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Encyclopedia > Shunning

Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. It is a sanction against association often associated with religious groups and other tightly-knit organisations and communities. Targets of shunning can include, but are not limited to apostates, whistleblowers, dissidents, people classified as "sinners" or "traitors" and other people who defy or who fail to comply with the standards established by the shunning group(s). Shunning has a long history as a means of organisational influence and control. Extreme forms of shunning and related practices have rendered the general practice controversial in some circles. Religious is a term with both a technical definition and folk use. ... Apostasy (Greek απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is the formal renunciation of ones religion. ... A whistleblower is someone in an organization who witnesses behavior by members that is either contrary to the mission of the organization, or threatening to the public interest, and who decides to speak out publicly about it. ... A dissident is a person who actively opposes the established order. ...

Contents

Overview

Purposes

Shunning can be broken down into behaviours and practices that seek to accomplish either or both of two primary goals.

  1. To modify the behaviour of a member. This approach seeks to influence, encourage, or coerce normative behaviours from members, and may seek to dissuade, provide disincentives for, or to compel avoidance of certain behaviours. Shunning may include disassociating the member by other members of the community who are in good standing. It may include more antagonistic psychological behaviours (described below). This approach may be seen as either corrective or punitive (or both) by the group membership or leadership, and may also be intended as a deterrent.
  2. To remove or limit the influence of a member (or former member) over other members in a community. This approach may seek to isolate, to discredit, or otherwise dis-empower such a member, often in the context of actions or positions advocated by that member. For groups with defined membership criteria, especially based on key behaviours or ideological precepts, this approach may be seen as limiting damage to the community or its leadership. This is often paired with some form of excommunication.

Some less often practiced variants may seek to: Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ...

  • Remove a specific member from general external influence to provide an ideological or psychological buffer against external views or behaviour. The amount can vary from severing ties to opponents of the group up to and including severing all non-group-affiliated intercourse.

Shunning is usually approved of (if sometimes with regret) by the group engaging in the shunning, and usually highly disapproved-of by the target of the shunning. This results in a polarization of views. Those subject to the practice respond differently, usually depending both on the circumstances of the event, and the nature of the practices being applied. Extreme forms of shunning have damaged some individuals' psychological and relational health. Extreme responses to the practice evolved, mostly around anti-shunning advocacy. Such advocates highlight the detrimental effects of many of those behaviours, and seek to limit their practice through pressure or law. Such groups often operate supportive organizations or institutions to help those subjected to shunning to recover from some of the worst effects, and sometimes to attack the organizations practicing shunning, as a part of their advocacy.


In many civil societies, kinds of shunning are practiced de-facto or de-jure, to coerce or avert behaviours or associations deemed unhealthy. This can include:

  • restraining orders or peace bonds (to avoid abusive relationships)
  • court injunctions to disassociate (to avoid criminal association or temptation)
  • medical or psychological instructing to avoid associating (to avoid hazardous relations, i.e. alcoholics being instructed to avoid friendship with non-recovering alcoholics, or asthmatics being medically instructed to keep to smoke-free environs)
  • using background checks to avoid hiring people who have criminal records (to avoid association with felons, even when the crimes have nothing to do with the job description)

These effects are seen as positive by society, though often not by the affected parties.


Effects

Shunning is often used as a pejorative term to describe any organizationally mandated disassociation, and has acquired a connotation of abuse and relational aggression. This is due to the sometimes extreme damage caused by its disruption to normal relationships between individuals, such as friendships and family relations. Disruption of established relationships certainly causes pain, which is at least an unintended consequence of the practices described here, though it may also in many cases be an intended, coercive consequence. This pain, especially when seen as unjustly inflicted, can have secondary general psychological effects on self-worth and self-confidence, trust and trustworthiness, and can, as with other types of trauma, impair psychological function. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with pejoration. ... Abuser redirects here. ... Relational aggression is psychological (social/emotional) aggression between people in relationships. ... Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event. ...


