ADVERTISING
 
Monday, July 16   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 
Flecha
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Migration
Do Christians in your country have a Bible-based understanding of how migrants should be treated?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Analysis
 

Russians (including evangelicals) measure their loyalty to Putin

Polls say the President will win again with at least 70% of the vote. Evangelicals hope the state’s efforts to stengthen national unity will not further restrict the freedoms of faith minorities.

SOURCES Protestante Digital AUTHOR Jonatán Soriano, Evangelical Focus MOSCOW 16 MARCH 2018 16:11 h GMT+1
The building of the Kremlin, in Moscow. / Larry Koester (Flickr, CC)

Russia will hold Presidential elections on Sunday 18 March. The vote looks like a mere formality because everyone expects Vladimir Putin to win again.



In Russia's modern history, only Stalin has lead the country for more time than the current President.



Polls say Putin will get around 70% of the votes, and everybody expects him to continue ruling with no serious opposition.



Since 2000, “many evangelicals, maybe most of them, have voted for Vladimir Putin, hoping for a new stage of positive country development”, says the Secretary General of the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA), Sergey Vdovin.



“After considerable amount of time spent for prayer and thinking of whom to vote for, I have found no any other answer than Putin”, Vdovin tells Spanish news website Protestante Digital and Evangelical Focus.



 



ALTERNATIVE CANDIDATES TO PUTIN?



Vdovin thinks it is difficult to trust other candidates as “able leaders for Russia in the country’s situation right now”. Alternative candidates include Pavel Grudinin, a food insutry businessman leading the Communists, the septuagenarian Vladimir Zhirinovski and the young liberal Ksenia Sobchak, a TV presenter who is against financing religious institutions and that considers the annexation of Crimea is illegal.



“Sobchak would be the candidate most clearly in favour of religious pluralism”, expresses William Yoder, spokesperson for the REA. “But she is a kind of movie star, and will find very little favour among evangelicals”.



Freedom of religion and pluralism have hardly been an issue in this campaign. But the religious minorities (evangelical Christians are less than 1% of the population) know they will depend on the steps the Kremlin takes after the election.



 



THE PRECEDENT OF THE JHEHOVAH’S WITNESSES BAN



In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, after they were labelled as a “dangerous sect”.



Thre are political motivations behind this decision, the Secretary General of the REA says. “Jehovah’s Witnesses are foreign to the Russian soul, which was formed in Byzantine Orthodoxy settings”, a depiction that could as well be applied to Protestants. “By banning them, the state defended itself from the very active brainwashing strategy of what is seen as an enemy ideology. Donald Trump’s invitation, just after the ban, to go to the US, showed that the state was ‘right’”.



In Vdovin’s opinion, “religion and politics go hand-in-hand with one another” in Russia. This means that “if followers of any religious movement become influential, the state immediately will sense a possible threat - and will react”.



 



MOSCOW VS. WASHINGTON



The evangelical community in Russia (approximately 1 million people) is also aware of the disputes between Moscow and Washington.



Yoder explains it like this: “Religious freedom for the evangelical minorities is very much dependent on the course of East-West relations. If they get worse, so will relations between evangelicals and the state. The state will be less willing to tolerate diversity, especially with groups deemed to be sponsored by the West. They would increasingly be seen as a fifth column of the West”.



Perhaps this is why most evangelical communities in Russia close ranks with Putin in the midst of a tense context of international relations.



Western countries continue to criticise Russia for its support of Al-Assad in Syria or its relations with Turkey. The poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom has also lead to more crossed messages with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.



Yoder adds: “Evangelicals in Russia are viewed very much in light of the Ukrainian situation. Some Pentecostals and Baptists there are seen as leading the fight against Russia. The Baptist Turchinov, now the Ukrainian security chief, is called the “bloody pastor” by Russian media. And not entirely without cause, for he is involved with the extreme-rightest Azov movement”, says Yoder. “Western mission societies are blowing the trumpet in favour of Western, also military, involvement in Ukraine, which of course greatly hurts any of their positive efforts in Russia”, says William Yoder.



“I find this very unwise and short-sighted and the vast majority of Russian evangelicals now distance themselves from such missions. But they, in contrast to the Ukrainians (and me), are reluctant to express their political opinions publically”, he explains.



 



THE ROLE OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH



Respected media outlets such as Le Monde Diplomatique and The Economist have lately published articles analysing what they consider to be a rapprochement between President Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.



This has been described as a way of reinforcing the national identity against the interferences of the West. Vdovin, says this rapprochement started back in the days of President Boris Yeltsin. What Putin is doing now is only to “continue with that agreement”.



“Since the Russian Orthodox Church has more than 1,000 years of history in this country, for most Russians it is just a part of our DNA. Most will say: ‘We're orthodox’. And it does not matter that most still do not know who Jesus Christ actually is”. In other words, “the ‘informal’ connection between the state and the Moscow Patriarchate is rather strategical for the present course of the country’s development”.



“The state and Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church will do their best to make a country orthodox with some three to four another minor ‘traditional’ religions”.



 



“RUSSIA IS NOT LOOKING FOR ONENESS AND UNITY”



The image of the President immersed in icy water to celebrate the Epiphany reminds everyone of the religious reality of the country.



“What Russia is looking for now is not pluralism. It is rather oneness, unity. One clear authority, and one ‘truth’ that will satisfy, first, the state and then, citizens”, says Vdovin.



With its connection with the Orthodox Church, “the state wants to be a standard of morality and purity. So, unless the Lord will change the situation in Russia, there won't be enough possibility for evangelical movement to grow here.



In addition, “we need to be aware that the evangelical movements historically came here from Germany, Great Britain and the United States. These three countries now are not the best friends of Russia”.



Even so, Yoder makes the point that, for example, “the Billy Graham organization remains committed to positive relations with the Russian Orthodox Church”. “The Moscow Patriarchy is trying to become big and strong as quickly as possible. She of course needs the support of the state to do so. But I would not say she is ‘below the heel’ of Putin”, he adds.



 



THE FUTURE FOR EVANGELICALS



Although Russia has not been included in the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List, the organisation defending persecuted Christians has said the evolution of the country should be followed closely, especially after the ban of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.



“The accounting books and buildings of evangelicals are going through a thorough review by the authorities. There are many cases of fines in the outlying provinces”, Yoder explains.



“But in general, in the large cities, evangelicals do not feel any effect from the Yarovaya Laws. Evangelicals still meet outside of church property almost everywhere; evangelization on a low-key level is still very much possible. But that could change if East-West conditions continue their downward slide”.



 



“NO SURPRISE, PUTIN WILL WIN”



So, what will happen on Sunday? “No surprises. Putin will win”, says Yoder.



“I think that among evangelicals the percentage of them going to the polls will be less than the national average. But the majority of them will vote for Putin. Russians are not choosy when they vote – they will tend to vote conservatively, for continuity”, he concludes.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - Russians (including evangelicals) measure their loyalty to Putin
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader? What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader?

Clinical Pastoral Counsellor Emoke Tapolyai reflect on three characteristics Christians who have been given leadership roles should develop.

 
Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

 
Trailer: “The Peace Between” Trailer: “The Peace Between”

A film about the experience of refugees in Europe. Churches, small groups and individuals are encouraged to use it during Refugee Week: 17-24 June.

 
The Church of Scotland debates historic doctrines The Church of Scotland debates historic doctrines

The Kirk has begun official procedures to investigate the status and the role of the Westminster Confession of Faith within its denomination.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.