Jehovah’s Witnesses as Extremists: The Russian State, Religious Pluralism, and Human Rights
journal contributionposted on 12.04.2019, 10:22 by Zoe Knox
This article examines Russian Supreme Court’s 2017 decision to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremists.” The decision is likely to bring Russia’s anti-extremism law before the Council of Europe via the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The article considers why this particular religious group became a test case by examining the unique beliefs and practices of the Witnesses. This article also highlights the prominent position of the Orthodox Church in shaping attitudes, popular and political, toward religious pluralism in Putin’s Russia. In the Putin era, an increasingly illiberal rhetoric about totalitarian cults and traditional values connected nontraditional faiths to national security threats, a link made clear in the Putin regime’s promotion of spiritual security. Overall, the article argues that the 2017 ban signals the rejection of European human rights norms by Russian governmental authorities, lawmakers, and religious elites.