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Author Topic: Russian Govt and RO Church faulted for persecution of other Christian communions  (Read 7212 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 24, 2008, 01:55:58 PM »

Kremlin Rules: At Expense of All Others, Putin Picks a Church

By CLIFFORD J. LEVY

STARY OSKOL, Russia — It was not long after a Methodist church put down roots here that the troubles began.

First came visits from agents of the F.S.B., a successor to the K.G.B., who evidently saw a threat in a few dozen searching souls who liked to huddle in cramped apartments to read the Bible and, perhaps, drink a little tea. Local officials then labeled the church a “sect.” Finally, last month, they shut it down.

There was a time after the fall of Communism when small Protestant congregations blossomed here in southwestern Russia, when a church was almost as easy to set up as a general store. Today, this industrial region has become emblematic of the suppression of religious freedom under President Vladimir V. Putin.

Just as the government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers. They have all but banned proselytizing by Protestants and discouraged Protestant worship through a variety of harassing measures, according to dozens of interviews with government officials and religious leaders across Russia.

This close alliance between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church has become a defining characteristic of Mr. Putin’s tenure, a mutually reinforcing choreography that is usually described here as working “in symphony.”

Mr. Putin makes frequent appearances with the church’s leader, Patriarch Aleksei II, on the Kremlin-controlled national television networks. Last week, Mr. Putin was shown prominently accepting an invitation from Aleksei II to attend services for Russian Orthodox Easter, which is this Sunday.

The relationship is grounded in part in a common nationalistic ideology dedicated to restoring Russia’s might after the disarray that followed the end of the Soviet Union. The church’s hostility toward Protestant groups, many of which are based in the United States or have large followings there, is tinged with the same anti-Western sentiment often voiced by Mr. Putin and other senior officials.

(read the rest here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/world/europe/24church.html?_r=2&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin_)
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2008, 02:04:27 PM »

Yep, the non-MP Orthodox Churches in Russia often have a hard time of it too.
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2008, 02:55:51 PM »

The main traditional religious in Russia are Orthodoxy, Judaism and Muslim. May be this is the answer.
 I don't want to go to the conversation about Protestants but always keep in my mind about XVI century (hope I am wright)  when Protestantism was founded.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2008, 03:35:10 PM »

Prots should keep to their own areas and leave Holy Rus' alone !
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2008, 04:02:51 PM »

Prots should keep to their own areas and leave Holy Rus' alone !

Along the same lines, perhaps the Bishop of Stockholm should make a call to the Swedish authorities to shut down some EO parishes there.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 04:14:10 PM »

Prots should keep to their own areas and leave Holy Rus' alone !

What about all those Western workers and investors who are living in Russia and helping to prop up the Russian economy with their money and knowledge?  Maybe the should leave "Holy Rus'" alone, too?

I suppose you feel the same way about Saudi Arabia's policy on religion, as well?
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2008, 07:33:21 PM »

Its good that the russian government is finally injecting its legitimate culture into the mainstream. The american-made protestant cults are the biggest threat facing christianity. Ive never been a fan of freedom of religion, a western invention used against countries who try to protect their indigenous practises from the west, When the west doesnt get its way politically they blackmail these nations by claiming they persecute based on religion. Yes,heretics should be driven out just like the heretical pilgrims and quakers were (who no longer exist). Nor should anyone complain about muslim countries with their rigid policies, no one said spreading the gospel would be easy, expect the crown of martyrdom if you want to evangelize in strange lands.

Its time that a United Nations resolution is passed barring american missionarys from going into foreign countries to proselytise.
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2008, 07:41:27 PM »

The main traditional religious in Russia are Orthodoxy, Judaism and Muslim.

You left off Buddhism.  The Tsarist Empire had very good relations with the Buryats and other Mongol Buddhist groups. 

There is a certain absurdity to the idea that the Russian Orthodox Church has relatively good relations with the Mufti of Kazan' yet has deplorable relations with other Christians. 

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I don't want to go to the conversation about Protestants but always keep in my mind about XVI century (hope I am wright)  when Protestantism was founded.

Always keep in mind that when Christianity was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire it was new religion that usurping on a much older and venerable religious tradition. 

To all of this, I'd ask what is the Russian Orthodox Church doing to evangelize "Holy Rus'"?  Most statistics that I've seen place church attendance at somewhere between 1-5% of the population... So is targeting Christian missionaries that are trying to show atheists the light of Christ the best use of the resources and energies of the Russian Orthodox Church? 
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2008, 07:48:59 PM »

Its good that the russian government is finally injecting its legitimate culture into the mainstream.

So was it illegitimate for the Soviet government to have injected Soviet culture into its territorial holdings? 

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The american-made protestant cults are the biggest threat facing christianity.

Just out of curiosity, how much first hand experience do you have with Protestant missionaries in Russia?  Have you even been to a Protestant church in Russia?  If you had, you'd probably would realize rather quickly that the bigger congregations have a core of ex-patriot oilmen ( A LOT of Texans!) and other businessmen from the US. 

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Ive never been a fan of freedom of religion, a western invention used against countries who try to protect their indigenous practises from the west

Either renounce Orthodoxy or move back to your side of the Theodosian line. 

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Nor should anyone complain about muslim countries with their rigid policies, no one said spreading the gospel would be easy, expect the crown of martyrdom if you want to evangelize in strange lands.

You first. 

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Its time that a United Nations resolution is passed barring american missionarys from going into foreign countries to proselytise.

 Roll Eyes  Yeah, I'm devastated that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in post-Mao China. 
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2008, 07:51:47 PM »

I agree, Nectarios. Time to stop complaining about competition and to deal with the sad reality within the Church and to roll up some sleeves and work as hard as the American missionaries are-at the same time treating the Americans with Christian love so as to be without sin in any way and to show THEM a good example of Orthodox Christianity at work.
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 07:59:29 PM »

at the same time treating the Americans with Christian love so as to be without sin in any way and to show THEM a good example of Orthodox Christianity at work.

