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Serena Williams confirms she will not celebrate daughter’s first birthday due to Jehovah’s Witness beliefs

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Serena Williams’s daughter Alexis Olympia turns 1 this week – but we shouldn’t expect any extravagant party pictures on the ‘gram.

The tennis legend has confirmed that she will not be celebrating her baby girl’s first birthday, due to her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Serena was speaking at a press conference at the when she was asked whether she has thought about she’d be celebrating Olympia’s first birthday.

Responding to a reporter asking: ‘Is there a birthday party planned?’, the 36-year-old said: ‘Olympia doesn’t celebrate birthdays. We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.’

It is believed Serena’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, is now practicing with his wife, despite not growing up in a religious household.

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Speaking to Vogue last year, Serena said: ‘Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it.

‘Alexis didn’t grow up going to any church, but he’s really receptive and even takes the lead. He puts my needs first.’

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe God is the Creator and Supreme Being, and reject the Trinity doctrine.

They do not celebrate religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, and do not observe birthdays or national holidays, feeling that many of these customs have pagan origins and do not celebrate God.

https://osburnoracle.com/serena-williams-confirms-she-will-not-celebrate-daughters-first-birthday-due-to-jehovahs-witness-beliefs/25494/

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This is rather old, nonetheless I tried to do it justice when it first appeared:

Few things cause more distress in the world of celebrities than a neglected birthday celebration. Yet Serena Williams presented them exactly that woe with regard to her baby daughter, soon to turn one. “Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian won’t be throwing an over-the-top birthday bash for their baby girl…In fact, they won’t be throwing a party at all,” reported Caitlyn Hitt for the Daily Mail. Why?

Serena says: “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.” She repeats the tack that she took with President Obama, back when she was “excited to see Obama out there doing his thing….[but] I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, so I don’t get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don’t vote...so I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion.’’ Let me tell you that she took heat for it from people immersed in civic affairs, not to mention from those who dislike Witnesses.

Notwithstanding that the support organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses encourages congregation members to give reasons for their stands and not just say “I do it because I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,” there are times when the latter response is exactly the right thing to say. The actual reason takes a while to explain and people don’t necessarily want to hear it. You have to know your audience. I have come to like Serena Williams more and more. She doesn’t buckle under pressure, mumbling something half apologetic. No. She says: “We don’t do that.” She reminds me very much of a young Witness named Jackie who was hounded at school for her modest way of dress. She threw it right back at them. “I set the style!” she told the would-be bullies. “If you want to be cool, you dress like me!”

Speaking of modest dress, Serena hasn’t exactly done that over the years on the tennis court. Even given that you want freedom of movement in sports, you will hear her criticized for that from time to time, often from people who think they can embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses on that account. Outspokenly she has thanked Jehovah for her tennis victories, yet how does that work with the flag at the Olympics? Jehovah’s Witnesses are circumspect about the flag of any nation, declining to salute, not for any reason of protest, but because of the second of the Ten Commandments. And didn’t she cuss out that official at a certain match? Ah, well, athletes have been known to do that and people cut them slack. After all, if she was mild-mannered Clark Kent, she would find transition into Superwoman difficult.

So she has sent mixed signals over the years. Why would that be? Ah, here it is in the Caitlyn Hitt article: Last year she told Vogue, “Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it.” Okay. She was brought up in the faith and has made part of it her own but not entirely. Apparently, she is not baptized, a big event for Witnesses. Now, with a child, she means to change some things. The birth of a child will frequently trigger a shift in priorities. Likely, she is conscious of a spiritual need not completely attended to in her own case and she does not want the same for her daughter. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses call each other brother and sister and I am old enough to be her dad, I tweeted: “Knock it out of the park! You go, my daughter.” I’m sure she saw it out of the gazillion tweets she receives each day, many from JW detractors telling her that she is nuts.

Her outspokenness has served her well in another instance. When the man she was dating wished her a Happy Birthday and she responded as she does now for her daughter, the man admired the courage. He “saw this gesture as Serena stepping outside her comfort zone for him and decided immediately that he wanted to marry her.”

It only gets more interesting. He is Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. He is not a Jehovah’s Witness and was not raised with any religion at all but is reportedly okay with Serena’s faith. Now, it turns out that Reddit is a huge online discussion forum in which topics are hosted for everything under the sun. One of those groups, with thousands of participants, is dedicated to bringing down the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter wrote four incendiary articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses, he used this group as his source of information and between articles he checked in with them, as though Trump playing to his base.

It therefore reminds—I mean, it is not a type/antitype kind of thing—but it sure does remind one of Jewish Queen Esther of long ago, married to the wealthy Persian King who had been maneuvered by enemies into decreeing that her people be destroyed. The sentence surely would have been carried out but for Esther’s (putting her life at risk to do it) bold intervention. Yeah, why don’t you go in there to Mr. Ohanian, you Reddit Witness haters, and tell him that his wife is crazy? That sounds like a brilliant plan to me. Tell him that the reporter from the Philly paper is on your side. Just make sure that you read up on Haman before you do it.

Look, it is not parallel in all respects. Nobody is literally threatening to kill anyone, but they are threatening to kill the Christian organization that supports and coordinates the worldwide work that Jehovah’s Witnesses carry out, just as like-minded Witness haters are now doing in Russia. Moreover, Mr. Ohanian cannot be expected to pull the group’s Reddit credentials; he runs a website dedicated to free speech. There is also a pro-JW group on the site, as well as a squirrelly in-between one, seemingly supportive of Witness teachings but unsupportive of the human leadership. Such will always be the sticking point in the divine/human interface.

See Doesn't Do Birthdays. Part 2

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

00

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She is just another person. Why  the hero worship ?  

“We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that. That is sooo funny :) Her being a parrot to the JW Org

 

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6 hours ago, Anna said:

You know John, sometimes people really do have their own opinion.

“We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.

That does not sound like a personal opinion to me. 

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3 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:
10 hours ago, Anna said:

You know John, sometimes people really do have their own opinion.

“We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.

That does not sound like a personal opinion to me. 

Sometimes a short answer, phrased in words familiar to the audience, keeps them from wondering what the hell you said really means, and scratching their head in wonderment, until it bleeds.

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On 3/6/2019 at 7:24 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

This is rather old, nonetheless I tried to do it justice when it first appeared:

Few things cause more distress in the world of celebrities than a neglected birthday celebration. Yet Serena Williams presented them exactly that woe with regard to her baby daughter, soon to turn one. “Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian won’t be throwing an over-the-top birthday bash for their baby girl…In fact, they won’t be throwing a party at all,” reported Caitlyn Hitt for the Daily Mail. Why?

Serena says: “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.” She repeats the tack that she took with President Obama, back when she was “excited to see Obama out there doing his thing….[but] I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, so I don’t get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don’t vote...so I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion.’’ Let me tell you that she took heat for it from people immersed in civic affairs, not to mention from those who dislike Witnesses.

Notwithstanding that the support organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses encourages congregation members to give reasons for their stands and not just say “I do it because I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,” there are times when the latter response is exactly the right thing to say. The actual reason takes a while to explain and people don’t necessarily want to hear it. You have to know your audience. I have come to like Serena Williams more and more. She doesn’t buckle under pressure, mumbling something half apologetic. No. She says: “We don’t do that.” She reminds me very much of a young Witness named Jackie who was hounded at school for her modest way of dress. She threw it right back at them. “I set the style!” she told the would-be bullies. “If you want to be cool, you dress like me!”

