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  1. Part of a series on: Jehovah's Witnesses employ various levels of congregational discipline as formal controls administered by congregation elders. Guilt and repentance are determined by a tribunal of elders, and hearings concerning what they term "serious sin" are performed by formal judicial committees. A variety of controls can be enforced, from restriction of duties performed in the congregation to excommunication, known as disfellowshipping, and shunning by the congregation. Members who are disfellowshipped have an opportunity to regain membership. The practice of disfellowshipping has been criticized by many non-members and ex-members. Historical The first brother officially disfellowshipped publicly was Olin Moyle by public resolution in front of an entire "District assembly" .... and in an even older schism case Paul S.L. Johnson was also "excommunicated".It was in the year 1952 that the Watchtower introduced disfellowshipping as now practiced. Russell discussed disfellowshipping and avoiding wrongdoers as early as 1893. However, this was not applied to Watchtower followers, but rather that Christians in general should avoid those who show themselves to be untrue to God. "To be separate does not mean to be friends and companions, or to be in fellowship on any grounds. It means that we are to make a clean-cut division between ourselves and all the unclean, the impure in heart, as manifested by their disloyalty to the truth, and thereby to God, its great Author: and that this separation is to be so marked that the disfellowshipped one will be sure to know it. and that none can mistake our obedience and loyalty to the lord and his truth. There is to be no trifling or half-way obedience in this matter: for we are not only to be separate in spirit from the enemies of the Lord, but we are not to touch the unclean. As the Apostle elsewhere says we are to avoid them-to have no part or lot with them." Watchtower 1893 Oct 15 p.1588 "We are not of those who disfellowship Christian brethren on account of some differences of opinion; but when it comes to the point of denying the very foundation of all christianity we must speak out and withstand all such to the face, for they become the enemies of the cross of Christ." Watchtower 1882 Dec p.423 Later, a procedure was implemented where a congregation as a whole discussed an individual's wrongdoing and if they came to a near unanimous decision to disfellowship, the unrepentant sinner was not shunned but treated as a heathen. It was primarily for a person that rejected the value of Christ's Ransom. "The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire Church. Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members-hearing and judgment were left to the local body, or Church. Indeed, even if the transgressor refuse to hear (obey) the decision of the entire Church, no punishment is to be inflicted or even attempted. What then? Merely the Church is to withdraw from him its fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood. Thenceforth the offender is to be treated "as a heathen man and a publican." Matt. 18:17" Studies Series VI - The New Creation (1904) pp.289, 290 "The Scriptural basis of fellowship and disfellowship is both a much broader and a much more simple one. It is simply of two parts: (1) An acceptance of Christ as the Redeemer, and (2) A full consecration to him. Whoever complies with this scriptural formula is entitled to the love, respect, sympathy and care of every other such one; for such, and such only, constitute the church which God recognizes - the church whose names are written in heaven." Watchtower 1905 p.3673 "According to this Scripture the very most that the church could do would be that, after having vainly endeavored to get the brother to repent and reform, it should withdraw special brotherly fellowship from him until such time as he would express willingness thereafter to do right. Then he should be received again into full fellowship. In the meantime the brother may merely be treated in the kindly, courteous way in which it would be proper for us to treat any publican or Gentile, withholding the special rights or privileges or greetings or voting opportunities that belong to the church as a class separate from the world." Watchtower 1919 Mar 1 p.69 Russell and Rutherford were lenient towards doctrinal disagreements, advising that making all followers think alike on doctrine is what originally caused the great apostasy, a tactic of Satan and a method of control. "Rather, like the church of Rome their ["Religious leaders of today"] influence is exerted to restrain investigation within the sectarian limits. With the implied threat of disfellowship, they urge their ministers and students not to search continually for truth, but to accept the voice of their sect as infallible."Watchtower 1887 Apr p.923 "The great adversary is wily, and at all times is quick to appeal to passion. He persuades some that they must take a radical stand against some secular work or activity, and to proceed at once to disfellowship others who cannot conscientiously take this same stand. Somehow they seem to think that their radical stand entitles them in a very special sense to divine favour and blessing. his attitude leads them to violate principle in various ways: (1) By judging and condemning others who do not see as they do; (2) By refusing to fellowship those who still believe in the ransom, the restitution, the high calling." Watchtower1919 Feb 1 p.6385 "Satan's organization sails under the high-sounding name of "Christendom". It boasts of a membership of over 500,000,000 persons. Its members are in bondage to creeds, customs, rites and ceremonies; they dare not disown these or criticize or expose them. To do so would bring down on their heads taunts, reproaches, disfellowship and persecution. Many thousands of the Lords people are held in these denominations as prisoners, afraid to express their disapproval of the creeds, methods and customs of the organization. Watchtower 1930 Oct 1 p.301 As late as 1947, the Awake described the practice of excommunication as an unscriptural, pagan practice, using Hebrews 10: 26-31 to show it should be left to God to judge individuals. Quite remarkably, it was in the years surrounding the above article that Knorr was setting up the disfellowshipping arrangement followed to this day. In the Watchtower 1944 May 15 p.151, responsibility to judge an individual was moved from the congregation to judicial committees. The turning point came in 1952, where a Watchtower article dismissed Jesus remarks to refer a wrongdoer to the congregation, although with no explanation as why: "There is one more scripture quite pertinent here, at Matthew 18:15-17. ... This scripture here has nothing to do with disfellowshiping on a congregational basis. When it says go to the congregation, it means go to the elders or the mature ones in the congregation and discuss your own private difficulties. This scripture has to do with merely a personal disfellowshiping." Watchtower 1952 Mar. 1 p.147 This 1952 Watchtower was devoted to delivering clear guidelines on updated Watchtower disfellowship policy, clarifying what was to become an ever increasing list of offences. It denounced the disfellowshipped person in the strongest of terms. We might wonder, then, since this congregation which God is developing or bringing into existence is based on love, why anyone should ever want to talk about disfellowshipping or putting people out of this congregation. There certainly must be some reason. Well, the reason for disfellowshipping is that some persons get into this congregation of God that do not love Christ. Those who are acquainted with the situation in the congregation should never say Hello or Goodbye to him. He is not welcome in our midst, we avoid him. Such an individual has no place in the clean organization or congregation of God. He should go back to the wicked group that he once came from and die with that wicked group with Satans organization. Watchtower 1952 Mar 1 pp.131,134 This change was later justified as a result of worsening "moral corruption" following World War II. "Even as early as 1904, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, in his book The New Creation, outlined a Scriptural procedure for dealing with violators, even to the point of withdrawing from them the congregation’s “fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood.” But this extreme measure of excommunication or disfellowshiping was not widely practiced among the congregations and was not made a requirement on congregations until 1952. No longer could Christian conduct be viewed simply as a matter affecting only the individual or individuals involved." Watchtower 1967 Oct 1 p.596 "During the years following World War II the moral corruption of the world began to reach frightful proportions. The possibility existed that God’s clean organization could become contaminated by such corruptive influences. But Jehovah was interested in his people, just as in times past, so through his channel of communication he lovingly brought forward information to counteract the filth that could tarnish or cause his people to become unholy. (Matt. 24:45-47) Particularly from 1946, personal moral cleanness became a matter of much greater concern to the Lord’s people. (2 Cor. 7:1) Starting in 1952, the more formal Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshiping wrongdoers was instituted. Those who committed gross sins such as adultery and fornication were expelled from the congregation, if they did not repent. (1 Cor. 5:11-13) God’s organization would not tolerate persons who refused to keep unspotted, clean and pure in the sight of Jehovah." Watchtower 1976 Feb 15 p.122 In the Watchtower 1955 Oct 1 p.607, even to associate with a disfellowshipped person became a reason to be disfellowshipped: If a publisher refuses to do this and ignores the prohibition on associating with the disfellowshipped one, that publisher is rebelling against the congregation of