VIENNA, June 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A majority of former Jehovah's Witnesses is convinced the religion has "destroyed or seriously disrupted" their family. This is the result of a recent survey which examined the impact the 'shunning policy' of Jehovah's Witnesses has on families: seventy-six percent of the victims said their families have broken off relations.
The survey asked how doctrinal policy of Jehovah's Witnesses affected families of former members. Sixty-five percent answered that the policy destroyed or seriously disrupted their family relationships. Fifty-three percent stated that their family wanted "no contact at all". Also, seventeen percent of Jehovah's Witnesses actively shunning a relative only get in touch when they "need something", says the survey conducted by JWAlumni.org, a Jehovah's Witnesses News website. The Watchtower Society, the corporation overseeing Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide, promotes the policy of shunning in their literature and has labeled critical ex-members "mentally diseased".
Shunning is an extreme form of ex-communication ("disfellowshipping") whereby a person who committed a sin according to the Watchtower Society's standards or who has chosen to revoke their membership in the organization is then socially isolated by Jehovah's Witnesses – the 'silent treatment' on a larger scale.
Fifty-nine percent of the victims' families admitted the reason they were shunning a relative was the hope they would return to the organization. "All in the congregation can show principled love by avoiding contact and conversation with the disfellowshipped person," explained a recent Watchtower magazine published by JW.org. "Family members can show love for the congregation and the erring one by respecting the disfellowshipping decision."
This is what the High School student, whose YouTube video exposing Jehovah's Witnesses went viral recently, experienced. The mother told JWAlumni.org what a Jehovah's Witness relative said to her daughter: "My love is not conditional but my association is." Emotional blackmail through social isolation is an integral element of the shunning policy of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Misha Anouk, founding editor of JWAlumni.org, describes the tragic bottom line of Jehovah's Witness policy: "Our families and former friends would rather spend eternity without us than spend the rest of their lives with us, thereby risking their hope of everlasting life." In his german-language bestseller Goodbye, Jehova!, Anouk describes childhood and youth in the organization and relates how his decision to leave Jehovah's Witnesses ultimately led to his family shunning him. His is not an isolated incident. At a recent convention of Jehovah's Witnesses, the audience applauded a mother who told her children: "I love you, I would die for you, but if you ever leave Jehovah, I won't be there for you."
The findings of the survey conducted among 1,055 adults in the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany are best summarized by the young High School Student mentioned above: "If what you're looking for in your life is love, this organization is not where you're going to find it."
SOURCE Misha Anouk