Lv 5

Why don't Jehovah's Witnesses like using the word "shunning?"?

This question is open to all who may care to offer their opinions and I invite the JWs themselves to give their viewpoint..

I have noticed on several questions on this website concerning disfellowshipping, the JWs seem to take offence at the word "shunned" instead of "disfellowshipped."

Isn't it the same thing? When someone is disfellowshipped, you don't speak to them or acknowledge them. That is shunning someone.

I would appreciate polite and respectful answers, this is a sincere question asked out of genuine curiousity.


5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Best Answer

    This is "Loaded Language" The word triggers a response and is WAY more involved than just shunning.

    Here is an Article on Loaded Language:

    The April 15, 2009 Watchtower, according to sources I trust, contains the following lines with regard to what Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) refer to as apostates, that is, any former Witness who now speaks openly questioning the Watchtower Society (WTS), the Bible or the Witnesses:

    "Modern day apostates display characteristics similar to those of the Devil. Their mind may be poisoned by a critical attitude towards individuals in the congregations, Christian elders or the Governing Body. Some apostates oppose the use of the divine name, Jehovah. They are not interested in learning about Jehovah, or in serving him. Like their father, Satan, apostates target people of integrity." Watchtower, April 15, 2009

    I blogged the other day about how the WTS’s writers are masters at loaded language and how the literature is full of logical fallacies. These five sentences are a great example of what I meant. Let’s do a little deconstruction, shall we?

    "Modern day apostates display characteristics similar to those of the Devil."

    It’s a very strong, negative statement characterizing all "modern day apostates." First it’s a generalization with no supporting evidence. Second, it’s an ad hominem statement. The WTS seldom deals with specific statements made by someone they would consider an apostate, presenting logical, factual information to refute the apostate’s charges. Instead they resort to an attack on the person, a personal attack, in this case comparing them to the Devil. It has the added advantage of being language similar to Jesus’ saying that the religious leaders of his day were "from your Father the Devil." The fact that the context of the scripture and the Watchtower paragraph is quite different is no problem for the WTS. As an earlier blog discussed, quoting out of context is a common WTS practice.

    This is also a good example of the WTS’s use of loaded language, or thought terminating cliches - often used words or phrases that have an intense meaning to a typical Witness, and that helps them to categorize or label someone. Labeling like that is an easy way to end any critical thinking. Being called an apostate is one of the strongest negative terms in JW-speak. Devil also, though Satan is probably an even stronger word, and makes its appearance in the last sentence.

    "Their mind may be poisoned by a critical attitude towards individuals in the congregations, Christian elders or the Governing Body."

    Critical is another loaded word for a JW, as it nearly always has a negative connotation when they use it. Critical thinking skills are not frequently emphasized among the Witnesses. The fact that an apostate’s mind is poisoned is again the use of a loaded, negative term that carries forward the WTS cliche and myth that all apostates are angry, critical people with a bad attitude toward individuals or the organization. It helps to perpetuate the myth that no one leaves the Witnesses because the theology makes no sense, or because WTS "science" is misleading and mostly junk, or because the Society has a 150 year history of making false predictions, or for any one of hundreds of carefully thought out, logical, non-emotional, valid reasons.

    "Some apostates oppose the use of the divine name, Jehovah. They are not interested in learning about Jehovah, or in serving him."

    These statements are fairly accurate. What they fail to address is the fact that there are very good reasons for not being happy with using the name Jehovah, and not the least of them is the fact that, while we may not know at this time in history the correct pronunciation of the Hebrew tetragrammeton or the name for the Divine, we are absolutely certain of one thing, it was never pronounced Jehovah! It seems that Jehovah was simply the least objectionable and most popularly used substitute for whatever the real Divine Name was.

    I was a JW elder and conducted the Book Study at the time that we discussed a booklet released in 1984, The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, and it was very clear to me then that the decision to use the name Jehovah was made, not because it was accurate, but because it was the one most commonly used in English, and the WTS was started in English speaking countries. It was sort of ironic that the title of the brochure is about a name that would endure forever, while the brochure itself essentially proves that the actual pronunciation of that name has been lost for centuries! Even then as an active Witness I wondered about how a God could be considered all powerful when he couldn’t even keep his own name alive.

    There is also no basis for using the name Jehovah in the Greek Scriptures. Again, the WTS readily admits that it uses it there in those cases where the Greek Scripture is quoting the Hebrew Scriptures, and ancient versions of those Hebrew verses use the tetragrammeton. It doesn’t take a great deal of research to understand that using the Divine Name had fallen out of practice by the time the Greek Scriptures were being compiled. In fact, you can find several letters in the New Testament that never use the name at all!

    That’s just a brief overview of the name itself, and there is a lot more that could be said about it at some other time. The reason these statements about objecting to the name, not being interested in serving Jehovah or learning about him, are so powerful, is that Jehovah’s Witnesses have so completely tied their identity in with that name. But many of us leave because we simply come to the realization that there is no Jehovah, that the scriptures are a mix of myth, superstition, history and literature. So we leave, and we write or speak out about what we’ve come to learn. Of course many of us don’t want to serve Jehovah. Who would want to serve something that doesn’t exist? It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a reasonable, logical course of action.

    And finally, "Like their father, Satan, apostates target people of integrity."

    Again, the loaded language, the ad hominem statement, and the implication that we are attacking our former friends who remain Witnesses, with target being the operative word there. I’m not targeting people of integrity, and neither are most of the ex-Witnesses I know. I do consider myself a champion of rational thinking, and I see myself as part of a larger, international campaign against superstition and ignorance. But that shouldn’t be of concern to "people of integrity" or "lovers of truth." Those folks are the ones cheering us on.

  • 9 years ago


    Personally I have no problem with the term "shunning." In fact, the word is used synonymously with disfellowshipping in the Watchtower literature as a quick search in the Watchtower CD would discover (eg. Index '86-'09: “Shunning disfellowshipped or disassociated: w88 4/15 26, 28-29; g87 10/22 27."

    I also use "shun" or "excommunicate" depending on who I am talking to and which word they commonly use.

    The term "disfellowship" is simply the customary word used by Jehovah's Witnesses. They adopted this word because it was already the common word used by many Protestant churches.



  • 9 years ago

    I guess "shunning" is a more direct word whereas saying "disfellowshipped" is more passive.

  • 9 years ago

    Because others don't believe the magical liopleurodon.

    Source(s): Shun the non-believer. Shun! Shhhhhhhhhhhun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus
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  • 9 years ago

    probably different meanings and connotations

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