Sherri Shepherd Shares That Jehovah’s Witness Religion Broke Up Her Family
Comedian Sherri Shepherd has been through her share of struggles. The former co-host of The View has always been transparent about her struggles to lose weight, her child custody battles with her ex-husband, as well as about the challenges of navigating surrogacy. Shepherd always manages to push through difficult circumstances, something she recently revealed she’s been doing since she was a child and religion posed a threat to her family.
Shepherd appeared as a guest on “Journeys of Faith” a podcast by ABC News correspondent Paula Farish. Shepherd revealed that as a young girl she was forced to stop talking to her father whom she had a strong bond with when she was punished by the Jehovah’s Witness Church for committing a son and her father then questioned the church leaders about their protocol and policies.
Her father was then disfellowshipped, a practice in which church leaders shun or ostracize a member until the feel they are capable of repenting. Shepherd shares she witnessed the emotional battle her father experienced during that time:
“I was told as a young girl we had to stop talking to my dad even though he lived in our house.”
“He worked three jobs to take care of us and I remember my two sisters telling him, ‘We can’t talk to you anymore.’ I saw him breaking down and crying.”
The 51-year-old recalled living two separate lives at that point, one as a girl living a worldly life and another as a girl committed to her faith in Kingdom Hall. She remembers an incident where one of her sisters read her diary and learned that she had lost her virginity. She tore out the pages to show to their mother and a church leader. As a part of practice, she then questioned by three men in the church in front of her father about her actions and put on reproof for six months. Other church members were cautioned not to talk to her since she had “committed sexual sin”.
Shepherd shares that ultimately that incident led to her parents’ divorce:
“And my parents got divorced because of that, and that was another thing that kind of drew me away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
“I think that was the last straw because in the Bible it says, ‘the greatest of these things is love,’ and you telling me that the man that I love, who’s giving everything to take care of me, I can’t talk to?”
The comedian shares late in her teens years she was “saved at a Black Pentecostal church.” She says compared to the strict teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness religion, she was intrigued by the forgiveness that could be found in Christian faith and the idea of being loved despite your past sins:
“When you’re a Jehovah’s Witness you don’t go into churches because ‘churches are of the devil’.”
“But I tell you, I had such a sense of peace when I was in that [Pentecostal] church.”
Still, even walking in the Christian faith, Shepherd says she still faced challenges in her life, including continuing to host The View a little longer than she should have:
“I heard God’s voice say, ‘I told you it was time to go.’”
Shepherd shares that despite car repossessions, two divorces and spending time in jail, her faith continues to pull her through dark days:
“If I didn’t have my faith, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. My faith is what allows me to get up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. My faith is what allows me to go, ‘It’s going to get better.’”
You can check out “Journeys Of Faith” below: