Guest Nicole -
The magazine cover below was posted here on the same day I had come across one of its articles. March 1,1979
"The desire to share with Jesus Christ in the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty became a most powerful motivating force in the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It strengthened them to endure the worst persecution that ever befell Jehovah’s Witnesses—during World War II. So Jehovah’s visible organization came off victorious once again to his vindication. For dedicated, baptized persons to share in that victory, what did it take? Faith in Jehovah’s theocratic organization. Did the remnant of spiritual Israelites and their theocratic companions, the “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep,” have such victorious faith? Yes!"
Those were the days, apparently. I see no further “victories” of such on the horizon for the Watchtower at this time. Unless, they twist the Russian situation into one of victory, proclaiming their faith in “Jehovah’s organization” helped them endure the persecution that has come upon them. However, many JWs have attempted to flee the country, which doesn’t reflect well on the power of their “haven of refuge”. (WT 82 9/15 pp. 17-22)
How does persecution and horrific deaths of JWs equate to an earthly organization gaining victory, and justifying God? This “mountainlike” organization was not able to protect them from the terrible Nazi onslaught, nor has it been able to do so today in Russia. Instead of God justifying himself, the organization justified or vindicated its existence as worthy of praise, as the recipient of one’s unrelenting faith, even in the face of persecution and death. At the willing sacrifice of many on its behalf, it appears powerful, mighty and victorious. This is how I see the disgusting truth behind the underlying message in the opening Watchtower quote.
The organization has a few descriptive terms:
Jehovah’s “earthly organization” professes to be “no part of the world”:
As in the first century, so in this twentieth century, Jehovah has an earthly organization. It can be identified by its fruits. Unlike the many religious organizations that are part of the world that is alienated from God and that profess to be his organization, IT HAS NOT ALLIED ITSELF WITH THE POLITICAL GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD. It, therefore, shares none of the responsibility for the unchristian things done by those governments. w65 7/15 p. 427-428
A “visible theocratic organization” that has established a “worldly” identity:
Being adapted to modern conditions and requirements and being obliged to render to Caesar Caesar’s things, the visible theocratic organization today HAS A LEGALLY ESTABLISHED SERVICE AGENCY, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, incorporated in 1884 under the laws of the state of Pennsylvania, United States of America. w54 9/1 p. 533
Now notice what the 1884 “official magazine Watch Tower” has to say about organization:
“We belong to NO EARTHLY ORGANIZATION; hence, if you should name the entire list of sects, we should answer, No, to each and to all. We adhere only to that heavenly organization—‘whose names are written in heaven.’ (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20.) All the saints now living, or that have lived during this age, belonged to OUR CHURCH ORGANIZATION: such are all ONE Church, and there is NO OTHER recognized by the Lord. Hence any EARTHLY ORGANIZATION which in the least INTERFERES with this UNION OF SAINTS is CONTRARY to the teachings of Scripture and OPPOSED TO THE LORD’S WILL—‘that they may be ONE.’ ( Joh 17:11.)”
What a beautiful, captivating truth, which led God’s anointed people into eventual idolatry. We now see that the Watchtower no longer follows this mission statement, but highlights the organization as absolutely necessary to acknowledge as one’s salvation. Amos 3:5; Luke 21:34-36; Rev 20:7-9
w72 6/1 pp. 328-333 – “As we approach the universal war of Armageddon it is vital to stay close to Jehovah’s mighty organization.”
We have a mighty, mountainlike, theocratic, even “spirit-directed” organization, still unable to protect its people. Judges 10:14; Rev 13:1,7,11,15
We also see that the “union of saints” is not possible, since a false priesthood/elder body has INTEREFERED with their ability to be one body under their Head, Jesus Christ. The Watchtower now states “such efforts (to bond) would cause DIVISIONS within the congregation and work against the holy spirit, which promotes peace and unity”. ( w16 January p. 24) This is so strictly enforced that the elders have been given authority to spiritually “kill” any who reject their ruling position and the organization’s pseudo stance as “theocratic”. Col 1:18; Eph 5:23,26,27,30-32; 1 Pet 4:10; 1 Cor 12:24-26; Rev 13:15,16; Matt 24:48-51
A lot has happened since 1884 when Russel wrote his words in the Watchtower, hasn’t it, JWs. He would be disfellowshipped today if he were to voice this belief to the present governing body.
Only when all the parts of the body submit to Christ as head, will they find harmony, affection, agreement, and unity,
according to the arrangement of God, who supplies order and peace. 1 Cor 14:33; 1:10; 7:17; 14:32,40; Rom 9:16
Those who have humbly submitted to the Body's arrangement by God (1 Cor 12:18; 11:29,31,32), have found that order and peace, and relief from the confusion which is the condition of those still under "Babylon the Great",
whose very name, means "confusion" ("Babylon"). (2 Cor 12:20; 1 Cor 1:11,12; 3:3; 4:6,18; James 4:1; 1 Cor 11:19)
There is little time left for the anointed to recognize what is required of them and to conform,
leaving behind their rebellion, idolatry, and spiritual fornication, to make peace with God (Isa 1:18-20). If they do, their sins will be washed away (Isa 48:20; Jer 31:11; Matt 24:12).
and they will be given a white robe....sealed as a vessel of Truth (Zech 3:1-10; Isa 4:2; Ezek 17:22; Zech 4:10). Pearl Doxsey - "Unity of Christ's Body/Armageddon"
According to the 1884 WT, INTERFERENCE against the union of the saints is the SIGN OF OPPOSITION to the Lord’s will; and aptly describes the “Man of Lawlessness” who OPPOSES and EXALTS HIMSELF above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the TEMPLE of God, showing himself that he IS God.” 2 Thess 2:4 It is a “disgusting thing standing in the holy place”/Temple of God, an “abomination” representing the spirit-directed “image” of divine authority, which IS the organization. Ezek 44:6-9; Dan 9:27; Exod 20:3-6; Rev 13:11,15,4
“They have placed their abominations in the house that bears My name and have defiled it. 35 They have built the high places of Baal in Ben Hinnom Valley to sacrifice their sons and daughters in the fire, (or “pass through the fire”) to Molech—something I had not commanded them. I had never entertained the thought that they do this detestable act causing Judah to sin! Jer 32:34,35
Today, to “pass through the fire” indicates to me a dedication and sacrifice of oneself to submit to evil; a fiery proof, contrary to refinement leading to personal victory in Christ. It is the condemnation based on the Word of God. Spiritual harlotry and idolatry results when one puts faith in a present day “Molech”, above our required faith in God. 2 Kings 17:17; Lev 18:21; Ezek 20:31; Jer 3:6,7;2 Pet 2:3; 1 Cor 3:13-15; Jer 23:29
Baal means “Master”; Molech has the meaning of “master” “king”, but also "the most common word for chief magistrate" (“commander of an army”)
Revelation tells us of two Beasts, two Masters, a dual spiritual power over God’s saints and many peoples during the last days. Dan 2:31,33,40-43; 7:7; Rev 13:1,2,11-13
They revere or “worship” the first Beast, putting faith in its magnificent “spirit-directed” abilities, to lead them into a promised peaceful paradise. Rev 13:4,14,15; Ezek 13:10; Hos 4:12 For this offer, they are willing to face persecution and the loss of physical life if necessary, on behalf of ”Jehovah’s visible theocratic organization”.
