WikiAccepted 2003-08-25


Disownment is the ultimate action taken by the Church of Virus to protect itself at the culmination of a disciplinary process.

Precedent for Disownment

To prove that Disownment is appropriate in some instances, I raise the precedent of the "Society of Friends", who dealt with this issue, by calling on the community to make determinations about continued membership as a consequence of actions of members, and when necessary, ejecting people from the community by means of "Disownment".

It should be noted that "Disownment" did not require infractions of conduct, but might be applied in instances where members were seen as acting contrary to the interest of the "Society", I'd like to quote, two examples from Appendix B infra, "Some Sample Minutes of Disownment":

In modern terminology, in the first case, the member was disowned for continuous unbecoming conduct and the creation of a nuisance, in the other for preferring another belief system and so bringing the society into disrepute.

So we have historic precedent firmly on our side when we say that not only are we entitled to evaluate anybody's fitness to be a member, but also to protect our society by disowning and shunning members if this is deemed necessary.


In testifying against an unrighteous action or even in disowning a "sinful" member, the Church of Virus is not "excommunicating" in the sense that most churches do. Because other churches also revoke the membership of individuals on account of their disapproved behavior it is natural to think of Disownment as another word for excommunication; however, the two concepts are not identical, and the Church of Virus repudiates the term excommunication. The precise difference basically consists in this: that excommunication is aimed at the offender, whereas Disownment is aimed at the world. This needs some clarifying.

When, e.g. the Roman Catholic Church denies a person the right to communicate (a technical term for receiving the eucharistic sacrament), they are denying him or her something which they believe to be an important, or even an indispensable, channel of the "grace of God". If the excommunicated person believes in the doctrines of the church then he believes the salvation of his soul to be in serious jeopardy not merely because of the sin he was excommunicated for but because he cannot get the sacrament. Historically excommunication has also involved other penalties, including exclusion from worship services, social shunning by other church members, and loss of civil rights in church-dominated nations.

Other churches that practice excommunication have often differed from the Roman Catholic view of "sacraments", but they have not discarded the underlying idea of excommunication as something done to an offender, of such nature as to motivate compliance based on fear of the church; in other words, it is a punishment. It can be a very severe punishment, putting a person into a far worse position than he or she would have been in had s/he never joined the church. Some Anabaptist groups have carried this so far that a husband and wife may not eat or sleep together if one of them has been excommunicated; and in communal churches excommunication can mean loss of one's home, possessions, and means of livelihood.

By contrast the Church of Virus when Disowning a person, is not trying to do anything at all to that person. We are trying to define for the world's benefit what the Church of Virus is; in particular that membership in the Church of Virus is not consistent with the type of behavior for which the person is Disowned. The individual does lose a few rights (chiefly the right to use the facilities of the Church of Virus or participate as an active member in its activities), but only to such an extent as is unavoidable if the Church of Virus is to maintain its self-definition; it is not done to make the disownee feel bad, and the disownee is in no worse position than any other nonmember of the Church of Virus after Disownment.

Members of the Church of Virus are encouraged to dissociate themselves from punitive disciplinary practices and to stress the limited nature of what we are doing in Disowning: Disownment is not excommunication, it is a simple declaration of disunity, and the grounds on which it has arisen.

When members manifest their disunity with the Church of Virus, by inconsistent or disorderly conduct, creation of dissension in the community, adoption of principles and practices contrary to the "Virian Virtues" and "Senseless Sins", or through an unwillingness to comply with the necessary rules of our on-line community, it is just and requisite, that after endeavoring to restore them without effect, the body should testify its disunity with such erring and refractory members; at the same time earnestly desiring, that they may be convinced of the error of their ways, and that through unfeigned repentance, and a consistent orderly conduct in future, they may be reunited. This being the utmost extent of our discipline respecting offenders, it is very evident that from the right exercise thereof, no degree of persecution or imposition can be justly inferred; for the imposition would rest entirely on the part of those who might insist on being retained as members, whilst at open variance with the Church of Virus, either in principle or practice.

