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Beautiful preaching in Finland
 

Beautiful preaching in Finland

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    • By Witness
      The good news is not preached in all the world, as we understand it. 
      Paul talked about that being done, even in the first century. 
      He said of their work of preaching to the Jews; 
      "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
      ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
      And their words *to the ends of the world.’* Rom 10:18

      That word "world", really means, "land". Not all lands, are the whole world.

      Paul also said;
      Col.1: "5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, *as it has also in all the world*"

      He was saying that the gospel was already heard, in the whole land.
      Verse 23 continues; "and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was *preached to every creature under heaven*, of which I, Paul, became a minister."
      Paul did not preach to the whole world. Yet he says that the gospel was preached to "every creature under heaven".
      Rev.14: 6 says; "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach **to those who dwell on the earth**—to *every nation, tribe, tongue, and people"*.
      We may think from this, that everyone in the world is being referred to.
      But notice that the great crowd is described in the same way...

      "9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, **of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,** standing before the throne and before the Lamb...) (Rev.7)

      Is the Great Crowd, the whole planet? No.
      Look at how the anointed priests and kings of God are described....

      "9 And they sang a new song, saying:
      “You are worthy to take the scroll,
      And to open its seals;
      For You were slain,
      And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
      **Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation**,
      10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
      And we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev.5)

      They are not the whole world either.
      So they too, are described as "from all nations", but they are not the whole world.
      When Rev.14:6 tells us that the good news will be preached "to all those who dwell on the earth"... the word that was translated "earth", also means, a particular land and is occupied by people.
      In Revelation, the "earth" is not the "sea".
      The "sea" represents those who do not know God (see Isa.57:20). 
      The Land that does know God, and claims to worship him, and that land is translated into the word "Earth" (God's occupied land).
      So again, the good news is not toward the whole world, but toward God's people.
      Even though the gospel opened up to Gentiles of all nations, who were also added to God's people, notice that they also *become Jews, in their spirit*...

      "28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but *he is a Jew who is one inwardly*; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." (Rom.2)
      Do you see that those of all nations, become spiritual Jews?

      Gal.3:28-29 agrees;
      "28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And **if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed**, and heirs according to the promise."
      If you become the seed of Abraham... you become a spiritual Hebrew.

      Rom.4: "16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham"
      So then,
      who did Jesus say we would be preaching to, and trying to reach with the truth?

      He said;
      "22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures *to the end* will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, **you will not have completed preaching to the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."** (Matt.10)
      Did you notice who Jesus said, would be getting preached to?
      "The cities/towns, of Israel".
      What are the towns of Israel? 
      Jesus named them, in Revelation 1:11...
      "...“What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
      The message being sent out to the "towns of Israel", is the opened scroll of Revelation. To understand that message, is good news....

      Rev.1: "3 Happy is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near."
      So from all this, we see that the good news is not preached to the whole planet, as JWs teach. Jesus said that we would not even finish preaching to "the towns of Israel" before he would return. The good news that is trying to reach God's people, is the true and full interpretation of the book of Revelation. That message reveals the truth, about who is wicked, and who is faithful. That is good news to those who have been slandered and thrown out as wicked, because they are the ones to receive the kingdom. Those who raised themselves up, will be humbled and condemned.        Pearl Doxsey, 4 womaninthewilderness
       

