Shunning is a Crime

I Earned This Punishment Because I Have Sinned


A comment often heard from excommunicated members of high-control groups is they have sinned and deserve the punishment of mandated shunning. It never occurs to them that they may be the victim. That they have induced group phobias related to sexual norms and the group’s coercive ideology may not be “the truth”.

To members still in the group, the person being shunned is the perpetrator. If they commit suicide or need mental health care, they will often say, “You see! This is what happens if you leave the truth!” The damage the victim suffers is said to be his or her responsibility. But the reality of this kind of thinking is textbook victim blaming. 

Is there such a thing as “the truth”?

This blog post does not discuss “the truth” of any group. It may be true that Thor exists and that he is a hero by handing Mjölnir (his hammer). What I am trying to say is that there is no excuse for hurting people because they no longer believe in Thor and Mjölnir. 

Mandated shunning is a crime against humanity that needlessly hurts hundreds of thousands of people. It is a social death sentence and should not be a part of ‘religious freedom’. 

Yes, but still, I have sinned

This brings us to define a “sin”, a religious concept that refers to actions and thoughts considered immoral, wrong or contrary to “divine laws”. Sin is regarded as a violation of moral principles prescribed by a religious belief. 

In a Christian faith community, moral principles are based on what the Bible says. But is the Bible a reliable source of morality? Most Christians are not familiar with the following three (there are many more) texts in the Bible:

  • you discover a woman is no longer a virgin on her wedding day, and you stone her to death (Deut. 22:20,21);
  • if your teenagers are unruly, you stone them to death too (Deut. 21:18-21);
  • your son/daughter no longer believe what you believe about God, you must stone them (Deut. 13:6-11) .

These are not metaphors. These are not analogies to some spiritual struggle. These are explicit directives to kill people for theological crimes as ordered by the same God who also inspired the New Testament text.

Unfortunately, the interpretation of other texts is not always unambiguous. As an example, consider what the Bible says (or does not say) about sex before marriage. There are passages in the Bible that condemn sexual immorality, such as sexual activity outside of marriage. These passages are often interpreted as forbidding sexual relations before marriage. 

Some Christians interpret these passages as Godly advice to limit sexual relationships to marriage. Other interpretations place greater emphasis on the importance of sexual purity and fidelity ‘in relationships’, whether or not they involve marriage. Thus, the interpretation of these texts and the understanding of sexuality within the context of faith may vary among different Christian denominations and theological movements and may even change with time.

What if you are gay?

Today, gays are stigmatized, reprimanded and excluded within many church communities. What do you think? Is it justifiable to condemn homosexuality and all people within the LGBTQ community with a social death sentence and make them victims of mandated shunning by religious groups that do so under the guise of religious freedom?

The Bible says in Leviticus 20:13 that homosexuals should be put to death, which in biblical times was done by stoning or burning. In stoning, the condemned person was placed in a pit and stones were thrown at that person by bystanders until he or she died. If a religious community were to take this literally today, with the excuse “we only apply what God commands us to do in the Bible,” no court in the free world would accept this. It would be murder. 

It is not a crime unless…

Suppose the religious community you grew up in as a child looted all your possessions as punishment for the sin you committed. Would you accept this as a just punishment? Suppose you accept and consider this punishment as deserved, and you refuse to make a complaint to the authorities nor talk to anyone else about it then: 

  • no theft as a crime took place;
  • there is no victim;
  • there is no criminal;
  • the criminal can continue and repeat the crime;
  • the authorities cannot intervene despite the legislation prohibiting theft.

We need people to report their experiences of being shunned. If we don’t report or tell our story, it’s not a documented crime that can be addressed.

Tell us your story 

One wonders, especially in the context of an ever-growing awareness of the damage done by mandated shunning, why more legislators do not consider it to be an “organized crime”. 

But we can make that happen by presenting legislators and government officials with the reports and stories of tens of thousands of victims and their experience of psychological violence related to mandated shunning.

You will find many stories on this website that will help make mandated shunning a crime. But we need more stories. We need your story about how you have been wronged. We’ve made it easy for you to tell us with many helpful prompts here.