Vladimir Putin

While Trump Champions The Alt-Right In America, Putin Spreads Its Ideology Through Europe

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

For years, the GOP has been moving away from its identity as a traditional center-right party and morphing into something that more resembles the populist fringe parties of Europe.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has all but completed this transformation. If anyone still had doubts, Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon was the clearest sign yet that the Republican Party has become a vehicle for what in the U.S. is known as the ‘alt-right’ movement.

The alt-right thinks the mainstream conservative movement has been compromised by feminism, racial tolerance and “globalism,” and that only a reactionary, populist movement that speaks to the plight of white men can save America from political correctness and multiculturalism. The alt-right is drenched in racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny. But that didn’t stop Bannon from calling his outlet “the platform for the alt-right.”

While avowed white nationalists have always had a place in the conservative movement—most recently, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa proudly detailed his white supremacist views to a cable TV audience—Trump has thrown such forces into the mainstream.

Trump’s view of America as a weak, crime-ridden and chaotic place would resonate with any regular reader of Breitbart’s news coverage.

Breitbart News depicts an America where white people are under attack from the Obama administration, anti-Christian feminists and LGBT rights activists, African Americans who seek to discriminate against white people, Latino immigrants obsessed with rape and violence, and Muslim refugees who support terrorism.

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing a surge in the alt-right’s ideology. Anti-immigrant ethnic nationalists are on the rise in Europe, and European far-right leadersfrom France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders have jumped aboard the Trump Train.

This is all good news to one of the European far-right’s most enthusiastic backers: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia under Putin’s leadership has been promoting ultraconservative political groups in Europe with the goal of weakening the EU and the liberalism, democracy and cultural pluralism that comes with it. The National Front, a French political party rooted in Holocaust denialism and anti-immigrant sentiment, is open about its financial links to Russian banks, and neo-fascist parties including Jobbik of Hungary, Vlaams Belang of Belgium and the Northern League of Italy likewise have Russian ties.

“As European far-right leaders openly voice their support for Moscow, it would be wise to remember that Putin’s Russia is not just another ‘meddling power’ lobbying for its interests,” writes Alina Polyakova. “It is a government hostile to the West and the value system—democracy, freedom of expression, political accountability—that it represents.”

The Syrian refugee crisis has presented a great opportunity for these far-right movements in Europe to spread their messages of xenophobia. Russia, whose bombing campaigns in Syria have ravaged the civilian population, has been happy to help promote the anti-refugee message. Russian state-sponsored media outlets haveenthusiastically fanned the flames of anti-refugee suspicion, bolstering the far-right’s criticism of how the EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have approached refugee resettlement.

The Russian government has also sponsored a global right-wing effort to portray the U.S. and Europe as victims of cultural rot due to homosexuality, abortion rights and secular government, and Russia as the protector and preserver of traditional Christian values. In 2014, major conservative groups from the U.S. and Europe convened at the Kremlin to praise the government’s crackdown on LGBT rights advocates whilelamenting the social liberalism in their home countries.

Trump, who aspires to be the Russian president’s “new best friend,” has praised Putinas “a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” and has seemed to side with Putin’s position on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and shared in fueling doubts about the future of the EU and NATO. Trump’s campaign is stacked with officials with Russian ties and, at least according to his eldest son, his businesses have seen “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Merkel, on the other hand, has been a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, and the GOP nominee has dubbed Clinton “America’s Angela Merkel.” (Just to show how far to the right the GOP has drifted, Merkel is the leader of Germany’s main center-right party).

Beyond his expressed support for Russian policies, Trump seeks to govern in the same illiberal, authoritarian manner that Putin has demonstrated, itching to dilute the freedom of the press and laws barring war crimes and human rights abuses and deport undocumented immigrants and refugees legally settled in the country. Like the Religious Right activists who have rallied behind Putin, Trump believes that Christians have been sidelined and marginalized in America, promising to return them to their rightful positions of power.

Such contempt for civil rights, diversity and democracy pervades the alt-right, which calls for a more “masculine,” racially chauvinist response to a society it sees as weak and rootless. One alt-right meme shows “President Trump” congratulating Putin, both decked out in military garb, “on retaking Constantinople.”

While Trump and the alt-right emerged without the help of the Russian government, Putin’s display of authoritarianism and aid to far-right movements have helped bring their ultraconservative designs into the political mainstream.

