Watchtower practice of shunning relatives -- when did it begin?

by FatFreek 2005 9 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    The oldest reference I can find is 2012, as follows:

    "Think of that if you are ever tempted to violate God’s command not to associate with your disfellowshipped relatives." The Watchtower 2012, 4/15/ p. 12 par. 17
    Are there any earlier than that?
  • Wild_Thing

    Technically, while not spelled out as an official doctrine, Charles Taze Russell was the first to start shunning relatives. He was convinced his wife's sisters and friend was poisoning her mind with apostate ideas. He wrote letters to all of them forbidding any of them from speaking to his wife. During their divorce proceedings, it was indicated that Russell had gone around to most everyone and told them not to speak to his wife.

    I am not sure when it became an official practice, but it was way earlier than 2012. I know they emphasized it heavy in the early 80s after "The Great Apostasy" and Ray Franz was df'd.

  • Simon

    Disfellowshipping started in 1952 so shunning would have been part of that (it's hard to imaging what disfellowshipping could mean without it).

    It was 'weaponized' during the Franz apostacy and I think that's when they saw the value of using it to quash dissent and protect against information that could threaten their membership numbers (rather than just disfellowshipping people who were "unrepentant sinners")

  • ElderEtta
    I know they emphasized it heavy in the early 80s after "The Great Apostasy" and Ray Franz was df'd.

    Any publication reference on that one?

  • never a jw
    never a jw

    Shunning started in 1939 with Olin R. Moyle, the Watchtower lawyer who sued Judge Rutherford. He won the lawsuit, but his JW family and "friends" wouldn't talk to him. He was a famous apostate who preceded Ray Franz apostasy case by more than 40 years

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    You are right, Wild_Thing. I think I found it.

    "The second situation that we need to consider is that involving a disfellowshiped or disassociated relative who is not in the immediate family circle or living at one’s home. Such a person is still related by blood or marriage, and so there may be some limited need to care for necessary family matters. Nonetheless, it is not as if he were living in the same home where contact and conversation could not be avoided. We should keep clearly in mind the Bible’s inspired direction: "Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person . . . , not even eating with such a man." -- 1 Cor. 5:11. The Watchtower, 1981, 9/15 p. 29 par. 18
    Of course, they got their team of lawyers involved, making sure they didn't cross legal boundaries that would have been impossible to navigate in today's society, "necessary family matters".
    Much like where the GB would love to rewrite Matt: 24:14 where Jesus simply said "this generation". Instead they want us to believe that Jesus simply forgot and left out the modifier "overlapping". A terrible oversight on Jesus' part wasn't it?
    Also the Apostle Paul neglected to add a modifying phrase in the scripture above. Here, the GB rewrite would go like this -- "Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person . . . , not even eating with such a man provided he is not in the immediate family circle or living at one’s home. "
    Perhaps, and this is a long shot, both Jesus and Paul knew that the all-wise spirit-directed governing body would pick up the slack in these last days, bailing out those truly inspired writers of old.
  • Vidiot
    FatFreek - "Watchtower practice of shunning relatives... when did it begin?"

    When the WT started realizing that said relatives were experiencing a little too much success at helping their still-in JW family see that the WTS was wrong,

  • snugglebunny

    DF'd in '72 and immediately shunned by my parents. They finally acknowledged my existence after the rescinding WT that came out in the late 70's and didn't go along with them when they rescinded their rescinding.

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2

    My family first connected with JWs in 1951. At that time, my understanding was that Disfellowshipping was an active belief and policy but rarely used. I mean - if you killed someone - yes, you would be tossed out and shunned. Most often it was applied to sexual indiscretions if you got caught or confessed to that type of sin.

    It wasn't until the late 1950s and early 1960s that there was an increase in the application of DF and shunning. In fact, being put on a review status was far more applicable. That type of thing would apply to observed drunkenness (but not excessive private drinking or alcoholism - a common situation in those days).One brother would slur his words while doing the opening or closing prayer, but no one ever said anything although his secret was common knowledge. Smoking could get you DF'd, but not in all congregations - and rarely if you promised to stop. (A lot of the older brothers would "stop" or claim to not smoke - but you could still smell it all over their clothes or on their breath.)

    That was really what it was all about: Some congregations were run by hardnosed "Company Servants" (later, Congregation Servants and then Elders) who jumped on anything that was not inline with JW rules. Others would counsel and encourage and try to get the offenders to change their ways - more like counseling. Sexual indiscretions were dealt with more harshly than other offenses.

    But in the mid to late 1960s after the 1975 predictions began to be promoted, all the love was tossed and most congregations took a harder approach to almost everything. Missing meetings, no field service, etc. soon became DF offenses. Sexual offenses were more often dealt with most harshly and the offender's reputations were trashed heavily within the congregations. Alcoholism and drunkenness was a common problem in many congregations. But as long as the "brother with a problem" did not get arrested or beat up his wife, not much was done. In my congregation half of the brothers over 30 had drinking problems and the same was true for the sisters.

    You could not be gay unless you were a female. Sisters "living together" who were not siblings were often known to be "lesbos." Although you could tell who some of them were, as long as they did not wear pants to the Kingdom Hall - everything else was off the table. So most congregations had one or two pairs of unrelated "sisters" who lived together "in order to share costs and for companionship." The worst thing for them was the constant gossip and the fact that other women in the congregation would not get too close to them during meetings or service.

    In the congregation that I attended there was one suspected gay brother who lived with and took care of his elderly mother. He was quite good looking so all of the sisters were always hitting on him or trying to pair him up. He was very cordial about all of that, but he made it clear that he was responsible for the care of his mother and would have to wait until she passed before he could consider marriage. That did not stop one sister from accusing him of influencing her teenage son (who everyone suspected to be gay from the time he was ten years old.) Nothing was resolved as the servants (my father was one of them) did not want to open that can of worms - not to mention that the older brother was the only pianist available to play Kingdom Songs at the meetings.

    But all of that made for good gossip shared by the older sisters on service days. I heard all the rumors and accusations as we rode around the territories. The gossip was far more damaging to the congregation than any suspected private sex between consenting JWs, but not one person male or female was ever called out for spreading rumors - mostly because all of the older sisters and a fair number of "older brothers" would have been in deep trouble.

    Ah, I miss the 1950s and 60s. Those were the "good old days."


  • Still Totally ADD
    Still Totally ADD

    JV I remember in the early 70's during the 15 min. break between public talk and the watchtower study the ones that smoked went behind the 7-11 store next to the KH for a smoke. In a congregation of about 100 at the time I would say 15 to 20 were smoking. Those were the days. Still Totally ADD

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