Romanians ban 'heretic' Witnesses
Friday 12 July 1996
The convention organisers had expected to attract 40,000 people to the three-day event, the majority from Romania itself, where membership of the Jehovah's Witnesses has enormously expanded since 1989.
But after repeated objections from Patriarch Teoctist, head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the government withdrew permission to use Bucharest's main soccer stadium for the convention.
Rather than cancel the event, the Jehovah's Witnesses have switched the venue to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where thousands of believers are due to converge today.
But bitterness remains. "It is very sad to see that religious intolerance still exists in Europe in the 20th century," said Gary Wollin, an American who is active on behalf of the sect in Budapest. "This is just piling more oppression on the already oppressed people of Romania."
Although dozens of religious sects and denominations have been allowed to function in Romania since 1989, the government remains uneasy about proselytising.
According to Mr Wollin, the attitude of the Romanian authorities harks back to the Communist era, when Jehovah's Witnesses were effectively barred from seeking converts in eastern Europe, and joining the sect could earn offenders a prison sentence.
Patriarch Teoctist, who was also head of the Orthodox church under Romania's former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, did not mince his words in denouncing the planned convention. The "heretic teachings professed by this sect ... contribute in an irresponsible manner to increasing the hatred and violence that haunt the world today", he said.
Although 85 per cent of Romania's 23 million-strong population profess to being Orthodox Christians, growing numbers are being drawn to more unconventional sects.
The Jehovah's Witnesses claim at least 20,000 members in the country, all of whom fervently believe that the end of the world is nigh - and that when Judgement Day does come, only they will be saved.
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...