Yerevan, 17 November: The participants in a sitting of the supreme spiritual council in the Holy See of Echmiadzin discussed the activities of various sects in Armenia and the recent registration of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious sect in Armenia.
After acquainting itself with the results of research into the problem and an active discussion, the supreme spiritual council decided to issue a statement, the Holy See’s press service told Arminfo news agency today. According to the statement, the supreme spiritual council recognizes the right to freedom of conscience and belief as one of the bases of Christian values. At the same time it is unacceptable for religious organizations to be registered in Armenia whose activity is aimed at “trapping people’s souls”, which infringes freedom of conscience.
The Armenian Apostolic Church expresses concern that the republic’s state bodies are registering these religious organizations without sufficient study of their activity. The activity of totalitarian religious organizations, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, contradicts the national values and aspirations of the Armenian people and the essence of Christianity and seriously contravenes international law, the Armenian Constitution and those principles of the Armenian law on freedom of conscience and the activity of religious organizations that are aimed at protecting national security, public morality and citizens’ health, the document says.
The document also notes that the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect has been registered as Christian, while it has absolutely no connection with Christianity and is not recognized as a Christian denomination by the traditional churches, the World Council of Churches, the European Council of Churches, the International Bible Society or other organizations.
It is remarkable that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, using the Christian label, are active only in a Christian environment and in Christian countries, but not Muslim ones.
The statement said that the religious situation in Armenia is getting out of control also because organizations are being registered as public organizations, but are carrying out religious activity. Such a situation cannot promote the recovery of public consciousness, the preservation of spiritual values in the country, all the more so when the Motherland and the Armenian people are facing serious economic problems and are in the process of reforms.
The Armenian Apostolic Church is consistent in fulfilling its mission, acknowledges its duty towards its flock and is determined to protect it from any encroachment. The supreme council expects the appropriate state bodies to be as consistent in examining their approaches to these issues and their resolution. It is also necessary to review the law on freedom of conscience and the activity of religious organizations so that it fully enables the regulation of the activity of religious organizations in Armenia and serves to protect the right to freedom of conscience in spite of anarchy and a lack of control. For it is written “use not your freedom as a pretext for evil” (the Gospel of Peter [as published, the quotation is from Peter's first epistle]).
The supreme council calls on the Armenian people to see the threats to their everyday life and their right to freedom of conscience and to be faithful to their historic legacy – the Holy Apostolic faith, the supreme religious council’s statement says.