    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      Finland topped the list of 156 countries, which were ranked in the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network's 2019 World Happiness Report. The report ranks countries on several well-being variables including income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy and more.
      Two other Nordic countries came in second and third place, Denmark and Norway, respectively.
      On the other hand, South Sudan ranked the least happy on the list.
      https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2019/03/20/finland-worlds-happiest-country-2019/3221328002/
    • By JOHN BUTLER
      The JW Org / GB say that Armageddon is very close. They also say that Jehovah is speeding up the work in these 'last days'.
      Now, it seems I'm not one for knowing truth from lies, so people keep telling me, but this webpage/site seemed interesting to me.
       It seems to show more of a decrease in JW's, but more importantly it seems to show more of a lack of faith, or lack of action / 'works' of JW's. It also shows a large number of people leaving the JW Org. 
      If this video or page has been used before then I apologise for any repeat. But I thought it was of interest. 
      https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/statistics.php
    • By The Librarian
      The Finnish government has ruled that the current law allowing Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid military service, in place for several decades, is discriminatory and contradicts the constitution.
      In the future, Finnish Jehovah's Witnesses* will be obliged to either serve in the nation's military or perform civil service on the same terms as everyone else, the government ruled, submitting a corresponding proposal to parliament, national broadcaster Yle reported.
      According to the 1987 law, Jehovah's Witnesses were not only freed from the military draft, they were freed of any obligation to perform community service as a pacifist alternative, a common option among other young people in Finland. The Finnish government has decided that this preferential treatment is discriminatory and contradicts the constitution. Repealing the law will allow all religious groups to get equal treatment in terms of conscription, the government's press release said.
      The government proposed a three-month transition period. Those applying for suspension within the three-month period before the new law enters into force shall be allowed to skip military service. After the transition period, exemptions will be no longer granted.
      Abolishing the Jehovah's Witnesses' draft exemption has been considered several times before, in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013, but nothing came of the discussions. However, the debate was re-kindled this year, when the Helsinki Supreme Court overruled a prison sentence against a conscientious objector who refused to perform community service. The court found it discriminatory to sentence a conscientious objector, when Jehovah's Witnesses don't need to do any military or community service whatsoever.
      "Today we have a kind of two-storied definition of personal convictions. Jehovah's Witnesses enjoy statutory liberation from military service, while others with pacifist convictions don't," former Defense Minister Stefan Wallin, who has long pushed for the abolition of differential treatment, explained.
      Veikko Leinonen, a Jehovah's Witnesses information officer in Finland, said this isn't a "working solution."
      "It's problematic. The belief the Jehovah's Witnesses follow opposes all forms of war and killing," Leinonen stressed. "Ideally, we should keep the system that exists today. It has worked well and does not violate anyone's rights," he added.
      This move is expected to cover some 130 people annually. According to Teemu Penttilä, the leader of the task force behind the investigation, the number of "total objectors" refusing both military service and community service won't rise significantly. In 2017, 33 conscientious objectors were sentenced in Finland.
      The Finnish Defense Forces operate on the principle of universal male conscription, although women are allowed to volunteer and have been availing themselves of this opportunity increasingly. With a peacetime strength of about 16,000 troops, Finland is capable of mobilizing up to 230,000 troops and service personnel within four weeks, making it the largest force in Scandinavia.
      The total number of Jehovah's Witnesses is estimated at about 20,000 in Finland.
      * Jehovah's Witnesses are banned in Russia
      https://sputniknews.com/europe/201809211068220658-finland-jehovah-witnesses-army/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      More than 200 Jehovah's Witnesses - a religious organization banned in Russia - have applied for asylum in Finland. More than 100 members of this organization have arrived in the European country only so far in 2018. According to Juha Simila, representative of the Finnish migration service, about 10 cases have been analyzed so far and, in most of them, Finland rejected the asylum application. Simila explained to the Finnish newspaper Aamulehti that some denials have been appealed to the court and that in one of the cases the negative decision of the migration service has already been confirmed.
      Read more: https://mundo.sputniknews.com/religion/201808221081407393-testigos-jehova-rusos-piden-asilo-en-finlandia/
    • By The Librarian
      A working group from the Ministry of Defence said that Finland's laws exempting Jehovah's Witnesses from military conscription should be abolished.

