I was shunned in high school.
Did I do something inappropriate? Nope, I was the perfect Jehovah’s Witness child. I was guilty by association. Who did I have contact with that were considered a bad association? My parents. Yep, good old Mom and Dad. This interesting story will be told in the next chapter.
So back to the many ways you can be shunned.
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 “dis-fellowshipped.” You commit some kind of sin in the eyes of the Witnesses. 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. Once a sin has been committed, you meet with three Elders in the local congregation. If they feel you are not repentant enough for your sins, they 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 because they just don’t like you. It’s a “good old boy country club” and sometimes favoritism comes into play. You could be dis-fellowshipped in one Kingdom Hall and just get a slap on the wrist in another for the same offense.
2. You “disassociate” yourself. You send a letter to the local congregation and resign your membership.
Note: If either #1 or #2 above occurs, you 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. In recent years, a new way to leave the Witnesses has become popular. It’s called “fading.” This is a tricky one. People who don’t want to make a complete break from the Witnesses do this option. Usually because the thought of not ever talking with their parents, spouses, 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. This rarely goes well.
4. The fourth and final option is death. Many who couldn’t face options #1, #2, or #3, 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. But, just because you died or killed yourself doesn’t mean you can escape shunning—even dead people can be shunned. Many Witnesses have boycotted their family member’s funerals because they were not in “good standing” in the organization when they died. Sadly for many, there is no forgiveness even after you’re dead. My mother wouldn’t let my father go to his own father’s funeral because it was inside a Catholic church.
So yes you can be shunned as a dead person.
Yet they think of themselves as an organization of love.