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Six-year prison sentence for Jehovah’s Witness in Russia sparks outcry

Members of Jehovah’s Witnesses wait in a courtroom in Moscow on April 20, 2017. Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group, ordering closure of the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

MOSCOW (RNS) —  A Russian court has sentenced a Danish member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to six years on extremism charges in a case that has rekindled memories of the Soviet-era persecution of Christians and triggered widespread international criticism.

Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old carpenter who has lived in Russia for more than two decades, was sentenced on Wednesday by a court in Oryol, a city some 200 miles south of Moscow.

The Danish national had spent almost two years in a pre-trial detention facility after being detained by armed police and officers from the FSB security service during a raid on a Jehovah’s Witness prayer hall in Oryol in May 2017.

Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness to be sentenced to prison in Russia since the country’s Supreme Court declared the pacifist Christian denomination an “extremist organization” in 2017, putting it on par with the Islamic State militant group and neo-Nazi movements.

The Supreme Court claims Jehovah’s Witnesses promote the “exclusivity and supremacy” of their beliefs.

Judges of Russia’s Supreme Court attend a hearing in Moscow on Jan. 23, 2014. Photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Prosecutors said Christensen had organized the religious activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Oryol, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars. They did not cite, however, any specific examples of what exactly was “extremist” about his actions.

His wife, Irina Christensen, a Russian national, said the allegations against her husband were “absurd” and that he was a law-abiding person.

His attorney spoke to reporters in Moscow on Friday (Feb. 8).

“Nothing Christensen did posed any danger to society,” Anton Bogdanov, Christensen’s attorney, said at a press conference. Bogdanov also said that the court’s decision had effectively criminalized “peaceful religious practices” such as praying, singing hymns and Bible study.

Scores more Jehovah’s Witnesses have also been charged with participating in or organizing the group’s activities. Twenty-five Witnesses are behind bars awaiting trial or being tried, while another 24 are under house arrest.

There are an estimated 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Many converted to the faith after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Around 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses are estimated to have fled the country since the Supreme Court outlawed the group two years ago.

Many say they fear that their children could be taken away from them by the state.

The Kremlin’s crackdown on the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been accompanied by a wider state campaign against “foreign religions” amid tensions with the West over Syria and Ukraine.

In 2016, President Vladimir Putin, as part of vaguely worded anti-extremism and terrorism legislation, approved a law that outlawed missionary work carried out in Russia by groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, denounced the court’s decision in the Christensen case.

Danish citizen Dennis Christensen was detained in Oryol, Russia, after a Jehovah’s Witness service was raided in May 2017. Photo courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses

“The harsh sentence imposed on Christensen creates a dangerous precedent, and effectively criminalizes the right to freedom of religion or belief for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia — in contravention of the state’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Russia’s decision to imprison Christensen was also criticized by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan government advisory body, and the European Union.

“Dennis Christensen has been arrested and prosecuted by the authorities simply for practicing his religion as a Jehovah’s Witness,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen expressed serious concerns about the sentence and called on Russia to “respect freedom of religion,” comments that were echoed by Andrea Kalan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

Valery Borshchev of the Moscow Helsinki Group human rights organization warned that the imprisonment of Christensen could trigger a “wave” of arrests of members of other minority religious groups in Russia, not only Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Adventists, Baptists, and so on, should be very concerned,” he said.

While there was little doubt that Christensen would be found guilty of the charges against him — very few criminal cases end in an acquittal in Russia — the harshness of the sentence came as a surprise, because Putin said last month that it was “complete nonsense” to classify the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I don’t quite understand why they are persecuted,” Putin said at a meeting with human rights defenders in Moscow.

The imprisonment of Christensen dashed hopes, however, that the Russian State’s two-year-long campaign against the Jehovah’s Witnesses was nearing an end.

Alyona Vilitkevich, whose husband, Anatoly, is also facing prison after being charged with organizing the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ufa, a city in central Russia, said she was dismayed by the six-year sentence handed down to Christensen.

“I’m afraid for my husband and for my family. Will I really have to be apart from my husband for six years just because we are ordinary believers who read the Bible and try to live by it?” she told RNS.