Jehovah, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. If after sufficient warning the publisher persists in associating with the disfellowshipped person instead of aligning himself with Jehovah's organization he also should be disfellowshipped. Shepherd the Flock of God (2011) shows that associating with a disfellowshipped nonrelative continues as a disfellowshipping offence by including such association under the categorization of brazen conduct. Willful, continued, unnecessary association with disfellowshipped nonrelatives despite repeated counsel." p.60 Members of the congregation are instructed to watch each other and alert the elders to any noticed indiscretions. With a degree of persuasiveness members are told that the Highest Level of authority demands they even break their countries law to report on their brothers. "This command from the Highest Level of authority in the universe put the responsibility upon each Israelite to report to the judges any serious wrongdoing that he observed so that the matter might be handled. While Christians are not strictly under the Mosaic Law, its principles still apply in the Christian congregation. Hence, there may be times when a Christian is obligated to bring a matter to the attention of the elders. True, it is illegal in many countries to disclose to unauthorized ones what is found in private records. But if a Christian feels, after prayerful consideration, that he is facing a situation where the law of God required him to report what he knew despite the demands of lesser authorities, then that is a responsibility he accepts before Jehovah. There are times when a Christian must obey God as ruler rather than men. Acts 5:29"Watchtower 1987 Sep 1 p.13 Since the introduction of disfellowshipping, there have been a number of changes in Watchtower doctrine and hence the reasons for being disfellowshipped have also changed back and forth. How can this occur if Jehovah directs an organization's rules? When a situation arises in a congregation that is not clearly specified in the Bible or a Watchtower publication and the elders and branch feel unable to deal with it this is referred to the Governing Body. How does the Governing Body arrive at a new principle for being disfellowshipped? Does the Holy Spirit guide them to examine scripture and arrive at a uniform consensus on what God's standard is? No, the vote does not have to be unanimous. New laws can be introduced with only a two-thirds majority vote.(6) For this reason both the regulation on organ transplants and oral sex was able to be changed back and forth within the space of little over a decade, with huge affect on member's lives.For instance, the practice of smoking did not become a disfellowshipping offence until 1973. Having an organ transplant was an offence worthy of being disfellowshipped for over a decade, but is no longer viewed as wrong.Oral or anal sex between married couples was classified as; a disfellowshipping offence - Watchtower 1974 Nov 15 p.704 no longer an offence - Watchtower 1978 Feb 15 pp.30-32 once again an offence - Watchtower 1983 Mar 15 p.31 One may have hoped that the draconian system of disfellowshipping may have eased over the years, yet the opposite is true. In 1974 there was a softening of the 1952 stance, with release of the following article, but this was short lived; "Congregational elders, as well as individual members of a congregation, therefore, ought to guard against developing an attitude approaching that which some Jewish rabbinical writers fomented toward Gentiles in viewing them as virtual enemies. It is right to hate the wrong committed by the disfellowshiped one, but it is not right to hate the person nor is it right to treat such ones in an inhumane way. We may note, too, that at 1 Corinthians 5:11 the apostle warns against mixing in company with one who "is" a fornicator or practicer of some other kind of serious wrongdoing. What, however, of the one who has been disfellowshiped for being that kind of person but who thereafter, either at an early point or at a later point in time, gives consistent evidence of discontinuing such wrong practice, stopping it? Can it be said that he or she still "is" a fornicator or whatever type of wrongdoer such a one was that caused him or her to be as "leaven" toward the congregation? For example, a young person disfellowshiped for fornication may thereafter marry, raise a family and live a respectable life. Or one who was disfellowshiped for drunkenness may abandon such practice and, if drinking at all, may do so in moderation only. By such changes these individuals may now regain the respect of the community. Such ones may not yet have come and formally sought reinstatement by the congregation. Is there, however, not an evident difference between these and others who continue right on in the wrongdoing that brought their disfellowshiping? Those giving up the wrong practice may still manifest some appreciation for Christian truth, perhaps even defending the true Christian congregation when someone speaks evil against it. Should not such circumstances be given due weight and have an effect on our attitude as a congregation toward such ones? Surely if the prodigal son of the parable had returned home in a drunken state, perhaps dragging along one of his harlot companions, the father's reaction would not have been the same. But the father had reason to believe that the son was approaching with a right motive and, rather than suspect the worst, the father hoped the best and went out to meet his errant son." Watchtower 1974 Aug 1 pp.467-469 This more reasonable stance reverted back to strict shunning in 1981, with a comprehensive discussion in the Watchtower Sep 15. The 2008 book Keep Yourself in God's Lovecontinues to refer to the 1981 Watchtower as the standard to be followed. Correction Non-judicial situations involve actions that are considered sinful or simply regrettable but are not considered to be of sufficient gravity to necessitate a judicial committee, and cannot result in disfellowshipping from the congregation; specific action by congregation elders is not administered in such situations, but counsel (or correction) may be provided by a mature Witness in addition to self-discipline and family discipline.[1] Elders may also give recommendations or warnings to members in non-judicial situations.If an active baptized Witness is considered to have committed a "serious sin" for which the sinner must demonstrate formal repentance, correction (or, "discipline") is administered by the congregation’s body of elders. Such situations usually involve a "judicial committee" of three or more elders.[2] Discipline involving non-judicial situations At the elders' discretion, "non-judicial" situations may involve discipline of one or more of several types, presented here in escalating seriousness. Local needs At conventions and assemblies, and about once each month at a local Service Meeting, a short talk regarding "local needs" is presented.[3] An elder addresses matters that are relevant to the local congregation, with instructions outlining the course of action considered appropriate. No specific individuals are identified during the talk, but the talk may relate to a matter for which a member has recently been "reproved". At times, some temporary policy may be announced that might be seen as disciplinary; for example, it may be that an additional attendant is assigned outside a Kingdom Hall to discourage children from running on the sidewalk.[4] Shepherding calls Personal "shepherding visits" are intended to encourage members of the congregation, though may also include counsel and correction, then or on a subsequent visit.[5][6] Two elders (or an elder and a ministerial servant) may schedule and perform a particular shepherding visit on their own or at the direction of the body of elders.[7] Withheld recommendations or assignments The body of elders may withhold its recommendation for a member to serve in a new position of responsibility, though still permitting existing responsibilities.[8]For example, a ministerial servant who consistently seems insufficiently prepared for his meeting parts may have such assignments withheld for a time, even though he may continue serving as a ministerial servant or in some other "special privilege of service".[9] Loss of "special privileges" Elders, ministerial servants, pioneers, or other appointed Witnesses can lose their "special privileges of service".[10][11] For example, an elder may be removed or choose to step aside voluntarily from his position if members of his household are not in "good standing".[12] After resignation or removal from an appointed position, an announcement is made during the congregation's Service Meeting indicating that the person is "no longer serving", without elaboration.[13] Limited "privileges of service" An active Jehovah's Witness may have their congregational "privileges of service" limited even without having committed a serious sin. For example, the body of elders may feel that a member wronged others by some investment scheme which was not necessarily fraudulent.[14] While Witnesses sometimes refer to field ministry, after-meeting cleanup, and other responsibilities as "privileges", the term "privileges of service" often implies a specific range of assignments assisting elders and ministerial servants with meeting demonstrations and other responsibilities.[15] Such limitations are usually temporary.[16] Marking Members who persist in a course considered scripturally wrong after repeated counsel by elders,[17] but who are not guilty of something for which they could be disfellowshipped,[17] can be "marked", based on Jehovah's Witnesses' interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 3:14. Though not shunned, "marked" individuals are looked upon as bad association and social interaction outside of formal worship settings is generally curtailed. This action is intended to "shame" the person into following a particular course of action.