Another rights advocate speaks out for Jehovah's Witnesses


Blog of Oleg Kozyrev, 17 March 2017


The Ministry of Justice has requested closing the chief organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. The old accusations are extremism and other furious passions.


Jehovah's Witnesses belong to the so-called new religions. Neither the traditional Christian confessions nor protestants acknowledge them as their own. Like Mormons, Jehovists incorporate some Christian teaching, but beyond that they add much of their own. The greatest criticism is evoked by the point that Jehovists, alone of the major confessions, simply take and rewrite the Bible in their own way. This is the so-called "New World Translation," in which everything that does not conform to the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses is casually corrected. Well, the doctrinal difference of Jehovists from ordinary Christians is great.


At the same time, everybody recognizes that the Jehovah's Witnesses preach possibly more than all religious movements. Their life is, on the whole, pious. They do not drink, smoke, or take drugs, and they are faithful to their wives and husbands and are good fathers and mothers.


On the personal level, all have different experiences of discourse with Jehovists. But on the whole their situation does not differ in any way from representatives of other confessions. Some Jehovists are more reserved and some are more congenial and social, generally like everybody.


Problems with the surrounding setting and with the state arise for the Jehovists only on two issues. First, they do not accept blood transfusion, since they believe that this is a form of cannibalism. Second, they do not engage in politics, nor serve in the army, nor celebrate holidays.


It is easiest to criticize Jehovists for refusing blood transfusion. But let's be honest, there are in the world thousands of various religions and many of them have various strange restrictions. Jehovists do not damage bodies, nor restrict nourishment for themselves and their children, nor practice monasticism and withdrawal from the world. They work, study, live, and proclaim. Why imprison them merely for their faith?


I recall that even during World War II, Hitler was not able to break Jehovists by torture and concentration camps. Many of them perished in ovens and gas chambers, but they did not betray their faith and did not take up arms. I do not think that the Ministry of Justice will manage to frighten them if Hitler could not. We will get 170,000 (the approximate number of Jehovists in Russia) prisoners of conscience, who are imprisoned merely for faith. And there may be some number of additional broken fates.


Christians have a dark cloud of criticisms of Jehovists. But that is our "disputes." Everything can be clarified through preaching, through criticism, through apologetics. Why involve the government? The Jehovists are not some kind of dark forest. They have been in the world for many years and they are in almost all countries. Let's admit that they are a rather ordinary religion. Sure, somebody is annoyed that they are ringing the doorbell. But if one realizes that among them there are former drug addicts and alcoholics who could ring the doorbell for entirely different reasons—then it is better to let the Jehovists ring the bell. For the fact that people are striving for a proper life—for that they should not be punished.


There is also one other rather sticky issue. Because of their faith, Jehovah's Witnesses cannot, on principle, defend themselves in any way politically, since they do not participate in politics. They are not Mormons with their own state of Utah; they are not Disciples of Christ or Baptists with their own presidents leading the USA. In principle Jehovists do not have political forces that could protect them. And of course Christian confessions love to exploit these, who have such representation and who have their own teeth for this effect.


I will not talk about other confessions. Perhaps if they were banned, their people would flee. But as to Jehovah's Witnesses, we know what will happen. The majority of them will not renounce their faith. So what then—send them to the camps? And repeat what the fascists did?


Think about it: do we need to break the life of 170,000 persons?

(tr. by PDS, posted 26 March 2017)

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