 

 

PFAW

While Trump Champions The Alt-Right In America, Putin Spreads Its Ideology Through Europe

For years, the GOP has been moving away from its identity as a traditional center-right party and morphing into something that more resembles the populist fringe parties of Europe.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has all but completed this transformation. If anyone still had doubts, Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon was the clearest sign yet that the Republican Party has become a vehicle for what in the U.S. is known as the ‘alt-right’ movement.

The alt-right thinks the mainstream conservative movement has been compromised by feminism, racial tolerance and “globalism,” and that only a reactionary, populist movement that speaks to the plight of white men can save America from political correctness and multiculturalism. The alt-right is drenched in racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny. But that didn’t stop Bannon from calling his outlet “the platform for the alt-right.”

While avowed white nationalists have always had a place in the conservative movement—most recently, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa proudly detailed his white supremacist views to a cable TV audience—Trump has thrown such forces into the mainstream.

Trump’s view of America as a weak, crime-ridden and chaotic place would resonate with any regular reader of Breitbart’s news coverage.

Breitbart News depicts an America where white people are under attack from the Obama administration, anti-Christian feminists and LGBT rights activists, African Americans who seek to discriminate against white people, Latino immigrants obsessed with rape and violence, and Muslim refugees who support terrorism.

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing a surge in the alt-right’s ideology. Anti-immigrant ethnic nationalists are on the rise in Europe, and European far-right leaders from France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders have jumped aboard the Trump Train.

This is all good news to one of the European far-right’s most enthusiastic backers: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia under Putin’s leadership has been promoting ultraconservative political groups in Europe with the goal of weakening the EU and the liberalism, democracy and cultural pluralism that comes with it. The National Front, a French political party rooted in Holocaust denialism and anti-immigrant sentiment, is open about its financial links to Russian banks, and neo-fascist parties including Jobbik of Hungary, Vlaams Belang of Belgium and the Northern League of Italy likewise have Russian ties.

“As European far-right leaders openly voice their support for Moscow, it would be wise to remember that Putin’s Russia is not just another ‘meddling power’ lobbying for its interests,” writes Alina Polyakova. “It is a government hostile to the West and the value system—democracy, freedom of expression, political accountability—that it represents.”

The Syrian refugee crisis has presented a great opportunity for these far-right movements in Europe to spread their messages of xenophobia. Russia, whose bombing campaigns in Syria have ravaged the civilian population, has been happy to help promote the anti-refugee message. Russian state-sponsored media outlets have enthusiastically fanned the flames of anti-refugee suspicion, bolstering the far-right’s criticism of how the EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have approached refugee resettlement.

The Russian government has also sponsored a global right-wing effort to portray the U.S. and Europe as victims of cultural rot due to homosexuality, abortion rights and secular government, and Russia as the protector and preserver of traditional Christian values. In 2014, major conservative groups from the U.S. and Europe convened at the Kremlin to praise the government’s crackdown on LGBT rights advocates while lamenting the social liberalism in their home countries.

Trump, who aspires to be the Russian president’s “new best friend,” has praised Putin as “a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” and has seemed to side with Putin’s position on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and shared in fueling doubts about the future of the EU and NATO. Trump’s campaign is stacked with officials with Russian ties and, at least according to his eldest son, his businesses have seen “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Merkel, on the other hand, has been a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, and the GOP nominee has dubbed Clinton “America’s Angela Merkel.” (Just to show how far to the right the GOP has drifted, Merkel is the leader of Germany’s main center-right party).

Beyond his expressed support for Russian policies, Trump seeks to govern in the same illiberal, authoritarian manner that Putin has demonstrated, itching to dilute the freedom of the press and laws barring war crimes and human rights abuses and deport undocumented immigrants and refugees legally settled in the country. Like the Religious Right activists who have rallied behind Putin, Trump believes that Christians have been sidelined and marginalized in America, promising to return them to their rightful positions of power.

Such contempt for civil rights, diversity and democracy pervades the alt-right, which calls for a more “masculine,” racially chauvinist response to a society it sees as weak and rootless. One alt-right meme shows “President Trump” congratulating Putin, both decked out in military garb, “on retaking Constantinople.”

While Trump and the alt-right emerged without the help of the Russian government, Putin’s display of authoritarianism and aid to far-right movements have helped bring their ultraconservative designs into the political mainstream.

(This post also appears on the Huffington Post).

Gay American Pastor Expelled From Russia: 'Get Religion' Says What’s The Story?