The army which the “Beast with two horns” gives authority to, is the “abomination” spoken of in Dan 11:31. Rev 9:1-6;13:12 With eyes that are open, this transgression against God’s Temple is well observed as ‘sitting in’ and ruling over the anointed Temple of God, as directed to do so by the Beast/false prophet/Harlot. 2 Thess 2:3,4;1 Pet 2:5,9; 1 Cor 3:16,17; Rev 19:20
It is the Man of Lawlessness – an army of elders or “magistrates” which has received authority to oppress and “conquer” the anointed ones. Dan 8:24; Rev 13:7
Is the Watchtower Beast/Master truly “conquering” the saints? Yes. Conquering is the language of war, which we are presently in; the war of Armageddon. Luke 21:20; Matt 24:3,24,25; 9-11,13,21; Dan 12:1,4
They are overcome by demonic expressions issued from the “dragon”, the Beast, and the second Beast/false prophet/Harlot. Rev 16:13,14; Eph 6:12 For those who stand up to both Beasts, the “kings” and their “magistrates”, and who are persecuted for defending their faith in God and truth in Jesus Christ, they are symbolically “killed”; yet, they come alive in Christ. Mal 3:5; Eph 2:3-8; Rev 11:3,7,11; Matt 19:29
It is known among all JWs, that those who take their stand against the GB’s decrees carried out by the elders, are disfellowshipped, which the organization considered a spiritual “death”. This is the irony in teachings by this Beast. Those who sacrifice their life on behalf of “Jehovah’s organization” are viewed as the victorious ones. Those who sacrifice their symbolic life for their testimony to Christ are considered worthy of eternal destruction. Jer 23:14; Matt 26:65; Heb 13:13; 12:2; 1 Pet 4:14,16; Rom 6:5; Matt 5:11; John 15:21; Acts 5:41; Rev 3,5,6
A movie was made a while back about the prophet Jeremiah. It is a movie of drama and scriptures combined, but there is one scene at the temple, that I will never forget. Jeremiah is speaking to Zedekiah the last king of Judah, before the temple was destroyed and Israel went into exile to Babylon. He had earlier pleaded for the nation to submit to Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, but Judah was ready to battle against him. (Jer 38:14-23)
Jeremiah: “Obey I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord which I speak unto thee and your life will be saved, and the city will not be burned.”
Zedekiah: “So, now you’re speaking for the Lord again. Well, never mind, our armies are prepared.”
Jeremiah: “How can you continue to LIE to yourself as well as your people?”
Zedekiah: “TRUTH is in the eyes of the beholder.”
Jeremiah: “The word of the Lord which I speak to thee, IS the truth.”
Zedekiah: “The Lord which you ask me to seek…is SILENCE. If God has something to say to me, why does he send you to tell me?”
Jeremiah: “Why would the Lord speak to you, unless you’ve committed your life to HIM.”
Zedekiah: “I HAVE.”
Jeremiah shakes his head, turns swiftly toward a set of large wooden double-doors, and flings them open to reveal statues of idols.
He says, “Instead of making monuments to false gods, make your LIFE a living monument to the word of God.”
Zedekiah: “It is as my people desire.”
Jeremiah: “You are KING! They look to YOU for leadership! Your pursuit of your own pleasure, wealth and power HAVE TAUGHT THE PEOPLE TO TRUST IN FALSE GODS!”
He raises his voice even further,
“YOU HAVE LED THEM TO BELIEVE THAT THE ONE TRUE GOD…IS NOT ENOUGH!”
JWs, is God alone NOT ENOUGH for you to put faith in? Can you see that the faith you give to a most unique idol, a “spirit-directed” visible organization, can lead to your downfall? Your leaders have convinced you to trust in a false god! The people in Jeremiah’s time believed that the presence of the “temple of the Lord” would save them, even though they harbored their idols. Jer 7:3-5, 9,10
What is your temple today? Is it the organization? It appears so, yet if the anointed were not in the Watchtower from the beginning, there would be no difference in your religion than any other in Christendom. You may have forgotten who they are, these anointed “living stones” whom God expects their sacrifices to be heard and in harmony with pure truth in Christ. However, an “abomination”, a false priesthood of elders, has muscled its way in to rule over God’s Temple priesthood. Ultimately, JWs DO practice the same hypocritical worship as Judah in Jeremiah’s time, by proclaiming their trust and faith in God, while also having full trust and faith in the organization, and the “kings” who brought them into a falsehood called “truth”. Your leaders have sought out pleasure and wealth in material possessions, that they admire and praise (Warwick). Luke 4:5-7 They have slowly developed an unquestionable power over God’s anointed and YOU, TEACHING you to revere a monumental idol. This idol has made the brazen promise of eternal life to those who “worship” it. As Zedekiah said in the movie, “truth is in the eye of the beholder”. 2 Thess 2:9-12
When Joshua went up against Ai, they were defeated because one member “committed a trespass” regarding the “things set apart for destruction”, the “accursed”, the “doomed” that he brought into the camp. Deut 13:17
Josh 7:110-12 –“Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put those things with their own belongings.12 THIS IS WHY THE ISRAELITES CANNOT STAND AGAINST THEIR ENEMIES. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from among you what is set apart.”
The ”accursed thing” happened to be an eye-catching Babylonian garment. Luke 16:15 A garment from Babylon - the destroyer, an accursed city doomed to destruction. Ps 137:8 Garments in God’s word carry a symbolic meaning. It can clarify who or what we identify with; wickedness or righteousness. Ezek 18:20; Isa 61:10; Ps 109:29 By choosing one or the other, it signifies who we are willing to “sacrifice” our life for.
Even the rank and file "JW" is eager to surrender their "garment"/individuality/identity, to the Beast they admire...
as it says in the baptism vow...
