Proving their capacity to be seen as an intolerant bully around the globe, Russia’s Supreme Court this week ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses were an “extremist” group, and ordered to immediately disband and relinquish all properties and holdings to the state.
So the question must be asked: What did the Jehovah’s Witnesses do to cause Russia to launch such a severe retaliation, sending 175,000 church members scrambling for help?
“The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s ministry of justice and deem the ‘Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organisation extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia,” said judge Yuri Ivanenko. “The property of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation is to be confiscated to the state revenue.”
A lawyer for the justice ministry, Svetlana Borisova, told the court adherents “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.”
Are you kidding, Svetlana, how did you reach that conclusion? Perhaps we should train our eyes on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his stalwart support from the Russian Orthodox Church. It is painfully obvious that world domination is the game plan, however impossible that proves to be, and eradicating freedom to worship is just another step towards achieving that goal. Russian officials certainly don’t want to allow any competition in the homeland. However, those same rules do not apply to other places–the Russian Orthodox Church has tentacles reaching into other European countries. For example, there exists the golden-domed $100 million-dollar cathedral, billed as a spiritual and cultural center in Paris. The location, secured after years of begging and pleading by the Kremlin, is encircled by government buildings that house the state secrets of France. (Not that there is a lot of French state secrets to steal, but Putin’s former KGB status does make one wonder.)
And conquering the planet is not just a matter of who has the most firepower or nuke. No, to win the ultimate title of King of the world, one must stifle any opposing cultural views, and brainwash the culprits into your belief system:
While tanks and artillery have been Russia’s weapons of choice to project its power into neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Putin has also mobilized faith to expand the country’s reach and influence. A fervent foe of homosexuality and any attempt to put individual rights above those of family, community or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights.
Somehow, Jehovah’s Witnesses posed a threat and needed to be displaced. Did they ring too many doorbells, decline a blood transfusion or refuse to invade Ukraine? Whatever crimes against Mother Russia were perceived by the Kremlin, they most certainly fell under her legal definition of extremist:
Russia changed its legal definition of extremism in 2006, removing requirements for violence or hatred but stating the “incitement of….religious discord” as criteria, leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses with the same legal status as Isis or Nazis.
Hmm. Why didn’t we think of that? Instead of begging the media and elected officials for eight long years to label radical Islam and Isis terrorist entities, we could just change the definition of extremism.
The next thirty days for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia will be bereft of any religious gatherings or worship and instead filled with the arduous task of liquidating their assets and crafting a detailed appeal to be heard by a three-member panel. (Good luck with that.) It seems unlikely that the decision will be overturned which displaces 395 congregations throughout the country and leaves thousands without the comfort of fellowship and community. Whatever one thinks or believes about the Jehovah Witness church the treatment they’ve received seems heavy handed indeed. If Putin and the Kremlin treat these law-abiding and peaceful citizens with such cruel disregard, who, pray tell, will be eliminated next?
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