Powerful countenance or intimidating

The upside to the “accountable approach” (apart from the fact that it just makes total sense!) is that no government who adopts it would end up inadvertently making itself the benefactor of any abusive religion.

a fan of the religious hierarchy that leads them – not by any stretch.

Readers of this website will be only too familiar with my disgust at Watchtower’s heinous policy of shunning, which serves to needlessly break up families – including mine.

If they were to arrange a protest against the Russian government tomorrow (since they are apolitical, this is unlikely) I would stand at their side and serve them hot coffees. Because even though I no longer believe that an invisible Jesus swooped down and chose Joseph Rutherford and his colleagues to be the inaugural “faithful and discreet slave” in 1919, I a firm believer in human rights.

And make no mistake: the human rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are being trampled.

An especially supportive government might even extend charitable status to the abusive religion, imbuing it with the same kudos and respect as organizations like the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières.

In this way, the abusive religion can project pain and suffering on members and non-members alike while benefiting from the public perception that its work is “charitable.” It can also rake in extra money through incentives such as “Gift Aid,” whereby the government effectively supplements all donations received.

The latest news is that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are making a last ditch attempt to persuade the Kremlin to relent from any moves to shut down their organization.

Vasily Kalin, described by the press as the “leader” of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, has reportedly appealed to the country’s human rights council to this effect.

Putin’s Russia has something of a history when it comes to harassing, intimidating and threatening to ban my former religion: Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Many are the reports of literature confiscated, of meetings disrupted and of incriminating literature planted by uniformed rent-a-thugs with the aim of framing the Witnesses as enemies of the state.

If you happen to crave the product, you get to donate to your church, mosque or synagogue, which must be allowed to flourish or flounder depending on how you and your brethren decide to support it.