[17] "Marking" is indicated by means of a talk given at the Service Meeting outlining the shameful course, but without explicitly naming any particular individual. Members who know whose actions are being discussed may then consider the individual "marked". Discipline involving "serious sin" List of "serious sins" Jehovah's Witnesses consider many actions to be "serious sins", for which baptized Witnesses are subject to disfellowshipping or formal reproof. Actions for which a member can be disfellowshipped include: abortion,[18] adultery, apostasy,[19] bestiality, blood transfusions,[20] "brazen conduct" or "loose conduct",[21][22] drug abuse,[23] drunkenness, extortion,[24] fornication, fraud,[25] gambling,[24] greed,[24] homosexual activity, idolatry, incest, interfaith activity,[26] lying,[27] manslaughter, murder, "perverted sex relations",[28] polygamy,[29] pornography,[30] reviling, sexual abuse,[31] slander,[25] spiritism, theft, and use of tobacco.[23][32][33] Procedures Evidence for actions that can result in congregational discipline is obtained by voluntary confession to the elders or by witnesses of the violation. A minimum of two witnesses is required to establish guilt, based on their understanding of Deuteronomy 17:6 and Matthew 18:16, unless the person confesses voluntarily.[34] Members are instructed to report serious sins committed by others members.[35] Failure to report a serious sin of another member is viewed as sharing in the sins of others, a sin before God.[36] Witnesses are instructed that pledges of confidentiality may be broken to report what they believe to be transgressions.[37]A congregation's body of elders considers confessions or credible allegations of serious sin, and decides whether a judicial committee will be formed to address the matter.[38] A judicial committee, usually consisting of three elders, investigates the details of the alleged sin further. The committee arranges a formal judicial hearing to determine the circumstances of the sin, whether the accused is repentant, and whether disciplinary actions will be taken.[39][40][41]In certain situations, a body of elders may handle a situation involving "serious sin" by a baptized Witness without a judicial committee: Minor or newly baptized - A minor or newly baptized Witness might commit one or two acts of "serious sin" involving tobacco or overdrinking;[42][43] repercussions as for 'non-judicial' situations may still be imposed. Repentance - The body of elders may believe the sinner's repentance has been established and accepted. For example, if a member committed a "serious sin" several years ago, had formally repented in prayer, and the sin did not involve scheming.[44] Witnesses are strongly discouraged from waiting years to resolve such matters;[45] even if years have passed since the serious sin, it is typical for a judicial committee to be formed, and there may still be repercussions as for ‘non-judicial’ situations. Judicial abeyance - Elders may become aware of a "serious sin" committed by a baptized Witness who has been inactive for some time and is not perceived as a Jehovah’s Witness. If the alleged sinner is not associating with active Witnesses, the elders may indefinitely postpone a judicial committee and formal hearing unless and until the individual renews their association with the congregation.[46] Judicial committee A person accused of a serious sin is informed of the allegations and invited to attend a judicial committee meeting. The individual is permitted to bring witnesses who can speak in their defense; observers are not allowed,[47] and the hearing is held privately even if the accused individual requests that it be heard openly so all may witness the evidence.[48][49] Recording devices are not permitted at the hearing.[47] If the accused repeatedly fails to attend an arranged hearing, the committee will proceed but will not make a decision until evidence and testimony by witnesses are considered.[47]The committee takes the role of prosecutor, judge and jury when handling its cases.[50] After the hearing is opened with a prayer, the accused is invited to make a personal statement. If there is no admission of guilt, the individual is informed of the source of the charges and witnesses are presented one at a time to give evidence. Witnesses do not remain present for the entire hearing. Once all the evidence is presented, the accused and all witnesses are dismissed and the committee reviews the evidence and the attitude of the accused.[47]The committee may determine that there was no "serious sin", or that mitigating circumstances absolve the accused individual. The committee may then proceed with discipline such as is described for 'non-judicial' situations.[51] Alternatively, the committee may decide that a serious sin was committed, in which case, the committee gives verbal admonitions and gauges the individual's attitude and repentance. The committee then decides whether discipline will involve formal reproof or disfellowshipping. Reproof Reproof involves actions for which a person could be disfellowshipped, and is said to be an effort to 'reach the heart' and convince a person of the need to hate the sanctioned actions[52][53] and repent.[54] Reproof is considered sufficient if the individual is deemed repentant.[55][56] Reproof is given before all who are aware of the transgression. If the conduct is known only to the individual and the judicial committee, reproof is given privately. If the sin is known by a small number, they would be invited by the elders, and reproof would be given before the sinner and those with knowledge of the sin. If the action is known generally by the entire congregation or the wider community, an announcement is made that the person "has been reproved".[57] A related local needs talk may be given, separately to the announcement, without naming anyone.[58]In all cases of reproof, restrictions are imposed,[59] typically prohibiting the individual from sharing in meeting parts, commenting during meetings, and giving group prayers. A reproved Witness cannot enroll as a pioneer or auxiliary pioneer for at least one year after reproof is given.[60][61] Disfellowshipping All members are expected to abide by the beliefs and moral standards of Jehovah's Witnesses, and serious violations of these requirements can result in disfellowshipping if not deemed repentant; the term is used in reference to both the act of congregational expulsion (similar to excommunication) and subsequent shunning.[62] When a judicial committee decides that a baptized Witness has committed a serious sin and is unrepentant, the person is disfellowshipped. A person can appeal if they believe that a serious error in judgment has been made. Requests for appeal must be made in writing and within seven days of the decision of the judicial committee. If the decision is not appealed, an announcement is made at the Service Meeting that the named individual "is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses", without any further explanation. Shunning starts immediately after the announcement is made.[63]If a baptized Witness teaches contrary to Witness doctrines, it is considered apostasy and grounds for disfellowshipping. A 1981 letter to overseers—reproduced in a book by former Governing Body member Raymond Franz—directed that a member who "persists in believing other doctrine", even without promoting such beliefs, may also be subject to disfellowshipping.[64] Elders usually try to reason with the individual before such action is taken.[65] If a person believes that a teaching should be adjusted or changed, he is encouraged "to be patient and wait on Jehovah for change".[66]All members are encouraged to have a detailed understanding of what is expected and the consequences of wrongdoing.[67] The stated purpose of congregation discipline is to help erring ones be restored to spiritual health, to help uphold the organization's reputation, and to keep the congregation clean from wrong conduct.[68] Shunning Jehovah's Witnesses shun disfellowshipped individuals, a process Watch Tower Society publications describe as "withholding fellowship".[69] Their shunning policy is based on their interpretation of scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; Matthew 18:15-17; and 2 John 9-11.[70][71]Witnesses state that avoiding interaction with disfellowshipped former adherents helps to: avoid reproach on God's name and organization by indicating that violations of the Bible's standards in their ranks are not tolerated; keep the congregation free of possible corrosive influences;[72] and convince the disfellowshipped individual to re-evaluate their course of action, repent and rejoin the religion.[73] Shunning is also practiced when a member formally resigns membership or is deemed to indicate, by their actions, a statement, or their association with another religion, that they do not wish to be known as a Witness. Such individuals are said to have disassociated,[74][75] and are described by the Watch Tower Society as "lawless" in a spiritual sense.[76] In either case ("disfellowshipping" or "disassociating"), an announcement is made at the Kingdom Hall that "[full name] is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses." This announcement is made at the congregation the person attends.[77] Congregation members are not informed whether a person is being shunned due to "disfellowshipping" or "disassociation", nor on what grounds. The Watchtower states that "apostates are “mentally diseased,” and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings. (1 Timothy 6:3, 4 [NWT]).";[78][79] some have stated that this applies to all individuals who leave the organization.[80][81]Failure to adhere to the directions on shunning is itself considered a serious offense. Members who continue to speak to or associate with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person are said to be sharing in their "wicked works"[82] and may themselves be punished by disfellowshipping.[83] Exceptions are made in some cases such as business relations and immediate family household situations.