I know missionaries that have spent years in Russia and have never had a positive experience with the Orthodox Church - so it is no wonder they have such negative impressions.  And oddly enough they don't think kindly of Orthodoxy when they perceive it to be complicit in their persecution.  But, whenever I took the time to politely tell people about Orthodoxy (for example, why we venerate icons, why we pray to the Mother of God, etc.) it almost always met with a positive response.  If these missionaries encountered a vibrant and loving Orthodox community, perhaps they'd return to the US as Orthodox Christians. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2008, 08:07:09 PM »

I know missionaries that have spent years in Russia and have never had a positive experience with the Orthodox Church - so it is no wonder they have such negative impressions.  And oddly enough they don't think kindly of Orthodoxy when they perceive it to be complicit in their persecution.  But, whenever I took the time to politely tell people about Orthodoxy (for example, why we venerate icons, why we pray to the Mother of God, etc.) it almost always met with a positive response.  If these missionaries encountered a vibrant and loving Orthodox community, perhaps they'd return to the US as Orthodox Christians. 

Amen!
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2008, 08:08:46 PM »

This topic was on Glenn Beck's TV show today, but what really jarred me was a mosque building outbreak in Russia and to join a Islamic Association, I caught the end of the discussion...
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2008, 10:04:10 PM »

This topic was on Glenn Beck's TV show today, but what really jarred me was a mosque building outbreak in Russia and to join a Islamic Association, I caught the end of the discussion...

What's wrong with that?  There are large historically Muslim populations within Russia - doesn't it only make sense that they would want to rebuild their places of worship after almost a century of Soviet rule? 

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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 11:13:47 PM »

Defending the protestant sects is an aberation. The american "white man" with all his money thinks he can go and peoselytise anywhere he goes as if they are god. This is coming from heretical sects that claim there is no true visible earthly church yet only go to already christian countries to proselytize and set up their heretical altars. These cowards never go to non-christian countries, only to nations where the hard work has already been done, the gospel preached and ripe for these rich american missionaries to steal sheep. Its always the same especially with the baptist cult(s) , how they are going to save the godless russians. How the Orthodox need to be "born again". How the entire world needs to be saved by faith alone and the only ones who are given this power to save is the "protestant american white man".

I have said it before i will say it again , the United Nations needs to pass a resolution barring these heretical american missionaries from spreading their heresies abroad. America is here not to spread protestantism but to contain it and its dangerous heresies.

As i 
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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2008, 11:26:41 PM »

Nektarios,
I agree with you.

While it is always appropriate to value and promote respect to people of different religions, in terms of faith itself, non-Orthodox Christains all always closer to Orthodoxy then non-Christians. Does not matter how traditional the beliefs in anything else then Holy Trinity, existed in a region.

And yes, there were cases when non-Orthodox missionaries were returning from Orthodox lands, either as converted Orthodox or at the intermediate stage of the process of convertion. And this process has been completed upon return.
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2008, 01:24:01 PM »

Really, to tell the truth, protestants have no right to have a church in Russia.  The faith of Russia is the Eastern Orthodox Church and it is their job to uphold the true faith, not to sponsor the propogation of heresy.  And this goes for Catholic countries as well.  It reminds me of the ancient Israelites who were commanded to uproot paganism from their land but did not.  As a result they fell into paganism and you even see king Solomon worshiping pagan gods.

As long as protestants have no historical claim on Russia then they have no right to enter Russia and build churches.  Once you allow them a historical precedent then you will not be able to deny them a right to have their churches.
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2008, 01:48:54 PM »

Defending the protestant sects is an aberation. The american "white man" with all his money thinks he can go and peoselytise anywhere he goes as if they are god.

Every missionary family that I know in Russia is relatively poor.  Even so they do amazing acts of mercy like adopting children who were seriously abused by their alcoholic parents and live in a society that doesn't seem to care about its orphans.

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This is coming from heretical sects that claim there is no true visible earthly church yet only go to already christian countries to proselytize and set up their heretical altars. These cowards never go to non-christian countries, only to nations where the hard work has already been done, the gospel preached and ripe for these rich american missionaries to steal sheep.

That would be nice, except that Protestant missionaries are responsible for the explosion of Christianity in the People's Republic of China and if you bothered to do even the slightest bit of research before spouting off there are Protestant missionaries around the world and in very inhospitable conditions.  There have been many that have been imprisoned, beaten and even killed for their labors.  I don't see how it is fitting to mock that on this, the day we celebrated the Resurrection of Christ. 

Again, I'll ask - do you know any missionaries who have lived in Russia?  Their life is hardly one of cowardice.  They are routinely hassled by corrupt officials, robbed and several that I know have been beaten up by skin heads.  As for the charge of stealing sheep that another denomination has done the labor to bring to Christianity, wouldn't that describe the MO of the Orthodox "mission" in Africa? 
 
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Its always the same especially with the baptist cult(s) , how they are going to save the godless russians. How the Orthodox need to be "born again". How the entire world needs to be saved by faith alone and the only ones who are given this power to save is the "protestant american white man".

I have never seen a statistical estimate that puts practicing Orthodox at more than 5% of the population in Russia, so can we just give up this Orthodox Russia fairy tale?  For that matter I have never seen a Protestant in Russia who was at one time in his life a serious and practicing Orthodox Christian.  So wouldn't the logical response of Orthodox Christians be to find ways to reach out to the non-Orthodox within Russia rather than turning to intimidation?

