Could a petition to make shunning illegal work?

by aboveusonlysky 115 Replies latest jw friends

  • StephaneLaliberte

    The basic idea is: If you want to be part of our group, you are not allowed to talk to these people. This principle is very useful in some areas. We cited some examples above: Law officers who would hang out with organised crime. Teachers who would hang around brothels, etc. The point is that groups should retain that right.

    The problem with some religions is that they take that right and abuse it. Yet, if the law makes exceptions for religions, then, it is clear religious discrimination.

    At this point, I believe that the best way to fight this is to expose this teaching as much as we can around them and encourage people to question JWs on this practice. Challenge them.

    Eventually, kids will grow out of it. In pain, sure, but like Simon said: Some people actually commit suicide when they experience a romantic break up! We can't place laws everywhere.

  • vienne

    I don't have a stake in this issue. I'm not a Witness. But I have an observation. The right to choose our associates is part of what makes us free people. In America the right of free association is a human and constitutional right. Part of that right is the ability to decline associations which we reject.

    It does not matter if an organization tells us with whom to associate. The right is our own, and we are responsible for the final decision. Being ostracized is an uncomfortable and unhappy circumstance. Few like the consequences of ostracism. But it is a human right to choose or reject an associate.

    Making ostracism illegal would have consequences few would like. If the state can alter your choice of friend or associate or it can put you into religious, political or social association you reject, you have lost your freedom.

  • aboveusonlysky

    Instead we should be telling people that "you, YOU are choosing to do this and it's unkind and you will feel bad WHEN you realize the truth".

    I absolutely agree, well said, also the more exposure this kind of treatment gets the better so that the general public can be aware of cruel JW practices like shunning.

  • Giordano
    The making of a public announcement is where I think the WTS crosses over into the instigation of hatred and prejudices onto someone though.

    While I agree with that........... another serious problem is the over reach the WTBTS uses in conflating minor issue's with larger ones. There by increasing the intensity of the level of shunning. "The 2010 Elder's handbook titled "Shepherd the Flock of God" includes Chapter 5, "Determining Whether a Judicial Committee Should Be Formed." This extends from pages 58 to 79 and lists reasons for which a person can be disfellowshipped. Page 58 clarifies that "This list is not comprehensive. There may be other matters that would also merit the attention of a judicial committee."

    "Watchtower claims that disfellowshipping only occurs to those that commit serious sins and are unrepentant:

    "Two factors — which must coincide — result in the disfellowshipping of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. First, a baptized Witness commits a serious sin. Second, he does not repent of his sin." Watchtower 2015 Apr 15 p.29

    JWfacts....."Whilst this may appease the conscience of Jehovah's Witnesses shunning loved ones, it is not realistic. Examining the list of offences reveals a number of areas hardly serious enough to merit complete isolation."

    1. Associating with disfellowshipped people including;
    • Friends - ks91-E p.103, w81 9/15 pp.25-6, w55 10/1 p.607
    • Family - ks91-E p.103
    • unnecessary association with disfellowshipped nonrelatives.

    • pursue a romantic relationship with a person though not legally or Scripturally free to marry

    • - stayed all night in the same house with a person of the opposite sex (or in the same house with a known homosexual) under improper circumstances

    • Smoking
    • Celebrating false religious holidays

      - Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses
    • "Artificial insemination of a married woman by a donor other than her husband makes her guilty of adultery" g74 8/8 p.28

    • "True Christians, therefore, avoid surrogate motherhood as well as any procedures that involve the use of donated sperm, eggs, or embryos" g04 9/22;
    Loose conduct :
    • Disrespect, disregard or even contempt for standards, laws and authority, "disrespect to Elders".
    • Porneia. Includes oral and anal sex between married couples, mutual masturbation between persons not married to each other, homosexuality, lesbianism, fornication, adultery, incest, and bestiality. - ks91-E p.93

    Disassociating from this religion is placed on the same as sexual child abuse, murder, and every other criminal offense.

    In my opinion shunning is greatly abused and over used by the WTBTS

    The JW system is used to keep control of it's members no matter what intrusive beliefs they must endure. To ensure obedience and independent thinking.

    In this respect it subverts the 1st amendment.

    To be able to have freedom of religion......... by implication...... freedom from religion must also be a right.

    The best way to deal with this issue is to expose it for what it is...... a way to control their followers and punish those who disagree with it.

  • SAHS

    “Simon”: So what do they care then?

