How to sue the WT over shunning policy. It CAN happen!

by Bad_Wolf 224 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Drearyweather
    Bad wolf: Have yet to see one on a person who is born in, who then has their parents and or children shun them, and not because they CHOOSE TO, but because the WT tells them they can't even text, email, or social media, because if they do, then jesus will hate them and kill them in armageddon.

    Badwolf, I think this case matches what you need. Correct me as I have not read all documents of case:

    Janice PAUL, a/k/a/ Janice Perez, Plaintiff-Appellant,


    This was a case where in June 1987, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the Witnesses' right to shun those who fail to live by the group's standards and doctrines, upholding the ruling of a lower court.

    Janice Paul was raised as a JW and she disassociated when she was 24.

    Upset by her shunning by her former friends and co-religionists, Paul, a resident of Alaska, brought suit in Washington State Superior Court alleging common law torts of defamation, invasion of privacy, fraud, and outrageous conduct. She claims in essence that the practice of shunning invades interests that the state does or should protect through its tort law.

    Following was the courts judgment:

    The members of the Church Paul 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 Jehovah's Witnesses' practice of shunning is protected under the first amendment of the United States Constitution and therefore under the provisions of the Washington state constitution.

  • Listener

    This is a post I wrote on Reddit not long ago -

    A religion can be sued for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" if it can be proven. Note that it must be intentional and of an extreme nature. But this is very interesting and I do hope that someone pursues this in court. Have you seen the organization's policy of when a person becomes suicidal after being called to a JC? The instruction is to immediately back off and wait until things settle down. No doubt, if there was a suicide attempt after the Elders had been made aware of the vulnerability of the victim due to a JC then they could be sued because it could be claimed that the elders actions were deliberate and intentional in causing further distress. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if the Watchtower tried to claim that the victim was not distressed because of the JC but because of their having sinned.

    I wonder if the organisation could be sued under this 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' in less serious situations because the organization is fully aware of the distress disfellowshipping has on JWs. They acknowledge it as inflicted discipline, although in Court, I'm sure that the org. would claim that the victim was fully aware and accepted the possibility of being dfd. But I would suggest to anyone being called up to a JC to tell the Elders that they would be extremely distressed if they had to attend or if they were dfd and they would sue the organization if they continued to pursue the JC or dfing on the basis of intentional infliction of emotional distress because they had now been pre warned (therefore a claim for it being intentional)

  • poopie

    People sue over emotional distress all the time.

  • dubstepped

    There you go guys. I look forward to seeing your lawsuits since many are sure about this. Take your shot!

  • Bad_Wolf

    Dreary - that's friends not family. And 1/14/19 daily text shows and puts pressure on family who don't want to shun to do it. Not family on their own but if they don't they lose their eternal salvation, etc. Still don't see a good case.

  • steve2

    JW organization has a way of framing their policies so that witnesses genuinely believe it is their own "free" choice to comply.

    All JW org has to do is tone the language down, tell JWs to follow their "Bible-trained" consciences and make their own decision, then load the dice with so much fearful stuff about the impact of associating with those who "don't love Jehovah and His righteous standards" and your rank and file member would "choose" to still shun you.

    And in the event that a Court DID rule in favour of ex-JWs, my question is this: What self-respecting person would choose to want to be in the company of people who have been "forced" by secular law to be around them? It would feel like an empty victory.

  • Bad_Wolf
    And in the event that a Court DID rule in favour of ex-JWs, my question is this: What self-respecting person would choose to want to be in the company of people who have been "forced" by secular law to be around them? It would feel like an empty victory. FAQ for interested people or those approached, clearly says normal family relations continue if a member leaves. So then somebody has their guard down, them and their kids join. They realize it's BS. Kids or other family by then are too deep, so they won't listen to their doubts, and then suddenly the FAQ doesn't apply, and their family normal relations will NOT continue. I think if anything monetary charges and forcing the WT to stop playing bait and switch.

  • StephaneLaliberte

    I think that the only chance there would be for anyone to win against society is if

    1) they were disfellowshiped BECAUSE of associating with a disfellowshiped one.

    2) If they can demonstrate that they suffered because of this.

    We need to attack the ENFORCING of the shunning policy in order to demonstrate that it is NOT a personal choice.

  • TD


    Churches in the U.S. can be legally organized either hierarchically or congregationally.

    Hierarchical churches organize their parishes/congregations as entities subordinate to other entities. This structure usually has the shape of a pyramid with a single entity at the top controlling them all. The Catholic and Presbyterian denominations are hierarchical.

    Congregational polity is a system where each congregation is ecclesiastically autonomous. Many, if not most Protestant churches are organized this way and one of its advantages is that it protects the parent organization(s) from legal actions originating at the congregational level. The Baptist and Lutheran denominations are congregational.

    As JW attorneys are quick to point out, Jehovah's Witnesses actually fall into the latter category. On paper, JW congregations are semi-autonomous entities, which is why elders are only elders in their own congregation and must be reappointed when they move. It's also why congregants must vote when money needs to be spent. (Via that god-awful parody of Robert's Rules of Order they go though...)

    Technically, you have no relationship with any of the JW parent organizations. Your relationship is with your local congregation and only with that congregation. This legal firewall isn't absolutely bullet-proof, especially if the organization in question punctures it themselves, but it does present a serious hurdle.

    The author of the article uses the terms "Religion" and "Religious group" and "Church" almost interchangeably, so it's difficult to tell what, if any consideration he's given to this aspect.

  • JC323

    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.

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