Noting that "the anti-Church campaign started a few months ago, quite suddenly as if by command," Mr. Shamir explains:
- The Russian Church had 20 years of peace, recovering after the Communist period, and it was surprised by ferocity of the attack.
Though this subject calls for longer exposition, let us be brief. After the collapse of the USSR, the Church remained the only important spiritual pro-solidarity force in Russian life. The Yeltsin and Putin administrations were as materialist as the communists; they preached and practiced social Darwinism of neo-Liberal kind. The Church offered something beside the elusive riches on earth. Russians who lost the glue of solidarity previously provided by Communists eagerly flocked to the alternative provided by the Church.
The government and the oligarchs treated the Church well, as the Church had a strong anti-Communist tendency, and the haves were still afraid of the Reds leading the have-nots. The Church flourished, many beautiful cathedrals were rebuilt, many monasteries came back after decades of decay. The newly empowered church became a cohesive force in Russia.
As it became strong, the Church began to speak for the poor and dispossessed; the reformed Communists led by the Church-going Gennadi Zuganov, discovered a way to speak to the believers. A well-known economist and thinker, Michael Khazin, predicted that the future belongs to a new paradigm of Red Christianity, something along the lines of Roger Garaudy’s early thought. The Red Christian project is a threat to the elites and a hope for the world, he wrote. Besides, the Russian church took a very Russian and anti-globalist position.
This probably hastened the attack, but it was just a question of time when the global anti-Christian forces would step forward and attack the Russian Church like they attacked the Western Church. As Russia entered the WTO and adopted Western mores, it had to adopt secularization. And indeed the Russian Church was attacked by forces that do not want Russia to be cohesive: the oligarchs, big business, the media lords, the pro-Western intelligentsia of Moscow, and Western interests which naturally prefer Russia divided against itself.
- Two years’ sentence is quite in line with prevailing European practice. For much milder anti-Jewish hate talk, European countries customarily sentence offenders to two-to-five years of prison for the first offence. The Russians applied hate crime laws to offenders against Christian faith, and this is probably a Russian novelty. The Russians proved that they care for Christ as much as the French care for Auschwitz, and this shocked the Europeans who apparently thought ‘hate laws’ may be applied only to protect Jews and gays. The Western governments call for more freedom for the anti-Christian Russians, while denying it for holocaust revisionists in their midst.
[Thank you Fake Cyrillic Generator for the title of this post.]