Religion: The Right To Shun

Like certain Amish and Mennonite groups, Jehovah's Witnesses practice shunning: believers are required to treat as pariahs those who have been ousted from the sect. Since 1981 those who leave voluntarily have also been ostracized, even by close relatives. Janice Paul of Anchorage, a former Witness who was shunned by her close friends in the sect after she defected, decided to strike back. She sued the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses for unspecified damages, citing her emotional distress. An appeals court in San Francisco, upholding a previous ruling by a federal district court, has turned away Paul's suit. The Constitution's...

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