Speaking of modest dress, Serena hasn’t exactly done that over the years on the tennis court. Even given that you want freedom of movement in sports, you will hear her criticized for that from time to time, often from people who think they can embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses on that account. Outspokenly she has thanked Jehovah for her tennis victories, yet how does that work with the flag at the Olympics? Jehovah’s Witnesses are circumspect about the flag of any nation, declining to salute, not for any reason of protest, but because of the second of the Ten Commandments. And didn’t she cuss out that official at a certain match? Ah, well, athletes have been known to do that and people cut them slack. After all, if she was mild-mannered Clark Kent, she would find transition into Superwoman difficult.

So she has sent mixed signals over the years. Why would that be? Ah, here it is in the Caitlyn Hitt article: Last year she told Vogue, “Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it.” Okay. She was brought up in the faith and has made part of it her own but not entirely. Apparently, she is not baptized, a big event for Witnesses. Now, with a child, she means to change some things. The birth of a child will frequently trigger a shift in priorities. Likely, she is conscious of a spiritual need not completely attended to in her own case and she does not want the same for her daughter. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses call each other brother and sister and I am old enough to be her dad, I tweeted: “Knock it out of the park! You go, my daughter.” I’m sure she saw it out of the gazillion tweets she receives each day, many from JW detractors telling her that she is nuts.

Her outspokenness has served her well in another instance. When the man she was dating wished her a Happy Birthday and she responded as she does now for her daughter, the man admired the courage. He “saw this gesture as Serena stepping outside her comfort zone for him and decided immediately that he wanted to marry her.”

It only gets more interesting. He is Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. He is not a Jehovah’s Witness and was not raised with any religion at all but is reportedly okay with Serena’s faith. Now, it turns out that Reddit is a huge online discussion forum in which topics are hosted for everything under the sun. One of those groups, with thousands of participants, is dedicated to bringing down the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter wrote four incendiary articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses, he used this group as his source of information and between articles he checked in with them, as though Trump playing to his base.

It therefore reminds—I mean, it is not a type/antitype kind of thing—but it sure does remind one of Jewish Queen Esther of long ago, married to the wealthy Persian King who had been maneuvered by enemies into decreeing that her people be destroyed. The sentence surely would have been carried out but for Esther’s (putting her life at risk to do it) bold intervention. Yeah, why don’t you go in there to Mr. Ohanian, you Reddit Witness haters, and tell him that his wife is crazy? That sounds like a brilliant plan to me. Tell him that the reporter from the Philly paper is on your side. Just make sure that you read up on Haman before you do it.

Look, it is not parallel in all respects. Nobody is literally threatening to kill anyone, but they are threatening to kill the Christian organization that supports and coordinates the worldwide work that Jehovah’s Witnesses carry out, just as like-minded Witness haters are now doing in Russia. Moreover, Mr. Ohanian cannot be expected to pull the group’s Reddit credentials; he runs a website dedicated to free speech. There is also a pro-JW group on the site, as well as a squirrelly in-between one, seemingly supportive of Witness teachings but unsupportive of the human leadership. Such will always be the sticking point in the divine/human interface.

See Doesn't Do Birthdays. Part 2

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

00

I like this what you wrote. Intresting.

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Bottom-line, Birthdays is something no Christian should be doing hence what origins it connects to. It is evident that most people are starting to realize this in the some months and years that passed by, and now more and more see such too.

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      The fire in Lacey brings the total number of attacks in Thurston County against Jehovah’s Witness centers, called kingdom halls, to six this year, . In March, arson caused minor damage at kingdom halls in Tumwater and Olympia. Four months later, a blaze worship space. In August investigators discovered a fake bomb at a kingdom hall in Yelm, . The incident was determined to be an attempted arson.
      In May someone shot about 35 rifle rounds into the Yelm center, causing more than $10,000 in property damage, .
      Jason Chudy, a spokesperson for the ATF’s Seattle field division, told HuffPost that the organization believes all the incidents could be related. The attacks were probably “meant to send a message,” he said. 
      “We believe that the suspect or suspects has or have a grievance related to the Jehovah’s Witness community, or about another issue they think is important,” he wrote in an email. “Before these fires, the person or persons involved are likely to have shared these strong feelings with others through comments and conversation.”
      Chudy said the ATF also believes that the suspect or suspects may have exhibited changes in behavior in the hours, days, weeks or months since the fires, including unexplained injuries, changes in normal routines and dramatic and unexplained altering of physical appearance.
      The ATF is investigating the incidents, along with Thurston County police. Investigators are offering $36,000 in combined rewards for information that leads to a suspect’s capture. 
      During a press conference on Friday, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza urged the public to call in with tips.
      “It makes you feel really ill,” . “How frustrating is it that people who find a solemn place of worship, and now it’s being destroyed?”
      Dan Woollett, a member of the kingdom hall in Lacey,  that the important thing is that congregants are safe.
      “It’s just a building ― buildings can be replaced,” he said. “Things can be redone. So we just move ahead with the ministry that we have that we’re involved with.” 
      https://herdongazette.com/cops-investigate-attacks-against-jehovahs-witness-buildings-in-washington-state/320121/
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      A young Jehovah's Witness in her twenties remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of San Jorge Hospital in Huesca, without the specialists being able to carry out a blood transfusion to try to save her life due to the instructions that the patient left before being intervened. The facts, released by the Heraldo de Aragón, were put this week in the knowledge of the court of guard of the capital of Aragon by one of the doctors of the UCI hospital HOSPITAL before the impossibility of consulting directly with the patient.
      After being operated on a few days ago, the girl suffered acute peritonitis that led doctors to induce a coma and to consider the need to carry out a blood transfusion. However, the patient left written in her living will and, according to her beliefs, her position of absolute rejection of blood transfusions, which Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept for religious reasons.
      Sources of the Superior Court of Justice of Aragon (TSJA) reported on Thursday that the holder of the Court of Instruction No. 1 of Huesca received the medical report while he was on duty and was warned of the refusal of the young woman to a transfusion, under of the Patient Autonomy Law. According to these sources, the magistrate, in view of the documentation provided, resolved to dismiss the claim on the understanding that there was no legal problem in relation to the patient's situation.
      These sources, in addition, do not make any reference to the position of the family of the young woman regarding the situation in which her daughter is currently. On the other hand, the Prosecutor's Office of Huesca, after receiving the report from the specialists of the ICU, decided not to intervene after assessing that the patient is of legal age and is entitled to make a decision regarding the medical treatments to be received.
      According to other judicial sources informed to Efe, the court of guard today in Huesca would not have received any other written referred to the case, reason why the specialists lack of options to be able to carry out the advised transfusion. These sources have pointed out that this case is not the only one that has been registered in the Aragonese Community over the last few years in relation to Jehovah's Witness patients, whose beliefs lead them to reject the mixture or intake of blood.
      This case occurs 25 years after the death of 13-year-old Marcos Alegre, deceased after his parents, residents in the Huesca town of Ballobar, did not accept that his son received a transfusion that specialists considered necessary to save his life. In the context of a debate that leaped into the media, the parents were acquitted of the crime of imprudent homicide that the prosecution charged them with, but were sentenced two years later, at the request of the public prosecutor's office, with a penalty of 2 years and 6 months. prison for these facts.
      Finally, the parents accepted a government pardon, before being definitively acquitted by the Constitutional Court, which based its decision on the right to religious freedom. This situation, previously assessed by the Board of Prosecutors before filing their appeal before the Supreme Court, motivated Circular 1/2012 of the State Attorney General's Office, referring only to the cases of minor Jehovah's Witnesses who reject blood transfusions. This circular urges prosecutors to explore all legal avenues at their disposal to try to save the lives of these minors whenever there is a medical possibility that allows it.
      https://spainsnews.com/a-young-jehovahs-witness-in-critical-condition-in-huesca-after-refusing-a-transfusion-society/
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Una Riley, 67, of Akron, passed away on March 20, 2019. Una was a member of Akron Central Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. She retired from FirstMerit Bank after 15 years of service.

