Source: The Conversation
The Russian Supreme Court recently sanctioned Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group. This ruling criminalizes Jehovah’s Witnesses who express their beliefs and allows the Russian government to liquidate any property held by the organization.
There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses in 240 countries worldwide. Russia, with a population of more than 150 million, has a total of 117,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses – one Jehovah’s Witness per 850 people.
Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why would the Russian, or any, government consider them to be a threat?
The story of Jehovah’s Witnesses begins in the late 19th century near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a group of students studying the Bible. The group was led by Charles Taze Russell, a religious seeker from a Presbyterian background. These students understood “Jehovah,” a version of the Hebrew “Yaweh,” to be the name of God the Father himself.