Already for more than 8 years, Russian protestants had difficulties with what went on in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.
Sergey Ryakhovsky, the highest bishop of the Russian Union of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches (CEF), emphasised the ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, echoing pro-Kremlin Russian Orthodox patriarch Kirill.
Mr Ryakhosvky though not condemning the conflict which is going on now, called the war from the Russian perspective a
“conflict of fratricide that has been going on for eight years”.
The bishop from the CEF Union called on believers not to post too much on social media where
“a war rages of passion and emotions”.
This would mean that Russians are divided and that there are people who do not agree with Putin’s actions. They are brave enough to react on social media, with the possible danger they would be caught and imprisoned. But in a certain way, Christians should come up for the speechless and defend those in trouble.
Great can be called the problem that so many Christians go with their pastors who believe Putin’s words that there would be a need to go against fascism and Nazism in the 21st century. At an all-religion meeting in the Duma – the Russian parliament, on March 29th, where leaders of all traditional religions of Russia were gathered, there was unanimous support for the denazification of Ukraine to end discrimination against Russian-speaking peoples. Though they forget that in several parts of Ukraine there was spoken Russian and there where even parts, like at the Black Sea, where they always were pleased to have Russian tourists.
One can imagine how the Ukrainians came disappointed with the Russian’s attitude and unwillingness to see what is really going on in Ukraine. For the Ukrainians, the
“unambiguous support for the war, motivated with Christian love”
by Ryakhovsky was the reason to “temporarily put to a stop” the ties with pastors and bishops in Russia.
The Word of Life-church leadership first expects a clear position against the war in Ukraine from the CEF church Union and
“open repentance for the war and the sin of the Russian people and government”
and, in addition,
“personal repentance from the side of Sergey Ryakhovsky”.
according to whom, fasting and praying for a “divine solution” to the conflict is way better.
Bishop Vasilii Kogan, originally from Ukraine, wrote from his church in Novosibirsk, Siberia.
“Most Christians in Russia are silent now, and I do not condemn them.”
He may also have sympathy for all those Russians who do not dare to protest against all the violence that is now being carried out on Ukrainian territory. But in this case, where so much inhumanity is taking place, silence cannot be justified.
But it is one thing to remain silent. Still, it is quite another thing to stand up for those levelling peaceful Ukrainian cities to the ground and crushing the brotherly people with tanks.”
In fact, the entire religious community, be it Russian or Ukrainian Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant, should call the Russian President to account and put an end to these many war crimes.
“Can a bishop even support an ideology that calls for the killing of people”,
bishop Kogan asked out loud. Mr Kogan has been driving to and from Ukraine to evacuate people from their shelters and hide-outs.
“While your brothers are being shot in the streets of Ukraine’s cities, you seduce thousands of Russian Christians and convince them with your speeches that Russia’ brings love’ to Ukraine.”
The whole of the West and the rest of the world can witness the hideous way in which Russia is supposedly trying to bring peace to the Ukrainian people. For months now, thousands of innocent people have been affected by death and violence.
It is all too easy for many Christians to say that they should not get involved in politics. Mr Ryakhovsky also adheres to that and says that Russian Christians,
“as citizens and patriots of Russia”,
should not meddle with politics:
“We must pray for our leaders, pray for our President, for the peoples of Russia and Ukraine. We believe that one day the special operation, the animosities will end. And then we will rebuild our relationship and continue to serve God and the peoples of our countries.”