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We were all too busy worrying about fascism in France or war in Korea. But it was a very important blow against the principle of freedom of belief.

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A more important tenet of their faith is their refusal of military service. This stance led them to be persecuted in almost all the countries that fought the second world war. They were imprisoned in Britain and the US, and persecuted viciously under Hitler: This is an impressive record of non-violent stubbornness. It makes them about the most determinedly harmless fundamentalists in the world today.

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In Russia, though, they have been treated almost as if they were violent fundamentalists since at least Their meeting places, known as Kingdom Halls, have been raided; members have been imprisoned for refusing military service, and the ministry of justice has sued to have them declared an extremist organisation.

The Witnesses blame this on the resurgent power and authority of the Orthodox church which has flourished under Vladimir Putin, and at the same time revived its historical suspicion and, where possible, persecution of Protestant and Catholic churches.

The Witnesses, as the Protestant sect that deviates most from the values of the society around it, have been harassed even more than the Baptists. According to Forum 18an organisation that monitors religious freedom in Russia and the former "Ex testimoni di geova yahoo dating" bloc, the only other group to have been pursued in this way is a Sunni sect that may not even exist.

The spread and survival of the Witnesses over the last century shows two central characteristics of religious belief: If anything, the scorn and hostility of outsiders tends to strengthen the fervour and cohesion of the persecuted group.

There are now more than 8 million Witnesses internationally, and more thanin Russia. Their persecution around the world is a horrible testament to the relish we take in the bullying of small, alien and defenceless groups. In Russia it is yet another testimony to the ruthless and brutal dishonesty of the Putin regime. All authoritarian regimes loathe minority religions, perhaps because religious groupings are one of the most powerful ways of imagining Ex testimoni di geova yahoo dating world that might be different.

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Tolerance is a late and perhaps unnatural development in human history but that only increases its value. Freedom of religion means freedom to be wrong or it means nothing at all. Topics Jehovah's Witnesses Opinion. Order by newest oldest recommendations.

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