The above video has been making the rounds on numerous web sites, Facebook pages and blogs of people who have left abusive churches. The video was filmed at a Jehovah's Witnesses meeting where they trotted out a 10-year-old girl to "witness" how she shunned her sister because her church told her too.
Shunning, disfellowshipping, ghosting and marking is one of the abusive practices of high profile religions and cults as a means of controlling members. This policy rips families apart, destroys marriages, and breaks long established friendships, all in the name of the group's "god."
Disfellowshipping and marking have been a long established policy in the Churches of God. Almost all assume because Herbert Armstrong taught it, that they should too. the biggest abusers are the more controlling groups of the COG, such as the Philadelphia Church of God, Restored Church of God, Living Church of God, and the Church of God an International Association. This, however, does not leave out United Church of God, Church of God a Worldwide Association, Church of God International and many more smaller COG's, as they too, at times, publicly discredit former members.
The Painful Truth, Exit and Support and other XCOG sites are filled with one horror story after another about people who have felt the brunt of the COG disfellowshipment policies. A large percentage have ended up being revenge disfellowshipments by ministers who did not like a member or their actions. Many had nothing to do with doctrine or belief. The Scarborough's are a prime example of this selective treatment. Even children of church leaders are not immune to being publicly humiliated.
If you are going to take everything in the Bible literally, then the example of disfellowshipping also includes the welcoming back into the fold those disfellowshipped through reconciliation. Do you know anyone who has been publicly disfellowshipped EVER welcomed come back into the church? If you had been disfellowshipped, do you think you ever would have returned?
Is this biblical or did Herbert Armstrong add his spin to the biblical admonitions?
Alan Weight wrote the following in The Servants News in 2000 the following article, Is Disfellowshipping a Christian Practice? ,as to HWA's take on the policy.
To me the answer is simple. Mr Armstrong governed on this basic premise that this is the way church government ought to operate. Nip the problems in the bud before they have a chance to develop and get full blown. If you could do this, you could maintain a pretty tight and smoothly run operation. So in order to do this, a minister had to keep a close watch on things. He, may even unwittingly encouraged informants to keep him abreast of goings on.
Further down in the article Weight says this:If he sensed the problems getting out of hand, he had to deal with them promptly, even if it meant getting rid of the "rotten apple" causing it. This, again, was done in all sincerity in keeping with what Mr Armstrong had taught. And it was carried out with all the more zeal when he deeply viewed it in the best interest of the .flock.. He was to be the shepherd of his local congregation and it was his .duty. and responsibility to God and to Christ.
...the word "mark" comes from the Greek word skopeo, which simply means "consider" or "take heed". We might say it this way to take note of those people and what they're saying. Again, hearken back to what Christ said. He said "beware". Paul said "mark". No difference.
But how has this word been used? Has it not been used in a most emphatic way? Whenever a person is "marked" in this way that person is "branded" by name. If some in the congregation were not aware of that person being a problem, they are now forewarned. It begins to color anything that person might say to you in the future. It imputes an evil motive might be lurking in that person and you "best not be talking to them".
The ministry of the church has always considered members too stupid or childish to the point that they would be incapable of discerning if someone was wrong and causing problems. Most people have it in them to discern that. However, COG leadership has always thought differently.It also insinuates that the "ministry" is in the best position to know this and he's only doing it for your good. Both of these ideas could, more than likely, be false. He might, deep down in his heart, think he's doing it for your good, but what about individual responsibility? Both Christ, as well as Paul, laid the responsibility to "beware" or "mark" squarely on the shoulders of each and every follower... not to any individual leader only.
Is there an example in the Bible of Jesus ever doing this? Every indication from the day to day actions of Jesus, in his parables, and in his healings, did he ever do such a thing? Everything he did and said, sought to bring all he came in contact with reconciled and in communion with God. It was the church leaders, the Scribes and the Pharisees who thought otherwise.
Can you imagine Rod Meredith, Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, Vik Kubik, David Hulme and the rest of the more abusive COG leaders ever doing this? Would they ever speak out in praise or honor the person in some way? We all know the answer to this, they preferred to smear the person publicly from the pulpit. Reconciliation was NEVER part of the equation.In other places Paul specifically names a person that may have turned aside from the faith, but Christ rarely did. In Luke 13:32 He called Herod a fox. But rarely did He forewarn anyone about some specific individual. He was so careful not to do that, even his own closest disciples didn't know who would betray him. Doesn't that sound a bit strange in light of this foregone discussion? Rather Christ spoke in generalities such as with the Scribes and Pharisees. Whenever Christ spoke of someone by name or singled him or her out, it usually was in praise of that person or to honor him or her in some way.
Disfellowshipment was a tool to control members to never cause problems. The warning was blatant that if they did, they too would suffer the consequences.
Weight ends with this:
Considering this is the Church of God we are ultimately talking about, we need to ask when has it EVER followed Jesus? Following the letter of the law has always trumped the grace, mercy, and reconciliation that Jesus taught and exemplified.In other places Paul specifically names a person that may have turned aside from the faith, but Christ rarely did. In Luke 13:32 He called Herod a fox. But rarely did He forewarn anyone about some specific individual. He was so careful not to do that, even his own closest disciples didn't know who would betray him. Doesn't that sound a bit strange in light of this foregone discussion? Rather Christ spoke in generalities such as with the Scribes and Pharisees. Whenever Christ spoke of someone by name or singled him or her out, it usually was in praise of that person or to honor him or her in some way.In summary, we should be able to see, that "marking" someone in this way, as pointed out in Romans 16:17-18 is something all of us must continue to do. Take note of what any and all are saying. If it measures up, fine. If not, be careful. The responsibility is ours. It's not given to any man who claims to represent Christ, or in Christ's service as a command to "brand" that person.