Staunton, August 19 – Christianity Today recently published an article entitled “Six Countries in Which It is Dangerous to Own a Bible.” Now, a Rosbalt commentator says in an article entitled “The Bible has Lost to the Vampires,” Russia has become the seventh by an action “without precedent in the civilized world.”
The six countries the American publication named are North Korea, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Libya, Morocco, and the Maldives. In some of these, like North Korea and Uzbekistan, even possessing a Bible is against the law, and in Morocco, no one is allowed to have a Bible in Arabic translation.
Russia has become the seventh in this list of dishonour, Anton Chivchalov says, as a result of a decision by a Vyborg court which held up a ban on the importation of a Bible as translated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It held that possessing such a Bible was an act of extremism and punishable as such (rosbalt.ru/posts/2017/08/18/1639575.html).
“Nothing like this exists in any country of the civilized world,” the Rosbalt commentator continues. The Russian government wasn’t satisfied with declaring an entire religious denomination, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, extremist and banning it. Instead, Moscow took the next step and banned its Bible that has been disseminated in millions of copies around the world.
The court hearings, Chivchalov says, occurred in “an atmosphere of a surrealistic theater of the absurd.” The court of a civil state got involved with assessing religious dogmas such as the Trinity and God’s names. “It turned out that the judge knew the answers to these questions,” however strange that may seem.
The experts who testified for the prosecution presented information reflecting not a deep knowledge of religion but consisting of what can only be described as “plagiarism from Wikipedia.” The judge rejected all objections by the defense. More than that, he ignored the laws of the Russian Federation governing evidence.
What the experts who testified for the government are worth is reflected by their earlier actions. They concluded in an earlier case that vampires were in no way extremist because interest in such things is “a normal phenomenon in particular subcultures. But for the Bible even subcultures are no justification.”
In Russia today, the Rosbalt commentator says, “there is a place for the vampire subculture, but there cannot be a place for the subculture of readers of several translations of the Bible.” Consequently, one is forced to conclude that for Russians, “the Bible has lost to the vampires.”
(For additional details on the Vyborg court decision, see in particular sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2017/08/d37666/, sova-center.ru/religion/publications/2017/08/d37671/ and sobkorr.ru/news/5996E08B23959.html).