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Thread: Jehovah's Witnesses persecuted in Russia

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    Jehovah's Witnesses persecuted in Russia

    Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia Brace for a Final Blow

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are no strangers to harassment in Putin’s Russia. But they may be about to be dealt a final blow.

    March 6, 2017 — 19:00 — Update: 20:06

    By Katie Davies


    After more than a decade of legal wrangling, controversial anti-terrorism laws are set to deliver the final blow to Russia’s embattled Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    For years, Russia has chased the group in a tireless game of cat and mouse. Authorities hold shipments of Bibles at the border. Police raids are timed to break up Sunday services. Meeting houses across the country are shuttered.

    But now the group's religious leaders say their situation is critical. Prosecutors, who call the group is an extremist sect, responsible for tearing apart families and indoctrinating young people, are now set to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country for good.

    “We consider this a serious threat,” says Robert Warren, a spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses International. “This decision could influence not just Russia, but the whole former Soviet Union,” he says.

    Russia’s 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, who fear physical attacks inspired by the government’s campaign, say they just want to spread the word of God.

    “We feel this move by the government will actually spark real extremist activity against our believers,” Warren told The Moscow Times.
    A Tightening Noose

    The looming closure is the result of a long and agonising legal process.

    Regional branches of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have long been viewed with suspicion by officials. The group was banned outright in the Russian city of Taganrog in 2014. Other bans quickly followed in Samara and Abinsk.

    Then, in early 2016, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ central headquarters near St. Petersburg was issued an official warning to halt their “extremist activity.” The warning arrived at the same time as the organization was banned in five more Russian regions: Belgorod, Birobidzhan, Elista, Oryol and Stary Oskol.

    The group’s final appeal against the warning was rejected in January 2017. Now, authorities can now use any violation of the anti-terror law, — including the distribution of ‘extremist’ materials — to justify shuttering the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters and the organization across the country.

    A number of alleged infringements of the law were since discovered during “unscheduled inspection” of the Jehovah’s headquarters last month. As part of the raid, the organization was forced to hand over 73,000 pages of documents that included the names of its 2,277 ministers leading Russian congregations.
    ‘Necessary Evil’

    While authorities have the power to shut down the church, they might not follow through, says Roman Lunkin, head of the center for the study of Religion and Society at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ European Institute.

    “Unlike the Soviet era, Russian authorities are not trying to destroy religion in general,” he says. “They will tolerate many ‘suspicious’ sects or religions as a ‘necessary evil’ including the Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostal churches and some Muslim communities.”

    Rather, control is key for the intelligence agencies, Lunkin says. This control could come from the impending threat of closure or by liquidating the church’s central control center and monitoring regional groups.

    “By destroying the Jehovah's Witnesses’ centralized management, officials will be able to better control these communities and monitor the groups scattered across the country.”
    ‘Extremist Bibles'

    What is more concerning for some analysts is how Russian authorities are using anti-extremism laws — designed to combat terrorists — to gain control over society.

    Alexander Verkhovsky, Director of Moscow's SOVA Center, which monitors abuses of anti-extremism legislation, says authorities have followed anti-extremism legislation to the letter in their bid shutter the Jehovah’s main centre.

    “The problem is that those laws are badly formulated,” he said. “It’s very difficult for these organizations to exist without violating one law or another.”

    Law enforcement agencies have focused on the “extremist” literature which Jehovah’s Witnesses distribute on streets or by going door to door.

    Government-appointed experts — generally working in three-person panels usually comprised of a psychologist, linguist and theologist — have so far banned more than 80 Jehovah’s Witnesses publications. In most cases, the bans are for “portraying other religions in a negative light,” or for trying to persuade Russian men to avoid compulsory military service.

    Not everyone agrees with these experts’ testimony.

    Lunkin and Verkhovsky fear that anti-extremism laws are often used unfairly by overzealous prosecutors.

    “There is a general tendency to [use these laws] in order to increase the police’s influence on the public sphere,” Lunkin says. “This affects religion too.”

