The first installment in my series of dissecting the Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently asked questions section of their website is in regard to their disfellowshipping (excommunication) and shunning policies. The image you see below is taken directly from their website. Below that is my response to their dishonesty and deception. (If you can’t see the image of their site please see the bottom of this post for the text copied from their site.)
Here, the Watchtower Society starts off by answering a question that wasn’t asked. The question was “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Shun Former Members of Their Religion?”. Not “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Shun Members Who Are No Longer Active Or Who No Longer Preach?”. This is known in the world of debate as a “straw man” logical fallacy. A straw man fallacy exists when an arguer replaces the question at hand with one that is more palatable to deal with. They then answer this straw man question with a resounding “no”. They do this so that they can get the reader in a positive frame of mind. Within one paragraph they have deliberately replaced the initial question with another, more palatable question and then answered that question with an answer that is not the slightest bit harsh……thus setting a positive tone and mindset for the reader to continue. This is by design.
Of particular interest is how they worded the first sentence of the second paragraph. “Someone who commits a serious sin.” Interestingly, according to the manual that congregation elders use in these situations (known as the Shepherd the Flock Book – not available to commonplace JWs) the following are all sins that are serious enough to warrant disfellowshipping action: 1) Adultery, 2) Apostasy, 3) Associating with Disfellowshipped People, 4) Accepting a Blood Transfusion Without Repenting, 5) Drug Use, 6) Drunkenness, 7) Dishonest Business Practices, 8) Employment Violating Jehovah’s Witness Principles, 9) False Worship, 10) Fornication, 11) Fraud, 12) Gambling, 13) Gluttony, 14) Greediness, 15) Homosexuality, 16) Idolatry, 17) Loose Conduct, 18) Lying, 19) Political Involvement, 20) Military Service, 21) Obscene Speech, 22) Parents Condoning Immorality, 23) Slander, 24) Smoking or Selling Tobacco, 25) Spiritism, 26) Stealing, 27) Subversive Activity, 28) Uncleanness, 29) Violation of Secular Law, 30) Violence/Physical Abuse, 31) Willful Non Support of Family Monetarily, 32) Worldly Holiday Celebrations and my favorite 33) Endangerment of a Spouse’s spirituality.
The second paragraph goes on to say that if a baptized witness “makes a practice of breaking the bible’s moral code, AND does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped.” But the truth of the matter is that a baptized witness doesn’t even have to “make a practice” of any sin in order to be removed from the congregation and shunned. The alleged sin only has to happen once. And speaking of moral code…..with the litany of disfellowshipping offenses listed above……..are we sure we are referring to the bible’s moral code……or the moral code of Jehovah’s Witnesses that extends far beyond the bible?
The third paragraph is similarly evasive. It mentions a man that is disfellowshipped but has a wife and kids. According to the paragraph, spiritual association would cease for the time being but all other associations would remain unchanged. Again…..this is only kind of sort of true. If the man was disfellowshipped, repented of his “sin” and was trying desperately to get back in the good graces of the organization as soon as possible, the 3rd paragraph MAY be true. But what about a man that was disfellowshipped for failing to believe doctrine anymore? What about a man that embraces another church and is not afraid to share his new beliefs with his children? This would constitute “spiritual endangerment” for the wife and kids. They would be encouraged to flee.
The final paragraph is very telling about the mindset of Jehovah’s Witness leadership. The goal is to help each individual “once more to qualify to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses”. This shows the lofty position they believe they are in. You must “qualify” in order to be accepted by them. Do you recall all those different qualifications Jesus mentioned for those that wanted a relationship with him? Yeah. Me neither. The final paragraph ends by stating that those who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a desire to live by the bible’s standards are welcome to return. Again……by returning, are you agreeing to live by the bible’s standards or by the Jehovah’s Witnesses standards that go far beyond what the bible says?
The following is copied directly from JW.ORG if you could not read the screenshot above:
“Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.
We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped. The Bible clearly states: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”—1 Corinthians 5:13.
What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.
Disfellowshipped individuals may attend our religious services. If they wish, they may also receive spiritual counsel from congregation elders. The goal is to help each individual once more to qualify to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Disfellowshipped people who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a sincere desire to live by the Bible’s standards are always welcome to become members of the congregation again.”