      The working group presented their report - which proposes that Finland repeal the exemption law - to Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö on Monday.
      Every year in Finland some 20,000 young men take part in the country's mandatory military conscription programme. Instead of serving in the military, young men have the option of carrying out their national service in civilian settings.
      But young Jehovah's Witnesses have had the right to refuse to serve the country - militarily or even in a civilian capacity - since 1987.
      The topic of whether followers of the Christian denomination should be compelled to serve in Finland's military has been debated for years.
      Teemu Penttilä, leader of the defence ministry working group behind the report, said the time to change the law has arrived.
      "The civil service [system] has changed significantly in recent years. For example, religious communities now offer places of employment [in civil service]. There has been a clear societal change," Penttilä said.
      Long history
      Finland has been dealing with this issue for more than a decade. In 2006 a Defence Ministry working group examined the topic but did not reach any conclusions. A similar effort - this time consulting foreign experts - was carried out in 2009 but had similar results.
      Efforts by defence ministers in 2011 and 2013 also failed to reach a solution. The subject re-emerged this year. In a pivotal ruling, the Helsinki Court of Appeal found that permitting male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription was discriminatory.
      The implementation of the law protecting Jehovah's Witnesses from conscription more than three decades ago came as a response to criticism Finland received from the UN Human Rights Committee. The committee said it viewed conscientious objectors as prisoners of conscience and accused Finland of not fulfilling its international obligations.
      Before the law changed in the late 1980s, every year dozens of Jehovah's Witnesses were jailed for not complying with conscription laws.
      Increase in total objectors possible
      Jehovah's Witness' spokesperson Veikko Leinonen has previously said Finland's laws on mandatory civil service violate the religious group's authority.
      Leinonen warned that abolishing the exemption would result in a return to the situation before the law was instated, and that members of the church would rather choose to serve jail sentences than serve.
      But the Defence Ministry's Penttilä disagreed, saying that the working group consulted several Jehovah's Witnesses representatives who vowed that no one would be excluded from the church for carrying out civil service duties.
      "We're aware there's a risk the number of total objectors may rise. But the working group found that it will not be a significant increase," Penttilä said.
      https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/finnish_jehovahs_witnesses_not_exempt_from_conscription_working_group_finds/10285341
    • By The Librarian
      Via Festus...
      The attached picture is historical. The man on left is Ari Hakkarainen, representative of JW in Finland. The woman in middle is reporter Susanna Päivärinta and the lady at right is Josefina Pakomaa who was abused by family friend - a JW - when she was 11. A vicious apostate today. So we have a representative from Branch and an apostate in same picture. Apparently they even shook hands before program. Josefiina and Ari that is. Nevertheless in past "brothers" came to conclusion that she was the guilty one for her own abuse. She had seduced the poor man. So he had to apologise the man and afterwards serve coffee and cookies to him.
      As a responsible journalist Päivärinta gave JW possibility to give their view of what has happened. Ari's interview starts around 18.45 and is full of surprises. In the very beginning Ari says that term "judicial committee is bit misleading" because the purpose of it is to give spiritual support and help. Well why is it called judicial committee then? 
      At 23.45 min Päivärinta asks a question about Josefinas case. Ari says "we are truly sorry that she has had to go through this ordeal..." that is not an official apology but probably a close as society can go. Further he mentions that he has familiarised himself with the case and contra what Josefiina says there was no judicial committee but two elders who had interviewed her. With other words he admits that society keeps files of cases like this.
      But further Ari acknowledges that she is a victim and victims are never requested to be in judicial committee. Somehow I have difficulties to believe in this. Background for this comment might be that few weeks before this program the national broadcasting company in Finland made a big story where several women claimed that JW had required them to be quite what it comes to cases such as Josefiina's.
      Then Päivärinta grills him further and refers to tv-program and asks about other women and their stories. Ari says that "he would like to say that it is not true" but points out that it might have happened in past with individual cases. Right after that he says that reason why society requests to contact juridical department first is that then juridical department can tell parents that "now your first thing to do is to go directly to authorities". But journalist Päivärinta continues and says "Ari I checked the instructions and it does not say go to authorities it says contact branch" Ari then replies "yes but in our publications there has been instructions to contact authorities during a longer period of time", "in what publications?" asks the journalist. "Watchtower" says Ari.
      Please give me that Watchtower's year and date since haven't seen a single WT magazine with that information!
      Then Päivärinta asks "what about these other women should they report these abuse cases to police" and looks like Ari is forced to say "Absolutely. We don't have any interests in covering up these kinds of activities".
      Päivärinta then asks about two witness policy and Ari replies that he would "separate child abuse cases from this since there might not be a single witness". Is that now against what GB recently said in one of the broadcasting? What it comes to two witness rule and rape cases Ari instructs the victim to contact police and if there is a doom from court JWs can rely to that and take it into consideration if the case is to be taken up in congregation.
      "We don't deal with crimes in congregation we deal with sins, police is there for crime investigations" well good if that is the case now but what comes to past I might have a different view. Further Ari denies that there would have ever been a culture of silencing victims but on the contrary a culture of "encouraging the victims to approach authorities" he also ducks Päivarinta's question of giving possible documents to police by referring to confidential information of individuals but he admits that there is a chance that some documents must be given to authorities someday in future.
      Päivärinta further asks if society is going to apologise possible victims "That is a good idea" says Ari but even thought he is more bombarded with the question the best he manages to say is "if there is a convenient opportunity to apologise well why not and if we have ever done something wrong of course we will apologise.." guess there is still no reason to expect JWs of Finland to officially apologise anything. 
      Ari is further asked about shunning and he mentions that if some one just stops attending meetings and going to field service - aka inactive - nothing changes. But with that "little percentage that is either disfellowshipped or has disassociated them selves" according to Ari there are no strict guidelines but it depends of a conscience of an individual meaning some people do shun strictly and some less strictly. "There is now one way" he says. Ari please. That is not true.
      Päivärinta grills him further and quotes WT and refers to Elders Manual and Ari is forced to say "well if you look up this from bible you will see that these guidelines are from bible". Shuure. He then softens the case by claiming that 50% will return. Ari, the figure might be smaller nowadays.
      Päivärinta then suggest that maybe they come back because they miss their family so much and says "Ari do you understand that it is a tough punishment, psychological violence if community rejects you?" Ari compares the situation with someone quitting a job if he/she has become unhappy with it and afterwards talks bad things about it. "Relations do easily become infected in situations like this" is Ari's comment. Ari. Job and family are not comparable. Ari then tells us that he does not shun anybody. He has in previous interviews said that he knows around 20 000 witnesses so somehow I don't buy this.
      Last few minutes Ari and Päivärinta do talk about the wonderful hope of Jehovah's Witnesses. "What happens to me and the other people when badness is wiped away?" asks Päivärinta. "God will determine that. We of course hope that everyone will live in paradise" replies Ari. Wrong answer. You will all die would have been more truthful.
      It is note worthy that Ari Hakkarainen was in this program. Usually society - in Finland - has used Veikko Leinonen but maybe his face has become "burnt" in media. Or maybe it is just too tough nowadays to be in lime light in connection with society since media is starting to ask tough questions. Or maybe Veikko was on vacation.
      Even if you don't understand Finnish you can see that Ari's body language is disturbing. Just take a look at at 25.00 minute when he is asked if society covers up abuse cases.
      Here is the link:
      http://www.iltalehti.fi/iltv-paivarinta/201804110185348_iv.shtml
       
