European Christians shocked; fear about religious freedom in occupied Ukraine


Eastern Europe


A cupola of a destroyed church is seen in the town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region located on the front-line with Russia backed separatists on February 21, 2022.

The European Evangelical Alliance sees no justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Other Christian organisations in the region respond concerned as well. Meanwhile, local Christians are worried about their freedoms.

The EEA, representing over 23 million European Protestants, came with a statement on Thursday, saying that the invasion of Ukraine is both “unjustified and unprovoked”. According to the Alliance, the claims of Russian president Putin about the necessity of the invasion are “untrue”. “This disaster has been provoked into being by President Putin for wider geopolitical purposes.”

The EEA calls upon Christians to pray for all who suffer and for those who have the power to save lives bring humanitarian aid and protection. “And let’s pray for all those with the power to stop the war and to bring about long-term peace.”


The Russian Evangelical Alliance, which is part of the EEA, said in a statement on Wednesday that it “warmly and cordially supports the appeal of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations” to the Russian president to not start a war.

In the appeal, published before the large-scale invasion, the leaders of religious denominations, uniting more than 95 per cent of religious communities in our country: Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, appeal to Putin to not start a war in Ukraine. “The commandment of the Almighty “Thou shalt not kill” determines the absolute value of human life and God’s severe punishment for the murderer. Aggressive war is a great crime against the Almighty. In the name of saving the lives of the Ukrainian and Russian military, civilian Ukrainians, true believers must do everything to stop the bloodshed”, reads the statement

Vitaly Vlasenko, the General Secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, says to support the appeal from the Ukrainians, “who, despite all the ambitions of politicians and the military, are looking for peace and harmony between our Slavic peoples.”


According to Christian Vision, a working group of the Christian Coordination Council of Belarus, Christian churches in Belarus, are condemning the advance of Russian troops into Ukraine.

“The Conference of European Churches, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council are calling for prayers of peace for the people of Ukraine and the region, says the working group in a tweet. “Jesus calls us to be messengers of hope who work for peace. As Christian churches we therefore call for an immediate de-escalation of this conflict, so that the lives, human rights, and dignity of people in Ukraine are protected,” said LWF Rev. Anne Burghardt.

The Christian French news website Evangeliques [reports] that the Ukrainian Baptist Union of Evangelicals president, Valery Antonyuk, urged “to continue and intensify” the prayers. “It’s our weapon in wartime.” Furthermore, the Russian Union of Evangelical Baptist Christians calls on all its member churches to pray for “the speedy restoration of a peaceful life”.

Suffering Church

Christian broadcaster New Life Radio, based in Odessa (southern Ukraine), told Evangelical Focus that staff “watched Russian missiles fly by their house into military targets on the outskirts of Odessa”. The team was taking actions to save the programming and hide some key equipment “in case the radio station was raided and broadcasts stopped”, they said.

That is not an unreasonable fear. In November, the EEA called upon evangelicals to unite in praying for the area of Europe where the church, according to the Alliance, suffers the most: the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

According to Christianity Today (CT), there are several restrictions on freedom of religion or belief that “make life even bleaker for all who follow a faith other than Orthodox believers linked to the Moscow Patriarchate”. According to the news website, many churches are illegal and cannot meet especially evangelical and Ukrainian Orthodox ones. Furthermore, CT reports that a lot of Christian literature is banned, including the Russian Synodal translation of the Bible.

Earlier, CT reported that Pro-Russian separatists had taken over a Christian university in the major city of Donetsk and are using the university to house insurgents in preparation for battle.



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