    With sweeping new anti-terror legislation introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin just last year, the problem is only set to worsen.

    “The legislation we’ve seen come into play between 2015 and 2016 – laws which see religious groups being forced to register themselves and the monitoring of missionary work – has been the most destructive and repressive we’ve seen for many years,” says Lunkin.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses may be among the first organizations to feel the sting of that new legislation. But they say that they will continue to worship regardless.

    “My parents were exiled to Siberia because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses,” says Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. “They worshipped even while they were in those camps. We will continue too.”
    Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia Brace for a Final Blow

    Well... I am happy that they are not giving up. And that Lunkin fellow is optimistic, that the authorities just want to control the JWs, not crush them entirely. I am not so sure, myself.

    I know that the Orthodox Church, quite frankly, does not want any other competing Christian denominations in Russia, none, period. They want to eradicate any other rival Churches, if they could.

    For example, in Lipetsk, there is the Troitsky (Trinity) Cathedral

    It is a 19th century Orthodox cathedral, but, in the post-Soviet period, and, in fact, since before, since late 80s, it was used, together, by both Orthodox believers and clergy and also members of the local Evangelical Baptist community. Orthodox and Baptists shared the building peacefully, for years.

    In December 2008, the first post Soviet Patriarch, Alexiy II

    who had reigned since 1990, died


    Then, the current guy, Kirill, was crowned in his place



    The gentle, kindly spirituality of Alexiy, a modest man who grew up, since young age, as a monk, was replaced by the aggressive Crusading militancy of Kirill


    Kirill wanted two things, wealth and power, political power, for the Church and himself personally. He has now achieved both.

    He has three palaces, one in Peredelkino, near Moscow

    A mansion of a rich nobleman from the Romanov era, which Kirill took over for himself.

    One at Vinnovka monastery complex near Samara


    And a palace newly built specially for him at Gellendzhyk, near Sochi


    He also has 4 personal jets, a yacht, a luxurious personal train with Russian Railroads, and is worth some $4 billion. An oligarch, essentially, and the Church is his own corporation...

    And no Russian oligarch, again, likes competition in his chosen field. Monopoly is the name of the game here.

    So, shortly after Kirill was crowned, in Lipetsk too, the local Orthodox diocese leadership was replaced with hardliners. Suddenly, the Baptists were no longer welcome at Trinity Cathedral. The Church now changed the locks on the building, and hired security guards to keep them out by force. And then, sought and received a court order declaring the building their property and theirs alone, and barring any further access to the Baptists.

    But that was not all. To this day, the Baptist community in Lipetsk are unable to buy or build any new building for themselves, as the Orthodox Church leadership in the area interferes with their every attempt and prevents them from acquiring any real estate.

    The goal, as the Baptist leader put it in the TV show I saw, is simple: Lipetsk must be an Orthodox city. Period.

    That's just one local example.

    I saw a YouTube video, cannot find it now, also somewhere in Russian countryside, couple ladies, also Baptists I think, stand and proselytize their literature on a public square. And then, this big, burly Orthodox priest comes, his entire congregation marching behind him, chanting religious slogans, they surround the Baptist ladies, the Orthodox priest orders the men from his flock to break and smash their little stall and tear up their books, and as they do this, he sprays the Baptist ladies with holy water and tells them, this is your one warning, it will be worse for you next time you ever try to preach here without Orthodox Church's permission. Get out of my town or else, he says. I kid you not. Like the fucking mafia!

    For JWs, its worse. There have been assaults on them, even, I think, in Volgograd, a JW woman was killed, like three years ago...

    Now, the anti-JW sentiment is affecting Filipinos who live and work in Russia also: Pinoy Jehovah?s Witnesses in Russia face deportation | INQUIRER.net

    There are now plenty of families in Moscow who hire Filipino women as nannies and such, help with the kids

    Traditionally, such jobs go to either other Russian women from poorer regions, or ladies from Ukraine or Belarus; but Filipinas, while more expensive, can teach the kids English, which some parents like.