The website GetReligion.org has been around in various permutations for more than a decade, providing a home for conservative-leaning criticism of mainstream media coverage of religion and, more specifically, news coverage that misses or ignores the importance of religion to a story. “The press…just doesn’t get religion,” is the site’s tagline, a quote from journalist and political analyst William Schneider. But a recent post by contributor Jim Davis seems to fall solidly in the “not getting it” category.

In a post about a gay American pastor who was detained by police and expelled from Russia, Davis writes that the Associated Press “blows a minor incident into a major issue.” Davis may be trying a little too hard to strike a snarky tone. Here’s how his story starts:

Don’t read this yet. Get yourself a chair. Put down that cup of whatever you're drinking.

The Associated Press reports that  Dun-dun-DUNN! — Russia doesn't like gays. And especially pro-gay-rights churches.

I know, right? That might have knocked your socks off.

AP learned this terrible truth as a missionary of the Metropolitan Community Church was arrested, then ordered out of Russia. Try to get through this without fainting...

The Associated Press story strikes me as a pretty straightforward recounting of what happened to Jim Mulcahy, an American pastor with the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches. According to the story, Mulcahy was sitting around a table with friends when four uniformed police showed up at the door, took the teacup out of his hand, and took him to the police station, “threatening to handcuff him if he refused to cooperate.” He was ordered out of the country on vague charges of engaging in unspecified religious activity (according to the story, police had said they heard he was planning to conduct a wedding for a gay couple).

Davis responds: “What? They took his teacup? The threatened to cuff him? The monsters!”

If I were unexpectedly arrested in a foreign country, denied access to important medication, and ordered out of the country, I don’t think the experience would feel like a big joke. I don’t know Davis but I expect the same would hold true for him. But Davis goes on with a tone that suggests Mulcahy should have known that the Russians don’t like gays, and so he shouldn’t be surprised at what happened to him. And he says AP is making a mountain out of a molehill.

OK, maybe I've been a bit cavalier with this. I wouldn't be amused if, say, a Jew or Baptist were arrested just for trying to practice their faith. I fully get the right for freedom of expression for everyone, including those with whom I disagree.

Still, on a scale of religious persecution, the Mulcahy-Samara story rates somewhere below a 2. Cloddish cops, stringent laws, a flinty judge, those are all there. But shootings, hate speech, mass expulsions – or throat cuttings, as happened to an elderly priest in France yesterday – this story doesn't come close. I suspect that if it weren't about gays, it might not have gotten AP's attention at all.

This comparison doesn’t make sense. It’s not as if the extensively-covered killings he mentions were ignored by the AP so they could run with Mulcahy’s story. In fact, what got the AP’s attention was that “the arrest was filmed by state-controlled channel NTV, whose reports often take an especially truculent, pro-Kremlin stance.” That suggests the arrest was staged to provide an anti-gay and anti-American propaganda boost for the Russian government. That makes it newsworthy, especially since strongman Vladimir Putin is participating in a mutual admiration society with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

The AP story doesn’t ignore the religion angle, reporting on Russia’s growing intolerance of free expression by LGBT people, and on new restrictions on public expression of religion by any churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church, which is closely aligned with Putin's government.

As we have noted before, many American religious conservatives have been willing to overlook Putin’s crackdown on dissent, free speech and religious freedom because they admire his anti-gay policies and his defense of “Christian civilization” against the secular democracies of Western Europe.  

To paraphrase Davis, if this story were about the arrest and expulsion of an American pastor who wasn’t a gay man, I suspect Davis and Get Religion wouldn’t have been so dismissive of it.

Donald Trump Calls On Russia To Hack Hillary Clinton's Emails

Responding to reports that a Russian intelligence operation was behind the hacking and release of emails from Democratic National Committee staff members, Donald Trump today urged Russia to commit cyber-espionage and hack emails that have not been recovered from Hillary Clinton’s server.

Following his press conference, Trump made similar comments on Twitter:

Trump has deep financial ties to Russia and has spoken warmly of Vladimir Putin, defending the Russian president from accusations of committing human rights abuses and siding with him when it comes to issues like the future of NATO. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is a former adviser to the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who is living in exile in Russia following the Euromaidan protests, and other advisers have Russian ties as well.

As we mentioned in our report on Trump’s many conspiracy theories, the GOP presidential nominee once called on hackers to hack President Obama’s college records to find out his real birthplace.

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin Cracks Down On Religious Liberty In Russia

For years, American Religious Right activists have lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising him as a culturally conservative bulwark against the values of the decadent West thanks to his crackdowns on LGBT rights, in particular laws curbing adoption and free speech.

