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Putin, Stalin, and the Church
First Things ^ | 5.28.15 | Hannah Gais

Posted on 10/19/2018 6:19:56 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege

On Orthodox Easter, Russian Patriarch Kirill addressed scores of the faithful, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He likened the resurrection of Christ—who, in Orthodox parlance, “trampled down death by death”—to the Russian, née Soviet, victory over the Nazis.

Kirill’s religious praise of Soviet victory is nothing new. Under Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union tried tapping into the nation’s “enormous spiritual strength” by reviving the Orthodox Church in Russia, albeit in a limited capacity. Realizing the power the church had to unite Russia and its near abroad—and seeking to bring Nazi-controlled territory back under Soviet influence, Stalin reinstated an institution he had once tried to destroy.

The church’s transition from outcast to strategic tool began almost immediately after the Germans began moving east, when then-Acting Patriarch Sergey, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan of Moscow, proclaimed the Church’s support for the Soviet war effort. Stalin, a former seminarian, was no fan of religion, but he sought to unify those who weren’t inspired to take up arms for the cause of Marxism-Leninism, and to eventually reorient these territories back toward Russia.

Putin adapted Kirill’s appeal to imbue his invasion of Ukraine with spiritual significance. Crimea, where Vladimir the Great was said to have been baptized in the 10th century, has, Putin said, sacred meaning “for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for Jews and Muslims.”

Portraying the conflict among rival Orthodox churches in Ukraine as a war against the Ukrainian people has given rise to a movement that uses language redolent of that in texts like The Truth About Religion in Russia, where “schismatics” were those acting against the will of the state. The Kremlin, then and now, is hellbent on labeling Kiev as a haven for neo-Nazis and fascists.

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TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: christianity; communism; crimea; orthodox; putin; stalin; ussr

1 posted on 10/19/2018 6:19:56 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: CondoleezzaProtege


2 posted on 10/19/2018 7:01:03 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Let us commend ourselves, and one another, and our whole life, unto Christ Our God.")
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