American Religious Right and Russian Orthodox Leaders are Colluding in Putin’s Persecution of Gay People

With the disgusting acquiescence of the Russian Orthodox bishops, Vladimir Putin has accomplished what Sarah Palin, Franklin Graham and Michele Bachmann could only dream of doing in America. He’s made it okay to persecute gay people people in Russia. As Adam Lee notes, Putin has built his power base of corruption and terror with the help of the religious and conservative elements of his society. He’s become expert at courting the alliance of the Russian Orthodox Church. And here in America conservatives are lining up to defend Putin. For instance writing in The American Conservative, in an article called Culture War Goes Global, (August 13, 3013) Patrick J. Buchanan writes:

As Father Regis Scanlon writes in Crisis Magazine, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” an “objective disorder.” That homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral remains Catholic teaching. Thus, if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda? …. “The adoption of Christianity,” declared Putin, “became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped turn it into one of the largest world powers.” Anyone ever heard anything like that from the Post, the Times, or Barack Hussein Obama?

 

In my new book is And God Said, “Billy!”I invented a character of a Russian Orthodox monk who is open, enlightened and pro gay. I based him on several wonderful Orthodox priests and monks I know like Father Antony of St. Mary’s Orthodox church in Cambridge MA and monk and bishop Archbishop Lazar Puhalo in Canada, as well as several monks I met on Mount Athos in Greece. Sadly in reality my monk is mostly a fiction, just as Fr. Antony and Lazar Puhalo are embattled minorities and often denounced as heretics or worse by conservative Orthodox in the North American Orthodox community of leaders.

I invented my monk in And God Said, “Billy!” for literary reasons, story reason and also because I wish it were so! In reality, unlike my fictional monk, who saves my character Billy, the leaders in religion these days, including Orthodox and evangelical religion, too often side with the oppressor.

Frank Schaeffer God Said Billy

A parade of priests have denounced any who question Putin. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, took to TV to say that “liberalism will lead to legal collapse and then the Apocalypse.” On another occasion, he called Putin’s rule “a miracle.” When convening the heads and senior members of 15 Orthodox Churches for an unprecedented meeting at the Kremlin in the summer of 2013, Putin praised the moral authority of the church. “It is important that relations between the state and the church are developing at a new level,” Putin said in televised remarks, with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill by his side. “We act as genuine partners and colleagues to solve the most pressing domestic and international tasks, to implement joint initiatives for the benefit of our country and people,” he told the clerics.

Alongside Kirill, those present included Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, Theophilos III of Jerusalem and Ilia II of Georgia. Also present were the heads of the Bulgarian, Serbian, Polish and Cypriot Orthodox Churches. Together they represented more than 227 million faithful. To my knowledge not one American Orthodox bishop protested this meeting. I’m reminded of the silence of most of the German churches during the rise of Hitler.

As a member of the Orthodox Church, in this case the Greek Orthodox Church, I’m ashamed. Where are the voices of Orthodox leadership, not only in Russia but here, denouncing this awful man and the terror he’s unleashing against gay men and women? Putin has presided over show-trial prosecutions of political opponents and reformers. He’s used the full weight of his government against artists who mock religion. He’s encouraged the liquidation of crusading journalists who have been beaten and murdered. Putin and his government may have been directly involved in at least one such killing.

A gay rights supporter is beaten to the ground.

Now with the approval of the Russian bishops Putin is inventing a new invented enemy to distract attention from his fascist take over of Russia: Russia’s LGBT men and women. As Adam Lee, a writer living in New York City points out in an article published by Alternet, Putin’s “parliament” passed increasingly draconian anti-gay laws. Russian activists have even been arrested for just holding up a signs reading “Gay is normal.”

