gina - 4/5/2017 at 11:42 PM
A dedicated pacifist who has never even held a gun, Andrei Sivak discovered that his government considered him a dangerous extremist when he tried to change some money and the teller “suddenly looked up at me with a face full of fear.”
His name had popped up on the exchange bureau’s computer system, along with those of members of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other militant groups responsible for shocking acts of violence.
The only group the 43-year-old father of three has ever belonged to, however, is Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination committed to the belief that the Bible must be taken literally, particularly its injunction “Thou shalt not kill.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of a denomination founded in the United States in the 19th century and active in Russia for more than 100 years, refuse military service, do not vote and view God as the only true leader. They shun the patriotic festivals promoted with gusto by the Kremlin, like the annual celebration of victory in 1945 and recent events to celebrate the annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
“Their disregard for the state,” a report prepared for the prosecution said, “erodes any sense of civic affiliation and promotes the destruction of national and state security.”
Under a Russian law passed in 1997, there is freedom of religion, but four faiths are designated to be traditional—Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism—and other religious organizations must register with the government. Some groups, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are registered, still face bureaucratic and legal hurdles. Jehovah's Witness leaders estimate that there are 175,000 Russian-based adherents to the faith, which was founded in the United States the 1870s. Unlike Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the son of God but do not believe in the Trinity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are pacifists, and their religious beliefs require them to abstain from political activity. They declare allegiance only to God, not to a state or political entity. They do not vote, lobby, protest, or join military. This lack of participation can be seen as a threat if a state demands nationalist and patriotic activity.
REMARKS: Russia only wants four faiths in their lands, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Who defines Orthodox Christianity? To call them an extremist organization when they do not fight or take part in any violence, just because they do not vote, do not want to be involved in politics, that is a threat to the state? Well I guess it could be, secular law vs. God's laws, it had to occur to some nation at some time. Russia is just a few steps ahead of us. When will certain religions be banned in this or other countries?
Would we accept Jehovahs witnesses here if they needed to emigrate due to religious persecution?
Would they be acceptable refugees?
[Edited on 4/5/2017 by gina]
nebish - 4/6/2017 at 03:39 AM
I'd like to ban Jehovah's Witnesses from annoying me and knocking on my door.