Religious Right leaders including Franklin Graham and Brian Brown have gone to Russia to hail Putin’s resistance to LGBT equality, while keeping quiet about how the Russian government has stifled human rights, including the rights of Protestants, sponsored militias that violently target Protestants in Ukraine and allowed Sharia law to be practiced in Chechnya. At the same time, these Religious Right activists level bogus charges against President Obama and other U.S. officials whom they accuse of quashing religious freedom in the U.S.

Now, in a move that will likely be greeted with silence by Putin’s American allies, the Russian president has signed a counterterrorism law that watchdog groups warn will stifle religious liberties. One Russian Protestant leader said that the law “creates the basis for mass persecution” of Christians who don’t belong to the Russian Orthodox Church by making it a crime to evangelize unless they receive “a special permit” from the government.

The Religious Right claims that because President Obama supports LGBT rights, he is hostile to religious liberty. At the same time, many of the same activists seem content to ignore real religious freedom violations at the hands of Putin simply because he shares their anti-LGBT views.

Mike Eckel reports:

The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already drawn scorn from critics in and outside of Russia.

Known as the "Yarovaya Law," the measure includes new police and counterterrorism measures that directly echo the sweeping powers wielded by the KGB to stifle dissent and repress opposition activists throughout the Soviet era.

But one largely overlooked aspect of the law is garnering new scrutiny and worry: tight restrictions on the activities of religious groups, particularly smaller denominations.

The new restrictions "will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people," said Thomas J. Reese, who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government agency that monitors religious expression around the world.

"Neither these measures nor the currently existing antiextremism law meet international human rights and religious freedom standards," he said in statement released last week.



For religious groups, the new law requires people to get official permits through a registered religious group and bars things like prayer meetings from taking place anywhere except for officially recognized religious buildings. That would potentially forbid house churches.

Members of a religious group would also potentially be barred from e-mailing invitations to people interested in services, according to Christianity Today, a web-based news service focused on religious issues.

Violators could be fined, or potentially expelled from Russia.



Sergei Ryakhovsky, a Pentecostal church leader and co-head of an organization of Protestant churches in Russia, said in an open letter co-signed by him that the law contradicted the Russian Constitution.

"The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures, is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions," said the letter, which was posted on the Russian-language religious website Portal-Credo.

"This law brings us back to a shameful past," it said.

Move Over, Putin: Scott Lively Has A New Anti-Gay Strongman-Crush

Like other Religious Right leaders, American globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively has long been a vocal supporter of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay policies. A few years ago Lively wrote Putin a gushing fan letter praising his “moral leadership” and “firm and unequivocal stand” against “the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality.” He even tucked in a copy of his infamous book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” saying he hoped that the U.S. and Russia would be able to cooperate in the future and “redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

But Putin is apparently no longer the only apple of Lively’s eye. On Monday, Lively posted a reflection about his latest authoritarian man-crush, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who Lively calls a modern hero of the Christian faith. Lively seems unconcerned about Orbán’s attacks on religious freedom.

Orbán makes no effort to hide his “illiberal” authoritarian nationalist vision. A year ago, in a Politico article titled “Europe’s New Dictator,” Colin Woodard wrote that Orbán’s “dictatorial tendencies” were laying “the course of a deepening tragedy at the heart of Europe with lasting implications for the west.” Woodard notes that Orbán and his party have purged the civil service, packed the courts with political loyalists, restricted freedom of the press, and rewritten the Constitution to give a sheen of legitimacy to all of his efforts. He’s also gone after government watchdog groups and other nonprofits.

Last fall, Foreign Policy’s James Traub published a series of articles on Hungary’s rightward shift, in which he labeled Orbán a “right-wing demagogue” and quoted an analyst saying that while Orbán is not religious, he “constantly invoked Hungary’s ‘Christian’ culture.”

Lively is particularly offended that former U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized recent anti-democratic trends in Poland and Hungary, “two countries that would not have been free but for the United States and the long Cold War.” Lively fumes:

First of all, it must be pointed out that Bill Clinton has absolutely no right to speak for the generation of Americans that liberated Europe because that generation, including its leaders, was Christian. The “democratic” values it fought to preserve and promote included quite prominently the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the natural family, and the concept of national sovereignty. The “democratic values” of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are abortion, homosexuality, and global socialism.

