Putin’s Puritan Piety: The Ideological War against the West

by Giulio Meotti
October 9, 2016

During the Cold War, American conservatives used to label the Soviet Union “the godless nation” on the verge of collapse because it had purged religion from the Russian society. Two decades later, the Kremlin is occupied by a former officer of the KGB, secretly baptized, who launches the same accusation of atheism at the United States and the West.

Welcome to “Putin’s covert war on Western decadence”, as The Spectator defined it:

“Putin’s Russia is fast becoming a very puritan place. Ever since returning to the presidency in 2012, Putin has pursued an increasingly religious-conservative ideology both at home and abroad, defining Russia as a moral fortress against sexual licence and decadence, porn and gay rights”.

Recently, Russian officials censored porn websites. When the largest pornography site on the internet, PornHub, offered the Russia’s official communications and media watchdog a premium account in exchange for lifting the ban, Russian officials replied: “Sorry, we are not in the market and the demography is not a commodity.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ideological war against the West is getting cocky and self-confident. In a televised speech from a Kremlin hall, Putin declared that Russian traditional family values are a bulwark against the West’s “so-called tolerance — genderless and infertile.”

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have abandoned their roots, including Christian values,” said Putin. The patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Kirill, echoed Putin by charging the West of being engaged in a “spiritual disarmament” of the Russian people, and by criticizing the European laws that prevent wearing religious symbols in public. “We have experienced an era of atheism and we know what it means to live without God”, Kirill said.

The first ten years of Putin’s dominance were devoid of any religious and cultural reference. Putin and his circle never mentioned any “values”, and did not try to teach any moral lessons to the West. The second Putin decade has been marked by a “conservative revolution” based on the revival of an isolated Russian Orthodox culture, separated for centuries from European civilization. “Putin wants to make Russia into the traditional values capital of the world,” said Masha Gessen, author of a Putin biography, entitled The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. In the Russian media, Putin is now called “the savior of the decadent West.”

Putin is now focused on a church in the heart of Paris. The Sainte-Trinité Cathedral, often referred to as “Moscow on the Seine,” is under construction near the Eiffel Tower, in the Quai Branly, and will be the largest Orthodox cathedral in France. “This church is an outpost of the other Europe, conservative and anti-modern, in the heart of the country of libertinism and secularism”, said Michel Eltchaninoff, a French scholar and author of the book, Dans la tête de Vladimir Poutine (“Inside the Head of Vladimir Putin”), on the thoughts of the Russian president.

Are France, the United States and Ireland open to gay marriage? Putin’s Russia bans “gay propaganda”. Does Western Europe allow quick divorce? Putin’s Russia taxes divorce. Does the West legalize abortion on demand? Putin’s Russia is trying to restrict it. Russia’s leading clerics have just urged Putin to ban abortion. A new Russian law also targets “foreign religions.”

Read more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9063/putin-piety-church

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