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"The Practicing Christian" Update

by Christopher A. Ferrara

With this column I am inaugurating a new "update" feature. As the dupes of Fatima revisionism (Russia was consecrated in 1984, all is well, etc., etc.) would have us believe, one of the great signs of the "miraculous" transformation of Russia following the-consecration-that-wasn’t in 1984 is that Russia’s current president  —  that is, its neo-Stalinist dictator  —  Vladimir Putin is "a practicing Christian."

Is he now? And what is the evidence of this? None, as far as I can see. Quite the contrary, as a report by Soviet analyst Toby Westerman at www.inatoday.com —  (May 10, 2005) concludes: "Russian President Vladimir Putin's relationship with God remains as ill defined as Russia's version of democracy. The question of Putin's faith, or lack of it, is important as an assurance of a final break with Marxism and as an indicator of the future direction of Russia."

Indeed. And what sort of faith does Putin exhibit? If a recent interview on "60 Minutes" is any indication, his "faith" is certainly not that of a practicing Christian  —  even putting aside the obvious point that Putin presides over the longest-running abortion holocaust in the world. As Westerman notes: "In the May 8, 2005 ‘60 Minutes’ interview segment with veteran news journalist Mike Wallace, Putin was only slightly less evasive about faith than he was about the fate of democratic reforms and a free press in the ‘new’ Russia. In response to a question from Wallace about his family and children, Putin said, ‘I believe that everything is right which God has given us.’ After Putin used the term ‘God,’ Wallace asked if he was a ‘religious man,’ and Putin replied, ‘I believe that every person must have some faith within his heart, and this is what is important, your inner world, the condition of your soul.’"

Some faith? But what kind of faith? Christian? Buddhist? New Age? Putin did not say. Westerman points out that "this is not the first time Putin left unanswered the question of his personal beliefs. During a September 2000 interview on ‘Larry King Live,’ Putin stated that he had ‘spiritual feelings,’ but refused to directly declare a belief in God. ‘I believe in human beings,’ and ‘the ultimate goal of comfort in our own heart,’ said Putin during the interview, according to Reuters."

So, the Practicing Christian will commit to a belief "in human beings" and "the ultimate goal of comfort in our own heart." So, for the Practicing Christian, faith apparently means whatever makes your boat float.

With statements like these, it is no wonder, as Westernman observes, that "even the Russians are confused" about what Putin believes concerning God. Meanwhile, writes Westerman, "Religious practice can be perilous in the ‘new’ Russia. There are only four legal religions in Russia, Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. The Russian government financially assists the approved faiths, but also expects religious leaders to refrain from criticizing the government, or becoming involved in political matters…. In May 2002, the State Duma, lower house of the Russian parliament, came chillingly close to calling for the prohibition of the Catholic Church in Russia. Of those present in the 450 seat legislative body, 169 voted in favor of the law, short of the 226 votes needed for passage -- but only 37 voted against the measure, with four deputies abstaining."

And that’s the good news for the Catholic Church in Russia. Her priests kept on a tenterhooks by 3-month visas, Her key clergy (including the Bishop of Siberia) expelled, and Her very existence in Russian localities at the mercy of local bureaucrats, the Church in Russia has a great deal to fear from the Practicing Christian and his Kremlin toadies. With "practicing Christians" like Vladimir Putin, Russia doesn’t need any atheists.