Watchtower’s Shunning Policy

Eating with the family...

Eating with the family…

By Rick Gonzalez

This is a picture of my dad eating a meal. He had just made lunch for me, but couldn’t eat it with me. I had to eat it at another table with my then four-year-old son while he sat there looking away from me.InFrenchButton-2

Why? Because that’s what the Watch Tower Society tells him to do.InSpanishButton-4

I posted this picture October 26, 2013 on a Facebook forum. InGermanButtonThe first response was, “Don’t know what to say. This boggles the mind; mind-control

religion at its very worst!”

Minutes later a flood of comments and “Likes” followed, reminding me that a good picture can easily replace a thousand words.

For those of you who are curious, I must explain that my extended family began shunning me in 2012, after I questioned the authority of Watchtower’s Governing Body. My family’s unanimous well-meaning response to my doubts was by telling me “I must be an apostate and shunning would surely bring me to my senses.”

After my mother died, my dad, being all alone, went to the elders in his congregation to see if he would be allowed to visit with me. They said that since I was his son, he could visit with me at his house. But, he could not discuss religion nor could he share a meal with me at the same table.

Two weeks later, I called my dad and asked if his grandson and I could visit him. He said “yes” and even offered to make lunch. But shortly before serving the meal, he said that he wasn’t going to sit at the same table with us. When I asked why, he replied, “The organization says so.”

That confession allowed me to vent my feelings for maybe thirty minutes, describing to him about the harm caused by shunning and other Watchtower policies. He listened politely. But I could see that he was in cognitive dissonance mode – so nothing I said registered with him. In fact, my comments in that environment probably made him even more resolute in his beliefs. But I did not know that at the time

After I spoke my piece, my dad served a nice meal for me and my son. Then he chose to sit alone in a small area of the kitchen with his back turned to us while eating his lunch. I sat there speechless, trying to figure out what was going on in his mind. That’s when it occurred to me that I had to capture this moment on my camera phone.

While eating my lunch, a feeling of pure sadness engulfed me. But as bad as I felt, I had this gut-wrenching feeling for Dad. This had to be much harder for him. Here’s an 80-year-old man thinking that he is doing this for God. He feels he has to suffer through this intuitively wrong act to be loyal to what he thinks is “God’s organization.”

However, the story does not end here. My son is growing up watching this silliness. Can Watchtower be blind to the damage caused by this harmful shunning policy, not just for us adults but for innocent kids who have “no dog in the fight”?

Tears were running down my face as I drove away from my father’s home. But not just for me. I am not alone in this situation. (Other Shunning Experiences) Today, there are hundreds of thousands of us who no longer believe Watchtower’s lies we used to feed on. We now know the truth about harmful Watchtower policies that violate the basic human rights of current and former members.

We can no longer turn a blind eye to the suffering and cries of others due to the Watchtower’s policy of shunning. I know that I can’t!

Extreme shunning is inhumane! It is a cruel and unjust punishment – a despicable act of a coercive high-control pseudo-religious group that is afraid of losing its members and financial contributors.

My goal today is to shine a bright on Watchtower’s policy of extreme shunning; a policy that Watchtower publicly denies to the media and public officials



My story was first shared in 2013. If you would like to access the original post and see comments and my bio, visit:  Shunning in a Thousand Words The original post was translated into Spanish, French and Dutch, with links to them on this post.

If you are interested in how “cognitive dissonance” works with Jehovah’s Witnesses, read the post at: Cognitive Dissonance. Yes, the facts I shared with my dad about shunning before the lunch meal amounted to nothing more than an ineffective antibiotic and probably made the infection stronger, although I was unaware of that phenomena at the time. That’s why when talking to misinformed JWs, one needs to understand the dynamics of cognitive dissonance.

Thanks to AAWA volunteer Patrick Haeck, a dual language version of this article in English and Dutch is available. 

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Watchtower’s Shunning Policy — 17 Comments

  1. I’m in a similar position, recently visited my sick jw son at home after he got out of hospital… His wife would not answer the door but we kept on knocking cos we knew they were in there, eventually she came out and told us to go to a shop and get a coffee and come back in 30 minutes… They had jw friends there and did not want me there as i am d,/fd. My own son i fed, clothed, educated, etc. for twenty years and now won’t talk to me…

    • Jeff, what makes it even worse is that Watchtower officials when talking with the media or government officials deny that JWs practice shunning.

    • Hi Jeff, sorry you’re going through this, we really need to make the world aware of what’s going on with the WT cult, they are trying very hard to cover up many of their crazy policies. If we stay quiet….. who hears us?

    • I posted this sad tale on a site a while ago; I had a mate ted who could not give up the fags… Used to sneak out to the shed and have a puff… Wife caught him, dobbed him in, second time. Got d/fd had to eat alone when kids came over, son got married didn’t invite ted, he died shortly after, i believe from a broken heart… I was still ‘in’ at this time and never stopped talking to Ted as my conscience/heart told me it was inhuman…

  2. What can be done about it? there is no solution to insanity of Botchtowerites who go along with this stuff!

    God of love = misnomer!

    Are readers also aware of the Douglas-Walsh Trial Transcript, Scotland, 1954, where it is admitted that ALL Botchtowerites are commanded to LIE & PREACH KNOWN ERROR, at ALL/ANY cost, or face disfellowship & Shunning etc.

    The entire Botchtower is a living lie & disgrace!

