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Faith Fight: Church goes on defensive against Jehovah's Wi tnesses

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  • Fr. John-Brian
    Faith Fight: Church goes on defensive against Jehovah’s Witnesses By Marianna Grigoryan ArmeniaNow Reporter The Armenian Apostolic Church appears to be
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2004
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      Faith Fight: Church goes on defensive against Jehovah’s Witnesses

      By Marianna Grigoryan
      ArmeniaNow Reporter

      The Armenian Apostolic Church appears to be mobilizing to stop the spread of
      Jehovah’s Witnesses and other “sects” in Armenia.

      On Tuesday (October 19), the Ararat Patriarchal Diocese hosted a roundtable
      discussion to address concerns raised since Jehovah’s Witnesses became an
      officially registered religious body in Armenia, October 8. (See related
      story).

      “The problem is not only the sect’s 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 Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Many beliefs of Jehovah’s 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 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia.
      Unofficially, the number is put at about 80,000 by the Apostolic Church.

      Members of Armenia’s 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 Jehovah’s 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.

      Jehovah’s 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,”
      Manukyan says.

      But the danger, according to Manukyan, from the activities of the Jehovah’s
      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 Jehovah’s
      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
      Christianity.

      Karen Avagyan, representing the Medical University, says his council will
      picket the Ministry of Justice to protest the registration of Jehovah’s
      Witnesses.

      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.
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