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Jehovah’s Witnesses accept the legitimate authority of government in many matters.
For example, they pay taxes, following Jesus’ admonition in Mark “to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” But they do not vote in elections, serve in the military or salute the flag.
Their biblical interpretations and missionary work certainly have critics.
But it is the political neutrality of the group that has attracted the most suspicion.
For most Christians, God is a union of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is distinct from God – not united as one person with him.
They also believed that after Armageddon, Jesus would rule the world from heaven with 144,000 “faithful Christians,” as specified in the Book of Revelation.
However, they make an easy target for governments looking for internal enemies, as they refuse to bow down to government symbols.
Many nationalists call them “enemies of the state.” As a result, they have often suffered persecution throughout history in many parts of the world. In a Supreme Court ruling in 1940, school districts were allowed to expel Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to salute the American flag.
As a last ditch effort, Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses intend to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
But, as of now, Jehovah’s Witness gatherings and preaching are criminal offenses in Russia.