A bill now under consideration would take away children (both adopted and biological) from gay and lesbian parents. With the Russian Church, parliament and Putin saying that LGBT people aren’t fully human, homophobes in Russia are emboldened. The torture and murder of gay people, by gangs of skinheads assaulting gay-rights protestors in public, with the police looking on,is happening. And American evangelical Christians think this is all great. So, apparently judging by their silence, do American Orthodox church leaders.

NOW American evangelical and Roman Catholic right-wing haters are climbing aboard the Russian hate parade .As cited by Adam Lee we find that–

  • On the Christian news site OneNewsNow, is the headline, “Russia sees America’s error, may ban public homosexuality.” It quotes Tim Todd, the head of Revival Fires International Ministries and an “evangelist who works in Russia,” as saying he “believes the move afoot there to ban the public display of homosexuality is because the nation’s leaders–both political and religious–have seen the damage American culture has suffered from the homosexual movement.”
  • Linda Harvey, founder of the anti-gay hate group Mission America, said on her radio program that Christians should pray for the Russian laws to continue, saying that by forbidding gay pride parades and adoption by gay couples, “they are protecting kids… What responsible adult would have a problem with keeping kids on a path of high moral standards?”
  • Peter LaBarbera, an anti-gay evangelical and head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, said, “Russians do not want to follow America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth” (source) and sneered at the idea of offering asylum to Russian LGBT people.
  • Bill Owens, the religious liaison of the National Organization for Marriage, sent out an e-mail saying he was “intrigued” by the Russian law and saw it as a sign of Russia’s leaders “attempting to stem the tide of moral decline.” He also said, “I applaud the Russians for taking a stand for children!”
  • Bryan Fischer, spokesman for the American Family Association, said he wholeheartedly supports the Russian law and has said that, if anything, it doesn’t go far enough: “Heterosexuality is God’s design. Policies that encourage young people to think this are good ideas.”
  • Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, wrote in an editorial for the Daily Caller that “there is no human right to teach school children about sexual practices, neither is there a human right to parade your sexual preferences and practices down public streets.” He also said he “admire[s] some of the things they’re doing in Russia” and that he plans to travel there to meet with government officials to offer his support.
  • Another CFHRI official, Stefano Gemmarini, praised Russia for barring gay pride parades and seemingly implied that some of the fines laid out in the bill aren’t severe enough, saying “$155 is hardly unmanageable for homosexuals who want to kiss in public.”
  • The World Congress of Families, a Christian-right group based in Illinois, plans to hold its 2014 annual conference at the Kremlin in a show of support for the Russian laws. The WCF website says that Russia, “with its historic commitment to deep spirituality and morality, can be a hope for the natural family supporters from all over the world.” A WCF spokesman, Larry Jacobs, added that “Russia could be a great ally for conservatives” and cheered its anti-gay laws as a “great idea” (source).
  • Another American anti-gay group, MassResistance, has praised the Russian laws and said that a mob of thugs who assaulted gay-rights protestors were “provoked” by the protesters kissing in public. This is the same group that’s praised a draconian anti-gay Nigerian law.
  • Scott Lively, an American evangelical who helped draft the proposed Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill (and who’s being sued in Massachusetts for crimes against humanity because of it), conducted a speaking tour in Russia in 2007 and has praised the anti-LGBT laws for reflecting ideas he advocated at the time. He’s said that “Russia could become a model pro-family society” and went so far as to say that Russia “is becoming a beacon of freedom to those who love God’s design for the family” (source).

The religious right is working to export American-style culture war hate. The far right in America is publicly approving the Russian murder/torture/expelling and harassment of gay men and women. Where are the Orthodox bishops speaking out and denouncing the Russian church for colluding with this regime? Where are the evangelical leaders in the big Christian colleges, the publications, like Christianity Today, and World magazine calling out the evangelicals working to make Putin’s terror acceptable to Americans?