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I have said it before i will say it again , the United Nations needs to pass a resolution barring these heretical american missionaries from spreading their heresies abroad. America is here not to spread protestantism but to contain it and its dangerous heresies.

Ummm... you do realize that each nation is allowed to decide for itself who is allowed to enter and for what purpose?  Do you know what a passport and a visa are? 
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2008, 02:18:56 PM »

The protestant sects are evil and simply do more harm than any good. There soul-condemning heresies is well documented. Recently the EO, OO and the RC issued a statement rejecting their precense in Jordan. Protestants go to Russia and teach how Putin is the anti-christ (whomever is leader of the russians tend to be the antichrist)How the EO and the RC are going to merge and create the one world religion, these are teachings of cults and psycopaths.

I dont want to hear how the protestants are bringing the gospel to the "downtrodden third world" or to godless spiritually dark russians", when i have never ever met a protestant who understood scripture. To claim protestants follow the gospel or know Christ flys in the face of reality. Instead of saving the downtrodden in the godless lands abroad perhaps they should try to save the trailertrash of the bible belt, where divorce, abortion and teenage pregnancy is the highest in all of North America.  Perhaps they should start at home and rescue that spiritual cesspool known as the bible belt, of course it is they that have created it to begin with.

These God-hated protestant sects who cant even agree with each other and attempt to usurp the Church and canons and proselytize must be stopped. Hopefully the middleeastern countries can lead the resolution to stop them from spreading there heresies.
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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2008, 02:28:11 PM »

Have you ever lived in Russia, buzuxi and Jimmy?
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« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2008, 02:41:09 PM »

No, nor do i have to. I live in America and i know what these sects are all about. I also know that these cults go into Greece and pass out there innovative translations of the bible into modern greek, in order "to convert the godless greek orthodox from there idolatry and meaningless rituals." As i said, perhaps these cowardly protestant preachers should concentrate in their hometown of the bible belt where their white trailertrash flock have turned it into Sodom and Gomorah.

The reason why these protestant cults were driven out of Europe and onto the shores of America was in order to contain them. You know those heretics the puritans, quakers, prilgrims, shakers and all the other hereticing bodies some of whom no longer exist, and others have morphed into anarchy such as the baptist cults with there 106 different denominations or the mormons, or the JW or the penetcostals who think speaking in tongues is divienly inspired when in reality there gibberish is demonic posession.
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« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2008, 02:45:16 PM »

I have to agree with buzuxi here. I am talking with an American girl who is going on a Campus Crusade "mission" trip to Greece....
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« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2008, 03:52:00 PM »

Ohhh Note the last name of the Articles author.. A "Levy", of course they're critical of anything Russian, and Orthodox
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« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2008, 07:44:05 PM »

Ohhh Note the last name of the Articles author.. A "Levy", of course they're critical of anything Russian, and Orthodox

Ohhh note your last name.  Of course you're critical of anything Tibetan, and Buddhist.
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2008, 07:55:00 PM »

From what I've seen, I've sadly got to side with Nekatarios too.  But not entirely....

The book Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes by Donald Fairbairn gives a very lucid and honest point of view from the Protestant standpoint on the virtues and shortcomings of Orthodoxy.  It has quite a bit of information about how to approach evangelisation among the Orthodox, and it's not what you might expect.  Definitely food for thought. 
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« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2008, 09:18:55 PM »

For Buzuxi and Ukiemeister:

Can you cite a single passage from the New Testament that justifies the use of force from a state actor to preserve doctrinal Orthodoxy? 

Along those lines, should the Russian Orthodox Church be allowed to continue ecclesiastical activities in places like the Baltic republics or in former Soviet Central Asia?  Or for that matter, should Orthodoxy continue missionary work in poorer nations such as Albania or in Africa?  America? 

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« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2008, 09:30:33 PM »

I thought it was ironic that this just came across my BBC RSS feed, since Protestants don't do missionary work in potentially hostile nations:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7368877.stm

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« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2008, 09:31:41 PM »

Ohhh note your last name.  Of course you're critical of anything Tibetan, and Buddhist.

whatever Bobbyboy at the end of the day you are stilll a OCA loser. And Tibet is still Chinese.
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« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2008, 11:19:58 PM »

You know the rules, sdcheung.  This kind of ad hominem attack will not be tolerated, whether it be against a moderator or any other poster.  My rebuttal to your original post was not a personal attack against you.  It was rather a tongue-in-cheek remark designed to counter the racial stereotyping implicit in your comment.
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« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2008, 11:35:06 PM »

And Tibet is still occupied by the Chinese.

There, I fixed it for you. Wink
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2008, 12:02:18 AM »

For Buzuxi and Ukiemeister:

Can you cite a single passage from the New Testament that justifies the use of force from a state actor to preserve doctrinal Orthodoxy? 

Along those lines, should the Russian Orthodox Church be allowed to continue ecclesiastical activities in places like the Baltic republics or in former Soviet Central Asia?  Or for that matter, should Orthodoxy continue missionary work in poorer nations such as Albania or in Africa?  America? 


Please read the OT then read Orthodox history. What you espouse is an american innovation and a protestant heresy. Seperation of church and state and freedom to spread the false belief thru the political sphere and court system. Forcing nations to accept foreigners in order to proselytise is the height of insanity.

Secondly Orthodoxy is not spread to strange lands thru organized missionary work with big money behind them. Orthodoxy is spread thru simple monks who decide to go into these strange lands with very little financial backing .  Such as Fr Cosmas, Enlightener of Zaire, or Sts. Cyril and Methodius, or St Herman of Alaska and the nine other monks with him who brought Orthodoxy to North America. These monks unlike the arrogance of the americans, came with humble intentions and scarce resources, to make the gospel available to the indigenous as their very own.
 Orthodoxy does not proselytize, this is best seen in the Orthodox churches found in America, we were established here by immigrants, for their families, without looking to proselytise the heretics around them.

