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Jehovah's Witness exemption from conscription deemed prejudicial in "pivotal" ruling

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A Finnish court has ruled that the exemption from military service currently enjoyed by Jehovah's Witnesses is discriminatory.

 

News 23.2.2018 14:34 | updated 24.2.2018 10:53

Jehovah's Witness exemption from conscription deemed prejudicial in "pivotal" ruling

A Finnish court has ruled that the exemption from military service currently enjoyed by Jehovah's Witnesses is discriminatory.

A new court ruled on Friday that the Finnish practice of allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription is discriminatory.

The Helsinki Court of Appeal on Friday voted 4-3 for naming the policy discriminatory against other conscientious objectors. The ruling came in a discrimination case brought by a man who was imprisoned in 2016 for refusing conscripted service the year before.

The decision is the first court verdict that directly denounces the decades-old exception (instated in 1987), which says that men belonging to the Jehovah's Witness denomination will uniquely not be sent to prison if they refuse both military and civilian service.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Defense Ministry have long held that the law contradicts the constitution's principle of equality as well as its prohibition on discrimination.

Basis in faith

The majority of the court held that Finland has taken significant measures to improve equality since the exemption became law more than 30 years ago, such as signing the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under current legislation Jehovah's Witnesses may postpone their entry into service for three years at a time (starting at age 18), until their obligation officially ceases at age 29.

Proponents of the Christian faction cite their pacifist reading of the Bible as the basis of their objection, for which they receive no punishment. No other groups in Finland have the same right, except women, who have never been legally bound to enter conscripted service.

"Pivotal" step follows international condemnation

The Union of Conscientious Objectors (Finnish acronym AKL) tweeted about the news on Friday, calling the court's decision "pivotal" in the process towards banning conscription altogether.

Robin Harms, a senior advisor to the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, has acted as legal counsel to the imprisoned man who originally brought the case to the Eastern Uusimaa District Court in 2015.

"Favouring Jehovah's Witnesses in this way is an embarrassment for Finland," Harms says.

More than that, human rights organisations including Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have long chastised the Finnish government for its ongoing practice of forced conscription. Only male (non-Witness) Finns are obliged to choose between military service, a longer civilian service term and a six-month prison (or remote monitoring) sentence.

AKL reports that an average of some 40 objectors have annually refused both military and civilian service since the beginning of the 21st century. Some 100 Jehovah's Witnesses plead the law of exception to avoid conscription each year. While 72 percent of young men enter military service (minimum 6 months) when called, some 2,000 men opt for a civilian service period (minimum 347 days).

All men who are jailed for objecting to conscription are considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience.

Justice Minister: Consider exemption anew

Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen said after the verdict that the current exemptions from military service should be evaluated in the light of the verdict.

"If some group or other has exemptions based on their beliefs, then in this day and age they should always be evaluated to make sure different groups are treated equally," said Häkkänen.

Häkkänen added that participation in national defence is mandated in the Finnish constitution, and that exceptions to that are based on religious convictions.

"How are those interests weighed against each other in different situations, especially in a changing world, then that's a big constitutional law question as well," said Häkkänen. "This is an interesting issue that must now be resolved fairly."

EDIT: This story was edited on 23 February to add comments from the Justice Minister.

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      The accused, who arrived in Finland in 2016, had told police that originally his intention was to attack a soldier. But he changed his plans, believing that it was equally justified to attack civilian women.
      “My target was to hit women, not men … I was in war against women,” he said.
      Eight of the ten victims were women, and two died of their wounds. The two men were not targetted directly by the defendant, but he stabbed them as they tried to save the women, including Hassan Zubier who arrived in court in a wheelchair when the trial began last week.
      Bouanane said that his initial goal was to kill the two women Jehovah’s Witnesses who were proselytising in the town centre. One of them was the first victim of the stabbing attack.
      The defendant said she was selected due to her behaviour and Christian activity, saying that her smiling irritated him.
      “They annoyed me sexually. The way they smiled at me provoked some kind of emotions inside me that are embarrassing,” he said.
      “I honestly felt like I was controlled remotely… The idea was to keep attacking as long as a head falls,” the failed asylum seeker said. He only stopped stabbing random people after police shot him in the leg.
      Ylen Turku Prison told the Finnish Broadcasting Company that Bouanane had rioted in his cell Monday and Tuesday night, breaking his television and other furniture.
      During the trial he has repeatedly laughed, denounced his victims, and refused to obey the orders of the judge, including on Wednesday afternoon refusing to sit down in his chair, claiming that “Every new thing I use brings me to hell.”
      Psychiatrist Gustav Schulman assessed that his “psychological violence against the victims and the entire Finnish people” during the trial act as a continuation of his attack.

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    • By The Librarian
      One of them was a 23 year old sister at her witnessing cart, she was stabbed in the throat and died very soon thereafter :
       