I’m grateful to Senator John McCain for telling it like it is in an oped he wrote exposing Putin. I’m shocked by the silence of people calling themselves Christians, most especially the leaders of the Orthodox Church worldwide, not to mention the anti-gay bigots who run the religious right here in America. Truth is, they can’t get away with the level of hate practiced in Russia against gay people, but I have the suspicion that right wing Christians in America and maybe some of our Orthodox bishops, wish they could similarly crush our gay brothers and sisters here, and are vicariously standing right there next to the skinheads of Russia and putting in the boot on defenseless human beings. All in the name of Jesus of course.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His new book is And God Said, “Billy!” Click HERE to buy it for only $3.99 on Kindle (available in paperback too).

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • danaames

    Frank,

    see this:

    http://morningoffering.blogspot.com/2013/05/he-who-is-without-sin-we-have-all.html

    and this:

    http://morningoffering.blogspot.com/2013/05/standing-against-violence-struggle-for.html

    Father Tryphon is about as “conservative” as one can be, and yet (even as a ROCOR priest) he speaks against violence toward gay people.

    Dana

    • frankschaeffer

      Hi, yes I am aware, thanks for sharing danaames, best F

      • James Blackstock

        Frank, it was partly because of a lecture you gave in Jacksonville a number of years ago that I came home to the Orthodox Church. Over a period of time thereafter, I purchased “many” books and CDs from Regina Orthodox Press. I was proud to call you my Orthodox friend. I am no longer proud of you! I am ashamed for you! I will pray that God allows you to come back to your senses, better yet, to His Senses! I can no longer, in good conscience, recommend your books or blog to anyone. You should stop calling yourself Orthodox for surely, you are anything but!

        • Oswald Carnes

          So you’re in favor, then, of the violent Orthogoons beating up gay people? I would much rather burn in hell than spend five minutes around filth like you.

          • James Blackstock

            You really don’t know me but in friendship let me recommend Some St Johns Wort I hear it good for mental problems. Good luck. I hope you go to heaven!

  • stephen ryan

    Frank, I am with you on the need for tolerance towards gays…A few month ago my wife and I were asked to be witnesses at our best friend’s wedding. They are gay and were married in a court house. It was a moving and lovely ceremony. But i am not ready to be bludgeoned by the unbelievably uninformed liberal media when it comes to Putin and Russian orthodoxy ..I have spent a lot of time on this. John MCain is a war monger the US military’s best salesman and a cold warrior and he hates Russia. He also is silent on persecution of Christians throughout the middle east. Liberal media is outraged at the the jailing of the three Pussy Riot vandals and are profoundly mute when it comes to 2,000,000 refugees out of syria and the brutal killing of Christians..Putin does not want America to tell him that he should not say “Merry Christmas”; that it may offend some one. Putin says “FU”. Ive got no problem with that. One thing for sure the Sochi Olympics will be as much about the culture wars as it will be about gold medals.

    • frankschaeffer

      Stephen, Good points all, I think I’ll do a piece on the untold story of the killing of Christians across the Middle East, that has been made 10 worse than ever by Bush’s Iraq war and the rest… Thanks for bringing this up here. Grateful, Frank

    • Agni Ashwin

      “Putin does not want America to tell him that he should not say “Merry Christmas””

      I don’t remember any American suggesting this.

      • JohnDale49

        Then you must be deaf, as ‘happy holidays’ has been pushed by libtard commentators for a decade.

        • Oswald Carnes

          Have a happy holiday season, stupid goon.

  • http://www.saintjonah.org/ frjohnwhiteford
  • Jason

    Frank,

    Will you also talk about Obama’s role in funding the terrorists that are massacring Christians?

    Here are a few things that I think are problematic about your article:

    1. You claims that Putin “made it okay to persecute gay people in Russia.” Banning public displays of homosexuality and homosexual propaganda is not the same as making it okay to “persecute” homosexuals. We have laws against a lot of things in the U.S. Having such laws does not make it okay to commit violence against those who break them.

    2. You claim that “a parade of priests have denounced any who question Putin” without making any reference to what parade you are talking about; no links, no explanation, nothing.

