Is Jehovah's Witness really an extremist organisation?

The Russian Justice Ministry has declared Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organisation. Is this really the case?

This ruling was passed after six days of hearings by the Supreme Court after the Russian Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit in order to shut down the group’s national headquarters near St Petersburg.

Reacting to this judgement, the press office for the Russian branch said, “Extremism is deeply alien to the Bible-based beliefs and morality of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Persecution of the faithful for peaceful anti-extremism legislation is built on frank fraud, incompetent individual ‘experts’ and, as a result, a miscarriage of justice.”

Although the judgement has already been passed, I can not help but wonder if the religious organisation really deserves to be labelled as such.

In the court, a lawyer for the justice ministry, Svetlana Borisova, said that the group “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security”.

Is this really the case?

According to the Urban Dictionary, an extremist is "someone who supports an idea, cause or set of values so adamantly and without compromise that said person will use their ideas to justify anything they do.'

By this definition, aren't we all some form of extremists? As Christians, we are told to hold dearly to our beliefs regardless of what others say. In fact, the Bible encourages being persecuted for our faith.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Muslims and other religious fractions also do the some. Does this mean we all deserve to be labelled as extremists?

The dictionary cited Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden as examples of extremists. Both killed for their cause.

Do Jehovah's Witnesses deserve to be in the same category as these two? I don't think so.

No doubt that this group have some beliefs that some might consider strange, like not celebrating birthdays, or not accepting blood transfusions, but I really don't think these things make the entire organisation a threat to the government.

According to Bloomberg, Jehovah's Witnesses members don't believe in government authority, don't vote, serve in the military, salute flags or hail leaders.

At best, these make them anti-secular, not extremists.

Rather than looking at people or organisations as peculiar, I think we should all practise being tolerant towards one another.

This is one of the greatest orders in the Bible.

Matthew 22:37-39 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let us all learn to be tolerant even when we do not necessarily understand one another.

Jehovah Witnesses became a recognized religion in Russia, in 1991. According to the group’s international website, they were granted renewal in 1999.

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