The Ghent Jehovah’s Witnesses Decision: Big Brother Is Watching You

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In California, a woman called Mayra Gomez has been cut off from her family and many friends. Her 21-year-old son told her, “You are no longer my mother,” and informed Mayra she had been permanently excluded from his life.

This may look like a case of shunning for religious reason, but it isn’t. Mayra Gomez is a supporter of Donald Trump, while her son and most of her friends voted Democrat. In the heated climate of current American politics, this was reason enough for shunning her. Nor is Mayra’s case isolated. Hundreds of articles reporting similar incidents have been published by American media. They are not short-lived quarrels. Lawyer William Hill told the New York Times that, “his sister, who lives in Seattle, blew up at him after he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, and they haven’t spoken since.” “Families have been torn apart by politics,” the Times commented. Of course, it goes both directions, as some Trump supporters shun friends and relatives who voted for Biden.

In Italy, a friend of mine I would call James repeatedly cheated on his wife. The wife never forgave him. For a number of reasons, connected to family properties that would be difficult to divide, they continue to live under the same roof. But they do not live “together.” His wife hardly speaks to him, takes her meal separately, sleeps in a different room, and insists he should not meet her guests and relatives when she receives them. This situation is not uncommon. In fact, Italian case law has regulated to some extent the situation of those who live “separated under the same roof,” a status which has economic and other legal consequences (for instance, they cannot adopt a child) but is not illegal.

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