      Una is survived by her loving husband, Tyrone; siblings, James (Connie) Mathews, Otha Loftin,David (Candace) Mathews, Marilyn Oliver, Walter Mathews, and Harold Garrett; honorary son and daughter, Daniel and Lenora Lewis; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

      Una was preceded in death by her infant daughter, Francine; parents, Howard and Otha Garrett; and siblings, Gloria Johnson, Harry Mathews, and Barbara Gibbons.

      The family would like to thank everyone who supported them during this time of sorrow. A special thank you to the Cleveland Clinic Hospice, and Una's caretaker, Tammy, and special friends, Charlotte Holling and Alesia Stevens.

      A memorial service for Una will take place on Sunday March 31, 2019 at 2pm at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses at 1170 Eastwood Ave, Akron, OH 44305.
      https://www.newcomerakron.com/Obituary/170084/Una-Riley/Akron-Ohio
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      On Tuesday, we asked ex-JW activist Lloyd Evans about the Jehovah’s Witness view on climate change, since it’s an organization so centered around the idea of global catastrophe. Lloyd explained that because the planet was in Jehovah’s hands, Witnesses tended not to be concerned about environmental issues. We then received a rebuttal from Rob, a Witness who disagreed, and we’re very happy to publish his message to us, with his permission…
      The main point I am rebutting is this quote from Lloyd: “Jehovah’s Witnesses mostly have a very laid back approach to environmental concerns. They point to issues like global warming and damage to the environment as evidence that humans are incapable of ruling themselves….”
      Jehovah’s Witnesses, in fact, do have an active interest in environment, and encourage members to take action to reduce the negative affects we have on the environment. Consider one of our journals, the Awake! magazine, from 2007:
      The Bible assures us that every trace of the damage caused by man will be undone when God ‘makes all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5) However, we should not conclude that since God will in time restore the earth, our actions now do not matter. They do!
      That article further states that we are not indifferent to the earth’s plight:
      Jehovah God made the earth to be a gardenlike home for mankind. He pronounced all of his work to be “very good” and assigned man “to cultivate [the earth] and to take care of it.” (Genesis 1:28, 31; 2:15) How does God feel about earth’s present condition? Clearly, he is deeply offended by man’s mismanagement, for Revelation 11:18 foretells that he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” So we should not be indifferent to the earth’s plight.
      Lastly, steps are given in this same article that we can or should take, to reduce the negative impact on our environment.
      It is proper, though, for us to consider the environmental impact of our choices in such areas as household purchases, transportation, and recreation. For example, some choose to purchase products that have been produced or that operate in ways that minimize damage to the environment. Others strive to reduce their share in activities that create pollution or unduly consume natural resources.
      This does not represent disinterest in climate change, or feigning interest in it. This is actively discussing ways to minimize our own environmental impact.
      So yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses do in fact believe that God will undo climate change once and for all, but this does not mean we are indifferent or apathetic, as the article above shows.
      Lastly, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ buildings received the highest possible rating of Four Green Globes for all seven of their buildings, for environmental efficiency.
      Really, the best way to show concern for our planet is to reduce the impact we have. Jehovah’s Witnesses build so to have the least negative impact as they possibly can.
      So whoever is suggesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses are apathetic to our environmental concerns is ignoring what’s in print, and how we construct our buildings, and the recognition we receive from authoritative environmental agencies.
      https://tonyortega.org/2019/03/21/a-witness-responds-to-lloyd-evans-about-jw-and-global-climate-change/
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      EATONVILLE, WA - Pierce County firefighters battled a 15-acre brush fire near Eatonville on Wednesday night, one of dozens of fires that have broken out across Western Washington amid record-breaking March heat.
      Wednesday's fire near Eatonville burned near the intersection of SR 702 and Jackson Road, which is just west of SR 7 near the Jehovah's Witnesses temple.
      "Firefighters urge residents on Jackson Road to evacuate as this fire continues to grow," the Pierce County Firefighters union wrote on Twitter.
      Washington State Patrol officers were heading to the scene to assist with traffic control.
      On top warm temperatures, strong breezes have blown steadily since Monday, feeding and spreading fires.
      https://patch.com/washington/across-wa/large-brush-fire-threatens-rural-pierce-county-residents

    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Name: Yuriy Belosludtsev
      Born: [to be determined]
      Current status: [to be determined]
      Detained since: 18 March 2019 
      Current restrictions: pre-trial detention
      Currently held in: [to be determined
      https://jw-russia.org/en/prisoners/belosludtsev.html
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Despite recent surgery, retired widower, Jehovah's Witness Shamil Khakimov, is in pre-trial detention in Khujand under criminal investigation for "inciting religious hatred". If tried and convicted he faces five to ten years' imprisonment. His arrest followed widespread raids, interrogations and torture of local Jehovah's Witnesses.
      On 28 February, two days after his arrest, a court in the northern city of Khujand ordered that 68-year old Jehovah's Witness Shamil Khakimov be held in pre-trial detention for up to two months. Prosecutors are preparing a criminal case against him on charges of "inciting religious hatred", charges he rejects. Khakimov, who suffers from high blood pressure and recently underwent a leg operation, faces between five and ten years' imprisonment if eventually tried and convicted.
      Khakimov is currently held at Khujand's Investigation Prison.

