Guest / Limited Access /

"It's open season" on minority faiths in Russia
Mr. Putin, tear down this law! For the first time, a religious group has been completely banned under Russia's restrictive 1997 religion law. Since that group is the Jehovah's Witnesses, many American evangelicals may shrug. But they shouldn't.

First, Jehovah's Witnesses have long been a bellwether for religious freedom, in this country and around the world. Without the Jehovah's Witness court victories here in the U.S., for example, religious organizations might have to seek licenses to solicit aid or even to worship. Evangelists might be forced to pay fees to hand out Bibles and tracts—and might be taxed even for giving them away. And school children would be forced to pledge allegiance to whatever the government wished.

"The Jehovah's Witnesses," Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone once famously said, "ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."

In this country, the Jehovah's Witnesses have been tremendously successful in expanding religious liberties. But in Russia, it's a different story. And as the state cracks down on the JWs, it looks like groups like the Baptists are next.

"Once you get a decision like this, it's open season," John Burns, the Canadian lawyer who represented the group at a Moscow appellate court, told The New York Times. He told the Associated Press, "Religious freedom has just turned back to where it was in Soviet times."

Forum 18, a Norway-based news agency monitoring religious freedom with a particular eye on the former Soviet Union, says Burns is right in saying the government won't stop with this group.

"It is notable that only unproven allegations and not proven court cases are ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Weblog
Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueWhen Modern Medicine Becomes a False God
Subscriber Access Only
When Modern Medicine Becomes a False God
A doctor reflects on what healthcare can—and can’t—accomplish.
RecommendedThe First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS
The First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS
Hungary has drawn criticism for favoring Christian over Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq.
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
Why Moscow's Ban on Jehovah's Witnesses Is Bad News for All ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

June 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.