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End of an Era as Russia Begins to Crack Down on Freedom of Religion and Expression

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posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:13 PM
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It has already been highly publicized about the Supreme Court decision taking place today to liquidate the Administrative center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

For example the print edition of The New York Times ran the front page article (April 5, 2017) titled: "Pacifist, Christian and Threatened by Russian Ban as ‘Extremist'".

And many members from different organizations from around the world spoke out against such actions, some even calling it criminal:


“If Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist, I think we all are” - Heiner Bielefeldt; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief



“The only relationship between Jehovah’s Witnesses and violence is that they have been victims of violence” - Dr. Massimo Introvigne; Sociologist and Former Representative of the OSCE on Combating Racism, Xenophobia, Discrimination



‘If Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist, then most versions of Christianity could be accused of the same thing’ - Annika Hvithamar; Associate Professor/Head of Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen



“Not just a mistake—I think it is a crime” - Lyudmila Alekseyeva; Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Member of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights



“Let’s speak out for Jehovah’s Witnesses!” - Anatoly Vasilyevich Pchelintsev; Editor in Chief of the Journal Religion and Law



“It has always started with Jehovah’s Witnesses and then spread to everyone else” - Vladimir Vasilyevich Ryakhovskiy; Member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights



“This claim violates fundamental principles of freedom of conscience” - Maksim Shevchenko; President of the Center for Strategic Study of Religions and Political Figures


Source

I've been trying to keep up with developments as they have unfolded. And if Fox News is to be trusted they just released a press release stating that the Russian Supreme Court has upheld the ban on Jehovah's Witnesses:


MOSCOW – Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the decision of a Russian city to ban Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist group. The decision Thursday came amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious organization in Russia altogether. Jehovah's Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group, however, has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws and an outright ban in the Far East city of Birobidzhan. In February, Russian investigators inspected the religion's headquarters in St. Petersburg. Prior to the ruling, David A. Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in New York, said the group hopes "Russia's Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship."


Fox News Source

While on the surface this may appear that it does not affect you or anyone else, but a relatively small group of Christians in Russia. It does signal the end of an era of freedom of expression in the Russian Federation.

And it also casts a wide net. For if a non-violet, non-extremist religion can be marked as "extremist" by the Russian Federation, then they can basically mark any group they want to and ban them as well.

This spells a dark day for Russia and all of its people. While they may not know it now. History has repeatedly shown that when governments are ready to take away the freedom from their people, they almost always start with Jehovah's Witnesses. Such as in the early days of Hitler's rise to power in Nazi controlled Germany.

The world should wake up and take notice to what is happening under their noses in the Russian Federation under the control of President Vladimir Putin.


Other sources:

NY Times

In depth article by The New York Times explaining why Russia has targeted Jehovah's Witnesses. Explaining they are considered 'extremists' because they are nonviolent and refuse to participate in war. How they were also targeted first because they are non-political and do not vote, thus no political repercussions. Among other things.

Time

A good article in Time about the situation.

Legal News Department

A plethora of information upon the ongoing legal struggles in Russia and other places in the world by Jehovah's Witnesses.



I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

edit on 6-4-2017 by RobertConrad because: Added Fox News quote

edit on 6-4-2017 by RobertConrad because: Changed effect to affect




posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:23 PM
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Well, it looks like they have gone full circle.

From "Some are more equal than others" communism, to "Let's pick on one very small part of society and let's see if anyone misses them", Fascism.

Stand up or you'll be next, time!!



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:27 PM
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I find this to be disgusting to be honest.

I remember your first thread about it.
And most people said it's a good thing...

I wonder if they'd feel the same if there was a crackdown on their Faith, or non believer status?

We should all be up in arms about this.

JW are probably the least extreme religion on the planet.

I've heard of violent Hindus, Buddhist, I've met violent Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, and we are all well aware of Islamic extremism.
But I've never heard of a violent JW.