    • By Bible Speaks
      Russian "Jehovah's Witnesses" seek refuge in Finland
      In 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized the Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organization and banned their activities in Russia. Many members of the organization left Russia after this and are trying to obtain asylum abroad. In Finland, "Witnesses" is now one of the largest asylum seekers in the Russian Federation
      https://www.currenttime.tv/a/29208577.html


    • 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.
       
       
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      A rejected asylum seeker who targetted women in a stabbing attack said he was at “war against women” and committed the attack to “strengthen the Islamic kingdom”.
      Moroccan Abderrahman Bouanane, 23, told the district court on Wednesday that he had justified his attack because of Western nations’ military action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Helsingin Sanomat reports.
      The court heard that the defendant was inspired to attack the eight women and two men with a knife in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku on August 18th, 2017, by a 23-year-old Uzbek-based Turkish man he met at the mosque.
      The Turk, who is currently the subject of an international search, allegedly told Bouanane that Finland was guilty of causing the instability in Syria and sent 100 soldiers to fight there. Finland has sent 100 trainers to Iraq since 2015.
      “It gave me the position that I have the right to kill Finns,” he told the court in the ongoing trial.
      The court also heard that during police interrogation, Bouanane said his purpose for the attack was “to strengthen the Islamic kingdom… I wanted the Islamic kingdom is strong.”
      The Moroccan is on trial on charges of murder and attempted murder “with terrorist intent” in the first terror-related attack in the country’s history.
      The day prior, on Tuesday, Bouanane admitted that he had specifically targetted women.
      The accused, who arrived in Finland in 2016, had told police that originally his intention was to attack a soldier. But he changed his plans, believing that it was equally justified to attack civilian women.
      “My target was to hit women, not men … I was in war against women,” he said.
      Eight of the ten victims were women, and two died of their wounds. The two men were not targetted directly by the defendant, but he stabbed them as they tried to save the women, including Hassan Zubier who arrived in court in a wheelchair when the trial began last week.
      Bouanane said that his initial goal was to kill the two women Jehovah’s Witnesses who were proselytising in the town centre. One of them was the first victim of the stabbing attack.
      The defendant said she was selected due to her behaviour and Christian activity, saying that her smiling irritated him.
      “They annoyed me sexually. The way they smiled at me provoked some kind of emotions inside me that are embarrassing,” he said.
      “I honestly felt like I was controlled remotely… The idea was to keep attacking as long as a head falls,” the failed asylum seeker said. He only stopped stabbing random people after police shot him in the leg.
      Ylen Turku Prison told the Finnish Broadcasting Company that Bouanane had rioted in his cell Monday and Tuesday night, breaking his television and other furniture.
      During the trial he has repeatedly laughed, denounced his victims, and refused to obey the orders of the judge, including on Wednesday afternoon refusing to sit down in his chair, claiming that “Every new thing I use brings me to hell.”
      Psychiatrist Gustav Schulman assessed that his “psychological violence against the victims and the entire Finnish people” during the trial act as a continuation of his attack.
      http://www.breitbart.com/london/2018/04/20/finland-terror-trial-attacker-war-women-stengthen-islamic-kingdom/
       

