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In the United States, numerous cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses are now landmark decisions of First Amendment law. In all, Jehovah's Witnesses brought 23 separate First Amendment actions before the U.S. Supreme Court between 1938 and 1946. Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone once quipped, "I think the Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."
That’s why we all owe the Jehovah’s Witnesses a debt of gratitude. No matter how many times they’re insulted, run out of town, or even physically attacked, they keep on fighting for their (and thus our) freedom of religion. And when they win, we all win.
18 “If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember [and continue to remember] that I told you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these [hurtful] things to you for My name’s sake [because you bear My name and are identified with Me], for they do not know the One who sent Me.
originally posted by: seagull
a reply to: TerryDon79
Who gets banned next? For extremism, of course...
The Adventist Church, who has been accused of violating an anti-terrorism legislation with their evangelism ministry, has also being groups with Jehovah's Witnesses ans ISIS as "Extremists and Terrorists" by the various organizations.
Ekatrina, a state attorney says "Russia takes cases of Extremism and Terrorism very serious and a ban is expected to be placed on the Adventists in May".
The Law - part of a package of anti-terrorism legislation - outlines severe restrictions on evangelistic activity in Russia that, among other things, limit religious activity to registered church buildings and prohibit the free distribution of religious literature. Individuals who disobey face fines of up to 50,000rubles (U.S.$765), while organizations could be fined up to 1 million rubles ($15,250).
According to the NGOs, the religious organization has made it a point to violate the laws with hope of paying fines hen caught, this, thy described as "disrespect of the legislature".
The one who says that he is in the light and yet hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and is walking in the darkness, and he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. - 1 John 2:9-11.
originally posted by: generik
..restrictions of the old communist USSR .. had on religion.
BY THE time Nazi Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, the Soviets had practically annihilated the Russian Orthodox Church. But after the Nazi invasion, the Soviets began to change their attitude toward religion. What prompted this?
Richard Overy, professor of modern history at King’s College, London, explained in his book Russia’s War—Blood Upon the Snow: “Metropolitan Sergei [Sergius], head of the Church, appealed to the faithful on the very day of the German invasion to do everything to bring about victory. He published no fewer than twenty-three epistles in the next two years, calling on his flock to fight for the godless state they lived in.” So, as Overy continued, ‘Stalin allowed religion to flourish again.’
In 1943, Stalin finally agreed to recognize the Orthodox Church by appointing Sergius as its new patriarch. “The Church authorities responded by raising money from the faithful to fund a Soviet armored column,” Overy noted. “Priests and bishops exhorted their congregations to observe the faith, God’s and Stalin’s.”
Describing this period of Russian history, the Russian religious scholar Sergei Ivanenko wrote: ‘The official publication of the Russian Orthodox Church, The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, praised Stalin as the greatest leader and teacher of all times and nations, sent by God to save the nation from oppression, landowners, and capitalists. It called upon believers to give their last drop of blood in defending the USSR from its enemies and to give their all to build Communism.’
“Highly Valued by the KGB”
Even after World War II ended in 1945, the Orthodox Church remained useful to the Communists. The Soviet Union: The Fifty Years, edited by Harrison Salisbury, revealed how this was so: “With the war’s end, church leaders fell in with the Cold War demands of Stalin’s foreign policy.”
The recent book The Sword and the Shield describes how church leaders served Soviet interests. It explains that Patriarch Alexis I, who had succeeded Sergius as patriarch in 1945, “joined the World Peace Council, the Soviet front organization founded in 1949.” The book also notes that he and Metropolitan Nikolai “were highly valued by the KGB [the Soviet State Security Committee] as agents of influence.”
Remarkably, in 1955, Patriarch Alexis I declared: “The Russian Orthodox Church supports the totally peaceful foreign policy of our government, not because the Church allegedly lacks freedom, but because Soviet policy is just and corresponds to the Christian ideals which the Church preaches.”
