On September 3, 2020, CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) organized a seminar entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Opponents: Russia, the West, and Beyond. It was held in in Kaunas and Vilnius, Lithuania. Due to COVID-19, most of the contributors were not presenting on location.
The conference was divided up into four sessions with Questions and Answers held after each session. The Seminar was introduced by Massimo Introvigne and concluded by Bernadette Rigal Cellard.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Opoonents: Russia, the West, and Beyond. A seminar organized by CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania, & New Religions Research and Information Center, Vilnius, Lithuania. Introduced by Massimo INTROVIGNE.
Session 1: A Global Phenomenon
Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Atlas of Religious or Belief Minority Rights: First Data. Presented by Silvio FERRARI, University of Milan.
Why Opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Presented by George CHRYSSIDES, University of Birmingham.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Opponents in Lithuania. Presented by Milda ALIŠAUSKIENĖ, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas.
Session 2: Russia, a “Special” Case?
Opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: Cultural Roots. Presented by Rosita ŠORYTĖ, European Federation of Freedom of Belief, Vilnius.
Opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: Legal Measures. Presented by Willy FAUTRÉ, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels.
Opposition to Jehovah’s Witensses in Russia: The Anti-Cult Context. Presented by Sergey IVANENKO, Scientific Council of the Guild of Experts in Religion and Law, Moscow.
Session 3: Beyond Russia
The USCIRF Report on the Anti-Cult Ideology, and the Open Letter on the Situation in Russia. Presented by Alessandro AMICARELLI, attorney, London, president of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB).
The Rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and Beyond: The Role of the European Court of Human Rights. Presented by James T. RICHARDSON, University of Nevada, Reno.
Opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S. Presented by J. Gordon MELTON, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
Session 4: Affiliation, Disaffiliation, Sexual Abuse
Affiliation to Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Research Note. Presented by Raffaella DI MARZIO, LIREC (Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience), Rome, Italy.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Relations with Ex-Members, Sexual Abuse: What Are the Issues? Presented by Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy)
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Sexual Abuse: The Dutch and Belgian Reports. Presented by Holly FOLK, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington.
Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD from the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, France concludes the seminar. She makes the point that the religion is “normal” because it has cases of sexual abuse. It would seem that when a religious group has a lot of cases of child sexual abuse, that makes them normal. On this basis, one would be forgiven for thinking that other cults must start fiddling with children to be considered “normal”.
Finally, Massimo INTROVIGNE requests academics to endorse their statement to Russia entitled, “The Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: An International Human Rights Concern“. He makes it clear that it is not a petition so he doesn’t want thousands signing it, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses because it is a statement by academics and NGO leaders.