107 DisfellowshipingDisfellowshipping is the ultimate penalty Watchtower elders can impose. The person is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. He or she has been removed from peaceful relations with Jehovah God. It is considered the equivalent of a spiritual death sentence because “outside of God’s moral organization there is no everlasting life.” [1]

Except for family or business contact that can’t be avoided, Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to completely shun a disfellowshipped (or disassociated) Witness. They don’t associate with them. They don’t have any social fellowship with them, such as joining with them in a picnic, ball game, outing at the beach or theater, or sharing a meal with them.[2]

Often, Witnesses treat disfellowshipped Witnesses if they were dead. They don’t greet them or acknowledge their existence.[3]

Witnesses who refuse to stop associating with disfellowshipped Witnesses are themselves seen as rebelling and causes division in Jehovah’s organization and as becoming a companion of wickedness. For this, they themselves can be disfellowshipped.[4]

I have had discussions with disfellowshipped adult Witnesses who haven’t heard from their families in years. Often they aren’t informed of the births, graduations, weddings, serious illnesses, or even deaths of family members or of Witnesses whom they had considered to be their closest friends.

Many times, the only friends they have known have been other Jehovah’s Witnesses, because the Watchtower strongly discourages close association with “worldly people,” that is, non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.[5]

Because of the Watchtower’s us-versus-them mindset and its belief that it is the only true religion on earth, it considers disfellowshipping to be a “loving arrangement”[6] which serves several important purposes:

  1. It vindicates Jehovah’s sovereignty and keeps his name above reproach.
  2. It keeps Jehovah’s visible organization clean from immorality and other reproachful things.
  3. It maintains clean, righteous standards that will prevail in God’s new world.[7]
  4. It promotes unity of mind and thought in the Watchtower organization.
  5. It separates God’s organization from Satan’s organization.
  6. It avoids corrupting other Jehovah’s Witnesses.[8]
  7. It preserves undefiled worship in the organization.
  8. It guards the moral reputation of the Watchtower among outsiders.[9]
  9. It safeguards the salvation of obedient Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  10. It may make the disfellowshipped person realize his error and shame him into repentance.[10]
  11. It merely confirms what God has decided in the heavens.[11]

If you or I were expelled from our church, as traumatic as that might be, we could simply find a home in a different church fellowship. Not so with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been taught that all religions other than the Watchtower religion are satanic.

Former Governing Body member Ray Franz, who was himself disfellowshipped, explains: “The belief that disfellowshiping cuts one off from the one organization where salvation can be found, as well as from friends and relatives, exercises heavy pressure on the person to conform.”[12]

As you can see, the threat of disfellowshiping is a powerful weapon the Watchtower wields over Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’s the way the Watchtower wants it: “We will be impelled to serve Jehovah loyally with his organization if we remember that there is nowhere else to go for life eternal.”[13]


[1] Watchtower, “Separation and Divorce for the Sake of Peace,” 12/1/60, p. 726

[2] Watchtower, “Disfellowshiping—How to View It,” 9/15/81, p. 23

[3] Watchtower, “What Disfellowshiping Means,” 7/1/63, p. 412-413

[4] Watchtower, “Questions from Readers,” 10/1/55, pp. 137-145

[5] Watchtower, “How Majestic is Jehovah’s Name!,” 12/15/86, pp. 15, 20

[6] Awake! “The Bible’s Viewpoint: Why Disfellowshiping Is a Loving Arrangement,” pp. 26-27

[7] Watchtower, “Let the Marriage Bed Be Honorable Among All,” 4/15/51, pp. 233-241

[8] Watchtower, “Keeping the Organization Clean,” 3/1/52, pp. 131-137

[9] Watchtower, “Propriety of Disfellowshiping,” 3/1/52, pp. 137-145

[10] Watchtower, “Questions from Readers,” 11/15/52, p. 704

[11] Watchtower, “What Disfellowshiping Means,” 7/1/63, p. 411

[12] Crisis of Conscience, Commentary Press, 1983, p. 43

[13] Watchtower, “Serve Jehovah Loyally,” 11/15/92, p. 21