Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jehovah’s Witnesses under fire

25. jul. 2013 13.26 English
At the recent summer conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Silkeborg and Herlufmagle, speakers likened lapsed members to a deadly virus, snakes and contaminated soil that should not be mixed with clean soil.

The rhetoric was so strong that the movement may have breached article 266b of the Danish Criminal Code, under which “a
ny person who publicly or with the intention of dissemination to a wide circle of people makes a statement or imparts other information threatening, insulting or degrading a group of persons on account of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin, belief or sexual orientation shall be liable to a fine, simple detention or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years”.

Overstepping the markThis is the conclusion of lawyer Niels-Erik Hansen, head of the Documentation and Advisory Centre on Racial Discrimination (DRC), after having read excerpts from the sermons delivered at the summer conventions, reports Danish newspaperKristeligt Dagblad.

“The speeches clearly overstep the mark. When someone compares another group to deadly diseases and snakes, we’ve moved into the core area of the anti-discrimination article,” said Hansen.

Harsh attitude towards defectors

“The speeches are the same type of rhetoric that we heard against the Jews in Europe in the 1930s. This is precisely what the anti-discrimination article was introduced to restrain,” said Hansen.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for having a harsh attitude towards those who choose to leave the movement. Among other things, many defectors find that existing members refuse to have any contact with them.

Nevertheless, Poul Dal, chairman of the Support Group for Former Jehovah’s Witnesses, believes the language used at the summer conventions represents a stepping up in rhetoric.

Could be reported

“The rhetoric has become more intense in recent years, when they have begun to use terms such as ‘mental illness’ and ‘Satan’s workers’ in relation to former members who now oppose the religious community,” said Dal.

The support group is now considering reporting Jehovah’s Witnesses to the police for violating the anti-discrimination article.

Carit Stypinsky, a spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, denies that the summer conventions’ sermons and denunciations of former members are in breach of Danish laws.