NOW TRUMP MAY BE ANGERED BY "PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS" IN RUSSIA
Izvestiia, 7 April 2017
If the Russian response to the missile attack of the USA in Syria becomes a military-political game on steroids, then the subterfuge of the new confrontation inevitably will touch the topic of so-called "spiritual security" that is sensitive for our country. Passions have been inflamed over the lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice for the liquidation of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses. In response, the movement rolled out a worldwide campaign #stopjwban, an appeal to put pressure on Russia so that the authorities would abandon their claim on the religious organization, known for their active evangelism.
Year after year the Jehovah's Witnesses consistently wind up in reports of the USA State Department about recognition of freedom of conscience in various countries. Sometimes these charges bypass the ears, but in moments of international tension they are recalled. Our average persons consider Jehovists an "alien sect," in opposition to the traditional—Orthodox—Christianity. But the representatives of the movement themselves stress that the attacks are directly against a movement that spreads biblical teaching. The recent seizure of a batch of Bibles, which "did not correspond" with the synodal edition, was bad for Russia's reputation. Almost all protestant denominations in Russia came to the defense of Sacred Scripture in the JW translation.
In the USA, with its tradition of free diversity of religious currents, any action against people who declare themselves to be preachers of evangelical teaching is taken as "persecution of Christians." Donald Trump, who is now turning Reagan-style emotions into grand policy, may use the conflicts in the religious sphere for pressure on Russia. The bad memory of the expression "evil empire" has returned, to the amazement of Russian Christians and in spite of the rhetoric of the religious renaissance.
It may be a dangerous trend to roll out the reaction in the area of ensuring "spiritual security," if it is now that other religious currents, beside Jehovah's Witnesses, that have American origins and ecclesiastical centers in the West, fall under the blow of justice.
In addition, there may be dangerous consequences in the propaganda campaign that is now developing around the fate of various persons suspected of committing recent terrorist acts in Russian cities. Media resources, several of which are located in Turkey, methodically speak of "persecution of Christians," while the main story is the dismissal from work and refusal to board on an airplane of Andrei Nikitin, who originally was suspected of committing a terrorist act in the St. Petersburg subway. The Muslim topic may be used for justifying a break of allied relations with Turkey, which now hang by a thread. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2017)
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