State and Church

An interesting article by Grace Davie notes how Patriarch Kirill,  the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus´, has been backing Vladimir Putin in his war of human atrocities against Ukraine.  Why? Both men fear “godless” influence from the west.  Think of it as a “Russia first” policy.  Both believe Russian Orthodoxy preserves the “one true faith,” and so an ecclesiastical leader yet again believes he (aren’t they always he’s?) understands politics even as women and children are killed in the bringing of God’s kingdom on earth.  The distorted theology of imperialistic Christianity has caused untold suffering in the world.  God backed by nukes is an apocalyptic situation, but then the Orthodox don’t really take too much stock in the book of Revelation.

Photo credit: Michael Goltz, via Wikimedia Commons

In the midst of all of this, as well as our own versions of it in America, I wonder where the teachings of a prophet who advocated care for the stranger went.  Too bad he never stated directly, “Love thine enemies.”  That sounds radically leftist, doesn’t it?  No, those who think like this ignore the constant refrain of love in the New Testament to focus on a verse or two that say a man shouldn’t lie with a man.  Where’s Socrates when we need him?  Or even Tchaikovsky?  Religion becomes doubly dangerous when it has political backing.  “Love thy neighbor” becomes “kill thy enemy.”  And you must say your country is the greatest in the world and all others are inferior.  Sounds like something a carpenter from Nazareth would’ve agreed on.

Too much gold in the eye, it seems, can lead to spiritual blindness.  Established churches grow quite comfortable when governments hold them close.  The problem is an ancient one.  Even in the biblical world temple and palace mutually supported one another.  The idea of a country where no church ruled the state was a new one a few centuries back.  If different churches ruled neighboring nations the result was, of course, war.  Davie makes the point in her article that the Ukrainian Orthodox wanted some autonomy, which is the Orthodox way generally.  But the coffers in Russia swell more when you get cuts from all the others.  Churches and other businesses worldwide seem to know that by instinct.  But to back a ruler who has civilians, women, and children murdered to keep the godless out?  If that’s godly behavior then we’d better all get down on our knees.  

2 thoughts on “State and Church

  1. Soph

    Today I saw a video from a not so respectable Russian journalist. He used to be pro-Putin but now is very much anti-Putin. He anticipated the war in Ukraine. His take on the Putin-Russian Orthodox Church alliance was that a church is a useful tool in a dictatorship because churches teach people to have faith and believe in things that are at best unprovable and at worse lies. If you are used to believe that way and not question things, then you would be inclined to also believe state TV propaganda, especially if the patriach supports it.

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    • Very good point, Soph! Religion teaches people to be good followers, not critical thinkers, I fear. Even when critical thinkers do arise they tell their followers to think like they do.

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