Putin’s Crusade – Is Russia the Last Defender of the Christian Faith?
For those of us who grew up in America being told that the godless communist atheists in Russia were our enemies, the idea that America might give up on God and Christianity while Russia embraces religion might once have been difficult to accept. But by 2015, the everyday signs in America show a growing contempt for Christianity, under the first president whose very claims of being a Christian are questionable. The exact opposite trend is happening for Russia and its leaders – a return to Christian roots.
Photo below – Rebuilding Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow
The article http://20committee.com/2014/12/27/putins-orthodox-jihad/ often referenced here suggests that underneath Vladimir Putin’s KGB-trained exterior persona – in which he is the tough and pragmatic leader of a Russia determined to defy America and the West – the inner Putin is basically a born again Christian (within the bounds of Russian Orthodox Christianity.)
“What motivates this is a complex question. Putin is a complex character himself, with his worldview being profoundly shaped by his long service as a Soviet secret policeman; he exudes what Russians term Chekism – conspiracy-based thinking that sees plots abounding and is reflexively anti-Western, with heavy doses of machismo and KGB tough-talk. Hence persistent Western efforts to view Putin as any Western sort of democratic politician, albeit one with a strange affectation for judo and odd bare-chested photo-ops with scary wild animals, invariably miss the mark…. In his fire-breathing speech to the Duma in March  when he announced Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin included not just venerable KGB classics like warnings about the Western Fifth Column and “national traitors,” but also paeans to explicit Russian ethnic nationalism buttressed by Orthodox mysticism, with citations of saints from millennia past. This was the culmination of years of increasingly unsubtle hints from Putin and his inner circle that what ideologically motivates this Kremlin is the KGB cult unified with Russian Orthodoxy. Behind the Chekist sword and shield lurks the Third Rome.” [Remember that the Second Rome was the Byzantine Empire – Byzantium/Constantinople – now Istanbul – was once upon a time the dominant Christian Empire – and has always been the model for the Russian State, with its unique blending of Church and State. Unlike England and America, where the state is viewed only as a tool to serve the people, Russian leaders have always viewed the people as pawns serving the state.]
“According to his own account, Putin’s father was a militant Communist while his mother was a faithful, if quiet, Orthodox believer; one wonders what holidays were like in the Putin household. He was baptized in secret as a child but was not any sort of engaged believer during his KGB service — that would have been impossible, not least due to the KGB’s role in persecuting religion — but by his own account, late in the Soviet period, Putin reconciled his Chekism with his faith by making the sign of the cross over his KGB credentials. By the late 1990’s, Putin was wearing his baptismal cross openly, for all bare-chested photo ops.”
“Putin’s potent fusion of KGB values and Orthodoxy has been building for years, though few Westerners have noticed. Early in Putin’s years in the Kremlin, the younger generation of Federal Security Service (FSB) officers embraced a nascent ideology they termed “the system” (sistema), which was a sort of elitist Chekism — toughness free of corruption and based in patriotism — updated for the new 21st century. However, this could have limited appeal to the masses, so its place was gradually taken by a doctrine termed “spiritual security.” This involved the ideological fusion of the FSB and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), culminating in the 2002 dedication of an Orthodox church at the Lubyanka, the FSB — and former KGB’s — notorious Moscow headquarters. It suddenly became fashionable for senior FSB officers to have conversion experiences, while “spiritual security” offered Putin’s Russia a way to defend itself against what it has long seen as the encroachment of decadent post-modern Western values.”
Could Russia become the strongest defender of Christianity while American values are replaced with multiculturalism, atheism, and individualism? Has this ALREADY happened? In 2012, “The head of [Russian] External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world… [he] asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy directions in future.” And Putin suggested that you can count on it. (See “Putin promises to protect Christianity worldwide.” http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2012/03/putin-promises-to-protect-christianity.html – you certainly won’t hear Obama agree to anything like that.)
Photo: Russian priest blessing guns with holy water, an example of Russia’s Christian militancy.
This is in stark contrast to the American military, on which (Billy Graham’s son) Frankin Graham says “’My son just got back from his seventh [military] tour this weekend. So, I love the military. There has been huge pressure on the chaplains in our military – and our chaplains have been a wonderful thing for the military. But there is a move to get rid of the chaplains in our country, and to completely secularize our military. Actually, they are hostile to Christians. A lot of this is coming from this administration and is being pushed by people within the White House,’ said Graham…. ‘They are hostile to Christ. They are anti-Christ in what they say and in what they do,’ said Graham. ‘And they are pushing this agenda into the military. It’s scary.’” http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/franklin-graham-some-administration-officials-are-anti-christ#sthash.4u5ziG1t.3nCJtggZ.dpuf
Listen to Putin’s comments from a speech at 2014’s Valdai Club: “Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote pedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.”