[69] If a disfellowshipped person is living in the same home with other baptized family members, religious matters are not discussed, with the exception of minors, for whose training parents are still responsible.[84][85] Disfellowshipped family members outside the home are shunned.[86]The Watchtower 2013 Jan 1 p.16 even denies family communication by email, stating; "Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail." Interestingly, whilst the translation into most languages is the same, the Spanish edition extends this to "email, phone or text messaging."Disfellowshipped individuals can continue attending meetings held at the Kingdom Hall, though they are shunned by the congregation. Attending meetings while being shunned is a requirement for eventual reinstatement.[87]If a person dies in a disfellowshipped state they still are not to be associated with, so Witnesses are persuaded from attending their funeral. "In "Questions from Readers" (The Watchtower, 1961, p. 544) the position was taken that a funeral for a disfellowshiped person was improper. The comment was made: "We never want to give the impression to outsiders that a disfellowshiped person was acceptable in the congregation when in truth and in fact he was not acceptable but had been disfellowshiped from it." A Christian congregation would not want its good name besmirched by having it associated with any to whom 2 John 9, 10 applied, even in their death." Watchtower 1977 Jun 1 p.347 Under certain circumstances even a parent can be disfellowshipped for associating with their own disfellowshipped children. "Normally, a close relative would not be disfellowshipped for associating with a disfellowshipped person unless there is spiritual association or an effort made to justify or excuse the wrongful course." Pay Attention to Yourselves and all the Flock p.103 The latest elder's book, Shepherd the Flock of God (2010) reconfirms this, explaining that association with a relative can result in losing congregation privileges and even being disfellowshipped. Assist those having undue association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives. ... If members of the congregation are known to have undue association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives who are not in the household, elders should counsel and reason with those members of the congregation from the Scriptures. ... If it is clear that a Christian is violating the spirit of the disfellowshipping decree in this regard and does not respond to counsel, it may be that he would not qualify for congregation privileges, which require one to be exemplary. He would not be dealt with judicially unless there is persistent spiritual association or he openly criticizes the disfellowshipping decision. pp.114-116 Watchtower has publicly announced to the authorities in Finland a change to the above instructions Reinstatement Disfellowshipped individuals may be reinstated into the congregation if they are considered repentant of their previous actions and attitude. When a disassociated or disfellowshipped individual requests reinstatement, a judicial committee, (the committee originally involved, if available) seeks to determine whether the person has repented.[88] Such individuals must demonstrate that they no longer practice the conduct for which they were expelled from the congregation, as well as submission to the religion's regulations.[89][90][91] Individuals disfellowshipped for actions no longer considered serious sins, such as organ transplants, are not automatically reinstated. Meeting attendance while being shunned is considered by the organization as an important step toward eventual reinstatement.[92] Once a decision is made to reinstate, a brief announcement is made to the congregation that the disfellowshipped member is once again one of Jehovah's Witnesses.Elders are instructed to make an attempt each year to remind disfellowshipped ones of the steps they can take to qualify for reinstatement.[69][93] No specific period of time is prescribed before this can happen, however the Watch Tower Society suggests a period of "perhaps many months, a year, or longer."[94] In 1974, the Watch Tower Society stated that about one third of those disfellowshipped eventually return to the group, based on figures gathered from 1963 to 1973.[95] The following 17 minute recording was taken by a girl attempting to be reinstated, and highlights the procedure well. It starts slowly, but is quite heartbreaking at the end. You will probably agree with the girl's comment regarding the elders lack of heart. Legality In June 1987, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the Witnesses' right to shun those who fail to live by the group's standards and doctrines, upholding the ruling of a lower court, finding that "shunning is a practice engaged in by Jehovah's Witnesses pursuant to their interpretation of canonical text, and we are not free to reinterpret that text … The defendants are entitled to the free exercise of their religious beliefs … The members of the Church [she] decided to abandon have concluded that they no longer want to associate with her. We hold that they are free to make that choice."[96][97] Unbaptized publishers An unbaptized individual who has previously been approved to share in Jehovah's Witnesses' formal ministry or participate in their Theocratic Ministry School, but who subsequently behaves in a manner considered inappropriate may lose privileges, such as commenting at meetings, receiving assignments, or even accompanying the congregation in the public ministry.[98]If an unbaptized individual is deemed unrepentant of actions for which baptized members might be disfellowshipped, an announcement would be made that the person "is no longer a publisher of the good news."[99] Such individuals were previously shunned, but formal restrictions are no longer imposed on unbaptized individuals, though association is generally curtailed. The elders might privately warn individuals in the congregation if the unbaptized person is considered to pose "an unusual threat".[100] Critical view The only way to officially leave Jehovah's Witnesses is to disassociate or be disfellowshipped, and both entail the same set of prohibitions and penalties, with no provision for continued normal association. Sociologist Andrew Holden has claimed that fear of family break-up or loss causes people who might otherwise freely leave the religion to remain members.[101] Jehovah's Witnesses state that disfellowshipping is a scripturally documented method to protect the congregation from the influence of those who practice serious wrongdoing.[102] Critics contend that the judicial process itself, due to its private and nearly autonomous nature, directly contradicts the precedent found in the Bible and the organization's own teachings and can be used in an arbitrary manner if there is consensus among just a few to abuse their authority.[103]According to Raymond Franz, a letter dated September 1, 1980, from the Watch Tower Society to all circuit and district overseers advised that a member who "merely disagrees in thought with any of the Watch Tower Society's teachings is committing apostasy and is liable for disfellowshipping."[104] The letter states that one does not have to "promote" different doctrines to be an apostate, adding that elders need to "discern between one who is a trouble-making apostate and a Christian who becomes weak in the faith and has doubts."[104] Watch Tower Society publications indicate that some type of action is required for a member to be disfellowshipped, rather than a 'disagreement in thought'.[105] Scriptural basis Though there is Scriptural precedence to limit association with brothers practicing wrongdoing, critics of the Watchtower application of disfellowshipping state that it seriously deviates from Bible guidelines in a number of ways;The word "disfellowship" does not appear in the Bible 2 John 10 says not to greet the Antichrist. The Watchtower uses this single scripture to support not saying hello to a disfellowshipped person. At Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 5, Paul outlined limiting association with Christians that practice wrongdoing, not strict shunning. The Watchtower disfellowships for practices never discussed in the Bible such as smoking, gambling and having a blood transfusion. Disfellowshipping is extended to prevent immediate family members associating with their disfellowshipped relatives. The punishment applies forever, or until the Watchtower Society formally reinstates the person. It is considered irrelevant whether the person no longer practices the wrongdoing they were disfellowshipped for. Bible discussion of shunning in 1 Corinthian's 15 and 2 John is limited to just the following areas; Fornication, Greed, idolatry, Revilers, Practicing Drunkenness, Extortion and One who does not remain in the teaching of the Christ.This list should be the full extent of reasons for which to be disfellowshipped. In fact, Diotrephes was reprimanded for attempting to throw people out of the congregation unnecessarily. 3 John 9,10 "I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation." Following is the vast list of offences the Watchtower has created for which a Jehovah's Witness can be disfellowshipped or disassociated.Bible discussion of shunning in 1 Corinthian's 15 and 2 John is limited to just the following areas; Fornication, Greed, idolatry, Revilers, Practicing Drunkenness, Extortion and One who does not remain in the teaching of the Christ.This list should be the full extent of reasons for which to be disfellowshipped. In fact, Diotrephes was reprimanded for attempting to throw people out of the congregation unnecessarily. 