I've learned something about the media while watching the Supreme Court in the Russian Federation. I've learned the importance of knowing your media sources and recognizing bias in individual journalists. When reading articles on several major media outlets I noticed huge misrepresentations and out right falsehoods reported about Jehovah's Witnesses. I've seen half truths and 'bated wording' that give a false impression. Seeing such articles has made me more aware of journalist bias in other areas of the news.
I'm writing today about the decision the Russian Federation has made against my spiritual family. Although the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation banned Jehovah's Witnesses and criminalize our activities, I have never been more proud of carrying his name or worshiping with his people.
I'm pleased to have been part of the letter writing campaign in response to the court case, and I look forward to supporting my brothers and sisters in Russia any way I can.
A few short days ago, all buildings, bank accounts and properties were seized by the Federation. Anyone worshiping as one of Jehovah's Witnesses can receive anywhere from 5 to 20 years per 'illegal' act of worship.
I've watched the video reaction from the world headquarters of JW's in New York and am solemn concerning the decision, but encouraged by the faith my spiritual brothers and sisters have shown in Russia and across the globe.
I've also watched video commentary by various Russian officials and Russian academics who see the ban as absurd. Interestingly enough, they see that religious persecution of one group leads to the persecution of other religious groups.
The next step in this case is to appeal, but we are also going before the European Court to have the case heard. In each situation, a wonderful witness is being made about Christ Jesus. Honest hearted people will clearly see that we are not extremist and that we will remain your peaceable neighbors.
Of interest - An individual that testified in court about the proposed ban has seen history repeat itself. His family was exiled to Siberia when he was a child because Russia banned the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. A few years back this individual received a certificate naming him a victim of religious persecution due monetary compensations. Ironically, he and others with this status are now criminalized for the same worship that named them victims of religious persecution. History repeats itself in the Russian Federation.
Supreme Court Rules to Criminalize the Activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
On April 20, 2017, International response by non-Jehovah's Witnesses is noteworthy.
I am grateful that we were able to celebrate the Memorial of Christ Jesus' death on the 11th of April, 2017 in peace. I am also grateful that we were able to hear the talk given across the globe the following Sunday, without harassment. We will always be peaceable, always. We will always stand before governments to give a witness and to insure the fundamental right to worship freely.
Important - I am not a media representative or spokesperson for the World Wide Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. What I have expressed here is in response to what I'm watching unfold across the globe. Though I talk about these issues from time to time, I do not run a religious blog or JW blog. Any information you'd like or answers to questions can be addressed by visiting the official website at www.JW.org.
If I'm not going to start an internet discussion about religion, why post about it? Because this issue directly affects my life, and most issues that affect me are processed on my blog. Anything you want to know about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Bible should be taken from the horses mouth. See the official website www.JW.org.
Faith M. Austin
April 23, 2017-8:47pm EST