This hardly sounds like the godless communists I heard about while growing up in America. My generation was never taught that Russians might have a spiritual side; we were only taught about their rejection of God and religion and how they were going to nuke us someday so we better practice duck and cover drills to hide under our desks from the inevitable nuclear destruction…. Never in my life did I ever think I would see the following quote in Pravda (the once upon a time leading Communist propaganda newspaper) “There is no longer a real powerful conservative in the West the liberals fear. In the East there is someone that causes the western liberal’s maniacal laughter to stop. Vladimir Putin. He has real world power, which causes the liberal media to fearfully ignore or warp his image. Like a good Christian King he leads a nation to Christ. Deep down in their evil souls they shriek like devils because they know Christ is true God and true power that they cannot defeat. They thought the Bolshevik revolution destroyed Holy Mother Russia. Christ cannot be defeated and his servant Putin has welcomed Christ and His church.” (from “US threatened by Russia’s Christianity” – http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/01-07-2013/124992-russia_christianity-0/)
The same author, Xavier Lerma, wrote in another Pravda article: “The western media prefers to shriek like spoiled brats against Putin. ‘Evil dictator!’ they shout, while they themselves have rejected the Holy Spirit and proudly wear the seal of the Antichrist. They laugh but God is not mocked. Christ is Victorious in Russia where homosexuality is still a sin; blasphemy a crime; where crosses and holy images are in public view. A renewed faith in Christ our King has become our fortress. This is the wall Putin stands on and the wall that will cause Obama’s fall.” (http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/06-09-2013/125583-putin_obama-0/)
Many Russians love the nationalist rhetoric about how bad the loose morals of the West are and how great Russia is. Some are worried that the message is a little too hostile.
On March 8, 2015, Michael Birnbaum’s “Russia’s anti-American fever goes beyond the Soviet era’s” article ran in the Washington Post. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russias-anti-us-sentiment-now-is-even-worse-than-it-was-in-soviet-union/2015/03/08/b7d534c4-c357-11e4-a188-8e4971d37a8d_story.html ) He writes: “After a year in which furious rhetoric has been pumped across Russian airwaves, anger toward the United States is at its worst since opinion polls began tracking it. From ordinary street vendors all the way up to the Kremlin, a wave of anti-U.S. bile has swept the country, surpassing any time since the Stalin era.” When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russians began Westernizing, and believed that they would be accepted by the West. That never happened. “The years of perceived humiliations have “led to anti-Americanism at the grass-roots level, which did not exist before,” said Vladimir Pozner, a journalist who for decades was a prominent voice of the Soviet Union in the United States. More recently, he has to explain the United States inside Russia. “We don’t like the Americans, and it’s because they’re pushy, they think they’re unique and they have had no regard for anyone else.”
The U.S. military has also been pushy – pushing up against Russia’s borders as if it expects to find a soft underbelly in the Ukraine and the Black Sea. Personally, I think America should back off from these areas and treat them as being within Russia’s sphere of influence. I do not think America needs to act as global policeman and sole superpower. Would America want the Russian military in Mexico, or Canada, or Cuba? Common sense says – no. History says no. It is worth the chance of provoking a larger war with Russia just to preserve the unity of Ukraine, when many people in the eastern half of Ukraine (which is in many places ethnically and linguistically Russian) seems to want reunification with Russia anyway?
Former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech in Berlin on November 8 in which he said “I want to urge you to consider carefully Vladimir Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai Forum. Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.” http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/11/gorbachevs-full-speech-in-germany-nov-8-2014.html#more
I do not share Gorbachev’s optimism on Putin searching for a new basis for peace and friendship with America – especially in light of his recent announcement that NATO is the Russian military’s most dangerous adversary. But why would he need a “new” basis? America is in decline and Russia is rebounding. Putin seems to be playing chess while Obama seems to have trouble playing checkers. Some people theorize that Obama’s policies – which often seem naive, stupid, and counter-productive on the surface – are really a covert attempt to weaken the power and influence of what Obama may view as a rogue neo-colonial monster – the United States. If Obama’s goal is to reduce America’s influence on the world, Putin may only need to sit back and reap the rewards of Obama’s policies.