      Read more:
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Last April, a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations throughout the country, arguing the religious group to be extremist.
      On Friday, Murmansk regional authorities’ newspaper Murmanski Vestnik reports about raids made by FSB and the National Guard of Russia (Rosgvardia) in Polyarny on the Kola Peninsula.
      Two local residents were detained under suspicions of being members of the administrative centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, organizing teaching and meetings where reading of banned religious literature took place. Searches were carried out at six addresses in Polyarny.    
      The town is home to a naval yard and several of the diesel-powered submarines and other warships of the Northern Fleet have Polyarny as homeport.
      The extremist law banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia provides for a maximum sentences of 6 to 10 years in jail.
      Meanwhile, a wave of practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses are fleeing Russia. More than a thousand people are now seeking asylum in several European countries, including Finland, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported earlier this winter.
      «It all started last summer, and that’s when the first Witnesses sought asylum in Finland, spokesperson Veikko Leininen with the organization’s Finnish branch told the newspaper.
      «Many dozens at least are still to come,» he said.
      Press adviser Therese Bergwitz-Larsen with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can’t go into details about particular reasons for asylum seekers coming to Norway.
      «Unfortunately, we can’t say anything in general on the background for reasons to apply for asylum, since the number [from Russia] is so small.»
      Statistics from UDI show that 15 persons came from Russia the first three months this year. In 2017, 58 Russian asylum seekers came to Norway.
      In Russia, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses are estimated to about 175,000. That be, before the organization was declared extremist. Viewed with skepticism for denying military service, voting and refusal to take blood, the members are seen as both a threat to themselves, their children and public safety.
      Also during Soviet times, the Witnesses were persecuted.   
      Human Right Watch recently called on Russian authorities to drop charges against Danish citizen Dennis Christensen adherent for practicing his faith. Christensen has been in pretrial custody for 11 months in the town of Orel. Human Right Watch argues that Russia is a member of Council of Europe and  a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefor is obligated to protect the rights to freedom of religion and association.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The annual report by the Council of Europe assessing the execution rate of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights points to 36 judgments involving Georgia which have yet to be executed. The report calls on Georgia to accelerate the execution process, as it is “imperative for the insurance of human rights.”
      The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers is responsible for monitoring the implementation, or “execution,” of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and publishes an annual report with the results for each European country.
      The monitored cases are classified into different categories to allow for ease of understanding. All cases are classified as either “leading” or “repetitive.” Leading cases are those revealing new structural and/or systemic problems, whereas repetitive cases relate to issues that have already been raised before the Committee.
      Georgia was involved in 10 new cases in 2017, a light increase from 2016 with its 7 new cases. Of these 10 cases, three were leading cases, and seven were repetitive. Countries often lack behind in the implementation process for years, trying to avoid necessary measures or pointing to an unfavorable situation to implement legislative amendments. In 2016, Georgia still had 39 pending cases to implement, decreasing slightly to 36 last year, out of which 23 are repetitive and 13 leading.
      The Committee selected six pending cases to be under enhanced supervision, which is a supervision procedure for cases requiring urgent individual measures, pilot judgments, and judgments revealing important structural and/or complex problems as identified by the Court.
      Presently, Georgia has five such pending cases, which have been awaiting execution for more than five years. With regards to monetary compensation, also called “just satisfaction,” Georgia awarded €120,151 in 2017, almost twice less than in 2016 (€221,000). However, the State itself is tasked with payment to the victims, which rarely takes place in a timely manner. In 2017, Georgia respected the payment deadline in eight cases, while for four cases, the payment was still pending past the set deadline.
      The report highlights two main pending cases, which it urges the government to implement due to their importance regarding human rights. The first case is Tsintsabadze vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment or violations of the right to life. Although the monitoring team observed improvements, they continue to monitor the case.
      The second case is Identoba et.al. vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of protection against homophobic attacks during a demonstration. Touching again the issue of the first case, as adequate investigation procedures were missing also for this case, the European Court’s judgment points to a “Failure to adequately protect against inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted by private individuals to LGBT activists (in May 2012) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (in 1999-2001) during marches or meetings.” Following the broad scope of the judgment, this case deals with the freedom of religion and the freedom of assembly and association.
      Furthermore, the report highlights essential improvements undertaken by the government with regard to closed cases. The Committee closed the Gharibashvili vs Georgia case, as the effectiveness of investigations was improved through the better involvement of the victims in the investigation, new rules for witness interrogation, and reinforced institutional independence for investigating bodies. In addition, the prevention of excessive use of force by the police in the course of arrest and ill-treatment in custody has been improved, notably through the creation of internal monitoring mechanisms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Corrections.
      Monitoring legal improvement and law amendments, the Committee praises Georgia for the law “On Common Courts,” foreseeing that all judicial acts, including the operative part of decisions adopted, will be published on the website, thus increasing transparency. In conjunction with these measures, numerous training and awareness-raising measures have been undertaken.
      Besides the assessment of improvements based on specific cases, the report highlights general advances in the field of human rights and safety. The power of bailiffs to arrest individuals is better circumscribed, and guarantees for the holding of a public hearing and respect for the equality of arms have been adopted. The possibility for detained persons to obtain compensation for their illegal or unjustified detention is ensured, independently of conviction or acquittal.
      Rehabilitating GeorgiaÂ’s past, legislative amendments were adopted in 2011 and 2014 in order to grant compensation to the victims of Soviet-era repression. Improvements have also been observed in the electoral law.
      Clear criteria were introduced to define when the Central Electoral Commission can use its power to invalidate elections, alongside the introduction of an effective remedy against its decisions.
      On a European level, the countries with the highest total number of pending cases at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,689), Turkey (1,446), Ukraine (1,156), Romania (553) and Italy (389). Of the 7,584 pending cases at the end of 2017, 1,379 (18%) were leading cases and 6,205 (82%) were repetitive cases. The countries with the highest number of leading cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (216), Turkey (177), Ukraine (136), Bulgaria (77) and Moldova (76). The countries with the highest number of repetitive cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,473), Turkey (1,269), Ukraine (1,020), Romania (495) and Italy (335). A strong decrease in pending cases could also be observed on a European level, as 3,849 pending cases were under enhanced supervision at the end of 2017, down from 6,718 at the end of 2014 (a drop of 43%).
      Although Russia tops the statistics in pending cases, they strongly lag behind resolving or implementing them, surpassed by Italy and Hungary. The countries that closed the highest total number of cases in 2017 were Italy (2,001), Hungary (296), Russia (254), Romania (144) and Poland (133).
      In 2017, the court awarded €14.6m in “just satisfaction” against Russia, €12.5m against Italy, €11.6m against Turkey, €5.9m against the Slovak Republic and €3.7m against Greece. The total figure is €60.4m compared to €82.3m in 2016.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Men are granted waivers from conscription if they can show they are active members of the denomination. All other men must carry out either military or non-military service.
      The Finnish Defence Ministry has set up a panel to reconsider the exemption from conscription granted to members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The non-mainstream Christian denomination urges its members not to participate in military service, even in unarmed roles.
      The ministry said on Friday that it has established a working group to consider revising the legislation that waives Jehovah’s Witnesses’ obligation to perform military service.
      All Finnish men aged 18 to 60 must carry out either military or non-military service. Under current law, a man can be granted a deferment of service for three years at a time as long as he can certify that he is an active member of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation.
      "Problematic" from equality standpoint
      The Defence Ministry says that previous studies of the issue have found the current practice to be problematic, particularly from the standpoint of equality.
      The legislation on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ conscription was originally passed as a special act before the present constitution came into force.
      The committee is to complete its work by late June.