"Do you understand that your dedication and baptism IDENTIFY YOU ("enrobes/dresses you"), as one of "Jehovah's Witnesses" in association with his "spirit-directed" organization?" (John 20:22) (Rev 13:15; 16:13-16; 19:20)
Yes... they desire an identity that belongs to and is associated with, the powerful...
and so they too, surrender their robes of individuality/personal reputation of integrity before God, to "don" their new garment/identity, as one of "Jehovah's Witnesses", under blind obedience to it's hierarchy under the wicked steward/harlot. Pearl Doxsey - "Our Outer Garment"
God pointed out to Joshua that His covenant had been violated. His decrees that he had specifically said should be followed to guarantee their safety, were transgressed. Josh 1:7,8;6:18,19 Today, God’s covenant with the anointed priesthood has been violated by allowing uncircumcised priests to present the “daily sacrifices” . Deut 21:5; Ezek 44:7; Mal 2:5-9 This is an “accursed thing”, doomed to destruction, that is present among the anointed and YOU. 2 Thess 2:7,8
“Babylon’s” Harlot daughters direct the Watchtower Beast to lead YOU in supporting the “abomination” that defiles the House that bears God’s name. 1 Cor 3:16,17; Rev 17:3-6
YOU wear the garment that indicates who you serve, which is the Beast/Man of Lawlessness. Surely JWs, you must see that putting “faith in Jehovah’s theocratic organization” is bolstering lawlessness and idolatry! Should we suffer persecution on behalf of an idol, an idolatrous “MOUNTAIN” that is the SOURCE of persecution for those anointed ones who DESIRE TO BE ONE UNDER CHRIST?
Jesus replied to them, “HAVE FAITH IN GOD. 23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this MOUNTAIN, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, IT WILL BE DONE FOR HIM. Mark 11:22,23
The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coasts and islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 Fire goes before Him
and burns up His foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax
at the presence of the Lord—
at the presence of the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim His righteousness;
all the peoples see His glory.
7 All who serve carved images,
those who boast in idols, will be put to shame.
All the gods must worship Him. (“gods” – “angels”, Heb 1:6,14; Mal 2:7)
8 Zion hears and is glad,
and the towns of Judah rejoice
because of Your judgments, Lord.
9 For You, Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth;
You are exalted above all the gods.
10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He protects the lives of His godly ones;
He rescues them from the power of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the righteous,
gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Be glad in YHVH, you righteous ones,
and praise His holy name. Psalm 97
By JOHN BUTLER
OK, not really a topic, but I'm confused
J W's Open Club ? this one that I've just joined.
What happened to the other JW club ? Do you know I cannot even remember what it was called.
Was it JW's Private club ? Any way did i miss something happening and if so what, when and why ???
By Guest Nicole
THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. - Two worship centers operated by the Jehovah's Witnesses were damaged by fire Monday morning, and arson is suspected in both blazes, fire officials said.
Olympia firefighters responded to the first blaze, a Kingdom Hall in the 225 Cain Road Southeast about 8:20 a.m.
A fire was breaching an interior wall in the building, which was unoccupied.
Firefighters quickly put out the blaze and determined that it started outside the building. There was a strong smell of petroleum similar to gasoline and other items that suggested arson, the Olympia Fire Department said.
About a half-hour later, another fire was then reported at a second Kingdom Hall in Tumwater. Crews from the Tumwater Fire Department responded to that scene and found smoke and fire inside and outside the building. They were able to extinguish the flames.
The Tumwater fire is likely related to the Olympia fire, officials said.
Officials from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to both fires
In the Olympia fire, video surveillance footage shows a person pouring a liquid on the exterior of the worship hall and lighting it on fire early in the morning before dawn, said Assistant Chief Rob Bradley of the Olympia Fire Department.
He said it appears the fire smoldered some time before it began spreading through the walls and was noticed.
In the Tumwater fire, evidence indicates two possible ignition points on the north side of the building, said Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle. It appears that an accelerant was used, he said.
ATF officials are now checking on similarities between the two fires.
By The Librarian
More details here:
Los “ataques” de los incendios provocados se dirigen a las salas de testigos de Jehová en el estado de Washington – NBC NewsBy Guest Nicole
10 de diciembre de 2018 / 2:55 AM GMT
Por Tim Stelloh
Una serie de incendios supuestamente dirigidos han atravesado las salas de los Testigos de Jehová en un condado del estado de Washington desde marzo, con el quinto puesto el viernes por la mañana temprano, dijeron las autoridades federales durante el fin de semana.
En mayo, alguien también disparó 35 disparos de rifles a un Salón del Reino, un lugar de culto en la religión, en el condado de Thurston, al suroeste de Seattle, donde también ocurrió el supuesto incendio provocado, informó la afiliada de la NBC, KING.
No se han identificado sospechosos, aunque el alguacil del condado de Thurston, John Snaza, describió el último incendio como uno de los “ataques” recientes contra los Salones del Reino.
“Qué frustrante es que las personas que encuentran un lugar solemne de adoración, ahora están siendo destruidas”, dijo Snaza a los periodistas el viernes.
Las autoridades fueron enviadas al incendio del viernes en un Salón del Reino
By Guest Nicole
Two South Korean men who refused to do military service have had their convictions overturned in a landmark ruling against the government.
Cho Rak Hoon and Kim Hyung Geun were freed by an appeals court in the southern city of Gwangju today. They had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for refusing military service at their trials, in June 2015 and May 2016 respectively, according to Amnesty International.
By JOHN BUTLER
OK, I've sort of shot myself in the foot by saying I'm now going to take this forum as a joke and have a laugh. In most ways i will continue to do so BUT.
This evening I was given some information that 1.maybe I shouldn't have been given. 2. Maybe i wish i hadn't been given.
Some of you may say I'm telling lies. Some of you may say I'm just after attention. Some may say I'm just trying to put down the JW Org.
However i have to think on something i say a lot. DUTY OF CARE. Care of everyone, in or out of that JW Org.
I have been given this information :-
Somewhere between 18 months to 2 years ago, a young man that is a member of Honiton Congregation (my ex congregation) committed a sexual offence against a young girl that would have been around 7 or 8 years old at that time..
The young man was visiting the home of this child and he went up to the girl's bedroom and asked the girl to have sex with him. I do not think that sexual intercourse took place but from the information that I've been given, he laid her on the bed and got on top of her and 'humped' her as if he were having sexual intercourse with her.
The incident was reported to the Elders and the police were not informed. I have no idea what action the Elders took but the congregation were not informed.
The young man ( who's name I have ) would have been in his very early twenties at the time, but his mental age is lower. He is a bit slow in learning things and possibly has mental disorders. That is not meant as an insult, but i do know this young man personally and he does act a bit strange sometimes and frightens people.
The young man's father was a single dad of three children ( i knew this man quite well ), but he invited a foreign lady (a sister in the JW Org) over to the UK, and they married. The marriage did not go well as the woman wanted to 'be the boss'. They split up and she went back to her country of origin. But then she came back to have a 'second try' at the marriage. I do not know the marriage situation at this time. However the whole issue would have been totally upsetting for the three children, especially for this young man that found it difficult to cope with some situations.
The person that gave me this information, in my opinion, is completely trustworthy, and once again in my opinion, would not have any reason for making up a 'story'. As I was given the young man's name, and i know the young man and his father, it all seems quite genuine to me.