In December, a Russian priest named Father Vsevolod Chaplin gave a long newspaper interview denouncing many foreign and non-Christian movements from American culture through Islam… “but it was his comments on the current conflict with America that got all the attention. Chaplin minced no words, proclaiming that Russia’s God-given goal today is halting the global ‘American project.’ As he explained: ‘It is no coincidence that we have often, at the price of our own lives … stopped all global projects that disagreed with our conscience, with our vision of history and, I would say, with God’s own truth…. Such was Napoleon’s project, such was Hitler’s project. We will stop the American project too.’”
Are Russians really lumping America (or President Obama) in with the likes of Hitler and Napoleon? (These men were often considered the first two of three predicted antichrists in Nostradamus’ prophecies.) The idea of an American president as Antichrist is not a new idea (see Antichrist 2016-2019: Mystery Babylon, Barack Obama & the Islamic Caliphate) to me but I am surprised to learn that the suggestion may be a common view in Russia.
“Chaplin’s biggest theme is that the decadent, post-modern West, led by the frankly Satanic United States — whose separation of church and state, per Chaplin, constitutes “a monstrous phenomenon that has occurred only in Western civilization and will kill the West, both politically and morally” — has no future. According to the ROC, speaking through its spokesman, the triumph of same-sex marriage means that the West doesn’t even have fifty years left before its collapse, and it will be up to Russia then to save what can be saved, to ‘make Europe Christian again, that is, go back to the ideals that once made Europe.’”
“Ivan Ilyin, a Russian philosopher who fled the Bolsheviks and died in Swiss exile, was reburied at Moscow’s famous Donskoy monastery in 2005 with public fanfare; Putin personally paid for Ilyin’s new headstone.” We can safely assume that Putin admires this philosopher and strongly identifies with his message – since he personally paid to have the exiled man’s corpse reburied at a monastery in Moscow. Ilyin wrote: “The West exported this anti-Christian virus to Russia … Having lost our bond with God and the Christian Tradition, mankind has been morally blinded, gripped by materialism, irrationalism and nihilism … In order to overcome the global moral crisis, we have to return to eternal moral values, that is faith, love, freedom, conscience, family, motherland and nation, but above all faith and love.” Ilyin said when Russia is squeezed by its enemies “Stand firm, standing up with your left hand, which goes from the heart, for Christ the Lord, for His undivided tunic, and, with your right hand, fight to the end for Orthodoxy and Orthodox Russia. And, above all, vigilantly watch those groups which are preparing for Antichrist.”
Ilyin was very disappointed when Communism took over Russia, but he felt that one day a free Christian Russia would rise again – and that it must blend militant strength and Christianity when it does. “This idea is great as Russia and the sacred as her religion. This is the idea of the Orthodox sword.” He described his vision of a Russia with uncompromising faith and patriotism without weaknesses “In calling to love our enemies, Christ had in mind personal enemies of man, not God’s enemies, and not blaspheming molesters, for them drowning with a millstone around their neck was recommended. Urging to forgive injuries, Christ was referring to personal insults to a person, not all possible crimes; no one has the right to forgive the offenses suffered by others or provide for the villains to offend the weak, corrupt children, desecrate churches and destroy the Fatherland. So therefore a Christian is called not only to forgive offenses, but to fight the enemies of God’s work on earth. The evangelical commandment of ‘non-resistance to evil’ teaches humility and generosity in personal matters, and not limpness of will, not cowardice, not treachery and not obedience to evildoers.”
Ilyin’s views have been revived among Russia’s elite. As one Russian priest said of Russia’s enemies a few months ago: “The goal of Moscow’s enemy, as he elaborated, is perfectly clear to the eyes of faith: The establishment of planetary Satanic rule. What’s occurring here is the very beginning of a global war. Not for resources or territory, that’s secondary. This is a war for the destruction of true Christianity, Orthodoxy. The worldview of the wealthiest men who own almost all the material goods in the world is Satanism. Having summoned the elements of the First and Second World Wars and a Third Information War, and having laid hundreds of millions of the slain at the altar of their father, Satan, they have initiated the Fourth World War. They are intentionally hastening the reign of Antichrist.”
