This is where something called "historical context" comes into play. Prince Vladimir was living in the late 10th century. A people's religion was the religion of their king, period. There was no "freedom of conscience;" there was no concept of "religious freedom." This was a non-negotiable part of life in 10th century Europe. It seems incredibly wrong to us nowadays, but, back then, this was normal, right, and the way things were done. Its implementation has little to do with Orthodoxy or religion in general, but with political thinking at the time. Your king's gods were your gods, period.
Thank you for the answer!
I personally don't "buy" it, (at least totally) because obviously the Church went right along with this implementation. I wonder if Church leaders spoke out against this? 10th century Europe or not, it's clearly against the teachings of Jesus Christ. What happened to the "obey God rather than man" stance the early Church took against Emperor worship? That was certainly just part of "life in 1st and 2nd century Rome" and in fact it was normal, right, and the way things were done, but the Christians refused. Or at least enough of them did that we have writings etc on the subject. Did the 10th century Church do something similar? I reckon they didn't because now the Church was on the winning team. (I hate to be so cynical here but that's my assumption)
I do get that there are always historical contexts to many things like this, but sometimes I feel like Catholics/Orthodox use the "historical context" as a scapegoat to basically justify anything wrong done in the past, even if it was clearly against the teachings of Christ, because "oh those stupid dark age people just didn't know better"....when in fact I DO believe they knew better, or at least had the opportunity to know better because, well weren't Christ's teachings everywhere?
I get what you're saying, and I do understand that, to a degree, but I just cannot help but see it as wrong none the less. The teachings of Jesus were as available then as they are now, or they should have been, seeing as how this was the CHURCH baptizing people..shouldn't the priests, Bishops and Patriarchs have known better? I realize Prince Vladimir would not have, nor the Pagan people of Russia, because Christianity was all new to them, but the 1000 year old Church should have been aware they were doing wrong. At least that's how I see it.
I'm not trying to be argumentative, and you're right, there is a historical context to it all that I sometimes forget, but still, it doesn't sit well . . . .
hope you understand what I mean.