If by “democracy” Clinton means the will of the people versus government tyranny he is doubly discredited. The people of Hungary (and Poland and Russia) overwhelmingly support family values and oppose open borders, while the Clinton/Obama cabal are blatantly, tyrannically and lawlessly ignoring the will of the American public by ramming “gay marriage” and the LGBT agenda down our throats and inviting third world invaders to illegally flood across our southern border by the millions.

Under the Christian leadership of Prime Minister Orban, the Hungarian constitution was revised in 2011 to state that human life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one women. More recently, Mr. Orban had shown great courage in defying the European Union’s suicidal “open borders” policies, especially regarding the threat represented by Islamic “immigrants.”

If these Biblically consistent positions that the leaders of Hungary and Poland have taken on behalf of the majority of their citizens make them “Putin-like,” then perhaps the rest of the world should give Putin more respect in comparison to Clinton and Obama. If that’s what it means to be “Putin-like,” the intended condemnation is actually a compliment.

Lively encourages his readers to send Orbán “a note of support and thanks.”

'I Want To Tear Them Limb From Limb': Alex Jones Goes To War With Trump's Demonic Foes

While fearing Donald Trump’s imminent assassination, Alex Jones of InfoWars is still looking at the bright side of life: God is on his side.

However, this news also means that Satan is working against him, which prompted a tearful rant from Jones yesterday about how he, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are battling the forces of evil.

“Russia is putting up a fight against in the face of just absolute pure evil,” Jones said.

He said that Trump would work with Putin to fight the globalists and put “humans first,” adding that when he thinks about the globalists, he wants to “tear them limb from limb.’

He wants jobs and prosperity and helicopters and money and spaceships and humans. Humans are first. The globalists hate humans. They want world government. They think they’re god. They’re psychopaths. They want to deform us and jack with the food and mutate everything. Russia’s banned GMO. You tune into Russian TV now, it’s like I’m hosting it. It’s not that I’m something special, I’m just human resistance. I’m someone smart enough to study it and decide to resist it. I love people, I love my kids. I love people in Japan and people in Mexico and people in Russia. I love people all over the world.

I hate tyrants. I hate psychopaths. The only reason I get tears in my eyes when I think about this is because I have so much energy to assault the enemy. I want to tear them limb from limb. I want to meet them. I’m sick of them. I’m ready to fight them. I’m ready to stand against them. I believe in humanity. I’m not a parasite that gets off on dumbing people down. I’m not a parasite that wants to hurt people. I want to crush the enemy and I will crush the enemy and you have to crush the enemy and we will crush them.

This, Jones explained, is also a spiritual war:

Everything is aligning. Evil is coming out of the pit of hell. Good is rising up against it. We are in the most epic time in human history right now. Things are going to get insane and I know full well Obama went for two minutes to Scalia’s funeral to pray like a buzzard over it and we have to call the enemies out, we have to not be afraid of them, we do not have to be afraid of what they’ll do to our bodies. I am not afraid of these people at all, even though they have done things to me that make it to the point that I’m the only person that can take care of my children. They have persecuted me. They have attacked me. They have done things you couldn’t even believe if I told you and it doesn’t matter because it’s in God’s hands, it’s in God’s hands and I put myself in God’s hands right now because it’s God that’s going to deliver us from this. And I just want people to break free from this Satanic evil and to stand up against it.

Trump And The Right's Crush On Putin

No one was surprised yesterday when Donald Trump boasted about the kind words he recently received from Vladimir Putin, even playing down Russian president’s record of persecuting journalists and dissidents.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader,” Trump told Joe Scarborough. “You know, unlike we have in this country.” Trump did eventually get around to condemning Putin’s more repressive actions and his invasion of Ukraine with the bold declaration: “Oh sure, absolutely.”

Trump has been heaping praise on Putin throughout his presidential campaign, even insisting that he met the Russian president when they appeared in the same 60 Minutes segment despite the fact their interviews took place on separate continents.

He specifically has hailed Putin’s “amazing” intervention in Syria, thanking him for “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” even though Russian planes rarely target the terrorist group and much more frequently attack the rebels fighting against ISIS.

Putin, of course, has led a widespread crackdown on political and religious freedom in his own country. Earlier this year, a former top government official and opposition leader was assassinated next to the Kremlin in a mysterious case that was likely the work of a government-tied death squad.

Beyond just propping up the brutal Syrian dictatorship, Putin oversaw Chechnya’s transformation into a mini despotic state governed by Sharia law, which may surprise Trump since he has made anti-Muslim bigotry a central part of his campaign platform.