In the January 22, 2000, issue of The Guardian of London, England, dissident Orthodox priest Georgi Edelshtein is quoted as saying: “All the bishops were carefully picked so that they would work with the soviet government. All were KGB agents. It is well known that Patriarch Alexy was recruited by the KGB, under the code-name of Drozdov. Today, they are preserving the same politics that they had 20 or 30 years ago.”
A Handmaiden of the Soviet State
Regarding the relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Soviets, Life magazine of September 14, 1959, observed: “Stalin gave some concessions to religion, and the church treated him like a czar. Orthodoxy’s collaboration is ensured by a special government ministry and the Communists have utilized the church ever since as an arm of the Soviet state.”
Matthew Spinka, an authority on Russian church affairs, confirmed the existence of a close Church-State relationship in his 1956 book, The Church in Soviet Russia. “The present Patriarch Alexei,” he wrote, “has deliberately made his Church a tool of the government.” Indeed, the Orthodox Church, in effect, survived by becoming a handmaiden of the State. ‘But is that so reprehensible?’ you may ask. Well, consider how God and Christ view the matter.
Jesus Christ said of his true disciples: “You are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” And God’s Word pointedly asks: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (John 15:19; James 4:4) Thus, as the Bible presents it, the church made itself a religious harlot with whom “the kings of the earth committed fornication.” It has shown itself to be part of what the Bible calls “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.”—Revelation 17:1-6.
How the Witnesses Survived
In contrast, Jesus Christ revealed how his true followers would be known, saying: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) This love was a key factor in the survival of the Witnesses in the former Soviet Union, as indicated by the following report in The Sword and the Shield. “Jehovists extend assistance of all kind to their co-religionists who are in the [labor] camps or in internal exile, supplying them with money, food and clothing.”
Included in the “food” provided for those in prison camps was that of a spiritual kind—Bibles and Bible literature. The Bible contains ‘utterances of God,’ which Jesus said we need in order to sustain our spiritual lives. (Matthew 4:4) The literature was smuggled into the camps at great personal risk, since anyone found doing this was severely punished.
Helene Celmina, a Latvian, was imprisoned in the Potma penal camp in Russia from 1962 to 1966. She wrote Women in Soviet Prisons, a book in which she explained: “Many Jehovah’s Witnesses receive ten years of hard labor merely for having a few issues of the magazine Watchtower in their apartments. Since people are arrested for possession of these writings, the anxiety and exasperation of the administration over the presence of this literature in camp is understandable.”
Surely, risking personal freedom and safety to provide spiritual help was an evidence of Christian love! But while this was an important factor in the survival of the Witnesses, there was an even more important one. “No one could understand,” Helene Celmina noted, “how this land of barbed wire and limited human contact could be penetrated by forbidden literature.” It seemed impossible, since everyone entering the prison was thoroughly searched. “It was as if angels at night flew over and dropped it,” this author wrote.
Indeed, God promised that he would not leave, or desert, his people. So Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former Soviet Union readily acknowledge, as did the Bible psalmist: “Look! God is my helper.” (Psalm 54:4; Joshua 1:5) Indeed, his help was important to the survival of the Witnesses in the former Soviet Union!
How Circumstances Changed
On March 27, 1991, Jehovah’s Witnesses became a legally recognized organization in the Soviet Union with the signing of a legal charter that includes the following declaration: “The purpose of the Religious Organization is to carry on the religious work of making known the name of Jehovah God and his loving provisions for mankind through his heavenly Kingdom by Jesus Christ.”
Among the ways listed in the charter for carrying on this religious work are preaching publicly and visiting the homes of the people, teaching Bible truths to those who are willing to listen, conducting free Bible studies with the help of Bible study publications, and distributing Bibles.
Church Collaboration With the Soviets
In his 1945 book, Russia Is No Riddle, Edmund Stevens wrote: “The Church took great care not to bite the hand that was now feeding it. It fully realized that in return for the favors bestowed the State expected the Church to give its firm support to the system and to operate within certain limits.”
