First TD: every court has recognized Watchtower as a Hierarchical religion.
Fist of all the paper that is being referenced is some 30 years old. And at the beginning of the article, the author talks about how there have not been many cases facing this issue. Since then there have been many many cases that have dealt with this issue.
The paper only real case that was one against religion is the Bear case. The Bear case had some special circumstances. The family relationship that was speaking about was the members that lived within the same house as the person who was shunned, specifically the wife and children. The wife was told by a bishop specifically that she was not even to speak to her husband under any circumstances, none. That would also include normal marital relations. Second, the Mennonite church all sold and bought only within their community goods and services. So that meant that he could not hire any employees or sell his products period.
It is important to know that most states have gotten rid of their alienation of affection tort claims.
There is not a lot of courts that reference the Bear case to allow for a member of a church to sue the church for an act of shunning.
One of the few was that of Wollershiem vs Church of Scientology. That case referenced both the Bear case and Paul v Watchtower. But the reason why the court, in this case, allowed it to be heard was that the Church of Scientology had a policy of systematically trying to destroy businesses of former church members. The court found that unlike in Paul, where it is completely lawful for a person of one church to decide to no longer work for or do business with a company that is owned by a former member. The church cannot tell people that they must break legal contracts with them or intimidate members who attempt to do business with at the company. That would be the tortious interference of business.
I don't believe Watchtower does any of the things described in both cases. While family members outside the home cannot have normal conversations with DF'ed persons, family members who are in the home are, and that mate are not encouraged to stop talking to their other mate period or encourage them to get a divorce. Watchtower also doesn't stop people from fulfilling legal contracts with a company that is owned by a DF'ed person.
You could probably sue if. You own a business and your employee witnesses, and you get DF'ed. If the Elders to the employees and say you must quit that job or you will be DF'ed. that would be tortious interference with business. Or if the elders went to people who have a legal contract with you and say you must break the contract immediately, or you would be DF'ed.
The idea is that the court must be able to look at the case in a neutral way, not interpreting whether the practice of the religion of shunning is correct or not. Those were would be property rights, contractional obligations and personal injury, such as if you slip and fall on church property. The court only another way is if there is a compelling governmental interest and even then the court would have to do it is the least obstructive way.
Even in the Canadian case, Mr Wall was not alientated from family members who live within the home. The court even recognized that it would then open up if a family member wasn't invited to a wedding, and that is not what the courts are for.