A group of Jehovah’s Witnesses writes letters to members of the Russian government in support of their churches in Russia on March 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Paul Gillies, international spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, called Christensen’s conviction “unjust” and said it had “dangerous implications.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses have a well-established international reputation for being peaceful, law-abiding citizens,” Gilles said in a statement to RNS. “It is our hope that the Russian authorities will take this opportunity to correct the unjust decision to ban our activities, which has caused the imprisonment of our fellow believers.”

The court’s decision appeared initially to have caught the Kremlin unawares.

“They could not have done this simply for practicing his religion,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti state news agency on Wednesday. “Presumably, there were some grounds for the accusations.” Peskov admitted, however, that he did not know exactly what these grounds were.

In additional comments on Thursday, Peskov said the issue was “complicated” but insisted that the activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were in violation of the country’s law.

“We can’t operate with common-sense concepts for state purposes,” Peskov said. “First and foremost, we operate with concepts of legality and illegality. In this case, the activity of this religious organization is illegal.”

Human rights defenders responded by saying that during the Soviet era, religious groups were also outlawed and persecuted.

Some 200,000 members of the clergy were murdered during the first two decades of the Soviet era, according to a 1995 Kremlin committee report, while millions of other Christians suffered for their faith.

Although Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin allowed a limited revival of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Second World War, anti-religion propaganda and discrimination against believers continued up until the mid-1980s. Today, more than 80 percent of Russians identify as Orthodox Christians, although few attend church services or observe religious fasts.

The Russian Orthodox Church, a key Kremlin ally, has supported the Kremlin’s clampdown on the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Vitaly Milonov, an ultra-conservative lawmaker with close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, told RNS that he considered the Jehovah’s Witnesses a “zombie sect” and insisted that Russia was within its rights to outlaw any religious groups it believed to be a threat to the public well-being.

There were signs, though, that the church was uncomfortable about the move to imprison Christensen. Vakhtang Kipshidze, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, declined to comment on the court’s decision but said that Christensen’s “religious beliefs, in our opinion, are his personal business and the subject of free choice.”

Archpriest Vyacheslav Perevezentse was another to speak out. “(Jehovah’s Witnesses) were recognized as an ‘extremist organization’ on very unclear grounds. They did not prepare or commit terrorist acts, nor were they known to have committed large-scale fraud,” he wrote in an article published by Russia’s Pravmir website.

“Could they come for us? Easily,” he added. “If it’s necessary, they’ll come. After all, they’ve already come before, and on more than one occasion.”

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Marc Bennetts

81 Comments

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  • “We can’t operate with common-sense concepts for state purposes,” Peskov said. “First and foremost, we operate with concepts of legality and illegality. In this case, the activity of this religious organization is illegal.”

    Well, the problem is that what is considered illegal needs to also agree with common sense.

  • Russia is a textbook case of a religious majority of one persuasion bullying all the others through government. This is not Soviet Atheism in office. It is a group of Orthodox people who have elected Putin to do exactly what he is doing. America has its own weird version of the same thing going on with Trump, just at an earlier stage of development.

  • What religious organisation is really behind this government crack down ?
    Take your best guess.

  • JWs are not extremists, terrorists, or even particularly political. But this is what happens when the state fornicates with religion— well, with one particular religion, and most likely, at the behest of the Dominant Local Religion. Why am I not surprised that authoritarian religionists seem to have no problem with religious persecution, as long as it is directed towards religion that they don’t approve of?

  • The nature of the Russian Orthodox Church and its tight and close relationship with the Russian people, their culture, and their ethos is something you are unfamiliar with.

    The notion of a division between church and state is as foreign to Russia as it is to Islamic countries.

  • They did that already, and American JWs went to the Supreme Court to win freedoms for all Americans, freedoms that you also enjoy. Just say thank you next time.

  • Next time, read all the way through the RNS article. Archpriest Perevezentse of the Russian Orthodox Church clearly recognized the danger in the Russian Court’s anti-JW decision, and said so.

    “Could they come for us? Easily. If it’s necessary, they’ll come. After all, they’ve already come before, and on more than one occasion.”

    I just wish the entire ROC had agreed with him, and had been willing to use their influence on the JW’s behalf.

