Sunday, August 13, 2017

10 Year Old Proud To Be Shunning Sister and the COG Disfellowshipment Policy





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."
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have come under heavy criticism in recent years for their shunning policy. For those unfamiliar, the religion dictates that all baptised members who either resign from the religion, or who are thrown out for some perceived violation of its rules, must be complexly shunned by all Witness family and friends.
This edict extends to family members as well; sons are expected to shun fathers, mothers expected to shun daughters, and so forth. Refusal can, in the worst instances, cause the offender to also be shunned. Because Witnesses are very insular, discouraged from forming close friendships with those outside the faith, it often means that a shunned one literally loses everyone they have ever known and loved.
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.  
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.
Further down in the article Weight says this:
...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".  
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.
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.

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.
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. 
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.

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:
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.
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.









21 comments:

Anonymous said...

For some unknown reason, I always kept most of my church friendships very superficial, considered them expendable, and so didn't really care about shunning. I think it stems from my tenuous family status while growing up as a young WCG teenager. I was always one step away from being permanently kicked out of the house. The only way to maintain sanity was to cultivate an attitude of ambivalence. Unconditional love was an unknown quantity in our house.

Amazingly, after I finally did leave HWA's church, what happened is that most of the church members whom I had known didn't abide by their shunning doctrine. And, I have no idea why! Perhaps my ambivalent attitude confused their programming?

nck said...

Oh I knew so many that were welcomed back.

We had entire families flee to Petra and.........yes returning after a couple of months since nothing expired.

With depressed members it was more of an incapacity to act than shunning pwrhaps.

Nck

Hoss said...

My favored minister made an announcement that if anyone, for any reason, wanted a “time out” (stop attending services) they could do so and no questions asked. And, if they felt later they would like to return, same deal. I remember one man, who apparently had real issues, associated with some mental disorder, took that advice. Some months later, he returned, and when the minister noticed him sitting in the auditorium, went up and publicly welcomed him back. No, the minister wasn’t Dennis.
Another man stopped attending, and the minister announced that normally he wouldn’t mention it, but since some members complained that the man had been annoying them and offered dissident literature, he would need to mention his name. No public disfellowshipment or marking, just a warning to watch out for this guy. The minister added that the literature he was giving out was a bit out of date, harping on some old issues.
Then there was HWA’s “must play” tape after GTA was removed, in which he listed the names of all those he disfellowshipped and marked. From memory, HWA sounded a bit please as he read the list. And there was the threat of no contact, with the penalty of being disfellowshipped.

Miller Jones said...

Some thoughts on the subject (especially for those who love proof texting) from a series of posts I did almost three years ago now on my own blog:
http://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2014/04/does-god-approve-of-practice-of.html
http://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2014/04/excommunication-part-ii.html
http://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2014/04/excommunication-part-iii.html
http://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2014/04/excommunication-part-iv.html

DennisCDiehl said...

My dad was an elder and mom a deaconess under Dave Pack. My parents were always loyal friends and the whole concept of "marking" and "disfellowship" probably made no sense to them with our Presbyterian background . They both had the wonderful habit of meeting their close friends Dave disfellowshipped , once a week or so for coffee or lunch. With two full time pastors in the family, I suspect Dave knew better than to give them a hard time and, well you just didn't give my mom and dad a hard time on such things. They'd ignore you.

Hallmark Cards would have gone out of business long ago had mom not been around to send those bounced out of Dave's presence , cards on every occasion .

Anonymous said...

All my life (50+years) I have been in the Church of God. I never heard of shunning people who left. Disfellowshipment is a different matter. I have known of very few people being disfellowshipped.

Steve D said...

One problem with HWA's shunning practice, I think, was the way he did it. He would disfellowship and mark someone who simply did not agree with him on all points. Also, he would defame the person in public in such a way that no one would possibly want to return after being humiliated and slandered. He marked people for the wrong reasons and out of hate, not love. Nothing like the way Paul suggested that an openly immoral brother be asked to leave, then later he was welcomed back. I think you are right, I don't know of anyone who was lovingly disfellowshipped, for both his own good and the good of the congregation, and then lovingly welcomed back.

Anonymous said...

There's a good YouTube video on this:

Watchtower Examination 156 - The EVIL of shunning - Dangerous Watchtower Tradition

Chief Tall Walker said...

A must read is a book written by John Shelby Spong called "Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalist". This book helped me escape the clutches of WCG.

Anonymous said...

Comment was made saying: "...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..."

All of these leaders, b/c of another spirit (James 4:5) within them, have demonstrated their faithlessness and cannot preach reconciliation as the Apostle Paul described:

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." 2 Cor 5:19

These xcog leaders are spiritually blind, like babes, like even prophets of Baal. They are full of self-righteousness, preach another Jesus, another gospel...even another god, of all things!

The words of 2 Cor 5:19, if the truth be known, are some real "good news." These leaders don't comprehend why Paul wrote what he did, are faithless, and do not believe those words. These leaders want us all to be "good" like they think they are, but they are deceived!

If God can work out that reconciliation as Paul described, well, I'm all for it!

