Faith Fight: Church goes on defensive against Jehovah's Wi tnesses
- Faith Fight: Church goes on defensive against Jehovahs Witnesses
By Marianna Grigoryan
The Armenian Apostolic Church appears to be mobilizing to stop the spread of
Jehovahs Witnesses and other sects in Armenia.
On Tuesday (October 19), the Ararat Patriarchal Diocese hosted a roundtable
discussion to address concerns raised since Jehovahs Witnesses became an
officially registered religious body in Armenia, October 8. (See related
The problem is not only the sects registration that has extremely
embarrassed the youth and us, said Father Zohrab Kostanyan. It is rather
the danger of sectarianism for our country.
(According to information from the Armenian Apostolic Church, there are some
6 million Jehovahs Witnesses worldwide. Many beliefs of Jehovahs Witnesses
are similar to traditional Christian religions. But they part from the
traditional faith on matters such as the Trinity. For related information:
www.watchtower.org; www.religioustolerance.org )
Officially, there are some 20,000 registered Jehovahs Witnesses in Armenia.
Unofficially, the number is put at about 80,000 by the Apostolic Church.
Members of Armenias main Church are concerned about the sect.
The Armenian Apostolic Church has 160 clergymen in Armenia, Father
Kostanyan says. And notwithstanding such a small number of clergymen and
very little funds, our Church, it could be said, works miracles. However in
this context we should be alert and attentive.
The participants are sure that the number of Jehovahs Witnesses in Armenia
was growing underground while the sect has still illegal in Armenia. But
now, as Council of Europe requirements have forced the government to accept
a variety of faiths, traditional religious groups worry that sects will
spread more quickly and thoroughly.
Elza Manukyan, head of the press office of the Ararat Patriarchal Diocese,
says that after the sect was given an official status, different layers of
the society have expressed their discontent.
We were periodically receiving alarm calls about this problem from young
men, so we decided to make an arrangement and assemble everyone to find a
solution, she says.
The roundtable was attended by representatives of more than a dozen
university student councils, various youth organizations and clergymen.
Jehovahs Witnesses do not accept the Church, think that man has no soul
and that the soul dies with the body and they put forward a number of such
arguments that totally refute the Armenian Apostolic Church and our creed,
But the danger, according to Manukyan, from the activities of the Jehovahs
Witnesses is their proselytizing. She says they go from one apartment to
another knocking at doors and alluring passers-by on streets and entice
these persons into their sect by ruining their families and life.
Theater Institute representative Emin Torosyan accused the Jehovahs
Witnesses of espousing a belief that encourages suicide. We should do our
best to protect especially the youth, he said.
Hayk Akarmazian, representative of the Engineering University, says that
their student council has implemented certain programs aiming at directing
young people to be faithful to the traditional Armenian variant of
Karen Avagyan, representing the Medical University, says his council will
picket the Ministry of Justice to protest the registration of Jehovahs
The Armenian Apostolic Church plans to pay special attention to the
provinces, where it believes residents are more vulnerable to proselytizing.
Several phone lines will be on for giving comprehensive answers and
protecting the rights of people, Manukyan said.