Sheesh!!! They're not THAT annoying.
Christianity TodayVerified account @CTmagazine 6m6 minutes ago
#Breaking: Russia officially bans Jehovah's Witnesses, forcing them to close nearly 400 centers across the country
Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses As Extremists
High court puts pacifist faith in same category as terrorists.
[ posted 4/20/2017 12:36PM ]
It’s official. Jehovah’s Witnesses can no longer practice their faith freely in Russia, where the Supreme Court on Thursday declared the pacifist religious organization an “extremist group” and banned all activity.
The judge ordered all 395 local chapters and its Russian headquarters to close and authorized the government to seize all property. Under the ruling, distributing copies of the Watchtower, discussing their beliefs in public, or even worshiping at a meeting hall has become a crime.
A lawyer for the justice ministry, Svetlana Borisova, told the court adherents “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security,” according to reports.
To human rights and religious freedom advocates around the world, the move comes as a major blow. Ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin put ongoing scrutiny on all non-Orthodox faiths, but this case represents the first time the country banned a registered religious group.
“If Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted, then that means later ‘on the block’ will come other religious movements—for example, Protestant churches,” law professor Anatoly Pchelintcev told Portal-Credo, an Orthodox news site. “For the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Armageddon has arrived, and the faithful of other religions await the apocalypse.”
Christians in the country have been more ambivalent about the fate of the fellow minority group, as Christianity Today previously reported.
Jehovah’s Witnesses number 175,000 adherents in Russia, and Protestants are about four to five times that. Though they have suffered under some of the same restrictive laws (like the anti-evangelism measures enacted last year), Russian Protestants have a better reputation among Orthodox and government officials. They disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ theology and methodology for evangelism, often seeing their tactics as annoying.
It’s impossible the government would use the extremist label against evangelicals’ literature, since they tend to use the same Bible translations as the Orthodox, said Roman Lunkin, an expert in Russian church-state relations, to Time.
Still, some Russian evangelicals see the repression of Witnesses as reason to worry, according to William Yoder, spokesman for the Russia Evangelical Alliance. Some have brought up German pastor Martin Niemöller’s “First They Came For” poem and asked, “How soon will it hit us if we don’t protest?”
The crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses follows rising nationalist furor in Russia and a skepticism toward groups associated with the West.
“The treatment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reflects the Russian government’s tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country’s political stability,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which condemned Russia’s ongoing campaign against the group. “This approach dates back to the Soviet period and impacts other religious groups, including peaceful Christians and Muslims.”