Terrible.
edit on 6-4-2017 by Hazardous1408 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:30 PM
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a reply to: RobertConrad

This is stupidity on the part of the Russian Federation. Do you know if they have at least given evidence for their claims of extremism?
edit on 6-4-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:32 PM
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originally posted by: Hazardous1408
I find this to be disgusting to be honest.

I remember your first thread about it.
And most people said it's a good thing...

I wonder if they'd feel the same if there was a crackdown on their Faith, or non believer status?

We should all be up in arms about this.

JW are probably the least extreme religion on the planet.

I've heard of violent Hindus, Buddhist, I've met violent Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, and we are all well aware of Islamic extremism.
But I've never heard of a violent JW.

Terrible.


I concur.

We have a family that has visited us for the last twenty years to talk about every aspect of life. They feel it's their job to spread the word and pass on peace.

They have never been invited into my house and never will, but I enjoy our conversations and they are the most friendliest of people.

No one deserves to be punished for their faith, regardless of what some may think.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:34 PM
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They did not ban the JW for their religious beliefs.

They were banned for aggressive solicitation and distributing literature that violated laws.

Many people in the US complain about agressive JW solicitors as well.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:36 PM
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originally posted by: LesMisanthrope
a reply to: RobertConrad

This is stupidity on the part of the Russian Federation. Do you know if they have at least given evidence for their claims of extremism?


From the NY Times article posted above:


For Mr. Sivak, it has added up to a long legal nightmare. His troubles began, he said, when undercover security officers posed as worshipers and secretly filmed a service where he was helping to officiate in 2010.

Accused of “inciting hatred and disparaging the human dignity of citizens,” he was put on trial for extremism along with a second elder, Vyacheslav Stepanov, 40. The prosecutor’s case, heard by a municipal court in Sergiyev Posad, a center of the Russian Orthodox Church, produced no evidence of extremism and focused instead on the insufficient patriotism of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

edit on 6-4-2017 by RobertConrad because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:36 PM
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a reply to: Deny Arrogance


aggressive solicitation


Yep. That's what we want. The State deciding what constitutes "aggression".

No wonder it's hard to protest in Russia.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:40 PM
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a reply to: Hazardous1408

That's what we have.

The state deciding what is "agressive solicitation".

As recently as 2002 JW soliciting went to the suoreme court.




WASHINGTON — Door-to-door solicitors advocating religious or political views have a right to spread their ideas anonymously without having to consult beforehand with government officials.

In a significant First Amendment decision announced Monday, the US Supreme Court struck down an ordinance enacted by a small Ohio town that required the prior registration of traveling salesmen, religious proselytizers, political activists, and anyone else seeking to go door to door.

www.csmonitor.com...



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:40 PM
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a reply to: Deny Arrogance

Yes, indeed they were.

In any event, if what you say is true, then that is exactly what happened to Jesus' apostles. After he died he gave them the commission to preach from house to house about the good news.

Shortly afterwards, while they were preaching in public and from house to house they too were taken to the Supreme Court of the Jews, the Sanhedrin, where they were accused of disobeying them, because they were commanded not to preach about Jesus and his kingdom.

The apostles' reply?

(Acts 5:27-29) . . .So they brought them and stood them before the Sanʹhe·drin. Then the high priest questioned them 28 and said: “We strictly ordered you not to keep teaching on the basis of this name, and yet look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.” 29 In answer Peter and the other apostles said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:42 PM
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And it also casts a wide net. For if a non-violet, non-extremist religion can be marked as "extremist" by the Russian Federation, then they can basically mark any group they want to and ban them as well.


Yes, because this sort of thing never happened in Putin's Russia before now.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:47 PM
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originally posted by: Deny Arrogance
They did not ban the JW for their religious beliefs.

They were banned for aggressive solicitation and distributing literature that violated laws.

Many people in the US complain about agressive JW solicitors as well.


Is it religious oppression if people who break existing laws are not allowed to do so based because they claim it was for religious reasons. I'm not sure it's so clear.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:48 PM
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a reply to: RobertConrad


I was 'Christened' Ukrainian-Greek Orthodox. Russia is Orthodox.

I see no advantage to Russia, Putin or anyone for that matter, except perhaps, the Russian Orthodox Church, itself.

