Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It a Mistake to Consider Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘Extremists’?

Incitement to hatred of people is alien to Jehovah's Witnesses because they follow the philanthropic precepts of Jesus Christ. Attributing extremism to them is a mistake for several reasons.

1. The more than 100-year history of this religion proves the non-extremist nature of their views. Jehovah's Witnesses never take up arms. In Germany, at the cost of freedom and even their lives, they refused to serve in the Wehrmacht units. In the USSR, while subjected to severe oppression, the Witnesses did not hate their persecutors. Today, Jehovah's Witnesses are a multinational brotherhood that has proven its ability to overcome prejudices that divide people.

2. Nowhere in the world, except Russia, are Jehovah's Witnesses accused of extremism. Communities of this religion operate freely in more than 200 countries around the world. All of them are united by one Bible-based creed. Millions of Jehovah's Witnesses are concerned about unfounded accusations against their Russian co-religionists.

3. Russian human rights experts condemn the application of the law on extremism to Jehovah's Witnesses. The Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation in his report for 2013 noted: "The problem of imperfection of the so-called "anti-extremist" legislation remains urgent. The vague formulation of the basic concept of "extremism" in itself becomes even more blurred when the definition of "religious" is added to it. What exactly is considered "religious extremism" cannot yet be decided even by religious scholars. On the other hand, this "rubber" concept is easily operated by other law enforcement and judicial bodies on the ground, which put their own subjective attitude to a particular confession into it.

4. The international community condemns the application of the law on extremism to Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The Assembly calls on the Russian authorities to... refrain from applying the law on extremist activity to all religious communities, especially Jehovah's Witnesses" (Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe No. 1896 [2012], para. 25.31). The UN Human Rights Committee has repeatedly expressed concern that in Russia the law on extremism is "directed, in particular, against Jehovah's Witnesses" (CCPR/C/SR.3157, Concluding Observations on the Seventh Periodic Report of the Russian Federation).

Jehovah's Witnesses themselves see an explanation for what is happening in the prophetic words of Jesus Christ, who was executed on false charges of sedition. He warned his disciples, "If I have been persecuted, you will also be persecuted" (John 15:20).