Mandated Shunning is a Crime

by Lee Marsh 110 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Lee Marsh
    Lee Marsh

    To get governments to stop funding any group that demands its members shun individuals you have to change the law. That means legislation first.

    If there was such a law that would mean no group could force a parent to throw their child out of the house because they don’t want to go to meetings. Or stop talking to their 10yr old child who made a mistake after being baptized. No child or adult with serious mental health problems who breaks a rule would be ostracized until they obey and even then they have to endure months or years of ostracism. No parent would be cast out and then shunned for giving their child needed medical attention. No spouse would be thrown out and deprived contact with their children because they are a danger to their spirituality.

    If you think “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is true, then you have not had to endure even one of the above.

    Constant abandonment and neglect is traumatic. It is a trauma that exists for a lifetime.

    I grew up in a verbally and physically abusive home. Every beating had an end. You knew it would only last a while before your attacker walked away.

    But the words, the hatred, the anger, the screaming stayed with you much longer. It continues to live in your head and heart for years.

    If you think that isn’t violent, then I assure you that the emotional and psychological impact is violent enough that many people, like my sister, commit suicide to stop the words in their heads.

  • Lee Marsh
    Lee Marsh


    Let's go thru this. If shunning is a crime, then what comes out of that is that people must interact with others or else risk being arrested and charged for shunning.

    This has nothing to do with individuals who shun people. Nothing. It has to do with religions, groups and others that practice Mandated Shunning.

    I have a neighbor who is a sex offender. I shun him. That is my personal choice and no one can tell me I should be nice to him. I had to call the police on him already when he attacked a woman that he just got into his house.

    I have another neighbor that demands I stop talking to another neighbor because they had a fight. Hell no. She is a true narcissist and the other lady is a sweetheart that she abused for years. Guess which one I am not talking to? Personal choice.

    I actually do talk to my JW neighbor and she knows I am DFed

  • Simon

    Having the government mandate who you MUST associate with is far worse and more dangerous than any WTS shunning could ever be.

  • TD

    I agree with Simon and Lee Marsh.

    I put personal choice on a very high pedestal, but this is not about the rights of the individual. This is about the rights we accord religious organizations.

    You can argue that the sanctions a religion may impose are different than a government and I would agree, but in both cases, the result is harm to the individual.

    Since we define religion (In the U.S.) as fundamentally charitable in nature, an organization should adhere to that definition if they want to be accorded the benefits of religious status.

  • LoveUniHateExams

    This has nothing to do with individuals who shun people. Nothing. It has to do with religions, groups and others that practice Mandated Shunning - yes, I realise this now. I didn't read thru your post properly.

    Nevertheless, even if governments try to legislate only mandatory shunning, it is still going to be difficult to put it in law and choose the right wording.

    If individual shunning is ok, why can't groups have rules on mandatory shunning (written or unwritten) as part of their beliefs?

    It also seems to be a poor choice of time for the authorities to run this legislation thru their respective parliaments. And it seems to be a poor choice of time for law enforcement to spend time on investigations into organisations practicing mandatory shunning. Why? - well because their are enough serious crimes for the authorities to legislate against and tackle. The authorities should devote their energies to these first.

    I live in the UK. Over here, there have been cases of people reporting crimes such as theft to the police, with the police saying that there is nothing they can do. It would be a bit weird that, while the police said there's nothing they can do about theft, they then spend time and resources questioning cult leaders under oath about whether mandatory shunning is part of their rules. And then taking them to court if the cult leaders refuse to comply (!).

    Let's say that this goes ahead and mandatory shunning is made illegal, and high-control groups such as the JWs comply. So now shunning is a conscience matter, i.e. it's now individual shunning. That's what the JWs would do. Have nothing currently in print about it, but the higher-ups would have discreet chats with rank and file as necessary. How could authorities stop this? Because it would happen. Shunning would be similar to how the org goes about practicing theocratic warfare.

    There is another way to deal with mandatory shunning, besides falling back on legislation.

    How about this: government threatens to take away Watchtower's charity status if they continue with the mandatory shunning.

    Don't get me wrong, shunning in general and mandatory shunning cause lots of problems.

  • jhine

    LUHE , it does seem to be the best way to deal with this. Hit them where it hurts , in their pockets .

    I don't believe that ending Mandated shunning would mean that people would have to talk to someone if they don't want to . It just gives the individual the power to make their own choices , and not to have to shun out of fear of being shunned themselves.

    Isn't that what everyone wants ? The ability to make their own choices.

    Jan from Tam

  • LoveUniHateExams

    Hit them where it hurts , in their pockets - yes, that's the threat if cults don't comply. They would then lose their charity status and stop being funded. But that is different to criminalising mandatory shunning, which is something Lee Marsh has brought up.

  • Doctor Who
    Doctor Who

    Lee Marsh said,

    "If you think “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is true, then you have not had to endure even one of the above." That struck a bell for me and made me think.

    When I was a child I was taught the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." At the time, I saw the sense of it. Words, being intangible, have no ability to inflict physical harm. Whenever another child said something mean to me, I would loudly recite the saying at them, using it like a magical incantation that would protect me from getting my feelings hurt. I usually said it with tears running down my cheeks.

    As an adult, I've come to see that the saying is, like many things taught to children, a lie. The truth is that bones heal, while the damage done by words can last a lifetime. I bring it up here only to remind those who write here of the power they wield. And that is the power to wound with words or use those same words to heal.

    So, how will you use your newfound power? Will you be the one who uses words to hurt? Or will you use them to heal? Having been a victim of verbal abuse, I certainly hope you will do the latter.
  • MeanMrMustard
    How about this: government threatens to take away Watchtower's charity status if they continue with the mandatory shunning.

    What's the objective, generic principle applied here that allows you to discriminate based on religion?

    The WT has a group rule - no associating with former members. They aren't pulling it out of their ass (even though you think so). They cite scripture. You can object: "They have that scripture wrong!" But that's the point - people believe all sort of interpretations of everything.

    Why is this case (shunning) different, IN PRINCIPLE, than, punishing based on, say, thinking abortion is wrong? Why can't your law be used, as precedent, to take away the charitable status of any organization the current culture (which changes constantly!) deems as hurtful?

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    This is the problem with using government as a cudgel to do what you think is right. I believe people are hurt by the policy, but freedom is the only way to fight the policy, by enacting “government persecution” you are only confirming their biases.

    The biggest motivator for many of us to leave was to see how few people “outside” really cared about either us being a JW or the belief system they had. Step out into the world and everything except the few hours at the meeting is EXACTLY the same (in a free society), whatever you did as a JW (a group constituting 0.01% of the population) is inconsequential on the big stage, which is antithetical to what the WTBTS teaches, since if you are immersed it makes up 99% of your life so everything can be made into a threat.

    Even if you somehow made it apply (which you can’t without severely restricting the principles behind freedom of speech), nothing in the world would change for even 80-90% of JWs, the JWs themselves that both have disfellowshipped family AND strictly follow the precepts are a small minority.

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