Shunning often involves implicit or explicit shame for a member who commits acts seen as wrong by the group or its leadership. Such shame may not be psychologically damaging if the membership is voluntary and the rules of behaviour clear before the person joined. However, if the rules are arbitrary, the group membership seen as essential for personal security, safety, or health, or if the application of the rules are inconsistent, such shame can be highly destructive. This can be especially damaging if perceptions are attacked or controlled, or various tools of psychological pressure applied. Extremes of this cross over the line into psychological torture and can be permanently scarring. It has been suggested that the section Shame campaign from the article Smear campaign be merged into this article or section. ... A psychological punishment is a type of punishment that relies not or only in secondary order on the actual harm inflicted (such as corporal punishments or fines) but on psychological effects, mainly emotions, such as fear, shame and guilt. ...


A key detrimental effect of some of the practices associated with shunning relate to their effect on relationships, especially family relationships. At its extremes, the practices may destroy marriages, break up families, and separate children and their parents. The effect of shunning can be very dramatic or even devastating on the shunnee, as it can damage or destroy the shunned member's closest familial, spousal, social, emotional, and economic bonds.


Shunning contains aspects of what is known as relational aggression in psychological literature. When used by church members and member-spouse parents against excommunicant parents it contains elements of what psychologists call parental alienation. Extreme shunning may cause traumas to the shunned (and to their dependents) similar to what is studied in the psychology of torture. Relational aggression is psychological (social/emotional) aggression between people in relationships. ... Parental alienation is any behavior by a parent, a childs mother or father, whether conscious or unconscious, that could create alienation in the relationship between a child and the other parent. ... Torture is the intentional infliction of severe physical or psychological torment as an expression of cruelty, a means of intimidation, deterrent, revenge or punishment, or as a tool for the extraction of information or confessions. ...


Civil rights implications

Some aspects of shunning may also be seen as being at odds with civil rights or human rights, especially those behaviours that coerce and attack. When a group seeks to have an effect through such practices outside its own membership, for instance when a group seeks to cause financial harm through isolation and disassociation, they can come at odds with their surrounding civil society, if such a society enshrines rights such as freedom of association, conscience, or belief. Many civil societies do not extend such protections to the internal operations of communities or organizations so long as an ex-member has the same rights, prerogatives, and power as any other member of the civil society.


In cases where a group or religion is state-sanctioned (e. g. in communist states), a key power, or in the majority (Singapore), a shunned former member may face severe social, political, and/or financial costs. Some, including researchers of mind control, brainwashing and menticide groups, identify the practice with "cult-like" or totalitarian behaviour. This article is about a form of government in which the state operates under the control of a Communist Party. ... Mind control (or thought control) has the premise that an outside source can control an individuals thinking, behavior or consciousness (either directly or more subtly). ... This article does not discuss cult in its original meaning. ... The concept of Totalitarianism is a typology or ideal-type used by some political scientists to encapsulate the characteristics of a number of twentieth century regimes that mobilized entire populations in support of the state or an ideology. ...


Specific practices in religious organizations

Shunning in Christian denominations

Several passages in the New Testament suggest shunning as a practice of early Christians, and are cited as such by its modern-day practitioners within Christianity. As with many Biblical teachings, however, not all Christian scholars or denominations agree on this interpretation of these verses. This article is about the Christian scriptures. ...


1Corinthians 5:11–13: But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you."


Matthew 18:15–17: If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.


2Thessalonians 3:6: In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.


2Thessalonians 3:14–15: If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.


Romans 16:17: I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.


2John 10–11, NASB: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.


Policies governing the use of shunning vary from one organization to another.


Catholic Church

Prior to the Code of Canon Law of 1983, the Catholic Church expected in rare cases (known as excommunication vitandi) the faithful to shun an excommunicated member in secular matters. In 1983, the distinction between vitandi and others (tolerandi) was abolished, and thus the expectation is not made any more. In Western culture, canon law is the law of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. ... Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ...


Anabaptists: Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites

Some sects of Anabaptist origin shun former members. Anabaptists (Greek ανα (again) +βαπτιζω (baptize), thus, re-baptizers[1], German: Wiedertäufer) are Christians of the Radical Reformation. ...


Shunning occurs today in Old Order Amish and in some Mennonite churches. Shunning can be particularly painful for the shunnee in these denominations since they are generally very close-knit, and since the shunned person may have no significant social links with anyone other than those in their denomination. This article is about Old Order Amish, but also refers to other Amish sects. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      The Mennonites are a group of...