And, of course, Putin has backed an all-out assault on the LGBT community, even criminalizing speech in favor of gay rights if it’s deemed to be “propaganda” aimed at children.

This anti-LGBT crusade may explain why so many U.S. conservatives conveniently ignore the attack on Protestants by the Russian government and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine while railing against the phony persecution of Christians in America. As we’ve mentioned before, Putinphilia has taken a hold over the Religious Right:

Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “championing traditional marriage and Christian values”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”

Officials with the World Congress of Families have lauded Putin as a savior of the entire world. The group organized a meeting for conservative activists at the Kremlin, which also played host to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who traveled to Russia to defend the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown in face of a Western “attempts to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”

Several activists have called for the U.S. to adopt the same speech codes as Russia.

Putin also has support from Fox News pundits, Trump’s pal Alex Jones and conservative talk radio hosts, including one who is contemplating a move to Russia because “it seems to be the best country left on the planet, run by a decent leader.”

The Russian leader is also trying to fund neo-fascist parties in Europe like France’s National Front, the far-right party whose leader says that Trump’s bigotry goes too far.

Seeing that Russia is propping up hard right parties, it’s no surprise that Putin and Trump are fawning over each other.

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin Okays Polygamy, Sharia Law

Vladimir Putin has become a bona fide hero to American Religious Right activists, who see him as a conservative Christian counterweight to President Obama and his support for LGBT equality. Anti-gay activists, for instance, rallied around the Russian leader after the Kremlin approved a ban on speech dealing with “homosexual propaganda” to minors.

Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “championing traditional marriage and Christian values”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”

Officials with the World Congress of Families have lauded Putin as a savior of the entire world. The group  organized a meeting for conservative activists at the Kremlin, which also played host to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who traveled to Russia to defend the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown in face of a Western “attempts to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”

Much of Putin’s anti-LGBT stance is part of a broader campaign to discredit the European Union, antagonizing nationalists to rise up against the EU and its support of progressive values like LGBT rights, and empower the Russian Orthodox Church.

U.S. Religious Right activists have prioritized their absolute contempt for the LGBT community above solidarity with Protestants in Russia, who have come under attack by the state and its allies in the Orthodox Church, which views evangelicals as heretics. Protestants in the occupied area of eastern Ukraine have faced violent attacks from Putin-backed forces.

Seeing that American conservatives are more than happy to ignore Putin’s campaign against Protestantism since he is, after all, the defender of traditional marriage against gay rights, it is more than likely that they will look the other way now that he is “potentially allowing — or at the very least turning a blind eye to — polygamy among Russia’s estimated 16 million Muslims.” 

Julia Ioffe explained in Foreign Policy last week that the Russian government allowed for a friend of Chechnya’s leader to take a second wife in a case that received widespread attention in the country.

As Ioffe writes, “Christian warrior Vladimir Putin” has allowed for the Chechen government to enforce Islamic religious law within its boundaries. Putin’s decision to allow Chechnya to become “a small Islamic state within the borders of the Russian Federation” has paved the way for the legalization of polygamy.

Ioffe points to a case where a teenage girl was married to a 57-year-old police chief who was already married at the time in an arrangement that had all the appearances of a forced marriage. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who, like Putin, has a notorious human rights record, made sure that the wedding took place and even appeared at the reception.

One of polygamy’s noted defenders ended up being the country’s foremost supporter of the “homosexual propaganda” law: Yelena Mizulina. Ioffe writes:

[W]hen a lone member of the parliament proposed a law criminalizing polygamy, the initiative was duly shot down by Yelena Mizulina, the parliamentarian who was among the most vocal supporters of Russia’s anti-gay laws and other “traditional values” initiatives. Criminalizing polygamy, Mizulina said, was “absurd.” The reason for polygamy, she argued was that “there are not enough men, the kind with whom women would want to start a family and have children.” Last week, Mizulina was promoted to the upper chamber of parliament.

Mizulina authored the ban on “homosexual propaganda” and pushed through a law “banning the adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples, unmarried couples and single people in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.”

Putin’s “ombudsman for children’s rights — who was behind Russia’s ban on American adoptions,” Ioffe adds, justified the wedding by claiming that “in the North Caucasus, puberty hits earlier, so 16 was a great age for marrying. ‘There are places where women shrivel up by 27,’ he said.”

