Russian Baptists are Not Iconoclasts
Baptist Director for External Relations supports the retention of Lenin statues
M o s c o w – The statements of Russian Baptist leadership are not iconoclastic. Following the dynamiting of a Lenin statute, Vitaly Vlasenko, the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists”’ (RUECB) Director for External Church Relations, stated in a report on 22 April: “I think monuments should remain in place, even if they represent ideologies and leaders different from our own. We need to honour our past irregardless of its negative aspects.“
On the night of 31 March-1 April, a meter-long hole had been blown into the back of a massive Lenin statue in front of St. Peterburg’s Finlandsky rail terminal. Very soon thereafter, a clandestine “patriotic” group calling itself the “Zalesky Combat Flying Squad” claimed responsibility. Within 20 days, the statue – except for its base – had been restored at a cost of six million roubles (167.000 euros or $200.000) to the Russian taxpayer. The report on the Russian Baptist website (www.baptist.org.ru) claimed that the US government would have reacted differently. In the USA, the government is reluctant to use tax monies for highly-controversial causes – such as abortion.
The Director conceded that Lenin’s legacy awakens contradictory emotions in him. Lenin helped destroy the Russian church and intelligentsia and was to no small degree responsible for the outbreak of a major civil war. Yet Russians do not have the freedom to ignore their own history. Lenin memorials will “always remind us of very hard times in our history”.
Yuri Sipko, RUECB-President until March, spoke out repeatedly in favour of giving the embalmed remains of Lenin displayed in a mausoleum on Red Square a proper burial. Rev. Vlasenko agrees, assuring thereby that his argumentation on Lenin “goes only so far”. It should never be used to support the reappearance of memorials to Stalin.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters”
An Easter Message from Russia’s Communist Party
In an event totally unrelated to the above, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov released a word of greeting to Russia’s Orthodox at Easter on 4 April. Addressing the faithful of “Holy Rus” as “Dear Brothers and Sisters”, he lauded their church for reminding the nation “not to forget its lofty calling” during the “present, dark times”. He described “labour, justice, equality, brotherhood and truth” as grand values and goals underlying both the Christian faith and the Communist worldview.
Zyuganov concluded: “I believe that through joint efforts we can revive and raise up Rus anew.”
“Rus” (or “Kievan Rus”) is a historical, mystical term for the medieval union of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The Russian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate sees “Rus”, and not just Russia, as its own canonical territory.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Moscow, 20 May 2010
Press service of the Russian Evangelical Alliance
Release #10-14, 424 words, 2.699 keystrokes and spaces.