50 Ways to Leave the Watchower

Gambling isn't mentioned in the Bible, yet the Jehovah's Witnesses disfellowship anyone who engages in this pastime.

Posted by Joel Gunz

According to the latest Watchtower Index, released in 2009, there are 38 distinct matters for which a Jehovah's Witness can be shunned by the congregation. And this list is not complete: there are even more grounds for disfellowshipping that only the elders know about, which have been conveyed to them by letters from the Governing Body and traveling overseers. For which of these were you disfellowshipped? How many of these are mentioned as shunnable practices in the Bible?

It isn't quite 50 ways, but what the heck:

Associating with disfellowshipped persons, including family members
Blood transfusion
Dishonest practices
Working at a casino
Employment violating Christian principles
Extreme physical abuse of family members
Fits of anger
Following mourning customs that involve false worship
Greed in relation to bride-price
Gross uncleanness
Incestuous marriage
Loose conduct
Obscene speech
Non-medical use of marijuana
Parents condoning immorality
Planned adultery to break Scriptural marriage ties
Promoting sects
Selling tobacco
Sexual abuse of children
Subversive activity
Use of illicit drugs
Use of tobacco
Willful nonsupport of family


  1. "Non-medical use of marijuana"

    So... medical use is OK? I'm going back! :)

  2. My father is guilty of 8 of those and is still a respected member of his congregation.

  3. Couldn't have at least gone for an even ten?

  4. LOL, I love your snark. It's like nectar from the Gods. :)

  5. Heh heh. I spent years doing the "whatever things are, true, chaste, lovable, of serious concern" thing, and look where it got me.

  6. I guess your researchis flawed, gambling is in the bible, the god of good luck??
    If you look at more modern versions of the bible, you will find the word gambling more than once, and JWs don't use thoise bibles!
    You want to follow the bible, that's fine, it's a choice. I choose not to, that's my choice, and I don't expect JW's to accept me. Maybe the other churches will?? Guess depends on their stance on the bible.

  7. You are right, Anonymous, some newer versions do mention gambling. However, my essential point stands: to isolate, shun, and separate family members from each other because someone likes to hit a slot machine in Vegas once in a while strikes me as a fanciful interpretation of the will of God.

    As a Jehovah's Witness, you may subscribe to the Governing Body's ruling on the matter. I don't.

  8. I notice on the list "extreme physical abuse of family members". I wonder where that line is? I am an ex JW and I can tell you I got whipped with a belt pretty fuckin hard. My dad, on the year he got terminal cancer decided that he was of the 144,000. He was also an elder until he stepped down because I went off the reservation when I stepped down.

    My question to you Joel, is what took you so long to leave? I moved out at 17 to leave the JWs and enjoyed a pretty normal early adulthood. lucky me!

    1. My dad too. Top dog elder who kept a three foot long stick as thick as his thumb to beat us (his 7 kids ) with. He also stepped down when I was 16, after head butting me and smashing my nose after I called him a bastard for dragging me up the garden path by my hair- this in front of friends and neighbours- after I said that I didn't want to go for a walk with him (ie stop playing football in front of the house with non JW's.) He was re promoted after I left home at 18 and is still a well respected elder in Blackburn, UK.

  9. Good question, Sheldon. It's a long story (and one I'm still figuring out how to tell), but basically I had been unusually zealous -- even for a JW. I was a regular auxiliary pioneer with a wife and two kids the month I was DF'd. Even afterward, I tried for a year or so to get back in. But as I saw non-JWs having authentic spiritual experiences, and as I received staggering expressions of love from people of all kinds of faiths, I realized JWs hadn't cornered the market on spirituality and love.

    I agree. I took way too long to figure those basic truths out.

  10. Joel,
    Congrats on being free!
    Well I have been reading posts on your blog, and now I can see you were in very deep, living an adult life as a JW. You were actually a pioneer the month you got DFed?! Wow! So all this was kind of sudden?

    I suppose I can't even relate much to your experience as I had the benefit of taking advantage of my youthful rebelliousness to break away.

    It must be pretty tough to be estranged from your son in this manner as well.

    My parents met at Bethel by the way. I visited there as a child, and remember planning to serve there when I got older. Glad I took a different path
    Anyway, very interesting blog, keep it coming.


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