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Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group. Censures and sanctions sometimes follow excommunication; these include banishment, shunning, and shaming, depending on the religion, the offense that caused excommunication, or the rules or norms of the religious community.



The Biblical basis of excommunication is anathema. The references are found in Galatians 1:8 — "But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be anathema!" Then also, 1 Corinthians 16:22 — "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be anathema." The word can be translated several ways; the King James Version translates it as accursed. The New Testament contains limited examples of excommunication. Jesus, in Matthew 18:17, teaches that those who repeatedly offend others should be treated as "Gentiles or tax collectors." In the Epistle to the Romans 16:17, Paul writes to "mark those who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them", and in 1 Corinthians 5, he instructs the Corinthians to expel an immoral member of their community. Also, in 2nd John vv. 10 & 11, the writer advises believers that "whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house [οικιαν, residence or abode, or "inmates of the house" (family)], neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds".

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