So, yes, reconciliation is not in any of their equations!

Concluding comment of the original post said: "...Following the letter of the law has always trumped the grace, mercy, and reconciliation that Jesus taught and exemplified..."

These guys, these xcog ministers, it seems have never read and properly comprehended the following verse:

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 2:16

They are faithless. They lack the faith of Jesus Christ. Well, what else can be expected. After all, they really do believe in "another Jesus (2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.)".......a faithless one, a counterfeit, a fake, a false Jesus and some Mickey Mouse Millennium.

If one desires their "Junk Food," then stay the course; otherwise, Yes, they should be "marked" and avoided.

Time will tell...

John

Byker Bob said...

Disfellowshipment and shunning in Armstrongism are a manifestation of an overall environment of conditional love.

In some cases, I can see where the ministers are coming from, though. If you had people in your congregation that held and shared pet theories like the nonsense contained in the ads in the Journal, it would be tempting to disfellowship. Crackpots usually won't turn loose of their weird ideas, even after numerous counselling sessions.

BB

RSK said...

I never heard the explicit term used, in the sense of "Brethren, you must shun Mr X", although it might have been at some point. Shunning was the later effect of disfellowshipping, if I recall correctly.

F**k Vik Kubik said...

It is sad to read the comments by some people who think the WCG never practiced shunning. They did and it was explicit in how it was done. When I finally had the sense to leave the church when I was 21, the turd of a minister, now in UCG, publicly disfellowshipped me. I told the turd that was my minister what a hypocritical lying bastard he was, and he did not like that. This led my parents to cut off all contact with me and they also did not allow my siblings to have any contact with me. They grew up never knowing me. A bond there was ripped away that can never be restored. We have tried, but the damage is too deep. I hate everything about Armstnrognism and the utter crap they taught. There is nothing Christian about the Church of God.

I am grateful to this blog for keeping the heat on about the hypocrisy of the COG and its many self-righteous leaders.

Hoss said...

For disfellowshipping at a high level, years ago Dave Pack, in a heated and lengthy sermon, read a list of names of his "enemies" such as Rod Meredith. Since those mentioned had never been members of his RCG, he disfellowshipped them from "the body of Christ". It was like an old propaganda broadcast listing certain western leaders as war criminals...

Dennis Diehl said...

Chief tall Walker. John Spong n I corresponded over Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. It was THE book that woke me up to the problems with taking gospels as eyewittness accounts and literally. He thanked me for writing and mentioned I would not survive WCG liking his books

Helen Wheels said...

I recall disfellowshiping happening in the Pasadena churches I attended growing up. WCG definitely practiced shunning in Pasadena.

There was always a boilerplate text they would read during the announcement portion. I don't recall the boilerplate exactly, but I do remember it included a part about how we weren't supposed to have any contact with them anymore, and then went on to say something about how nobody bears them any ill will, as though that somehow made up for the public shaming and shunning. The ministers would say that it was for their own good, and that being cut off from the social support would somehow pressure them to "repent," when it was pretty obvious to me it was a way for ministers to discredit and silence people or otherwise sweep their own problems and failures under the rug.

I recall one man in particular, who my family was friends with, who suffered from clinical depression. He counselled with the ministers over a several year period about it, and because he failed to improve, they decided to take the tack that it was due to some kind of rebelliousness on his part, and disfellowshiped him, as though wounding someone who was already suffering was going to have some sort of salvific effect, or as though someone could "repent" of a mood disorder. I thought that was prettymuch pure evil. I was concerned that it could push him to suicide, not that those ministers gave two shits either way. They failed him, the god they wanted everyone to think they represented failed him, and instead of admitting it, they threw it all on his shoulders and told him to get lost. Thankfully, what he did was seek professional help, and stopped wondering if religious quackery might be of use. Some stories, even horrible ones, don't don't always end so badly.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that title reminds me of Rescuing Planet Earth From Low I.Q. Groups. If the human race is to survive, the IQ has to be increased. We don't want to end up like the Aboriginals in Australia who have an IQ of 60. The global IQ is dropping.

Anonymous said...

All totalitarian regimes practice "purging." The communists, nazis, etc. It gets deadly when those in power have the authority to make it so, as in the dark ages. As near as I know, no Church of God authority ever contracted a murder, but their practice was in many ways just as deadly.

Allen C. Dexter

Byker Bob said...

IQ score is highly based on cultural background and education. That IQ of 60 does not mean that the Aboriginals are retarded. Their areas of intelligence are just not measured or reflected by the standardized tests. Studies were done on testing back in the 1960s, and the tests were found to be biased in favor of the WASP experience. In alternative tests, a different set of questions were asked, geared to specific minority cultures, and WASPs scored low.

Citizens of modern nations have artificial intelligence available to them through the internet. But, the matter of IQ all becomes political. Conservatives believe that liberals are liberal because they've allowed themselves to be dummied down, and liberals believe the same about conservatives.

BB

Anonymous said...

BB
IQ score?
Are you on the right post?

Byker Bob said...

Responded to Anonymous 8/14/17, 3:20 PM, who stated that Australian Aboriginals had an average IQ of 60.

BB