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Austin Cline

Orthodox Christianity in Russia: Becoming Evil?

By August 31, 2012

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I wrote earlier about the Pussy Riot trial in Russia and the way the Russian government is trying to promote religious traditions and values as more important than individual rights. Apparently the problem goes deeper than that because there's a growing movement within the Orthodox Church that can only be described as evil.

Patriarch Kirill
Patriarch Kirill
Photo: Dima Korotayev/Getty

Fortunately this isn't a problem with every Orthodox Christian in Russia, but it is apparently spreading. It's incredibly intolerant, authoritarian, judgemental, and even at times violent. It's the sort of religious attitude that works well with dictators and genocidal leaders, which should make people worried because Vladimir Putin is in bed with these people.

Unfortunately, because of the close relationship with powerful politicians, this religious movement will probably be stronger than it would have been otherwise if it had simply remained within the church. So long as it gives legitimacy to authoritarian government actions, the government will have an interest in protecting and promoting this religious movement.

First, this belief holds that God does not forgive. A typical example: During a recent demonstration against Pussy Riot, an Orthodox activist screamed "God does not forgive, and to claim otherwise is blasphemy," while beating a female supporter of the punk group. This unforgiving nature is such an important characteristic of God for the Homo Orthodoxus believers that they hold it in a category apart from the direct commandments of Christ.

The second belief of Homo Orthodoxus is that God bestows lavish material gifts on the church's leadership: luxury apartments, fancy cars and expensive Swiss watches. For the Homo Orthodoxus, such perks are part of being close to the Godhead. This is clearly reflected in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, a commercial venue where pricey VIP tickets allow people to view the cathedral's holy relics without standing in the typically long line.

Third, this God does not make any moral demands on his chosen followers but gives them full authority to make such demands on everybody else. This is a very important point. Christianity -- at least theoretically -- is a system of moral obligations that an individual willingly assumes.

But the Homo Orthodoxus system is constructed differently. It allows for church leaders to own a five-star "monastery" in Bakovka and a swanky dacha in the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik. These are the blessings that God has bestowed upon them, and those who criticize the church are sinners.

Fourth, Homo Orthodoxus place the government authorities  on a par with God. According to this view, President Vladimir Putin is a divine avatar who hands out Mercedes automobiles and pricey villas to the "faithful," while meting out punishments to those who dare to question the righteousness of the regime and the church.

Source: The Moscow Times [emphasis added]

Except for the #4, most of this sounds like just about all other fundamentalist religious movements. They all tend to believe in gods that don't forgive (especially when it comes to the sins of non-members). They all tend to believe that the movements leaders deserve/earn extra material perks, at least relative to regular members of the community.

They also all tend to think that their beliefs justify imposing their own moral standards on everyone else, even when they themselves don't adhere to all of those standards very well (and maybe don't even try).

Comments
September 1, 2012 at 2:11 am
(1) P Smith says:

As I’ve said before, those who want to be religious leaders want to control the unholy trinity: money, sex and power. This is about control, not morality.

Religion is a short cut to status and privilege, used by the dishonest and the lazy. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it’s always the most corrupt who seek it out.

.

September 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm
(2) H.K. Fauskanger says:

I believe the Jehovah’s Witnesses are facing considerable trouble in Russia, being accused of “extremism”? The Witnesses, of course, claim to have the One Absolute Truth, and clearly there can’t be more than one religion that _uniquely_ enjoys the favor of the deity.

So then, I guess, it all comes down to which Absolutely True religion is the one that has the ear of the authorities …

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