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    • By Queen Esther
      REFUGEES,  WITNESSES  IN  FINLAND
      Russian Jehovah's Witnesses who have come to Finland in search of asylum. Also a Finnish presidential candidate mentioned that the highest percentage of asylum seekers in a particular Finnish refugee center at this time are the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses. The immigration office states that 1,000 Russian Witnesses have sought asylum last year and even earlier.
      Apparently, there was systematic harassment of Witnesses in Russia and a law was passed that the Witnesses can lose custody of their children, if it is proved that the children are indoctrinated by their parents.
                         ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Born to a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baek Jong-keon realized the price of his faith in South Korea at an early age. 

      His father had gone to jail for refusing to take up arms, and his three older brothers chose the same path when the time came for them to serve their mandatory military service. 
       

      Baek Jong-keon works as an assistant at a law firm in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Bak Se-hwan/The Korea Herald
      In a country where all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military to defend against North Korea’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces, it seemed like a bleak future awaited him, too. 

      “I grew up watching my father -- and my three brothers -- go to jail for objecting to the mandatory military service. It was hard to overcome the fear and the pain as a kid,” said Baek, 33, in an interview with The Korea Herald. 

      “That’s why I wanted to become a lawyer -- to change the situation.” 

      Baek also chose the life of a conscientious objector in South Korea -- or the life of a convicted “draft dodger.” He was sentenced to 18 months in jail by the Supreme Court in 2016. 

      He served his prison term and was released in May this year. The Korean Bar Association suspended his lawyer’s license for five years, a possibility that he had known since he was preparing for the bar exam. 

      All this, however, does not mean Baek is accepting things as they are. Now working as an assistant at a small law firm, he is fighting to regain his license. He has been rejected once, but is still fighting. 

      He is also fighting for the sake of other conscientious objectors to have the government and society recognize their freedom of conscience and offer them alternative ways to serve the country. 

      “Roughly 400 young conscientious objectors are currently in jail. I think that we should seriously consider giving them alternative forms of military service instead of just treating them as outlaws,” he said. 

      Since 2013, nearly 2,500 people were prosecuted for failing to enlist in the military, according to data from the Military Manpower Administration. The military service law mandates a prison sentence of up to three years for men who avoid the draft. 

      A majority of the 2,500 are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who object to any form of militarism. Of the total, 15 are unreligious, objecting conscription based on their personal beliefs and the principles of “no violence” and “no war.” 

      But there are growing signs that the judicial system may be easing its stance on conscientious objectors. This year alone, 40 acquittals were made at lower courts for conscientious objectors, five times more than in 2016, reflecting a possible change in legal perceptions. 

      Although no final decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the acquittals has been made yet, the repeated rulings in favor of the objectors are pressing the government to react.

      The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the conscription law, with several complaints filed regarding conscientious objection.

      During his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly last month, new Constitutional Court chief Lee Jin-sung hinted at the need to change the long-entrenched judicial practice against conscientious objection. 

      “We should take the situation seriously where people endure being sent to prison for their adherence to their conscience,” Lee said. 

      Views on conscientious objection seem to be changing as well.

      According to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission, 46.1 percent of people said last year the government should allow conscientious objection, up 12.8 percentage points from 33.3 percent in a 2011 poll. 

      “The answer is simple,” Baek said. “We just have to adopt legislation that allows conscientious objectors to carry out an appropriate alternative service of a length comparable to that of military service.” 

      Three bills are pending at the National Assembly seeking to add alternative options to the mandatory military service system. 

      Critics argue it is premature to adopt an alternative service program, especially amid ongoing threats from North Korea. It would also affect the morale of conscripted soldiers to see those citing faith -- which is hard to prove -- being allowed to avoid the tough life in barracks. 

      “We do not ask for special treatment,” Baek said. 

      “Some people wrongly assume that we would be exempted from the national duty mandated to all male citizens of South Korea once the court rules in favor of conscientious objection.

      “But we are willing to serve our country once an alternative service for objectors is introduced. That will allow us to contribute to the community in a way that does not conflict with our conscience, for instance, in the areas of public health, social welfare, the environment and labor,” Baek added. 

      He also believes that religious conscientious objectors have an important role to play. 

      “It is our part not to give up and to keep hope alive. I hope they do not resign themselves to be sent to jail, but keep appealing against the prison term to bring about change,” Baek said. 

      By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)

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    • Guest Nicole
    • By The Librarian
      The immediate response from the branch office after the tragedy provided comfort and reassurance to both Witnesses and non-Witnesses shaken by the event.

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Original news report:
       
    • Guest Kurt
      By Guest Kurt
      The daughter Laila Johansson greets her at least twice a week. Then she often read a piece from the Bible
      Biography
      Helfrid Eriksson was born on 23 June 1908 in Pernå, Southern Finland, Finland. Her father was a bricklayer and her mother a housewife. Helfrid and her sister studied at a girls' school in Helsinki. She married taxi driver Paul Eriksson and they had a daughter and two sons. Her mother and father lived to be 95 years old.