Americam groups are the biggest financier and promoter of these sects, Thus America should be singled out by the international community to cease spreading there god-hated heresies. There is no difference between muslims in their lands and attempts by the protestant sects to spread there 'Red Neck Theology' there. Both are equally heretical and the sects preaching are a waste of everyones time, it is better their 'converts' sleep in on sunday, it will ptofit them more.
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2008, 12:21:22 AM »

For Buzuxi and Ukiemeister:

Can you cite a single passage from the New Testament that justifies the use of force from a state actor to preserve doctrinal Orthodoxy? 

Along those lines, should the Russian Orthodox Church be allowed to continue ecclesiastical activities in places like the Baltic republics or in former Soviet Central Asia?  Or for that matter, should Orthodoxy continue missionary work in poorer nations such as Albania or in Africa?  America? 



No, I can't. What's more, I don't have to. Quite simply, what is good for Russia will be good for Orthodoxy in the long run. To be honest, I'm tiring of your haranguing on Russia. Russia is not the United States, the United States is not Russia.

The Protestant denominations who "missionize" in Orthodox homelands are against the Orthodox Church. Some of them believe we are not even Christian. On the other hand, Orthodox missionaries in Albania etc. will often work with the Roman catholics and others. In terms of former Soviet republics, the MP does have the ecclesiastical right to work in the area. It makes a heck of alot more sense than those churches answering to the EP. We are all One Church anyways. Orthodox is Orthodox.

Yes the Church should missionize in America. But from waht I hear, we really have no need to. The inquirers are banging down the doors.
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« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2008, 12:32:40 AM »

There, I fixed it for you. Wink

Fixed what, all you did was expose yourself as a nice pro-Tibet hippie..

You keep slinging the ad hominems out and we'll keep ramping up the warning level.  You'll be on post moderation for about a week, and then your status will revert to "Warned."

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« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2008, 01:10:51 AM »

Its time that a United Nations resolution is passed barring american missionarys from going into foreign countries to proselytise. Perhaps this should include our anti-Russian liberals on this forum too Shocked
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« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2008, 02:23:29 AM »

Its time that a United Nations resolution is passed barring american missionarys from going into foreign countries to proselytise.
Why should this even be the concern of the U.N., an organization that has generally (iirc) worked to protect religious freedom, or has at least not considered religion important?

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Perhaps this should include our anti-Russian liberals on this forum too Shocked
And why should this even be our concern? Huh
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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2008, 04:06:24 AM »

May God keep the  newly re-united MP church strong to defend itself from the haters who at every opportunity are attacking the Russian church.

Orthodoxy after all is christs true church and this is why so many outside media are constantly attacking.

God bless Patriarch ALEXEY!
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« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2008, 05:02:19 AM »

May God keep the  newly re-united MP church strong to defend itself from the haters who at every opportunity are attacking the Russian church.

Orthodoxy after all is christs true church and this is why so many outside media are constantly attacking.

God bless Patriarch ALEXEY!

Many years!
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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2008, 10:40:50 AM »

May God keep the  newly re-united MP church strong to defend itself from the haters who at every opportunity are attacking the Russian church.

Orthodoxy after all is christs true church and this is why so many outside media are constantly attacking.

God bless Patriarch ALEXEY!

Thanks for the nuanced, subtle, and well-considered response, devoid of any delusional messianism or paranoid triumphalism.  You do realise that your post helps to confirm that the writer of the article under discussion and Nektarios are really on to something here, do you not?  Please say that you do.  Wink
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2008, 11:19:12 AM »

Fixed what, all you did was expose yourself as a damn pro-Tibet hippie..

I'm hardly a hippie by any stretch of imagination, so you might want to rethink your choice of words.
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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2008, 04:37:14 PM »

I'm hardly a hippie by any stretch of imagination, so you might want to rethink your choice of words.

Veniamin, did you check to see where your avatar was made? 
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« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2008, 05:26:47 PM »

No, I can't. What's more, I don't have to. Quite simply, what is good for Russia will be good for Orthodoxy in the long run. To be honest, I'm tiring of your haranguing on Russia. Russia is not the United States, the United States is not Russia.

You have missed the entire point of what posters like Rosehip and I have been making.  Both a government and a church that have established themselves through semi-authoritarian ways does not produce a good situation.  Instead mediocrity becomes the norm and the current situation is a prime example of that ( rather than the sort of romantic, new convert, Russian fetish, take a look at reality - church attendance is abysmally low and there are some MAJOR social problems going on in Russia).  What actually needs to be done is active missionary work by the Orthodox Church in Russia, and as far as I can tell that simply isn't happening on a large scale.  Simply banning Protestant sects isn't going to make them go away - in fact it only plays into their message.  So why not approach them with sound apologetics and evangelism, like the famous Fr Cleopa of Romania? 

And it is a bit of strawman to simply claim that I wish for Russia to be the US when I have devoted considerable time to learning Russian and leave in two weeks to spend a year in the Former Soviet Union.  Sorry that my experience of Russia and Russians has been a bit more broad than some authoritarian paradise without Protestants.     

Quote
On the other hand, Orthodox missionaries in Albania etc. will often work with the Roman catholics and others.

Keep in mind that the Albanian Church is now based out of Tirana and is in fact targeting people from historically Islamic / Bektashi areas for conversion.  Why is this legitimate?  Is there one set of rules for Orthodox and another for infidels? 

Quote
In terms of former Soviet republics, the MP does have the ecclesiastical right to work in the area. It makes a heck of alot more sense than those churches answering to the EP.