  3. Only see such unhealthty fat man as representive of the policy of the GB is already a disaster for,me. As baptized JW am still going to the Kingdom Hall time to time to tackly the policy of falsehood of the 7 of Brooklyn. Poor people mostly, only a few knew it is soon over with the 1914 believe

  4. The watchtower has split my family in half.I am DF and my teenage son did not want any part of JW,as a result my still a witness wife decide to ignore both of us.For me this was the last straw.We moved out on our own,I divorced her.I have custody of my son and she has custody of our daughter.Another family destroyed by watchtower society.Somehow I don’t believe this is what god had in mind

  5. I left the religion about 35 years ago. I have been shunned by my parents and three brothers. And my wife at that time. I fought for custody and got custody of two small children. I see almost all of my nephews and nieces being shunned by their parents, several actually having to be raised by the state of Oregon foster care system, because the were disfellowshipped while in their early teen years. Although there is great sorrow and struggle, I also see that many of my nieces and nephews are availing themselves of higher education, and raising their children in a more wholesome less paranoid way, They have so much more opportunity, and though there is pain from the shunning by family members, there has been so much emotional and spiritual growth. The witnesses have no clue as to how pathetic they are becoming.

  6. Your picture absolutely destroys my heart. I am DFed and my dad is 81 and active; he was told he could not go to my wedding last June and we haven’t spoken since. I have just recently realized that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have the truth and I am overwhelmed with sadness for my family and friends that have given up their lives to the Governing Body. My family moved immediately from a polygamist group to JW’s which makes sense now that I am away; from one mind controlling cult to another. My heart goes out to you, and I wish no one ever had to feel this pain in the name of anything, especially God. My hope is that at some point someone in my family (and everyone else’s) will realize the inconsistencies in doctrine and somehow the word will spread like wildfire. Thank you for sharing your experience; it’s good to know I am not alone even though at times I feel like I am. Time to LIVE LIFE! Xoxo

  7. The whole organization is in “Cognitive Dissonance” mode as witnessed by their own publications:

    *** w96 9/15 p. 4 Do All Religions Please God? ***
    Blaise Pascal observed: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

    *** g89 8/8 p. 25 Part 15—1095-1453 C.E.—Resorting to the Sword ***
    Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French philosopher and scientist, who wrote: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” Of a truth, swinging the sword of persecution against persons of a differing religious persuasion has been characteristic of false religion ever since Cain struck down Abel.—Genesis 4:8.

    *** sh chap. 1 p. 14 Why Be Interested in Other Religions? ***
    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”—Blaise Pascal (1623-62).

    Trying to help people like that old man eating from a corner to shun his own son is a loss of time. Efforts should be made to create awareness from non-JWs communities before they are infected by Watchtower’s teachings…

  8. Greetings !
    After I officially left the JW religion July 27 2015, few people remained in communication with me. But it is interesting that among those who do not want to greet me on the street has also those who in previous discussions with me about the teachings and practices of the organization have shown an attitude that is contrary to the official position of the WT.
    Definitely, cognitive dissonance on work. Hope someday, God or something else, will open their eyes.

  9. So heartbreaking. I’m an inactive witness. Happily, I haven’t go in about a year and a half to the hall and haven’t preached even longer, but my wife still goes with kids (8 &11). I try to reason with her if this were our kids. Hopefully, she’ll see the light. Shunning is only one of the many things wrong with this religion.

    • I agree, the shunning policy together with their no blood and 2 witness rule policies are probably the worse but a religion that forces a lifestyle on people or else…. is dangerous to say the least. I spent many years debating my departure from the organization, I regret not doing it any earlier. I think trying to reason with a JW (active or not) is not an easy thing, cognitive dissonance automatically kicks in from all the years of indoctrination and the fear programmed in their brains about anyone that speaks against the organization.

      I hope you find the way to show your wife what’s going on behind the curtains with the WT organization, many have woken up after seeing all the child molestation cases such as the Australian Royal Commission were you can actually see a member of the governing body ( Geoffrey Jackson) lying through his teeth about many different things including their shunning policy. Good luck and thank you for your sentiments!

  10. I watch a show called Intervention. It is about families doing everything they can to help family members with addictions. Before i was baptized, i was concerned with the practice of shunning. I was told that disfellowshipping was the last resort. Not true. I was an elder for 10 years, i never wanted to be on committees because i did not think i was ever in a position to judge. I knew i had my own weaknesses. When i committed a sin. I went to the other elders and told them i needed to be disfellowshipped because as an elder, i should be held to a greater standard. They agreed. Now i wonder why the did not try to help me. Like the show Intervention, families do everything they can to help the person recover. For the last 4 years, i have been in mental turmoil, suffer from depression, anxiety, have the worse self esteem. I actually believe, it would of been better for the men that disfellowshipped me to put a bullet in my head. I take full responsibility for my sin. But where was my family, the elders. If i was on that committee and a man came to me and said he needed to be disfellowshipped. I would of said no, you need spiritual assistance. Men that are entrusted with God’s sheep need to understand that his sheep are precious.

    You may wonder why i asked the elders to disfellowship me. Well all my life i was beaten down. Suffered abuse, then even in the truth i felt so unworhty of love, mercy and forgiveness. even though, i freely forgave others.

  11. Its is a loving arrangement they claim, I’m not sure your son felt the love from his grandfather , this is the sort of confusion put in young minds when this sort of behaviour is demanded by the governing body.

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