What’s Happening Between Russia And The Church?

One fish running hot, straight, and normal
One fish running hot, straight, and normal
No, really. I’m asking. I don’t know but would like to. Something’s brewing, or perhaps has already brewed. Consider these points:

Item Patriarch Kirill “warned Western governments on Sunday against legalization of same-sex marriages what he called a sign of approaching end of the world…recent initiatives in a range of countries to legalize same-sex marriages ‘is a dangerous and apocalyptic symptom’ that should not spread over to Russia”. Source.

Item World leaders should unite to end anti-Christian persecution, Vladimir Putin says. “Putin praised the growth of cooperation between the Orthodox Churches and the Russian state, saying, ‘We act as genuine partners and colleagues to solve the most pressing domestic and international tasks, to implement joint initiatives for the benefit of our country and people.'”

“He added that it was the Church that was ultimately responsible for the development and rise of ‘culture and education’ in Russia over the last 1,000 years. ‘The adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped it turn into one of the largest world powers,’.”

Item Putin signs ‘gay propaganda’ ban and law criminalizing insult of religious feelings “Putin has signed two controversial laws strengthening the penalties for ‘propagating homosexuality among minors’ and for insulting people’s religious feelings in public….[and] has signed the so-called ‘gay propaganda’ bill after the upper house, the Federation Council, approved it on June 26 and the lower house, the State Duma, on June 11.”

Item Top Russian gay activist may face lawsuit for ‘obscene’ tweets to MPs. “Thirty-four-year-old Alekseyev is one of the best-known leaders of the Russian LGBT community. He runs the gayrussia.ru web portal and represents Russia in the InterPride association, which specializes in gay pride events.” Could face fine “up to 40,000 rubles (US$1,200) or up to one year of community service.”

Item Duma approves criminalization of insulting religious feelings. “The current bill is promoted by a large part of the Russian political establishment and strongly backed by the Russian Orthodox Church whose leader has publicly accused some unnamed forces of staging attacks on faith and religion in the country.”

Item 1,025 years of Christianity: Ukraine hosts Orthodox celebrations while questioning its future. “‘This day marks the unity of our peoples,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin told Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.”

Item In Putin’s Russia, little separation between church and state. “The Russian Orthodox Church is enjoying its newfound prestige with the Russian government.”

There are dozens more like these. Most curious is Russia bucking Western culture’s trend toward government-enforced re-definitions of marriage. All enlightened peoples, save those in Russia, are submitting, many of them eagerly. (But we rarely hear about Africa and so on.)

Incidentally number one: did you see there’s two famous guys in England who are suing to force churches to perform same-sex gmarriage ceremonies? England also has close legal ties to its church. Smart money is on these guys winning.

Incidentally number two: I’ve had people here in the USA tell me, confidentially, in whispered tones, that they’re not with the program. But they don’t want the grief which comes from airing contrary opinions. They figure it’s better to ignore the whole thing.

Naturally, our press is against Russia, but only up to a point. (Journalists are nothing if not easily intimidated.) Seems to a far-off observer like myself that Putin’s manly theology is genuine. But it’s granted it might be a political ploy. Or it could be both.

But if it’s genuine on the party of its citizens, why? Why the big and growing difference? Is it just the effects of the leadership and people are used to keeping quiet in the ex-soviet paradise? Or are people genuinely reflective about these matters? I’m curious.



  1. Luis Dias

    I will remember for some time that you side with Putin on this one. Probably a sign of you being really wrong if ever there is one. To call Putin manly is as hilarious as is sad. A man who makes photo ops without the shirt and on top of his horse…

  2. Rich

    The adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland but it had better be the Russian Orthodox version of Christianity or you can expect persecution.

    And when did Mother Russia become “the fatherland”?

  3. Briggs


    Would you have him at the bottom?

  4. Gary

    Reversion to the mean? Twenty years of evangelical Christian influence? Realignment of power blocks? Realization that cooperation has benefits? Just a different filter on the information getting out?

    Too early to tell what’s going on. There’s lots in that stew.

  5. Chinahand

    Erm surely the connection between state sanctioned religion and reactionary government is well known.

    Putin is being a popularist and riding on conservative religion – erm that happens all over the world and I don’t think is a new phenomenon or a uniquely Russian one.

    In a parallel universe I can imagine a Vice President Palin saying very similar things and rolling out tax breaks and religiously run social programmes.

    In such a universe the DOMA would be stoutly defended etc.

    To me there seems little surprising about these headlines, they are staple reactionary right wing themes, and that is what the government of Russia is.

