Church Discipline and the First Amendment
The Biblical basis for shunning is found in these two verses: "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat" (I Corinthians 5:11)
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and of fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17)
In Kentucky a former member of the Amish community has filed an action challenging the practice of excommunication as applied to church members who are owners of stores serving the public who selectively refuse service to former members of the Amish community. The allegation being made is that this action is a violation of Kentucky’s Civil rights Act for denial of service in a public place for religious reasons. See details at Religion Clause. The store owner claims the church teachings require her to refuse service or risk eternal damnation. Thus the defense says the practice of shunning even in places of public accommodation is protected by the First Amendment.
Was the practice of shunning a practice of the early church?