There are only four ways of leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses. So there are four ways that could lead to shunning. I say “could” because options three and four has some loopholes.
1. You are “disfellowshipped.” You commit some kind of sin in the eyes of church. For example you commit “Immorality” meaning you have sex before you are married or you are married and have sex with someone besides your spouse. There are other sins you could commit but these are by far the most popular. You meet with three elders in the local congregation. If they feel you are not repentant enough for your sins, the will expel you from the congregation. Sometimes even if you are repentant enough, they will still expel you anyway. They will do this to make an example of you to others. Or they just don’t like you. It’s a “good old boy country club” and sometimes favoritism comes into play. You could be disfellowedshipped in one Kingdom hall and just get a slap on the wrist in another for the same offence.
2. You “disassociate” yourself. You send a letter to the local congregation and resign your membership.
If you do the first or second option will be definitely be shunned. You can never again have ANY contact with any of your Jehovah’s Witnesses friends or family. You are dead to them.
3. So you don’t want to do option one or two. In recent years a new way to leave the Witnesses has become popular. It’s call “fading.” This is a tricky one. It’s done by people who don’t want to make a complete break from the occult. Usually because of family members, the thought of not ever talking with their parents, children, siblings and loved ones is more than they can bear. It works just like it sounds. You move away from them slowly. Many times this requires an actual move to a new town or state. You might even tell your family and friends that you are still an active witness but in reality you have moved on to a new life. Others have called this “a double life” This phrase has been coined to describe mostly younger ones, teenagers and young adults who have two different lives. These are kids who are trying to keep their parents happy and will pretend to be a good witness by going to the meetings and out in field service. However on the weekends they will “party down” and act like “worldly” people. Whether you are a “double lifer” or a “fader” the results can be disastrous if caught. You could end up in the “back room” with the three elders telling them your story. This rarely goes well.
4. The fourth and final option is death. For many who couldn’t make the choice from the first three options, have chosen this one. Yes, you can break free with suicide. There was a time when I even considered this option myself. I have known at least a half dozen people who felt this was their only option to leave. As I have said earlier, I personally have contributed to at least two people choosing this way out. Yes, even dead people can be shunned. Many witnesses have boycotted their family member’s funerals. So for them there can be do forgiveness even after your death. My mother wouldn’t let my father go to his father’s funeral because it was inside a Catholic church. As Bob Dylan once said “Some of us are prisoners and some of us are guards.”