    • By The Librarian
      One of them was a 23 year old sister at her witnessing cart, she was stabbed in the throat and died very soon thereafter :
       
      Read more:
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Last April, a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations throughout the country, arguing the religious group to be extremist.
      On Friday, Murmansk regional authorities’ newspaper Murmanski Vestnik reports about raids made by FSB and the National Guard of Russia (Rosgvardia) in Polyarny on the Kola Peninsula.
      Two local residents were detained under suspicions of being members of the administrative centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, organizing teaching and meetings where reading of banned religious literature took place. Searches were carried out at six addresses in Polyarny.    
      The town is home to a naval yard and several of the diesel-powered submarines and other warships of the Northern Fleet have Polyarny as homeport.
      The extremist law banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia provides for a maximum sentences of 6 to 10 years in jail.
      Meanwhile, a wave of practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses are fleeing Russia. More than a thousand people are now seeking asylum in several European countries, including Finland, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported earlier this winter.
      «It all started last summer, and that’s when the first Witnesses sought asylum in Finland, spokesperson Veikko Leininen with the organization’s Finnish branch told the newspaper.
      «Many dozens at least are still to come,» he said.
      Press adviser Therese Bergwitz-Larsen with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can’t go into details about particular reasons for asylum seekers coming to Norway.
      «Unfortunately, we can’t say anything in general on the background for reasons to apply for asylum, since the number [from Russia] is so small.»
      Statistics from UDI show that 15 persons came from Russia the first three months this year. In 2017, 58 Russian asylum seekers came to Norway.
      In Russia, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses are estimated to about 175,000. That be, before the organization was declared extremist. Viewed with skepticism for denying military service, voting and refusal to take blood, the members are seen as both a threat to themselves, their children and public safety.
      Also during Soviet times, the Witnesses were persecuted.   
      Human Right Watch recently called on Russian authorities to drop charges against Danish citizen Dennis Christensen adherent for practicing his faith. Christensen has been in pretrial custody for 11 months in the town of Orel. Human Right Watch argues that Russia is a member of Council of Europe and  a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefor is obligated to protect the rights to freedom of religion and association.
      https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/life-and-public/2018/04/fsb-starts-detaining-jehovahs-whiteness-kola-dozens-flee-finland
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Men are granted waivers from conscription if they can show they are active members of the denomination. All other men must carry out either military or non-military service.
      The Finnish Defence Ministry has set up a panel to reconsider the exemption from conscription granted to members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The non-mainstream Christian denomination urges its members not to participate in military service, even in unarmed roles.
      The ministry said on Friday that it has established a working group to consider revising the legislation that waives Jehovah’s Witnesses’ obligation to perform military service.
      All Finnish men aged 18 to 60 must carry out either military or non-military service. Under current law, a man can be granted a deferment of service for three years at a time as long as he can certify that he is an active member of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation.
      "Problematic" from equality standpoint
      The Defence Ministry says that previous studies of the issue have found the current practice to be problematic, particularly from the standpoint of equality.
      The legislation on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ conscription was originally passed as a special act before the present constitution came into force.
      The committee is to complete its work by late June.
      https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/defence_ministry_reconsiders_jehovahs_witnesses_military_exemption/10148627
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      A Finnish court has ruled that the exemption from military service currently enjoyed by Jehovah's Witnesses is discriminatory.
       
