Millions of Christians like, even love Putin. Watch this video. Very revealing. He is saying the West no longer has influence in Europe because they have dropped below 50% line. Only Russia has majority of Christians. Are the Red States playing the same numbers game? Putin is the Russian Billy Graham – with massive army and nuclear weapons – that Billy wanted at his command?
Oregon needs a Governor like me. You bet I will be up burning the midnight oil, deciphering the latest Christ-Speak before I send Oregonian soldiers into battle. Was Trump wanting to send his Russian buddy a message by sending U.S. troops against the PROGRESSIVES OF PORTLAND?
John Presco ‘Candidate For Governor’
““In Hollywood, memos are distributed on appropriate storytelling and how many characters of which color and gender should star in a movie. It’s even worse that the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” laughs the Russian chief executive.”
In a recent intervention at the Valdai Club, bringing together nearly 300 Russian and foreign participants from academia, politics, and the media, Vladimir Putin launched an unprecedented charge against the progressive ideologies conveyed by a secularized West.
“Beware of getting to where the Bolsheviks once planned to go: one step closer and you will be there.” The least that can be said is that the President of the Russian Federation does not mince words when it comes to denouncing pervasive progressivism.
It was on October 21, 2021, in Sochi in Crimea – quite symbolic – that the annual meetings of the influential Valdai Club, an international discussion forum dedicated to Russia’s place in the world, opened for a few days with Vladimir Putin in person as the guest of honor.
From the outset, the master of the Kremlin attacked the cancel culture – or culture of the erasure of traditional values - which seems to have contaminated the West:
“Some in Western countries are sure that the aggressive erasure of entire pages of their own history, the reverse discrimination of the majority in the interests of a minority, and the demand to give up traditional notions such as mother, father, family and even the differences between the genders, constitute, according to them, the milestones of the movement towards a social renewal,” he quips.
Before starting to speak about the progressives, he said, “It is their right to profess this, let’s not get involved, let’s just ask them not to go after our house too much.” In essence, the Russian bear, if it feels threatened in its existence and its way of life, will know how to show its claws.
More daring, the parallel that Vladimir Putin draws between current progressivism and communist totalitarianism:
“After the revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx and Engels, declared that they would change the existing ways and customs and not only political and economic customs, but also the very notion of human morality and the foundations of a healthy society.
“The destruction of secular values, of religion, and of relationships between people, to the total rejection of the family, all of this was once proclaimed in the name of progress. …It looks like what we are witnessing today: the struggle for equality and against discrimination transformed into an aggressive dogmatism, bordering on absurdity when the works of great authors of the past, such as Shakespeare, are no longer taught in schools or universities, because their ideas are considered backward.”
“In Hollywood, memos are distributed on appropriate storytelling and how many characters of which color and gender should star in a movie. It’s even worse that the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” laughs the Russian chief executive.
On gender ideology, Vladimir Putin is even more incisive: “They talk about some monstrous things, like when children learn from an early age that a boy can become a girl, and vice versa. Teachers actually impose a choice on them. They do this while excluding the parents from the process and forcing the child to make decisions that can devastate his or her life.”
“Let’s call a spade a spade: all this borders on a crime against humanity, and this is done under the banner of progress,” declares the president of the Russian Federation, who did not fail to accuse the West more as trying to out do each other.
Vladimir Putin repeats his views in good times and in bad: to guarantee the good of societies, and especially of the Russian House, it is a question of building on a “proven tradition” and implementing an “optimistic conservatism.”
Image: Alexei Nikolsky / AP Images
As Vladimir Putin’s Russia threatens the existence of a free Ukraine, it would be easy for American evangelicals to conclude that this is one more distant foreign policy question.
However, Putinism is much more than a geopolitical threat; it’s also a religious threat. And the question for evangelical Christians is whether the way of Vladimir Putin will become the way of the American church.
The threat to Ukraine hangs over far more than just the Ukrainian people. NATO worries about the stability of the European order. The US State Department worries about any remaining Americans, fearing a repeat of the Afghanistan debacle. Germans wonder whether their dependence on Russian natural gas will lead to an energy crisis. And the whole world worries about whether the move will embolden China to invade Taiwan.
Lost in all of this is another world figure contemplating his next move: the pope.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church has been a firestorm of controversy since 2018. And in The Pillar, JD Flynn and Ed Condon explain that Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox leaders are charging the Russian Orthodox Church with complicity in Putin’s military posturing towards the Ukraine and its people.