Stevens went on to explain: “The tradition of centuries as the official State religion was deeply rooted in the Orthodox Church, and it therefore slipped very naturally into its new role of close collaboration with the Soviet Government.”
The Keston Institute thoroughly researched the past collaboration between the Soviets and Alexis II, today’s patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its report concluded: “Aleksi’s collaboration was nothing exceptional—almost all senior leaders of all officially-recognised religious faiths—including the Catholics, Baptists, Adventists, Muslims and Buddhists—were recruited KGB agents. Indeed, the annual report that describes Aleksi’s recruitment also covers numerous other agents, some of them in the Estonian Lutheran Church.”
[Box/Picture on page 12]
Reaching Those in the Camps
Viktors Kalnins, a Latvian journalist, spent most of his ten-year sentence (1962-72) in the Mordovian camp complex, about 250 miles [400 km] southeast of Moscow. In an interview with an Awake! writer in March 1979, Kalnins was asked: “Do the interned Witnesses know about what is going on here in the United States or other countries with regard to the organization?”
“They do,” Kalnins responded, “and it is through the literature that they receive. . . . They even showed me their magazines. I never knew where the literature was hidden; this changed from time to time. But everyone knew the literature was in camp. . . . The guards and the Jehovah’s Witnesses were like Tom and Jerry, trying to hide the literature and trying to find the literature!”
To the question “Did Jehovah’s Witnesses try to talk to you about their beliefs?” Kalnins responded: “Oh yes! They are very well-known. We know all about Armageddon . . . They talked a lot about sickness ending.”
Witnesses in the Mordovian camps courageously shared Bible truths.
The Vovchuks were deported to Irkutsk, Siberia, in 1951 and continue as faithful Christians today.
Because of church support during World War II, Stalin allowed religion to flourish temporarily.
Patriarch Alexis I (1945-70) said: ‘Soviet policy corresponds to the Christian ideals which the Church preaches’
“INVOLVEMENT in politics can help the poor, a Canadian archbishop told pilgrims . . . Even if the political system does not seem to be according to God’s will, ‘we need to get involved so that we can bring justice to the poor.’”—Catholic News.
Reports of senior churchmen speaking out in favor of involvement in politics are not unusual; neither are religious leaders who hold political office a rarity. Some have tried to clean up politics. Others are admired and remembered for their campaigns on such issues as racial equality and the abolition of slavery.
Nevertheless, many laymen feel uneasy when their preachers take sides on political issues. “It was evangelical churchgoers who sometimes questioned the public activism of their clergy,” said a Christian Century article on political theology. Many religious people feel that the church is just too sacred a place for politics.
This raises some interesting questions that are of concern to all who wish to see a better world. Can preachers of Christianity clean up politics?* Is preaching politics God’s way of achieving better government and a better world? Did Christianity start out as a new way to practice politics?
How Politics in Christ’s Name Began
In The Early Church, historian Henry Chadwick says that the early Christian congregation was known for its “indifference to the possession of power in this world.” It was a “non-political, quietist, and pacifist community.” A History of Christianity says: “There was a conviction widely held among Christians that none of their number should hold office under the state . . . As late as the beginning of the third century Hippolytus said that historic Christian custom required a civic magistrate to resign his office as a condition of joining the Church.” Gradually, though, men coveting power began taking the lead in many congregations, giving themselves high-sounding titles. (Acts 20:29, 30) Some wanted to be both religious leaders and politicians. A sudden change in Rome’s government gave such churchmen the opportunity they wanted.
In the year 312 C.E., the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine turned a friendly eye toward nominal Christianity. Astonishingly, the church bishops were content to compromise with the pagan emperor in exchange for the privileges he conferred on them. “The Church became more and more implicated in high political decisions,” wrote Henry Chadwick. What effect did involvement in politics have on churchmen?
