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Reformed Mennonite Church

Man Still Fights Shunning
Robert Bear, 73, continues to fight his shunning, almost 30 years ago, by the Reformed Mennonite Church, in eastern Pennsylvania. He has been arrested many times in attempts to discredit the church and undo his excommunication, which severed his relationship with his wife and six children. In January, he avoided jail for trespassing by promising a judge that he would stop protesting against the church at a supermarket owned by one of its elders. Once, he picked up his wife and physically put her into his truck before being arrested on assault and kidnapping charges. [csr 2.1 2003]

A church elder said some time ago that Bear was excommunicated because he refused to change his interpretation of the Scriptures. Bear once tried to get a judge to issue an injunction against the shunning, but lost the case, and he now calls the organization a “cult” that controls its members through shunning and depriving men of their wives. His lawyer says that Bear’s “obsession to bring down the church . . . I think has deprived him of what could be the joys of life.” [csr 2.1 2003]

A scholar at Elizabethtown College says that most Mennonite groups have dropped the practice of shunning, seeing it as “too punitive and not accepting or loving or forgiving enough.” The Reformed Mennonite church has dwindled to 275 followers, and has trouble keeping younger members. (AP in New York Times, Internet, 1/24/03) [csr 2.1 2003]