They were a sect of Russian dissenters, known for a radical pacifism which brought them notoriety during the 20th century. Since they arose as a peasant group in southern Russia with orally transmitted teachings and traditions, their origin is obscure.
Their doctrines appear to have been at least partially derived from those of a 17th-century renegade preacher Danilo Filipov, who dissented radically from the Orthodox Church.
The Doukhobors rejected church liturgy, believing that god dwells in each human being and not in a church; they rejected secular governments; and practiced pacifism. They replaced the Bible with orally transmitted psalms and hymns, which they called the Living Book. These are sung to this day at the molenie (religious gatherings). Group decisions are made collectively at sobranie (community meetings). Doukhobors do not use any religious symbols at these meetings except for the display of bread, salt and water, which represent the elements that sustain life.
Some Doukhobors revere their chosen leaders, whom they regard as especially inspired by god, but Doukhobors generally believe that all people are equal because all have god within them. Many of them still live by the slogan coined by one of their leaders, “toil and peaceful life.” Most Doukhobors no longer live communally, but many are still vegetarians and all practice pacifism.
During the late 18th century, the group was persecuted by the tsars and the Russian Orthodox Church for heresy and pacifism. In 1785, an Orthodox archbishop called them Doukhobors, or “Spirit-Wrestlers.” It was intended to mean “Wrestlers against the Holy Spirit,” but the group adopted it, interpreting it as “Wrestlers for and with the Spirit.”
In 1895, they publicly burned their weapons in what is now known as The Burning of Arms, which may have been the first pacifist protest in modern times.
Persecuted again, many of the Doukhobors were allowed to emigrate to Canada, assisted by novelist Leo Tolstoy and his followers in addition to British and American Quakers and Russian anarchists. More than 7,500 sailed to Canada in 1899 and settled in what was to become Saskatchewan, where they lived as a community.
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Anyways….they had a difficult time fitting in as they lived in their communes ( Much like the Hutterites in Canada)……the women covered their heads also with kerchiefs and wore different clothing than the Western ladies. This brought about much the same reaction as we see today with those muslim ladies who also wear headscarves and other cultural dress.
To this day there is still mistrust of the doukhobors even though most have now assimilated and are Canadians, dressing in western clothing.
After two days of debating with folks on the Yahoo news site, I came to this conclusion …..It seems that sometimes no matter if one has assimilated to the values of the host country…..it sometimes just isn’t good enough to how some people think one should be assimilating.