The Amish call shunning Meidung, the German word for avoidance. As described in the article on the Amish, shunning was a key issue of disagreement in the Amish-Mennonite split and it is continued in contemporary practice. Former Amish woman Ruth Irene Garrett tells the story of Amish shunning in her community from the shunnee's perspective in Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life. Amish shunning is also the subject of popular fiction novels about shunning. Amish differ considerably from community to community in the severity and strictness of the shunning. This article is about Old Order Amish, but also refers to other Amish sects. ...


Some very conservative Mennonite churches use shunning to exclude, punish, and shame excommunicated members. Mainstream and progressive Mennonites do not shun, or use much less extreme forms of shunning. Those Mennonites, who shun, do so by condemning, snubbing, and shaming excommunicants in all social, spousal and familial contacts without regard for family ties. Shunning by all church members begins upon excommunication and is continued until the excommunicant either dies or repents. Shame is a social condition and a form of social control consisting of an emotional state and a set of behaviors, caused by the consciousness or awareness of having acted inappropriately. ...


The Mennonite Ban or excommunication does not usually involve shunning, but only a ban from participation in communion. A few Mennonite groups do however practice shunning, or have in the past. In some cases members spouses must shun their shunned spouses with a refusal to dine or sleep with the one being shunned. The excommunicants closest family members also shun him or her in all ongoing social contacts if the family members are church members. Since shunning damages and often destroys the excommunicant's closest bonds, it has been called "one of the cruelest punishments known to man" by a shunned Mennonite excommunicant and "a living hell of torture" by a shunning Mennonite member and father-in-law (see Delivered Unto Satan below).


Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses practice a form of shunning and refer to it as "disfellowshipping". A disfellowshipped person is not to be greeted either socially or at their meetings. Shunning is not required in the case of disfellowshipped members living in the same household, although in this case the remaining members will not usually discuss spiritual matters with the disfellowshipped one. An exception to this is that parents are still expected to give Bible instruction to minor children. [1][2]Family members are not to be spoken to once they leave home except in emergencies. There are a number of reasons that a person may be disfellowshipped, with fornication and apostasy being two of the most common enforced. (a distinction is made between "apostates" and weak ones who express "doubts" [3][4]) The organization points to passages in the Bible (1 Corinthians 5:11-13), such as those mentioned above, to support this practice. See Beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses#Disfellowshipping, Jehovah's Witnesses and congregational discipline and External Links below. Fornication, or simple fornication, is a term which refers to sexual intercourse between consenting unmarried partners. ... Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, meaning a defection or revolt, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ... (Redirected from 1 Corinthians) See also: Second Epistle to the Corinthians and Third Epistle to the Corinthians The First Epistle to the Corinthians is a book of the Bible in the New Testament. ... The following reflects the current beliefs and practices of Jehovahs Witnesses. ... Jehovahs Witnesses employ various levels of congregational discipline as formal controls administered by leaders of the congregation. ...


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

There is no formal process of shunning in the LDS church. For those who have committed serious sin, disfellowshipment or excommunication are the most serious actions taken by the church. These are meant to encourage repentance; it is church policy that such individuals should continue to attend church meetings and associate with members. While being disfellowshipped or excommunicated sometimes has social ramifications, church members are strongly encouraged to welcome and assist excommunicants in whatever way possible in hopes of shepherding them back into full communion. Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ...


Other Protestant groups

In some Protestant groups or churches, shunning goes by other terms, such as disfellowshipping or "marking," based on the King James Version of Romans 16:17, which says to "...mark them which cause divisions...." Some groups perceive any disagreement with their teachings or leadership as being divisive, or even having a "demonic" influence and use shunning as a means of ensuring all church members' absolute submission to church leadership. Some use the so-called "Moses Principle" as a justification to shun any dissenters.


Shunning in Judaism

Main article: Cherem

Cherem is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. It is the total exclusion of a person from the Jewish community. Except in rare cases in the Ultra-Orthodox community, the practice of cherem ceased after The Enlightenment, when local Jewish communities lost their political autonomy and Jews were legally enfranchized into the gentile nations in which they lived. Cherem (or Herem חרם), is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. ... Cherem (or Herem חרם), is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. ... For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... ...


