How to Leave Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses do not provide a dignified resignation process for members who wish to leave. Issues such as shunning and adjusting to normal life outside the faith can prove challenging to those wishing to leave. This article provides basic information on leaving this faith.


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    Do personal research. You want to be sure you are making the correct decision. Allow yourself the opportunity to research the faith from both Watchtower provided materials as well as reliable third party sources.
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    Decide how you feel about shunning and the announcement: "So-and-so is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses."
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    If you want to avoid being shunned, continue to live as one of Jehovah's Witnesses while slowly fading. Fading involves slowly reducing your involvement over many months. Start by making fewer comments, going out in field service less often, declining parts on the theocratic ministry school, then finally reducing the number of meetings you attend. Be prepared to explain your reduced involvement to any Witnesses who inquire only in vague terms. As long as you avoid doing things that would qualify you for disfellowshipping or disassociation by action, many have found they can avoid being subject of a disfellowshipping announcement.
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    If you are not concerned about shunning, simply stop attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall and carry on your life in the manner that reflects your true beliefs. You are also welcome to write a brief letter of disassociation. Send the letter to the "Body of Elders" of the congregation you associated with, using the address of the Kingdom Hall. Once the letter has been received the elders may contact you to confirm your intention. Once confirmed an announcement will be made, "So-and-so is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses." This announcement carries an implied command to faithful members to begin shunning you, not even saying "hello" if they see you.


  • If you are not baptized, under current policy, you can leave without being subject of disfellowshipping action.
  • Some have viewed the disfellowshipping announcement as either slander or invasion of privacy. If you want to pursue the issue in civil court, contact a lawyer. Keep in mind Jehovah's Witnesses are protected by freedom of speech and freedom of religion laws in most areas.
  • Some have found joining face-to-face or online ex-JW meet up groups to be helpful.
  • The shunning policy is not as strictly applied within a household. Thus if a disfellowshipped member lives with their family some communication will continue. Likewise Jehovah's Witnesses are instructed to provide needed help to family members, even if they are disfellowshipped.


  • Some attempts at fading fail. If two witnesses testify that you no longer believe the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses are used by Jehovah you can be disfellowshipped for apostasy. Likewise any thing you do that is against the faith, such as celebrating a birthday or Christmas, voting or joining the military or another church can result in disfellowshipping action. This is true even if you have had no contact with Jehovah's Witnesses for many months or even years.
  • Family and friends who see you leave will often have very negative reactions, even if you are not disfellowshipped or disassociated.
  • Adjusting to living outside the organization can take time. If you have trouble coping you may need to seek the assistance of a mental health professional.
  • If you want to rejoin after being disfellowshipped a reinstatement process is available. However this process can take many months to over a year. During this time you will be expected to be a regular meeting attender while continuing to be shunned.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses view their faith as the only true Christian faith and the only means of salvation through the impending Armageddon event believed to be in our near future. Members are taught there is no legitimate reason to leave the faith. No dignified resignation has been provided that does not imply one who leaves is making a grave mistake and is wicked; they use the scripture from their NWT (New World Translation) 1 Corinthians 5:13.

Sources and Citations

  • [1] Monticello Times - April 9, 2009 - Faith divides former Monti/Big Lake family
  • [2] Jehovah's Witnesses Official Website - Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?
  • [3] Jehovah's Witnesses Official Website - The End of False Religion Is Near!
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Categories: Religion