Feb 14, 2022

CultNEWS101 Articles: 2/14/2022 (Jehovah's Witnesses, Russia, Religious Freedom, Legal, Falun Gong, China, Plymouth Brethren, Alpha Men Assemble, Sovereign Citizens, UK)

Jehovah's Witnesses, Russia, Religious Freedom, Legal, Falun Gong, China, Plymouth Brethren, Alpha Men Assemble, Sovereign Citizens, UK

Eurasia Review: Kremlin Behind Moscow Patriarchate's Crackdown On Dissent Churchmen And Movement - OpEd
"The Kremlin is behind the Moscow Patriarchate's crackdown on dissidents among the clergy and among Orthodox social movements, Aleksey Makarkin says; but the Russian church in some cases has gone ever further than the state because it fears that the state will begin to use its organs against the church and undermine popular support for the faith.

The Russian church was enthusiastic about the state's intervention against Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups, the leader of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies says; and it welcomes the state's help against Orthodox clergy and activists who step out of line but also fears where that could lead (ng.ru/ng_religii/2021-12-14/9_521_exile.html).

What this has meant, Makarkin says, is that now "church structures try to be careful even on those issues where earlier they displayed great activity." They are uncertain just where the red lines for church behavior are as far as the Kremlin is concerned; and the most subservient are simply avoiding doing anything that might cause a problem for them.

"The government starts from the proposition that the church must control itself and not allow declarations which contradict the policies of the powers," he continues. "If these things arise, then the church itself is required to address them. And when that doesn't happen, then the state is forced to intervene and advance demands on the church leadership."

One aspect of the situation is becoming especially fraught, Makarkin says. That concerns the role of elders to whom "many people from the government and force structures go," a behavior the powers had accepted but are now seeing as a threat given the increasing outspokenness of these prominent features of the Orthodox landscape."
"The Christian Post's [four-part] series on China's human rights abuses under the spotlight of the Olympic Games details the accounts of Falun Gong practitioners who fled the country following the government's crackdown on the popular spiritual practice."
"Dozens of companies with connections to a tiny fundamentalist Christian sect were awarded as much as £2.2 billion in government coronavirus contracts, The Times can reveal.

Firms with links to the insular Plymouth Brethren have been handed contracts for PPE, masks, visors, aprons, tests and ventilators without other companies being given the chance to bid for the contracts.

It can be revealed that PPE worth millions of pounds supplied by firms linked to the group were cleared for use by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) despite being declared substandard by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

The evangelical group, likened to a "cult" by some former members, has connections with the Conservative Party, and MPs have previously lobbied for it to be given charitable status.

The first Brethren assembly in England was established in Plymouth in 1831 by a group who had become disillusioned with the Anglican church and felt it had become too involved with the secular state. The majority of members are born into the church, though on rare occasions those without a family connection have joined by meeting a local group. Members are encouraged to set up their own businesses.

This week it emerged that the DHSC had written off PPE worth £8.7 billion last year, admitting to a "significant loss of value to the taxpayer".

Unispace Global, an office interior design company that suddenly became a PPE provider at the start of the pandemic, was awarded seven PPE contracts worth almost £680 million by the DHSC in 2020.

The group that owns the company belongs to two Australian brothers, Charles and Gareth Hales, whose father is Bruce Hales, the worldwide leader of the Plymouth Brethren sect."
"Some groups have even held training camps for their members. Images have emerged of black-clad men being coached in "direct action" techniques.
No basis in law

Followers of "sovereign citizen" and "freeman on the land" conspiracy theories wrongly believe they possess the legal power to bring leading politicians, civil servants and scientists before so-called "common law courts".

They allege "crimes" over Covid restrictions and vaccinations, even though such claims have no basis in law.

But that has not deterred a newly-formed group calling itself Alpha Men Assemble, which combines anti-vaccine and sovereign citizen beliefs.

It has been holding training sessions in several UK locations where volunteers prepare for "direct action", such as breaking through police lines, marching formations and sparring.

Alpha Men Assemble members are trained in various confrontation techniques

Launched on the Telegram chat app in mid-December, the group has amassed 8,000 members, and posts footage of training sessions online.

According to the Daily Mail, at a recent training session in Staffordshire activists were urged to "hit vaccine centres, schools, head teachers, colleges, councillors and directors of public health in every area".

The group has described itself as "free thinking men and women living as sovereign beings under common law". They say that they reject violence and are in favour of "body autonomy".

Its training events, it says, are "non-combative and are in no way to be linked to any militia or extremism".

We asked the Alpha Men Assemble group for comment, but have not yet received a response."

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