For every 100 Jehovah’s Witnesses more than 1 is disfellowshipped each year; over 70,000(1). Two out of every three are never reinstated(2). Being disfellowshipped can result in serious emotional side affects because:
- those that continue to believe Watchtower doctrine are told that whilst disfellowshipped they are condemned to everlasting destruction(3)
- those who become unbelievers, with no intention of returning to the Watchtower Society, realise they are unlikely to freely associate with Witness family and friends for the remainder of their lives.
The Watchtower explains:
Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.23
“”disfellowshiping” is what Jehovahs Witnesses appropriately call the expelling and subsequent shunning of such an unrepentant wrongdoer…. a simple “Hello” to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?” Watchtower 1981 Sep 15 pp.22,25
The word “disfellowship” does not appear in the Bible
It was not until 1952 that the Watchtower introduced disfellowshipping as now practiced and the following review of the Scriptural principles involved shows that there is no Biblical justification for the extent to which the Watchtower practices this unchristian form of manipulation. Though there is Scriptural precedence to limit association with brothers practicing wrongdoing, the Watchtower application of disfellowshipping seriously deviates from Bible guidelines in a number of ways;
- 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.
This section is divided into the following topics:
- Bible Guidelines compared to Watchtower practices
- Watchtower Treatment of Disfellowshipped People
- Reasons for which a Witness can be Disfellowshipped
- Historical Development of this Watchtower Practice
Hundreds of thousands of Witnesses are currently disfellowshipped and estranged from their families and friends. This has a tragic effect on a person, often at a time when they most need help from others.
The Watchtower Society claims love is one of its distinguishing factors and that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a loving brotherhood, yet shunning shows otherwise. A comparison between how the Bible says to treat wrongdoers with how the Watchtower enforces disfellowshipping shows the Organization has gone beyond the Scriptures. Total alienation from this brotherhood and being cast into the world builds fear of removal, and is used as strong control mechanism. One of Jesus greatest commands was to show love to ones brother and to ones neighbour (Luke 10:27). The doctrine on disfellowshipping puts serious question marks over any claim of love that Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to make.
(1)“In recent years disfellowshippings worldwide have been approximately 1 percent of publishers.” Watchtower 1992 Jul 1 p.19
(2)Statistics provided in Watchtower 1974 Aug 1 p. 466 and Watchtower 1960 Dec 1 p.728 indicate that roughly only 1/3 return.
(3)“Disfellowshiping means the casting of a member out of Gods household; and if one should remain in this disfellowshiped condition till he died, it would mean his everlasting destruction as a person who is rejected by God. Staying away from meetings leads in that very direction.” Watchtower 1965 Dec 15 p.751