This is the extent of the Church of Virus's censure against irreclaimable offenders, they are disowned as members of our religious community; which is recommended to be done in such a disposition of mind, as may convince them, that we sincerely desire their recovery and restoration.

As can be seen from the context, the reference to irreclaimable offenders in this last passage does not mean that the Church of Virus thinks that anyone is "permanently irreclaimable" but only that the Church of Virus has done all that we can, for the time being, in efforts to persuade the offender to repent, so that the integrity of the Church of Virus requires a testimony of disunity.

The Disciplinary Process

When a member's offense comes to the formal attention of the Church of Virus, one or more Virian Vectors will privately admonish the offender. Should this fail, the Church of Virus will appoint a Reconciliation Committee of two Virian Vectors, to ascertain the facts about the matter reported, and (if the member complained of was guilty) to learn whether he or she was repentant. If the individual does not seem contrite these Virians will attempt to persuade the offender to repent. If this is successful the offender will offer a written acknowledgment, expressing that what he or she has done is contrary to the principles of the Church of Virus, that they are sorry for it and intend to behave better in the future. The reason for its being in writing is so that the Church of Virus's disunity with the action will be on record. The acknowledgment might be seen as humiliating, it is not intended that way. If the offender is sincere they will be motivated to clear any damage to the reputation of the Church of Virus.

Should the offender not retract and reject their conduct then the question of Disownment is raised. The Church of Virus will postpone Disownment as long as there seems the least chance of the situation being rectified. If, however, the erring member persistently refuses to offer a satisfactory acknowledgment, then the Church of Virus's appointed Reconciliation Committee will eventually write a paper indicating its disunity with the action and the Church of Virus's Disownment of the offender. The purpose of such a paper is the same as the purpose of the acknowledgment, to keep the ethical standards of the Church of Virus a clear matter of record. An offender subjected to Disownment loses all rights within the Church of Virus, most especially the right to use the various on-line communications facilities maintained by the Church of Virus.

A member, on notification of Disownment, may appeal this to a panel comprised of six Virian Vectors under the chairmanship of the highest available Virian Vectors (who shall hold a casting vote), first at the time of the Disownment, and at annual intervals thereafter. The ballot of this panel shall be secret, and its results binding.

Purposes and Nonpurposes of Disownment

We have discussed the primary function of Disownment in maintaining the public credibility of the Church of Virus. Disownment's primary purpose is to protect the Church of Virus from disrepute. Another, closely related, purpose is that of maintaining internal consistency of the Church of Virus. The ability to use our forums is select, that is, limited to members in good standing. These members are assumed to have the same convictions and therefore to be approaching the questions before the Church of Virus with a common purpose. Throwing the doors open to people who are at open variance with the Body, either in principle or practice, makes it difficult or impossible to maintain order and civility in our deliberations.

To sharpen up these concepts it may be helpful to list some things which are not the purpose of Disownment.

Consequences of Disownment

The chief consequence of Disownment for the disowned person is that they no longer have the right to vote or use our on-line facilities other than those facilities which the Church of Virus may make available to the public; for the Church of Virus, it is that we no longer have an obligation to oversee the behavior of the Disowned. This does not necessarily mean that concern for the, or contact with the Disowned must cease. But any actions resulting from concern are undertaken at the members own initiative.

There is no Shunning involved in Disownment; the Church of Virus does not tell Virians with who they may or may not associate or who they may have as friends.

"Originally posted at http;action=display;threadid=29095

Discussion on Disownment


In this document following, some of the wording (particularly that relating to Disownment), has been taken from an article about the practices within another self-assertedly non-dogmatic, albeit Deistic religion, the "Society of Friends", or Quakers and included with relatively minor editing, modernisation and adaptation for on-line use. The source article many be found at http"Precedent for Disownment As Historically Practiced in the Society of Friends", Jenny Duskey, Larry Kuenning, Charlotte Kuenning, Licia Kuenning, 1991-08-28. It may be useful to know that rather than a formal structure, the Quakers ran "Meetings" at which there was no prescribed agenda, but where members in good standing could speak out as they felt needful, and that all actions were taken by a vote of the elders or community.

Last edited on Tuesday, September 30, 2003 12:57:16 am.