      News 23.2.2018 14:34 | updated 24.2.2018 10:53
      Jehovah's Witness exemption from conscription deemed prejudicial in "pivotal" ruling
      A Finnish court has ruled that the exemption from military service currently enjoyed by Jehovah's Witnesses is discriminatory.
      A new court ruled on Friday that the Finnish practice of allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription is discriminatory.
      The Helsinki Court of Appeal on Friday voted 4-3 for naming the policy discriminatory against other conscientious objectors. The ruling came in a discrimination case brought by a man who was imprisoned in 2016 for refusing conscripted service the year before.
      The decision is the first court verdict that directly denounces the decades-old exception (instated in 1987), which says that men belonging to the Jehovah's Witness denomination will uniquely not be sent to prison if they refuse both military and civilian service.
      The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Defense Ministry have long held that the law contradicts the constitution's principle of equality as well as its prohibition on discrimination.
      Basis in faith
      The majority of the court held that Finland has taken significant measures to improve equality since the exemption became law more than 30 years ago, such as signing the European Convention on Human Rights.
      Under current legislation Jehovah's Witnesses may postpone their entry into service for three years at a time (starting at age 18), until their obligation officially ceases at age 29.
      Proponents of the Christian faction cite their pacifist reading of the Bible as the basis of their objection, for which they receive no punishment. No other groups in Finland have the same right, except women, who have never been legally bound to enter conscripted service.
      "Pivotal" step follows international condemnation
      The Union of Conscientious Objectors (Finnish acronym AKL) tweeted about the news on Friday, calling the court's decision "pivotal" in the process towards banning conscription altogether.
      Robin Harms, a senior advisor to the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, has acted as legal counsel to the imprisoned man who originally brought the case to the Eastern Uusimaa District Court in 2015.
      "Favouring Jehovah's Witnesses in this way is an embarrassment for Finland," Harms says.
      More than that, human rights organisations including Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have long chastised the Finnish government for its ongoing practice of forced conscription. Only male (non-Witness) Finns are obliged to choose between military service, a longer civilian service term and a six-month prison (or remote monitoring) sentence.
      AKL reports that an average of some 40 objectors have annually refused both military and civilian service since the beginning of the 21st century. Some 100 Jehovah's Witnesses plead the law of exception to avoid conscription each year. While 72 percent of young men enter military service (minimum 6 months) when called, some 2,000 men opt for a civilian service period (minimum 347 days).
      All men who are jailed for objecting to conscription are considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience.
      Justice Minister: Consider exemption anew
      Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen said after the verdict that the current exemptions from military service should be evaluated in the light of the verdict.
      "If some group or other has exemptions based on their beliefs, then in this day and age they should always be evaluated to make sure different groups are treated equally," said Häkkänen.
      Häkkänen added that participation in national defence is mandated in the Finnish constitution, and that exceptions to that are based on religious convictions.
      "How are those interests weighed against each other in different situations, especially in a changing world, then that's a big constitutional law question as well," said Häkkänen. "This is an interesting issue that must now be resolved fairly."
      EDIT: This story was edited on 23 February to add comments from the Justice Minister.
      https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/jehovahs_witness_exemption_from_conscription_deemed_prejudicial_in_pivotal_ruling/10089261?origin=rss
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — To those watching on TV, religion may seem absent from the Winter Olympic Games. Away from the spotlight, though, an estimated 3,000 missionaries are on hand.
      About 2,000 missionaries — South Korean and international — are working in the city of Gangneung, where the indoor Olympic events are being held. The remaining 1,000 are working in Pyeongchang, site of ski, snowboard and other events.
      There is no reliable count of missionaries at Olympics past. But the number of local missionaries here far exceeds previous games, said Marty Youngblood, leader of the Georgia Baptist Convention mission team, who is at his fifth Olympics this year.
      South Korea, which is 29% Christian, and among whom Protestants predominate, enjoys high levels of religious tolerance. Buddha’s birthday and Christmas are both national holidays.
      The Winter Games have attracted teams of Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons also abound, each group sharing the gospel in its own way. The United Christian Churches of Korea, a coalition of 144 local congregations, is helping foreign mission groups to arrange housing and ministry sites and learn about Korean culture.