Oh that makes sense now, the illegal occupation of the Baltic republics by the Red Army justifies the expansion of the MP.  To use your logic, it would be entirely acceptable for the Baltic governments to ban the issuing of visas to MP clergy, close down MP temples and any measures necessary to eradicate the foreign religion.  Why should Orthodox minorities expect any better treatment than we are willing to show to others in our homelands?

Quote
Yes the Church should missionize in America. But from waht I hear, we really have no need to. The inquirers are banging down the doors.

If a dozen or so converts over the six years that I have been attending my parish (many of whom give up after a year or two) constitutes fulfilling the great commission - then we have even bigger problems that I thought with Orthodoxy in the US. 
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« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2008, 05:39:05 PM »

If a dozen or so converts over the six years that I have been attending my parish (many of whom give up after a year or two) constitutes fulfilling the great commission - then we have even bigger problems that I thought with Orthodoxy in the US. 
I'm saddened to see what has been your experience at your parish, but I've seen better at other parishes in the U.S.
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« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2008, 05:55:11 PM »

Outside of church-sponsored state persecution of Protestant missionary sects in Russia, what is the Russian Church doing to fill the spiritual void created by the Bolshevik persecutions?  Orthodox Christian Empire no longer exists in Russia, if it ever did after Tsar Peter the Great, so the idea that the Church can use the armed might of the Russian state is an unworkable fantasy.  The Church in Russia would do much better to stop using the force of the state to keep Protestant missionaries out of Russia and start working to re-Christianize Russia through her own missionary work, IMO.

OTOH, I do agree that Protestant missionaries would do well to show at least a modicum of respect and deference to the Christian tradition that has existed in Russia for over 1000 years now.  Maybe they should volunteer (without being forced by the government) to stay out of Russia and allow the local church to minister to her own flocks.  Of course, this requires that the various Protestant missionaries recognize us Orthodox to be Christian.  Who wants to volunteer to hold his breath in anticipation of that event? Lips Sealed
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« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2008, 07:29:33 PM »

  Of course, this requires that the various Protestant missionaries recognize us Orthodox to be Christian.  Who wants to volunteer to hold his breath in anticipation of that event? Lips Sealed

Considering most of you do not recognize their baptisms, why the surprise? At least they are working to bring you to Christianity (as they see it).  Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2008, 10:41:23 PM »

Considering most of you do not recognize their baptisms, why the surprise?

Bullfeathers.  This is a complete non-sequitor in the context of this argument, and you know it.  Standing by to receive your next passive-aggressive assault.   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2008, 10:58:46 PM »

Bullfeathers.  This is a complete non-sequitor in the context of this argument, and you know it.  Standing by to receive your next passive-aggressive assault.   Roll Eyes
Is not the OP itself a passive-aggressive assault on the Orthodox? Roll Eyes
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« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2008, 11:08:58 PM »

There is one HUGE ERROR in this discussion so far. I read the article the other day before seeing this thread. The article is about indigenous RUSSIAN CITIZENS and their tiny little churches.

Where did anyone get the idea of Western prosyletizes from this article? Most of these people have been protestants who suffered under the commuinists and/of converted from atheism.

Russian citizens who are protestants have the right under Russian law to enjoy, if not religious freedom as we understand it in America, then at least freedom from harassment and imprisonment. Putin himself states that Russians should have this kind of freedom. Petty local politicians should not be able to do this to these people by Russian law. The nation simply has not put together national institutions and a legal system to protect these people at the local level. They are probably a generation away from this as yet (unless they fall back into totalitarianism).

I don't think they will and I hope they do not. Russians are authoritarian by nature. But they can avoid a new totalitarianism by creating institutions (not necessarily domocratic in the western sense, but representational and some semblance of the rule of law rather than the rule of the cult of personality in a leader). I genuinely think that Putin would like his legacy to be the person who put those institutions into place.

Again, he will never satisfy Western deomocrats (not referring to the US political party here) but he can establish institutions and a rule of law under the iron hand in a velvet glove of a powerful head of state, which would probably be good for Russia and be what most Russians would want. It would also protect them from the caprice of less noble leaders.
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« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2008, 11:20:06 PM »

Where did anyone get the idea of Western prosyletizes from this article?
From the article's third paragraph:

Just as the government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers. They have all but banned proselytizing by Protestants and discouraged Protestant worship through a variety of harassing measures, according to dozens of interviews with government officials and religious leaders across Russia.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/world/europe/24church.html?_r=3&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin_&oref=slogin
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« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2008, 11:22:22 PM »

They are talking about prosyletizing by INDIGENOUS RUSSIAN CITIZENS who are protestant, NOT western missionaries
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« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2008, 11:28:52 PM »

BTW the bitter harangues by some of the posts in this thread were the type of thing that almost made me leave Orthodoxy a few years back. Thank God I stuck with it. Thank God I have a good parish.

But if there are any new Orthodox reading this thread or those interested in Orthodoxy or catechumens, we are not all like what you may have read.

Most flesh and blood Orthodox I know are very considerate of other Christian communities while being very staunch in their own faith.
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« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2008, 11:34:52 PM »

They are talking about prosyletizing by INDIGENOUS RUSSIAN CITIZENS who are protestant, NOT western missionaries
Okay, I see your point here.
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« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2008, 11:37:53 PM »

Thank you, Brother Aidan, for your very good point. I completely understand of what you speak.
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« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2008, 12:51:41 AM »

Outside of church-sponsored state persecution of Protestant missionary sects in Russia, what is the Russian Church doing to fill the spiritual void created by the Bolshevik persecutions?

Not to diminish what the communists did to religion, but I think it is important to not scapegoat them for every problem in today's Church.  Even reading 19th century secular literature shows just how much the aristocracy had already abandoned Orthodoxy.  Rather than a pastoral response, the Church simply grew more reactionary and ossified.  I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I don't think I've ever seen a study from an Orthodox perspective as to why this happened and what pastoral measure ought to be taken to prevent it in the future. 

