This will happen for months or sometime even years. You will be treated this way until the Elders decide if you have paid the price for your sins. They must determine if you are truly repentant or just trying to put on an act of looking repentant. The more times you are dis-fellowshipped, the longer they will make you wait to get back in again. Or if they just don’t like you for some reason, you will have to wait longer too. Every group of Elders is different. In one congregation, you could be back in “good standing” and reinstated in just a few months for having sex before marriage; in another congregation, it could take a few years for the same offense. In some congregations, you might not get dis-fellowshipped at all for the same offense. If you are friends with some of the higher ups or children of some of the Elders you might get some special consideration. Yes, you might just get “reproved ” with no dis-fellowshipping at all. In fifty years as a member, I saw this happen dozens of times.
I know it sounds strange, but for some odd reason many unbaptized people are treated better then baptized people in the organization. For example, a Jehovah’s Witnesses family could have two children. Let’s say the children are twins. One child is baptized and one is not. They both end up doing an activity that is not approved of by the Witnesses. If the baptized one is dis-fellowshipped, he will be shunned for sure. However the unbaptized one can’t be dis-fellowshipped because he never made a commitment by being baptized. So he might not get completely shunned. In this case, by making the decision as a child to get baptized, you are at a greater disadvantage then your unbaptized sibling. This brings us to our next question.
So you must be baptized first in order to be shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses later? Well, not necessarily. You can still be shunned if you are not baptized. You might be “marked.” This is usually done unofficially. The Elders or an Elder or just a group of “Brothers and Sisters” talk among themselves and determine which individuals in Kingdom Hall should be considered “bad associations.” You might not even know that you are marked. Most the time this is done unofficially. Sometimes it is done officially. In this case, the Elder will make an announcement to the whole congregation that certain people are considered to be “bad associations.” So you might know or you might not know that you are on their shit list. One way you will know is that people will start acting very differently around you. Yes, the unofficial shun.
I know all of this is very confusing.