Finnish Branch Office spokesman misrepresents shunning rules to journalist

A video (with english subtitles) has been released by showing Watchtower Society, Finnish Branch Office spokesman, Veikko Leinonen apparently giving mis-information to a journalist. What he says to the journalist totally contradicts what he is heard reading later – about how a person should be treated when they decide to no longer be a Jehovah’s Witness.

The video begins with a female journalist asking – can “a child when he becomes a young person decide to be a Jehovah’s Witness or not.”

Veikko Leinonen says “it is a personal matter and no one else can decide.”

The journalist then asks “Can he leave freely and start his own life?”

Veikko Leinonen then says “Absolutely, absolutely freely and we hope they will return freely and there will be no obstacles.”

The journalist then asks “so this sort of leaver is not shunned?”

Veikko Leinonen replies “No No No.”

What is surprising is that a Branch Office spokesperson would so blatantly make statements to the media that contradict Watchtower Society’s known policy and practices.

The video has the same Finnish Branch office spokesperson Veikko Leinonen, reading the Watchtower Society’s shunning policy, which totally contradicts what he told the journalist. He reads:

a simple “Hello” to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”Watchtower 1981 Sep 15 p.25

He is then heard reading:
Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes for several reasons. … Although there might be a need for limited contact on some rare occasion to care for a necessary family matter, any such contact should be kept to a minimum.” Keep Yourself in God’s Love (2008) pp.207,208

Thousands can testify that shunning not only exists it a requirement for Jehovah’s Witnesses to shun family and friends if they are to show “loyalty” to the beliefs of the organisation.

This is also confirmed by the recording made during the “Gods word is truth” 2013 District convention series where Witnesses are told to ignore the human family bond and to shun family members to show “loyalty.”

Here is the JWsurvey video with that recording from the 2013 convention – thanks to John Cedars

Given the current spotlight on the Finland Branch Office by journalists and government it is amazing that the Branch Office spokesperson Veikko Leinonen should be caught spreading mis-information that is so easily refuted.

If there is no shunning why are so many denied their human right to undisturbed contact with their families?

More information

Finnish Jehovah’s Witnesses Link

JWsurvey’s transcript of 2013 District convention shunning talk Link

JWfacts Shunning and disfellowshipping Link


About Susannah

"Susannah," JWReport's News and Opinion Editor, is very familiar with the Watchtower Society and its leaders past and present. An experienced editor and writer, she was born and raised in the UK where she was an active Jehovah's Witness until she was 28. She now lives and works in southern Europe.


Finnish Branch Office spokesman misrepresents shunning rules to journalist — 8 Comments

  1. This goes to show the depths of hypocrisy with this destructive CULT. They use Theocratic warfare on those who they feel are not entitled to the truth. This they feel, gives them the RIGHT to lie to those who do not deserve to know. They say one thing to the Media, and then in the Watchtower they say what they really feel. Every time their lies catch up with them. Who do they think they are fooling?
    Their own brainwashed rank and file members. But the world knows better and if not we will shout from the mountain tops of their lying ways.

  2. Unfortunately the devil is in the detail. Its mere technicalities but this guy will be happy that he hasn’t lied, however he can do this based on the specific semantics of the question and not the overall principle behind this question. He was asked if someone who had left the organisation could come back, and the answer is yes. However if someone is disfellowshipped, they do put major obstacles to, not only that person returning but also makes their life awful, i.e. they kick in their shunning which treats this person as if they are dead. They will disfellowship a member who just asks any questions of their teachings, history and their credentials as God only chosen representative on this entire earth, and their right to tell people that God will destroy all men women and children who are not JW’s in the future and leave just 0.1% of the planet alive i.e. just JW’s. Most sane people have a problem with that and would quite rightly question it.
    So the reporter needed to ask the question – “how would someone who has left because they don’t believe the what they teach or was disfellowshipped by treated and how would they return?” However that question comes from insider knowledge of the way they work. Any rank and file members who are indoctrinated would not have a problem with what he has said because it conforms to their indoctrination.

  3. Shunning is shunning. As Finland’s Minister of Justice said there should not be two systems in operation for punishing people – It is not a crime to not want to be a JW. Being told to ignore any of your family is a breach of human rights – not to have any family interference.

    Article 12 UDHR and Article 17 ICCPR stipulate that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation’ and that ‘everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’
    Article 8 ECHR sets out the right to respect for private and family life.

    • If you have a look at the full list of articles making up the Universal Declaration of human rights, its more than just those 3 (above) that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are breaching, its nearly half of them:

      Article 1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 16 (3), 17 18, 19, 20, 21 (1), 26, 27

      Someone should be taking the Governing Body to the human rights court for severe breaches of human rights, its deplorable!

  4. can “a child when he becomes a young person decide to be a Jehovah’s Witness or not.”

    It is a personal decision whether or not to be baptised into the JW religion. If a young person is brought up by JW parent/s there may be substantial coercion to become a JW see:-

    “Can he leave freely and start his own life?”

    This depends upon whether a young person has been baptised into the JW’s or not. If not they can freely disassociate themselves without in theory any sanctions against them. However if they are a baptised JW and they are disfellowshipped or they formally disassociate themselves by letter, then members of their former congregation and JW family members not living with them will shun them except for dealing with necessary family business. Many baptised JW’s just stop participating (fade) and are regarded as spiritually weak resulting in greatly reduced social association with them by active congregation members.

  5. Many children get baptised to please their parents, not realising that being dunked in a swimming pool for 2 seconds will also mean that their family will be taken from them. Most children tend to be about 14 years old when peer pressure is exerted to such a level that for a peaceful life and so as not to be disapproved of in the congregation, they get dunked. Some brave ones who decide that JW teachings are not for them, then have their family taken from them by JW rules.
    Even if they decided not to be baptised they are marked within the congregations as a possible “bad association” and this adds pressure to conform. Shunning is inhumane, unkind, unloving and a JW speciality.

    • It does not actually matter at all why children get baptised. A religious rite performed involvong the minor is completely irrelevant and any consequences associated with it are the responsibility of the parent, not the then-underage child.

      So the question did not specify if it meant baptised or not, because it does not matter. They shun some and don’t shun others, but the reporter was asking if there is shunning or not and Veikko lied that there is not.

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