Russia, the West and persecuted Christians
by Don Hank
There is evidence that Russia is, for whatever motive, interested in protecting Christians. One article in Interfax bears the title “Putin vows Russia will defend persecuted Christians abroad.”
So how sincere are the Russians? There has been a plethora of commentaries on the subject here in the US, mostly attacking Russia for defending her own interests under the pretext of Christian concerns. Who knows?
But here are some things to contemplate:
1–Even in the atheistic Soviet Union, churches that had been bombed out in the war were lovingly and painstakingly restored, at enormous cost to the nation, as were other places of cultural value. The Russian government may have publicly criticized Christianity, but the Russian people would not have stood for the physical destruction of Russian Orthodox churches. Now, I did visit one such church in Leningrad (name now reverted to Petersburg), which was, sadly, converted to the so-called Museum of Religion and Atheism, a deplorable example of desecration and unveiled blasphemy. But the entire building and its furnishings, including the icons, were in mint condition. Unlike in Mao’s China, traditional things and antiques were not destroyed, quite the opposite.
2–The Russian opposition to Western intervention in Kosovo was also culturally/religiously rooted. The Slavic population there is and was mostly Russian Orthodox, with church services generally being held in Old Church Slavonic, an archaic Slavic dialect universally understood by the clerics. Let us recall the themes of Christian repentance in the novel Crime and Punishment, and the pro-Christian message of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Both books were printed and published in the Soviet Union and were available to the public at low prices throughout much of Soviet history (I know because I bought my copies directly from the Soviet Union, and for a pittance). The name Raskolnikov, the protagonist of the former novel, comes from “raskolniki,” a persecuted Christian sect of 17th Century Russia which stoically suffered excruciating torture for their faith. The Russian soul empathizes with persecuted Christians, particularly those of its own brand, but by extension, with all confessions of Christianity.
4–In both Moscow and Petersburg, mayors have opposed “gay” parades, refusing to issue permits and even arresting those who defied the law to hold the parades. This is as much cultural, related as it is to the Slavic variety of “machismo,” as it is religious. It is difficult to separate the Paulian doctrine on homosexuality (which has never died among the people) from a purely cultural phenomenon, but in denying permits for homosexual events, the local governments were without a doubt appealing to the Russian people’s respect and love of traditional family. Contrast that to Western schools that sell filth and perversion as if they were something divine and cherished.
Now you can argue that Russia is only concerned with its own Realpolitik, fearful of its own restless Muslim population and how they will respond to the Syrian outcome, or with economic issues or the like. There might be some truth to that.
But one thing is certain. While Russian officials have had the courage to publicly deplore the plight of Middle East Christians, officials of our own “Christian” nation have said nothing about it during the last 2 decades of Western military intervention and the resulting persecution, banishment and murder of Christians abroad.
For whatever reason or motive, the first is now last and the last is first.