Christianity in Russia

Russian Christians have essentially passed one whopper of a bill:

A bill that stigmatizes Russia’s gay community and bans the distribution of information about homosexuality to children was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament Tuesday.

More than two dozen protesters were attacked by anti-gay activists and then detained by police, hours before the State Duma approved the Kremlin-backed legislation in a 436-0 vote.

The bill banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” still needs to be passed by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.

This is what happens when Christian ‘morality’ overtakes the thought that is necessary in secular morality – the latter being the morality that has driven the modern world to its most prosperous, most free, and least violent times.

Before the vote, gay rights activists attempted to hold a “kissing rally” outside the State Duma, located across the street from Red Square in central Moscow, but they were attacked by hundreds of Orthodox Christian activists and members of pro-Kremlin youth groups. The mostly burly young men with closely cropped hair pelted them with eggs while shouting obscenities and homophobic slurs.

From time to time I will hear it asked, ‘If you were walking down a dark street alone, would you ever find yourself afraid of an approaching group of strangers if you knew they had just come from a late night Christian meeting?’ Well, here’s the answer to that manipulative, assumption-filled, horseshit argument. I would be petrified if I was a member of whatever minority that group happened to hate based upon their necessarily subjective interpretation of the Bible.

And that’s the real problem here, isn’t it? The unavoidable fact of subjectivity that comes with a text as flimsy as the Bible encourages this sort of inanity. And, really, that’s merely the icing on the cake, for the ultimate ill of the world is the very premise of this sort of ‘thinking’, and of religion as a whole: faith. An effectively random way to believe, faith has only the power to harm, and anything good that relates to it is incidental. It’s like driving without using the steering wheel. Sure, you might end up parked perfectly in your driveway at the end of the day, but there’s no good reason to expect any sort of specific result like that. It’s far more likely that you’ll end up in a ditch or, worse yet, colliding with another driver.

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9 Responses

  1. I confess, I 1ust don’t get faith. There’s the tired old mantra that some old book teaches unmistakeable morals you can’t get anywhere else. Yet one person can interpret the text as “treat everyone as you would expect or want to be treated” (as the non-religious and older-than-the-Bible Code of Hammurabi specifies) while another reads exactly the same script as “Kill anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with your narrow-minded prejudices”.

    I know many moral Christians and Muslims who get downright angry when I point out that this must mean that moral behaviour must therefore derive from their own free will, if a single supposedly prescriptive.moral code can be interpreted in such diverse ways.

    My morals are not from a book any more than Jack the Ripper’s were.

  2. As much as I approve of our own nation’s ban on ‘religious tests for holding public office,’ I sometimes wonder if devout religious faith should be a reason to block someone from being elected.

    Religious zealotry is inherently anti-freedom and anti-democracy, so religious fanatics should never be permitted anywhere near any type of political power. What’s the solution?

  3. “This is what happens when Christian ‘morality’ overtakes the thought that is necessary in secular morality – the latter being the morality that has driven the modern world to its most prosperous, most free, and least violent times.”

    The world is at it’s most prosperous, free, and to an extent, least violent primarily because of trade, but that’s a discussion that will have to wait for another, more fitting, post.

    You are missing the forest through the trees, the problem is not religion, the problem is that the Russian government has the power to enact such nonsense in the first place. Power has been abused by Christians and you want to focus on the who, when it really doesn’t matter. Remove “by Christians” and insert something else and it doesn’t change a thing, except that it would deprive you of the opportunity to blame all the worlds problems on religion.

    Change the law a little, instead of forbidding nontraditional whatever it was, make it about spreading anti-government information, does that change anything? Is that not as abhorrent? I just can’t follow your thinking here, unless you think regulating speech like this is acceptable when it doesn’t have a religious component, the fact that there is a religious component to this is merely incidental to this abuse of power, not the cause.

    This is not what happens when “christian morality overtakes the thought that is necessary in secular morality”, this is what happens when the authority of the state is so expansive that virtually every aspect of a persons life is open to its regulation, oversight, and control.

    Stalin criminalized male homosexuality in 1933, and there were no religious motives behind that action whatsoever, you don’t get much more secular than early Russian communism.

  4. Stalin of his own free will actually studied for the priesthood in his youth, Nate. So I wouldn’t necessarily be convinced he was such a staunch secular in private.

  5. That people do awful things because of reasons other than religion does not mean that religion – and its underlying basis of randomness, faith – is absolved.

  6. The fact is that a doctrine which successfully exhorts large numbers of people to do horrible things is likely to use religious arguments. It’s about the only discipline that compels people to turn off their brains. And dictators don’t like people using their brains – they like what Lenin called “useful idiots”, not free-thinkers who can cause waves.

    Hitler called on and received the fulsome support of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism was the only religion Nazism didn’t persecute.

  7. That’s good news, I’m sure the many priests who died in concentration camps will be happy to hear it. Stalin wrapped homosexuals up with pedophiles, his religion, or more correctly, the religion you imagine he retained, wasn’t involved. The law remained on the books until 1994.

    And, I wasn’t arguing for absolution for religion or the religious, you tried to make the problem to be religion when the problem is the power wielded in the first place, which you want to ignore because it doesn’t fit your narrative. Feel free to ignore reality, but religion is still incidental in this instance and the power of the Russian government to restrict speech is the issue. Without religion, that would still be as big a problem, but without that power you never would have written this post.

  8. Not really. “To get a good man to do evil–THAT takes religion.” Religion is the most powerful excuse for abhorrent acts of hatred and injustice precisely because religion IS so socially accepted (without cause)… and the inevitable disaster that results every time religion gets a taste of political power argues heavily in favor of church-state separation being far more urgent than any other type of check or balance.

  9. If the existence of power trumps everything, then we can never say communism or any other social orders are in and of themselves bad. Why, it’s just that they happen to also have power, and so without that power, we would never say anything whatsoever about anything. Power power power.

    Incidentally, religion tends to wield a bit of power. Note Stalin’s eventual use of the Russian Orthodox Church to further cement his reach into the lives of all Russians. I wonder why he didn’t try to utilize knitting clubs or humanist groups.

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