      Khujand Investigation Prison
      Google/DigitalGlobe
      Judge Abruniso Mirasilzoda, who acceded to the Prosecutor's Office request to put Khakimov in pre-trial detention despite his medical condition, refused to explain her decision to Forum 18 (see below).
      A panel of three judges at Sogd Regional Court upheld Khakimov's pre-trial detention on 12 March. None of the judges were prepared to discuss with Forum 18 why they approved the detention of the 68-year-old, given his serious state of health (see below).
      Forum 18 was unable to reach Nosirkhuja Dodokhonzoda, Investigator of serious crimes at Sogd Regional Prosecutor's Office, who is leading the criminal case against Khakimov (see below).
      Police opened the case against Khakimov after widespread raids in January and February on homes and police interrogations of Jehovah's Witnesses across the northern Sogd Region. Some of the interrogations involved torture.
      Organised Crime Police seized Khakimov's Bible and other religious literature during a raid on his home after they interrogated him (see below).
      After the raids and interrogations, so far none of the Jehovah's Witnesses were given any punishments or faced any charges except for Khakimov. "The authorities probably want to punish a Jehovah's Witness more seriously in order for this to be a show case, a lesson for the rest of the Jehovah's Witnesses," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18 on 19 March. "This may be why Khakimov was singled out."
      Jehovah's Witnesses in Khujand are still being regularly summoned and questioned by the Organised Crime Police, Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18. The Police summon individuals for interrogation "without written notifications".
      Organised Crime Police prepare Khakimov's arrest
      Trouble began for Jehovah's Witness Shamil Rasulovich Khakimov (born 30 August 1950), a retired widower, after police stopped two Jehovah's Witnesses on the street in Khujand in early January for sharing their beliefs with a passer-by.
      "The Police seized the phones of the two women and called the numbers in the phone, and this is how they found Khakimov," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "The authorities allege that he is the leader of Jehovah's Witnesses in Khujand."
      On the evening of 28 January, Khakimov received a call from an unknown person. "The caller requested him to leave his flat and come out onto the street. It was dark so he hesitated, but the calls kept coming," Jehovah's Witnesses said. "When he decided to come outside, there was no one on the street."
      Later the caller identified himself as Nekruz Ibrokhimzoda from the Organised Crime Police of Sogd Region.
      The next day, 29 January, Organised Crime Police officers summoned some of Khakimov's friends (who are not Jehovah's Witnesses) and fellow believers, and questioned them about him.
      At lunch time on 1 February, three days after this, the Organised Crime Police's Khujand office summoned Khakimov, where officers searched him on arrival. Lieutenant Colonel Sukhrob Rustamzoda then interrogated him, including about his personal history, how he became a Jehovah's Witness, and the structure of the organisation.
      "During the interrogation, officers refused to allow Khakimov to use the services of a defence lawyer," Jehovah's Witnesses complained.
      Investigator Rustamzoda refused to comment on the case. "I cannot discuss it with you over the phone," he told Forum 18 on 19 March. "You need to talk to Sogd Regional Prosecutor's Office. They are investigating the case now." When Forum 18 insisted, asking why Police opened a case against Khakimov and why he was refused a defence lawyer to participate during his interrogation, Rustamzoda put the phone down.
      Officers seize Khakimov's property
      After the interrogation, the Organised Crime Police brought Khakimov to his flat in Khujand. Officers seized his tablet device, laptop computer, his Bible and several religious books and brochures, as well as his passport. Officers did not give him a copy of the seizure record, Jehovah's Witnesses said.
      The Police "detained him overall for eight hours the same day," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18. "He had not fully recovered after the thrombophlebitis surgery on his legs and his bandages needed to be changed."
      Moreover, Khakimov "could not receive money transfers to continue his necessary medical treatment, since officers seized his passport".
      Prosecutor's Office ignores complaints, opens case
      On 3 February, Khakimov filed a complaint with the Regional Prosecutor's Office against the actions of the Organised Crime Police officers. "No answer has been received to this day," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18.
      "Instead at around 9 am on 7 February, four days after his complaint, the Organised Crime Police officers once again arrived at Khakimov's home. They threatened him to open the door," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "As the Police officers refused to provide the official summons, he decided not to open the door." 
      During the same day, the Police "repeatedly called Khakimov demanding him to come to the police station."
      Khakimov filed another complaint to the Regional Prosecutor's Office on 7 February against the actions of the Organised Crime Police. "At the Prosecutor's Office he was asked to write an additional statement on his faith and religious activity." The Prosecutor's Office, however, "refused to give him a note that he was asked to write a statement and that it had received his complaint."
      The Prosecutor's Office has "not responded to this complaint to this day either".
      Arrest, pre-trial detention
      On 26 February, 19 days after his second complaint, Police arrested Khakimov and put him in custody "despite his advanced age and poor health".
      The following day, on 27 February, the Organised Crime Police went to Khakimov's flat again. "Without showing identification documents - in the absence of Khakimov and the presence of his roommate - seized Khakimov's international passport without drawing up a record of it," Jehovah's Witnesses said.
      On 28 February, at the request of the Sogd Regional Prosecutor's Office, Judge Abruniso Mirasilzoda of Khujand City Court ordered that Khakimov be held in pre-trial detention. He is being held in the Investigation Prison in Khujand.
      Judge Mirasilzoda told Forum 18 from the court on 19 March that "his custody may last up two months while the investigation proceeds, and if need be his arrest can be prolonged." She refused to explain why Khakimov needs to be held in custody. Asked why he cannot be at home while his case is being investigated, she told Forum 18: "I gave my decision, and it entered into force."
      Asked why she did not take into account that Khakimov is an old man who recently underwent an operation on his leg, Judge Mirasilzoda replied: "His lawyer informed us about this orally, but did not present documents." Asked whether had Khakimov had the documents, she would not have ordered the pre-trial detention, she responded: "I do not want to discuss my decision further."
      Jehovah's Witnesses say the court was fully aware of Khakimov's medical condition. "On 28 February our lawyer did not yet have the documents from the doctors on Khakimov's operation, so they told Judge Mirasilzoda that Khakimov can open the bandage on his leg and show the wound, as well as producing the documents later. But she went ahead with her decision."
      Khakimov's address in Investigation Prison:
      Ya/S 9/2 Investigation Prison
      Khujand
      Sogd Region
      Tajikistan
      Why pre-trial detention?
      Jehovah's Witnesses appealed against the 28 February decision to place Khakimov in pre-trial detention. They presented in court documentation on his operation and health condition. But on 12 March, a panel of three judges at Sogd Regional Court, Ismoil Rakhmatzoda, Maftuna Rakhmatillozoda and Khotamsho Sattorzoda, upheld Khakimov's pre-trial detention.
      Asked on 20 March why the Court upheld the pre-trial detention of Khakimov, an ailing old man, Makhrambek Jumazoda, Secretary of Judge Rakhmatzoda, took down the question and Forum 18's name. Then, after consulting with an official in Judge Rakhmatzoda's office, claimed to Forum 18 that the Judge is "busy in a meeting". He then refused to talk further.
      Judge Rakhmatillozoda on 20 March also refused to explain their decision. Asked why the Court did not take into account the official records of Khakimov's condition and upheld his pre-trial detention, she responded: "I just came into my office. Can you call back in 15 minutes?" Called back later, she told Forum 18 "I cannot talk to you," and put the phone down.
      Judge Sattorzoda was adamant that the Court "correctly took the decision to put Khakimov in custody". Reminded that Khakimov presented to the Court the documents confirming his medical condition and that he is an old man, Sattorzoda repeated his previous response: "We took the decision correctly." He refused to explain the decision to Forum 18 and to answer further questions.
      Inciting hatred?
      Nosirkhuja Dodokhonzoda, Investigator of serious crimes at Sogd Regional Prosecutor's Office, is leading the case against Khakimov. On 7 March, one week after Khakimov's arrest, Dodokhonzoda officially informed him of the charges against him.
      Dodokhonzoda is investigating Khakimov under Criminal Code Article 189, Part 2 ("Inciting national, racial, local or religious hatred or dissension, humiliation of national dignity, as well as propaganda of the superiority of citizens based on their religion, national, racial, or local origin, if committed in public or using the mass media" when performed repeatedly, by a group or by an individual using their official position). Punishment is imprisonment of between five and ten years, with the possibility also of a five-year ban on specified activity.
      Prisoner of conscience Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov, who led a Protestant Church in Khujand, was punished under Criminal Code Article 189, Part 1 for allegedly "singing extremist songs in church and so inciting 'religious hatred'". Khujand City Court sentenced him to three years' imprisonment in July 2017.
      Asked why the Prosecutor's Office asked for Khakimov's pre-trial detention, and why it did not respond to Khakimov complaints on the Police illegal actions, the official (who did not give his name) who on 19 March answered the phone of Khobibullo Vokhidov, Prosecutor of Sogd Region, took down Forum 18's name and asked it to wait on the line. Moments later, he told Forum 18 that "Prosecutor Vokhidov is busy; call back in an hour or so."
      Called back later, the Prosecutor's phone numbers were all switched to a fax machine.
      Prosecutor's Office Investigator Dodokhonzoda did not answer his phones on 20 March.
      Health concerns
      Jehovah's Witnesses express concern over Khakimov's health. "He recently had an operation on the veins in his legs and suffers from high blood pressure," they told Forum 18 on 19 March. "At the moment he is still suffering from high blood pressure, and the doctors have told him not to stand for too long because of the operation."
      Jehovah's Witnesses added that although Khakimov is "doing well", he still feels pain in his leg after the surgery. "Our lawyer talked to the prison doctor and he said that he will make sure that Shamil Khakimov would not have to stand up every time officers enter the cell for checking."
      Earlier raids, interrogations
      The Organised Crime Police Department of Sogd Region interrogated about 17 Jehovah's Witnesses for periods of up to 14 hours in January and February across the northern Sogd Region, including in Khujand and Konibodom. Police also confiscated mobile phones, personal computers or tablets, and internal passports from those they interrogated.
      One female Jehovah's Witness was interrogated two days running for 14 hours. Because of the extreme stress imposed on her, she suffered a stroke, leaving her unable to walk or speak. She was then taken to hospital.
      Jehovah's Witnesses lodged a formal complaint about the police actions and torture to Sogd Regional Prosecutor's Office. "But it has taken no action and given no response to this day," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18.
      "After the female Witness complained to President Emomali Rahmon, the General Prosecutor's Office informed her in early February in writing that it is investigating the complaint," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "However, she has not been informed on the course or the results of the investigation to this day."
      Asked on 20 March about the investigation of this case and Khakimov's case, officials at the General Prosecutor's Office reception (who did not give their names) referred Forum 18 to its international relations section's Makhmudzoda and Karimzoda (first names were not given). The officials' phones went unanswered the same day. Called back, the reception officials refused to put Forum 18 through to any other officials to discuss the cases. (END)
      http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2463
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      An EU citizen has been placed in solitary confinement, denied visitation with his wife and subjected to a grueling daily regimen while awaiting trial in central Russia, the Jehovah’s Witnesses told The Moscow Times.
      The federal penitentiary service of Kirov region did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
      Andrzej Oniszczuk, 50, was one of several adherents of the religious group detained in the Volga region of Kirov on extremism charges in October 2018. Russia labeled the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization in 2017, leading to raids nationwide and the sentencing of a Danish national last month.
      “Andrzej has been kept in solitary confinement for over five months,” Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in an emailed statement.
      Prison authorities prohibit Oniszczuk from lying down for 15 hours during the day, withhold the Bible and allow showers only once a week, the spokesman said. Oniszczuk’s wife has been denied several requests to visit him, Lopes told The Moscow Times.
      He said Polish diplomats were “finally” allowed to visit and assist the EU citizen despite Oniszczuk’s initial signature “under duress” to refuse visits from embassy staff.
      The organization said a total of 24 Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently held in pretrial detention in Russia, where 150 believers are under investigation on extremism charges.
      Lopes said in February that investigators in Siberia had stripped, suffocated, doused with water and applied stun guns on at least seven believers detained on extremism charges. Russia's Investigative Committee has denied the claims.
      https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/19/eu-citizen-abused-in-russian-jail-jehovahs-witnesses-a64855
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Based on official documentation dated March 1, 2019, the Russian federation has seized the Jehovah’s Witness administrative center campus worth $30.4 million US dollars. The property has been transferred to the Federal State-funded institution Almazov National Medical Research of the Ministry of Healthcare of the Russian Federation. According to a representative from JW, “the Russian government has schemed to effectively steal this property from our U.S. corp, claiming the U.S. corp’s ownership was invalid and that the property was really owned by JWs in Russia.”

