THE PATHWAYS OF AGITPROP
ReligioPolis, 5 May 2017
As a supplement to the news about a declaration of an official representative of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate—Metropolitan Ilarion—we suggest becoming acquainted with a fragment of the transcript of his conversation with a journalist of Television Company Rossia24 in the broadcast "Church and World" of 29 April 2017. (. . . )
Ekaterina Gracheva: The Supreme Court of our country banned the activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses. On one hand, many welcomed this news; on the other hand, there is the fear that now, when this organization is prohibited, the state is losing control over it. What do you think about this?
Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeev): First, I think that the state did not have real control over this organization. Because this is an organization of the sectarian type; it is a sect that is totalitarian and harmful. And I know about this well because I have had the opportunity to talk frequently with former devotees of this sect. In the church where I serve, every six months we reunite people to the church who had departed into the sects. And this includes people who are returning from this sect.
And it is really very dangerous because, first, this organization calls itself a Christian confession. And when these people with their literature approach people on the street, they are after all not saying that they are sectarians nor do they at all say that they are Jehovah's Witnesses. They invite people to a meeting and they say that they are Christians and they pass off their sect as Christianity.
And yet they distort the teachings of Christ, they interpret the New Testament incorrectly, their doctrine contains a multitude of false teaching, they do not believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior, they do not recognize the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and therefore they cannot in any way be called Christians.
But the danger of this sect is not that they distort doctrine, because people are not sent to prison for such things and they do not lose their registration for such things. The danger is that this is a totalitarian sect and all their activity is built on manipulation of consciousness and they destroy people's psyche and they destroy families.
For example, if a person was a devotee of this sect and later left it, then his relatives, even the closest—husband or wife, children, parents—do not have the right to communicate with him. They are not supposed to sit at the same table with him. He becomes an outcast in his own family, if the members of the family adhere to this sect. If, on the contrary, he is a member of the sect and his family is not, that means he is supposed to actually break off communication with them.
In this way many families were destroyed by these people. Moreover, they bear responsibility for the life of those people who could have been saved through blood transfusion, but this is forbidden by them. This pertains not only to adults but also to children. That is, there were children who died because a blood transfusion was not done for them, because the sectarian teaching forbids this.
Therefore, I of course think that this decision may be welcomed. But I would wish to emphasize that the church did not take any part here, we were not aproached for consultation, and the church was not summoned to it at all. In order that heretics, or sectarians, or heterodox persons could be subject to criminal prosecution. When the state makes such a decision, it makes it on the basis not of some doctrinal guidelines but on the basis of the fact that the sect engages in extremist activity. And here the issue is not the violation of some doctrinal bases of one or another religion, but it is the violation of civil legislation.
That the sectarians will remain and that they will continue their activity is difficult to doubt. That it will become more difficult to control them, I do not think so because I do not think that they were controlled previously. But that they will stop openly equating themselves with Christian confessions, that is, in other words this product now will not be represented in the marketplace of existing confessions, and I think that this is for the better. Because this will save people's families and this will save people's lives, and of course such a decision can only be welcomed.
--And will they certainly not be able to rent houses of culture and other venues for conducting their meetings?
--They will not be able to rent houses of culture and they will not be able to rent stadiums; that is, their influence will diminish. And that influence is extremely pernicious and harmful. . . .
ReligioPolis note: In our opinion, the statements by the leader of the Department for External Church Relation of the RPTsMP does not need any commentaries for compatriots who are well versed in religion and acquainted with the course of sessions in the Supreme Court of the RF. What is really amazing is that it is similar with the style of the comments about religion of famous agitprop figures of the period of the anti-religious orgy of soviet times. At the same time, one should not fail to note that representatives of the Ministry of Justice were unable to introduce into the court proceedings a single incident that would confirm even one of the "theses" of Ilarion.
In declaring that the "titular" religious structure in the country did not have anything to do with the ban of the Jehovah's Witnesses and simultaneously welcoming the liquidation of a religious organization, this highly placed clerical bureaucrat is silent about the fact that missionaries of the RPTsMP have already called for exposing the "forbidden believers."
For example, one of the church newspapers, while reporting about the suspension of the activity and rights of the Jehovah's Witnesses, appealed to readers with the call: "In the event of the discovery of activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses . . . it is necessary to report this to the Missionary Department of the Moscow diocese by telephone . . . or by email.
We recall that the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, like a number of representatives of other religious organizations also, consider both the decision of the Supreme Court and the position of the official representative of the RPTsMP to be mistaken. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 May 2017)
NOTICE FROM THE MOSCOW DIOCESE OF THE CITY OF ZHUKOVSKY
The Russian Ministry of Justice has suspended the activity of the religious organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" until the decision of the Supreme Court in the lawsuit for finding this organization to be extremist, banning its activity, and liquidating it.
In accordance with the order of the Ministry of Justice of RF No. 320-r of 15 March 2017, the activity and rights of this religious organization, and also of local religious organizations that are members of its structure, are suspended and they are forbidden to conduct meetings and rallies and to appeal in the news media, etc.
In the event of the discovery of activity of Jehovah's Witnesses on the territory of the Zhukovsky deanery, it is requested to report about this to the Missionary Department of the Moscow diocese by telephone 8(925)506-92-82 or by email to [email protected]
(tr. by PDS, posted 6 May 2017)
Russian original posted on website of Panteleimonovskii Blagovest of the Zhukovsky diocese
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