A Russian Ruling on Religion and Why It Matters

There’s a lot of news about Russia these days but there was one news story out of Russia this week that was especially significant

The Supreme Court in Russia handed down a ruling that bans the Jehovah’s Witness religious denomination, ordering their headquarters closed and hundreds of their churches seized and a complete ban on all worship and door to door evangelizing.  If violated, it could mean thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison.

Discrimination against the Jehovah’s Witness church in Russia has gone on for a few years but apparently the Kremlin decided to eliminate it, calling them extremists and Russia’s highest court agreed.

The Russian Justice Ministry attorney saying the Jehovah’s Witness church posed a “threat” to “public order and public security.”

So is this a sign that Russian leaders want to return to a Soviet area when all churches were banned under communist founder Karl Marx’s belief that religion was an opiate of the masses?

Maybe not, but it certainly is not a good sign.  But it is a good reminder that while we may want better relations with Russia, we don’t want to be like Russia.

But there are religious leaders in our country who are worried that we could be headed that way.  Cases involving religious freedom are heading to the U.S. Supreme Court and there are plenty of battles going on over the rights of church followers to express their faith here.

What Russia has done should remind us as Americans that our founders thought freedom of religion was so important, they made it part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Something to think about in the days ahead.

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(Photo credit Getty Images)

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