For Immediate Release
February 13, 2001
Bible attacked in Moscow trial
MOSCOW, RUSSIA—“Bible teachings follow a similar pattern to fairy stories,” V. P. Belyanin, Ph.D., professor of the faculty of psycholinguistics of MGLU, declared in the Golovinsky Court today. Dr. Belyanin is the second court-appointed “expert” to testify in a trial that seeks to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow.
Belyanin launched a personal attack on the Bible, claiming that many of its teachings did not make sense to him. He criticized Jehovah’s Witnesses for “overburdening” their literature with quotes from the Bible and accused them of distorting the original meaning, for example, by replacing the word “God” with the name Jehovah. When shown various references to Jehovah in a Bible translated by Russian Orthodox priest Makarios, he reluctantly acknowledged the presence of the divine name.
Galina Krylova, lawyer for the defense, pressed him for evidence to support his conclusion that the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses had a “hypnotic” and “zombifying” effect on the reader, a claim he made in his opening statement to the court. A computer psycholinguistic program known as BAAL was used to analyze the literature. According to Belyanin, this revealed a linguistic occurrence of 22 percent of “light” compared to 22 percent of “sad” or “dark” word lexicons, with the remaining 56 percent being neutral. Judge Yelena Prokhorycheva challenged his conclusion that the analysis showed “a saturation of ‘sad’ or ‘dark’ moods when it is clear that the overall statistics are neutral,” she said.
“Is Mr. Belyanin proposing that Russia return to its Soviet mentality of censoring religious writing?” asked human rights lawyer, John Burns.
When defense lawyer Artur Leontyev pressed Mr. Belyanin to define the difference between the language used in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ publications, which the experts labeled as being intolerant and divisive, with quoted references to publications produced by Russia’s traditional faiths, he admitted that there was a linguistic similarity between the two. “This illustrates that what is on trial in Moscow is Russia’s willingness to live with alternatives to Orthodox Christianity,” said Leontyev.
Contact: J. R. Brown (718) 560-5600