The Religious Right’s support for Putin, an authoritarian leader who has infringed on basic liberties and the democratic process, undermined the freedom of religion, particularly for Protestants, and allowed for the creation of a Sharia law enclave where polygamy is legal, once again proves that for a certain segment of American conservatives, everything comes down to opposing homosexuality.

Alex Jones Hails Manly Vladimir Putin For Promoting 'Masculine Men' And Homeschooling

Alex Newman, a far-right journalist and educator, appeared on Alex Jones’ show “InfoWars” last week to speak about his new book, “Crimes of the Educators.” According to Newman, “every tyrant in all of history has understood that to control and to enslave a nation you need to control the education system.” In the United States, he said, “John Dewey was the key figure” in laying the groundwork for tyranny.

Newman told Jones that the public school system is “mass-producing illiterates and collectivists” because “if you don’t have a dumbed down population, if you don’t have a population that’s sufficiently indoctrinated in this process, it’ll never fly.” That is why, Newman claimed, public education “is really at the heart of this globalist effort, really, just to be blunt about it, to enslave the world.”

Jones agreed, claiming that “top globalists” shaping the New World Order admitted to him, “off the record obviously,” that they do indeed control the public schools and are turning young people into their minions.

Newman continued by telling a hopeful story about when he “went to the Global Home Education Conference in Berlin in 2012 and there was a lot of Russians there. And they told me that homeschooling is totally free and wide open in Russia and that was amazing for me.”

While Newman claimed he “wouldn’t trust [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as far as [he] could throw him,” he agreed with Jones’ opinion of Putin that “you got to judge a tree by its fruits, and he’s promoting homeschool. He’s promoting masculine men and ‘men should be tough’ and, like, John Wayne. It’s the opposite of us, you know. It’s ‘men are good role models’ and ‘fathers are good.’”

Newman, agreeing with Jones that “when we see Russia going in the opposite of where we’re going we know we’re in trouble,” concluded, “yeah, and in the United States we’re moving towards crushing homeschooling. The government is becoming extremely hostile and the talking heads on MSNBC telling us that ‘the children belong to the community,’ and Hillary Clinton with her ‘village to raise a child.’ Homeschooling is one of the best options that parents could possibly seize upon right now. You need to get your kids out of the government school. You need to teach them to read using phonics. You need to teach them real history. You need to teach them the facts. And that is how we’re going to stop this criminal enterprise.”

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin's Forces Persecute Christians In Ukraine

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 MurrayPat BuchananBryan FischerBrian BrownDon Feder and Scott Lively, among others, have lionized Putin as a fearless Christian leader who is bravely cracking down on gay rightsThe 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.

Pat Buchanan Once Again Hails Vladimir Putin, Regrets Conchita Wurst Victory

Vladimir Putin’s number one cheerleader Pat Buchanan is out with a new column juxtaposing the Russian president’s right-wing push with the victory of Conchita Wurst in the Eurovision Song Contest and praising Putin for rallying the “millions of traditionalists” who are rejecting European liberalism.

Even as more countries seek European Union membership and ex-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to renege on closer ties with the EU sparked massive protests, Buchanan insists that the EU is in the midst of “disintegration and decay.”

Out of its ashes comes Putin, Buchanan writes, who as “the anti-Obama” is “moving to occupy the cultural-moral vacuum left by America” with his rejection of “Hollywood values” like “multiculturalism, LGBT rights and abortion on demand.”

That victory in the recent Eurovision contest of Conchita, the bearded transvestite drag queen who performed in a gown, though celebrated by much of the European press, sent a message to millions of traditionalists that this is no longer their culture.

Another aspect of the rising populist right, as the New York Times notes, is a grudging admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Why? Putin not only publicly rejects the moral relativism of the West, under his guidance Russian social legislation is being consciously rooted in traditional Christian concepts of right and wrong.

Putin is the anti-Obama, moving to occupy the cultural-moral vacuum left by America. As we celebrate multiculturalism, LGBT rights and abortion on demand, Putin repudiates Hollywood values.

CBN Denounces Putin's Suppression Of Religious Freedom But Joins Anti-Gay Kremlin Summit

A top official with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network is helping the far-right World Congress of Families (WCF) organize a summit with other anti-gay activists at the Kremlin in September, which the WCF is framing as a show of support for Vladimir Putin’s government and his recent crackdown on gay rights.

Justin Murff, the Grants & Foundations Manager for CBN International, is slated to speak at the first day of the pro-Putin gathering alongside Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family and Allan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom, and is on a panel the second day with Focus on the Family official Tom Minnery.