A powerful force within Russia that even Lenin and Stalin failed to crush. It would not surprise that this very conservative view of Christianity has a hand in this.

edit on 6-4-2017 by nwtrucker because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:48 PM
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originally posted by: Shamrock6

And it also casts a wide net. For if a non-violet, non-extremist religion can be marked as "extremist" by the Russian Federation, then they can basically mark any group they want to and ban them as well.


Yes, because this sort of thing never happened in Putin's Russia before now.


To be sure millions of innocent people have suffered at the hands of Stalin in the U. S. S. R. and even today.

The difference, I guess you could say, is that Jehovah's Witnesses, while relatively small in number, are very vocal.

I remember several years ago, we had a world-wide campaign with a 4-page tract entitled: "The End of False Religion is Near" and in 4 weeks almost 1 billion copies were distributed in over 235 countries around the world in over 200 languages.

We have the printing presses, we have the man power, and the willingness to spread a global message by hand to the masses all around in the world in hundreds of languages almost overnight.

And we are not political and do not get involved in wars.

But imagine if you were a head of state and understood all of that.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:51 PM
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a reply to: Deny Arrogance


US Supreme Court struck down an ordinance...


That's why I like America.

Russia could learn something.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 04:52 PM
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originally posted by: nwtrucker
a reply to: RobertConrad


I was 'Christened' Ukrainian-Greek Orthodox. Russia is Orthodox.

I see no advantage to Russia, Putin or anyone for that matter, except perhaps, the Russian Orthodox Church, itself.

A powerful force within Russia that even Lenin and Stalin failed to crush. It would not surprise that this very conservative view of Christianity has a hand in this.


There is no doubt about that.

After I posted my first thread here on ATS, several Russian Orthodox priests started getting recommend to me as possible friends on Facebook.


*** g01 4/22 pp. 13-14 What Is the Future of Religion? *** As noted in our preceding article, the Russian Orthodox Church worked hand in glove with Soviet leaders in order to survive and receive privileges. The Guardian describes the continuation of such a relationship, explaining: “The last 10 years have also seen the church form an uncomfortably close relationship with the largely unreformed state that once suppressed it, regularly supporting the Russian government (the Patriarch’s endorsement of the war in Chechnya) and wielding in return considerable political influence.” The Los Angeles Times of February 10, 1999, drew attention to the exercise of the church’s political influence when commenting on the Law of Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations. The Los Angeles Times said that this law, signed by then President Boris Yeltsin in September 1997, was “promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church.” The law gave the church preferred status as a “traditional” religion, along with Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Among other things, the law required that religious organizations in Russia reregister. The New York Times of February 11, 1999, reported that after this law was passed, “the Orthodox Church kept pressures on its rivals.” The Times added: “Last August, Aleksei II, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, called for a ban on proselytizing faiths, particularly those that try to lure people away from the ‘religions of their ancestors.’” Since then, efforts to ban the so-called proselytizing faiths have continued, resulting in what has been characterized as a “religious cold war.”