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    • Eric Ouellet

      Mettez votre confiance en Jéhovah
       
      Ouvrons nos bibles en Psaumes 37:3,4 regardons un conseil de notre Dieu Jéhovah:
      “Aie confiance en Jéhovah et fais le bien; (...) délecte-toi en Jéhovah.” — PSAUME 37:3, 4.
      AU PREMIER siècle de notre ère, les chefs religieux juifs prétendaient adorer Dieu, mais ils n’avaient pas confiance en lui: ils violaient ses commandements et persécutaient ses représentants (Matthieu 15:3; Jean 15:20). En conséquence, "leur maison fut abandonnée" par Jéhovah (Matthieu 23:38). En l’an 66, les armées romaines détruisirent Jérusalem et son temple, ce qui entraîna la mort d’un grand nombre de chefs religieux et de leurs disciples. Cependant, les personnes qui avaient confiance en Jéhovah furent protégées, car elles avaient suivi l’avertissement de ses porte-parole et elles étaient allées se réfugier dans un lieu sûr. — Matthieu 24:15-22; Luc 21:20-24.
      En ces derniers jours du système de choses,  mettons-nous notre confiance en Jéhovah, le vrai Dieu? Obéissons-nous à ses commandements et fesons-nous sa volonté, ou bien imiton-nous les chefs religieux du Ier siècle que Dieu abandonna? Quelle mode de vie avons-nous de besoin à notre époque, pour espérer bénéficier de la protection divine parce que nous avons confiance en Jéhovah et que nous agissons pour le bien’? — Psaume 37:3.
      Il y a plusieurs années, le pape Jean-Paul II a déclaré que “la survie de l’humanité tout entière était gravement menacée”. Il a mis l’accent sur “les résultats qu’obtiennent divers groupements religieux lorsqu’ils s’unissent pour tenter de conjurer cette menace”. C’est la volonté de Dieu, a-t-il dit, que les responsables religieux “travaillent ensemble” à “la paix et [à] la réconciliation”. Toutefois, si telle est sa volonté, pourquoi Dieu n’a-t-il pas béni les efforts qui sont accomplis en ce sens depuis des siècles? Parce que ces religions ne mettent pas véritablement leur confiance dans le moyen que Dieu a prévu pour instaurer la paix: son Royaume céleste (Matthieu 6:9, 10). Au lieu de cela, elles accordent leur soutien à la politique et aux guerres des nations. En conséquence, au cours des guerres, les croyants d’une nation ont tué les croyants d’une autre nation, et ils ont même tué certains de leurs coreligionnaires. Ainsi, des catholiques ont tué des catholiques, des protestants ont tué des protestants, et il en fut de même dans bien d’autres religions. Cependant, de véritables frères spirituels peuvent-ils s’entre-tuer, tout en prétendant servir Dieu?
      Jésus a établi le critère d'un mode vie qui apporte l'Amour et la protection de son Père,  lorsqu'ils a dit à ses disciples: “Je vous donne un commandement nouveau: que vous vous aimiez les uns les autres, et que, comme je vous ai aimés, vous aussi aimez les uns les autres. Par là tous saurons que vous êtes mes disciples: si vous avez de l’amour entre vous.” (Jean 13:34, 35). Par conséquent, ceux qui pratiquent le vrai mode de vie spirituel doivent s’aimer les uns les autres. Il s’agissait "d’un commandement nouveau”, car Jésus a déclaré: “Que, comme je vous ai aimés, vous aussi vous vous aimiez les uns les autres.” Jésus était disposé à se dessaisir de sa vie pour ses disciples; et ceux-ci doivent être prêts à faire de même: non pas ôter la vie à leurs compagnons dans la foi, mais sacrifier si nécessaire leur vie. C’est en ce sens que ce commandement était nouveau, car la Loi mosaïque n’allait pas si loin.
      Voici ce qu’on peut lire dans la Parole de Dieu: “Si quelqu’un déclare: ‘J’aime Dieu’, mais qu’il haïsse son frère, c’est un menteur. En effet, celui qui n’aime pas son frère, qu’il a vu, ne peut pas aimer Dieu, qu’il n’a pas vu. Et voici le commandement que nous tenons de lui: que celui qui aime Dieu aime aussi son frère.” (1 Jean 4:20, 21). Grâce à cet amour, ceux qui placent leur confiance en Jéhovah connaissent une véritable unité internationale. Paul déclare, en effet, en 1 Corinthiens 1:10: “Je vous exhorte, frères, (...) à parler tous en parfait accord, et à ce qu’il n’y ait pas de divisions parmi vous, mais que vous soyez étroitement unis dans le même esprit et dans la même pensée.” — Voir 1 Jean 3:10-12.
      Selon une encyclopédie (The World Book Encyclopedia), 55 millions de personnes ont été tuées lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, exceptés les Témoins de Jéhovah, des membres de toutes les grandes religions ont pris part à ce massacre. Aucune de ces vies humaines n’a été ôtée par un témoin de Jéhovah, car les témoins ont obéi au commandement de s’aimer les uns les autres et ils ont refusé de prendre part aux guerres des nations. Nombre d’entre eux ont été livrés au martyre en raison de leur neutralité, mais ils avaient pu dire, reprenant les paroles de l’apôtre Paul: ‘Nous sommes purs du sang de tous les hommes.’ — Actes 20:26.
      L’aumônier catholique appartenant à l’unité qui a lâché la bombe atomique sur le Japon en 1945 a récemment déclaré: “Depuis 17 siècles, l’Église présente la guerre sous un jour respectable. Elle fait croire aux gens qu’il s’agit là d’une honorable profession chrétienne. Ce n’est pas vrai. On nous a endoctrinés. (...) Jésus n’a jamais enseigné le dogme de la guerre juste. (...) Rien dans la vie ou l’enseignement du Christ ne laisse supposer que s’il est condamnable d’utiliser la bombe atomique pour réduire en cendres les humains, il n’est pas condamnable de le faire au moyen du napalm ou d’un lance-flammes.”
      Voici ce qu’on pouvait lire dans un quotidien londonien (Catholic Herald): "Les premiers chrétiens (...) respectaient scrupuleusement les paroles de Jésus et refusaient, même au prix de leur vie, de se laisser enrôler dans l’armée romaine. L’Histoire du monde aurait-elle été différente si l’Église était restée attachée à ce principe? (...) Si, aujourd’hui, les Églises toutes ensemble condamnaient la guerre (...), et qu’ainsi tous leurs membres se sentent tenus d’être, comme les premiers chrétiens, des objecteurs de conscience, la paix régnerait sur la terre. Toutefois, nous savons que cela n’arrivera."
      Les multiples religions du monde ont donc gravement transigé avec les lois de Dieu. Elles n’ont pas montré plus de confiance que les Pharisiens. “Publiquement ils déclarent connaître Dieu, mais ils le renient par leurs œuvres, car ce sont des gens détestables, désobéissants et non approuvés pour quelque œuvre bonne que ce soit.” (Tite 1:16). En conséquence, comme il avait abandonné le judaïsme hypocrite du Ier siècle, de même, à notre époque, Dieu a abandonné ces religions qui agissent contre les lois morales de Dieu. — Matthieu 15:9, 14.
      Ceux qui ont confiance en Jéhovah survivront
      Ne mettez pas votre confiance dans les solutions humaines aux problèmes du monde. Bien plutôt, confiez-vous en Celui qui peut tenir ses promesses (Josué 23:14). Voyez, par exemple, les événements qui se sont produits au VIIIe siècle avant notre ère, aux jours du roi Ézéchias de Juda. À son sujet, la Bible déclare: “Il faisait ce qui est droit aux yeux de Jéhovah.” (2 Rois 18:3). À l’époque d’Ézéchias, l’imposante Puissance mondiale assyrienne se dressa contre Jérusalem. Le porte-parole de Sennachérib, roi d’Assyrie, vint exiger la reddition de Jérusalem. Il déclara: “Voici ce qu’a dit le roi: ‘Qu’Ézéchias ne vous trompe pas, car il ne peut vous délivrer de ma main! Et qu’Ézéchias ne vous fasse pas vous confier en Jéhovah.’” — 2 Rois 18:29, 30.