Quote
Orthodox Christian Empire no longer exists in Russia, if it ever did after Tsar Peter the Great, so the idea that the Church can use the armed might of the Russian state is an unworkable fantasy.

Peter I gets a bad wrap around here, but he also did many good things for the church like trying to fight clerical ignorance (which was rampant) by establishing a seminary system. 

This talk of indigenous Protestants reminds me Alyosha the Baptist in the end of Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.  But obviously Solzhenitsyn hates Russia and Orthodoxy  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #53 on: April 29, 2008, 10:08:02 AM »

This is long; sorry.

I read the article in the OP from a friend's blog yesterday (the post from his blog is HERE).

I dunno, y'all...it's pretty obvious that we're FAR beyond any kind of State Church situation lasting for MUCH longer (maybe a generation, two at most), with the secularization of the globe happening faster and faster, seemingly by the week.  While I tend to look with favor on the preservation of the traditional Russian religious identity as "officially" Orthodox (this at least preserves an overall, pervading national identity and context in which folks can more readily encounter the true faith, even if said faith itself is not all-pervasive now), I do acknowledge that the nominalism that this ends up engendering is not a good thing -- or rather, it has some very glaring cons.

The baptists in general -- and to a degree the charismatics (the two groups which, iirc, comprise by far the largest two indigenous Protestant groups in Russia) -- cut their teeth as religious groups bucking the state church and have always been grass-roots movements.  This is why tithing is second nature to me; yes, it's commanded in Scripture, but hey, pastor's gotta eat, and that building ain't gonna build itself!  It's just practical, and I think that lots of folks coming from places where the state helps build these massive temples don't (in general) have as good a grasp on the idea of your having to dig in those pockets and give, of your having to build a community of worship by being there every time the doors are open (This, of course, keeping in mind the obvious exceptions of folks from the old country whose sacrificial giving and sweat built the temples in which we converts were received into the Church).  The rule is, usually, that folks assisted by the State don't take as much ownership of the faith, by and large; it's not as "built-in" to the overall culture of the community.

And, lest you think me a cradle-basher, The above paragraph is very tightly paraphrasing our diocesan treasurer (a devout, extremely involved Serbian gentleman who's never been anything but Orthodox a day in his life).

I do have to say, concerning the claim of "persecution," that until we start hearing about protestant pastors being crucified on the doors of their churches (like a Ukrainian priest I read about during the Soviet years), all this talk is, by and large, hyped-up, and the evangelicals should just get used to being the minority.  As the above-linked blog post said, "The writer strives to work up a case for the 'persecution' of Russian Protestants. I suspect that Russians know a thing or two about real persecution, and this ain't it. To label it such demeans and dishonors the tens of millions of martyrs for the Faith under the Soviet Union. For example, an evangelical Baptist group was prevented from renting a theater for a Christian music festival. That's correct. Oh, the horror of it all! (Would that 90% of Christian music concerns in this country suffer a similar fate.) But I am being cynical, I suppose. The truth is, these groups are merely being inconvenienced." 

I would add, what did these protestant groups expect?  My friend continues:  "Can you really imagine Vladimir Putin trying to decide between, say, the Freewill Baptists, or Missouri Synod Lutherans, or say the New Life Covenant Believers Outreach Center (or is it the New Covenant Believers Outreach Life Center?), rather than say, the Orthodox church which has been the faith of his nation and forebears for over 1,000 years now?...True, some bureaucrats are making their ministry harder with unnecessary red tape and intimidation--in the most time-honored Russian tradition. But a little perspective is in order: Russia without an overbearing, ham-fisted bureaucracy--whether it be czarist, Soviet or Putinist--would hardly be Russia..." and, I would say, this is hardly the darkest hour in terms of how Russia treats its minorities.

So, Protestants, I think, need to get over it, basically, and accept their minority status and the hostility that can come with it -- Russia's not going to be pluralistic and passive towards other groups like secular, nominally-Protestant America is with us (though some of the grass-roots hostility down here in the South towards us Mary-worshippin', idol-kissin', dead-ritual-chantin' Orthydox can be a sight to behold).

That having been said, I fully agree with you, Νεκτάριος et al, that the Russian/Ukrainian/whatever Orthodox Church, if it does decide to put a hard stiff-arm to heterodox groups (whether foreign or domestic), needs then to step up to its own and switch its overall focus -- and it is to its own detriment if it does not do this.  As important as it is to build grand temples to the glory of God (and it is), folks in the Ukraine -- most especially the starving orphans -- will continue to be drawn to those blessed few who give them the food, shelter, medicine and loving attention they desperately need...even if it does come along with imperfect, sometimes extremely harmful, theology.  The faithful need to see the Church as a place they can go for food if they're hungry, shelter if they're homeless, clothes if they're naked...you know...Matthew 25.  We in America might do well to let that light of good works shine a bit brighter, in spite of our small size -- it tends to draw folks who notice it and want to be illumined.

Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #54 on: April 29, 2008, 10:32:55 AM »

There could be so many factors here but the Russian state interference in church affairs has helped lay the seeds to weaken the church by such blunders as the oppression of the Molokans and the Old Beleivers for example (all indigenous & over 300 years ago). German Lutheran immigrants were sanctioned by Catherine the Great & Methodists mentioning persecution raises red flags. OTH, Russia is rightly wary of NATO expansion to the walls of the Kremlin & that espionage could be conducted under the guise of evangelical activists (in a few instances) could be true. State supported (& any) religious persecution must not be allowed; but what if Russia declares itself an Orthodox Christian nation (minus any persecutions) is it not their right? There are plenty of Islamic nations.
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« Reply #55 on: April 29, 2008, 11:17:10 AM »

I tend to take western media coverage of Russia with a gigantic grain of salt.
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« Reply #56 on: April 29, 2008, 12:31:41 PM »

Defending the protestant sects is an aberation. The american "white man" with all his money thinks he can go and peoselytise anywhere he goes as if they are god. This is coming from heretical sects that claim there is no true visible earthly church yet only go to already christian countries to proselytize and set up their heretical altars. These cowards never go to non-christian countries, only to nations where the hard work has already been done, the gospel preached and ripe for these rich american missionaries to steal sheep. Its always the same especially with the baptist cult(s) , how they are going to save the godless russians. How the Orthodox need to be "born again". How the entire world needs to be saved by faith alone and the only ones who are given this power to save is the "protestant american white man".

I have said it before i will say it again , the United Nations needs to pass a resolution barring these heretical american missionaries from spreading their heresies abroad. America is here not to spread protestantism but to contain it and its dangerous heresies.

As i 



If the UN has the power to ban a religious group then what will stop them from banning Orthodoxy? You don't want to give a para-national group that much power. That same Para-national group can backfire and persecute you.



Noone likes persecution. If you want the nonOrthodox World to have sympathy when the Orthodox are being persecuted then you have to have some form of sympathy when non-Orthodox groups are persecuted.


Also, historically America was never meant to trap Protestantism within its borders. It was suppose to spread Protestantism.


What needs to be done is, the Orthodox are going to have to learn how to argue against the non-Orthodox. The Orthodox are gonna have to use every nonviolent thing to fight it. Like 24 hour Orthodox Television, 24 hour radio, Apologetics for the laity to read.....so that when missionaries do come....they will be informed, and they wil know how to handle them humanely.

This is how American Baptists & Prespyterians are able to handle Mormons and JW's in America. There was a time in which Baptists, and other protestant groups physically fought and killed Mormon's and vice versa. But now they are able to handle them without the use of violence.


I think the samething can be done in Orthodox lands. They can be contained in a nonviolent way.


 Nobody likes bad press, and bad press is only gonna hurt the Orthodox in nonOrthodox lands.



Why can't some of the new Billionares in Russia help the Russian Church in this matter? Why can't they help fund an Orthodox Television network? Or radio network? OR with an Apologetics ministry? Help with feeding the poor in Eastern Europe.....since most likely the majority of those that fall to protestantism, might come from the poor.


But I know Protestantism, and I know that they will focus most of their attention on the Russian Rich as well as on the Russians who have the most Political influence, success in Russian society, and those who have a decent education in Russian society.


Different forms of Protestantism will focus on different groups...depending on their tendencies. The Prespyterians will focus on the learned Russians. They like to do Missions associated with Education.

The Pentecostals are more likely to focus on the blue color and poor.






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« Reply #57 on: April 29, 2008, 12:48:28 PM »

Quote
I do have to say, concerning the claim of "persecution," that until we start hearing about protestant pastors being crucified on the doors of their churches (like a Ukrainian priest I read about during the Soviet years), all this talk is, by and large, hyped-up, and the evangelicals should just get used to being the minority.  As the above-linked blog post said, "The writer strives to work up a case for the 'persecution' of Russian Protestants. I suspect that Russians know a thing or two about real persecution, and this ain't it. To label it such demeans and dishonors the tens of millions of martyrs for the Faith under the Soviet Union. For example, an evangelical Baptist group was prevented from renting a theater for a Christian music festival. That's correct. Oh, the horror of it all! (Would that 90% of Christian music concerns in this country suffer a similar fate.) But I am being cynical, I suppose. The truth is, these groups are merely being inconvenienced." 

I would add, what did these protestant groups expect?  My friend continues:  "Can you really imagine Vladimir Putin trying to decide between, say, the Freewill Baptists, or Missouri Synod Lutherans, or say the New Life Covenant Believers Outreach Center (or is it the New Covenant Believers Outreach Life Center?), rather than say, the Orthodox church which has been the faith of his nation and forebears for over 1,000 years now?...True, some bureaucrats are making their ministry harder with unnecessary red tape and intimidation--in the most time-honored Russian tradition. But a little perspective is in order: Russia without an overbearing, ham-fisted bureaucracy--whether it be czarist, Soviet or Putinist--would hardly be Russia..." and, I would say, this is hardly the darkest hour in terms of how Russia treats its minorities.

So, Protestants, I think, need to get over it, basically, and accept their minority status and the hostility that can come with it -- Russia's not going to be pluralistic and passive towards other groups like secular, nominally-Protestant America is with us (though some of the grass-roots hostility down here in the South towards us Mary-worshippin', idol-kissin', dead-ritual-chantin' Orthydox can be a sight to behold).

That having been said, I fully agree with you, Νεκτάριος et al, that the Russian/Ukrainian/whatever Orthodox Church, if it does decide to put a hard stiff-arm to heterodox groups (whether foreign or domestic), needs then to step up to its own and switch its overall focus -- and it is to its own detriment if it does not do this.  As important as it is to build grand temples to the glory of God (and it is), folks in the Ukraine -- most especially the starving orphans -- will continue to be drawn to those blessed few who give them the food, shelter, medicine and loving attention they desperately need...even if it does come along with imperfect, sometimes extremely harmful, theology.  The faithful need to see the Church as a place they can go for food if they're hungry, shelter if they're homeless, clothes if they're naked...you know...Matthew 25.  We in America might do well to let that light of good works shine a bit brighter, in spite of our small size -- it tends to draw folks who notice it and want to be illumined.

Lord, have mercy.