    A club they don't want to belong to doesn't want them as a member ...

    That's where this always ends up. "I want to leave - but how dare they say I can't be a member!".

    Actually, disfellowshipped or disassociated people don’t have to care that they are no longer considered members – quite a lot of them really couldn’t care less. The problem, however, is that their close family members are severely pushed by the Watch Tower organization to completely shun them. It is, in effect, an extremist, totalitarian regime functioning within democratic countries – and operating above the law.

    The thing is: Just how much “above the law” should religious sects/cults be allowed to operate? Acid-in-the-face attacks? Stoning? Shootings? Arson? I mean, just where do we – or should we – draw the line? And doesn’t such undue influence and coercion/blackmail constitute a clear and present danger to emotional and mental health? (And, of course, what about the Watch Tower’s most unique and deleterious blood issue, which has actually killed thousands of men, women, and children/babies – also a result of the intense fear of disfellowshipping?)

    The real culprits are those at the very top of the Watch Tower organization; i.e., the executive doctrinal policy makers. The leadership which promotes, promulgated, and perpetuates such clearly harmful tactics are most reprehensible – and therefore liable.

  • Richard Oliver
    Richard Oliver

    The other problem that you would have in order to make shunning illegal is that each baptized member prior to them being baptized is given a copy of the church's bylaws and is encouraged to read them. In fact prior to baptism the questions to determine if someone can qualify for baptism is taken out of that book. That book on page 140 states:


    25 In some cases, the wrongdoer will have become hardened in his course of sinful conduct and will thus fail to respond to efforts to help him. Sufficient “works that befit repentance” may not be in evidence at the time of the judicial hearing. (Acts 26:20) What then? In such cases, it is necessary to expel the unrepentant wrongdoer from the congregation, thus denying him fellowship with Jehovah’s clean people. The bad influence of the wrongdoer is removed from the congregation, thereby safeguarding its moral and spiritual cleanness and protecting its good name.

    Each person who is baptized agrees to live by those bylaws.

  • Simon
    The thing is: Just how much “above the law” should religious sects/cults be allowed to operate? Acid-in-the-face attacks? Stoning? Shootings? Arson? I mean, just where do we – or should we – draw the line?

    With the breaking of actual laws - all of those are crimes and should be prosecuted. Refusing to speak to someone isn't a crime and shouldn't be made one.

    In this respect it subverts the 1st amendment.
    To be able to have freedom of religion......... by implication...... freedom from religion must also be a right.

    No, it doesn't. You are already perfectly free to not have any religion - the state cannot and does not force you to worship any state sanctioned religion.

    But that doesn't mean that there can't be consequences to leaving a religion. Withdrawal of fellowship with the group is simply a consequence of leaving.

  • Island Man
    Island Man

    I don't think you can make it illegal for someone to choose to shun someone. The law can't force you to communicate with someone.

    But, I think a strong case can be made that it should be illegal for an organization, religious or otherwise, to coerce members to shun others. It can be made illegal for an organization to teach members to shun a certain segment of society - including ex-members. I think there is a chance that such a law can be passed since there already exist laws that make it illegal to incite hatred of certain groups.

    The key factors that have to be looked at is incitement and duress. Watchtower incites the members to shun and Watchtower uses a form of duress - the the very same threat of shunning - to coerce the members to shun those who leave.

    People should be free to choose whether or not they wish to shun someone, without being incited to do so against a particular segment of people - ex-JWs - and without being coerced to do so.

    So this should not be approached from the standpoint of making shunning illegal. Rather, it should be approached from the standpoint of making it illegal to publicly incite by speech or in print, to shun a particular segment of people; and to make it illegal to coerce persons to shun a certain segment of people, by the threat of being punished if they refuse to do so. This is all that needs to be done.

    Once this is done, more JWs will feel free to talk to ex-JWs knowing that they cannot be penalized for doing so or else those penalizing them could face legal action with legal teeth.

  • Brokeback Watchtower
    Brokeback Watchtower

    I'm thinking enforced shunning of someone because he is a homosexual might make the WT pay some big fines, perhaps that might be an angle that needs to be explored.

    Enforced shunning one's own children might have its legal pitfalls that might as well offer form of costly lawsuits against wealthy corporation estate holding who are the enforcers.

  • MeanMrMustard

    Freedom from religion is another form of freedom of association (you get to choose you associate with and who you don't associate with). I find it odd that some are saying we need to legislate against freedom of association so that we can have freedom of association.


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