Staunton, July 5 – With the exception of a handful of much-publicized cases, Roman Lunkin says, Russia’s Protestant Christians support Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine almost as fervently as do most Russian Orthodox, a pattern that should not surprise anyone.
Given that Russian Protestants have protested many actions of the Russian government, observers and siloviki had expected them to be against the war as well, largely because the authorities have frequently viewed Pentecostals and Baptists as bearers of Western influence, the religious specialist says (ng.ru/ng_religii/2022-07-05/9_532_protestants.html).
A few pastors and hierarchs have criticized the war, but most have fallen in line with the Kremlin and adopted a pro-war position indistinguishable from that of the Kremlin or the Moscow Patriarchate. Like Protestants elsewhere, their co-religionists in Russia have adopted the views of their nation and their flocks.
“The ostentatious patriotism” of Russia’s Protestants, Lunkin continues, “is reinforced by their desire to at least somewhat resemble Orthodoxy lest they be accused of sympathizing with Orange revolutions in which evangelicals elsewhere took an active part as well as the entirely natural rejection by many of them of Western liberal values.”
After all, he continues, “all Protestants except for some Lutherans and Methodists are strict supporters of Biblical morality. Those pastors who oppose this general patriotic impulse generally lose their flocks.” As a result, there is not a great deal of difference between Protestant congregations and Orthodox ones in Russia.
Some Protestant leaders are opposed but then so too are some Orthodox priests, Lunkin says. But in general, “the Protestants quickly mimic the moods of the authorities and society to an even greater extent and more consistently than do the Russian Orthodox.” Anyone who differs from this soon is forced out.
Dietrich Brauer, the former head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of European Russia is a case in point. He spoke out against the war from the beginning, was forced to emigrate and was stripped of his position by his own church, given the honorific title of “archbishop emeritus” on the model of former Pope Benedict.