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Story about Converting Daughter of Jehovah Witness into Orthodoxy

13.06.2012

Salome Achba, www.religiebi.info

Oni district resident Jehovah witness told Human Rights Center that last week her daughter, 13, was converted into orthodoxy without her content. The mother said, teacher of Biology Ina Sherazadishvili took part in the conversion of her daughter without having agreed it with the mother.

The Jehovah witness said initially the teacher psychologically oppressed her daughter and discussed religious issues during the biology lesson. As a result of this oppression and influence of orthodox palls, the girls decided to convert into orthodox religion. However, the mother said her daughter was not fully aware what she was doing and now she regrets her decision; moreover, she attempted suicide several times after conversion.

Administration of Oni public school and Ina Sherazadishvili, who teaches biology at school, categorically deny the accusation of the mother and state that girl was baptized without their participation. Ina Sherazadishvili said she speaks only about biology at lessons and never discusses religious issues there; she also said that she had never psychologically oppressed the girl because of her religion.

Religiebi.info publishes interviews with the mother, teacher of biology and school director about the fact together with the comments of a lawyer and children psychologist.

The mother claims the girls was baptized with the initiative of school director and biology teacher

“My daughter was oppressed by biology teacher for a long time. Initially, Ina Sherazadishvili was teaching history of religions before biology and during the lessons she permanently insulted our religion and compelled my daughter to cross herself. The child used to come home very depressed. Afterwards, I decided to meet the teacher and talk with her. We are internally displaced family from Perevi village and my daughter eye-witnessed the war of August, 2008; her father died soon after the war. So, she has endured much tragedy.

I asked the teacher not to oppress my daughter and not to traumatize her again. Our conversation somehow resolved the problem.

As for converting my daughter into Orthodox religion, it happened on May 31, 2012. You cannot even imagine what we endured. It was real shock for us. I did not know anything about this conversion. Although Ina Sherazadishvili was not teaching history of religions to my daughter’s class, she often discussed religious issues during biology lesson and preached about orthodox religion as the only true religion.

My daughter told me that one day Ina Sherazadishvili was speaking about death and dead people; she told my daughter – your father is very sorry for your non-orthodox faith in the heaven. These words seriously influenced the girl; she is missing her father…

After this conversation, she told her classmate she wanted to covert to Orthodox religion. Then Ina Sherazadishvili also talked with her. My daughter was collecting money; the teacher told her when you convert into Orthodox faith, you might face many problems and will have to move to Perevi to live. So, the teacher instructed 13-year-old adult to leave home after baptizing.

After their conversation Ina Sherazadishvili went to the church, talked with the clergyman and they scheduled the baptize day. School director was also informed about it. Next day, the director dismissed my daughter from lessons and supported the baptize ritual to carry out. Although Ina Sherazadishvili denies she also attended the baptize ritual in the church. She and school administration were informed about this fact. Unfortunately, nobody considered it was necessary to inform me about their decision.

My daughter did not tell me anything on the first day of baptizing. However, she was bothering all night long; I felt there was something wrong. In the morning I asked her why she was nervous and told me everything. She felt very bad. My daughter is in an adolscence age and she was not ready to make such a serious decision without my content. After all these, the daughter had serious psychological trauma. After baptizing she told me, “I hate myself for what I have done.” She twice attempted to commit suicide.

My husband was orthodox and he respected my faith; even he did not neglect my position and did not convert our daughter into orthodox religion. We decided that our daughter should choose religion when she grows up. Despite my religion, I did not compel her to convert into Jehovah witness either. She is adult and does not clearly know what she wants. I thought she would personally decide to become Jehovah witness or orthodox Christian. However, they took and baptized my under-age child without my permission. Why did the school administration neglect my opinion when they made similar decision and baptized my daughter?!”

Ina Sherazadishvili: “Child of Jehovah Witness Is a Pot Which Echoes What Parent Tells Her”

Ina Sherazadishvili: “A week ago the girl approached me together with her classmates and told me she was going to convert into orthodox religion and asked my assistance. I warned her about possible follow-up of her decision. I told her examples of St. Barbare and other martyrs and suggested to inform her mother about her decision. She promised to tell everything to her mother. Afterwards, she asked me to arrange her meeting with Bishop. They met on May 31.”

-Did they meet during the lessons?

-No, in the morning before lessons.

-You mean before 9:00 am? at 7, at 8?

-Yes, I attended their meeting and the clergyman suggested the girl to inform her parent about her decision. She promised to do so. On the same day, after the lessons, without my participation the girl decided to go to the church with her palls and baptized. I did not know anything about it. I am a choir-singer in the church where the girl was baptized. Having arrived at the afternoon service, I found her already baptized. I did not attend the ritual.

-When you arranged her meeting with the clergyman, you already knew about her decision. Then, why did not you warn her parent about the girls’ decision as you were her teacher?

-She promised me and the clergyman to inform mother and why should I have warned her? I thought it was necessary to interfere in their affair. In this particular case I have nothing to do with the parent – she is Jehovah witness, I am orthodox.

-The girl and her parent allege you were speaking about religious issues during biology lesson… according to the girl, you said her dead father was bothered by her being Jehovah witness.

-I have not said that. Everybody will confirm it in the class. As for religious issues, I speak only about biology during lessons. I do not have time to discuss other issues [besides biology]. So, their accusations are groundless. To tell the truth, I do love that girl; she is very kind person. In general, a child of Jehovah witness is a pot which echoes everything what parent tells her.

School Director: “Girl was baptized after lessons

Director of Oni Public School Dali Razmadze: “This child told her classmates that her father was orthodox too and she also wanted to be orthodox. Afterwards she took her three classmates to the church and baptized. Those classmates were her godmothers. On that day, the girl asked me to dismiss her from lessons but I refused. So, the baptize ritual did not happen during lessons; neither biology teacher accompanied them there. I, as a school director, would like to declare that nobody discusses religion during lessons in our school. So, I completely exclude chance of psychological oppression on that girl. Other pupils can also prove it. Why should you believe only one pupil and her mother and why should not you trust other 35 pupils?!”

Lawyer: “Baptize ritual must not have taken place without permission of the parent of an underage child.”

Giorgi Gotsiridze, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association: “In accordance to the Article 18 Paragraph 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions. The addressee of the Covenant is state which shall not hinder parent to grow up his/her child with any religion, and is also authorized to prevent third persons – clergymen and teachers - from breaching the parent’s right to bring up his/her child according to his/her religious beliefs. It is evident that conversion ritual, like any other religious ritual, shall not be conducted without content of the parent of underage child. If the incident occurred in the same way as the parent described, school teachers have breached Article 13 Paragraph 2 of the Law about General Education which states: “Use of schooling process for religious indoctrination, proselytism or forcible assimilation at public school is inadmissible.” Disciplinary sanctions shall be imposed on those teachers.”

As for the responsibility of orthodox clergyman, who baptized the girl without the permission of her parent, Giorgi Gotsiridze said, it is regulated by the internal regulations of the Church. State law does not prohibit similar actions which could impose any liability on the clergyman.

Children psychologist: “The child must not be left alone with this problem”

Children psychologist, head of Union Sapari, Nata Zazashvili: “The story shows the girl is really traumatized and both parties – school and her family, should think about it. The main point is to assist her to defeat this trauma. The child must not be left alone with this problem. Every person has critical moments in life but we should not forget that every problem has its solution and fight against those problems makes a person stronger. The conflict between the family and school will have the most negative impact on the girl and both parties shall be aware of it. This conflict must be resolved. All parties shall create supportive environment for the girl. The fact that her teachers are orthodox and her mother is Jehovah witness is less important now.”

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