  • How are they bothering hard working Americans? I’ve never seen JWs proselyting in anyone’s workplace!

    In downtown Seattle they don’t go door to door as perhaps they do in the suburbs, they just set up a tract stand and stand by it to interact with anyone who wishes to engage them. Otherwise, they mostly smile and nod to anyone who will look them in the eye as they walk past.

  • The article being discussed alleges misconduct on the part of JWs, your Honor, so I think this testimony is relevant and should be allowed.

  • The comment to which I responded was made by Dick H and involves derission of American JWs. I’m sorry this is too complicated for you to follow that you make stupid comments that don’t appy, as usual.

  • Bottom line is what do you really expect from a totalitarian regime. Putin expects every Organization, Religious Group, Individual to bow down to him. if you don’t you will be either sentence to prison or poisoned.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) tend to be nuisance because of their pacifistic stand and their lack of political participation.

    Not sure what the origin of the Russian ire is Russian has conscription which JWs resist as well as elsewhere, which may have let to their status as an “extremist organization.”.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Jehovah%27s_Witnesses

    The thing about “pacifist” non political religions such as JWs and Amish, for example, is that they have to be INSIDE some other regime. They cannot exist otherwise unless protected by some other nation, and as exemplified by Sweden and Switzerland, neutral nations have some kind of military to secure borders discourage invasions.

    The solution to accommodate JWs as well as other contentious objectors might be to offer non-war service of some form.

  • There was an article I just read in the Moscow Times from 2017 that the ROC is also targeting atheists (Please, hold the applause). The ROC wants a monopoly, it seems.

  • And yet the only officials of the ROC actually quoted in the article – Khipshidze and Vyacheslav – were opposed to any targeting of JWs.

  • Multiple people would agree with you. Commentaries have been ongoing for the past few years as to the connections made between the American Religious Right and Russia. Will put them in a bit of a pickle (at least I would hope so) with Russia’s new goal of intermediate range nuclear missiles as a consequence of Trump ending the treaty.

  • I had some JW friends who, during the Vietnam War, worked for the US Forest Service planting trees as conscientious objectors.

  • The reason the American Religious Right is enamored with Putin is one thing. He is chasing the LGBT people in Russia. To religionists, THAT is the most important thing. This is indeed astonishing, but it is true. This is how Putin got re-elected there and why we had people here preferring him to Obama. Then Putin helped elect Trump and they liked that even better.

  • As stated by some of the experts here, JWs are not fellow Christians. However, Putin considers them Christians.

  • christianitytoday.com/news/2016/june/no-evangelizing-outside-of-church-russia-proposes.html

    “Russia’s Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church

    – Putin signs new restrictions that limit where and how Christians share the gospel”

  • christianitytoday.com/news/2016/june/no-evangelizing-outside-of-church-russia-proposes.html

    “The …. laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in
    post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work,
    including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to
    recruit people into a religious group.”

  • Yet the connection between the ROC and the JW ban has been apparent as reported by various news sources.

    Persecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses Reflects, Reinforces Links Between Russian State And Russian Orthodox Church
    https://www.eurasiareview.com/22072018-persecution-of-jehovahs-witnesses-reflects-reinforces-links-between-russian-state-and-russian-orthodox-church-oped/

    Russian Orthodox against Jehovah’s Witnesses
    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Russian-Orthodox-against-Jehovah's-Witnesses-40640.html

  • When the US had a draft, conscientious objectors were frequently put in non-combat, but incredibly hazardous, duty as medics. Two famous examples are Lew Ayres (star of All Quiet on the Western Front and Dr. Kildare film series) and Desmond Doss (the subject of the film Hacksaw Ridge). Also naval or merchant marine duty was frequently an alternative as well.

    Interestingly enough South Korea only recently (as of November 2018) has made accommodation of contentious objectors the official practice as ordered by its highest court. Taiwan did the same by legislative action in 2000.

  • So Russia’s Supreme Court has decided that Jehovah’s Witnesses are an extremist organization on par with the Islamic State because they promote the “exclusivity and supremacy” of their beliefs. As I recall, so did the Supreme Soviet not that long ago, and Putin didn’t seem to mind then.