Shunning in the Bahá'í Faith

Main article: Covenant breaker

Members of the Bahá'í Faith are expected to shun those that have been declared Covenant-breakers by the head of their faith.[1] Covenant-breakers are defined as the leaders of schismatic groups that resulted from challenges to legitimacy of Bahá'í leadership, as well as those who follow them, or who refuse to shun these. Since unity is the highest value in the Bahá'í Faith, any attempt at schism by a Bahá'í is considered a spiritual sickness, and a negation of what the religion stands for.[2] People so-declared are not considered Bahá'ís by the mainstream. Note: the term head of the Faith is used throughout the article, it is helpful to note that, since 1963, this refers to the elected nine-member Universal House of Justice. ... This article is about the generally-recognized global Baháí community. ... Note: the term head of the Faith is used throughout the article, it is helpful to note that, since 1963, this refers to the elected nine-member Universal House of Justice. ... The Baháí administration refers to the administrative system of the Baháí Faith. ... The Baháí Faith has had challenges to leadership at the death of every head of the religion. ...


The extent of the disassociation is limited. For example, unavoidable contact resulting from business arrangements does not necessarily constitute a contravention of the shunning requirement. Similarly, a Bahá'í who administers an online forum may interact with Covenant-breakers who are members of such a forum, with respect to his duties as an administrator.[3] Shoghi Effendi expressed a similar perspective. The common theme is that the Bahá'í should limit his contact to the particular transaction or business at-hand and not be drawn into discussion that would allow the offender to advance his ideas. This certainly applies to fora such as Wikipedia talk pages. Given the above-stated purpose of this shunning is as a protection from the spread of a "spiritual disease", and not as a form of punishment for the so-named covenant-breaker, the Bahá'í practice of shunning seems to be designed in such a way that limits the material penalty normally associated with shunning by a community. In practice, however, many Bahá'ís may not be aware of the limits expressed above. The last photograph of Shoghi Effendi, taken a few months before he died. ...


Bahá'ís are not required to practice shunning for purely moral or legal lapses, or against those who simply leave the religion. The flagrant and unrepentant violation of Bahá'í laws and standards of conduct can result in the loss of administrative rights, which prevents an individual from offering contributions to the funds of the Faith, vote or be elected to office in community elections, or obtain marriage or divorce within the religion, etc. They may, however, attend any public gathering, are still considered members, and Bahá'ís need not shun such members. Very occasionally, Bahá'ís are expelled due merely to a variance in belief. In such cases the beliefs depart fundamentally from Bahá'í teachings and, upon investigation, they were found never to have conformed to Bahá'í belief. They are considered to have never been Bahá'ís, because they did not ever accept the Bahá'í beliefs. This is not considered synonymous to covenant-breaking, and such former members are not subject to shunning. The Baháí administration refers to the administrative system of the Baháí Faith. ...


Bahá'ís are not expected to shun non-Bahá'ís. Contrarily, they are expected to "consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship."


European Pagan and Neo-Pagan Groups

Nithing Among Asatruar

Oathbreakers and other criminals in the Asatru faith can be marked on a website, or a nithing pole can be erected on the offender's business or residential property. Traditionally, the pole was carved with runes describing the offense and topped with a decapitated horse's head. satr , also known as Odinism, describes a number of attempts to reconstruct the indigenous religions of Northern Europe. ... For the Evil Germanic mythological creature, see Níð. A Niding pole (Nithstang, Nidstang) [or where the Th is replaced by a ð] or Runic cursing pole, is a pole used for cursing an enemy in the Germanic tradition. ... A rune can mean a single character in the Runic alphabet as well as an inscription of several runic charcters or symbols. ...


Wiccan Reculement

Reculement is a provision of British Traditional Wiccan faiths that allows elders to repudiate an oath-breaker. Rarely used, most often in cases that involve "outing" closeted Wiccans.


Disconnection in the Church of Scientology

For more details on this topic, see Disconnection.

The Church of Scientology asks its members to quit all communication with people the Church deems are perpetually antagonistic to Scientology. The practice of shunning in Scientology is termed disconnection. Members can disconnect with parents, children, spouses, and friends. The Church teaches that typically only people with "false data" about Scientology are antagonistic, so it encourages members to first attempt to provide "true data" to these people. If providing this data does not stop the antagonistic behaviour, then disconnection is encouraged as a last resort.[5] Disconnection is a practice in Scientology, in which a Scientologist severs all ties between themselves and friends, colleagues, or family members who criticize Scientology practices. ... Scientology cross Symbol Doctrine Practices Concepts People Public outreach Organization Controversy The Church of Scientology is the largest religious organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of Scientology belief system. ... Disconnection is a practice in Scientology, in which a Scientologist severs all ties between themselves and friends, colleagues, or family members who criticize Scientology practices. ...


