Thursday, April 6, 2017

Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

Last month the Russian Justice Ministry suspended the operations of Jehovah's Witnesses, claiming that their activities violate Russian laws meant to combat extremism.  See the NY Times article here.  There are almost 200,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, so many people are affected by the action.  Various groups have criticized the move, including the USCIRF here (you will learn more about the USCIRF later this quarter).

Just yesterday, the Russian Supreme Court began hearings on the action by the Justice Ministry.  They will have to determine whether or not the suspension is constitutional.  Stay tuned to see the outcome.

These events in Russia illustrate the importance of the "rules of the game" discussed in our first lecture.  By changing the rules of the game for Jehovah's Witnesses, the success of that religious group is dramatically affected.  If they must cease operations, current adherents will lose religious support, and fewer people may be exposed--and possibly convert--to the group.  Moreover, if the suspension stands, then more religious groups could be targeted for similar sanctions.

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