Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or emotional distance. In a religious context, shunning is a formal decision by a denomination or a congregation to cease interaction with an individual or a group, and follows a particular set of rules. It differs from, but may be associated with, excommunication.

Social rejection occurs when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all members of the group as a form of solidarity. It is a sanction against association, often associated with religious groups and other tightly knit organizations and communities. Targets of shunning can include persons who have been labeled as apostates, whistleblowers, dissidents, strikebreakers, or anyone the group perceives as a threat or source of conflict. Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture[1] or a low-cost punishment for failed cooperation.[2] Mental rejection is a more individual action, where a person subconsciously or willfully ignores an idea, or a set of information related to a particular viewpoint. Some groups are made up of people who shun the same ideas.[3]

Social rejection was and is a punishment in many customary legal systems. Such sanctions include the ostracism of ancient Athens and the still-used kasepekang in Balinese society.

In religion edit

Christianity edit

Anabaptism edit

Certain sects of the Amish—an Anabaptist community—practice shunning or meidung.[4] Historically, the Schwarzenau Brethren practiced a form of shunning that they called "avoidance," a refusal to eat with even a family member whom the church had placed in "avoidance."[5]

Catholicism edit

Prior to the Code of Canon Law of 1983, in rare cases (known as excommunication vitandi) the Catholic Church expected adherents 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 anymore.[6]

Jehovah's Witnesses edit

Jehovah's Witnesses practice a form of shunning which they refer to as "disfellowshipping".[7] A disfellowshipped person is not to be greeted either socially or at their meetings. Disfellowshipping follows a decision of a judicial committee established by a local congregation that a member is unrepentantly guilty of a "serious sin".

Sociologist Andrew Holden's research indicates that many Witnesses who would otherwise defect because of disillusionment with the organization and its teachings retain affiliation out of fear of being shunned and losing contact with friends and family members.[8]

Judaism edit

Cherem is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. It is the total exclusion of a person from the Jewish community. It is still used in the Ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic community. In the 21st century, sexual abuse victims and their families who have reported abuse to civil authorities have experienced shunning in the Orthodox communities of New York[9] and Australia.[10] Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to grant their wives a divorce are sometimes subject to shunning or shaming, as a form of social pressure intended to compel the husband to allow his wife to leave the marriage. This pressure can take the form of refusing to allow the husband to perform certain religious rituals in the synagogue, refusing his business in commerce, legal solutions such as restraining orders, and public shaming.[11][12]

Baháʼí faith edit

Members of the Baháʼí Faith are expected to shun those that have been declared Covenant-breakers, and expelled from the religion,[13] by the head of their faith.[14] Covenant-breakers are defined as leaders of schismatic groups that resulted from challenges to legitimacy of Baháʼí leadership, as well as those who follow or refuse to shun them.[14] Unity is considered the highest value in the Baháʼí Faith, and any attempt at schism by a Baháʼí is considered a spiritual sickness, and a negation of that for which the religion stands.[14]

Church of Scientology edit

The Church of Scientology asks its members to quit all communication with suppressive persons (those whom the Church deems antagonistic to Scientology). The practice of shunning in Scientology is termed disconnection. Members can disconnect from any person they already know, including existing family members. Many examples of this policy's application have been established in court.[15][16][17] It used to be customary to write a "disconnection letter" to the person being disconnected from, and to write a public disconnection notice, but these practices have not continued.[18][19]

The Church states 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. According to official Church statements, disconnection is only used as a last resort and only lasts until the antagonism ceases.[20] Failure to disconnect from a suppressive person is itself labelled a suppressive act.[21] In the United States, the Church has tried to argue in court that disconnection is a constitutionally protected religious practice. However, this argument was rejected because the pressure put on individual Scientologists to disconnect means it is not voluntary.[22]

See also edit

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ Ojeda, Almerindo (September 30, 2006). "What is Psychological Torture?" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  2. ^ Haidt, J. (2007). "The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology" (PDF). Science. 316 (5827): 998–1002. Bibcode:2007Sci...316..998H. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1137651. PMID 17510357. S2CID 6161377. (read online) Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "Flat Earth Society". Archived from the original on November 13, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "Why do the Amish practice shunning?". Amish America.
  5. ^ Carl F Bowman (1995). Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a Peculiar People. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 90-91.
  6. ^ Boudinhon, Auguste (1909). "Excommunication" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 32, 78-79.
  8. ^ Holden 2002, pp. 250–270.
  9. ^ Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse The New York Times, 9 May 2012
  10. ^ Rabbis' absolute power: how sex abuse tore apart Australia's Orthodox Jewish community The Guardian, 18 February 2015
  11. ^ Stomel, Rachel. "A prying shame: The public scrutiny of get refusers". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  12. ^ Lefkowitz Brooks, Jacob Joseph (August 29, 2019). "Rabbis, others demonstrate against 'get refuser' while he is sitting shiva". Shalhevet Boiling Point. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  13. ^ Van den Hoonaard, Willy Carl (1996). The origins of the Bahá'í community of Canada, 1898-1948. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-88920-272-6.
  14. ^ a b c Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. pp. 114–116. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6.
  15. ^ Judgement of Mr Justice Latey, Re: B & G (Minors) (Custody) Delivered in the High Court (Family Division), London, 23 July 1984
  16. ^ "Judge brands Scientology 'sinister' as mother is given custody of children". The Times. London. July 24, 1984. p. 3.
  17. ^ "News and Notes: Scientology Libel Action". British Medical Journal. 1 (5743): 297–298. January 30, 1971. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.5743.297. ISSN 0007-1447. PMC 1794922. PMID 5294085.
  18. ^ Wallis, Roy (1976). The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. London: Heinemann Educational Books. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-0-435-82916-2. OCLC 310565311.
  19. ^ Hubbard, L. Ron (23 December 1965) HCO Policy Letter "Suppressive Acts" reproduced in Powles, Sir Guy Richardson; E. V. Dumbleton (June 30, 1969). Hubbard Scientology Organisation in New Zealand and any associated Scientology organisation or bodies in New Zealand; report of the Commission of Inquiry. Wellington. pp. 53–54. OCLC 147661.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  20. ^ What is Disconnection? (Accessed 5/29/11)
  21. ^ Hubbard, L. Ron (2007). Introduction to Scientology Ethics (Latin American Spanish ed.). Bridge Publications. p. 209. ISBN 978-1-4031-4684-7.
  22. ^ California appellate court, 2nd district, 7th division, Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California, Civ. No. B023193 Cal. Super. (1986)

Sources edit

Further reading edit

  • 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, March 1, 1993.
  • 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
  • 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 edit