    3. You find fault with Orthodox bishops partnering with heads of State on areas of common concern such as the spiritual and moral well-being of the nation.

    4. You find fault with Orthodox bishops in America for not speaking out against Orthodox bishops abroad for joining forces with a head of State to address matters relating to the spiritual and moral well-being of the nation.

    5. You compare Putin to Hitler.

    6. You compare Orthodox bishops’ support of Putin to those who were silent over the alleged mass extermination of Jews and homosexuals in concentration camps.

    7. You compare outlawing homosexual propaganda to alleged mass extermination of Jews and homosexuals under Hitler.

    8. You equate American Evangelical support for Putin’s ban against homosexual propaganda to their support of violence against homosexuals in Russia.

    9. You imply that laws against homosexual propaganda in Russia have incited violence against homosexuals without providing more than a few photos and a couple of stories. No data has been provided showing that such violence occurs at a higher rate per capita in Russia than in America or any other country, or that such violence has occurred increasingly in Russia after this law compared to before.

    10. Without any evidence of increased violence against homosexuals in Russia, you express outrage that Orthodox bishops are not speaking out against something that they may know nothing about.

    11. You claim to be a member of the Orthodox Church, yet you do not seem to understand why the Orthodox Church has not accepted homosexual relationships for the past 2,000 years.

    12. You claim to be a member of the Orthodox Church, yet you do not seem to accept the common interpretation of the Scriptures by the Orthodox Church since apostolic times concerning the subject of homosexual relations.

    13. You say that you are part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese but do not seem to be aware that your own bishops and Patriarch are against homosexual relations.

    These are just a few problems I had with your writing. I would hope that you would use your writings skills to edify people and lead them to salvation, rather than to introduce scandal and further alienate yourself from the Orthodox Church, the Ark of Salvation.

  • Soka Sema

    Typical American author seeing things thru his small world view. Sorry but the left and non-religious of the world are not pro homosexual. China? India? Russia (still 30 percent communist and all for their current laws)? the rest of asia? That’s most of the worlds population right there.
    Promotion of perversion is strictly the confused Marxist lefties of parts of europe, Australia, Canada and the US, along with backwoods South American countries.
    Even President Obama’s support for all things gay is merely a means to an end. His goal is to remove America as the world’s moral authority . It’s his biggest accomplishment yet.
    As for Russia’s new law, it merely restricts ALL people from promoting ANY sexual propaganda to underage children. This includes the public because under the rules of a Free society for all, the public domain is neutral and your rights end where the rights of others (in this case children’s) begin. This MUST be respected in order for your private life to be protected from the public. When you erase the line between public and private, you invite the public into your privates.
    Still not convinced?
    Russia has far less attacks on gays then the US , Canada, France and Australia.

    • Julia

      I agree with Soka Sema. The author see the situation from the point of view of american “cultural wars”, not understanding Russian “cultural code” at all. This law is not about “hate” to anybody but about the defence of children from engagement into “adult” and very intolerant “Novel left movements”. Besides it is not in tradition of Russia to pubclically discuss the intime life of person. If some group of heterosexuals would organize “parades” on the details of their “intime” life one should not expect that this would please the majority of population. And this is the right of Russian people. They have a right to defend the country of Chehov and Tolstoy from “postmodern” sexual platitude of any orientation, so more that Russia had already experienced all these “fascinating” “cultural revolutions” soon after 1917 and is born of all this. It has many other problems to solve except artificially exaggerated “sex problems”. As to the attacks on gays as persons they are rare in Russia. If would be better the author come to Russia and analyse the situation himself than to rely on invalid information.

      • Neil

        The country of Tolstoy and Chekov but not Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Eisenstein, Diaghilev, Nijinsky or Nureyev?