      Read more at World Religion News: "Russia Confiscates $30.4 Million Property From Jehovah’s Witnesses" https://www.worldreligionnews.com/?p=59873
       

    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Name: Khasan Abduvaitovich Kogut
      Born: 1983
      Current status: accused
      Detained since: 6 February 2019
      Time spent in prison: two days in the temporary holding facility in Berezovskiy
      Current restrictions: house arrest
      5 March 2019
       
      Case of Kogut in Berezovskiy
      Region: Kemerovo Region
      Locality: Berezovskiy
      Case number: 11907320001000083
      Current stage: preliminary investigation (pre-trial proceedings)
      Suspected of: according to the investigation they participated in religious services, which is interpreted as organising and participating in the activities of an extremist organisation (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
      Article of the Russian Criminal Code: 282.2(2)
      Case initiated: 6 February 2019
      Investigating: Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Kemerovo Region
       
      https://jw-russia.org/en/prisoners/kogut.html
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      The Congolese woman, Bibiche Tshibola Makola, who is a Jehovah’s Witness by faith, was hesitant to have her own blood taken in advance, frozen and re-transfused into her.
      BENGALURU: A 39-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with a cardiac ailment, approached a city hospital, stating that she was ready to undergo any treatment, provided there was no blood transfusion involved in it. The Congolese woman, Bibiche Tshibola Makola, who is a Jehovah’s Witness by faith, was hesitant to have her own blood taken in advance, frozen and re-transfused into her. For Jehovah’s witnesses, transfusion of blood is against their religious belief.
      After a lot of analysis, surgeons at Fortis Hospital on Bannerghatta Road managed to perform a bloodless open-heart surgery and valve repair. According to doctors, the woman suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, where a chamber of the heart is unable to stretch and results in bleeding. The patient came to India for treatment, as many countries and centres refused to carry out the surgery.
      Dr Vivek Jawali, Chief Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon at Fortis Hospitals said, “Makolo had severe restrictive cardiomyopathy, in which there is restrictive filling of the ventricles. With due respect to her religious beliefs, we recommended her to undergo a bloodless surgery.” 
      The doctors then sat together and had a peri-operative plan. “We put the patient on a series of medications, including blood conservatives that helped increase her haemoglobin level to 14.8 g/dL. The surgery was conducted using all the blood conservation techniques practised at our unit for all patients , It was successful and no blood transfusion was required during the entire procedure.”
      Dr Murali Chakravarthy, Department of Anaesthesia, explained that bloodless surgery is a risky situation and can lead to hemorrhagic shock in the patient. Bibiche’s husband Roger Muamba said, “We were very worried about her treatment. We were very happy with the doctors.”
      Jehovah’s Witnesses against blood transfusion
      They believe, according to the Bible, that one must not ingest blood, even through transfusion. Under Quebec’s civil code, an adult who is conscious and of sound mind, has the right to either accept or refuse medical treatment.
      http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2019/mar/06/docs-operate-congolese-woman-respect-religious-sentiments-1947312.html
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      WEST POTSDAM — Rosemary Sweeney Martinez, 74, of Blanchard Road, peacefully passed away early Thursday morning, February 28, 2019 at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.
      Rosie, as she was affectionately known, was born May 21, 1944 in Herkimer, New York, the daughter of the late Elmer and Louella (Burdick) Sweeney and attended schools in Elyria, Ohio. On September 3, 1960, she married James L. Martinez in Syracuse with Harry Bernedetti officiating.
      Rosie was a dedicated homemaker to her husband and children. On July 31, 1954, she was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was active with Potsdam Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and enjoyed shopping on the clearance racks and generously gave her finds to those in need.
      Rosie is survived by her husband of nearly 59 years, Jim; her sons and their wives, Jay and Kim Martinez of Syracuse and Jeffrey and Shanna Martinez of Potsdam; and her grandchildren, Peter James, Rafael, Parker, and Rachelynn.
      In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by an infant daughter, Jody.
      There will be no calling hours. A Memorial Talk will be held at the Potsdam Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall on March 9, 2019 at 4:00 PM.
      Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.
      Arrangements are with the Donaldson-Seymour Funeral Home, Potsdam, where memories and condolences may be shared online at www.donaldsonseymour.com.
      https://www.watertowndailytimes.com/obit/rosemary-sweeney-martinez-20190302