      Que fit Ézéchias? La Bible nous dit: “Ézéchias se mit à prier devant Jéhovah et dit: ‘Ô Jéhovah, Dieu d’Israël, qui es assis sur les chérubins, toi seul tu es le vrai Dieu de tous les royaumes de la terre. Tu as fait, toi, les cieux et la terre. Incline ton oreille, ô Jéhovah, et entends. Ouvre tes yeux, ô Jéhovah, et vois, et entends les paroles de Sennachérib, qu’il a envoyées pour provoquer le Dieu vivant. (...) ô Jéhovah, notre Dieu, s’il te plaît, sauve-nous de sa main, pour que tous les royaumes de la terre sachent que toi, ô Jéhovah, tu es Dieu, toi seul.’” — 2 Rois 19:15-19.
      Jéhovah a entendu cette prière et a envoyé le prophète Ésaïe auprès d’Ézéchias pour lui dire: “Voici ce qu’a dit Jéhovah au sujet du roi d’Assyrie: ‘Il n’entrera pas dans cette ville, et il n’y lancera pas de flèche, et il ne se présentera pas devant elle avec un bouclier, et il n’élèvera pas contre elle un rempart de siège.’” Ézéchias devait-il rassembler une armée pour affronter l’Assyrie? Non, il devait placer sa confiance en Jéhovah; et c’est ce qu’il fit. Que se passa-t-il? “L’ange de Jéhovah sortit et abattit dans le camp des Assyriens cent quatre-vingt-cinq mille hommes.” En outre, Sennachérib fut châtié pour avoir défié Jéhovah et ses serviteurs; en effet, il fut plus tard assassiné par ses propres fils. Ainsi, conformément à la parole de Jéhovah, pas une flèche ne fut lancée contre Jérusalem. — 2 Rois 19:32-37.
      Alors que doivent faire les gens de toutes les nations pour survivre à la fin de l’actuel système de choses?
      Des événements semblables vont se produire à notre époque. Ceux qui se confient en Jéhovah survivront aux attaques et à la destruction du monde. “Ceux qui connaissent ton nom se confieront en toi, car tu ne quitteras assurément pas ceux qui te cherchent, ô Jéhovah!” (Psaume 9:10). Néanmoins, avant de détruire ce monde cruel, Jéhovah invite tous les humains sincères à s’approcher de lui pour trouver la sécurité. Ceux qui acceptent son invitation constituent une “grande foule” de personnes qui “viennent de la grande tribulation” et qui sont issues de toutes les nations. Ces personnes survivront à la fin du système de choses actuel parce qu’elles ont confiance en Jéhovah et le servent “jour et nuit”. — Révélation 7:9-15.
      La “grande foule” répond à l’appel qui retentit de plus en plus puissamment dans le monde entier, conformément à la prophétie consignée en Ésaïe 2:2, 3: “Et il adviendra sans faute, dans la période finale des jours, que la montagne de la maison de Jéhovah [son véritable culte] se trouvera solidement établie (...). Et assurément de nombreux peuples iront et diront: ‘Venez et montons à la montagne de Jéhovah (...) et il nous instruira de ses voies, et nous marcherons dans ses sentiers.’”  verset 4 dit: “Et ils devront forger leurs épées en socs de charrue et leurs lances en cisailles à émonder. Une nation ne lèvera pas l’épée contre une nation, et ils n’apprendront plus la guerre.”
      Un bel avenir
      Jéhovah offre le plus bel avenir qu’on puisse imaginer à ceux qui mettent leur confiance en lui. Lorsqu’il remplacera les vieilles structures de la société par de nouvelles, les humains qui vivront sur la terre ne connaîtront ni la crainte, ni la méfiance, ni la misère, ni l’injustice, ni le crime. Il n’y aura plus de guerres ou d’avortements pour priver les humains de la vie. Révélation 21:4 promet même que “la mort ne sera plus; ni deuil, ni cri, ni douleur ne seront plus”, cela pour toujours.
      Comme Jésus l’a promis, avec le temps la terre deviendra un paradis (Luc 23:43). Ceux qui mettent leur confiance en Jéhovah pourront vivre éternellement dans ce Paradis, car la mort disparaîtra. Les paroles de Michée 4:4 se réaliseront: “Ils seront assis chacun sous sa vigne et sous son figuier, et il n’y aura personne qui les fasse trembler.” Vous imaginez-vous vivre dans une société où vous pourriez avoir confiance en tout le monde? Pourquoi en sera-t-il ainsi? Parce que, comme le dit Ésaïe 54:13, “tous tes fils seront des personnes enseignées par Jéhovah, et la paix de tes fils sera abondante”.
      Toutefois, la confiance que les millions de Témoins de Jéhovah portent à Dieu leur procure dès aujourd’hui des bienfaits. Par exemple, les serviteurs de Jéhovah ont moins de risques de contracter le cancer du poumon parce qu’ils obéissent à ses lois et à ses principes relatifs au tabac. Vivant dans un milieu moralement pur, ils sont moins menacés par l’épidémie mondiale des maladies sexuellement transmissibles, telles que le SIDA. Parce qu’ils ne se droguent pas, ils sont à l’abri de maladies que de nombreux toxicomanes par voie intraveineuse ont contractées, maladies qui peuvent altérer les facultés mentales et entraîner la mort. Étant donné qu’ils n’acceptent pas de transfusions sanguines, les serviteurs de Jéhovah sont bien mieux protégés contre les maladies véhiculées par le sang. Chaque année, aux États-Unis, l’une de ces maladies, l’hépatite virale, tue ou lèse de façon permanente plus de dix mille personnes ayant reçu du sang.
      Même si certains de ceux qui se confient en Jéhovah meurent à cause de leur âge, de la maladie ou bien des suites d’un accident, Jéhovah viendra à leur secours. Il les ramènera à la vie par le moyen de la résurrection. C’est pourquoi l’apôtre Paul nous encourage à ‘avoir confiance, non pas en nous-mêmes, mais dans le Dieu qui relève les morts’. — 2 Corinthiens 1:9.
      Jéhovah soutiendra toujours ses serviteurs fidèles
      Souvenez-vous que “le monde entier gît au pouvoir du méchant”, Satan le Diable (1 Jean 5:19). Par conséquent, si vous vous confiez en Dieu, Satan et le monde qu’il domine s’opposeront à vous; ils essaieront de saper votre foi en vous ridiculisant ou en vous persécutant, comme ils l’ont fait à Jésus. Après qu’il eut été cloué sur le poteau de supplice, “les passants parlaient de lui en mal, hochant la tête et disant: ‘(...) Si tu es fils de Dieu, descends du poteau de supplice!’ Pareillement les prêtres en chef aussi se moquaient de lui, ainsi que les scribes et les anciens, et disaient: ‘Il en a sauvé d’autres; il ne peut pas se sauver lui-même! (...) Il a mis sa confiance en Dieu; qu’Il le délivre maintenant, s’Il veut de lui.’” — Matthieu 27:39-43.
      Trois jours après ces événements, Dieu a délivré Jésus en le ressuscitant d’entre les morts. Les moqueurs de la génération d’alors ont été quant à eux massacrés ou emmenés en esclavage par les armées romaines. Puisque le Christ, en sa qualité de Roi du Royaume céleste de Dieu, présidera à la résurrection, si ces individus sont ressuscités, il leur faudra se soumettre à celui-là même dont ils se seront moqués 2 000 ans auparavant! Oui, Jéhovah défend ses serviteurs, qui diront: “En Dieu j’ai mis ma confiance. Je n’aurai pas peur. Que peut me faire l’homme tiré du sol?” — Psaume 56:11.
      Voici ce que Jéhovah déclare à propos de ses serviteurs: “Béni l’homme valide qui met sa confiance en Jéhovah, et dont Jéhovah est devenu l’assurance! Et certes il deviendra comme un arbre planté près des eaux, qui envoie ses racines près du cours d’eau; et il ne verra pas quand la chaleur arrivera, mais son feuillage restera touffu. Et dans l’année de la sécheresse il ne s’inquiétera pas, et il ne cessera pas de produire du fruit.” Il dit également: “Maudit l’homme valide qui met sa confiance dans l’homme tiré du sol et qui fait de la chair son bras, et dont le cœur se détourne de Jéhovah! Et assurément il deviendra comme un arbre solitaire dans la plaine déserte et il ne verra pas quand le bien arrivera.” — Jérémie 17:5-8.
      En ces temps décisifs, donc, "ayons confiance en Jéhovah et faisons le bien; résidons sur la terre et agissons avec fidélité. De plus, délectons-nous en Jéhovah, et il nous donnera les demandes de notre cœur". (Psaume 37:3, 4.) Que soient exaucées les demandes que vous ferez, entre autres celle de goûter le don de la vie éternelle dans le monde nouveau et juste promis par Dieu, Celui en qui nous pouvons avoir confiance!