  6. Igor

    “I will remember for some time that you side with Putin on this one. Probably a sign of you being really wrong if ever there is one.”
    Why not:
    “Probably Putin is right if he is on the side of William Briggs”.

  7. Igor

    Russians had already tried western inspired social experiment called marxism on their skin. They are now sitting on the side to look at how you, westerners, are implementing a new experiment on yourselves. If you survive, they’ll follow, but they don’t believe.

  8. “Or are people genuinely reflective about these matters?”

    Like all too many people everywhere, the “people” are like cows who mostly “reflect” upon the grass they are eating that grows up through the fertilizer of their own feces.

  9. Ideas? Well, I’d observe in passing, that if you are planning for a host of small to medium internal and external wars to enhance your power, stability, and territory, it helps to have a fighting population that figures God is on their side. Hence, you need to help your nation “get right with God.” Russians did fabulous things in the second world war while running on oppression, threat, and the myths of communism. Think what they can do with the Church.

  10. VXXC

    As far as Putin’s History and his continuance of Tradition, he’s correct. This is how Russian Rulers Rule.

    As far as LGBT marriage, the Patriarch is also correct. This is yet another assault on the family, and an assault on religion.

    Please spare us denials. The lies are staler than the passive-aggressive victimization.

    And you didn’t mention that the Orthodox Church asked him to protect Syrian Christians, and he agreed.

    “Metropolitan Hilarion asked Putin to make protection and defense of Christianity around the globe a major part of his foreign policy.

    And, as reported by Interfax, Putin replied, “You needn’t have any doubt that that’s the way it will be,”

    Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev is also a composer. Aria to St. Matthew.


  11. Grizzly

    I do not find it strange that the Russian people, who, as a whole, have always been deeply religious, should now be expressing their religious views so openly, even stridently, after being repressed for so long under communist rule. However, I do find it strange that Putin, a former KGB officer, should throw his support behind the movement so publicly. Given the KGB association, I have a hard time believing that he is a man of faith. Even the Wikipedia article on him (upon which I do not place great weight) leaves it an open question. It says that while his father was an atheist, his mother was a devout believer, and it indicates he had some sort of “religious awakening” in 1993 following a car crash, and he says that he regularly wears a cross necklace that his mother gave him. But when put with the question, Putin declines to make a public statement regarding his religious beliefs. So in the end, his religious views are as much a mystery as Obama’s school records. Call me a cynic, but Occam’s Razor suggests that his public backing of religion is probably just as much window dressing as Obama’s attendance at Jeremiah “God d*** America” Wright’s church was for so many years.

    I find it oddly amusing to note the mirror images, like a photograph and it’s negative, apparently entirely different at one level, but both reflecting the same underlying reality. Putin backs religion, while Obama attacks it. Russians pass laws to outlaw teaching homosexuality to minors, while in the US the LGBT lobby would like to pass laws promoting homosexuality in elementary schools and to outlaw parents teaching their children that there is anything abnormal or wrong about it. Russians push for laws against making insults that offend the religious, while in the US many college campuses persecute the religiously faithful while enforcing policies against insulting any number of “politically correct” protected classes. Two sides of the same coin, in my book.

  12. Grizzly

    Oh, and how could I forget the oddest mirror of all: Putin is an ostensible christian who was previously an assumed Marxist in what was once a powerful Marxist country, while Obama is an apparent Marxist who was previously assumed a Christian in what was once a powerful Christian country. The list goes on and on …

  13. VXXC

    Not that odd Mr. Grizzly.

    They’ve already been through the looking glass and are out the other side…back into REALITY.

    No one ever ruled without Religion. It’s never been done.

    Having cast out God 5 decades ago as he simply wasn’t Holy enough for them, our Progs having been flailing to find a replacement since. And They Can’t .

  14. VXXC

    I’m only concerned with America. Oaths and all that stuff.

    Replacements of Fad and Fashion are happening if you notice faster and faster . Global warning had at least a 15 year run. It was better grounded in animism. Too Bad they couldn’t keep their hands off the $45 Trillion Pot of Carbon Exchanges. And of course it was the Russians who blew the whistle on the already rampant corruption of same.

    Gay marriage on the other hand was barely 15 weeks on the Top 40 charts. NOT GROUNDED.

    What is it this week? Looks like lull.

    The convulsions of fad and fashion as replacement religion are coming faster and faster .

    These are we may pray DEATH THROES.