Now i come back to the duty of care. For, in my opinion, it is the duty of anyone that has any information concerning child abuse to report it to the police.
This could be just a one off incident, but it could be the start of a young man becoming a pedophile. I honestly don't know where my duty is here.
The young girl that was the victim of this assault may need help getting over the situation. The information was also that the father of the victim does not want 'any trouble'. Hence he did not want the police involved. That helped the Elders to keep it secret, well almost.
Now this young man may commit sexual assault again, within the JW congregation or outside of it. And that young lady will be in fear of him and yet still have to attend that Kingdom hall where she will see him every week.
So should i report what i have been told to the police or not ? Of course I would have to tell the police it is only third hand information.
BUT, if the police could get hold of the 'records' / paperwork from the Kingdom hall regarding the incident, then it would be proved as true.
I do not expect that the Elders would willingly hand over paperwork, so I've no idea how it would work out in the end. But it's my actions that I'm concerned about here , my responsabilites. What should i do ?
By JOHN BUTLER
This topic is aimed toward asking ADMIN these questions. I do not know who Admin are. Some folks here seem to have made friends with Admin where as I just use the forum.
Why was Jehovah's Witnesses Private Club set up ?
Should it be 999% about Jehovah's Witnesses and their Organisation, which would include the GB ?
Am I therefore wrong when i only talk about Jehovah's Witnesses and have no interest in other religions ?
There are those on here that regularly 'bite my ears off' because i only talk about the JW's, but I thought that was the intention of this forum.
Admin please clarify these matters for me, please ......
By Guest Nicole
A bomb squad responded to a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thurston County after finding a suspicious device Wednesday morning.
Detectives responding to a fire found a suspicious item that “had the appearance of being an explosive device,” according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
The fire itself is believed to be the work of an arsonist targeting Jehovah’s Witness buildings across the county.
Detectives found smoldering logs stacked up on an outside wall of the Kingdom Hall. The logs were dowsed with water. There was minimal damage done to the building.
The same Hall was shot up in May. Three others were set on fire. One Hall in Olympia was completely destroyed.
Immigration This is how they treated us: children separated from their parents at the border tell of their days in detention in the United StatesBy Guest Nicole
Many of the children described conditions at US Customs and Border Protection facilities, where they were taken and processed during the first days after crossing the border. In the reports they were only identified by their first names. Timofei, 15, from Russia, who sought asylum on the border with his parents for his beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses, said they were crowded night and day in the closed and crowded room, detained along with other boys. He said there was only one window that opened onto an empty hallway and that they did not have soap in the bathroom, and that only sometimes, they gave him a toothbrush for individual use. He also said that he was offered a shower when he arrived at the facilities in San Ysidro, California, but he did not and the second or third day there did not allow him to do so.
Today Presidents Trump and Putin meet for summit, and the New York Times tells of an exiled Jehovah's Witness who proposes Trump ask Putin a simple question: "Why are Russians who pay their taxes, follow the law and embrace the Christian values promoted by the Kremlin being forced to flee their country?"
A simple [and single] question. To propose that Trump do this is exactly the non-confrontational style of Jehovah's Witnesses, and is proof in itself that they are not extremist. Moreover, because the goal is so modest, it is not impossible that it could happen. Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is not everywhere, but where it is, it is draconian, with police dressed in riot gear breaking down doors to arrest them.
Meanwhile (and irrelevant), I did a google search of "New York Times Jehovah's Witnesses." The second hit is an article from 1958, telling of (I think) the largest Christian assembly in history.
Remember, Google is personalized. Your results may vary.
By Guest Nicole
(Moscow) – Law enforcement authorities across Russia have carried out a sweeping campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses in recent months, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have carried out dozens of home searches, raids, interrogations, and other acts of harassment and persecution.
The authorities are holding 18 men in pretrial detention on charges of organizing, participating in, or financing the activities of an “extremist organization” solely for their religious activities. Several others are facing the same charges and are under house arrest or subject to travel restrictions. The charges carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Russian authorities should release those in detention immediately, drop the charges, and halt the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply peacefully exercising their right to freedom of religion,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Jehovah’s Witness faith is not an extremist organization, and authorities should stop this religious persecution of its worshipers now.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed four lawyers defending Jehovah’s Witnesses in five regions and a representative of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents, media reports, Russian government statements, and Federal Security Service (FSB) photos and videos purporting to show the raids.
The raids and arrests stem from an April 2017 Russian Supreme Courtruling that banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations throughout Russia. The ruling declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center, the head office for 395 Jehovah’s Witnesses branches throughout Russia, an extremist organization and ruled that all 395 be shut down. The ruling, which affects more than 100,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses across Russia, blatantly violates Russia’s obligations to respect and protect religious freedom and freedom of association.
Russian authorities should reverse the ban on the organization’s activities and remove the “extremist” designation, Human Rights Watch said. Meanwhile, they should leave Jehovah’s Witnesses free to practice their faith.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and other former USSR countries have faced persecution in the past. During the Soviet era, they were arrested and imprisoned in labor camps, including in Siberia. Within the past decade, worshipers across Russia have faced persecution, intrusive home searches, and arrests, and have been denied rights to freedom of assembly, association, and religion.
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Russia for closing the Moscow branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and refusing to allow the group to re-register. The court found violations of articles 9 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect freedom of religion and association, respectively. In addition to awarding monetary damages, the court said that Russia should review the domestic decisions that led to the violations. Russia has refused to carry out the judgments in that case and several others brought by members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the contrary, Russia has continued to persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses, seeking the group’s complete dissolution in Russia.
From April to June 2018, law enforcement raids targeted Jehovah’s Witness communities in at least 11 regions throughout Russia, from Saratov region in southwestern Russia to Primorsky Krai in Russia’s far east. Police carried out the raids, often accompanied by a combination of FSB officials wearing masks, armed personnel of the Interior Ministry Special Task Police Force or National Guard, and representatives from the Investigative Committee, Russia’s criminal investigation service.
The authorities, who obtained search warrants or entry permits in most cases, confiscated personal computers, mobile phones, bank cards, passports, religious literature, and, in some cases, housing deeds. Dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including at least one child, were taken to local investigative offices for questioning. Others were detained and later charged.
A lawyer representing a Jehovah’s Witness who is in pretrial detention in Murmansk Region told Human Rights Watch that the authorities’ actions contradict religious freedom guarantees in the Russian Constitution. “The [Russian] constitution says that you can practice your faith together with others, but as it turns out, that’s a crime,” said Yegiazar Chernikov, of the Sverdlovsk Lawyers’ Association.
In at least two regions, armed officers threatened the worshipers with firearms, in one case pointing a gun at a person’s head, a lawyer familiar with the incident told Human Rights Watch.