3 John 9,10 "I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation." Following is the vast list of offences the Watchtower has created for which a Jehovah's Witness can be disfellowshipped or disassociated.The abbreviations refer to the following publications: Adultery (sexual intercourse with a person other than your marriage mate), includes; Abandoning wife and eloping with another woman - w79 11/15 31-2, w76 p.728 Planned adultery to break Scriptural marriage ties - w83 3/15 p.29 Remarriage without Scriptural permission - w56 10/1 p.597 Polygamy - jv 176 Dating a person not legally divorced - ks91-E p.135 Apostasy - w83 4/1 pp.22-4, km 8/80 pp.1, 4. includes; Rebellion against Jehovah's organization - w63 7/1 Promoting sects - it-2 886 Associating with disfellowshipped people including; Friends - ks91-E p.103, w81 9/15 pp.25-6, w55 10/1 p.607 Family - ks91-E p.103 Blood and blood transfusions - w61 1/15 ks91-E p.95, jv p.183-4 Drug use - ks91-E p.96 Drunkenness - ks91-E p.95, it-1 656 Dishonest business practices - w63 7/1, w86 11/15 14 Employment violating Christian principles - km 9/76 p.6, km 2/74 Working for any religious organization - ks91-E p.95 Working in a gambling institution - ks91-E p.136 Selling tobacco - ks91-E p.96 Contract work at a military establishment False worship. Includes; Attending another church ks91-E p.94 Following mourning customs that involve false worship - w85 4/15 p.25 Fornication it-1 863 Bestiality - w83 6/1 p.25 Incestuous marriage - w78 3/15 p.26 Artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood. "True Christians, therefore, avoid surrogate motherhood as well as any procedures that involve the use of donated sperm, eggs, or embryos" g04 9/22; "Artificial insemination of a married woman by a donor other than her husband makes her guilty of adultery" g74 8/8 p.28 sexual abuse of children - g93 10/8 p.10Reviling - ks91-E p.94, w96 7/15 pp.17-18; it-1 p.991; it-2 p.802 Fraud - ks91-E p.94, om pp.142-3 Gambling or related employment - w80 9/1, ks91-E p.136 Gluttony - w86 5/1 Greediness, this in used to include; gambling ks91-E p.95 extortion ks91-E p.95, w89 1/15 22, it-1 p.789 greed in relation to bride-price: w98 9/15 p.25 Homosexuality - w83 6/1 pp.24-6 Idolatry - w52 3/1 p.138 Loose conduct - ks91-E pp.93, 96, w83 3/15 p.31, w73 9/15 p.574, it-2 p.264, ks91-E p.93, w83 3/15 p.31, w73 9/15 pp.574-6, w97 9/1 p.14, it-2 p.246. Sexual perversion Disregard for Jehovah's moral standards Disrespect, disregard or even contempt for standards, laws and authority, Rather than restricted to the usual definition of sexual perversion, the Watchtower defines "loose conduct" as including "disrespect to elders". This enables this term to be used to disfellowship for a wide range of offences not elsewhere covered, and as such is used to cover all manner of sins, such as refusal to cease fellowship with disfellowshipped people, or even being contemptuous in a judicial meeting where no other sin can be proven. Lying - ks91-E p.94, g00 2/8 p.21 Non neutral activities (involvement in politics and the military) - ks91-E p.96 Military service and non military service including working casual work (certain civilian work has recently been made a conscience matter w96 5/1 p.20) - ks91-E p.96 Obscene speech - ks91-E p.95 Parents condoning immorality - w56 p.566 Political involvement, including voting or holding a political card in Malawi - ks91-E p.96 (w99 11/1 p.28 made voting a conscience matter) Porneia. Includes oral and anal sex between married couples, mutual masturbation between persons not married to each other, homosexuality, lesbianism, fornication, adultery, incest, and bestiality. - ks91-E p.93 Slander - ks91-E p.94, w63 7/1, w89 10/15 p.14, om p.142 Smoking or selling tobacco - km 2/74, ks91-E p.96 Spiritism (includes yoga w02 8/1 p.22) - w55 10/1 p.607 Stealing, thievery - om pp.142-5, ks91-E p.94 Subversive activity - w95 10/1 p.31 Uncleanness Sexually perverse practices within marriage, such as oral and anal sex - w83 3/15 p.31 Heavy petting and breast fondling - ks91-E p.92 Touching of sexual parts - ks91-E p.91 Practice of viewing abhorrent Pornography - w2012 3/15 p.31 Violation of secular law if flagrant attitude - w86 10/1 p.31 Violence, extreme physical abuse, fits of anger - ks91-E p.96, w75 p.287, g01 11/8 p.12 Includes Boxing w81 7/1 pp.30-1, ks91-E p.142 Wilful non support of family, endangerment of mates spirituality - w88 11/1 pp.22-3, km 9/73 p.8, ks91-E p.95 Worldly celebrations such as Christmas - ks91-E p.95 (It appears celebrating birthdays is not a reason to be disfellowshipped) Bible guidelines on disfellowshipping Examining the Scriptures used to justify disfellowshipping, it becomes apparent that Christian writers prescribed marking a Christian wrongdoer but did not provide for the Watchtower practice of disfellowshipping and strict shunning. Jesus Advice Jesus commanded that we not judge but love all, particularly those we consider our enemies. Luke 6:27-37 "But I say to YOU who are listening, Continue to love YOUR enemies, to do good to those hating YOU, to bless those cursing YOU, to pray for those who are insulting YOU. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also; and from him that takes away your outer garment, do not withhold even the undergarment.Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask [them] back. Also, just as YOU want men to do to YOU, do the same way to them. And if YOU love those loving YOU, of what credit is it to YOU? For even the sinners love those loving them.And if YOU do good to those doing good to YOU, really of what credit is it to YOU? Even the sinners do the same.Also, if YOU lend [without interest] to those from whom YOU hope to receive, of what credit is it to YOU? Even sinners lend [without interest] to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love YOUR enemies and to do good and to lend [without interest], not hoping for anything back; and YOUR reward will be great, and YOU will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming merciful, just as YOUR Father is merciful. Moreover, stop judging, and YOU will by no means be judged; and stop condemning, and YOU will by no means be condemned." Jesus introduced the standard on how Christian wrongdoers should be treated, saying at Matthew 18:15-17: "Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector." Jesus did not say to never utter a word to an unrepentant wrong doer but to treat them as a tax collector. He himself spoke to and ate with tax collectors. (Matthew 9:11). 1 Corinthians 5:11 The majority of information on how to treat wrongdoers within the congregation comes from Paul and the main support the Watchtower uses to enforce shunning is from 1 Corinthians 5.Paul showed a balanced approach to wrongdoers, advising not to socialise with such ones, but to still admonish [them] as a brother. 2 Thessalonians is key to understanding that wrongdoers should be marked, not disfellowshipped. 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us . 14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother. Paul did not indicate that marking was only for non-serious sin as the word through this letter at 2 Thessalonians included those not glorifying the name of our Lord Jesus, those refusing to work for a living, and any who had been seduced by apostasy. Paul did not say to disfellowship and shun such people, but rather instructed the congregation to mark or take note of such a person, yet continue admonishing him as a brother. In similar vein the following scriptures do not instruct complete shunning of the person, but rather to take note so as not to be influenced by their wrong ways. Romans 16:17 "Now I exhort YOU, brothers, to keep your eye on (the word 'mark' is used in many translations) those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that YOU have learned, and avoid them. " Titus 3:10 "As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned." At 1 Corinthians 5 Paul specifically outlined practices for which to cease mixing with a brother, yet this too is similar to the advice given when marking a brother. 1 Corinthians 5:11 "But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, while God judges those outside? Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves." 1 Corinthians does not say to totally shun a brother who is a wrong doer, rather it says to quit mixing in company with such a person and not eat with such a man and hence refers to socialising. As the Watchtower has explained, this refers to socialising as friends. "God's Word states that we should 'not even eat with such a man.' (1 Cor. 5:11) Hence, we also avoid social fellowship with an expelled person. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, ball game, or trip to the mall or theater or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant." Kingdom Ministry 2002 Aug p.3 This does not state that this type of person must never be spoken to. As Paul explained at 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 (quoted earlier), if they are at a meeting it would be reasonable to encourage them. Most certainly a polite greeting is acceptable.1 Corinthians is also specific as to who these words apply to. This advice is in regards to a person"called a brother" who "is" a wrongdoer. No indication is given that they should be avoided when they are no longer recognised as a Jehovah's Witness brother. Nor does it say to shun a person who has stopped their wrongdoing. It is regularly the case that a teenage Witness is disfellowshipped for smoking or fornication. Years later they no longer practice what they were disfellowshipped for and are no longer known in the community as a brother, and so their continued shunning is unjustified.It can also be noted that Paul did not insist that everyone participate in the shunning. Later he wrote that the "majority" participate in the rebuke, showing that some in the congregation may choose not to show rebuke to the person. 2 Corinthians 2:5-6 "Now if anyone has caused sadnessM, he has saddened, not me, but all of YOU to an extent-not to be too harsh in what I say. This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man, …" The New World Translation reference M shows Paul was here referring to the situation discussed at 1 Corinthians 5, (as do Christian scholars).Paul gave similar advice on a number of occasions to 'mark' and 'avoid' wrongdoers. This does not mean that the person must be totally ignored, never uttered a greeting, avoiding eye contact, crossing the street to get away from, all common experiences of disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses. 2 John 10 Watchtower extreme treatment of not even saying "hello" to a disfellowshipped Witnesses is not based on the above scriptures, but rather on a single statement at 2 John 7-11: For many deceivers have gone forth into the world, persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Look out for yourselves, that YOU do not lose the things we have worked to produce, but that YOU may obtain a full reward. Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to YOU and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into YOUR homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works. 2 John is referring to the antichrist and should not be applied across the board to all forms of sin, as done by the Watchtower Society.In order to justify their stance, the Watchtower describes those that stop being Witnesses as apostate and of the Antichrist, saying that "the word apostasy comes from a Greek word that literally means a standing away from but has the sense of desertion, abandonment or rebellion ... [and included] abandonment of right moral standards ... willfully abandoning the Christian congregation thereby become part of the 'antichrist." Watchtower 1985 Jul 15 p.31 In reality, many who stop being Witnesses continue to follow Jesus and Bible morals, but have come to believe that the Watchtower Society is not directed by Jesus.Interestingly, Johns advice here was not limited to former Christians. It included anyone denying Christ. This included Jews that rejected Jesus and people of the nations worshipping other Gods. Yet the Watchtower stance is to apply this only to Jehovah's Witnesses.The meaning of the phrase never receive him into YOUR homes should be understood in the context of the hospitality of first century Jerusalem. Since Christians held congregation meetings in their homes John possibly felt that inviting a denier of Christ into a home could be viewed as sharing worship with non-Christians.Likewise the term to never "say a greeting" needs to be understood in light of first century practice. In the following article, the Watchtower incorrectly claims that John used the term "greeting" to indicate a simple hello. "John here used khairo, which was a greeting like good day or hello. (Acts 15:23; Matthew 28:9) He did not use aspazomai (as in verse 13), which means to enfold in the arms, thus to greet, to welcome and may have implied a very warm greeting, even with an embrace. (Luke 10:4; 11:43; Acts 20:1, 37; 1 Thessalonians 5:26) So the direction at 2 John 11 could well mean not to say even hello to such ones." Watchtower 1988 Apr 15 p.27 This article claims the word khairo is used to forbid a simple greeting, instead of aspazomai which means a more affectionate embrace, enfolding in the arms, kiss, greeting or welcome. This is incorrect, and the opposite is true. Strong's Concordance states; 5463 chairo {khah'-ee-ro} 1) to rejoice, be glad 2) to rejoice exceedingly 3) to be well, thrive 4) in salutations, hail! 5) at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute 783 aspasmos {as-pas-mos} 1) a salutation, either oral or written 2 John does not indicate a polite greeting is wrong. John here shows that a person is a sharer in the Antichrist's wicked works if he shows acceptance and agreement with the evildoers cause or teachings, or wishes them favour and success.The Watchtower Society uses this single Scripture in 2 John to dictate that every disfellowshipped or disassociated person should not even be politely greeted. This is applied regardless of what the person was disfellowshipped for, including a long list of Society originated rules such as gambling, smoking, or authorising a blood transfusion. Every single one of a disfellowshipped persons Witness friends is told to never greet them again, unless they repent and are formally reinstated by the Watchtower Society. I am aware of friends whose own mothers or their own children have not spoken to them for upwards of 20 years. Yet such shunning is only ever discussed once, was only to apply to the Antichrist, and as such is being misused to its extremity.When a Pharisee expressed surprise that Jesus did not do ritual washing before dinner, Jesus' rebuke was particularly harsh. Luke 11:42 "'But woe to YOU Pharisees, because YOU give the tenth of the mint and the rue and of every [other] vegetable, but YOU pass by the justice and the love of God!" (see also Matthew 12:1-10) Matthew 12:7 "However, if YOU had understood what this means, I want mercy, and not sacrifice, YOU would not have condemned the guiltless ones." Behind Closed Doors In determining if a person should be disfellowshipped the elders form a "judicial committee" to meet with the wrongdoer. This is done in private, and the wrongdoer is not allowed an onlooker, lawyer or recording device. "Hear only those witnesses who have relevant testimony regarding the alleged wrongdoing. Those who intend to testify only about the character of the accused should not be allowed do so. The witnesses should not hear details and testimony of other witnesses. Observers should not present for moral support. Recording should not be allowed." Shepherd the Flock of God p.90 This star-chamber setting opens the procedure to abuse."I cannot tell you how humiliating and degrading it is as a woman to sit before 3 men (1 that I had known my whole life) and have to describe in graphic detail what I had done sexually that was sinful." - Email from readerThe word "judicial committee" does not appear in the Bible and goes against Bible guidelines. Both the Israelites and early Christian congregations kept matters open to ordinary persons. Rather than being done in private, in front of elders only, matters were held by Israelites at the city gates so a fair discussion with onlookers could be made, or in front of the Christian congregation. This prevented the injustice that can take place before small closed bodies of elders. "The Bible regulations and accounts indicate that cases of wrongdoing came before the city elders at the gates primarily when controversies were involved, as in cases where an offender would not acknowledge having wronged another, and also when the community as a whole was seriously affected or endangered by the wrongdoing." Watchtower 1976 Dec 1 p.732 "Since the local court was situated at the city gates, there was no question about the trial being public! (Deut. 16:18-20) No doubt the public trials helped influence the judges toward carefulness and justice, qualities that sometimes vanish in secret star-chamber hearings." Watchtower 1981 Jan 1 p.17 At Matthew 18:17, Jesus instructed that unresolved wrongdoing should be taken "to the congregation", not a select committee of congregation leaders. This is how misdemeanors were originally dealt with. As discussed above, the judicial committee arrangement was not inaugurated until 1944 by Knorr. Reasons hidden When the person was disfellowshipped or publicly reproved the congregation was to know why. Paul openly told the congregation of the wrong conduct of Peter, Hymenaeus, Alexander and Diotrephes. To avoid legal problems, the Society does not follow this Scriptural advice. The extent of both the disfellowshipping and disassociating announcement is restricted to: "[Name of person] is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses." Organised to do Jehovah's Will (2005) p.154 Speed of process In the scriptures it makes no mention of a time limit over which the process must take place. It does indicate that quite some period of time may be involved; Galatians 6:1 Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, YOU who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted. To readjust a brother could take considerable time. If a person is addicted to certain practices or if they are having doubts about doctrine it could take months of effort to overcome these.Yet in many cases when a Jehovah's Witness confesses or another person reports their activities to the elders they are disfellowshipped within a few weeks. Furthermore, if the process is to readjust someone, it implies the person would not be disfellowshipped in the event the offender is readjusted and quits his ways, such as after taking blood or stopping an adulterous affair. Yet the general practice in these cases is automatic disassociation or likely disfellowshipping. Punishment Shunning was to be used for readjustment or to protect the congregation. However it is regularly used as punishment. When a person confesses to a wrong practice committed and ceased many years ago they have often been disfellowshipped for a wrong attitude, which is clearly done for punishment. Overly Harsh A review of Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.788 Expelling shows that many scriptures that relate to disfellowshipping discuss assisting or reproving the person. