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Home arrow Bible Based Cults & Isms arrow Jehovah's Witnesses - Mind Control arrow Shunning - What They Get When They Leave

Shunning - What They Get When They Leave


by Gary Busselman

"Well, reflect on the severe cutting off mandated in God's Law to Israel. In various serious matters, willful violators were executed. When that happened, others, even relatives, could no longer speak with the dead lawbreaker."

"As mentioned above, when an Israelite wrongdoer was executed, no more family association was possible."

"We (Jehovah's Witnesses) have normal contacts with neighbors, workmates, schoolmates, and others, and witness to them even if some are 'fornicators, greedy persons, extortioners, or idolaters.'"

"Cutting off from the Christian congregation does not involve immediate death, so family ties continue." "The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative."

"Understandably, this may be difficult because of emotions and family ties, such as grandparents' love for their grandchildren. Yet, this is a test of loyalty to God,"

"In the process, the congregation of loyal ones are also disciplined in that they learn the importance of conforming to God's high standards."

"Some outsiders, upon hearing about disfellowshipping, are inclined to sympathize with a wrongdoer who can no longer converse with members of the Christian congregation."

"*Though various individuals have brought suit, no court has rendered a judgment against Jehovah's Witnesses over their Bible-based practice of shunning." (Watchtower April 15, 1988 "Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit" p.26 -30)

"In answering as how to treat opposers to the truths promulgated by the Watch Tower Society, if they were once members of the faith and have recanted, representatives of the Society often say: "It is impossible [for us] to kill them, as the laws of the land do not permit that. But were God's law in effect then they would be killed [by us]. The best thing to do under the circumstances is to treat them as if they were dead."

( Thirty Years A Watch Tower Slave 1956 W. J. Schnell BAKER BOOK HOUSE Grand Rapids MI 1965 ed. P 65)


Hold that thought and read on.


WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY; To keep away from; avoid scrupulously or consistently.

FUNK & WAGNALLS Standard Desk Dictionary; To keep clear of; avoid.


Why would I be afraid of someone who threatened not to talk to me unless I behaved a certain way? Why would I punish someone by not talking to them? Why would people try and try to gain the acceptance of a group who would look right through them without speaking or even acknowledge them when they chance met? What are the rewards for the shunners? What are the rewards for the shunned? As a former Jehovah's Witness, I have shunned and been shunned. I believe many, maybe most , people when exposed to shunning are not attracted to , or by, it. When I explain the disfellowshipping doctrine to people who are not familiar with Jehovah's Witnesses practice of shunning they stare at me in disbelief.

When I was a practicing Jehovah's Witness I remember once a disfellowshipped woman with small children had attended a Thursday night JW group meeting that ended about 9:45 PM. She was required to sit in the back and she could not speak to or be spoken to by anyone there. (The Watchtower called those who followed their rules "True Christians".) When we, the "True Christians", left the meeting this disfellowshipped woman was still there after 10:00 PM deep in a residential neighborhood with small children and a broken down car. We all did our duty to the Watchtower and shunned her. We did not offer to help her. I never saw her again.

Why the threat of shunning helped to keep me "in line", today is clearer to me. I believe that that night we freed the woman with the broken car, but we further enslaved ourselves to the Watchtower.

Two reasons.

One; we reinforced each other by participating in a common gross sin (crime). In order for me to accept my own ( truly UN-Christian) behavior I had to approve, reinforce, accept, and condone the behavior of all the other members of the group. I led a typical Watchtower life, pretty powerless. Shunning gave me the illusion of power. The illusion of power to a powerless person is a drug.

Two; the group members modeled for me what they were willing to do in keeping the commands of the Watchtower. I , just for a second, put myself in that woman's place, and I knew I didn't want to be there. Raised by Witness parents and indoctrinated by the Watchtower since age seven, all my real security was tied up with a Watchtower ribbon. The thought of leaving the group was unthinkable. Regularly scheduled portions of JW group meetings were discussions on disfellowshipping, shunning, and the consequences of leaving "Jehovah's Organization".

People who we used to claim as our "real friends", our "brother", or "sister", we would now pass in the market or street without acknowledging. When I practiced shunning while in the company of another Witness the act of shunning would, in my own eyes, be a witnessed proof of my loyalty to Jehovah (i.e. the group leaders). I was on spiritual high ground. While alone I was less bold when a shunning opportunity would arise. If I thought that there may be even a chance that another group member may be watching I would "play the part" all the way, but if the shunning was very private I maybe would feel somewhat uncomfortable and maybe even make eye contact and nod. (Being a "True Christian" Jehovah's Witness style was hard a lot of the time.) All the shunning lectures, articles, and modeling had the effect of giving me the followed by both shunner and VICTIM or shunning doesn't work!

