By Edmond Y. Azadian
Termites and carpenter ants are insects that feed on wood. They eat 24 hours a day. Drywood termites can build nests and dig tunnels in buildings. These tunnels bring major damage and cause buildings to fall. The damage in the US is estimated at $2 billion annually.
This column will not be dedicated to the study of insects nor the damage they can cause. We will try only to use the analogy of the termites with the alien sects, which have been dispatched to Armenia on a similarly destructive mission.
As if the war, the blockade, the economic hardships and the continuing ravages of the earthquake were not enough, Armenia has to be armed to fight the invasion of alien sects, which have “freedom of worship” as their cover to disrupt the social fabric of the country and to inject demoralization within the armed forces.
After 70 years of atheistic rule, which has undermined the foundations of the Armenian Church, Armenia is ill-equipped to counter the onslaught. There is certainly religious fervor developing — churches are being built or renovated and the ranks of clergy have been swelling — but all those developments can hardly remedy the damage of yesteryear, while new ones are invading the country with specific missions.
No one believes that the Cold War is over and our homeland is caught in between the warring camps. The new Cold-War weapons are more sophisticated; they are effectively used for regime changes, colorful revolutions, (rude) awakenings and causing havoc in target countries.
George Soros’ peaceful “angels” were trained and launched against the Ukraine and Georgia, causing Orange and Rose revolutions, respectively.
Another targeted mission is conducted through the invasion of religious sects, to teach Christianity to the first Christian nation of the world. Those sects are not only armed with lethal literature but also with cash and strategic skills.
The depressed population of the country is an easy target for the leaders of these missionaries.
Armenia is caught between a rock and a hard place; it is party to many European conventions, which dictate freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That is why it has officially registered many religious sects in order to satisfy the European observers. That also provides a cover to those religious sects to commit their destructive activities and cry wolf when caught red-handed.
The issue, of course, is not with established denominations which have demonstrated their allegiance to our Armenian identity. The Armenian Congregational and Catholic churches, other than practicing an alternative rite, have contributed meaningfully to the culture and education of the nation and the diaspora. Even today, Armenia benefits tremendously from their educational and charitable missions, and yet, some people are tempted to rank these denominations with sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses or other fanatical groups.
The alien sects are there to undermine, in the first place, the Armenian Apostolic Church, which already faces many challenges: a shortage of clergy, public apathy to faith and manipulations within the hierarchy of the church itself. These sects are armed with powerful weapons, namely cash and promises of overseas education. They use mind-control tactics, destroying families and the very fabric of society.
But Armenia has committed itself to European standards and is under an obligation to sit back and only observe these groups. God forbid any Jehovah’s Witness is insulted or any congregation is disrupted; the alarms begin ringing and Freedom House or the State Department, armed with a report, rates Armenia among the “least free” countries.
In Georgia, however, no religious organization save for the Georgian Church enjoys legal status. Even the Armenian Church has been struggling for a long time to attain that status there, despite its existence on Georgian soil for centuries.
Azerbaijan is no different; any group, outside the Muslim religion, is subject to persecution and even outright massacre, without any alarm bells going off in the West.
The most dangerous aspect in Armenia is the influence of these sects within the ranks of the armed forces. A country which is still in a state of undeclared war needs every able-bodied man within its borders to defend the homeland. Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, take cover under the pretext of being conscientious objectors. They refuse to bear arms, never mind that some of their leaders have performed religious services with concealed weapons on their bodies.
To overcome this situation and to satisfy European watchdogs, the Armenian Parliament adopted a law in 2004 to offer alternative services to conscientious objectors. They can enroll in services at old age homes, hospitals and orphanages under the Ministry of Social Services. However, that in itself presents a risk, since these groups can prey on a vulnerable audience to convert them to their faith. Even though the law has been adopted to offer the Jehovah’s Witnesses this form of alternate national service, the Ministry of Defense reports that no members of the sect have applied for it. They have all opted instead to be taken to court where desertion is punishable with a four-year prison term. The courts have been lenient, giving instead a two-year sentence, with tolerable detention conditions.
Many people who wish to avoid the draft have joined the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses because after serving two years, they qualify for scholarships to travel overseas and present themselves as candidates for asylum, as members of a persecuted minority.
The lawless state of some army barracks, sadly, contributes to the decision by some young potential soldiers to take any way out rather than be in the army, the very same army that has prevented an Azeri invasion and earned a win in Karabagh.
Unfortunately, the analogy of termites is very apt and it requires constant vigilance to spare Armenia from another assault.