The same Religious Right activists who accuse President Obama of persecuting Christians by supporting gay rights, have over the last few years hailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a hero and global leader of conservative Christians.
Religious Right leaders such as Franklin Graham, Phyllis Schlafly, William Murray, Pat Buchanan, Bryan Fischer, Brian Brown, Don Feder and Scott Lively, among others, have lionized Putin as a fearless Christian leader who is bravely cracking down on gay rights. The World Congress of Families even decided to hold its annual summit in the Kremlin this year (the group officially cancelled the event after Russia began its conflict with Ukraine, but its Russian partners are quietly going ahead with it).
Of course, while claims that Obama is persecuting Christians are completely manufactured by conservatives, there is ample evidence that Putin-sponsored forces in eastern Ukraine are violently persecuting evangelical and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians. The New York Times reports:
Embracing Orthodox Christianity as a force to unite these now divided Slavic lands and also their own fractured movement, the rebels, fortified recently by an influx of weapons and soldiers from Russia, used their period in power here purging Slovyansk of rival Christian denominations.
Among their principal targets were Christians defiant of the Moscow church’s claims of religious primacy and suspected of connections with the West.
“Their logic is simple: You are an American church and America is our enemy so we have to kill you,” said Mr. Dudnik, the evangelical pastor. No one at his center had been killed, he said but added that the rebels had murdered four evangelical Christians from another Slovyansk church.
Grabbed by pro-Russian gunmen in June after a Pentecost service at the Divine Transfiguration Church, all four victims were taken away for interrogation and were later found dead in a burned-out car.
We have previously noted that evangelicals in Russia, including Baptists and Pentecostals, are facing discrimination as a result of Putin’s drive to push minority denominations underground while growing the clout of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers evangelical Protestants to be heretics.
While inventing never-ending conspiracy theories about Obama’s supposed crackdown on Christianity, Religious Right leaders don’t appear to mind the real attacks on Christians happening in Russia, under the watch of a leader who they see as an ally in the fight to turn back gay rights and reproductive freedom.