I have been studiously avoiding this topic because it strikes close to my heart’s marrow. The sight of government toadies crashing churches and torturing priests is a bit too much for me. Yet, it’s happening. This is reality.
The Ukrainian persecution of Orthodox believers is particularly vile when compared to how Russians treat religious believers in their country. Russians go out of their way to create photo-ops in churches, include and involve priests and bishops in the decisions made by Putin, ask for public religious “blessings” of military men, equipment and plans, rebuild churches that are old or damaged by war, preserve heritage-shrines, and much more. Russians soldiers are often seen at prayer and worshipping in make-shift shrines. Ukrainians, in contrast, are often seen as drugged secularists. In fact, the images we get of religion in the Ukraine are primarily that of Ukrainian soldiers and government officials killing and destroying the symbols, structures and leaders of historic Orthodoxy.
Clearly, Americans leaders including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo LOVE LOVE LOVE Orthodox schism, the torture of Orthodox believers and the razing of Orthodox churches in the Ukraine. They see religious faith is a competing power to secular nationalism, one they can’t control. In their minds, it’s best to get rid of their pesky religious faith altogether. This explains American-led persecution of Orthodox Christians in the Ukraine. It shows the secular mindset at work, one innately hostile toward people of faith. It’s very, very Western.
It’s must be a serious problem to Pompeo et. al. that the overwhelming majority of people in the world believe in God and religion. Few people are utter secularists and Europe, and increasingly America, are outliers in their god-forsaking beliefs. Western bigotry toward people of faith is turning the world against them. I was dismayed to learn that Mike Pompeo claims to be a Christian — a Presbyterian, in fact.
“By their deeds, you shall know them …”
Tucked under today’s Orthodox umbrella are both autocephalous and autonomous churches. For the past 400 years (!), the Ukrainian church has been an autonomous region subsumed under the Moscow Patriarchate. It had self-government but was NOT autocephalous, a distinction with important differences. Today, only Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox church (historically important!) as well as a few smaller autocephalous Orthodox national-based groups accept OCU’s autocephalous claim.
Instead, MOST Orthodox believers within this region regard the Ukrainian Orthodox church as schismatic. Such a schism is what Pompeo and the Americans are promoting.
When the Ukrainian church officially broke away from the Russian church due to CIA/American meddling and pressure in 2019, Russian Christians were understandably furious. This break was done behind their backs and without the consensus of other Orthodox Churches. Under American pressure, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, by fiat, simply declared the Ukrainian church to be autocephalous.
I don’t want to crawl among the weeds of intra-Orthodox politics though I’m curious about the degree to which Mike Pompeo was involved in the formation of the Orthodox church of the Ukraine. He was Secretary of State at that time — here’s one of his tweets:
“I made sure that the U.S. supported the international recognition of the Orthodox Church of the Ukraine … (to) escape Russian influence …”
Our Secretary of State, to thumb his nose at Russia, caused the break-up of the Orthodox church for political reasons and then bragged about it. Think about this.
I’m disgusted. It is morally wrong to use the church as a pawn in politics. It’s morally wrong to destroy people’s faith. It’s morally wrong to sow discord in the church. It’s morally wrong to put the needs of the state above that of the church.
If Pompeo is truly a Christian, I hope he’s on his knees begging for forgiveness. For a man who claims to be a Christian to sow discord within the church under the supposed moral cover of the CIA is mindbogglingly immoral. It flies against all Christian principles. It’s wrong.
I’m also disgusted at the willingness of the Greek Orthodox church hierarchy to kowtow to Western demands. I wonder who was paid off. Did Pompeo bring pallets of money as did Obama for his buddies in Iran? (By the way, how did that pay-off work out? Iran is a closer ally than before, a reliable international partner … right?)
The world is most peaceful when government representatives treat each other respectfully and honorably, don’t lie, don’t bribe, and don’t sow discord in other country’s places of worship.
Yesterday I read that Pompeo is going to make another quick visit to Zelensky in the Ukraine. He’s got something more to say to the little dictator, I guess. I’m absolutely certain that Pompeo will tell Zelensky to ease up on the persecution of Christians because it’s bad PR — bad optics — not because he believes this behavior is evil. Pompeo must not give a rip about Christians in other countries. The Ukraine, to him, is merely an American staging ground on which the full-of-intrigue, neoliberal haters-of-Russia are putting on their show. Ordinary Ukrainians are pawns. Expendable. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men and increasingly women have died … matters not. The only people worthy of life are the culturally isolated, self-inflated, egoists such as Ursala and Macron with their oh-so-enviable values. s/
The persecution of Ukrainian believers is happening at the same time the Israeli government straps zip-ties around the legs of prostate Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem. I’m not following this story as closely as the one in Ukraine so will refrain from discussing it but suffice it to say that religious believers in the rest of the world are horrified at what they see there. Again, most people worship God, not only their own, make-believe, superior values. To watch Israeli soldiers storm a house of worship, throw praying people to the ground, smash them with the heel of their rifles, zip-tie their arms and legs together, and then treat them as criminals for worshipping God … well, this is creating a clear and memorable parallel to how Western secularists have treated Orthodox believers in the Ukraine.
This won’t end well. Images of religious persecution are being widely shared in spite of Western Internet censorship. They can’t hide the truth forever. The resultant fury is deep and visceral — this is the case not only among Muslims but among all religious believers in the world who now see the US/Europe/West’s anti-religion bias.
Yesterday I explained the prioritization of the deep values and motivations held by religious believers. I’m going to repeat it. It’s important to understand this if one wants to promote peace. Culturally speaking …
- Loyalty to and identification with congregation and neighborhood trumps loyalty to religious denomination and regional political structures.
- Similarly, loyalty to religion, community and family trumps loyalty toward denomination and regional political collectivity.
- Loyalty to ideology trumps loyalty to nation.
- National identity trumps international identity. This includes ALL international, non-land-based collectivities such as the EU, WEF, etc.
- Small trumps large.
- Known trumps unknown.
- Faith trumps politics.
- Localism trumps larger political collectivities
- And, the family as the smallest unit of community, trumps everything else except faith.
So, according to this value pyramid, meddling in other people’s religions must be avoided. In fact, it’s absolutely verboten. It offends the first and deepest loyalties that most religious people have toward family, faith, community and God.
Well done, Pompeo. “Blessed are the peace-makers …”