HomeMedia WatchWhy we ought to be concerned by Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses
October 22, 2018
Why we ought to be concerned by Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses
The BBC recently reported that five members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses had been detained in Russia on “extremism” charges. The religious sect was effectively banned from Russia last year by its Supreme Court. Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not an orthodox Christian group (they do not believe in the full divinity of Christ), Russia’s moves against them ought to cause us grave concern.
The detaining of the five members of the group was reported on the BBC on 10 October here.
“The five members of the group were accused of the supposedly heinous crimes of collecting more than 500,000 roubles ($7,500) of funding, organizing religious events, and calling on others to join their organisation.”
According to the BBC article, the five members were accused by Russian authorities of possessing two hand grenades and a landmine — serious charges if true, but I for one find myself skeptical. Besides this, the five members of the group were accused of the supposedly heinous crimes of collecting more than 500,000 roubles ($7,500) of funding, organizing religious events, and calling on others to join their organisation.
“In September 2016 the Barnabas Fund reported that a church pastor in Noyabrsk in Siberia had become the first person to be charged under the new laws. He was charged with “the conducting of missionary activity,” was found guilty and was fined 5,000 roubles.”
The article also reported that of six people who had at that time been charged under the new laws, four were Christians, and at the time of writing all the believers who had been charged had been found guilty.
We can be sure that these laws have been used many more times against Christian missionaries and Christian believers since these initial reports.
The laws give special status to Russia’s established church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and effectively outlaw religious or evangelistic activity in the country by other Christian groups.
Graham is an evangelical Christian believer living in Sussex, UK. He is passionate about helping people to understand what the Bible really says, and about explaining what the Christians of the early centuries believed and taught.