    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      By Editorial Board
      March 2 at 7:09 PM
      RUSSIA’S PURSUIT of believers in the Jehovah’s Witnesses is reviving dark practices of the past. The worst of the Soviet Union’s interrogation methods appear to have been revived recently in the Siberian city of Surgut. Although today’s Russia was founded on principles of freedom of thought and worship, under a constitution that guarantees them, the security services behave as if Joseph Stalin were still around.
      In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be labeled an extremist organization. This is nonsense. The Jehovah’s Witnesses eschew subservience to the state; they refuse military service, do not vote and view God as the only true leader. For their convictions, they are suffering an intense crackdown by Russia’s security services. Raids against them have taken place in 40 regions. There are now 140 believers facing criminal charges, including 26 in pretrial detention and 26 others under house arrest.
      The latest assault on the Jehovah’s Witnesses is particularly shocking. According to the group, early in the morning of Feb. 15, security services carried out mass searches of homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Surgut and the town of Lyantor, both in the region of Khanty-Mansi in Siberia. About 40 people were detained, and a criminal case opened against 19 believers, claiming they were either organizing or supporting an “extremist” organization.
      Seven of those detained were tortured between interrogation sessions in Surgut on the first floor of the Russian Investigative Committee’s offices, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses said. The spokesman said Russian security officers placed a bag over a suspect’s head, wrapped it with tape for suffocation, tied a suspect’s hands behind his back, smashed his fingers and beat him on his neck, feet and in the kidney area. They poured water over the detained men and applied electric shocks. The spokesman said the men were repeatedly questioned about the location of meetings, names of elders and for passwords to their phones. Three are still in detention. The investigative committee in Surgut denied the allegations but then said it would investigate. Amnesty International said its interviews “strongly indicate that torture and other ill-treatment did take place.”
      In his recent State of the Union address, President Trump boasted that he has “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.” But he has been silent about the latest brutality against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Where is Vice President Pence, who has declared that religious freedom is a “top priority of this administration”? Or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? They have failed to uphold the U.S. role as a beacon of hope to those suffering for their religious beliefs.
      Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/russias-persecution-of-jehovahs-witnesses-is-reviving-dark-practices-of-the-past/2019/03/02/f098ff00-36e1-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html?utm_term=.ee8da5b3b379
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      One believer was jailed and four others placed under house arrest February 28, 2019, in Ulyanovsk.  Svetlana Chebukina, a judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ulyanovsk, sent 53-year-old Sergey Mysin to jail after he was accused of “organizing an extremist organization” in connection with his religion. His wife, Natalya, as well as Andrey Tabakov, 43, Khoren Khachikyan, 33, and  Mikhail Zelensky, 58, were placed under house arrest.
      The case against residents of Ulyanovsk who are suspected of being Jehovah's Witnesses was initiated by the local department of Federal Security Service (FSB). Worshippers are accused of “popularization of the ideas of Jehovah's Witnesses, promoting the superiority of these ideas over other religious teachings, finding venues for meetings of participants in this organization, and direct participation in meetings.” On February 27, their apartments were searched.
      According to the court order, Sergey Mysin must be detained in SIZO-1 in the Ulyanovsk Region until April 23, 2019, inclusive.
      Law enforcement officers repeatedly misconstrue normal worship as participation in the activities of an extremist organization. As these abuses mount, they have been noted and denounced by many observers including prominent public figures in Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations like European External Action Service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In actuality, Jehovah's Witnesses are in no way related to extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts to liquidate and ban the organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses “set out no assessment of the religious denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses or limitation or prohibition to individually manifest the aforementioned denominations.”
      https://jw-russia.org/en/news/19030120-650.html
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Even Putin has suggested that the campaign against the religious minority may be unwarranted.
      Christians are the most widely persecuted religious believers around the globe. They are the most numerous people of faith worldwide. They also tend to evangelize, threatening established religions. Moreover, especially in some Muslim nations, local Christians are assumed to be strong supporters of Israel and agents of America and U.S. foreign policy. The result is an increasingly tenuous existence for Christians in many lands.
      However, smaller faiths tend to face more intense hostility. Jews, of course, are the traditional scapegoats for numerous ills. Bahá’is are seen by Muslims as apostates. And Jehovah’s Witnesses now are under sustained attack in Russia.
      JWs, as they are known (and call themselves), might seem an odd addition to that list. While active, their numbers remain relatively low, about 8.5 million worldwide. Their largest national home is America. The next two are Mexico and Brazil, which exist in a region with the least religious persecution. JWs reject any political role. They do not threaten the existing order anywhere.
      Yet Russia has imposed a six-year sentence on a Danish JW, Dennis Christensen, for “organizing the activity of an extremist organization.” In 2016 the government recognized the JW faith as “extremist”; the following year the country’s supreme court ruled the JW church to be an “extremist organization” and banned it. Although Christensen knew that his faith had been outlawed, explained the prosecutor, the JW unsurprisingly continued to proselytize, hold meetings, and distribute literature. He was arrested in May 2017 at a worship service and is now set to serve six years in a penal colony — which will be decidedly less pleasant than the prisons in Christensen’s homeland.
      Unfortunately, he is not the only such victim of Russian persecution. Last year Moscow launched a vigorous nationwide campaign against JWs. Earlier this month the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses published a special report, “Russia: State-Sponsored Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Continues.”
      From September 2017 to January 2019, the church reported, the Putin government has mounted 300 raids, mostly of homes. Twenty-three people have been jailed, 27 have been placed under house arrest, 41 have been ordered to remain in their hometown, and 121 have been placed under investigation. The church has complained that government security agents use “heavy-handed tactics against the Witnesses as though they were dealing with hardened criminals. The authorities point guns in the face of Witnesses, including children and the elderly — and manhandle them.” Property worth $90 million is subject to confiscation. More than 100 properties, including the large administrative center, have already been seized, and some 300 more face confiscation.
      The report goes on to list the other JWs facing charges. They should not be forgotten.
      Three currently are on trial: Sergey Skrynnikov, Yuriy Zalipayev, and Arkadya Akopyan. (The latter is 71 years old.)
      In pretrial detention are Aleksandr Akopov, Vladimir Atryakhin, Dmitriy Barmakin, Konstantin Bazhenov, Sergey Britvin, Aleksey Budenchuk, Sergey Klimov, Vadim Levchuk, Feliks Makhammadiyev, Valeriy Moskalenko, Georgiy Nikulin, Andrzej Oniszczuk, Konstantin Samsonov, Yuriy Savelyev, Andrey Sazonov, Aleksandr Shevchuk, Nataliya Sorokina, Yevgeniy Spirin, Andrey Stupnikov, Shamil Sultanov, Yeveniy Suvorkov, and Mariya Troshina.
      Such a campaign might be appropriate against a terrorist organization. But against a group of religious believers whose behavior is decidedly harmless? The armed assaults demonstrate that the Russian government is determined to halt private worship as well as organizational activity.
      For targeting JWs and other peaceful religious minorities, Russia has been designated a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In its annual report on persecutors worldwide, USCIRF observed that the Putin government has “continued to target ‘nontraditional’ religious minorities, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, with fines, detentions, and criminal charges under the pretext of combating extremism. Most notably, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned outright, as was their translation of the Bible, and their followers persecuted nationwide.”
      Although Russia has gained the distinction of being just about the only majority-Christian country to persecute, it is not the only nation to ban JWs. Twenty-six Muslim nations do so, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and even reasonably liberal Kuwait, as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen. Several are Communist, such as China, North Korea, and Vietnam, or formerly Communist. Eritrea, Lebanon, and Singapore are also on the list.
      Why such hostility? The sect was founded in the U.S. in the 1870s. Its doctrines, including non-trinitarianism and teachings on the role of Jesus Christ, differ significantly from those of traditional Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. JWs rely on their own biblical translation, have a unique eschatology, and are noted for rejecting blood transfusions and refusing to celebrate traditional religious holidays. However, being different isn’t reason for persecution. (I have several JW relatives and friends. Their theology is not for me, but they are uniformly warm, decent people.)
      More significant, perhaps, is the separationist nature of JWs. An intense community rather like the Amish, they expel members through disfellowship. They refuse to accord government the respect that public officials crave or to honor the state — to say the Pledge of Allegiance in America, for example, or to serve in the military anywhere. Such attitudes may have generated the Russian claim that they are guilty of “social hostility.” Presumably they are seen as focusing on those within their community rather than without.
      Moscow denies that it is persecuting JWs for their beliefs. Rather, explained Vyacheslav Lebedev, chief justice of the Russian Supreme Court, “the situation is actually being presented as if these people are being persecuted for their belief and religious activity. Yet the decision, which was made by the Supreme Court amongst others, is unrelated to religion. It is about a violation of the law, which religious organizations have no right to breach.”
      The law bans the faith, so punishing them for exercising their faith is merely punishing a violation of the law. This argument is perfectly Orwellian. Translating Lebedev: We declared your religious faith to be extremist, and you are not allowed to be extremists. So we are arresting you for being extremists. But feel free to practice your faith and have a good day.
      Some critics appear to imagine that they are dealing with something akin to al-Qaeda. For instance, Roman Silantyev of Moscow State Linguistic University complained that “this sect promotes external and inner extremism, inciting hatred to those who think and believe in a different way and bullying their own members.” He went on to claim that “recognizing this sect as extremist gave a possibility to dozens of our citizens to leave this concentration camp.” Silantyev appears not to understand religion: Despite the threat of arrest and prison, JWs continue to meet, because they are operating out of faith rather than compulsion.
      JWs also are known for evangelism, highlighted by their going door to door. This stirs harsh resistance by majority faiths, especially those that are as much political as religious. The Russian Orthodox Church is hostile even to traditional Christian faiths. It would be difficult for its hierarchy to advocate banning Catholic and Protestant churches with roots as deep as its own, but JWs are an easier target.
      President Vladimir Putin admitted as much. When asked why his government targeted JWs, Putin dismissed the charge. But, he admitted, “our society does not consist solely of religious sects. Ninety percent of citizens of the Russian Federation or so consider themselves Orthodox Christians. . . . It is also necessary to take into account the country and the society in which we live.” Translation: JW’s are different and don’t fit in. This attitude also may explain attacks by groups and individuals on JWs, their homes, and meeting halls.
      Putin offered a glimmer of hope in December when he allowed that one should not “label representatives of religious communities as member of destructive, much less terrorist organizations” and acknowledged that he did not “quite understand why they are persecuted,” so “this should be looked into, this must be done.” Although Putin’s references to human rights should be treated with more than a few grains of salt, he appears to respect religion, and these comments are hard to explain other than as an expression of genuine puzzlement over so much effort being expended to eliminate an evidently nonexistent threat.
      Russia’s persecution of JWs pales compared with the punishment, including violence, inflicted on religious minorities elsewhere. Consider the horrors that continue to afflict religious minorities in the Middle East. Conflict zones in Iraq and Syria have shrunk, but Christians, Yazidis, and others continue to be at risk. Both sides of the Sunni–Shia divide, represented by Saudi Arabia and Iran, are inhospitable homes for non-Muslims, as well as for the “wrong” Muslims. American client states, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, are little better.
       