    Now, thousands of them are facing deportation, for their religion...

    This is crazy.
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  2. #2
    res
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    And you wonder why I dislike Putin?

    There's a picture book on the table in the last picture. In the bottom of the picture. It says, in transliteration, "akruzhayushiy mir". That means "the world around you (us)"? Right?
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    It is funny how Orthodox church fights and try to shut down other churches even though most of orthodox churches are empty every sunday. Russians always so scared of everything new.
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    Quote Originally Posted by res View Post
    And you wonder why I dislike Putin?

    There's a picture book on the table in the last picture. In the bottom of the picture. It says, in transliteration, "akruzhayushiy mir". That means "the world around you (us)"? Right?
    Yes, exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousou View Post
    It is funny how Orthodox church fights and try to shut down other churches even though most of orthodox churches are empty every sunday. Russians always so scared of everything new.
    Attendance rates have risen in recent years, actually. But, at this point, its not even about that, anymore. Its more an ideology now than a religion. Like Communism in the old days.

    In the Slavic, Christian regions, every Governor is expected to schmooze with the Church

    If the Governor happens to be an atheist or something, this is kept totally to his self. In public, these days, all the Slavic Governors are, apparently, pious believers lol

    That is where the Church draws its influence from...

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    Little Old Lady Madeline's Avatar
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    It's a failure of American law that our religious freedom is extended to groups like Scientology and the JWs. It's not a feature of American life I can recommend to anyone.

    It is always unfortunate when the mainstream churches enter politics and seek wealth and power, but that error will not be corrected by allowing in more brainwashing cults that harm Russian families.
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    Junior Member Claudius the God's Avatar
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    I am persecuted here by Jehovah's Witnesses. They show up on Saturdays all dressed up with little kids in tow knocking on my door trying to tell me about the Watchtower as if I give a rat's ass. Talk about intrusion. I want a list of all of them so I can knock on their door and convert them to atheism. Now that would be a fair turn of play, see if they like it.
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    Veteran Member GordonGecko's Avatar
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    "Odd"....


    Christians persecuted in Putin's Russia....


    yet our local Rightwing Christians who constantly claim they are "persecuted" here in America?

    have no complaints against Russia, who is ACTUALLY DOING IT???
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    Moderator HCProf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    It's a failure of American law that our religious freedom is extended to groups like Scientology and the JWs. It's not a feature of American life I can recommend to anyone.

    It is always unfortunate when the mainstream churches enter politics and seek wealth and power, but that error will not be corrected by allowing in more brainwashing cults that harm Russian families.
    Religious freedom in the long term creates more harmony among people of different faiths. The problem with the JW's, they are required to recruit and are very irritating. They roam our neighborhoods, knocking on the door, etc. I had one grab my arm as I was backing out of my driveway. I literally hide from them. If I see them roaming around, I wait until they leave. The ones I have met tho are pretty nice folks..you would not know if they are JW unless they told you I have never met a Scientologist. Seems like they are more of a California, wealthy people organization.
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    res
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    Quote Originally Posted by HCProf View Post
    Religious freedom in the long term creates more harmony among people of different faiths. The problem with the JW's, they are required to recruit and are very irritating. They roam our neighborhoods, knocking on the door, etc. I had one grab my arm as I was backing out of my driveway. I literally hide from them. If I see them roaming around, I wait until they leave. The ones I have met tho are pretty nice folks..you would not know if they are JW unless they told you I have never met a Scientologist. Seems like they are more of a California, wealthy people organization.
    I've had JW's show up at my doorstep a couple of times. I always act stupid. It works like a charm. You put a bored expression and a smile on your face and start asking the dumbest questions you can think of. Usually they don't last longer than 5 mins. And then they start avoiding you.

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    res
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    @The Man

    Do you have a link for accusations against Kirill? It doesn't matter if they're in Russian. It's been a while but I could use some practice.

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