    Here’s the difference between JWs and ISIS, in case anyone finds that a compelling argument. The next time a JW shows up on your doorstep, pretend you’re not home. They’ll leave. I’ve tried it and it works.

    On the other hand, the next time someone from the Islamic State shows up on your doorstep…

  • I don’t believe you’ll be able to support “on par with the Islamic State” in the sense you’re trying to use it with any citations.

  • “Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness to be sentenced to prison in Russia since the country’s Supreme Court declared the pacifist Christian denomination an “extremist organization” in 2017, putting it on par with the Islamic State militant group and neo-Nazi movements.”

    My point was that, yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses have beliefs that could be characterized as extreme, but they threaten no one, let alone the state. There’s a difference between being annoying and being dangerous.

  • The question was in response to Dick Hertzer’s comment about imprisoning Jehovah’s Witnesses in America.

  • So, basically, your first link shows that Orthodox Christians are willing to freely speak out against the errors of the JWs. This is exactly what one would expect them to do, and does not betoken any throne-and-altar theory such as the article tries to assert.

    Your second link likewise undercuts its own thesis, quoting a number of Orthodox representatives who reject the throne-and-altar theory. For example, right off the bat, Metropolitan Hilarion says “I would like to emphasize that the Church has taken no part in this matter.”

    What the article does is suggest that the proof of collusion between Church and State can be found in the fact that those at the forefront of declaring the JWs a dangerous sect also happen to be members of the Orthodox Church. But over 80% of Russians fall into that demographic, so that claim is specious. And although their beliefs no doubt inform their actions, that is not proof that the Church is actually directing their actions.

    (Full disclaimer: Alexander Dvorkin is mentioned in the articles. I knew Sasha when he lived in the states a number of years ago.)

  • This prosecution was not based on the premise that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were attempting to gain territory on overthrow the government.

    Marc Bennetts’:

    “Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness to be sentenced to prison in Russia since the country’s Supreme Court declared the pacifist Christian denomination an ‘extremist organization’ in 2017, putting it on par with the Islamic State militant group and neo-Nazi movements.” was at best over-the-top. He is no guru on matters religious or Russian law:

    https://muckrack.com/marc-bennetts

    and writes, among other things, travel guides.

    The reference to the Supreme Court involves:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/world/europe/russia-bans-jehovahs-witnesses.html

    Russian law requires registration of all religious sects and compliance with legal requirements I posted in another post.

    Failure to comply results in harsh sentences.

  • “So, basically, your first link shows that Orthodox Christians are willing to freely speak out against the errors of the JWs.”

    That sentence drips with sectarian prejudice right there. Obviously you do not consider JW’s to be a Christian sect. But wayward ones whose “errors” deny their existence as one.

    It only goes downhill from there.

    Basically as alleged American evangelical Christians like yourself ally themselves with Russia out of common interests of promoting discriminatory policies with a friendly government.

  • No. They tried all that nonsense, including the Green River Ordinance, to block their First Ammendment rights, but court after court acknowledged their rights.

  • and you think this close relationship between the 2 is a just reason for persecuting another religious group? Tell me Mark Connelly what would Jesus have done if he was in the position of the church and state? do you think he would have been ok with what is going on?

  • Jesus is not running Russia. Were Jesus in charge, if he decided this particular sect was like – for example – the Pharisees or the moneychangers in the Temple, they’d be chastised.

    For a number of reasons several nations, both Orthodox Christian and Muslim, restrict religious expression. France and Mexico substantially restrict religion to inside houses of worship. So do atheistic countries like China.

    England did the same at one time.

    The notion of church and state being separate powers is very much a modern Western idea.

    For its own reasons Russia has not registered the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so those who enter Russia with an intention to proselytize for an unregistered religion take their chances.

  • so you didn’t answer my question. and what sect are you referring to? JWs are not a sect so please do not be disrespectful like that. and if you are a Christian you know that Jesus is in charge of the Christian Congregation so tell me how the Church is allowing such persecution. why are these so called Christians going to Kingdom Halls and assaulting men, women and children? so if you noticed i am not referring to nor care about the government and what they are doing. Jesus true followers are know by their works and the fruitage of that work.

  • Please provide your definitions for:

    religion

    denomination

    sect

    cult

    so that I can be sure to use your preferred terms.

