Absurdity of lawsuit to find Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible "extremist"


by Platon Prokhorov

ReligioPolis Center for Religious Studies Research, 9 August 2017


Today, 9 August, consideration of the case on the lawsuit of the Leningrad-Finland transport prosecutor for recognizing the Bible as "extremist material" is scheduled to continue.


This is by no means the first time that religious literature, including the Sacred Scriptures of individual religions, has become in contemporary Russia an object of suspicion of "extremism."  This is shown by the "list of the Ministry of Justice" with thousands of entries, in which religious literature of various religious denominations occupies a large part, and by attempts to declare the Quran "extremist," and the infamous incident with the trial of the Bhagavad-gita, which is sacred for Hindus, which ended in a diplomatic scandal that threatened to spoil relations with India and a number of other countries of the East with which the Russian federation has profitable accounts.


Therefore, the precedent of an attempt now to "condemn" the Sacred Scripture of a number of Abrahamic religious, including all forms of Christianity and Judaism, may be either the result of the action of unidentified forces that are destructive for Russia itself or a manifestation of illiteracy, stupidity, insanity, and other painful syndromes from which the civilized world was almost completely liberated by the start of the third millennium.


Anything else that might be able to explain the new notorious precedent that is arising in the St. Petersburg district fits well with any of the aforementioned suggestions about its causes.


The fact is that the translation of texts of biblical books by whomever—Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Orthodox, or Jehovah's Witnesses—does not in any way mean that the Bible ceases to be Sacred Scripture. It does not depend on the language in which it is being published, since the etymological contents of the words used in the texts remain practically unchanged. Otherwise the Bible in Church Slavonic, Russian, Latin, or Greek, instead of Hebrew or Aramaic, would have to occupy a seat in the "dock of the accused" in the Vyborg city court. Therefore, such explanations for the prosecutor's office's prosecution of the Bible as the fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses who translated it are not our patriarchal Orthodox or that its new Russian text uses synonyms in contemporary language instead of archaic concepts are only the consequences of the aforementioned "destructiveness," "illiteracy," or "stupidity."


Alas, the carriers and disseminators of these negative factors, which cause our country and its people to be traumatized, are not rats or cockroaches, which can be combated with substances designed to do so, but are the people themselves. They are those of us who can work not only as prosecutors or mathematics teachers who compose the "necessary" expert conclusions for the court but also as people who accept the absurdity that is happening as necessary and even with foaming mouths defend its "advisability."


That a compatriot, who thinks himself highly spiritual by virtue of his birth on this earth, does not follow the ninth commandment of God, "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor," is probably not his fault. Where would he learn about this if among the 2 to 3 percent of believers that attend church on the great holidays the number who are acquainted with the texts of the Old and New Testaments remains infinitesimal? But now, about the opinion of the president on whose initiative the rule that the "Bible, Quran, Tanakh, and Kangyur, their contents, and quotations from them may not be ruled to be extremist materials" was included in "anti-extremism" legislation two years ago, one would expect prosecutors, including transport prosecutors, even if not all citizens, to know. As well as judges and, of course, several especially zealous "experts," who search for sedition in texts that are sacred for believers.


As for the idea of finding the Bible to be "extremist," which arose in the bowels of the prosecutor's office and then was enabled, simple logic would presuppose a completely different development of a precedent. To wit, to conduct an attentive, complex analysis of the very idea and its sources as a matter of professional competence and then mental capacity. Well, provided that all of these points would seem to be in order, to be concerned to ascertain whether the zealous functionaries are offending the "religious feelings" of, as customary, "an undefined circle of persons."  (tr. by PDS, posted 9 August 2017)

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