A Jehovah’s Witnesses representative told Human Rights Watch that approximately 160 Jehovah’s Witnesses have fled Russia to seek refuge abroad.
On June 20, Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights announced that it had asked the prosecutor general’s office to verify the legality of criminal prosecutions against Jehovah’s Witnesses practicing their faith. A week earlier, several of the spouses of the men in pretrial detention had sent a letter to the chair of the council, Mikhail Fedotov, urging him to ask President Vladimir Putin to end the raids and arrests and to restore freedom of religion in Russia.
Over 150 Russian activists, journalists, and academics – including several members of Memorial, Russia’s foremost human rights group – signed and published an open letter urging the authorities to immediately release those in detention and to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision to liquidate the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia – like all people in Russia – should be able to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of religion and association, Human Rights Watch said. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party.
Under international law, freedom of religion includes the freedom to practice one’s religion or belief both individually and in community with others, in public or in private, and through worship, practice, and teaching. Russia already has many rulings against it for its failure to respect the freedom of religion of faith communities and minority religious groups, such as the Church of Scientology, the Salvation Army, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses
“Russia should do right by its national and international obligations to respect freedom of religion,” Denber said. “Russian leadership should make sure that law enforcement is honoring and protecting that right, not trampling on it.”
Raids Aimed at Intimidation
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a peaceful religious community. The consistent show of force in raids in many locations in Russia was disproportionate and seemed aimed at sending a strong message of intimidation, Human Rights Watch said.
In most regions, the authorities arrested people they singled out as leaders and organizers of the local Jehovah’s Witnesses community for such actions as recruiting new members and distributing religious literature that the authorities label “extremist.”
On May 16 in the Orenburg Region, in southwest Russia, law enforcement personnel searched 18 homes in four cities and charged nine people. Two are in pretrial custody and another is under house arrest.
On May 17 in Birobidzhan, in southeast Russia, representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that about 150 law enforcement personnel raided the homes of at least nine Jehovah’s Witnesses, confiscating photos, bank cards, money, and computers. An official reportedly saidthat the operation was code-named “Judgment Day.” One person was arrested and charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization” but was released from pretrial detention eight days later.
On April 18 in the town of Polyarny in the Murmansk Region, in northwest Russia, armed law enforcement agents raided at least seven homes and arrested two men. They took several others into custody for questioning and later released them. Police also took a 16-year-old girl into custody and questioned her at the local investigative unit for several hours. A video posted on the Murmansk Investigative Committee’s website shows men wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets forcing open a door to an apartment.
The arrest and raid campaign took place as the trial of a Jehovah’s Witness who is a Danish citizen, Dennis Christensen, continues in Orel, a city in western Russia. Christensen, who was arrested in May 2017, is being tried on charges of organizing activities of an “extremist organization” and faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence if convicted. He has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rightsalleging, among other things, that his arrest constituted unlawful interference with his right to freedom of religion.
Another Jehovah’s Witness in Orel, 55-year-old Sergei Skrynnikov, was charged on May 8, 2018, with participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.”
A lawyer who is defending three Jehovah’s Witnesses in two regions said that throughout the past eight months, FSB agents in the Orenburg Region and the Republic of Bashkortostan conducted wiretapping, videotaping, and other surveillance of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities – for which they said they had warrants – as part of the investigation. In some cases, the lawyer said, authorities placed recording devices in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes.
Earlier in 2018, police raided more than two dozen Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes in Belgorod and Kemerovo. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgorod are facing extremism charges.
Saratov and Shirokoe, Saratov Region
On June 12, authorities in Saratov Region, southwestern Russia, raided at least seven homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Saratov and village of Shirokoe. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, special forces officers broke down doors and confiscated computers, books, notebooks, photographs, bankbooks, and passports. The authorities took at least 10 people to FSB offices for questioning.
Three were detained and charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization.” They are: 43-year-old Konstantin Bazhenov, 35-year-old Aleksei Budenchuk, and 33-year-old Felix Makhammadiyev. On June 14, the Frunzensky District Court placed all three in pretrial detention until August 12.
Tomsk, Tomsk Region
Law enforcement raided several homes and cars belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tomsk between 10 a.m. on June 3 and about 2 a.m. the next day, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported. Officers confiscated Bibles, mobile phones, tablets, computers, photographs, money, bank cards, and other personal possessions. They took about 30 people to the police anti-extremism center for questioning.
According to a statement by the Tomsk Investigative Committee, the searches were part of a joint FSB and Internal Affairs Ministry investigation into meetings of Jehovah’s Witness residents in Tomsk. Investigative authorities allege that worshipers studied prohibited, “extremist” religious materials and carried out organized religious activities in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center.
Representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that 48-year-old Sergei Klimov was detained after a search of his home on June 3, was charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization,” and will remain in pretrial detention until August 4.
Magadan, Magadan Region
The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that on May 30, FSB and law enforcement officers arrested Konstantin Petrov, 31; Yevgeny Zyablov, 41; and Sergei Yerkin, 61, after searching their homes in the city of Magadan (Magadan Region). On the same day, authorities in Khabarovsk (Khabarovsky Krai) detained Ivan Puyda, 39, based on a court order from Magadan. All four are accused of organizing activities of an “extremist organization” and will remain in pretrial detention until July 29.
Naberezhnye Chelny, Republic of Tatarstan
Police and FSB officials searched the homes of 10 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny, in south-central Russia, on the evening of May 27. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that the searches lasted “well into the night.”
Investigators arrested Ilham Karimov, 37; Vladimir Myakushin, 30; Konstantin Matrashov, 25; Aydar Yulmetyev, 24, on suspicion of organizing and participating in the activities of an “extremist organization” and placed them in pretrial detention until July 25. The Naberezhnye Chelny City Court displays records of all four hearings. According to the religious freedom monitoring group Forum 18, Karimov, Myakushin, and Matrashov have appealed their pretrial detention.
Perm, Perm Krai
The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that on the evening of May 22, Aleksandr Solovyev, 48, and his wife, Anna, were detained at the railway station in Perm, in the Ural Mountains region, after returning from a trip abroad. Law enforcement then searched the couple’s home and reportedly seized property deeds, photographs, several Bibles, and a Wi-Fi router.
Anna was released, but her husband was held for two days. He was released on May 24, and the Sverdlovsk District Court ordered him confined to house arrest. According to Forum 18, he is being investigated on charges of participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.”
Before the 2017 Supreme Court ruling banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center, Solovyov chaired the Perm Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia website.
Birobidzhan, Jewish Autonomous Region
On May 17 in Birobidzhan, southeast Russia, police raided the homes of at least nine Jehovah’s Witnesses. The raids were carried out by approximately 150 law enforcement officers. An official reportedly saidthat the operation was code-named “Judgment Day.”
