Even when rulers have forced their subjects into baptism, the individuals were free to retain their own beliefs. The residents of Kyiv who were forced into the Dniepr could still have rejected God in their hearts.
What we have here instead with big forced public conversions is the ruler wiping out the expression of heretical beliefs, which is a prudent action and one that several rulers have been glorified as saints for. No one is forced to be Christian, but the Church has condoned efforts to stop people from drawing others away from Orthodoxy.
If we really think Orthodoxy is true, then why are people so scared of a religious 'free market'? Won't Orthodoxy prevail, and if not, why? I would think there's more value in the choice to convert - FOR the individual doing the converting - or, to remain Orthodox, whatever the case may be - when he or she has actually had an opportunity to see and think about what else is going on out there. I do believe there is validity in this process beyond an American context. Yes, maybe 'back then' the kings were people's gods, and the masses were uneducated, but different ideals have come to be since then and the world IS different.
Some of the statements made today appear to portray the Russian populace as children who can't think and choose for themselves.
And anyway, for those who would choose to attend Protestant churches, who are WE, in our finite knowledge, to say that this isn't playing some part in their larger spiritual journey? Does God not allow the diversity of churches that we see today to flourish? Do we know for sure why?
Is there an official Orthodox stand on this, BTW?
The Orthodox Church was weakened by 70+ years of destruction and persecution. There were literally thousands of Churches that were destroyed or turned until barns, urinals, bars, etc. Religious education was forbidden and thousands of clergy were murdered,exiled, or imprisoned. It needs time to rebuild and replace all that was destroyed. Then Protestants come in with their money, false promises, etc. instead of helping their fellow christians. That's like Home Depot or Hechingers coming in to compete against the local mom and pop store and calling it equal competion!
Orthodoxy needs the time and money to be able to compete with those that come in to destroy it. Those who have absolutely no respect for it. I admire the government for protecting the church that has been there for a 1000+ years while it heals itself and regenerates itself. It has done a fabulous job so far. While Orthodoxy is is growing by leaps on bounds and churches being built or restored at an enormous rate in these Orthodox countries, Roman Catholics and Protestant Churches are being closed in the west (*). THAT'S WHAT WESTERN CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT INSTEAD OF SHEEP STEALING FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUFFERED SO MUCH. Clean your own back yard before you invade anothers -
MOSCOW [RNS} - Some 200,000 clergy, many crucified, scalped, and otherwise
tortured, were killed during the communist era in the former Soviet Union, a
Russian commission reported here on November 27, 1995. Another 500,000
believers were martyred and millions exiled. There were 40,000 churches destroyed between 1922 and1980, the report said."Clergymen were crucified on churches' Holy Gates, shot scalped, and
said Alexander Yakovlev, head of the Commission for the
Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repression which prepared the
report for Russian president Boris Yeltsin. "I was especially shocked by
accounts of priests turned into columns of ice in winter, "Yakovlev
continued, adding that the commission unearthed documents showing that as
early as 1918,
Vladimr Lenin had odered a campagn of "merciless terror
01 December 2008
Russian Orthodox Church statistics
(from the report by Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutistsy and Kolomna at the meeting of the capital's clergy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on 12 December 2008)
The Russian Orthodox Church has 157 dioceses (compared to 142 last year), 203 bishops (149 ruling bishops and 48 vicar bishops). The total number of clergy in the Russian Church equals to 30 670. The number of parishes - 29 268 (compared to 27 942 last year).
Today the Russian Orthodox Church has 804 monasteries, including 142 monasteries and 153 nunneries in the CIS-countries and three monasteries and three nunneries in foreign countries. Also acting are 203 representations and 65 hermitages.
Besides, there are 25 stauropegial monasteries (under direct subordination to the Patriarch). The Russian Church Abroad has 16 monasteries and 9 nunneries.
The number of Russian Orthodox theological schools equals to 87. The number of Sunday schools in the dioceses increased by one thousand - from 10 141 to 11 051. The number of churches and chapels acting in Moscow has increased from 851 to 872 since December 2007. About 1838 clergymen are working in the capital today (last year their number equaled to 1770). http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=reference&div=3
...In 1914 in Russia, there were 55,173 Russian Orthodox churches and 29,593 chapels, 112,629 priests and deacons, 550 monasteries and 475 convents with a total of 95,259 monks and nuns. ...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Orthodox_Church
U.S. Protestant population seen losing majority status (Joyce
Howard Price; July 21, 2004, WASHINGTON TIMES) The United States will
lose its historic status as a majority-Protestant nation as early as
this year, according to a national survey released yesterday..
Between 1993 and 2002, the proportion of Americans who said they were
Protestants fell from 63 percent to 52 percent after decades of
stability, according to the study released by the National Opinion
Research Center at the University of Chicago... The number of
Americans who said they had no religion rose from 9 percent in 1993 to
14 percent in 2002.. Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup
Poll, which tracks religious affiliation, said yesterday that in his
group's survey, "the percentage who say they are Protestant is getting
close to the 50 percent level. It was 51 percent in 2003." As
recently as 1996 or 1997, the proportion of Protestants was 58
percent, he said.