*** g01 4/22 p. 14 What Is the Future of Religion? *** Jehovah’s Witnesses have been one of the chief targets of the attack led by the Russian Orthodox Church. On June 20, 1996, the Moscow prosecutor’s office began to consider a lawsuit initiated by the anticult Committee for the Protection of Youth From False Religions. Although the case was recessed time and again because of absence of evidence of criminal behavior on the part of the Witnesses, each time it was revived. In the meantime, the Witnesses became the objects of a barrage of propaganda. Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian newspaper with a circulation of 1,200,000, noted in its issue of November 21, 1998: “Over a period of only two years, the Russian Orthodox Church has released more than ten books, brochures, and handbooks ‘dedicated’ to the Jehovist community.” Why has the church focused on trying to discredit the Witnesses? “Likely,” Komsomolskaya Pravda continued, “it is primarily because just over the last seven years the number of the organization’s members has grown tenfold, and the Russian Orthodox Church, like any hierarchical organization, doesn’t like competitors.” Early in 1999 when the court case against the Witnesses was again reopened, it received worldwide attention. A New York Times headline of February 11 read: “Moscow Court Weighs Jehovah’s Witnesses Ban.” The article noted: “The case now before a Moscow civil court, heard in a small courtroom, is being closely watched by religious and human rights groups as the first significant attempt to use the [Law of Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations] to restrict worship.” Lyudmila Alekseyeva, president of the International Helsinki Federation, explained why the Witness trial was being closely watched. She said that if those who are trying to suppress Jehovah’s Witnesses “are successful in this case,” then “they will feel free to attack other groups” that are also characterized as nontraditional religions. The trial, however, was suspended yet again on March 12, 1999. But the following month, on April 29, Russia’s Ministry of Justice granted a certification of registration for the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.” Despite this recognition by the government, attacks against the Witnesses and other religious minorities have continued in Russia and other former Soviet republics. Lawrence Uzzell, director of the Keston Institute in Oxford, England, noted that “it always pays to watch the Jehovah’s Witnesses” because what happens to them serves “as an early warning signal.” Indeed, vital religious liberties for tens of millions of people are at stake!



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 05:03 PM
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a reply to: RobertConrad


I had no idea. I am not a follower and only have peripheral knowledge on the subject.

I was aware that Lenin and/or Stalin raided the properties and assets of the Church and likely was the real reason behind his "Religion is the opiate of the masses", comment.

There is no separation of Church and State outside the U.S..



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 05:05 PM
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originally posted by: RobertConrad

originally posted by: Shamrock6

And it also casts a wide net. For if a non-violet, non-extremist religion can be marked as "extremist" by the Russian Federation, then they can basically mark any group they want to and ban them as well.


Yes, because this sort of thing never happened in Putin's Russia before now.


To be sure millions of innocent people have suffered at the hands of Stalin in the U. S. S. R. and even today.

The difference, I guess you could say, is that Jehovah's Witnesses, while relatively small in number, are very vocal.

I remember several years ago, we had a world-wide campaign with a 4-page tract entitled: "The End of False Religion is Near" and in 4 weeks almost 1 billion copies were distributed in over 235 countries around the world in over 200 languages.

We have the printing presses, we have the man power, and the willingness to spread a global message by hand to the masses all around in the world in hundreds of languages almost overnight.

And we are not political and do not get involved in wars.

But imagine if you were a head of state and understood all of that.


About 500 million copies of those pamphlets were left on bus stop benches in major cities across the US and Canada. Why do religious people insist on pushing their ideology?

Not only the JW but the Mormon s and the Christian s with their spooky Santa Claus and giant Easter bunny! Explain to me what a #ing monster rabbit has to do with Jesus rising from the grave like a zombie?

Sorry.... I forgot what my point is....or was.....just never mind I am just going to walk away now. Carry on.



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 05:12 PM
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a reply to: Hazardous1408

You mena like how Clinton handled the Branch Davidians - killing over 80 of them, including many children who were burned alive?

Let's hope Rusiia does not follow that example of how to deal with alleged religious extremists.

edit on 6-4-2017 by Deny Arrogance because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2017 @ 05:13 PM
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originally posted by: nwtrucker
a reply to: RobertConrad


I was 'Christened' Ukrainian-Greek Orthodox. Russia is Orthodox.

I see no advantage to Russia, Putin or anyone for that matter, except perhaps, the Russian Orthodox Church, itself.

A powerful force within Russia that even Lenin and Stalin failed to crush. It would not surprise that this very conservative view of Christianity has a hand in this.


Another thing. The Russian Orthodox priests know Jehovah's Witnesses have the truth. One example is this experience:


“I know that you have the truth,” said an Orthodox priest who accepted the Kingdom News from two sisters, “and that your God, Jehovah, will destroy all false religion and leave yours.” He then told them what he knew about the heavenly hope and a paradise on earth. The sisters asked him why he remained in his religion if he knew it would be destroyed. “Well,” he replied, “it is my job. I have three apartments and four cars. I can’t leave all of this.” Found in the Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses 2008.



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