Shunning is a practice among Mennonites of avoiding those who have been placed under the ban (disfellowshipped). It is a second level of separation and part of a strategy for winning an erring member back into full fellowship. It can be traced to the 1530s, when Anabaptists needed a way to separate themselves from the radical communalists at Munster whose doctrinal errors, immorality, and violence had made Anabaptists a common object of derision.
   In 1632, a paragraph on shunning was included in the Dordrecht Confession, one of the more important Mennonite statements of beliefs. According to Dordrecht, shunning includes refraining from eating, drinking, and holding similar intercourse with the shunned individual.
   The Dordrecht Confession was not accepted by the Swiss Mennonites, but it became strongly identified with the Amish. In America, only the more conservative Mennonite groups accepted it. The largest group, the Mennonite Church, recognizes Dordrecht but does not demand that either members or ministers individually subscribe to it; shunning is its most controversial provision.
   Through the 20th century, shunning was quietly abandoned by most Mennonites, though it survives in a few small groups.
   Further reading:
   ■ Robert Bear, Delivered unto Satan, (Carlisle, Pa.: privately published, 1974)
   ■ Donald Kraybill, Old Order Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.