Excommunication literally means 'out of communion' and is the removal of a former member from a church body. Excommunication is a drastic step and usually results in cutting ties with other members of that church as well.
The concept of excommunication is discussed in the New Testament and was made famous during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods in references to the Catholic Church, where it was seen as one's removal from the body of Christ. It continues to be practised into the 21st century, by groups such as the Amish and Jehovah's Witnesses, the latter terming it as 'disfellowshipping'.
- Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. "Discipline That Can Yield Peacable Fruit" in The Watchtower; (April 15, 1988)