    There are no Kingdom Halls in Russia.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not licensed.

    The early Christians did not go around demanding that countries change their laws to suit them. They suffered persecutions happily.

  • If we’re going to start interpreting “disturbing the peace” that broadly, there are a lot of people I’d go after before the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Next time they come to your door, don’t answer. Then nobody has to be disturbed and our prisons will remain that much less crowded with such hardened criminals as the JWs.

  • My comment specifically dealt with “Here’s the difference between JWs and ISIS, in case anyone finds that a compelling argument. The next time a JW shows up on your doorstep, pretend you’re not home. They’ll leave. I’ve tried it and it works.” which implied a dimilarity with the Islamic State had been suggested by the Russian Supreme Court which had not been suggested.

    The article was misleading.

  • I’m sorry what? What law are JWs asking to be changed? Russia has by constitution freedom of worship. And obviously you don’t know much about the situation there because there were over 170,000 JWs in Russia with many Kingdom Halls. It’s been within the last year that Halls have been ceased. Google priests attack Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and see for yourself. And you know the terms to use so as not to be disrespectful of another’s beliefs.

  • “And you know the terms to use so as not to be disrespectful of another’s beliefs.”

    Unless and until I get answer to my reasonable question, our exchange is done.

    Please provide your definitions for:

    religion

    denomination

    sect

    cult

    and let me know into which you place the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • JWs are away of life. You can say religion. But we are not a sect nor cult nor denomination. We follow the the Christ as our King and Leader. He is the head of all JW congregations on Earth. So we are True Christians

  • The largest Christian denomination is the Catholic Church.

    Their religion is Christianity.

    So, you’re telling me that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not part of Christianity, but are a separate religion called True Christians.

    Okay.

    The laws any Jehovah’s Witness (this article deals with a Dane) in Russia are violating are:

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2016/june/no-evangelizing-outside-of-church-russia-proposes.html

    placing new restrictions that limit where and how Christians share the gospel. Christians may not teach the “exclusivity and supremacy” of their beliefs as opposed to other Christians’ beliefs, which as just made clear is part and parcel of the Jehovah’s Witness religion.

    And those are Christians who are registered.

    The Russian Supreme Court in 2017 upheld not permitting the Jehovah’s Witness to register.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Baptists operate under the same restrictions, but are registered.

    Praying, singing hymns and Bible study for an unregistered religion, or the same in an unregistered location, are crimes.

  • Thank you, I did not know about S Korea and Taiwan. Hacksaw Ridge is a good movie. There are many ways to serve, I do not know if JWs would go the medic route as it might cross into other difficulties such as blood transfusions (they are against it), but some benign activity such as maintenance of facilities that is not directly supportive of a war effort is something they might accept.

  • I liked the film but thought Mel Gibson was kind of undermining Doss’s story towards the end. “Gee look at all this exciting violence and gore…oh by the way here is a Medal of Honor life saving pacifist running around here”.

    As I mentioned, there is the Naval route. There are tons of jobs on any given vessel that do not involve handling or firing weapons. The Merchant Marine in WWI and WWII was another (but also was extremely hazardous at the time).

  • I have stated that they are Christians (having been a JW myself) many times. When I do some of the “experts” claim they are not.

  • Freudian slip/wishful thinking about the missiles. But not about the relationship between the right and Russia as allies in promoting Christian values post 2016 and in spite of/or disregarding the ban. World Congress of Families 2018 Moldova for example.(At least they cancelled in 2014 with the invasion of the Ukraine.) Religious freedom in Russian has been there and then not there ever since the Russian Revolution including the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • My sentence drips with honest-to-goodness accurate Christian theology.

    Do the JWs believe in the Trinity?

    No.

    Therefore they are not actual Christians.

    And, btw, I am not, and have never been, an “American evangelical Christian”.

    Try again.

  • Again, more sectarian prejudice on your part. Essentially declaring yourself the sole authority as to which sects are “really Christian” and which ones aren’t.

    Since you don’t consider JW’s to be a true sect, they are fair game to be persecuted by the Russian government.

    As someone who does not want to see ANY religion persecuted by a government, I find your entirely selective sectarian concern truly repugnant stuff. Not surprised. Attacking others under the banner of religious faith seems to be a thing for you.