      Nevertheless, the precarious status of JWs worldwide shows the breadth and reach of the problem of religious persecution. In Russia, thousands of people, largely ignored owing to their small numbers and relative isolation, are being punished for their faith, persecuted for no plausible reason. The arbitrariness of the state is matched only by the hardship inflicted on the affected individuals and families.
      The freedom of Jehovah’s Witnesses should be on the religious-liberty agenda. Indeed, given the concern expressed even by Putin, American and European officials should raise the issue when they meet their Russian counterparts. The agenda with Russia is crowded. However, liberty of conscience is always worth defending. Especially when success doesn’t require armed campaigns and regime change.
      https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/jehovahs-witnesses-persecuted-russia-worldwide/
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Durban - The parents of three children who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have suggested to the Durban High Court that erythropoietin can be used to treat their children instead of blood transfusions.
      Erythropoietin is a drug-based treatment which stimulates the production of red blood cells.
      The parents’ submissions were filed against an interim order granted in the high court which permitted doctors to administer blood transfusions for their children should they be required.
      The application for the orders was brought separately before court because each child was admitted to hospital and their parents refused to allow them to have blood transfusions because it went against their religious beliefs.
      First was a five-year-old boy, admitted to hospital in September last year, followed by two girls, aged three and 10, in October and November respectively.
      The Health Department approached the court for the orders and in December the department was granted an interim order to treat one of the children with a blood transfusion.
      Two units of blood were administered to one of the children.
      Currently the 10-year-old girl is a patient at a Pietermaritzburg hospital while the other two are back home with their respective parents.
      The boy’s parents included in their papers a statement from Dr Marcus Aniekan Inyama Asuquo, a specialist haematologist based at the University of Calabar in Nigeria.
      Asuquo, also a Jehovah’s Witness, said he had extensive experience in treating patients with sickle cell anaemia, which was prevalent in Nigeria.
      “I have perused the child’s medical records... There is no evidence that the quality of care given to the child at home will change for worse to warrant blood transfusion,” he said.
      The other two sets of parents asked the court for a two-month adjournment to get expert witnesses.
      It emerged in these papers that the law firm representing the parents of the five-year-old boy, Farnsworth-Hughes, received private backing from a donor that facilitated access to experts with a view to the matter being dealt with as a test.
      “Farnsworth-Hughes attorneys have agreed to instruct the experts that have been employed on their behalf to provide expert advice and opinion evidence for this matter, too,” said the father of the three-year-old girl.
      On November 22 last year a routine blood test revealed that she had sickle cell anaemia, and the hospital sought her parents’ consent to administer a blood transfusion, if necessary, to prevent an acute crisis, including a stroke.
      “We firmly believe that there are well-documented, medically-accepted alternatives to a blood transfusion that are compatible with our religious beliefs and that constitute appropriate treatment in the circumstances,” said the father.
      He explained that when the state doctor, Swaran Singh, made the application he indicated that while he wished to apply for a court order to authorise the administering of a blood transfusion in an emergency, he had used alternative treatment before and had seen it work.
      “As it happened, the hospital did not, in fact, need to administer a blood transfusion. We wish to express our appreciation to the hospital. At the same time, however, this begs the question of whether there was need for the application of the order,” he said.
      The matter goes back to court in May for the parents to file further expert witness affidavits.
       
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Butterbean the French bulldog was the focus of a case of disorderly conduct in Marathon.
      MARATHON, Fla. - Man's best friend also proved to be his best accomplice in the case of a Marathon man and his French bulldog Butterbean.
      Edgar Wallis Jones, 59, was walking his dog on Sombrero Beach Feb. 6 at 11:30 a.m. Jones approached a Jehovah's Witness who had a cart filled with religious literature set up near a pavilion.
      He told the man that he was not allowed on city or state property with religious books. The victim responded that he had a permit and that they were free.
      https://www.nbc-2.com/story/40031377/dog-bites-religious-books-on-south-florida-beach-but-his-owner-gets-put-in-the-dog-house
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      The law allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription was ruled discriminatory by Finland's Parliament.