Shunning in literature

Shunning is a subject in popular as well as arcane literature.


See also

Abuser redirects here. ... Anathema (in Greek Ανάθεμα) meaning originally something lifted up as an offering to the gods; later, with evolving meanings, it came to mean: to be formally set apart, banished, exiled, excommunicated or denounced, sometimes accursed. ... Disconnection is a practice in Scientology, in which a Scientologist severs all ties between themselves and friends, colleagues, or family members who criticize Scientology practices. ... Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ... The Komagata Maru was a Japanese steam liner that sailed from Hong Kong to Shanghai, China, Yokohama, Japan, and then to British Columbia, Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India, most of whom were not allowed to land in Canada and were returned to India. ... Parental alienation is any behavior by a parent, a childs mother or father, whether conscious or unconscious, that could create alienation in the relationship between a child and the other parent. ... The Way International is a biblical research, teaching and fellowship ministry founded by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille. ... The Way International is a biblical research, teaching and fellowship ministry founded by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille. ... Relational aggression is psychological (social/emotional) aggression between people in relationships. ... Social rejection includes both interpersonal rejection or peer rejection, and romantic rejection. ...

References

  1. ^ The Watchtower - Nov 15 1988, p.20. par. 24 | “Helping Others to Worship God” | © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  2. ^ The Watchtower - Oct. 1 2001, p.16. par. 12 | “When a Minor Is Disfellowshipped” | © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  3. ^ The Watchtower - May 15, 1979, p. 25 par 15. | “Maintaining a Precious Relationship” | © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  4. ^ The Watchtower - Aug 1, 1980, p. 21 par 21. | “Remain Solid in the Faith” subheading - “Snatching the Doubters out of the Fire” | © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  5. ^ Church of Scientology What is Disconnection? (archive.org copy of website accessed 4/19/06)
  • Scott, Stephen (1996), An Introduction to Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups, Good Books: Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, by J. Gordon Melton ISBN 0-8103-6904-4
  • Friesen, Patrick, The Shunning (Mennonite fiction), 1980, ISBN 0-88801-038-9

Dr. John Gordon Melton is the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. ...

Further reading

  • McCowan, Karen, The Oregon Register-Guard, Cast Out: Religious Shunning Provides an Unusual Background in the Longo and Bryant Slayings, March, 2, 2003.
  • D'anna, Lynnette, Post-Mennonite Women Congregate to Discuss Abuse, Herizons, 3/01/93.
  • Esua, Alvin J., and Esau Alvin A.J., The Courts and the Colonies: The Litigation of Hutterite Church Disputes, Univ of British Columbia Press, 2004.
  • Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life, Ruth Irene Garret, Rick Farrant
  • Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith, Martha Beck, Mar 2005.
  • Delivered Unto Satan (Mennonite), Robert L. Bear, 1974, (ASIN B0006CKXQI)
  • Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children, Stanley S. Clawar, Brynne Valerie Rivlin, 2003.
  • Deviance, Agency, and the Social Control of Women's Bodies in a Mennonite Community, Linda B. Arthur, NWSA Journal, v10.n2 (Summer 1998): pp75(25).

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Shunning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2087 words)
Shunning is often intended to teach obedience, discipline disobedience/nonconformance by the shunned and to punish defiance from the shunned.
Extreme shunning often causes traumas to the shunned (and to their innocent dependents) similar to what is studied in the psychology of torture.
Shunning is often particularly painful, for the shunnee, in these denominations since they are generally very close-knit, since they teach members to look down on non-members from childhood, and since the shunned person usually has no significant social links with anyone other than those in their denomination.
Shunning - definition of Shunning in Encyclopedia (797 words)
The shunning of an individual is the act of deliberately avoiding association with him or her.
Shunning aims to protect a group from members who have committed acts seen as harmful to the shunning organization, or who violate the group's norms.
Jehovah's Witnesses refer to the practice of shunning as "disfellowshipping." Shunning is not required in the case of disfellowshipped members of the same household, although in this case the remaining members will not usually discuss spiritual matters with the disfellowshipped one.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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