A Harsher Line on Disfellowshipped
Silencing its Critics on Sexual Abuse
The news media coverage of the Watchtower's policies regarding pedophiles has had a profound effect on their policy regarding communication with former members. As quite a few whistleblowers such as Bill Bowen and Barbara Anderson came forward in mid- 2001 and early 2002, the Watchtower's Service Dept. made the decision that the only way to silence these persons was to disfellowship them for "causing division" in the congregations, and then reinforcing their policy on "no communication with disfellowshipped persons" outside of the immediate household. Thus, Witnesses would be violating their religious tenets by listening to any news broadcast or news article or communication from such whistleblowers. Notice how their answer to the question, "Do you shun former members?" was changed on their official website in July 2002 to reflect this. Emphasis ours in colored bold type:
before July 2002:
|Do you shun former members?
Those who simply cease to be involved in the faith are not shunned. In compliance with the Scriptures, however, members can be expelled for serious unchristian conduct, such as stealing, drunkenness, or adultery, it they do not repent and cease such action. Disfellowshipping does not sever family ties. Disfellowshipped members may continue to attend religious services, and it they wish, they may receive pastoral visits. They are always welcome to return to the faith. -1 Corinthians 5:1113.
after July 2002 at: http://www.jw-media.org/beliefs/beliefsfaq.htm
Do you shun former members?
Those who simply leave the faith are not shunned. 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. Every effort is made to help wrongdoers. But if they are unrepentant, the congregation needs to be protected from their influence. The Bible clearly directs: "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 spiritual ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings can continue. As for disfellowshipped relatives not living in the same household, Jehovah's Witnesses apply the Bible's counsel: "Quit mixing with them." (1 Corinthians 5:11) 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 if they reject the improper course of conduct for which they were disfellowshipped.
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