      Parliament on Wednesday turned over a law that has allowed male members of Jehovah’s Witnesses to skip military or civilian service without facing a prison term. The exemption dating from 1987 has long been considered problematic from a constitutional standpoint.
      Last year, the Helsinki Court of Appeal ruled that the Finnish practice of allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription is discriminatory. The ruling related to a discrimination case brought by a man who was imprisoned in 2016 for refusing conscripted service.
      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 religious faction say their objection is rooted in their pacifist reading of the Bible. With the exception of women, who have never been legally bound to enter conscription, no other groups in Finland have had the same right.
      https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/jehovahs_witnesses_lose_exemption_from_military_service/10666555
    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Reports from the Kuril Islands say that on February 25, 2019, in the town of Kurilsk and in the village of Reydovo (Sakhalin region), FSB officers searched two women, Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova, both Jehovah's Witnesses. The searches were conducted using a warrant issued by Chief of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for the Sakhalin Region Lieutenant General (!) S. Kudryashov, as well as on the basis of a warrant from the judge of the Sakhalin Regional (!) Court, V. Malyovanny.
      Although the operation was formally called the “Inspection of the premises," computers, hard drives, cell phones, flash drives, and other personal items were confiscated from the two women. Criminal charges have not been initiated, and the women are not named as suspects or accused. Reason for the seizures was not explained. As a result, the women were left without means of communication on an isolated island.
      About 1,600 people live in Kurilsk, and about 1,000 people live in Reydovo.
      Law enforcement officials throughout the country continue to misinterpret ordinary religious activities of citizens as “extremist activities." Meanwhile, the Government of Russia has repeatedly insisted that the decisions of the Russian courts to ban the organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses “set out no assessment of the religious denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses or limitation or prohibition to individually manifest the aforementioned denominations.”
      https://jw-russia.org/en/news/19022816-642.html

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    • You are right. I was equating the importance not so much in the number of times it is mentioned, but that it is mentioned at all! I just tried to create a graph, but alas, since I've never done one either in word or excel, I failed miserably. I got the horizontal axis right, but I just can't find how to create the vertical axis and how to change the data (numbers) for the vertical axis so I completely messed up. In any case, the chart would show that since 1950 Watchtowers, the mention of 1914 has a sharp downward trend. During 1950 to 1959, it was mentioned 891 times, and during 2000-2009 it was mentioned 216 times. I don't have data for the years 2010 to 2019. So comparatively there is a big difference, but it still seems like too many mentions, if we are thinking along the lines of it slowly being phased out. In my opinion anyway....  
    • I just woke up startled, from my afternoon nap. I had a really scary nightmare, about the Presidential Impeachment effort now going on. I dreamed I was a Democrat Congressman, and in the dream I thought I was possessed by a demon that controlled me like a puppet. And in fighting that double whammy of being a Democrat Congressman, and a demon, I was trying to fight the evil that possessed me. I thought "Could it be that we are just whiney bullies, completely divorced from reality, trying to railroad and frame a man for crimes that do not even exist, but are merely policy differences between adversaries?" I thought "Could it be that this is just a vendetta, for his unspeakable crime of making us and all out friends look like complete fools, in predicting Hillary would win in a landslide of historic proportions?" I thought "Could it be that our hatred for this man, and his continuous string of accomplishing what he promised to do in his campaign is making us hate him even more, giving us NOTHING to run on in 2020?" I thought " Could it be that this unfair sham of a trial to get him impeached is merely to mortally wound him so he will lose the 2020 Presidential Election, especially since every one of our candidates are either senile, or bat-crap crazy .... or both?" And then I came to the unconsious realization ( ... as I was in fact dreaming ...) that "NAAAAH! ... merely a spot of indigestion."        
    • Nice try! Nothing has changed with word manipulation. Face it, its was you, JTR, TTH, Anna that get people banned. But here we go, I prove you wrong, and now you're using it as an excuse to ban. So, let's not contradict yourself, why people get banned because of spamming. It doesn't have anything to do with being rude or anything else. It has to do with people here not wanting to be proved wrong. I don't wish to give anything. I just don't like manipulating other peoples words to come out with a false claim. I could go even further about Russell's spoken words. Put you're the researcher and ranking expert here. Your supposed to know all that already.
    • You are going to have to do some serious explaining, to justify that statement, as it makes no sense at all. Further, if Thor is the reaction you get when eating a Thanksgiving Day meal, you need to take some Athpirin.
    • Watch out, you just admitted that it was you who got people banned from this forum. And up until now, I'm sure no one had any idea that it was you getting yourself banned all those times. 🙄 You said: "Russell didn't care for the Pyramid scheme" and now it appears you wish to give, as evidence, the fact that Russell wasn't sure if the Pyramid indicated anything for the year 1910. If you read what Russell said, however, he claimed that the Pyramid perfectly supported 1874, 1878, 1881 and 1914. He had several times predicted related events timed to about 1910, but he could not distinctly find them in the Pyramid, as he claimed to have found for other dates. Even in 1911, just months after this 1910 question was answered, Russell said in the March 15, 1911 Watch Tower: "No doubt all of our readers have read STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. III, the last chapter of which describes the Pyramid and sets forth much of the wonderful symbolic teachings shown in its construction. It shows the Pyramid to be in exact harmony with the Bible. Indeed, some, after reading this volume, have referred to the Great Pyramid as 'The Bible in Stone.'" Just because Russell didn't care for how well the scheme supported 1910, doesn't mean he didn't care about how it was in EXACT harmony, he claimed, with 1874, 1878, 1881 and 1914. The 1917 Finished Mystery book bragged about how Russell's chronology was written before he ever saw the Pyramid, and before he even saw any of Edgar's abundant evidences of the accuracy of Bible chronology in the Pyramid. In 1920 Rutherford went to see it, and the Watch Tower in Dec 15 reported that all the other pyramids were built under the direction of Satan except "the Great Pyramid, which was built under the Lord's supervision." In the June 15 1922 Watch Tower Rutherford published that the "present-truth chronology . . . the correspondency of dozens of measurements proves that the same God designated both pyramid and plan. . ." By 1924, it was claimed of course in the May 21, 1924 Golden Age that the Pyramid, the "Scientific Bible" verified the importance of 1874, 1914 and 1925. (This addition of the 1925 date is actually kind of hilarious if you have carefully read Charles Piazzi Smyth and Joseph Seiss, and see how Russell had re-used their material.) Also in 1924, The Way to Paradise, showed the Pyramid with the caption "GOD'S PLAN WRITTEN IN STONE." Here, it was conjectured that Shem probably built it. Russell had conjectured it was Melchizedek. This was repeated in 1925, and as late as 1926, the Watch Tower said that "advanced Bible Students believe that the Great Pyramid at Gizeh is the witness to the Lord in the Land of Egypt mentioned by the Prophet. (Isa. 19:19)" It was not until 1928 that it became a monument built "under the direction of Satan the Devil." It was now Satan's Bible and no longer "Jehovah's Witness" in stone. This was one of the reasons for the controversy when Rutherford insisted that this false information in Volume III, continue to be sold and advertised in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, etc. And still made available for sale by the Society even in the 1940's. Special deluxe editions of the Studies in the Scriptures were still mentioned in the Kingdom Ministry as late as July 1967.
    • I get exactly what you mean, kinda like these?  "Families are free to report abuse to the authorities"  "leave it in Jehova's hands" "click on jw.orb" "the answers are on the website" "That's for Jehova to decide"  "we don't shun former members"  "we only had the library card"        
    • @JW Insider and there's your 15 minutes of fame!
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