Sometimes difficult to prove, but political logic would indicate that the close alliance of Ukrainian Protestants with the Kiev government has serious negative repercussions for their brothers and sisters in next-door Russia. Baptist lay pastor Oleksandr Turchynov was instrumental in the founding of an „All-Ukrainian Council“ of churches on 22 January. Its founding members include top Baptist and Pentecostal leaders such as Valery Antoniuk and Mikhail Panochko. Turchynov, the Council’s co-ordinator, is currently serving as the country’s minister for security and defence. He is regarded as the new organisation’s founder and financier. Leading Baptists, including Turchynov, are voting for Poroshenko in the current national elections. Turchynov himself hails originally from the camp of Yulia Timoshenko. He is accused of being most responsible for Kiev’s military attack on the pro-Russian Donbass rebels in April 2014.
Of course, Ukraine’s Protestants and the politics of Hillary Clinton are not an exact fit – current-day Trump fits better. In his opening address at the Council, Turchynov stressed, that the Council was non-ecumenical, for family values and against any form of gender politics. In an article published on the Ukrainian Baptist Union’s website, Turchynov attributes the West’s support for homosexuality to the influence of Marxism. In my opinion, Turchynov thereby makes the same mistake currently prominent in the USA: using “liberal” and “leftist” as if they were synonyms. But post-1945 communism in Eastern Europe was leftist – not liberal. Brezhnev, Mao, Stalin and Castro were leftists – not liberals championing the rights of sexual minorities.
Ukraine‘s newly-recognised, breakaway Orthodox confession – once subservient to Moscow - is no less pro-Kiev than the evangelicals. But Russian Orthodoxy is of course much more capable of defending itself within Russian proper. The Russian Orthodox Church has been wounded by its major losses in Ukraine; it will want to insure itself against any further losses to evangelicals or Catholics on Russian turf.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Berlin, 9 April 2019
A journalistic release for which the author is solely responsible. It is informational in character and does
not express the official position of any church organisation. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #19-02.