      · 0 replies
    • folens  »  Eric Ouellet

      Bonjour Eric, merci pour cet exposé sur Hanna, Bonne journée. Michel
      ENTRETIEN AVEC DIEU.pptx
      · 1 reply
    • Eric Ouellet

      LA FOI D'HANNA ENVERS DIEU APPORTE SA RÉCOMPENSE
      UNE femme de foi adresse une prière à Jéhovah. Convaincue que c’est Dieu qui l’a relevée de la poussière, transformant son abattement en exultation, elle le loue à haute voix.
      Cette femme, c’est Hanna. Qu’est-ce qui explique son spectaculaire changement d’état d’âme ? Pourquoi est-elle à présent si joyeuse ? En quoi ce qu’elle a vécu peut-il nous être utile ? Intéressons-nous à son histoire.
      Une famille sous pression
      Hanna est l’une des deux femmes d’Elqana, un Lévite de la région d’Éphraïm (1 Samuel 1:1, 2a ; 1 Chroniques 6:33, 34). Bien que n’entrant pas dans le dessein originel de Dieu pour l’humanité, la polygamie est autorisée et réglementée sous la Loi mosaïque. Elle est néanmoins une source fréquente de discorde. La vie de cette famille, qui pourtant adore Jéhovah, en témoigne.
      Hanna est stérile, tandis que Peninna, l’autre femme d’Elqana, a plusieurs enfants. Peninna se comporte en rivale. — 1 Samuel 1:2b.
      Pour une Israélite, la stérilité est un déshonneur, et même un signe de la défaveur divine. Mais, dans le cas de Hanna, rien n’indique que son incapacité de procréer soit liée à la désapprobation de Dieu. Peninna ne la console pas pour autant ; elle se prévaut au contraire de son statut de mère pour l’humilier.
      Au sanctuaire de Jéhovah
      Malgré ces tensions, la famille entreprend le voyage annuel en direction du sanctuaire de Jéhovah, à Shilo, pour y offrir des sacrifices. L’aller-retour de quelque 60 kilomètres se fait vraisemblablement à pied. Cet événement doit être particulièrement pénible pour Hanna. En effet, Peninna et ses enfants reçoivent plusieurs portions du sacrifice de communion, alors que Hanna, elle, n’en reçoit qu’une seule. Peninna trouve là une opportunité supplémentaire de la blesser et de la mettre dans l’embarras ; il semble que Jéhovah ait “ fermé sa matrice ”, et elle ne manque pas de le lui rappeler. Tous les ans, c’est le même calvaire. Tous les ans, Hanna pleure et cesse de manger. Ces voyages qui normalement devraient la mettre en joie la plongent dans une profonde détresse. Hanna se rend néanmoins chaque année au sanctuaire de Jéhovah. — 1 Samuel 1:3-7.
      Voyez-vous en quoi Hanna est un bel exemple ? Comment réagissez-vous lorsque vous êtes déprimé ? Vous isolez-vous et évitez-vous les contacts avec vos compagnons chrétiens ? Ce n’est pas ce qu’a fait Hanna. Les rassemblements avec les adorateurs de Jéhovah étaient pour elle une habitude de vie. Même face à des circonstances éprouvantes, il devrait en être de même pour nous. — Psaume 26:12 ; 122:1 ; Proverbes 18:1 ; Hébreux 10:24, 25.
      Elqana tente de réconforter Hanna et il l’amène à exprimer ses sentiments profonds. “ Hanna, pourquoi pleures-tu et pourquoi ne manges-tu pas ? Pourquoi ton cœur a-t-il mal ? lui demande-t-il. Est-ce que je ne vaux pas mieux pour toi que dix fils ? ” (1 Samuel 1:8). Peut-être n’a-t-il pas conscience de la malveillance de Peninna. Et peut-être Hanna préfère-t-elle se taire plutôt que de se plaindre. Quoi qu’il en soit, cette femme spirituelle se tourne vers Jéhovah dans la prière pour retrouver la paix intérieure.
      Le vœu de Hanna
      Les sacrifices de communion étaient consommés dans le sanctuaire. Après avoir quitté la salle à manger, Hanna prie Dieu (1 Samuel 1:9, 10). “ Ô Jéhovah des armées, implore-t-elle, si tu ne manques pas de regarder l’affliction de ton esclave et si vraiment tu te souviens de moi, si tu n’oublies pas ton esclave et si vraiment tu donnes à ton esclave un descendant mâle, oui je le donnerai à Jéhovah pour tous les jours de sa vie, et le rasoir ne viendra pas sur sa tête. ” — 1 Samuel 1:11.
      La prière de Hanna est précise. Elle demande un fils, et elle fait le vœu que cet enfant sera toute sa vie un naziréen de Dieu (Nombres 6:1-5). Ce vœu nécessite l’approbation de son mari, et certaines actions ultérieures d’Elqana montrent qu’il approuve l’engagement pris par sa chère femme. — Nombres 30:6-8.
      À cause de la manière dont Hanna prie, le grand prêtre Éli la croit ivre. Il voit effectivement ses lèvres frémir, mais il ne l’entend pas parler. C’est qu’en fait Hanna prie dans son cœur, avec ferveur (1 Samuel 1:12-14). Imaginez ce qu’elle ressent lorsque le grand prêtre l’accuse d’être ivre ! Pourtant, elle lui répond respectueusement. Comprenant alors que Hanna était en train de prier “ dans l’abondance de [son] inquiétude et de [son] dépit ”, il lui dit : “ Que le Dieu d’Israël accorde ta requête. ” (1 Samuel 1:15-17). Sur ces paroles, Hanna s’en va ; elle mange et “ son visage ne par[aît] plus soucieux ”. — 1 Samuel 1:18.
