Putin takes an Ortho­dox route to ce­ment power

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

Be­cause of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, your re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion has be­come an ex­is­ten­tial is­sue across the globe. Whether you are a Chris­tian, Mus­lim, Hindu, Bud­dhist or Jew can lit­er­ally mean life or death, no mat­ter what coun­try you are in. Western na­tions are not ex­cluded from this scourge.

The curse threat­ens the very ex­is­tence of na­tion-states as well. Is­rael is rou­tinely threat­ened by Iran and oth­ers — be­cause it is Jewish. If Is­rael were not Jewish, it would not be tar­geted for de­struc­tion.

The re­li­gion of a na­tion can also unite and bring power to a coun­try. Iran has used Shia Is­lam to main­tain and project power through­out the Mid­dle East. Its new ally, the Rus­sian Federation, is us­ing re­li­gion as well — this time Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity — to con­sol­i­date its power and in­crease its in­flu­ence across the globe.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Wed­nes­day vis­ited the clois­ter of “Old Be­liev­ers” in Moscow, the first head of state to visit the site in 350 years. The “Old Be­liev­ers” or “Old Ri­tu­al­ists” split off from the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church in 1666 to protest re­forms to rit­u­als which had been prac­ticed for cen­turies. The group was per­se­cuted by the czars and fled to lo­ca­tions around the world, in­clud­ing Alaska and South Amer­ica, where they can still be found to­day. But re­cently the Krem­lin has been mak­ing ef­forts to bring them back, of­fer­ing free land in Siberia, and many have re­turned.

This week’s visit was sig­nif­i­cant. Mr. Putin is at­tempt­ing to make Rus­sia the pro­tec­tor of Chris­tian­ity. It is a pow­er­ful nar­ra­tive.

A Mus­covite friend of mine de­clared when she saw the news of Mr. Putin’s visit, “That head­line just gave Putin a sta­tus of [an] im­mor­tal.” Mr. Putin gave the Metropoli­tan at the clois­ter a bi­og­ra­phy of St. Ni­cholas and re­ceived an icon of the Holy Trin­ity, which, of course, he kissed on na­tional tele­vi­sion.

With the slaugh­ter of Chris­tians tak­ing place in the Mid­dle East and else­where by Is­lamist ter­ror­ists, rais­ing up Rus­sia as the global cham­pion of the Chris­tian faith is a bril­liant strat­egy to spark Rus­sian pa­tri­o­tism and al­most guar­an­tee decades of power for Mr. Putin and his in­ner cir­cle.

Many in the West do not know Rus­sia’s his­tory with Chris­tian­ity. When Vladimir the Great was de­cid­ing what re­li­gion he wanted to in­stall in Kievan Rus in the late 10th cen­tury, the fore­run­ner to mod­ern Rus­sia and Ukraine, he sent emis­saries out around the world to learn about the dif­fer­ent faiths. Upon their re­turn, they told him Is­lam was not good due to the pro­hi­bi­tion on al­co­hol and pork, as the czar loved to drink. Ju­daism was not se­lected as they saw in the de­struc­tion of Jerusalem ev­i­dence Je­ho­vah had turned his back of the Jewish peo­ple.

How­ever, when the emis­saries de­scribed the visit to the cathe­drals in Con­stantino­ple, the cap­i­tal of the sec­ond Ro­man Em­pire. Byzan­tium, they re­marked they did not know if they were on heaven or earth when they be­held their beauty. In 988, Vladimir the Great con­verted the Kievan Rus to Chris­tian­ity and es­tab­lished the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Mr. Putin just erected a gi­ant statue of Vladimir the Great at the gates of the Krem­lin.

As Rus­sia sees Europe fall into a god­less orgy of sec­u­lar val­ues and gen­der iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, when Rus­sians see Europe com­mit cul­tural sui­cide in the face of Is­lamiza­tion of the con­ti­nent, they can draw their own con­clu­sions. Hold­ing up their own coun­try as a bas­tion of the Chris­tian faith is not just a way to con­sol­i­date power but to re­store the mag­nif­i­cence and in­flu­ence of im­pe­rial times.

Mr. Putin is no longer a com­mu­nist. The one­time KGB agent is now new czar of Chris­ten­dom.

L. Todd Wood is a former spe­cial op­er­a­tions he­li­copter pi­lot and Wall Street debt trader, and has con­trib­uted to Fox Busi­ness, The Moscow Times, Na­tional Re­view, the New York Post and many other pub­li­ca­tions. He can be reached through his web­site, LTod­dWood.com.

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