I 100%ly agree





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« Reply #58 on: April 30, 2008, 01:11:44 AM »

And, lest you think me a cradle-basher, The above paragraph is very tightly paraphrasing our diocesan treasurer (a devout, extremely involved Serbian gentleman who's never been anything but Orthodox a day in his life).

And really this isn't even a convert vs. cradle issue.  Consider the thread we had here about the five year lifespan of converts, my own struggles and my observations, the issue of settling for mediocrity and nominalism is just as much a danger in convert parishes as cradle parishes. 

Quote
I do have to say, concerning the claim of "persecution," that until we start hearing about protestant pastors being crucified on the doors of their churches (like a Ukrainian priest I read about during the Soviet years), all this talk is, by and large, hyped-up, and the evangelicals should just get used to being the minority.  As the above-linked blog post said, "The writer strives to work up a case for the 'persecution' of Russian Protestants. I suspect that Russians know a thing or two about real persecution, and this ain't it. To label it such demeans and dishonors the tens of millions of martyrs for the Faith under the Soviet Union. For example, an evangelical Baptist group was prevented from renting a theater for a Christian music festival. That's correct. Oh, the horror of it all! (Would that 90% of Christian music concerns in this country suffer a similar fate.) But I am being cynical, I suppose. The truth is, these groups are merely being inconvenienced."

Modern Russia is much different and far more nuanced than Soviet style persecution.  What has happened to people I know is that groups of young thugs will intimidate them, members of the church will be beaten, mugged, robbed etc and police and other officials refuse to offer any protection.  A lot of these people live in genuine fear for their safety.  So it is a bit more than simply inconveniencing missionaries.  Just imagine the uproar is the US refused to grant visas to officials from ROCOR and the MP, didn't allow them to own property etc.   

I tend to take western media coverage of Russia with a gigantic grain of salt.

Western media is a fairly broad category... so whom should we believe for an accurate report on Russia? 
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« Reply #59 on: April 30, 2008, 04:51:20 AM »


I do have to say, concerning the claim of "persecution," that until we start hearing about protestant pastors being crucified on the doors of their churches (like a Ukrainian priest I read about during the Soviet years), all this talk is, by and large, hyped-up, and the evangelicals should just get used to being the minority.  As the above-linked blog post said, "The writer strives to work up a case for the 'persecution' of Russian Protestants. I suspect that Russians know a thing or two about real persecution, and this ain't it. To label it such demeans and dishonors the tens of millions of martyrs for the Faith under the Soviet Union. For example, an evangelical Baptist group was prevented from renting a theater for a Christian music festival. That's correct. Oh, the horror of it all! (Would that 90% of Christian music concerns in this country suffer a similar fate.) But I am being cynical, I suppose. The truth is, these groups are merely being inconvenienced." 

So, Protestants, I think, need to get over it, basically, and accept their minority status and the hostility that can come with it -- Russia's not going to be pluralistic and passive towards other groups like secular, nominally-Protestant America is with us (though some of the grass-roots hostility down here in the South towards us Mary-worshippin', idol-kissin', dead-ritual-chantin' Orthydox can be a sight to behold).



And what if those faithful Orthodox immigrants who, through sacrifice, built our temples just had to accept their minoroty status and the "inconvenience" of being denied building permits, etc.

And it wasn't just Orthodox Christians in those gulags - these other indigenous Christian groups suffered as well, so nothing is being demeaned.

the point is that current Russian law allows for these groups a certain amount of freedom, less than we enjoy, but more than they are getting. And they are not receiving it due to petty officials and former communistis in local govt. and sadly within the Church even still to this day. Among both govt. officials and Church beaurocrats, you can convert their souls but not necessarily change the way the they do business.

And less I ceem to be unfair and culturally biased, isn't that true in the West as well. How many Christians - Orthodox, Catholic, mainline Protestant or Evangelical, let our faith REALLY change the way we do business.

The real difference between us and the early Church is that their morality package included economics - the way we do business. That's why they had an impact and we don't.
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« Reply #60 on: April 30, 2008, 10:15:58 AM »

The protestant sects are evil and simply do more harm than any good. There soul-condemning heresies is well documented.

Are you referring to the Evangelical Church of Soul-Condemnation (also known as the Soulies)? They are considered heretics, even by their fellow Protestants.
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« Reply #61 on: April 30, 2008, 10:19:44 AM »

Yes,heretics should be driven out just like the heretical pilgrims and quakers were (who no longer exist). Nor should anyone complain about muslim countries with their rigid policies, no one said spreading the gospel would be easy, expect the crown of martyrdom if you want to evangelize in strange lands.

No one said spreading the gospel would be easy, but someone did say "all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52). You really think Christ would want us to emulate the rigid policies of some Muslim countries?

It's one thing to say that the difficulties Protestants face aren't really that bad and shouldn't be called "persecution"; it's quite another thing to say that those difficulties don't go far enough and Protestants ought to be deported.

Russian citizens who are protestants have the right under Russian law to enjoy, if not religious freedom as we understand it in America, then at least freedom from harassment and imprisonment.

I couldn't have said it better.

Blessings,
Peter.
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« Reply #62 on: April 30, 2008, 10:29:14 AM »

Quote
Modern Russia is much different and far more nuanced than Soviet style persecution.  What has happened to people I know is that groups of young thugs will intimidate them, members of the church will be beaten, mugged, robbed etc and police and other officials refuse to offer any protection.  A lot of these people live in genuine fear for their safety.  So it is a bit more than simply inconveniencing missionaries.  Just imagine the uproar is the US refused to grant visas to officials from ROCOR and the MP, didn't allow them to own property etc.




Good point. I overlooked that.








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« Reply #63 on: May 02, 2008, 06:22:56 AM »

The discussion on American Protestantism has been moved here.
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