  15. Briggs


    Am I the only one who believes Putin’s primary motivation is genuine? I mean, it’s clear Putin thinks himself manly, and the behaviors he is officially discouraging with the help of the Church are anything but manly. Plus, I think he wants babies for Russia, and the way to get those is still the old-fashioned method.

  16. Will

    His Primary motivation is most likely unchanged– more power. I would imagine that is about consolidating demographics inside, and outside, of Russia by using Christianity as a rallying point.

    Russia has a very active anti-immigration movement, and there appear to be many such (though less violent) movements across the European continent. If “native” birth rates don’t radically swing in favor of the “native” population there is almost certainly going to be some major political upheavals in the coming decades. This could be a way to further polarize the issue and create inroads for Russian influence.

    Just my 0.02.

  17. Grizzly

    I should amend my comment to affirm that anyone, even a former KGB agent, can indeed be forgiven and come to a saving faith in Christ. That goes for Marxist half-black presidents as well. But if for some reason I had to place a bet on who is saved, with me being unable to see into a man’s heart, I would have to place my bet based on the evidence I have at hand, and in the case of these gentlemen, that evidence comes up short. Not a judgement, just sayin’.

  18. Ken

    Gee, maybe Putin & his cronies are endorsing religion, Christianity, because it provides a powerful influence toward social values Putin & his cronies likewise endorse?

    Gay rights & activism is spreading even to Russia, which is historically anti-Semitic, socially conservative by a variety of measures (e.g. anti-gay), etc. Using State-induced force via laws only goes so far, why not use divine judgment, on those influenced by such, to further move society in the desired direction…

    Besides, the trading partners Russia needs to ensure its economic prosperity are heavily weighted toward those that predominantly Christian–so such policies are clearly beneficial in facilitating economic trade relations.

    Or, as the saying goes, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

  19. Briggs


    I don’t buy that Putin is using the Church for control, though it’s fun for some to think so. If it were so easy to invoke religion to terrorize citizens into behaving as rulers want them too, why isn’t every government doing the same? Not that that can’t be done, but it doesn’t wash here.

    Haven’t seen anybody provide evidence that Putin is not sincere in this matter (same-sex “marriage” etc.; not that he doesn’t like the side effects of being sincere).

  20. JH

    Ah… this anti-gay bill can boost Russian’s birth rate. Evidence? I wonder why nobody has thought of initiating such law in my native country where the fertility rate is among the lowest in the world.

    Well, I’d suggest, as a reward for courageously leaking NSA docs, that FSB, the Russian counterpart to the US NSA, hire Snowden to be in charge of the surveillance of all individuals for possible use of the Internet for gay propaganda. Who better qualified and what better way to make sure no propaganda against Putin and his ideologies can be uttered?!

    NSA is no match for the FSB!

    I am sure Putnam knows the power of propaganda and censorship and surveillance, all of which were effectively exploited to help the rise of communists.

    Mao was against religion because he believed it is an extremely effective force to bring together a group of people to attain a certain goal, including rebelling against him. That is, a religious organization can be a highly beneficial or cancerous friend.

    Just wait until a Russian religious leader starts to criticize Putin.

  21. Ken

    RE: using the church [religion] for control …

    THAT is precisely what history shows religion has been used for — a means for a government to exert control beyond a social unit to the City-State & beyond. FACT is, for the most part, that’s exactly what governments have been doing, when it suits their interests.

    When Akhenaten took over Egypt & invented a monotheistic religion (1300 BC-ish) the evidence shows a clear power grab that left the “clergy” (such as it was) without control….

    The “Divine Right of Kings” — same thing. When Martin Luther kicked off the Protestant Reformation, nobility across the continent pounced on whatever religious variant that best served their interests.

    King Henry VIII invented one just to suit is own interests at retaining power & his preferred legacy…and that maneuver set off a bloody power-grab that didn’t end until the 1990s when, finally, those Catholics & Protestants in Northern Ireland decided to shift to contemporary politics over explosives.

  22. Ken

    RE: Haven’t seen anybody provide evidence that Putin is not sincere in this matter..

    Haven’t seen any evidence he’s sincere either….

    So what does that “logic” indicate?? (or, what is that “logic” even showing up here given all the mini-treatises on proper use of logic & philosophy?)

    In the absence of evidence the mostly likely correct guess is the one that aligns best with relevant benchmarks–and those point to political expediency.

    Besides, Putin is not a dictator — he did not unilaterally invoke new law. IF his goal was the result of some religious epiphany & conversion all the elected officials that have to approve the associated legislation had the same epiphany too!?!? More likely the whole bunch is doing what’s politically expedient.

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