Fædrelandsvennen – Editor’s Statement – 9th June 2018
- Maktmisbruk i Guds navn – please note that the original is behind a paywall
“Abuse of power in the name of God
“Anyone who is concerned about receiving Islamic Sharia courts in our country should take the same fight against Jehovah’s Witnesses practice!
“They are nothing short of shocking, the stories we published Friday. They all focused on a religious congregation that addresses individuals. Judges and condemns them. In serious cases of violence and moral affairs. And in matters that concern individuals’ privacy.
“Everything outside of Norwegian justice. In the manual for the judicial committees which we have received as the first Norwegian newspaper, it is encouraged not to use the legal court system.
“That is unacceptable.
“This is a fine line between freedom of religion and the basic rules of society. Both parts are extremely important. Religious freedom must and must apply to all. Especially for minorities. Yes, that’s what it’s for. Those who do not believe in the same or who believe or practice their faith in a different way than the majority.
“In many countries, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been an oppressed minority. They have been persecuted for their faith and for the consequences they draw from it. In particular, their demands for non-military service provoked many regimes, both now and before. During World War II, several thousand witnesses were sent to concentration camps. While the Jews had to carry the yellow David star, Jehovah’s Witnesses had to wear a small triangle.
“The witnesses’ struggle for recognition as a religious minority has helped promote this part of human rights in several countries. Paradoxically, they use their freedom to oppress single members in their own churches. This violation is also an offense of one of our fundamental foundations: the justice system.
“Our legal system must be independent. It should treat everyone alike. And that should apply to everyone.
“In Jehovah’s Witnesses, judicial committees can not judge anyone in punishment in a legal sense. But they have assumed violent power over the lives of other people. Those who sit in these committees, without legal qualifications, abandon themselves to be entitled to have a faction on who of the right and who to be condemned. Thus, they inflict on a small group of people who lose a massive social penalty. Which may include public punishment from the congregation’s chair.
“In a democracy like ours, there can not be a parallel legal system
“Another threat is social exclusion and isolation. For us outside such a sect or church it may seem strange that people who have experienced such abuse and lawlessness want to return to the church. But it is often something far more than that. The church is the social framework. Where you have grown up. There are close family members and friends. It’s also where you’ve learned that everyone outside is wrong. A woman we mentioned on Friday’s case used the following description on a life outside the church: ‘It is perceived as a death sentence.’
“That’s the way it’s meant. The members must be scared, not to leave the church, not to question the way it works – and not to challenge the verdict.
“And as almost always in religions, established for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago, who will make up the right and wrong: the rules are established by the men. The women are losers.
“The right to believe and practice this is a human right. But human rights also protect the individual from injustice and abuse. Among other things, from religious leaders.
“In a democracy like ours, there can not be a parallel legal system.”
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