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Dissent on the MarginsHow Soviet Jehovah's Witnesses Defied Communism and Lived to Preach About It$
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Emily B. Baran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199945535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945535.001.0001

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The Post-Soviet Harvest

The Post-Soviet Harvest

(p.197) 7 The Post-Soviet Harvest
Dissent on the Margins

Emily B. Baran

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the post-Soviet interactions between Witnesses and society in Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova, the three Soviet successor states with the largest and longest-standing Witness communities. It examines how the international Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society transformed an underground network into a legally recognized religious organization in these states. Witness membership skyrocketed in the first two decades after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet the broader public remained indifferent or hostile to Witnesses’ door-to-door proselytism of their beliefs. In particular, the Russian Orthodox Church spearheaded an “anticult movement” to target minority religious faiths such as the Witnesses as predatory, foreign, and dangerous to democracy. The movement, promoted in the regional media, fueled public mistrust of Witnesses. Ukraine and Moldova both adopted much of the anticult rhetoric from Russia but saw the movement as a matter of secondary importance.

Keywords:   Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, proselytism, Russian Orthodox Church, anticult movement

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