How Politics Affected Preachers
The idea that God would use churchmen as politicians was promoted especially by Augustine, an influential fifth-century Catholic theologian. He envisioned the church ruling over the nations and bringing peace to mankind. But historian H. G. Wells wrote: “The history of Europe from the fifth century onward to the fifteenth is very largely the history of the failure of this great idea of a divine world government to realize itself in practice.” Christendom did not bring peace even to Europe, much less to the world. What had been thought of as being Christianity lost its standing in the eyes of many. What went wrong?
Many who claimed to preach Christianity were drawn into politics with good intentions, but then they found themselves participating in evil. Martin Luther, a preacher and a translator of the Bible, is famous for his efforts to reform the Catholic Church. However, his bold stand against church doctrines made him popular with those who had political motives for rebellion. Luther lost the respect of many when he too began to speak out on political issues. Initially he favored the peasants who were rebelling against oppressive nobles. Then, when the rebellion turned savage, he encouraged the nobles to crush the rebellion, which they did, butchering thousands. Not surprisingly, the peasants considered him a traitor. Luther also encouraged the nobles in their own rebellion against the Catholic emperor. In fact, Protestants, as Luther’s followers came to be known, formed a political movement from the beginning. How did power affect Luther? It corrupted him. For example, although he at first opposed coercing religious dissidents, he later encouraged his political friends to execute by burning those who opposed infant baptism.
John Calvin was a famous clergyman in Geneva, but he came to have enormous political influence as well. When Michael Servetus demonstrated that the Trinity has no basis in Scripture, Calvin used his political influence to support the execution of Servetus, who was burned at the stake. What a horrific departure from Jesus’ teachings!
Perhaps these men forgot what the Bible says at 1 John 5:19: ...
originally posted by: Pinocchio
a reply to: Blue_Jay33
It sure is mighty fine being Catholic.
I don't spread my faith in bullies to lesser beings.
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Within 100 Days, a Million Died
“The 1994 genocide in Rwanda represents one of the clearest cases of genocide in modern history. From early April 1994 through mid-July 1994, members of the small Central African state’s majority Hutu ethnic group systematically slaughtered members of the Tutsi ethnic minority. An extremist Hutu regime, fearing the loss of its power in the face of a democracy movement and a civil war, made plans for the elimination of all those—moderate Hutu as well as Tutsi—it perceived as threats to its authority. The genocide ended only when a mostly Tutsi rebel army occupied the country and drove the genocidal regime into exile. Over a period of only one hundred days, as many as one million people lost their lives in the genocide and war—making the Rwandan slaughter one of the most intense waves of killing in recorded history.”—Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.
About 400 of Jehovah’s Witnesses were murdered in the genocide, including Hutu who were killed for protecting their Tutsi brothers and sisters. No Witnesses died at the hands of fellow believers.
“Organizers of the genocide exploited the historic concept of sanctuary to lure tens of thousands of Tutsi into church buildings with false promises of protection; then Hutu militia and soldiers systematically slaughtered the unfortunate people who had sought refuge, firing guns and tossing grenades into the crowds gathered in church sanctuaries and school buildings, and methodically finishing off survivors with machetes, pruning hooks, and knives. . . . The involvement of the churches, however, went far beyond the passive use of church buildings as death chambers. In some communities, clergy, catechists, and other church employees used their knowledge of the local population to identify Tutsi for elimination. In other cases, church personnel actively participated in the killing.”—Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda.
“The main allegation concerning the [Catholic] Church is that it switched its allegiance from the Tutsi elite to the creation of a Hutu-led revolution, thereby assisting in Habyarimana’s subsequent rise to power in a majority Hutu state. In terms of the actual genocide, critics once again hold the Church directly responsible for inciting hatred, sheltering perpetrators, and failing to protect those who sought refuge within its walls. There are also those who believe that, as the spiritual leader of the majority population in Rwanda, the Church is morally responsible for failing to take all available measures to end the killing.”—Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.