Vladimir Putin

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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