I am very surprised to see so many mentions of the Antichrist in this excellent article on Putin’s Christian Russia (most quotes above from http://20committee.com/2014/12/27/putins-orthodox-jihad/ ) But it is not the only article describing Russia’s interest in Ilyin (or an American Antichrist.) An article at https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/putins-philosopher/ also states: “In his speech to the Russian parliament on 4 December, Vladimir Putin quoted philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who died 60 years ago today. Putin supervised the repatriation and reburial of Ilyin’s body in 2005, and has laid flowers on Ilyin’s grave. He has quoted him several times before. Ilyin’s Our Tasks (Nashi Zadachi) was one of three books distributed by the Kremlin as recommended reading to regional governors and senior members of the United Russia party in early 2014. And on December 22nd of this year,  members of the Duma, Federation Council, and Presidential Administration will meet in Moscow for a round-table discussion of his work. If Putin has a favourite philosopher, Ilyin seems to be the man.”
“Resolutely anti-communist, he was expelled from Soviet Russia in 1922 along with some 200 other intellectuals on the infamous ‘philosophers’ steamboat’. He then took up residence in Berlin, where he made contact with members of the exiled White army…. Ilyin became the unofficial ideologist of the White Army in exile, and much of his work thereafter was as much political as it was philosophical, and was aimed at a wider audience than other philosophers…. He was in many respects a religious philosopher, in that he regarded spiritual matters as more important than material ones. He believed that the Russian revolution was a product of the spiritual failings of the Russian people. Russia’s resurrection depended on the revival of the correct spirit, including a love of God, a love of Russia, respect for the law, a sense of duty and honour, and devotion to the state and the common[wealth] rather than personal or party interests. It is difficult to reduce the writings of such a complex thinker to a few lines, but three themes stand out: gosudarstvennost’ (statehood); pravosoznanie (legal consciousness); and natsionalizm (nationalism).”
It is the nationalism that starts to affect other nations. In Ilyin’s philosophy, “the West had no right to tell Russians how to run their own country; conditions in Russia weren’t the same as in the West. ‘Western Europe, which doesn’t know Russia, has not the slightest basis for imposing any political forms whatsoever on us,’ Ilyin declared. At the same time, Ilyin’s vision of Russia was as a multi-national empire. He did not believe that every small nation had a right to self-determination. Ukrainian independence was anathema to him.” (above quotes from https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/putins-philosopher/)
Yet while western Ukrainians might fear losing their independence to a rising Russia, and America should fear the inevitable loss of its sole superpower status as both Russia and China gain strength and work against American goals on the world stage, many other nations which are not at risk of being absorbed into Russia love the stance Putin is taking.
“Putin’s uncompromising worldview has more than a few admirers in the West, far beyond the Orthodox realm. Many who reject Moscow’s quasi-religious mysticism nevertheless admire its willingness to take on America directly and offer a counterpoint to armed post-modernism in world affairs. As I’ve previously explained, many European far-right parties have quite a crush on the man in the Kremlin, perhaps due to the money he gives them, but the sincerity of some of the admiration is not in question. In France, Marine Le Pen is leading her National Front to ever-greater heights of political power, and her affection for Putin is unconcealed. ‘In Russia today there is a mix of exalting nationalism, exalting the church and Christian values,’ explained a French politico: “They are now replacing the red star with the cross, and they are representing themselves as the ultimate barrier against the Islamization of the continent.’ Since it is far from impossible that Le Pen will be president of France someday, the implications of all this for NATO and the West merit serious consideration.” (http://20committee.com/2014/12/27/putins-orthodox-jihad/)
This is backed up by more articles like “Marine Le Pen re-elected as leader of France’s far-right National Front” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/marine-le-pen-re-elected-as-leader-of-frances-far-right-national-front/article21840371/ In which we were told “France’s far-right National Front re-elected its leader Marine Le Pen with a 100 per cent mandate on Sunday at a party congress marked by closer ties to Russia and the rise of a new generation of the Le Pen dynasty.” Keep in mind that all quotes are from articles written before the Islamic terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other French locations… and that the attacks give a strong boost to Le Pen’s conservative Nationalists – as noted immediately in articles like http://www.businessweek.com/news/2015-01-07/le-pen-may-benefit-as-magazine-attack-exposes-french-divisions. “Far-right parties are rapidly gaining support” as Le Pen says “The absolute rejection of Islamic fundamentalism must be proclaimed loudly and clearly.”