The question now, the authors note, is whether Pope Francis will meet any time soon with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church—and if so, whether that would signal a tolerance for the potential subjugation of the Ukraine and its national church.
(UPDATED) Baptists and Pentecostals in both nations assess activism, unity, and reregistration in the Donbas region’s occupied Luhansk and Donetsk.
For American evangelicals, there are real questions too—not only about how we will respond to Putin’s use of religion for political purposes, but about whether we will emulate it.
Several years ago, before the tumult of the Trump era, I was seated with other evangelicals on a secular national news program that was broadcast on Easter morning. In one sense that weekend, we were all united—affirming together the most important truth of the cosmos: the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
At the time, I thought we just disagreed about a matter of foreign policy. But looking back now I can see that, at least for some evangelicals, there was a larger disagreement we didn’t yet know existed: the question of what “Christian values” are in the first place.
Take the issue of abortion. Not only is the abortion rate in Russia high, but even when pro-government forces articulate something akin to a “pro-life” view, it is usually in terms of curbing demographic decline, rather than protecting vulnerable human lives.
The animating principle is not “Every life is precious” but “Make Russia great again.” This is even more pronounced in the Russian government’s treatment of the children who are filling orphanages and “baby hospitals” around the country.
Without a vibrant adoption culture in the former Soviet Union, many of these children age out of the system and enter into terrifying lives of immediate substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and suicide. But that didn’t stop Putin from doing everything he could to end the adoption of these orphans by Americans and others—all as a salve for the wounded Russian national pride and a geopolitical game of strength.
The situation is even worse when one looks at Putin’s response to the gospel itself. He has carefully cultivated the Russian Orthodox Church—even to the point of approving mosaics of himself, Stalin, and the Crimean invasion to be installed in a Russian Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the military.
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Moreover, the Russian regime has relentlessly pursued snuffing out the freedoms of minority religions—especially those of the relatively tiny band of evangelicals and evangelical missionaries from abroad.
Why would Putin—a former KGB official who said that the end of the Soviet Union was an awful disaster—want to partner with a church? Perhaps it is because he believes, along with Karl Marx, that religion can be a useful tool for maintaining political power.
And, indeed, religions are useful when they focus on protecting nationalism and national honor. Religions can turn already-passionate feelings of tribalism and resentment of outsiders into transcendent and unquestionable sentiments. All of that makes perfect Machiavellian sense—unless Jesus is, in fact, raised from the dead.
If only this tendency were limited to the former Soviet Union, we might have the luxury of ignoring it. Pay attention, though, to anyone who looks behind the former Iron Curtain to find the future.
Many religious conservatives—most notably Roman Catholics, but some evangelical Protestants too—have allied themselves with Hungary’s authoritarian strongman, Viktor Orbán. As libertarian commentator Matt Welch notes, the Hungarian prime minister “makes for an odd champion of American-style Christendom.”
“Abortion is uncontroversially legal in Hungary, the people aren’t particularly religious, and Orbán has exercised kleptocratic control over churches that dare to dissent from his policies,” Welch argues. The key reason for the attraction to Eastern European strongmen, Welch concludes, is that they fight the right enemies and “win.”
Offenses include passing out tracts and telling people to invite friends to hear the gospel.
If this were just a skirmish between those of us who believe in liberal democracy and those who find it expendable, that would be one thing. But the other, larger problem with this authoritarian temptation is the gospel itself.
If the church is simply a cultural vehicle for national stability and pride, then one can hardly expect dictators to do anything other than manipulate it. But if the church is made up, as the Bible says, of “living stones” brought in by regenerated hearts through personal faith in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:4–5), then external conformity to a set of values for civilization falls woefully short of Christianity.
That would be true even in a place that promoted more-or-less Christian values. Yet it’s all the more true when the church is blessing an authoritarian leader, like Putin, who is known by his own people for poisoning his enemies.
In the latter case, the witness of the church itself is at stake—because a religion that dismisses bloodthirsty behavior doesn’t even believe its own teachings on objective morality, much less in a coming judgment seat of Christ. Why would anyone listen to such a religion on how to find peace with God and gain entrance into the life to come?
Evangelical Christians should watch the way of Vladimir Putin—and we should recognize it whenever we are told that we need a Pharaoh or a Barabbas or a Caesar to protect us from our real or perceived enemies.
Whenever that happens, we should remember how to say, in any language; “Nyet.”
Russell Moore leads the Public Theology Project at Christianity Today.