Other panels at the Kremlin conference include “Ex-Gay Movement,” “Case Studies from the Marriage Fight,” “Dangers of Sex Education” and “Roots of Sexual Revolution.” While many American Religious Right pastors, leaders and activists have become cheerleaders for Putin’s authoritarian government, CBN’s involvement in the Kremlin gathering is somewhat surprising because today the 700 Club aired a report from CBN correspondent Paul Strand about how Putin is rolling back the freedom of religion, particularly trampling on the rights of evangelicals and other Christians who aren’t members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2011, CBN reporter George Thomas similarly reported that Baptists and Pentecostals are facing growing threats under Putin’s leadership.

CBN’s involvement in the WCF summit highlights the fact that other Religious Right groups are looking the other way and deliberately ignoring the threats to religious freedom in Russia in order to salute the country’s anti-gay policies.

World Congress Of Families: Criticism Of Putin Is Liberal Media Hysteria

Representatives of the World Congress of Families held a news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday to talk about their 2014 summit, which will be held in Moscow in September.  The WCF and the Religious Right groups it partners with are ardent promoters of anti-gay legislation worldwide, and they love Russia's anti-gay President Vladimir Putin. 

Earlier this week the WCF announced that the opening session would be held in the Congress Hall of the Kremlin Palace, that a special parliamentary session will also be held in the Russian Duma and a special scientific forum at St Petersburg State University. At today's press conference it was announced that the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is expected to address the gathering.

WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs, C-FAM’s Austin Ruse, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, and Alexey Komov, WCF’s man in Russia, were delighted about anti-gay legislation that has passed in Moscow and were defensive about western criticism of Putin’s regime.

Given the record of the event organizers, none of that was very surprising. What was surprising is the way the press conference was hijacked by conservative activist Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, who pointed out that Putin was a product of the Communist-era KGB; he took the organizers to task for partnering with Putin and produced a list of political prisoners he said are being held in Russia.

Kincaid’s strident criticism of Russia’s history provoked Komov into a screed against real and imagined problems from American history, from the slaughter of Native Americans to political prisoners in Guantanamo, complete with references to the supposed killing of 200 witnesses to the JFK assassination and the question of who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Komov suggested that during the era of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. was free, pro-Christian, and pro-capitalist, while Russia was mired in communism. He suggested that under Obama and Putin, a role reversal is under way. He said he would hesitate to say which country is more free, Russia or the U.S.

UPDATE: Kincaid has posted video of the exchange. Watch:

Jacobs was clearly uncomfortable with Komov’s rant, perhaps because, as he had mentioned earlier, WCF has yet to finalize confirmations from Members of Congress who they hope will attend the Moscow summit.

Speakers said they were proud of what Crouse called Russia's "leadership role" on behalf of the family, and proud of what Ruse called the "massive network" of people organizing around the world on behalf of the family and in opposition to "the agenda of the sexual left."

Asked about bipartisan criticism of the increasingly anti-democratic nature of Putin’s rule, Ruse suggested that some people are “stuck in cold war amber” and are consumed by a “visceral hatred of all things Russian.” He energetically supported Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, saying “there is no human right to tell the gay narrative to schoolchildren.” And he dismissed concerns about Putin’s moves against freedom of the press, saying Russians had no “historical memory” of that kind of freedom.

Janice Shaw Crouse said she had “no problem whatsoever” with the prosecution of members of Pussy Riot, falsely claiming that they had disrupted a church service with the performance that landed them in jail.

All the speakers claimed that freedom of press and dissent is alive and well in Russia, saying that they have criticized Putin’s crackdown on homeschoolers and that bloggers are free to criticize the government. And they portrayed Russia as a sort of paradise where gay couples can stroll hand in hand without fear. (For another view, read Jeff Sharlet's recent reporting from Russia in GQ.)

Komov slammed “radical LGBT activists” who he said were trying to turn the Olympics into a “gay pride parade.” Komov said he opposed violence against gay people, but he insisted there was no correlation between passage of anti-gay laws and anti-gay violence in the country, dismissing the idea as “hysteria” from “the liberal media.”

Komov also opined that the Olympics were no place for gay rights: “Olympics is the place for sports and health and normal values that unite everyone ...And we know that if we want Olympics to be sports and health, we know, statistics show us that homosexual lifestyles are not healthy.”

UPDATE: Video of the comments taken by Kincaid:

 

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