On May 18, 55-year-old Alam Aliev was placed in pretrial detention until July 13 under suspicion of organizing activities of an “extremist organization.” The FSB stated that its request to detain Aliev “was motivated by the fact that the crime is classified as grave” and because “[t]he suspect may impede the criminal proceedings, put pressure on witnesses, and also evade investigative and judicial authorities.” Following an appeal by Aliev’s lawyer, Aliev was released from detention on May 25 but still faces charges.
Orenburg, Orenburg Region
On May 16 in Orenburg Region, Investigative Committee authorities, FSB officials, and armed National Guard officers searched 18 homes in four cities. Vitaly Svintsov, a lawyer representing two Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region, told Human Rights Watch that nine people were charged with organizing or participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.” Two of them, Aleksandr Suvorov and Vladimir Kochnev, both 38, remain in pretrial custody until July 14. Twenty-six-year-old Vladislav Kolbanov remains under house arrest. The other six remain under travel restrictions while the investigation is ongoing, Svintsov said.
Photographs of some of the raids posted on the Orenburg Investigative Committee website show FSB officials and riot police in bulletproof vests and masks approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses’ residences.
A statement by the Orenburg Investigative Committee said that investigative operations were “carefully planned and organized” by law enforcement with the aim of “seizing documents and items relevant to the criminal case, as well as identifying other persons involved in unlawful activities.” Investigators allege that the suspects “organized activities of a subdivision of Jehovah’s Witnesses [Administrative Center] by calling and holding meetings, organizing the recruitment of new members, and communicating the contents of religious literature to meeting participants.”
Shuya, Ivanovo Region
Forum 18 reported that law enforcement raided four homes in the town of Shuya, western Russia, early on the morning of April 20.
Dmitry Mikhailov, 33, was arrested on May 29, over a month after his home was searched and placed in pretrial custody until July 19. He is being accused of “financing extremist activities.”
On April 20, the Ivanovo Region Investigative Committee released a statement about the home searches, alleging that since the beginning of 2018, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Shuya had been studying literature “containing statements degrading human dignity . . . and elements of propaganda of the exclusivity of one religion over another.”
Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai
Several homes belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses were reportedly raidedon April 19 in the far-east city of Vladivostok.
Human Rights Watch was able to confirm that on April 23 Valentin Osadchuk, 42, was placed under arrest by Frunzensky District Court on charges of participation in the activities of an “extremist organization” after authorities searched his home and confiscated computers, notebooks, and other devices. He remains in pretrial detention until September 20. Representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that five others face the same charges but remain at liberty subject to travel restrictions.
Polyarny, Murmansk Region
On the evening of April 18 in the town of Polyarny in the Murmansk region, armed law enforcement raided at least seven homes and arrested two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Markin, 44, and Viktor Tifimov, 61. Others whose homes were searched were taken to the local investigative unit for questioning and later released without charge.
The Murmansk Region Investigative Committee stated on its websitethat National Guard officers and FSB officials who led the home searches confiscated computer drives and religious literature. A video posted to the website shows men wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets forcing open a door with a pry bar. The Investigative Committee said that beginning in April 2017, the suspects had allegedly “organized activities of the religious organization [Jehovah’s Witnesses] by convening and holding meetings, organizing the recruitment of new members, and leading studies of religious texts at meetings.”
Markin’s lawyer, Arli Chimirov, told Human Rights Watch that armed officers broke down Markin’s door and told him and his 16-year-old daughter, who was at home with him, to lie on the floor while law enforcement threatened them with firearms and searched the apartment. Markin’s daughter was escorted to the investigative unit and was questioned for several hours along with her mother, who arrived some time later.
On April 23, 2018, the Polyarny District Court placed Markin in pretrial custody until June 11. Markin’s lawyer unsuccessfully appealed the decision. According to court documents on file with Human Rights Watch, investigative authorities requested that Markin be placed in pretrial detention because of the risk that he “may continue criminal activities, threaten participants in the legal proceedings, hide or destroy evidence, and also fail to attend preliminary court hearings.” On June 4, Markin’s pretrial detention was extended to October 11.
Tifimov’s lawyer, Yegiazar Chernikov, told Human Rights Watch that beginning in October 2017, investigators had been collecting as evidence audio and video recordings of conversations among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Chernikov said that on several occasions, a woman involved in the investigation invited Tifimov to her home, where audio and video recording devices were in place, and asked him questions given to her by investigative authorities and designed to incriminate him.
Tifimov was originally detained until June 12, 2018, but his pretrial detention was extended until October 11.
Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan
The religious freedom group Forum 18 reported that approximately 60 law enforcement officers, some of them armed, raided eight homes in the city of Ufa, south-central Russia, on the morning of April 10. Investigators confiscated personal belongings, books, and photographs. The lawyer representing one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who was detained said that authorities threatened worshipers with weapons, in one case holding an automatic weapon to a person’s head.
At least 20 people were reportedly taken to the Lenin District Investigative Department for questioning and fingerprinting but were later released. One girl was called for questioning, but when she showed up for the meeting with her mother and the director of her school, the investigator failed to appear.
On April 12, Anatoly Vilikevich, 32, was arrested on suspicion of organizing activities of an “extremist organization,” and placed in pretrial detention. Vilikevich’s lawyer, Vitaly Svintsov, who appealed the order, told Human Rights Watch that on June 21 the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan overturned the lower court’s decision and placed him under house arrest.
A statement by the Bashkortostan Republic Investigative Committeealleged that Vilikevich had organized a local chapter of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center. Investigators who searched his home confiscated “prohibited literature,” the statement said.
Since 2007, dozens of pieces of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials. Pictured here, stacks of booklets distributed by a local leader of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in the Siberian town of Gorno-Altaysk are seen during a court session on December 16, 2010.
©2010 Reuters/Alexandr Tyryshkin
By Guest Nicole
Officials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization say Russian law-enforcement officers have carried out “mass searches” on members’ homes in the Urals region of Orenburg and in the Far Eastern city of Birobidzhan.
Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York, on May 17 said 150 law-enforcement personnel raided more than 20 adherents’ homes in Birobidzhan, the capital of Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region.
The raids came after searches had been carried out on May 16 in the Orenburg region near the border with Kazakhstan in which 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses were questioned and three were taken into custody, Lopes said.
The spokesman said a criminal case had been initiated against an adherent of the Christian sect, Alam Aliyev, and that a trial was expected on May 18.
Russia’s Supreme Court in July 2017 upheld a ruling that the Jehovah’s Witnesses should be considered an extremist organization, effectively banning the denomination from the country.
The original ruling, issued in April 2017, was the first time an entire registered religious organization had been prohibited under Russian law.
Long viewed with suspicion in Russia for their positions on military service, voting, and government authority in general, the Jehovah’s Witnesses -- which claim some 170,000 adherents in Russia and 8 million worldwide -- are among several denominations that have come under increasing pressure in recent years.