Shunning is a show. To best work it needs an arena to be played in, and an audience. Jehovah's Witnesses can't stand to be shunned themselves. They correctly recognize shunning as abuse, calling it "persecution" when it is done to them. Yet when they practice the exact same thing (shunning) they call it "Godly Conduct" (Watchtower Sept. 15, 1981 p. 16)

Shunning is a large part of Theocratic Warfare (See book; Sing Praises to Jehovah WTB&TS 1984 last page of index of songs right after headings; Christian Living, Christian Qualities, and Prayer.)

I have a duty to myself, who I love, and to my many loved ones and real friends to protect myself and them from abuse and abusers.

We are obligated to protect ourselves, even from parents. There is a limit on the extent to which we honor or obey them. To honor means to provide food, clothing, and shelter to them if asked; avoid reprimands; be civil in conversation; and accommodate parents in requests made. To honor parents does not mean to make myself a target for their abuse of any kind. Emotional abuse hurts just as bad as physical abuse even though the scares are not on the outside.

I have a duty to the Jehovah's Witnesses practicing Theocratic Warfare and on an egotistical power trip to not enable them by playing my part in their sick game.

I believe many Jehovah's Witnesses would happily abandon the shunning doctrine if their leaders would let them. I also believe many would miss the excuse to abuse others in the name of God. Seems to me the closer to the boy's department some elders buy their clothes the more they need their prominent positions of power, prestige, and arrogance.

Shunning is one of Jehovah's Witnesses main reinforcers and confirmations, right up there with cold feet and slammed doors. When Jehovah's Witnesses shun me, and I allow it, thereby showing respect for their rules I only reinforce their bad behavior and give them permission to do it again next time.

When I allow a Jehovah's Witness to shun me I am telling him (and myself) that I am deserving of that kind of treatment, furthermore, that I will allow it.. When I allow an abuser to abuse me and I have a choice, like I always do in a shunning situation, then I am abusing myself by allowing someone else to do it to me. I don't sit and hit my finger with a hammer over and over, so why would I allow anybody else to do it to me or abuse me in any other way?

That we should be willing to accept fractional shunning, is a Watchtower doctrine.

Watchtower advise to married couples (one practicing Witness, one disfellowshipped / disassociated) is to practice shunning in the home. This practice is unacceptable by me and is clearly intended to split up families. How can the Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are keeping all of the marriage vows while requiring one spouse to spiritually shun the other. How can they reduce a marriage to sex and business. How can a married couple be happy just talking about the garden, weather and sports at ten?


When I allow shunning I am following (practicing) a Watchtower doctrine. I don't have to go to 5 meetings a week to be a JW. I believe every castaway, every walkaway, who walks the walk and talks the talk is still very much a very real Jehovah's Witness. I was the best Jehovah's Witness I had ever been in my life AFTER I left. After! Plus I was angry and sad about what they had done to me. I resented what they had done and what I allowed them to continue doing. Every time I healed a little I would go back for more. I was angry and resentful at them ?.but I was still one of them. That was a tough way to live.

I do not subscribe totally to the view that Jehovah's Witnesses are victims and are to be allowed their weird behaviors. I believe they should be loved??


I don't show love for a compulsive overeater by bringing over a chocolate cake every night. I don't show love to an alcoholic by taking ciples, that I can live with, then be true and loyal to those principles or change them. The only things in my life that are black and white are newspapers and old movies. As a Watchtower liberated, free-thinker, I am continually learning and forming new opinions on my own, and it feels good. On many subjects my opinion is "I don't know". On a few others it's "I don't care".

Love to me is not allowing (enabling) Jehovah's Witnesses or anyone else to abuse me and at the same time, themselves. If I love them and myself I need to make it tough for abusers to abuse. I need to get my own game, learn the rules, play on my court, and on my schedule. Abusers need to be held accountable for their own actions ?. All abusers, not just the leaders.

To let an abuser suffer the consequences for his behavior does not mean that we need to be abusive to them. I do think it means that I take a firm stand and let them know what my stand is. Watchtower doctrinal flip-flops bother me and my righteous counterfeit friends and relatives who find me acceptable to them when the issue is money bore me. I do not think a puppet following the latest Watchtower policy is acceptable to me, even if I happen to like the new policy. We've seen policies soften and then firm up again before. That's just part of the Watchtower strategy. I stand ready to forgive but skeptical. A good requirement for an alcoholic to gain acceptance back to families and jobs is complete abstinence for one full year combined with being in an accountable recovery program. I wonder if maybe I don't need some assurance that a former abuser of me will not simply revert back to their old behavior. I wonder if a behavior contract with acceptable and unacceptable behavior spelled out isn't warranted. Such a contract could contain rewards and punishments along with rules for behavior.


