"Coping with Shunning" by Barbara Anderson

by AndersonsInfo 17 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • AndersonsInfo



    by Barbara Anderson

    When my husband and I left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), we, like countless others, lost family members and friends because of the Witnesses shunning doctrine. Each of us has a story to tell as to why we left. Some stories are similar; others far different. Some are shunned because they were disfellowshipped; others because they no longer participated in JWs religious activities or are said to have “rejected the faith.”

    We were disfellowshipped and shunned, not for what was considered a “sin” (or wrongdoing) which we were unrepentant for, but for “causing divisions” by publicly denouncing one of Watchtower’s policies that protected criminal actions committed by JWs.

    Those who shun as described above, do so because of instructions such as found in the September 15, 1981 Watchtower, p. 23:

    “Persons who make themselves ‘not of our sort’ by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshipped for wrongdoing.”

    Did our son love us?

    Our son, Lance, loved us before we were disfellowshipped in 2002 and, if asked, probably would say he still does. We know we still love him.

    Proof of his love can be found in a letter to us he wrote after his marriage. That was when the three of us were still living in Bethel, the world headquarters of JWs. The letter was published in the August 8, 1993 Awake! on page 31 as follows:

    Lance's Letter to Parents

    Lance’s Letter to Parents

    Appreciating Godly Parents

    Parents who work hard to raise their children to be responsible and God-fearing adults are gratified when their efforts are successful. They are also very pleased when their children express appreciation for that good upbringing. Following is a letter sent by a son and his wife, after their wedding, to his parents:

    Dear Dad and Mom:

    Oh, where do we begin? Let’s start by saying how much we appreciated your love, support, and generosity on our wedding day. It truly was a special day, and your presence was invaluable. Additionally, as if that weren’t enough, you assisted us in making our honeymoon so enjoyable. [Our gift to them was a honeymoon trip to California.] All the above is further evidence of what outstanding, loving, reasonable, and fun-loving parents you are and have always been!

    Have you ever wondered why I have been able to stay on the straight and narrow? Because, besides my love for Jehovah God, I have always had great respect for you both. This respect has been so strong that coupled with your discipline, it has caused me always to think twice when doing things and making decisions. The success of my life in doing God’s will is indeed due in large part to your consistent love and discipline of me and your undying devotion to Jehovah and his organization.

    If I were to take all the memories of my childhood about the two of you and were to combine them, they would say that although I may not remember everything you said, I do remember your outstanding conduct, especially your love for others and for Jehovah.

    We love you very, very much. Your son and daughter-in-law, L. and W.

    Note in the letter that our son used the word, “discipline” twice to describe what we did to keep him “on the straight and narrow.” His expressions of love, although sincere, reflect JW’s viewpoint on child raising, which we followed.

    READ MORE: http://watchtowerdocuments.org/coping-with-shunning/

  • skin

    Is that really a photo of your son? Or do they use an actor for these photos?.

  • wannaexit

    One day Lance will find out what he missed out by shunning you. I hope that he realizes sooner than later.

    All the best Barb

  • Tallon

    Thanks for your post.

    I too hope that someday you will be reunited with your son and daughter-in-law.

    Keep up your excellent work.

  • Life is to short 2
    Life is to short 2

    I remember that magazine and that letter. I was working with his wife at 90 Sands when that came out.

    It breaks my heart to think of how he has shunned you. One day he will totally regret it.

    There was a stupid sister where I live that shunned her dad for year's because he couldn't stop smoking. He had gotten baptized in the late 60's when you could smoke, and they DF'ED him when they changed the rules. He dided suddenly after she had been shunning him for about 30 year's.

    I honestly do not know how she can live with herself, as he truly loved her.

    It is all just so sad.

  • Dagney

    Good article Barbara, thank you for writing it. So true...sigh.

    This past Friday and Saturday, I went to a viewing/funeral of a co-worker. I spent time with a relative and another nice lady who were chatting about their religious experiences through the years, Catholic, evangelical, Episcopalian, etc. One knew I was raised a JW and had left, the relative I knew had a daughter that was a JW and a former missionary. When I was asked what does a JW do when they leave the church, I paused for a few moments to gather my thoughts. The relative looked at me and said, "are you shunned?" I said yes. This started a good discussion exposing this despicable practice by JW's. I love that...I love the exposure of this seemingly harmless and "nice" organization/people of their hateful actions. There is nothing loving about it. A two year old can see that.

  • AndersonsInfo

    Hi "skin." Yes, that is an actual photo of our son, Lance, and daughter-in-law, Wendy.

    It certainly would be wonderful if we were reunited, but so much water has passed under the bridge. They now have two children. The boy, Luke, will be 17-years-old on September 21st. The last time we saw him he was nearly three. Their daughter could be nine or ten. We don't know her name and heard through the grape-vine that she was born around 2006.

    The question has crossed our minds about how in the world could a normal relationship be resumed when Lance and Wendy consciously hid from us the birth of another grandchild? An informant told us that my daughter-in-law, told her in 2011 that she actually planned it that way. Little did Wendy know her friend would also leave the religion and contact us.

    This situation reminds me of the saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave." When Wendy and Lance set out to deceive us, they created problems and complications which they could not control, especially hurting their children who have been denied love from their paternal grandparents. Perhaps, one day, these children will not appreciate what their parents did, all in the name of obedience to the Watchtower's nasty, unloving shunning rule.

  • Chook

    If I ever met anyone in the ministry who was really angry with JWs it was always followed by the accusation that we broke up families. The WT wrecking of families will be and is its legacy. I just hope your son resumes family ties before you or your husband pass. I've read stories where cult affected children only leave after death of parents and the emotional guilt trips are nearly to traumatic for them to cope with .

    When a " wordly" person hears about how some children don't attend funerals of parents, they in their wildest dream can't work out the reason any child wouldn't show final respects.

  • LongHairGal


    So sorry about what Witness shunning has done to your family. You are right that there's so much water under the bridge that it will never be made right.

    I do hope, though, that your children come to realize what they've done is wrong and unnatural. The way Witnesses behave is like people during the Revolutionary War time when one family took one side. It is also reminiscent of historical periods elsewhere, where families were torn asunder over politics and this one refused to speak to that one until the day they died.

    This is the only way this spiteful religion can retain people. I just wish the world knew this is what Witnesses are really all about.

  • stuckinarut2

    Lovely thread and comments.

    The society tries to tell people that it is NOT a cult. However, conduct such as this proves that it is indeed displaying cult-like behaviour when a group of men who don't even know us personally tell family members not to associate.

    This attempt at emotional blackmail is inappropriate behaviour.

    Stay strong and see that there is such as thing as honesty and dignity. A sincere love of TRUTH is what has driven most to leave the society...and that is priceless!

    Love to you guys!

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