      Que nous enseigne tout cela ? Lorsque nous prions Jéhovah à propos de nos inquiétudes, nous pouvons lui exprimer ce que nous ressentons et lui adresser des requêtes sincères. Si nous avons fait tout notre possible pour résoudre le problème, alors nous devrions laisser les choses entre ses mains. C’est ce qu’il y a de mieux à faire. — Proverbes 3:5, 6.
      Après une prière fervente, il est fréquent que des serviteurs de Jéhovah ressentent une sérénité comparable à celle que Hanna a éprouvée. Voici ce qu’a écrit l’apôtre Paul au sujet de la prière : “ Ne vous inquiétez de rien, mais en tout, par la prière et la supplication avec action de grâces, faites connaître vos requêtes à Dieu ; et la paix de Dieu, qui surpasse toute pensée, gardera vos cœurs et vos facultés mentales par le moyen de Christ Jésus. ” (Philippiens 4:6, 7). Après nous être déchargés de notre fardeau sur Jéhovah, nous devons le laisser s’en occuper. Puis, comme dans le cas de Hanna, il n’y a plus lieu de s’inquiéter. — Psaume 55:22.
      Un fils “ prêté ” à Jéhovah
      Dieu se tourne alors vers Hanna. Peu après, elle porte un enfant. Elle met au monde un garçon (1 Samuel 1:19, 20). C’est l’une des rares fois où la Bible fait état de la responsabilité de Dieu dans la naissance de l’un de ses serviteurs. L’enfant d’Elqana et de Hanna, Samuel, deviendra effectivement le prophète de Jéhovah, un prophète qui jouera un rôle important dans la mise en place de la monarchie d’Israël.
      Il est certain que Hanna parle de Jéhovah à Samuel dès sa petite enfance. Mais oublie-t-elle le vœu qu’elle a fait ? Absolument pas ! “ Dès que le garçon sera sevré, je devrai l’amener ; il devra paraître devant Jéhovah et habiter là pour des temps indéfinis ”, déclare-t-elle. Et en effet, une fois l’enfant sevré — peut-être à l’âge de trois ans ou un peu plus —, elle l’amène au sanctuaire, comme elle l’avait promis. — 1 Samuel 1:21-24 ; 2 Chroniques 31:16.
      Après avoir offert un sacrifice à Jéhovah, Hanna et son mari présentent Samuel à Éli. Hanna tient certainement la main de son petit garçon lorsqu’elle dit à Éli : “ Pardon, mon seigneur ! Par la vie de ton âme, mon seigneur, je suis la femme qui se tenait près de toi, en ce lieu, pour prier Jéhovah. C’est à propos de ce garçon que je priais, pour que Jéhovah m’accorde ma requête, ce que je lui demandais. Et moi, à mon tour, je l’ai prêté à Jéhovah. Oui, tous les jours qu’il sera, c’est quelqu’un de demandé pour Jéhovah. ” Ainsi commence, pour Samuel, une vie au service de Dieu. — 1 Samuel 1:25-28 ; 2:11.
      Le temps passe ; bien sûr Hanna n’oublie pas son fils. Les Écritures relatent : “ Sa mère avait coutume de lui faire un petit manteau sans manches, et elle le lui montait, d’année en année, quand elle montait avec son mari pour sacrifier le sacrifice annuel. ” (1 Samuel 2:19). Hanna prie sans aucun doute pour Samuel. Tous les ans, lorsqu’elle lui rend visite, elle l’encourage à coup sûr à demeurer fidèle dans son service pour Dieu.
      Pendant l’une de ces visites, Éli bénit les parents du garçon. Il déclare à Elqana : “ Que Jéhovah t’assigne une descendance de cette femme, à la place du prêt qui a été prêté à Jéhovah. ” C’est ainsi que le couple est récompensé par la naissance de trois autres fils et de deux filles. — 1 Samuel 2:20, 21.
      Quel formidable exemple pour les parents chrétiens ! Beaucoup de mères et de pères se montrent, eux aussi, disposés à prêter, figurément parlant, leurs enfants à Jéhovah ; en effet, ils les encouragent à entreprendre une forme de service à plein temps, même si cela implique que leur fils, ou leur fille, vive loin d’eux. De tels parents aimants méritent des louanges pour les sacrifices qu’ils font. Jéhovah les récompensera.
      Une prière qui déborde de joie
      Comme Hanna est heureuse, elle que la stérilité affectait tant autrefois ! Les Écritures ne contiennent que peu de prières faites par des femmes. Mais, en ce qui concerne Hanna, elles en rapportent deux. La première expose ses sentiments alors qu’elle est humiliée et affligée. La seconde exprime son exultation et son action de grâces ; elle commence par ces mots : “ Oui, mon cœur exulte en Jéhovah. ” Hanna se réjouit ensuite que ‘ même la stérile ait mis au monde ’. Et elle loue Jéhovah, celui “ qui élève [...], qui relève le petit de la poussière ”. Vraiment, il est celui qui “ de la fosse aux cendres [...] fait remonter le pauvre ”. — 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
      Cet épisode de la vie de Hanna, dont le récit a été inspiré par Dieu, montre que les imperfections, voire la malveillance, des autres peuvent nous blesser. Toutefois, nous ne devons pas permettre à ce genre d’épreuves de nous priver de notre joie de servir Dieu. Jéhovah est, par excellence, Celui qui entend la prière, qui répond aux appels à l’aide de ses fidèles et qui les délivre de l’affliction. Il leur accorde une paix profonde et de nombreuses autres bénédictions. — Psaume 22:23-26 ; 34:6-8 ; 65:2.

