Putin, defender of the Faith?

I hear and read a lot of comments describing Vladimir Putin as the ‘hope of Christianity’, more or less. Is he a Christian?

Many of the commenters on this You Tube video of Putin discussing his Christian faith believe he is a real Christian, and some of the comments are almost adoring, like this:

“i am american and they try to brainwash us..i refuse to watch the news and listen to them..if they succeed in dragging him to war i pray for putin to win. Please come get me out of america putin I want to go to russia lol”

This comment is interesting — from a Russian:

“Now in Russia even communists are going to church. Both communist and christians were fighting in RedArmy against nazi. Communist’s idea has a lot from christianity – hard labour, protect weak ppl, help older, help everybody who suffer.”

I think he’s wrong in likening Communism to Christianity; the former is a cruel parody of Christianity, and is a false messianic system wherein man is supposedly to be his own savior — at least, Communist man, or the ‘new Soviet man’ as was.

And Communism is all about this world, and material possessions. Christianity knows this world is passing and that gathering material things is not what life is about.

Many American Christians and conservatives see Putin defending the traditional family and marriage, taking a stand against homosexuality. It does seem as if he is socially conservative or traditional — but is this based on his Christian faith or is it simply a holdover from the earlier times in Russia and the old Soviet Union? If you are old enough to remember the Cold War days, the Soviet regime was puritanical in the extreme. Many American movies were banned, as was much American and Western popular music. Rock ‘n roll in particular was described as ‘decadent’, as was just about anything related to Western popular culture. And in retrospect, the Soviets/Russians were right. It was decadent; we are now seeing the fruits of the permissive and libertine trends that were promoted so relentlessly in the West, especially from the 1950s onward. (Yes, I did say the 1950s; the rot started setting in at least that early). Now look at the vile stuff that Hollywood produces, and consider pop culture ‘icons’ like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and a host of others. The seeds were sown decades ago, and we are seeing the ugly fruition. The Russians only lately began to tolerate libertinism, since the removal of the Iron Curtain. Crime and vice seemed to flourish in the new, ‘free’ Russia.

In the days of the Cold War, it seemed that the United States and Russia/USSR needed each other; our leadership and media held the Soviet Union up as an example of the evils of totalitarianism, contrasting their system to ours, which of course made us the paragons of freedom and individualism. Russia was the bogeyman that we were taught to fear, while the Russians held the United States up as a bad example and a threat to the world. Each side needed its evil opposite for propaganda purposes.

The avowedly atheist Soviet system was contrasted to our supposed ”freedom to worship as we please.” The USSR was a ‘godless atheist regime’ unlike our ‘pluralistic religious society’ where ‘Protestant, Catholic and Jew’ could have mutual respect and worship freely.

Now all that has changed. Drastically.

Each side, the old Soviet Union and our side, seem to have adopted some of the worst features of the feared Other Side. The Russians have embraced post-modern ‘morality’ — though Putin and some of the more old-fashioned have not accepted it wholesale — and they’ve adopted our capitalism in their own fashion.

Our side is no longer so free religiously. Christians can’t acknowledge their God in the public square, in the schools, or in many other situations. Our system suddenly looks more repressive than the old Soviet Union seemed, while we still cling to our cherished permissive society, despite the fact that it has been disastrous for us in so many ways. Some things don’t change.

As for Putin, he is a product of the old Russia, the pre-libertine, puritanical Russia. His views on social issues reflect that, certainly, as that’s the environment he grew up in. Is he a Christian, truly? As with everyone else, only God knows his heart. I can’t say he is not sincere in  his profession of faith. It may just be that his views are derived from the more traditional and strait-laced Russia in which he grew up.

Is Putin the hope of Christianity or of the West? Is Russia the hope for the future? I don’t know; I think some Americans, particularly hungry for leadership or for something or someone to idealize, are focusing on Russia and on Putin. It’s sad, because our own country should be producing good leaders and good examples to inspire us — but where are they when we so sorely need them?

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