By Dominique Donio
Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Why are they banned in Russia? Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of a religious organization that teach the Bible, its message about God’s kingdom, and hope for the future, to any who are interested. This activity is based on the original Christian teachings set by Jesus from the first Century. In the Bible book of Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus speaks and says, “Go, therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations … teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” This is why we go from door to door to seek out those who are interested, unlike many other religions today.
On April 20, 2017, the Russian government officially banned Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremists.” However, how extremist are they really? Jehovah’s Witnesses remain politically neutral and avoid expressing political views as not to arouse any conflict. While Russian court officials were in the process of making their decision, many Jehovah’s Witnesses from around the world wrote letters to those in the Russian government, respectfully asking them to reconsider. In no way was there a riot, outbreaks, or threats made to the government, for we simply asked peacefully for Russia to let them exercise their free will.
Why is the ban important? It is important because it impacts the more than 1,700 Jehovah’s Witnesses currently in Russia. This ban means that families are not allowed to gather together or with their fellow members and friends in order to study the Bible or have informational discussions. This is especially difficult if they have been doing this their whole life, or if it’s a way for the family to connect, since it usually affects their way of life.
I know many of my morals come from what I have been taught, and it’s shaped me to be the person I am today, and helped me to make good decisions. In effect, this is a pretty large case, because it can mean that other religions could also be shut down, not only in Russia but in other places in the world as well. If such a large world power, like Russia, could shut down a peaceful organization, what could it mean for others of different faiths or no faith at all? Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their peaceful and nonviolent nature, it might seem easier to restrict them and then spread restrictions to other groups as well. What’s happening in Russia could impact other countries, including our own.