'Shunned' ex-Jehovah's Witness from Hull turns to John McDonnell for help

Adrienne Van Den Tooren has been thrown out of the Jehovah's Witnesses for speaking out against the organisation

Hull Live/October 1, 2018

By James Campbell

A former Jehovah’s Witness in Hull has spoken to a top Labour politician about her concerns over the organisation.

Adrienne Van Den Tooren, of west Hull, has been thrown out of the religious group after speaking out over the practice of being "disfellowshipped" and "shunned".

She was among a group of former members in Hull who lifted the lid on their experiences within the organisation and the pain of being told to leave.

She managed to grab a few minutes with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last week.

She said: “I managed to get a brief chat with Mr McDonnell over my concerns regarding human rights violations by the Jehovah’s Witnesses locally.

“There has been a lot of talk globally about what is happening but it is going on locally too.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been at the centre of controversy internationally.

Two senior members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Australia are facing a royal commission which found the organisation does not adequately protect children from being sexually abused.

The Jehovah's Witnesses maintain they act on any allegation of child sex abuse, despite the child abuse royal commission finding they have not reported a single one of 1,006 alleged perpetrators to police since 1950.

Its November 2016 report said the organisation wrongly relies on a two-witness rule with 2,000-year-old biblical origins when handling complaints. This is one of the issues Ms Van Den Tooren raised with Mr McDonnell.

She said: “I told Mr McDonnell about the two-witness rule which means if someone is abused sexually or domestically, it has to be witnessed by someone else before any action can be taken, which is so wrong.

“This isn’t just a problem elsewhere, it happens here in Hull and is enforced by people who seem respectable.

“It was a snap decision to approach Mr McDonnell but he seemed interested in what I had to say and said he would raise the issue with my MP Diana Johnson.

“I have already spoken to Diana Johnson and she is already dealing with some of the issues I have raised.”

Ms Van Den Tooren has previously spoken out over the practice of being "disfellowshipped" and "shunned"

She described how some witnesses have been isolated from loved ones with parents and siblings not even speaking to them simply because they questioned elements of the doctrine preached by the religious group.

Those within the group can be "disfellowshipped" which is a form of ex-communication and they say they are then "shunned".

Mrs Van Den Tooren previously told Hull Live: “I was disfellowshipped on May 16 having not had fellowship for a year presumably on the basis of speaking out against disfellowshipping and shunning.

“We were told that if we are disfellowshipped we will be miserable and mentally diseased. But, on the contrary, I am liberated and have a zeal for life.

“Still, the Witness community, family and friends are officially required to shun me with no acknowledgement or compassion, assuming I have done something grossly wrong.

“I have been a Witness all my life so, despite my relief, it has been no easy thing. It has been a slow process realising what I now know.”

A spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses previously explained the disfellowship and shunning process.

He said: “Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.

“We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped.

“The religious ties someone who is disfellowshipped had with their family changes, but blood ties remain."

They also said there is a way back for those who are disfellowshipped.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Armageddon is just round the corner and humanity is now in the "last days". They believe only they will survive and everyone else will perish.

The denomination was founded in the US towards the end of the 19th century, under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell.

There are about 6.9 million active Witnesses in 235 countries in the world, including one million in the US and 130,000 in the UK.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

DisclaimerAbusive Controlling Relationships