The origin of the Doukhobor movement dates back to the 17th and 18th century Russian Empire. Believing in God's presence in every human being, they considered clergy and rituals unnecessary. Their rejection of secular government, the Russian Orthodox priests, icons, all church ritual, the Bible as the supreme source of divine revelation, and the divinity of Jesus elicited negative response from the government and the established church, attested as early in 1734, when a Russian Government edict was issued against ikonobortsy (Iconoclasts).[page needed]
The first known Doukhobor leader, in 1755–75, was Siluan (Silvan) Kolesnikov (Russian: Силуан Колесников), originating from the village of Nikolskoye in Yekaterinoslav Governorate in what is today south-central Ukraine.[page needed] He was thought to be a well-read person, familiar with the works of Western mystics such as Karl von Eckartshausen and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin.
The early Doukhobors called themselves "God's People" or simply "Christians". Their modern name, first in the form Doukhobortsy (Russian: Духоборцы, Dukhobortsy, 'Spirit wrestlers') is thought to have been first used in 1785 or 1786 by Ambrosius, the Archbishop of Yekaterinoslav[page needed] or his predecessor, Nikifor (Nikephoros Theotokis)[a]
The archbishop's intent was to mock them as heretics fighting against the Holy Spirit (Russian: Святой Дух, Svyatoy Dukh); but later on (around the beginning of the 19th century, according to SA Inikova) the dissenters picked the name, usually in a shorter form, Doukhobory (Russian: Духоборы, Dukhobory), implying that they are fighting not against, but along with the Spirit.
As pacifists, the Doukhobors also ardently rejected the institutions of militarism and wars. For these reasons, the Doukhobors were harshly oppressed in Imperial Russia. Both the tsarist state and church authorities were involved in the persecution of these dissidents, as well as taking away their...