  • Get used to it, dearie. Christians are going to be as outspoken in defense of Christian orthodoxy as you are in defense of LGBT orthodoxy.

    We take the teaching of Christian truths (such as “God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit”) just as seriously as you take the teaching of LGBT “truths” (such as “A transexual who imagines he is a woman is a woman, and must be treated as such”.)

    And we will fight tooth and nail against those who deny those truths, just as you fight tooth and nail against those who deny your LGBT “truths”.

    Attacking others under the banner of LGBT “truths” seems to be a thing for you.

  • So where does any of that pertain to JW’s? It doesn’t you are just on a bigoted rant. Christians like yourself apparently are terrible people who attack religious freedom.

    But you were demonstrating how sectarian bigotry comes into play here. How you are so bereft of common sense and a sense of justice that you would PROMOTE sectarian persecution.

    A person who whines incessantly pretending to be persecuted because you are not permitted to attack people in a public way without consequences. Someone who clearly can’t stand religious freedom and actively attacks it elsewhere.

    You are telling me that you and Christians like yourself are immoral people who should never be taken seriously.

  • I am telling you that you are an LGBT sect bigot that comes here to indulge in your supercilious preening by attacking anyone who does not bow to your progressive intolerance. You are as dogmatic and self-righteous as any Grand Inquisitor ever was.

  • Facts – You don’t like them very much, do you. The JW’s were registered as an official religion in 1991 and re-registered in 2015 by order of the ECHR.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia did, however, win a rare legal victory on May 27, 2015, when the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice restored the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a Local Religious Organization (LRO) in Moscow, a status the Witnesses lost when their legal entity in Moscow was liquidated on March 26, 2004. The Witnesses appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and on June 10, 2010, the ECHR ordered Russia to reinstate the Witnesses’ registration in Moscow as well as pay moral damages.

  • If you read my earlier reply, you’ll see that the JW’s have been re-registered by order of the ECHR.

  • You might want to take a look at the definition of Christian. You don’t have to believe in the teaching of a Triune God to be Christian. To be considered a Christian, you only have to profess the belief that Jesus is the Christ.

  • No, like I posted on May 27, 2015 the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice restored the registration.

    Even if they hadn’t restored it, they would be violating the decision of the courts. So, either way you look at it, what they’re doing is illegal including making that law restricting the free expression of ones religious beliefs.

  • Also, it wasn’t until December 14, 2015 when Putin signed another illegal law into effect, giving Russia’s courts the right to decide if they want to abide by the international courts rulings or not. That law didn’t only violate the international law but even violated Russia’s own constitution. So, whichever illegal action you want to go with us fine with me, but there’s no denying that everything they’ve been doing for the last few years, in regards to these issues, is illegal.

  • The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed witnesses to the core beliefs required of orthodox Christians.

    Anyone who rejects that Creed – which includes belief in the Trinity – should not be considered a Christian.

  • Well, then. I guess that would mean that none of the Apostles, nor any of the congregations formed in the time just after Christ’s death, can be Christians because they weren’t under the “Creed” since it wasn’t made until hundreds of years After the Apostles lived and the congregations were first formed. I guess that would also invalidate all of the letters that the Apostles Paul wrote to the different “Christian congregations” in Rome, Corinth, etc. They must be because those congregations weren’t under that Creed.

    Give me a break. The original formers of the Christian congregations considered anyone who believed that Jesus was the Christ was a Christian. What right did a few people hundreds of years have to change that meaning? Read a dictionary. Here’s one dictionary’s definition for an example:

    The American Heritage Dictionary – Christian
    adj. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
    adj. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus’s teachings.
    adj. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.

    Merriam-Webster –

  • The Nicene Creed is a clear summary of the faith of the Apostles. That it was composed in the 4th Century is irrelevant insofar as it proclaims the same faith.

    The Church defines its faith (and who therefore are actual Christians), not some modern American dictionary. The very idea that some modern dictionary has the theological and spiritual competence to declare what is and is not the Church, what is and is not the faith, is totally risible.

