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Oregon Editorial Regarding Doukhobors


The Doukhobors, whose proposed colony in Lane county has brought a vigorous protest from the American Legion, are a group of beings whose short but entire history has been interwoven with persecution, hysteria and splendid achievement.

Two pictures – one bright, one black – may be drawn of the Doukhobors. It is the dark portrait that has aroused the Legion and other bodies to oppose the settlement.

Taking the more attractive side, the Encyclopedia Britannica says of them:

When living up to the standard of their faith they present one of the nearest approaches to the realization of the Christian ideal which have ever been attained.

They have been likened to the Quakers, or Society of Friends.

Their very virtues have made them obnoxious to their neighbors, while their inoffensiveness has invited contempt. The Doukhobors outstrip all competitors when they set about their tasks. Their farms and their villages prosper in geometric leaps. In Russia, where they originated in the middle of the eighteenth century, mistreatment was heaped upon them, but they grew in wealth and grace in spite of it. When they were banished from the interior to a province near the Turkish frontier, the Russian authorities thought the severe climate and the murderous hill men would render them extinct.

But nothing of the kind took place. Instead, they turned the province into a land of productiveness, amassed wealth, and made friends of the tribesmen.

When military service was forced upon them they burned their weapons and refused to do duty. It was this decision which led them to emigrate to Canada, in 1899, but only after 400 of their families had been brutally murdered.

In Canada they made sections of the provinces of Assiniboia and Saskatchewan blossom like another Eden. Conflict with civil authorities, whose laws they never obey when those laws run counter to their teachings, has inspired some of them to seek a new clime. Some years ago one of their leaders, seized with a religious mania, led a group of them in utter nakedness over the land. This brought a lot of trouble upon the authorities and marked their first open break with the government.

The outward church is nothing to the Doukhobors. They believe that Christ is present in the spirit of man and that the church is wherever men meet insincerity. There is supposed to be a prayer ever in their hearts. Occasionally they have fixed meeting days, when they chant their gospel mostly a hodge-podge from the Bible, picked up mainly from tradition, for the original group were illiterate. They call this volume “The Book of Life,” because it lives chiefly in their memories. Love as it is understood in its connection with God is their most important word. They believe that all creatures were created equal. Killing and all forms of violence are abhorred by them.

Their outstanding faults are periodical outbursts of religious frenzy and their unlimited defiance of all law that is not in accord with their ideals. It is these last named traits that have stirred the Legion to action.

Source: Oregon Editorial Regarding Doukhobors , Oregon Daily Journal, April 15, 1924.

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