We’ve spent a lot of time on this site talking about the disturbing practice of disfellowshipping by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In short, if you commit what the elders believe is an unforgivable “sin,” your family and friends who remain in the organization must shun you for life, with virtually no contact, as a way to punish you until you decide to return. The practice is required by the faith. The stories from ex-JWs who have been disfellowshipped are simply heartbreaking.
If you choose to leave the faith of your own accord, you’re “disassociating” from the JWs, and the end result is the same. But as ex-JWs will tell you, the difference between being disfellowshipped and disassociating is like the difference between getting fired from a job and quitting it on your own terms.
A young man named Nick, who goes by the Reddit handle SpookyNighttime, wasn’t quite ready to take that leap. Over the past year and a half, he realized there were a lot of inaccuracies within the faith, so he raised some of those concerns with his elders, hoping to get answers.
That’s all they were. Doubts. He wasn’t walking away for good. His parents were still practicing JWs, after all, and he didn’t want them to cut him out of their lives.
At one point, he moved away from home, taking a break from his congregational responsibilities. That’s not a problem in most cases, but the elders soon began hounding him about his intentions. Was he going to remain a JW? Was he going to leave?
Nick said he would meet with them in person… but only if they didn’t ask about his relationship (with an ex-JW) or his personal beliefs. They agreed to that… but then, in person, began asking him how they could help him return to the congregation.
Making matters more complicated was the fact that Nick’s mother is sick. Leaving the JWs would not just hurt her emotionally but it could possibly prevent her from contacting him in the future if things get worse.
This week, Nick got an unexpected text from the elders, who told him they were going to announce to the congregation this coming Tuesday that Nick was no longer a Witness. That’s all the announcement would say. The congregation would have to speculate as to the reasons. What awful sin did Nick commit?
Nick was furious. He hadn’t made the decision to leave, so why were the elders making it for him? In effect, they were about to isolate him from his entire family because they felt he was no longer one of them… and they were informing him via text message.
This is long, but read the whole conversation. (The JW elders are in grey. Nick is in blue.)
It’s worth noting that these elders don’t appear to be following their own rules which lay out the requirements for a disassociation. For example, people who leave the faith have to say it for themselves. That’s not what happened here, where the elders made that decision on Nick’s behalf.
Nick told me yesterday that he plans to be at his Kingdom Hall on Tuesday to make one last plea to the elders, hoping for a postponing of their announcement. He also said he’d warn his parents in advance of what the elders might say.
Either way, this is remarkably unethical and messed up behavior from leaders of an unethical and messed up religion.
We’ll keep you updated.
(Thanks to JW Awake for the help)