But while a healthy fear of militant Islam might knock a few French back into the fold of Christianity, fears of East and West are truly reviving religion on a massive scale only in Russia. About 300 churches were opened up in Moscow alone in 2014. From the point of view of American evangelists who touted Russia as the evil land of Gog and Magog, this would be great news – the once atheistic evil empire is joining us in faith. But they are not joining us – they view themselves alone as defenders of Christianity and Europe – while America is now viewed by Russians as the decaying land of Satanic antichrist “values” where gay marriage is state-supported but saying “Merry Christmas” is not. Even some Americans share this view, as expressed in the article: “Putin the Christian vs. Obama the Antichrist.” (http://www.theburningplatform.com/2014/03/25/putin-the-christian-vs-obama-the-antichrist/)
Mikhail Degtyarev – who serves as the deputy head of the science and technology committee in the Russian Duma – expects Russia to have to fight the forces of the Antichrist. “For Degtyarev, the battle between good and evil is one that plays out in intensely nationalist terms. ‘I can say as a believer that I believe in the apocalypse from the point of view of faith. And I think we must prepare,’ Degtyarev said on Friday. ‘I believe that we’ll defeat the Antichrist — I’m sure of it — and that Russia will lead the fight against the Antichrist.’” (from “Russian Lawmaker Who Believes The Antichrist Is Coming, Proposes Bill To Ban Dollars In Russia” – http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-11-13/russian-lawmaker-who-believes-antichrist-coming-proposes-bill-ban-dollars-russia)
From another, older Pravda article (“True Mark of the Beast” – http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/18-08-2014/128293-mark_beast-0/) “Christians in Russia have survived Hell’s fury from communism. The blood that once soaked the land was the seed for Russia’s new destiny. The evil that spread from Russia in 1917 to the West will be destroyed by Russia’s renewed faith that will heal the world.” The writer also quoted the Russian Church’s Patriarch: “A total of 23,000 Orthodox churches have been rebuilt in Russia in the past 20 years. Nothing of the kind has happened in any country at any time in history. The world should see the Orthodox Russia’s great feat of rebuilding all that was destroyed” and then commented “Satan and all his power could not destroy Christianity in Russia. Yes, Christ has Risen and evil godless men could not destroy His Church. The Church has been rebuilt in Russia. Praise God! The Beast can only recoil at the site of Russia because it was defeated there. The ‘Mark of the Beast’, or rather the character of those following it can clearly be observed by those with Russophobia or hatred of the Church. What is the remedy? Water, blood and fire to purify the world.”
And exactly who have the Russians been expecting to fight? Followers of the Antichrist. “Who are its’ followers? Do they have a visible tattoo saying anti-Christ or 666? Of course not. That would be too easy to avoid…. [but] They follow leaders like Obama blindly without question.”
Any Russians raised during the cold war saw America as the enemy. And I find an interesting quote from the book The Paranoid Apocalypse – “In Russia today, there is a widespread belief in a conspiracy hatched by Satanic forces and their earthly helpers… expectations of the Antichrist… who was born in Israel in 1962.” Where do they get this from? A quick online search for an Antichrist born in 1962 leads to the prediction by the once famous American psychic Jeane Dixon, who said the Antichrist would be “born somewhere in the Middle East shortly before 7:00 A.M. (EST) on February 5, 1962.” I’m not convinced that Dixon accurately foresaw anything, (or that Soviet Russia was following her predictions) but if the Russians do have the idea that the Antichrist would be born around 1962, perhaps the start of that idea involved a focus on the new millennium that would eventually begin in 2000.
America’s youngest president had just been elected in 1960 at the age of 43; for Russia’s arch-enemy to elect a foreign-born Antichrist one had to allow enough time for great social changes making the American people unconcerned about the details of his birth, and enough time for him to reach the age at which he would be allowed to hold office. Although “The Paranoid Apocalypse came out in 2011, it cites these comments about an antichrist coming from “Russian Intellectual Anti-Semitism in the Post-Communist Era” – a book from 2002 – long before the primary contender for the title of Antichrist (who was born somewhere – details are in dispute – approximately 1960-1962) had even been elected to the Senate. Do any Russians really view Obama this way? He is the closest match for such expectations, and he is thought to be anti-Russian and anti-Christian values.
If Russians expect an American Antichrist to lead the forces of evil against them while Russia defends the faith – however ironic this may sound to those of us raised in America with the opposite mind-set – I think the evidence shows that the Russians may be right. Pravda says of the Russian Army: “Because where Russia goes Christ will be there also.” Russia may be ready to fight a 21st century Crusade, while America, under Obama, is at great risk of destroying everything it once stood for.
— contributed by David Montaigne, author of