Russian Supreme Court upholds ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses

Judges of Russia's Supreme Court attend a hearing in Moscow on Jan. 23, 2014. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal of its nationwide ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious denomination.

The court’s appeals chamber has upheld the April approval of the Russian Justice Ministry’s call to halt Jehovah’s Witnesses activities and to declare it an extremist organization.

The rejection of the religious group’s appeal allows Russia to liquidate the 395 Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations and seize their property. The group claims about 170,000 adherents in Russia.

Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman David Semonian said in a statement that “it’s very concerning that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, powerful elements within Russia continue to frame our organization as extremist.”

Viktor Zhenkov, a Russian attorney for the group, said Monday’s ruling would be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, according to the Interfax news agency.

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  • I am waiting for the Evangelicals here to post comments condemning the crackdown in religious freedom in Russia…

  • You know Jim, I would agree with your comment, except one thing. JW’s are not Christian. They deny the divinity of Christ.

  • I don’t think that’s relevant. If you’re serious about the fight for religious freedom, you need to stand up even for religions you disagree with. If evangelicals who push for religious freedom will ignore this and be glad that some “heretical sect” is being limited, that’s hypocritical.

  • I’m an evangelical. I strongly condemn this. Now we can both wait for any evangelical to support this decision. Don’t hold your breath.

  • The orthodox Christians in Russia might mistake this as something to be celebrated, but these kind of things tend to backfire when they eventually get used against those who were once in the majority and who had enacted them. Unless the group is outwardly violent or dangerous, it’s rarely been a good thing for governments to be in charge of determining what religious groups are and aren’t acceptable. Societies have been better served when the harmful elements of religions have been outlawed or are being discouraged. Instead of trying to ban an entire group, which really isn’t feasible and will likely just serve to strengthen the group’s resolve by making them feel persecuted, why not just make it illegal for all parents to neglect their children’s medical needs and for domestic violence and child abuse to be covered up by church elders?

  • I do. I don’t stand up for cults which some would say lends credibility to the cult.

  • Do as you wish, of course. Isn’t it nice that you have the freedom to do so and you’re not made to pledge fealty to beliefs you disagree with?

    Just don’t be surprised when a country’s government doesn’t share your theological definitions of the differences between a “religion” and a “cult,” and your faith is the next one in the crosshairs.

    Or if, say, a predominantly Catholic country decided to give the majority faith more power and the leaders said, “We have to do something about the inroads Evangelicals are making here!”

  • Based on my study of the bible I could never figure out how that or the trinity was supported except for John 1:1 which JWs translated as “the word was a god”. All throughout the bible he was god’s son, before coming to Earth, as a man and then immortal after his resurrection. He prayed to his father, the holy spirit came on him after his baptism and god said, “this is my beloved, whom I approve” (NWT). Jesus was dead, yet he was divine? So illogical as to be unbelievable. God cannot die yet Jesus did?

    JWs believe Jesus was the son of God who came to Earth as a man to sacrifice his life for mankind to free them if Adamic sin. You must accept him as your savior and get baptized. That qualifies as Christian.

    Anyway the whole religious thing is man-made anyway and fortunately I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

  • What religions (or denominations) would you stand up for? Judaism? Islam? Hinduism? Buddhism? Roman Catholicism? Coptic Christians (getting killed by Islamists)?

    Not sure about the Canadian constitution but ours doesn’t allow the government to decide what is a valid religion.

  • The motto of the “33rd Degree” mason-jesuit conspiracy to destroy proptestantism on top of this picture reveals who is behind this ban…the Pope of Rome. The Antichrist is returning with all his power as the middle ages. Wake up protestants it is the time to rise your heads…Dead before deshonor Chirst.

    Please read it, documented yourself and take decisions

  • Matthew 5:26 – 16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

  • Jim didn’t say anything about JW being Christian. The point is that US (or Canadian) Evangelicals talk a good game about “religious liberty.” Now let’s see if they walk the walk.

  • Isn’t the orthodox definition of the Trinity that Jesus IS God, not merely equal to God, not a different god, not part of the one God, but is completely God?

  • I don’t know Arb. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God though.
    John 5:18 -18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

    the Trinity: Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them n the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

  • To a carpenter, everything seems like a nail. This story has less to do with the Roman Catholic Church than a Hasidic rabbi has to do with a pork store. But something tells me the still rabidly anti-Catholic streams within Seventh-day Adventism don’t care about that too much.

  • Russia has much more religious freedom now than it had from the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution 100 years ago until the demise of the Cold War in the early 1900s.
    I know their level of religious freedom is not like ours, but I also know that American “progressives” (as American Communists called themselves until liberals co-opted that label) and the Religious Left supported Russia in this and everything else during the years of the Cold War.
    If you want documentation, read Radical Son by David Horowitz who was reared by Communists in America, as Obama was.

  • I know this is true, Sandi. I have friends who are Christians and moved here from Canada on business. As much as they dearly love their home country and miss relatives (they do have an extended visit every year at Christmas time), they say they would never live there again. It’s so sad. 🙁

  • The triune nature of God is clearly seen at the baptism of Christ Jesus. The Father spoke out of Heaven, saying, “This is my Son, in whom I am well-pleased”, and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove.
    JW’s say that the archangel Michael came to earth as Jesus, that he did not die on the Cross, and was not resurrected from the grave. They completely deny the deity of Christ Jesus.
    The Word of God says that “In Him [Christ Jesus] dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. They do not believe that.

  • I think they are a cult and the ex-JW’s were harmed and damaged by this loony faith, shunned, harassed, divorced by their spouses…