The sect began operating in Russia and across the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Russia's treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses has raised concerns from governments and religious organizations in 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,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said after the Supreme Court ruling last year.
By James Thomas Rook Jr.
FSB starts detaining Jehovah’s Witnesses on Kola, dozens flee to Finland
Criminal cases are initiated after FSB and Rosgvardia raided six addresses in the closed navy town of Polyarny.
By Thomas Nilsen - The Independent Barents Observer
April 20, 2018
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, Bergwitz-Larsen tells the Barents Observer.
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 therefore is obligated to protect the rights to freedom of religion and association.
My note: Russia passed a law in 2015 that basically stated that any CE or ECHR resolution or ruling they disagreed with could be ignored. I think it is a very good idea when governments start rounding up people for gas chambers, concentration or slave labor camps, or prison ... just be somewhere else.
You may have to abandon everything you and your family ever worked for, with the clothes on your back, but at least when they upholster the living room furniture you left behind ... it won't be with YOUR SKIN.
By Bible Speaks
CONTAINS AGRESSOR'S VIDEO FIRING A KINGDOM HALL
Alleged arson damages the Kingdom Halls in Olympia and Tumwater on Monday morning
Fires at two Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses in Olympia and Tumwater are being treated as a crime after a person was seen pouring a liquid around one of the buildings and setting it on fire on Monday morning.
Olympia Fire Chief Rob Bradley said he reviewed security camera images that showed a person "clearly spilling a liquid on the outside of the church." On the site, it smelled like a petroleum-based substance.
Olympia fire investigators will help the Olympia police in the investigation, he said. Bradley also said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending agents to Olympia and Tumwater.
The Olympia fire started sometime before 8:20 a.m. Monday at the Kingdom Hall at 2225 Cain Road SE. Firefighters shot down the fire quickly and then the crews began rebuilding and rescue efforts, Bradley said. He estimated the cost of fire damage at $ 50,000.
No injuries were reported
In Tumwater, firefighters were sent to the Kingdom Hall at 1199 N. Ninth Ave. SO at approximately 9 a.m. M
Members of the congregation were to enter the room when they noticed smoke coming from the north side of the building, said Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle. At first they used a garden hose to fight the fire, then they called 911, he said.
LaVielle said firefighters and police determined there were two fires on the north side of the building. They also found the "glow and smell of some kind of accelerant," he said.
"We take samples," LaVielle said.
No one was injured, he said. Although the Kingdom Hall in Olympia had security cameras, the location of Tumwater did not, LaVielle said.
By Guest Nicole
WASHINGTON (AP) — El subdirector del FBI Andrew McCabe, quien fuera un blanco frecuente de críticas por parte del presidente Donald Trump, renunció abruptamente el lunes antes de su jubilación ya cercana.
McCabe, veterano de 22 años en el FBI, fue criticado públicamente repetidas veces el año pasado por Trump, quien lo ha acusado de parcialidad por las conexiones políticas de su esposa y por una investigación del FBI de la cual no surgió ningún cargo penal contra Hillary Clinton.
McCabe, que desempeñó varios puestos de liderazgo y estuvo muy involucrado en investigaciones de crímenes importantes _incluido el atentado en el Maratón de Boston de 2013_, cumpliría en cuestión de semanas los requisitos para jubilarse. El personal del FBI se enteró el lunes que McCabe dejaba el segundo cargo más importante de la agencia de forma inmediata, según personas familiarizadas con la situación que pidieron permanecer anónimas debido a que no podían hablar públicamente sobre una decisión interna relativa al personal.
El tercer funcionario en rango del FBI, David Bowdich, fue nombrado subdirector interino.
Se tiene previsto que McCabe se retire con todos los beneficios de la jubilación.
Su salida se da en el marco de los cambios implementados por el director del FBI Christopher Wray en su equipo de liderazgo. Otros dos funcionarios importantes fueron remplazados la semana pasada. Tales cambios no son inusuales cuando un nuevo director toma las riendas de la agencia, pero son notorios debido a la presión de Trump sobre Wray para que despidiera a los funcionarios que eran cercanos al ex director James Comey.
En un mensaje el lunes a los empleados de la agencia, Wray les dijo que McCabe se retirará el 18 de marzo y rechazó que la medida se deba a presión política.
Lawmaker To Remove $26 Million Dollars From Evergreen College After Racist Students Takeover Campus
By Outta Here
Cant see this under Russian news yet:
The Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: Democratic Party Deputies ask questions to the Italian ParliamentBy ARchiv@L
Many NGOs have denounced worldwide the severe persecution of the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses that is taking place in Russia.
This issue was also discussed in Italy in two important conferences held in the Chamber of Deputies, respectively organized by AIDLR (International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty) on October 26, 2016, and by CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) on March 22, 2017.
The current situation of this religious organization in Russia is heavily effected by the approval and entry into force of the controversial “Yarovaya law” that struck indiscriminately all churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church. An international chorus of voices was raised in recent months in defence of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Five Members of the Italian Parliament decided to add their voices to this chorus denouncing the serious violations of religious freedom of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, asking questions to the Italian Parliament (Legislature 17, Question n. 2/01744 - Published on April 3, 2017, at session n. 772).
On. Rostellato, Lacquaniti, Paola Boldrini, Oliviero and Tieri reminded that
"The Constitution of the Russian Federation -Art. 28- guarantees freedom of religion, including the right to profess a faith individually, collectively or to not profess any, to freely choose, have and to disseminate religious beliefs. The Constitution - Art. 30 - provides that everyone has the right to freely associate".
Moreover, Jehovah's Witnesses are legally recognized in over 220 countries of the world, their religious activities are peaceful and respectful of other people's freedom and of the law, according to the European Court of Human Rights, in more than 47 judgments.
Therefore, in light of the above, Deputies ask
"Whether the Italian Government is aware of the facts outlined in the introduction and if it intends to take diplomatic initiatives to raise awareness in the Russian Government to respect the professions of faith in the Russian territory".
By Guest Nicole
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is now home to some of Ethiopia’s most important religious manuscripts after they were recently donated to the university by Chicago-based collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner. The couple gave out the handmade leather manuscripts with the hope of allowing Ethiopians in the U.S. to use them for prayers and study, according to Catholic News Agency.
Dr. Aaron M. Butts, a professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literature at the university, put up a statement saying the collection “provides unparalleled primary sources for the study of Eastern Christianity.”
What’s In the Collection?
In total, the collection is comprised of 125 Christian manuscripts, including liturgical books, hagiographies, psalters, and 215 Islamic manuscripts, including the Quran and commentaries on Quran.
According to the Catholic News Agency, it’s the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.
More than 600 manuscripts were handmade using hides from calves, sheep, and goats, and are estimated to date back to the 18th and 19th century.