        • Julia

          To Neil. You seem to be mainly interested in guessing “sexual orientation” of the persons you have mentioned. And we, Russians, appreciate and love them for the results of their creation: musics, films, balets and so on. Among them Musorgsky is especially close to me, because I was fond of his opera “Boris Godunov” from my childhood and have seen it many times in Bolshoy theater. And this detail (frankly speaking – not interesting for me at all) – about his “orientation” I have first known from you just now. No mind the origin of these rumours are, we know firmly that Musorgsky was not a “fighter” for the “right” of i.e., adult adepts of certain “lefts” movements to perform artificial sexualisation and brainwashing of children and teenagers (the matter the Russian law in reality deals with). As for me, it is simply not “politcorrect” (using modern language) to discuss such intime details of person’s life, especially if this person never did this during his life and never asked somebody to do this. The same is just about Chakovsky – great Russian composer – and other persons you have mentioned. They seem not to have a need in your “defence”. Excuse me, but your comment has reminded me the lessons of history in USSR schools when pupils had to duscuss any historical event, phenomenon or person from the viewpoint of “Marxizm-leninizm theory” and “”the war of classes” (though good teachers never did this inspite the requirements of school programs).

    • Neil

      You’ve been misinformed. The Russian law bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors,” and in this language seeks to promote the idea that homosexuality has something to do with child abuse. The law is worded so broadly that it effectively bans any public expression by any person advocating for gay rights. Any sign of affection in public can be read as a potential exposure to children of a “non-traditional sexual relationship”.

      It is absolutely false that a person could be prosecuted under this law for discussing their heterosexual relationship in a public way. What this law does is to force gays into silence while letting any slander or prejudicial statement go unchallenged. It is a blatant example of the government controlling speech. Forget that the law is anti-gay, it’s a fundamental abuse of the right to free speech.

      Unfortunately there’s a long tradition of governments exploiting unpopular minorities to erode civil rights. That’s one tradition the Russian government seems keen to uphold.

  • JohnDale49

    This author NEGLECTS to mention that the law is favored by 85% of Russians, who were outraged when an American/Vietnamese homosexual couple in Australia adopted a baby and RAPED it for three years with their gay friends.

    The law was passed UNANIMOUSLY through the DUMA. The parties in the Duma consist of corporatist oligarchs, nationalists, socialists, and communists. That’s a broad coalition from right to left.

    • Steven Kerr

      Should one perverted gay couple mean that all LGB couples are like that? Heterosexual rape doesn’t mean that all straight couples are perverted and it doesn’t mean all straight couples are rapists anymore than the instance of rape you cited meaning that all gay couples are perverted.

    • CLarosa

      Holy crap man! What kind of lame argument is that? At one time, I’m certain 85% of colonial Americans favored FORCED SLAVERY – but that didn’t mean it was moral. And you’re using ONE context-less example of evil to somehow broadly paint all LGBT people as demons? Dude. Take a freaking Philisophy class at the local community college. Sheesh!

    • Oswald Carnes

      You’re probably raping a child right now. It’s what conservatives do.

    • Neil

      I found an article by the journalist, Ginger Gorman, who’d originally covered this couple in a story about the social struggles of gay people. In the article he expresses his horror on discovering the men were paedophiles posing as gay parents. He was also horrified by people like you, who look no further than their prejudice to confirm their bias with a story like this as a supporting anecdote.

      You can read the story here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-10/gorman-second-thoughts/4809582

      Sadly, going by your post, I suspect you don’t wish to be informed. If I’m wrong about that you can learn about the erroneous nature of the myth that homosexuality is a predictor of paedophilia here: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html

      And a more academic essay about the differences between adult sexuality and paedophilia here: http://individual.utoronto.ca/james_cantor/blog1.html

  • Sara

    Hi Frank. Thank you for this post. I’m a Christian and a lesbian and it breaks my heart that so many Christians are silent about this. We have a responsibility to stand up to evil that is being done in our names. This is my first time reading your blog, but it won’t be the last. You seem to be getting a lot of grief in the comments, but I’m grateful to you for raising your voice.

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