Showing posts with label Russian Clergy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russian Clergy. Show all posts

January 11, 2014

Russian Orthodox Church is now Asking for A Referendum on Gay Relations

 Russian Orthodox Church in Brooklyn, NY
 Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church proposed Friday a referendum on banning gay relations in the face of Western pressure over human rights ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Church's abrupt intervention came amid a growing debate over whether the Kremlin should mount a stronger defense of traditional values that many in the overwhelmingly conservative country view as coming under attack from Europe and the United States.
Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin pointed to polls showing more than half of Russians viewing homosexuality as either an illness or a crime as a sign that the country was ready to revert to a Soviet-era homosexual ban.
"There is no question that society should discuss this issue since we live in a democracy," Chaplin told the online edition of the pro-government Izvestia daily.
"For this reason, it is precisely the majority of our people and not some outside powers that should decide what should be a criminal offence and what should not," he said.
High-profile global celebrities and sports stars have already urged athletes attending the February 7-23 Olympic Games on the Black Sea coast to show their support for Russia's lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community by flashing protest signs.
Their call came after President Vladimir Putin last year signed fast-tracked legislation making it illegal to "promote" same-sex relationships in front of minors.
Chaplin -- known for his outspoken views but also an influential Church figure who airs weekly shows on state TV -- claimed that most countries viewed homosexuality as a crime.
"I am convinced that such sexual contacts should be completely excluded from the life of our society," said the Church spokesman.
"If we manage to do this through moral pressure, all the better. But if we need to revert to assistance from the law, then let us ask the people if they are ready for this."
The Soviet Union criminalised homosexuality in 1934 at the height of repressions by Joseph Stalin that saw millions die in labour camps.
Post-Soviet Russia quietly repealed the law in 1993 while still allowing officials in big cities such as Moscow to ban gay pride parades and other displays of homosexual rights.
Most Russians back 'treating gays'
A study conducted by the independent Levada centre a month after the "homosexual propoganda" ban's adoption showed only one in five Russians believe that people were actually born gay.
More than a third said homosexuality should be treated medically and 13 percent backed the idea of making it a crime -- results suggesting that Chaplin's idea would pass easily if ever put to a vote.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to the idea. But Putin had publicly promised in October to make sure that gay and lesbian "athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games."
Russia's LGBT community representatives said that Chaplin's comments pointed to a worrying trend.
"If you stage a referendum in Russia, 90 percent would back both the death penalty and the idea of shooting all homosexuals," gay pride parade organiser Eduard Murzin said in a telephone interview.
"By discriminating against minorities, the authorities want to deflect attention away from other problems," Murzin said.
Prominent Russian LGBT leader Nikolai Alexeyev said the Church spokesman appeared to be lobbying the Kremlin to back his idea.
"It may be that the authorities do not want to do this ... because this would only escalate tensions between Russia and the West," said Alexeyev.
"But these people are trying to give the idea a push," Alexeyev told AFP.

January 7, 2014

Gay? You Know Russian Clergy Homophobes are Closeted, Straight? Same

 The official homophobia of President Vladimir Putins third term in power is threatening to backfire on the Russian Orthodox Church, in whose name the anti-gay campaign began in 2012. 
Andrei Kuraev, a widely-known Orthodox theologian and proselytizer, is using social networks to expose a "gay system" within the church, fanning a scandal not unlike the one that occurred in the Roman Catholic church shortly before Pope Benedict XVI's surprise abdication last year.
Deacon Kuraev, 50, a fiery missionary and a protege of the previous Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Alexis II, is a controversial figure. Known for anti-Semitic statementsdenouncing the country's oligarchs as a Jewish clique, he penned an apologetic article, explaining, "I don't consider the Jewish people in any way worse than Russians or any other people. I just don't consider Jews better than all the others. Even that, however, seems to be seen as anti-Semitic these days." 
The church leadership tolerated Kuraev's idiosyncrasies and frequent disagreements with the official line, including his protests against the imprisonment of punk performance artists Pussy Riot for a crude song-and-dance number in Moscow's main cathedral. Kuraev is popular: His LiveJournal blog is the 37th most read in Russia, and he is one of the church's best public speakers and most erudite scholars.
On Dec. 31, however, the Moscow Theological Academy, the Russian Orthodox Church's top learning institution, removed Kuraev from its faculty, explaining that "Deacon Andrei Kuraev regularly appears in the media and in the blogosphere with shocking statements, and his activity in these areas remains, in a number of cases, scandalous and provocative."
It was not the deacon's stand on Pussy Riot or his recent support for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oligarch turned political prisoner pardoned by Putin late last year, that tipped the scale against him. It was, according to Kuraev himself, a LiveJournal postabout a teacher from the Kazan Seminary who was fired for making homosexual advances to students and then transferred to a higher post in another diocese. Kuraev wrote that the case exemplified a broader "gay metastasis" in the church.
The Russian Orthodox Church considers homosexuality a grave sin, and Patriarch Kirill has said that the legalization of gay marriage is a "dangerous apocalyptic sign." This stance encouraged Orthodox Christians in Putin's United Russia party to propose anti-gay legislative initiatives that crystallized into a law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors." Putin, a devout churchgoer, has publicly denounced "so-called tolerance, genderless and without issue."

Kuraev's firing from the theological academy only made things worse. The deacon has used his blog for daily attacks on an alleged "gay system" within the church, including a selection of testimonials by former seminarians, altar boys and clerics, who are quoted recalling their sexual encounters with bishops and ranking priests. One related how a bishop "poured almost a full bottle of vodka into me and started pawing me. That stunned me so -- I couldn't even imagine something like that -- that I even sobered up."
Kuraev claims he wants to clean up the church. "I am not sure the path of publicity is for the good," he wrote in his blog. "But I am sure it at least provides an opportunity. The path toward self-cleansing in the church is firmly clogged."
As a warning to the Russian church hierarchy, the deacon recalled the gay scandals in the Catholic Church, which led Pope Francis to admit the existence of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican. The Catholic church "seems to have realized now that if you keep sweeping garbage under bishops' prayer rugs, the stink in the church will be unbearable," hewrote.
Kuraev is taking a calculated risk: He has plenty of supporters among churchgoers. "The cleansing he wants to carry out using his reputation and public status will hurt many people's reputations and, what's more, their connections, their finances, their long-term alliances with bureaucrats and law enforcers, who knew everything but covered it up or even used it," political commentator Alexander Morozov wrote on Facebook. "God will help him."
The political stakes are high. Once the church and the state agreed it was legitimate to attack gays, they became vulnerable to attempts to prove their hypocrisy. After all, Russia has as many gays in positions of power as any other country, except here they have to nod along with the homophobic official rhetoric.
"The all-around homophobia actively pushed by our bosses in the last two years will now start bearing fruit," editor Alexander Shmelyev wrote on Facebook. “How soon should we expect a fired bureaucrat to start outing a 'gay lobby' within the presidential administration?"
By Leonid Bershidsky 
 (Leonid Bershidsky, an editor and novelist, is Moscow and Kiev correspondent for World View.)

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