Five reasons why Russian Christians love Putin


Eastern Europe

William Immink, CNE.news

Putin has a very good relation with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, patriarch Kirill. Photo AFP, Yana Lapikova

Just weeks before Russia goes to the ballot box in parliamentary elections, Russian Christians are making up their minds about whom to vote for. Contrary to what many Westerners would think, the choice is an easy one.

Most Orthodox and Protestant Christians are all in for the sitting President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. And they have good reasons.

1. Family values

“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman”, Mr Putin said last year when he introduced his plans to renew Russia’s Constitution. For most of his 21-year reign over Russia, Mr Putin has been outspoken in favour of traditional family values. He supported families with three or more children financially and made them the backbone of society. Especially because the Russian population is declining, the fruitful family is the only union that can save Russia.

2. Anti-gay propaganda

Since the early 2000s, Mr Putin has been critical of liberal Western values that flooded the Russian streets, especially during the 90s. In the eyes of many Westerners, Putin became more of an authoritarian ruler. Still, many Russian Christians beg to differ: With the Kremlin passing a law to protect children from being indoctrinated with non-traditional family values, Mr Putin became a hero for many conservative Christians. Since 2013 it is no longer allowed in Russia to have films, movies or advertisements propagating LGBT rights.

3. He does not drink nor smoke

Not only does Mr Putin show his conservatism in legislation, but also in his personal image. Mr Putin is often shown on the state’s television swimming, playing ice hockey or weightlifting. On his yearly trips to Russia’s Far East, Mr Putin is shown hunting, horse-riding with a bare torse, or catching fish. This manly, almost macho, image is popular with both masculine men and womanly women. Especially compared to his predecessor, President Boris Yeltsin, who often made a fool of himself being publicly drunk, Putin is a national example of being a responsible man.

The Russian president speaks regularly with religious leaders in the country. On the left bishop Sergei Ryakhovsky of the Russian Evangelical Pentecostals. Photo AFP, Natalia Kolesnikova

4. He is a patriot

Russians are a proud nation. Christians would be lying if they said that would not make a difference. Mr Putin is ready to defend his people and his country no matter what the cost. In the individualistic West, nationalism has a bitter taste, but in Russia, people don’t see themselves as individuals but as part of a nation. In a world, with all kinds of dangers (like NATO, the ever-expanding European Union, and Islamic terrorism), for many Christians, it is Vladimir Putin who keeps their lives safe.

5. Protector of the faith

Ask the Orthodox Christians, and they will tell you that Russia is the last remaining bastion of true Christianity. Rome fell to the heretics, and Constantinople fell to the “barbaric Islam”, but Moscow is still strong against the waves of liberalism and heretics. Mr Putin, often lighting a candle on television with Easter and Christmas, is the defender of the orthodox faith.

Criticism: This president also restricted evangelism

There is enough reason to vote for Putin’s United Russia party for conservative Christians, but other Christians see through these empty political promises. They see a different Vladimir Putin. The President restricted evangelism on the streets in the much-criticized Yarovaya-law.

Putin (right) in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Photo AFP, Alexander Nemenov

Also, the Church is still waiting for the government to impose some kind of law against abortion, which is still legal in the country and by many faithful Christians seen as one of the last remaining relics from the atheist Soviet society. Especially because the Russian population is declining, it would be logical to restrict abortion further. But as far as today, Mr Putin hasn’t taken any steps in that direction.

Another criticism of Mr Putin and his reign is the corruption, which is still a big part of Russian society today. There is proof of Mr Putin himself being involved in corrupt business, building an enormous palace for himself at a secret place at the coast of the Black Sea in the Krasnodar region. But at the same time, many Christians overlook these points, saying the benefits outweigh the costs of Mr Putin’s reign. Change has never brought much good in Russia. So, most Christians see stability and peace with Mr Putin and want to keep it that way.



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