Loyalty to and obsessing about a practicing Jehovah's Witness is like obsessing about a dead person, it's pretty much a waste of time. My personal agenda got in the way of me being happy and enjoying life and in the way of my usefulness to my fellow man. When getting someone out of the Watchtower organization becomes my life focus and an obsession I have found I can't be useful to myself or anyone else. When I rebuke the abusers and put them out of the picture I find I can now be free to help others who have been victimized by these people. The Jehovah's Witness shunners kept inserting themselves in my life then taking shots at me as long as I let them. I walked right into a lot of their set-ups.

I have never been directly hurt by the group leaders, but always by my own acquaintances and relatives, and always because I made myself available to them. Allowing myself to be victimized was a powerless situation and I needed some power. Defining my boundaries to Jehovah's Witnesses and rebuking them has been incredibly empowering. My Witness sister-in-law squealed like a pig in the gate when I called her up and told that as long as she is a Jehovah's Witness and practices shunning she was not welcome in our home. No person practicing physical or spiritual abuse is welcome in my home. A witness to abuse is a victim of abuse and I will not permit my non-Witness children to see cruel, abusive behavior by the Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm so glad I did that.

If my happiness is contingent on my son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, or other special person leaving the Watchtower organization then I have put a pretty cheap price on my happiness. If I have to wait to have a good life until other people, places, or things change then I'm no better off than the members of the Watch-(CONRTOL)-tower and I could just as well be back under the "official" control and influence of the group. I could talk to the shunners, sell Watchtowers and wait for Armageddon and die bitter and old following the latest rules from the newest group leaders like Jehovah's Witnesses and their predecessors the Bible Students and Millerites have done for 170 years? Or maybe I'm still using the Watchtower as an excuse for my own behaviors. Maybe I don't want to walk away from that inheritance, or make that amend that I really do owe to a group member, or maybe on some level I get something out of being abused. What do I get out of allowing Jehovah's Witnesses or anybody else to abuse me?

I used to confuse relatives with friends. I used to confuse people who were once willing and able to meet my needs with people who can meet my needs today. I used to confuse cult members with real people. For a period of time after leaving the Watchtower I was still loyal to the leaders and the local members. However, once I tested the Watchtower doctrines with reliable sources and really looked at their older publications I was freed mentally and spiritually.

The Watchtower teaching that it is all right for a Jehovah's Witness group member to associate with a former member (relative & other) if it concerns "BUSINESS" is interesting to me. All the "business" I can think of concerns "MONEY". Watchtower "BUSINESS" translates MONEY.

So it is OK for them to talk to me if it concerns MONEY, but not The Bible. Yeah, Right!

Let me guess which way the MONEY is going when they need to talk to me.

Remember too, I, as a former member, can talk to anybody. I can certainly talk to them (JW's).

The current members are the ones being punished. THEY are the ones who can't talk to me, or read anything critical of the Watchtower organization, or even read a Watchtower history book written by a former member, by order of their leaders.


One Jehovah's Witness I know has a daughter and a son. Both were raised as Witnesses. The daughter was baptized by the Witnesses. The son was not. As adolescents both the daughter and the son started to use tobacco. The daughter, because she was baptized by the Witnesses was disfellowshipped for using tobacco. She moved away , married, had a child, quit going to Jehovah's Witness meetings, and continued to use tobacco. The father has not spoken to her or seen her for seven years. The father has not spoken to or seen his granddaughter ?.ever. The son also quit attending JW group meetings, moved away, got married, had two children, and also continued to use tobacco. The son, because he was not baptized by the Witnesses, was not disfellowshipped. BUT the father has an ongoing relationship with his son and these two grandchildren even though the son continues to use tobacco.


What is it? The son and daughter both still use tobacco. The daughter was baptized by the Witnesses . The father shuns the daughter and the grand-daughter even though the child has never been in a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall. The father associates with the son who was never baptized. If he is shunning the behavior (tobacco use) , then he would have to shun them both. Since he continues a relationship with the son I have to conclude that the unforgivable sin is baptism by Jehovah's Witnesses.

If you need more information from me or if you just need to talk please write or call.

Gary Busselman PO Box 88641 Sioux Falls, SD 57105

JW Recorded Message Line (605) 373-0144

Live line (605) 334-5692

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 (Ministries to cult victims have my permission to reprint this document in their newsletters and to photocopy for distribution connected with their ministries)