The foes duke it out with the acronyms of a Bond movie, CENSUR vs FECRIS, whilst the ordinary people sleep on, blissfully unaware of threats to their well-being. At stake is the free expression of ideas, be they be from religious or philosophical movement, historically the birthplace of new ideas, some of which turn out to be keepers, some of which turn out to be duds. There’s no telling what is what, so if they are not violent, keep them, CENSUR says. If they go against mainstream thinking, they’re “cult-like,” FECRIS says. Ban them.
CESNUR stands for Center for the Study of New Religions. It is roughly the opposite of FECRIS, which stands for the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects. The difference between the ideology of FECRIS and the ideology of CENSUR is that the first stands for intolerance and the second for tolerance. CENSUR would allow all law-abiding faiths to exist. FECRIS would not. CENSUR draws the line at defaming faiths with false statements. FECRIS does not. 53% of the statements its makes regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses are factually incorrect, a German court recently ruled. It is not enough for FECRIS to say they don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have to lie about them, too.
The United States [bipartisan] Commission on International Religious Freedom denounces the “anti-cult” ideology, of which FECRIS is a foremost part, for its “pretension to standing as the final arbiter of religious truth.” FECRIS is a humanist organization. It will tolerate religion only so long as religion embraces humanist goals. If religion is eviscerated to the point where it becomes a majority-rule affair, and thus as subject to contemporary trends as anyone else, FECRIS has no problem with it. If the will of the people is showcased as the will of God, FECRIS has no problem with it.
You can be sure that FECRIS would have a problem with Paul’s recognition that Christ gave “some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones...until we all attain to the oneness in the faith ... in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error.” Let them be “tossed about,” it would say. To take a stand against that is mind control.
How does FECRIS know what model is agreeable with God? It doesn’t, and it doesn’t care. Humanist goals are what it champions. It is plain that Christianity never would have taken root in the first century had FECRIS been around then. The manifest human authority revealed in New Testament writing would have been denounced by them as outside interference. “It is necessary to shut the mouths of these men,” Paul wrote of one situation back then. (Titus 1:1) You think FECRIS would have stood still for that?
It just may be that human authority is inherent in how God leads his worshippers. Any reading of scripture, such as the above Ephesians passage, would certainly suggest so, yet that is a suggestion that FECRIS will not let stand. So it is that they presume to stand “as the final arbiter of religious truth.”
It matters not whether one agrees with the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the above court matter. That was not the issue taken up by the German Court (or CENSUR). The court looked the presented material over and judged that Jehovah’s Witnesses were being defamed. It was not their mission to make any judgment upon the faith itself. Doubtless it reasoned that, in the event that Jehovah’s Witnesses are unorthodox, even weird, one can easily solve the problem by not being one of them, and if one already is, one can quit and go elsewhere. It’s a big world.
The author of the report cited above is Massimo Introvigne, the lead scholar at CENSUR and founder of that group. He himself obviously doesn’t agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses in all things, maybe in none of them. Otherwise, he would be one. He is not. He is Roman Catholic. What he is is a voice calling for tolerance between religions. Tomorrow he will write a post about the Scientologists, the next day about the Falun Gong, the next day about some group you never heard of.
If I recall correctly, early Christianity was controversial, so much so that 40 years after Jesus death, Nero was throwing individual Christians to the lions. Introvigne would just prefer not to see the scenario repeat. Anything wrong with that?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a one true faith religion. There are many one true faith religions. As such, they are known to criticize other religions, as all one true faith religions criticize other religions. It is a valid read of the Scriptures that any perusal will suggest just might be true—that there is one true faith. But in order to pose any danger to other faiths (or lifestyles), they would have to call for violence against them. They would try to get politicians to pass laws against them, a “soft violence.” Instead, the “weapons” of Jehovah’s Witnesses are words only. Tell them ‘no’ and they go away. Joel Engardio has stated how Witnesses provide a fine example, perhaps our last hope, of how groups with strongly polarized views can yet co-exist peacefully in today’s world.
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