Putin Policies Aim to Defend Christian Beliefs
In the past, Russian President Vladimir Putin informed representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church that he would defend and protect Christianity and its followers. According to the representatives, he was concerned about the “urgent situation” facing Christians throughout the world, and vowed to use his power and influence to aid them in their fight against persecution.
According to the Russian Orthodox Church, a Christian is killed or is dying somewhere in the world every five minutes, as a direct result of following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians have been under extreme duress in Afghanistan, Syria, and Egypt, countries where they have had large Christian populations for nearly 2000 years. These attacks have come as a result of extremist groups gaining great authority within the regions, and attempting to push out all “infidels” from the predominantly Muslim nations.
Metropolitan Hilarion, one of the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church presented this information to Putin, and asked for his assistance. Putin declared that he would provide defense of Christians throughout the world, as part of his overall foreign policy. He would defend Christians from persecution wherever they were.
Putin has taken the first steps in making this happen, by denying numerous U.N. resolutions demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad abdicate his position as head of Syria. Al-Assad has a long standing record of supporting Christian churches in Syria, and there is a growing amount of violence against Christians and churches within areas that are now controlled by rebel factions.
Over the years Putin has made many statements expressing his “alarm” and “concern” at what is happening to Christians in Middle Eastern nations, as well as in North Africa. He has demanded that “infringements” upon the rights of minority faiths within these nations come to an end. President Putin’s policies have been aimed at defending Christians and their beliefs.
Russia has been under heavy scrutiny ever since a law was passed creating a propaganda ban against homosexuality. Western nations have been especially critical of Putin in general, for pushing the passage of this law, and U.S. journalists spent a great deal of time covering this issue during the recent Sochi Winter Olympics.
While there are other factors that came into play in creating the law, it is clear that Putin’s Christian upbringing, and belief in the faith, played a part in the decision to pass the law. At the time the law was passed, the Russian paper Pravda railed against the West on many fronts. They attacked homosexual church leaders, the ridiculing of Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin, and support of “immoral” behavior. Putin has been especially critical of U.S. courts that have recently overruled bans on gay marriage in several states. Putin points out that there must be respect for minority groups and their beliefs, but that there must also be “respect for the rights of the majority population.” He added that the rights of the majority cannot be questioned.
Putin has spoken openly of his faith, noting that most of Europe is rooted in Christianity, and that a denial of this is embarking on a path of “renouncing” their roots. Putin believes that Russia is the new leader in supporting Christian values and morals.
While many oppose his tactics, and the western media has done what they can to belittle and demean the Russian President, his message is gaining traction in Russia, and he is gaining support from religious leaders, especially in Europe. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, continues to vow to defend Christianity and Christians throughout the world.
Commentary by Robert Pannier