      Local churches are taking advantage of an Olympics at their doorstep. Many have set up welcome stations in parking lots, where they give away snacks, coffee and Christian literature.
      In addition to its coffee and snack giveaway, Somang Presbyterian Church — located in the shadow of the Olympic venues — is showcasing a live orchestra and church members dressed in traditional costume. It’s just one of the 26 local churches in Gangneung with Olympic outreach ministries.
      Then there’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Helping Hands Center, a two-story building on prime real estate across the street from the train station in Gangneung. Working there is Coloradan Chandler Petry, chosen by her church with a small group of other Mormon missionaries already in Korea to serve at the Olympics.
      The center’s multilingual staff will give athletes, members of the media and any Olympic spectator a warm drink and a place to recharge their phones. But its main goal, according to the church’s website, “is for as many as possible to see the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the eyes of the members and missionaries.”
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses have sent about 1,000 missionaries to the Winter Games, far more than to previous Olympics, said Steven Park, public information officer for the Jehovah’s Witness Korea branch. He says that the work they do in Gangneung and Pyeongchang is no different from the ministry they do elsewhere and that some missionaries will remain in the area after the Olympics.
      One of the most popular tools of ministry for these Olympic missionaries is lapel pin trading.
      Myungsu No, a campus minister in Seoul, says his students from the Baptist Student Union use pin trading — a pastime at this and previous Olympics — to spread the gospel. While athletes and spectators trade pins that typically depict a certain country, sport or team, mission groups give away a “More Than Gold” lapel pin, borrowing the slogan a consortium of missionary groups adopted in the 1990s to brand their Olympic outreach.
      Psalm 119:127 declares that the commands of God are loved “more than gold.” The reference to gold at the Olympics, where athletes’ highest reward for their performance is a gold medal, is borrowed by the missionaries to suggest there is a higher reward to be sought through faith.
      Veteran missionaries trained in the art of Olympic pin trading are passing down the skill to the new generation. The missionaries make an initial pin trade using a nonreligious pin they have collected — say, that of the USA ski jump team. This often prompts a conversation and a chance for the missionary to offer the trader the “More Than Gold” pin as a gift.
      Some missionaries who work elsewhere in Asia have decided to take a break to focus on the Olympics.
      American Kathryn Daniel, based in China, says she felt called to evangelize at the Winter Games because of her personal connection with Korea. She spent 12 years of her life in the country with her missionary parents.
      Nine months ago, she heard her father was getting a group of other retired missionaries to go to the Olympics, and she thought, “I think this is God telling me to go, ‘Kathy, just go.’” Daniel is staying in Korea for a week, working with the group from the Georgia Baptist Convention.
      The first weekend of the Olympics, mission groups passed out Christian literature in the Olympic park unimpeded.
      Then Olympic park officials posted signs informing visitors that passing out religious material in the park was banned, and any materials found would be confiscated.
      Youngblood, of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said he is not concerned. His missionaries are also using the pin trading and only give pamphlets to those who want to learn more.
      And A-lim Jang, a recent university graduate and student leader with Baptist Student Union missionaries, said pin trading has allowed her and her colleagues to share the gospel “with many people that God puts in our path.”
      Madeline C. Mulkey is a senior at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is doing a special online documentary and a series of articles on “God at the Game.” Her project is funded in part by the Magellan Scholarship Program.
      This article originally appeared on Religion News Service. Its content is created separately from USA TODAY.
      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/02/22/guess-whos-also-competing-olympics-thousands-missionaries/363582002/
    • By Queen Esther
      REFUGEES,  WITNESSES  IN  FINLAND
      Russian Jehovah's Witnesses who have come to Finland in search of asylum. Also a Finnish presidential candidate mentioned that the highest percentage of asylum seekers in a particular Finnish refugee center at this time are the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses. The immigration office states that 1,000 Russian Witnesses have sought asylum last year and even earlier.
      Apparently, there was systematic harassment of Witnesses in Russia and a law was passed that the Witnesses can lose custody of their children, if it is proved that the children are indoctrinated by their parents.
                         ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
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