      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      1 Samuel 2 : 1-10
      Hannah pria Dieu en ces mots:
      Mon cœur se réjouit au sujet de Jéhovah
      ma force grandit grâce à Jéhovah.
      Ma bouche s’ouvre toute grande contre mes ennemis,
      car je me réjouis de tes actes sauveurs.
      Il n’y a personne qui soit saint comme Jéhovah,
      il n’y a personne qui soit comme toi,
      il n’y a pas de rocher comme notre Dieu.
      Arrêtez de parler avec orgueil ;
      que rien d’arrogant ne sorte de votre bouche,
      car Jéhovah est un Dieu qui sait tout
      et il juge les actions avec justice.
      Les arcs des hommes forts sont brisés,
      mais les hommes faibles reçoivent de la force
      Ceux qui mangeaient bien doivent trouver du travail pour avoir du pain,
      mais les affamés ne souffrent plus de la faim.
      La femme stérile a donné naissance à sept fils,
      mais celle qui avait beaucoup de fils est devenue stérile.
      Jéhovah tue et il garde en vie,
      il fait descendre dans la Tombe et il en fait remonter.
      Jéhovah fait devenir pauvre et il fait devenir riche,
      il abaisse et il élève.
      Il relève le petit de la poussière
      et fait remonter le pauvre du tas de cendres
      pour les faire asseoir avec les princes
      et leur offrir une place d’honneur.
      À Jéhovah appartiennent les fondations de la terre ;
      sur elles, il pose le monde
      Il veille sur les pas de ses fidèles,
      mais les méchants seront tués dans l’obscurité,
      car ce n’est pas par la force que l’homme triomphe. 
      Jéhovah anéantira ceux qui combattent contre lui ;
      pour exprimer sa colère, il fera gronder le tonnerre dans le ciel.
      Jéhovah jugera jusqu’aux extrémités de la terre,
      il donnera du pouvoir à son roi et il fera grandir la force de son oint.
       
       
       


      · 1 reply
    • anniemsbelle@gmail.com  »  Queen Esther

      Do you have the print out for the regional convention 
      · 1 reply
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