In the collection, there are over 350 “magic” scrolls, which are traditional Christian prayer talismans, and each was handwritten by a “debtera,” or a cleric in the Ethiopian church, and includes the name of the person it was written for.
Pieces of the manuscripts were worn around the neck for purposes of helping people with different kinds of ailments, including headaches, painful menstruation, and complicated childbirth.
Butts suggests that some of these scrolls, which were predominantly worn by women, may have been passed down through many generations, mainly from mother to daughter.
He added that the prayer jewels haven’t been studied much due to the personal nature of their use.
Washington, D.C., hosts one of the largest Ethiopian communities outside Ethiopia, and has several Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic churches and cultural centers, making it the best location to donate the manuscripts.
Ethiopia is predominantly a Christian country, with the majority of Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
However, there are other small religious communities in the country, including Muslims, Judaists, and Pagans. There is also a minority section of Christians who are Roman Catholics or Protestants.
Many Ethiopians still use the prayer scrolls for protection and healing. They are often inscribed with prayers, spells, and charms to offer protection to their specific owner.
The text on these “magic” scrolls is often derived from the bible, which is why the majority of churches in the country tolerate despite their connection to magic.
Workers have been evacuated at Hanford: a former nuclear weapons production site in Washington state...By TheWorldNewsOrg
By Queen Esther
NEWS FROM RUSSIA.....
THE MENTIONED FIRE OF THE HOUSE OF WITNESSES IN MOSCOW, RUSSIA BY A FIRE PUMP.....
A villager from the Moscow area threw a Molotov cocktail (incendiary bomb) at the home of Jehovah's Witnesses. Two houses and cars burned. The villager says he did it because he does not like the beliefs of his neighbors.
That same day a guy broke the window of a kingdom hall. The brothers were gathered and told to stop doing that and the cry that will continue to do so until the whole room is destroyed.
It has unleashed a witch hunt against the witnesses and people feel supported by the government.
THINKING & PRAYING to all our Brothers ❤
By Ann O'Maly
Why banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t work for Russia
BY EMILY B. BARAN APRIL 20TH 2017 The Supreme Court of Russia has a decision to make this week about whether to label the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and liquidate its assets. This act would transform the religious community into a criminal network, and make individual Witnesses vulnerable to arrest simply for speaking about their faith with others. While the court case has attracted recent media attention, this move is the culmination of two decades of increasing state hostility to Witnesses. In the late 1990s, Moscow took the Witnesses to court to deny them legal standing in the city limits. After several years of court hearings, the city banned the organization. In more recent years, anti-extremism laws drafted in the wake of domestic terrorism have been turned against Witness magazines and books. Currently, over eighty publications have been placed on the federal list of extremist materials. Even their website is now illegal. So is My Book of Bible Stories, an illustrated book for children, listed alongside publications by terrorist organizations.
If the state criminalizes the Witnesses, it will represent a major deterioration in religious toleration in post-Soviet Russia. It will also put Russia at odds with the European Court of Human Rights, which has repeatedly ruled in favor of the Witnesses in the past two decades. It may make other minority faiths vulnerable to similar legal challenges. In the 1990s, scholars spoke of a newly opened religious marketplace, in which post-Soviet citizens, freed from the constraints of state-enforced atheism, shopped around among the faith traditions. It is fair to say that these days, this marketplace has fewer customers, fewer stalls, and more regulations.
If history is any guide, Russia will find it nearly impossible to eliminate Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soviet dissident author Vladimir Bukovsky once admiringly wrote of the Witnesses’ legendary persistence under ban. When the Soviet Union barred religious literature from crossing its borders, Witnesses set up underground bunkers to print illegal magazines for their congregations. When Soviet officials prohibited Witnesses from hosting religious services, they gathered in small groups in their apartments, often in the middle of the night. Sometimes they snuck away to nearby woods or out onto the vast steppe, where they could meet with less scrutiny. When the state told believers that they could not evangelize their faith to others, Witnesses chatted up their neighbors, coworkers, and friends. When these actions landed them in labor camps, Witnesses sought out converts among their fellow prisoners. Witnesses are certain to revive many of these tactics if placed in similar circumstances in the future.
Moreover, technology makes it far more difficult for Russia to control the religious practices of its citizens. Although the Witnesses’ official website is no longer available in Russia, individual members can easily share religious literature through email or dozens of other social media platforms and apps. While Soviet Witnesses had to write coded reports and hand-deliver them through an underground courier network, Witnesses today can text this information in seconds. Technology will also facilitate meeting times for religious services in private homes.
The Russian government simply does not have the manpower to enforce its own ban. It is hard to imagine that local officials could effectively prevent over 170,000 people across more than 2,000 congregations from gathering together multiple times per week, as Witnesses do worldwide. The case of Taganrog is instructive. Several hundred Witnesses lived there in 2009, when the city declared the organization illegal. A few years later, it convicted sixteen Witnesses for ignoring the ban and continuing to gather their congregations for services. The state spent over a year in investigations and court hearings for sixteen people, a tiny fraction of the total congregation, and then suspended the sentences and fines rather than waste more resources in following through on its punishment guidelines. There are not enough police officers in Russia to monitor the daily activities of each and every Witness, and the Witnesses know it. Under a ban, everyone will face more scrutiny, a few will be dealt more serious consequences, and most will continue practicing their faith regardless.
Russia may nonetheless decide that all of this conflict is worth it. After all, Soviet officials were fairly successful in relegating Witnesses to the margins of society. Few Russians will complain if Witnesses no longer come to knock on their door. After all, even Americans rarely have kind words for religious missionaries at their own doorsteps. In my own research, I have never heard a single Russian, other than a scholar, say anything positive about Witnesses. For the record, my experience with Americans has been similar. On a more basic level, Russian citizens may not even notice the Witnesses’ absence from public life. While the post-Soviet period saw a religious revival for all faiths, far fewer joined the Witnesses than the Russian Orthodox Church. For all their recent growth in membership, the Witnesses remain a tiny minority in a largely secular society.
The vocal determination of Witnesses not to acquiesce to state demands should not cause observers to overlook the very real damage a ban would do to this community. Yes, Witnesses have faced similar challenges before and have dealt with them. For decades, they held their baptisms in local rivers and lakes under cover of night. In the post-Soviet period, new members were finally able to celebrate their baptisms in full view of their fellow believers at public conventions. A long-time Witness who attended one of these events in the early 1990s recalled, “What happiness, what freedom!” A new ban would mean a return to this underground life, to a hushed ceremony in cold waters. This is not what freedom of conscience looks like in modern states.
Emily B. Baran is the author of Dissent on the Margins: How Jehovah’s Witnesses Defied Communism and Lived to Preach About It. Her work explores the shifting contours of dissent and freedom in the Soviet Union and its successor states. She is Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University.
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