20/20 Perspective: Shunning

James Rozak

Creator of Morning Mercy & Former Message Associate Pastor.

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3 Responses

  1. John Snow says:

    I experienced this shunning first-hand when I left and continue to see my sister experience it frequently; she left (or was asked to leave) several years ago but have family members who still attend and often ‘shuns’ their mother. I find family shunning very disturbing and un-Christian, ironic given that ‘Message’ members believe they are the chosen or ‘elect’ of God and conduct themselves accordingly. I speak to former church friends occasionally, rarely really, and it simply is a function of our interests, activities and conversation are no longer compatible; simply, we no longer have anything in common. Unlike most people who are members of other denominations where their faith is part of their life, the ‘Message’ is not just a part of a “Believers’ life, it is their life. Therefore it governs all of their activities, their conversation, their view of the world, where they live and what relationships they have. I think it is nearly impossible for you, me or others that have left the ‘Message’ to have a meaningful friendship with a ‘Believer’. Any relationship that I have with ‘Message believers’ is superficial at best, it would be a stretch to even call them friends; sad but true.

  2. Kathy Jenkins says:

    I agree with you, James. I believe the typical religious “shunning” is designed to cause discomfort to individual members of a belief system in order to pressure them into returning to the fold as well as limiting their influence within the group. I have heard testimonies from people who have experienced this exact thing in Jehovah’s Witness groups, Amish groups, as well as the Message. But as for us leaving the Message, it became obvious that relationships built upon the common ground of Message teachings are bound to dissolve when one party leaves. I think because our focus and paradigm has changed we simply no longer have that much in common. I also believe families should love each other above any differences in opinion, religious or otherwise. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. James Rozak says:

    Hi Kathy – thank you for your comments! And yes, I agree with that. The reasoning for ‘shunning’ is really quite explainable. As you said, the thing which established common ground for us in the Message was always more crucial than we realized (until we’re the one on the outside). And without that integral ‘marker’ that makes us safely belong to the “we”, then we become a ‘them’. A dynamic that just doesn’t work in any way, unless exceptional-intention efforts are made to break this. Like family. Like choosing to value kindness, love and humanity. In the end, I think there’s only a few connections most of us manage to maintain in a meaningful way. All part of the reality of change and differences.

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