    The Church’s standard of faith is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

    Accept no imitations or substitutes

  • Well, see. Here’s the problem with that. Both the Nicene Creed and the Niceno-Canstantinopolitan Creed (you posted both so I’m not sure which one you’re talking about) were initiated at 325 AD and 381 AD, respectively. This means that they are not the original usage of the term. They only adapted it to mean what they decided it “should” mean.

    See, the Nicene Creed originally made the statement “We believe in the Holy Spirit.” In 381 AD it changed to the Niceno-Canstantinopolitan Creed where it was completely changed to “And [we believe] in the Holy ‘Ghost’, the Lord and Giver-of-Life,…etc, etc.” In your statement, though, you said “the Nicene Creed is a clear summary of the faith of the Apostles.” You later then stated the “Niceno-Canstantinopolitan Creed”. These are 2 different Creed’s, but that’s neither here nor there.

    I wonder how the original “faith of the Apostles” changed so much in less than 60 years. For example, did they call it the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost? Also, how did the Apostles change their faith when they were long dead by this time? Hmm. Makes you think don’t it?

    Regardless, the term was originally used in the Bible centuries before these Creed’s were written. The first usage is recorded by Luke in the book of Acts(11:26) where he was talking about how they were in Antioch and were “called Christians”.

    That means that the Apostles weren’t the ones who were first recorded to use the term(nor were they the second, actually). It was originally used as a bit of a derogatory term to describe ‘Followers of Christ’ and not a specific way of following Christ. Prior to that record, the followers of Christ were called Disciples and the teachings were called The Way. Peter was the first recorded to use it as a term for those who were Disciples of The Way. Men were the ones to change the meaning to what they decided they wanted it to mean.

    So, now that you understand its origin, I reiterate my statement that Anyone who believes in and follows Christ’s teachings, are Christians. Since there are different interpretations of what his teachings require of them, ‘following’ his teachings to the best of their understanding means that they are Christians. As they grow in their understanding of his teachings, they’ll better be able to adjust their lives to more closely imitate those teachings. Just as the Disciples of his day were learning and growing in understanding.

    So, just because a person doesn’t believe in either of those Creed’s, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a Christian. There are other Creed’s that could be followed as well, such as the Apostle’s Creed. Regardless, they are doing their best to follow their understanding of Jesus’ teachings.

    Saying that they believe in his teachings but not trying to follow them is, in my opinion only, not considered a Christian. Just like there were many who listened to him, believed in who he was, but didn’t follow him and his teachings, and therefore they weren’t recorded in the Gospels as his Disciples. For example, the rich man who asked Jesus what he must do to enter the Kingdom of God but wasn’t able to bring himself to do it. He clearly believed in who Jesus was, he just didn’t follow what Jesus asked of him to make him rich in heaven. (Luke 18:18-25)

    I hope that this very long reply has cleared up any misunderstandings regarding the meaning of the term Christian. As well as my opinion regarding the need for action.

  • Your long comment of last night (3/6/19 at 9:17 PM) has now disappeared before I could respond to it.
    Let me now reply to at least to the most egregious part of it.

    You wrote:

    “See, the Nicene Creed originally made the statement “We believe in the Holy Spirit”. In 381 AD it changed to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed where it was completely changed to “And we believe in the Holy ‘Ghost’, the Lord and Giver-of-Life…etc…etc…”. …I wonder how the original “faith of the Apostles” changed so much in less than 60 years. For example, did they call it the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost? Also, how did the Apostles change their faith when they were long dead by this time? Hmmm. Makes you think, don’t it?”

    Yes. It makes me think you never studied either Creed in the original Greek. Because if you had, you would have seen that the words “Holy Spirit” in the Nicene (325 AD) Creed were “to Hagion Pneuma”, and in the Nicene-Constatinopolitan (381 AD) Creed they were “to Pneuma to Hagion” – in other words, identical, except for a stylistic variation in word order which is inconsequential in Greek.

    You contention that the wording was changed from “Holy Spirit” to “Holy Ghost” is completely false. Perhaps this error comes from having consulted English translations in which one used “Spirit”, whereas the other used the more archaic English equivalent “Ghost”. In the original Greek of the Creeds, both phrases are essentially the same. The faith was not changed, contrary to your allegation.

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