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 "Now if anyone has caused sadness, he has saddened, not me, but all of YOU to an extentnot to be too harsh in what I say. This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary now, YOU should kindly forgive and comfort [him], that somehow such a man may not be swallowed up by his being overly sad. Therefore I exhort YOU to confirm YOUR love for him." Persons can be so traumatised by being disfellowshipped that many contemplate and carry out suicide. It is common to suffer Post Traumatic Shock Disorder. The harsh stance of the Watchtower has a counter productive affect. Being Disfellowshipped has been the catalyst to cause many to doubt whether the Watchtower is the true religion. The trauma and effort involved in being reinstated that caused them to begin researching outside Watchtower publications and to come to the conclusion that the Watchtower it is not Gods chosen way.With many religions when a person no longer believes or is practicing sin they will tend to drift away from Church and associate with like minded individuals outside the congregation. This is how it is with unbaptised Witness youths; they leave over time, generally in their teens. Most that do not follow Watchtower guidelines or that do not believe it is the Truth stop going to meetings. However disfellowshipping is a form of entrapment that forces baptised Witnesses, including myself to spend years going to meetings whilst not believing or adhering to Watchtower regulations. This is done to avoid being disfellowshipped, in order to prevent being shunned by family. By encouraging people to stay and lead double lives disfellowshipping possibly results in more people being influenced than if the wrongdoers are encouraged to drift away. Pharisaic Since the word disfellowship does not appear in the Scriptures, the New World Translation Reference Bible "Bible words indexed" directs the reader to the term "expelled". "DISFELLOWSHIP(PED). See EXPEL, EXPELLED" Rbi8 p.1507 Under Expelled the Scriptures are "EXPELLED, Joh 9:22 e. from synagogue Joh 12:42 not to be e. from synagogue" Rbi8 p.1510 Both references are regarding the Pharisees practice of expelling from the Synagogue. John 9:22 "His parents said these things because they were in fear of the Jews, for the Jews had already come to an agreement that, if anyone confessed him as Christ, he should get expelled from the synagogue." The closest Scriptural example the Watchtower can find for the term disfellowship is that of the Pharisees. Hatred The direction given in the Watchtower goes strongly against Christian examples when demanding members hate an apostate. "The obligation to hate lawlessness also applies to all activity by apostates. Our attitude toward apostates should be that of David, who declared: Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you" Watchtower 1992 Jul 15 pp.12-13 Christ Hated Lawlessness Do You? "Apostasy is, in reality, a rebellion against Jehovah. Some apostates profess to know and serve God, but they reject teachings or requirements set out in his Word. Others claim to believe the Bible, but they reject Jehovah's organization and actively try to hinder its work. When they deliberately choose such badness after knowing what is right, when the bad becomes so ingrained that it is an inseparable part of their makeup, then a Christian must hate (in the Biblical sense of the word) those who have inseparably attached themselves to the badness. True Christians share Jehovah's feelings toward such apostates; they are not curious about apostate ideas. On the contrary, they "feel a loathing" toward those who have made themselves God's enemies, but they leave it to Jehovah to execute vengeance."Watchtower 1993 Oct 1 p.19 "Haters of God and his people are to be hated, but this does not mean that we will take any opportunity of bringing physical hurt to them in a spirit of malice or spite, for both malice and spite belong to the Devil, whereas pure hatred does not. We must hate in the truest sense, which is to regard with extreme and active aversion, to consider as loathsome, odious, filthy, to detest. Surely any haters of God are not fit to live on his beautiful earth. The earth will be rid of the wicked and we shall not need to lift a finger to cause physical harm to come to them, for God will attend to that, but we must have a proper perspective of these enemies. His name signifies recompense to the enemies." Watchtower 1952 Oct 1 p.599 Jesus and Paul both said we should not hate but rather love our enemies. This was to apply even when someone is attacking our faith and practice. Matthew 5:44-45 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust," Romans 12:17-21 17 Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, as far as it depends upon YOU, be peaceable with all men. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah. 20 But, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head. 21 Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good. When discussing a person seduced by apostasy Paul said at 2 Thessalonians 3:15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.When discussing that for everlasting life it is necessary to love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus used the illustration of the Good Samaritan to explain who ones neighbour is. (Luke 10:25-37) The Jews regarded the Samaritans as apostates of the Jewish religion, yet Jesus says our love is to encompass these people as well. References "Speak What "Is Good for Building Up"", "Keep Yourselves in God’s Love", page 142-143 "Maintaining the Peace and Cleanness of the Congregation", Organized to Do Jehovah's Will, page 151 Our Kingdom Ministry, Service meeting schedule, 1992-2009 "Question Box", Our Kingdom Ministry, March 1972, page 4 "Do You Accept Jehovah’s Help?", The Watchtower, December 15, 2004, page 21 "Charisma—Praise to Man or Glory to God?", The Watchtower, February 15, 1998, page 27 "How Christian Shepherds Serve You", The Watchtower, March 15, 1996, page 27 "Announcements", Our Kingdom Ministry, June 2005, page 3 "Guidelines for School Overseers", Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education, ©2001 Watch Tower, page 284, subheading "Making Assignments" Jehovah's Witnesses use the term "special privileges of service" for positions requiring formal appointment or approval, such as elder, ministerial servant, pioneer, Bethel (branch) service, and schools such as Gilead and Ministerial Training School; "Make Room for It", Our Kingdom Ministry, April 2003, page 1 Draw Close To Jehovah chap. 26 pp. 268-269 par. 22 The Watchtower 10/15/96 p. 21 par. 7 Father and Elder—Fulfilling Both Roles "Announcements", Our Kingdom Ministry, February 1991, page 7 "Let Discernment Safeguard You", The Watchtower, March 15, 1997, page 19 "Let Your Advancement Be Manifest", Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook, page 191 "Are You Reaching Out?", The Watchtower, September 1, 1990, page 23 The Watchtower 4/15/85 p. 31 Questions From Readers "Questions From Readers". The Watchtower: 12. 15 April 2009. "Understanding that timeless truth has helped millions of Christians to repudiate the practice of abortion, seeing it as a serious sin against God." "Apostasy" includes publicly challenging the religion's teachings Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. pp. 182–184. "Consistent with that understanding of matters, beginning in 1961 any who ignored the divine requirement, accepted blood transfusions, and manifested an unrepentant attitude were disfellowshipped from the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses." Shepherd the Flock of God, pages 60, "Rather than relating to bad conduct of a somewhat petty or minor nature, "brazen conduct" describes acts that reflect an attitude that betrays disrespect, disregard, or even contempt for divine standards, laws, and authority." "Questions from Readers: What does the expression 'loose conduct' as found at Galatians 5:19 mean?". (September 15, 1973). The Watchtower, p. 574, "It is not limited to acts of sexual immorality. And, rather than relating to bad conduct of a somewhat petty or minor nature, it apparently describes acts that reflect a brazen attitude, one that betrays disrespect, disregard or even contempt for standards, laws and authority. The ‘looseness' of the conduct, therefore, is not due principally to weakness but results from an attitude of disrespect, insolence or shamelessness." "You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy". The Watchtower: 123. 15 February 1976. "Jehovah has brought to the attention of his “holy” people the need to disfellowship those dedicated, baptized Christians who refuse to break and give up the drug and tobacco habits." Shepherd the Flock of God, page 69 Shepherd the Flock of God, p. 67-68 Shepherd the Flock of God, page 65 The Watchtower, June 15, 2009, p. 18, "Speak Truth With Your Neighbor". "Honor Godly Marriage!", The Watchtower, March 15, 1983, p. 31 "Adjust the Bible to Polygamy?". The Watchtower: 10. 1 July 1985. "polygamy is not to be condoned for any Christian regardless of nationality or circumstance. ... This leaves no room for polygamy among true Christians." Watchtower 7/15/06 p. 31 Questions From Readers; "But not all viewing of pornography calls for a hearing before a judicial committee. … However, suppose a Christian has secretly viewed abhorrent, sexually degrading pornography for years and has done everything possible to conceal this sin. Such pornography might feature gang rape, bondage, sadistic torture, the brutalizing of women, or even child pornography. When others become aware of his conduct, he is deeply ashamed. He has not been brazen, but the elders may determine that he has ‘given himself over’ to this filthy habit and has practiced ‘uncleanness with greediness,’ that is, gross uncleanness. A judicial committee would be formed because gross uncleanness is involved. The wrongdoer would be disfellowshipped if he did not display godly repentance" "Prevention in the Home". Awake!: 10. 8 October 1993. "Similarly the Christian congregation today enforces strong laws against all forms of sexual abuse. Anyone who sexually abuses a child risks being disfellowshipped, put out of the congregation." "Personally Benefiting from the Bible’s Laws and Principles". The Watchtower: 404–405. 1 July 1970. "In the Christian congregation there are definite laws against adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, murder, stealing and other things, any of which, when committed by a Christian, would bring reproach from the world against the congregation. These things the Bible has put under the authority of the congregation, that is, it is required to take some action." Insight on the Scriptures 1. p. 788. "Some of the offenses that could merit disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation are fornication, adultery, homosexuality, greed, extortion, thievery, lying, drunkenness, reviling, spiritism, murder, idolatry, apostasy, and the causing of divisions in the congregation." Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock, p. 111 August 15, 1997 Watchtower, p. 27 Insight in the Scriptures, Volume 2, p. 969. "A Time to Speak--When?" Watchtower, September 1, 1987, pp. 12-15 "New Arrangements for Congregation Organization", Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1977, pages 5-6 ""Gifts in Men" to Care for Jehovah’s Sheep", The Watchtower, June 1, 1999, page 14 "Elders, Judge With Righteousness", The Watchtower, July 1, 1992, page 16 "Disfellowshipping—A Loving Provision?", The Watchtower, July 15, 1995, page 25 "Jehovah’s Sheep Need Tender Care", The Watchtower, January 15, 1996, page 18 "Questions From Readers", The Watchtower, July 15, 2006, pages 30-31" "Question Box", Our Kingdom Ministry, October 1972, page 8 "Make Wise Use of Your Christian Freedom", June 1, 1992, page 19 ""A Time to Speak"—When?", The Watchtower, September 1, 1987, page 14 Pay Attention to Yourselves and All the Flock, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1991, page 110-120. Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, Commentary Press, 2007, page 321. It is unclear whether accused individuals have always had the option to call witnesses. The judicial committee hearing accusations that resulted in the disfellowshipping of Canadian Witness James Penton in February 1981 refused Penton's request to have a lawyer present and to call witnesses. See James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance (Welch Publishing, 1986, page 71). M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, 1997, page 89. "New Arrangements for Congregation Organization", Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1977, page 6 The Watchtower 12/1/76 p. 723 par. 15 How Wise Reprovers Aid Erring Ones The Watchtower 9/1/81 p. 23 par. 9 Repentance Leading Back to God "Imitate Jehovah—Exercise Justice and Righteousness", The Watchtower, August 1, 1998, page 17 The Watchtower 9/15/87 p. 13 par. 13 The Watchtower 9/1/81 p. 26 par. 23 Repentance Leading Back to God The Watchtower 12/1/76 p. 733 par. 14 Giving Reproof "Before All Onlookers" '"Maintaining the Peace and Cleanness of the Congregation", Organized to Do Jehovah's Will, ©2005 Watch Tower, page 151, "Elders will use reasonableness and discernment in determining whether a particular situation is sufficiently serious and disturbing to require a warning talk. This talk will not name the disorderly one. However, those who are aware of the situation described in the talk will take heed" Organized to Do Jehovah's Will 2005, p. 152. Our Kingdom Ministry March 1983, p. 3. "Always Accept Jehovah’s Discipline", The Watchtower, November 15, 2006, page 30, "During the time that an individual who has been judicially reproved is healing spiritually, ...it would be beneficial for the repentant one to listen rather than comment at meetings. The elders may arrange for someone to have a Bible study with him to strengthen him where he is weak so that he may again become “healthy in faith.” (Titus 2:2) All of this is done in love and is not intended to punish the wrongdoer." "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 22, "Thus "disfellowshiping" is what Jehovah’s Witnesses appropriately call the expelling and subsequent shunning of such an unrepentant wrongdoer. [emphasis added]" Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock. 1991. pp. 121–122. To All Circuit and District Overseers, September 1, 1980, "Keep in mind that to be disfellowshipped, an apostate does not have to be a promoter of apostate views. ... if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave, and persists in believing other doctrine despite Scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing. ... [If] he continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what he has been provided through the 'slave class,' then appropriate judicial action should be taken. ... [If] something reasonably substantial comes to the attention of the elders along this line, it would be appropriate to make a kindly, discreet inquiry so as to protect the flock." Letter reproduced in Crisis of Conscience, Raymond Franz, 1983, chapter 11. The Watchtower 6/1/98 p. 19 par. 17 "Put Up a Hard Fight for the Faith"! "Show a Waiting Attitude!" The Watchtower September 1, 2000 page 11. Retrieved on 2013-02-02. How Baptism Can Save Us The Watchtower Jan 15, 1989, p. 17. The Watchtower 11/15/06 p. 27 par. 6 Always Accept Jehovah’s Discipline "Beliefs—Frequently Asked Questions", Authorized Site of the Office of Public Information of Jehovah's Witnesses, As Retrieved 2009-08-28, "Do you shun former members? ... If, however, someone unrepentantly practices serious sins, such as drunkenness, stealing or adultery, he will be disfellowshipped and such an individual is avoided by former fellow-worshipers. ... The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings can continue. ... Disfellowshipped individuals may continue to attend religious services and, if they wish, they may receive spiritual counsel from the elders with a view to their being restored. They are always welcome to return to the faith [emphasis retained from source]" "Keep Yourselves in God's Love", page 35. "You May Gain Your Brother", The Watchtower, October 15, 1999, page 22. Jealous for the Pure Worship of Jehovah, The Watchtower September 15, 1995, p. 11. The Bible's Viewpoint - Why Disfellowshipping Is a Loving Arrangement Awake! September 8, 1996, p. 26-27. Questions from readers, The Watchtower, October 15, 1986, page 31. "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 23. "Do You Hate Lawlessness?", The Watchtower, February 15, 2011, page 31, "Do we share Jesus’ view of those who have become set in their lawless course? We need to give thought to these questions: ‘Would I choose to associate regularly with someone who has been disfellowshipped or who has disassociated himself from the Christian congregation? What if that one is a close relative who no longer lives at home?’ Such a situation can be a real test of our loyalty to God." Shepherd the Flock of God, p. 104. "Will You Heed Jehovah's Clear Warnings?", The Watchtower, July 15, 2011, pages 15 and Holden, Andrew (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. Routledge. p. 163. ISBN 0-415-26609-2. Taylor, Jerome (27 September 2011). "War of words breaks out among Jehovah's Witnesses". The Independent. "Jehovah's Witnesses church likens defectors to 'contagious, deadly disease'", Sunday Herald Sun, page 39, October 2, 2011. Pay Attention to Yourselves and all the Flock, Unit 5(a) p. 103. The section cites 2 John 11 ("For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.") Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984), The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, University of Toronto Press, p. 91, ISBN 0-8020-6545-7 "How to Treat a Disfellowshipped Person", "Keep Yourselves in God’s Love", ©2008 Watch Tower, page 207-208, "We do not have spiritual or social fellowship with disfellowshipped ones. ...In some instances, the disfellowshipped family member may still be living in the same home as part of the immediate household. Since his being disfellowshipped does not sever the family ties, normal day-to-day family activities and dealings may continue. Yet, by his course, the individual has chosen to break the spiritual bond between him and his believing family. So loyal family members can no longer have spiritual fellowship with him." "How Can You Help a 'Prodigal' Child?". Watchtower: 16–17. October 1, 2001. "Disfellowshiping—How to View It". Watchtower: 26. September 15, 1981. "It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum" "Safeguard Your Heart". Awake!: 28. 8 July 1970. "And if he seeks reinstatement, he must show his sincerity by attending congregation meetings with no one speaking to him, all the while giving evidence of repentance." The Watchtower 4/15/91 p. 21 par. 6 The Watchtower 8/1/98 p. 16 par. 16 Imitate Jehovah—Exercise Justice and Righteousness The Watchtower 5/1/98 p. 15 par. 10 " True repentance comes from the heart, from the depths of our being" The Watchtower 11/15/06 p. 27 par. 9 Always Accept Jehovah’s Discipline The Watchtower 8/15/92 p. 31 A Step on the Way Back The Watchtower 8/15/82 p. 31 A Step on the Way Back Shepherd the Flock of God. Watch Tower Society. p. 119. Divine Mercy Points the Way Back for Erring Ones The Watchtower Aug 1, 1974, p. 466 par. 24. "Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit", The Watchtower April 15, 1988, pages 26-30, Online "Religion: The Right To Shun", Time magazine, June 29, 1987, Online, "The Constitution's guarantee of "free exercise," said the appeals panel, applies even to unpopular groups and practices" The Watchtower 11/15/88 p. 18 par. 14 Helping Others to Worship God The Watchtower 11/15/88 p. 19 par. 17 Helping Others to Worship God The Watchtower 11/15/88 p. 19 par. 19 Helping Others to Worship God Holden, Andrew (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. Routledge. pp. 150, 156–157. ISBN 0-415-26609-2. Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom chap. 15 p. 232 "Development of the Organization Structure" Raymond Franz, In Search Of Christian Freedom, pp.374–390. Franz claims the Watch Tower organization ignores the "clear principle of openness in the conduct of judicial proceedings" and cites the Watch Tower Society publication, Insight on the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 518, which states that "publicity that would be afforded any trial at the gate would tend to influence the judges toward care and justice in the trial proceedings and in their decisions". Franz, Raymond. Crisis of Conscience. 4th ed. Atlanta: Commentary Press, 2004. pp. 341-2. ISBN 0-914675-24-9. The Watchtower March 15, 1986 p.15 paragraph 17 "Do Not Be Quickly Shaken From Your Reason"; The Watchtower October 15, 1986 p. 31 Questions From Readers; The Watchtower October 1, 1989 p. 19 paragraph 14 Maintain Your Faith and Spiritual Health; Pay Attention to Yourselves and all the Flock p. 94-95; The Watchtower May 1, 2000 p.12 par. 19 Firmly Uphold Godly Teaching; The Watchtower September 1, 2000 p. 13 par. 10 Show a Waiting Attitude!; The Watchtower April 1, 1986 pp. 30-31 Questions From Readers.
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