Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev). Photo: TASS – 3/5/17

The Russian Orthodox Church played no part in, and was not consulted on the decision of the Russian Supreme Court to recognize the Administrate Center of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia as an extremist organization and to ban its activity within the Russian Federation, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) stated in a television interview, TASS reports.

“I would like to emphasize that the Church had no part here, and they did not consult with us. The Church does not call for heretics, sectarians, and dissidents to be subjected to criminal prosecution,” the metropolitan said.

However, he also expressed his view that the banning of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a positive step in the fight against the spreading of sectarian ideas having nothing in common with the Christian religion.

“I hardly doubt that sectarians will remain and continue their activity, but at least the fact that they will stop openly equating themselves with Christian confessions is for the better,” His Eminence explained, adding that the group’s activities violate civil law in addition to perverting the teachings of Christ. He pointed out that they do not believe in Jesus as God and Savior, nor do they recognize the dogma of the Holy Trinity, as Interfax-Religion reports.

“It’s a sect, and a totalitarian and harmful one at that. I know very well, because I have had multiple chances to speak with former members of the sect,” Met. Hilarion stated, adding that their activity is based on “the manipulation of the conscience, and they destroy the psyche of people and families.”

Earlier the Russian Supreme Court had recognized the decision to liquidate local Jehovah’s Witnesses offices as lawful. Local branches were repeatedly brought to administrative responsibility for distributing extremist materials in various cities.