Even though they preach against child baptism. They say, they want the person to make a conscience decision to join their faith. Thus they preach against infant baptisms. How could a baby know what religion they what to join? This is a very good point. However, it is not unusual for Jehovah’s Witnesses parents to encourage their of eight or nine years old children to get baptized. So I guess infants don’t know what they are doing when it comes to serious decisions but eight and nine year olds do. I got baptized at seventeen. This was unusual for someone who was almost born into the faith. No words were directly spoken about it of course but there was a lot of “what are you waiting for” remarks. The average age of children getting baptized back then if they were raised in the faith was twelve to thirteen.
For many years if you wanted to get baptized, you would just get in line and get dunked. Now a days they will set you down and ask you dozens of questions. These questions are to make sure that you are in agreement with the society policies and that you loyal to their organization and governing body. The governing body is a group of fifteen to twenty old guys who run the whole thing.
There is one very important question they should ask you but for some odd reason they don't. That question should be. “Are you aware that if you join this religion by getting baptized, if you ever change your mind at any time in the future and decide to leave it, you will be shunned? This means your friends, parents, children and relatives will have nothing to do with you for the rest of your life.”
So what is this shunning all about? This is the biggest tool The Watch Tower and Tract Society has to control its members.
The dictionary says shunning is to persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through antipathy or caution. To avoid, evade, steer clear of, keep one’s distance from, have NOTHING TO DO WITH.
So, if you ever decide to leave this religion this is what is store for you.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if they ask this question because most eight and nine year olds would probably say “yes” anyway.
Wouldn’t it be funny if they said no? “Mom, Dad I changed my mind! I’m not getting baptized. Since there is a strong probably I might decide to be a homosexual in twenty years from now. I’ve decided not to get baptized after all. This way we can still be friends and you won’t have to shun me!”
This really isn’t that funny because if thousands of kids could see their lives down the road, many years later they would certainly never allowed themselves to get dunked.
I know it sounds strange but for some odd reason many unbaptized people are treated better then baptized people in the organization. A Jehovah’s Witnesses family could have two children. Let’s say they are the same age, twins. One child is baptized and one is not. They both end up doing an activity that is not approved of, by the Witnesses. If the baptized one is disfellowshipped, he will be shunned for sure. However the unbaptized one, can’t be disfellowshipped because he never got baptized. So he might not get completely shunned. So in reality by making the decision as a child to get baptized you are at a greater disadvantage then your unbaptized sibling. This brings us to our next question.
So you must be baptized first in order to be shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses later? Well, not necessary. You can still be shunned if you are not baptized. You might be “marked.” This is usually done unofficially. The elders or an elder or just a group of “brothers and sisters” talk among themselves and determine someone in kingdom hall is bad associations. You might not even know that you are marked. Most the time this is done unofficially. Sometimes it is done officially. The elder will make an announcement to the whole congregation. “That a certain person is considered bad associations.” So you might know or you might not know that you are on their shit list. One way you will know is people will start acting very differently around you. Yes, the unofficial shun. I know all of this is all very confusing.
This happened to me in high school. I was shunned. 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 was concerned bad associations? 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 “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 no forgiveness even after your death. My mother wouldn’t let my father go to his out 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.”