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Ukraine – Stop Persecuting Orthodox Christians

Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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25 Comments

Just when you thought the Ukraine situation could not get worse, it may. Ukraine’s government, with Zelensky’s support, is taking action that risks a Christian-on-Christian Civil War. This must stop, and the US Government can insist it stops by conditioning further aid to Ukraine on Ukraine promptly returning to the Christian Orthodox Churches seized properties. This includes the ancient monastery and Orthodox Christian Cathedral at the “Kiev Caves Lavra,” known as “the heart of Ukrainian and Russian Orthodoxy.”

Fear is now afoot in Ukraine – from a source other than Russia, the Ukrainian Government itself, which appears to be pursuing the Orthodox Christian church, long dissociated from Moscow, as an enemy of the state. The goal appears a strategy of soft ethnic cleansing, the latest chapter of the suspension of a lease long held by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the Lavra Cathedral on January 1, 2023.

To be clear, Ukrainian executive and legislative actions – with Zelensky’s knowledge – violate every principle of freedom of religion, and should be called out. They are reportedly “intended to make the seizure of churches belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has already been going on unpunished for decades, something entirely legal and constitutional,” which cannot stand.

Imagine for a moment a future US Administration, hostile to one or another type of Christianity, deciding that the National Cathedral in Washington DC, or St. John the Divine or St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, was not sufficiently subservient to the Administration’s progressive agenda – and so seized the cathedral, refusing to grant a lease dating to Cathedral’s origin.

The American people would not have it. For the same reason, we cannot sit by and let this happen in Ukraine. We cannot be party to oppression of ethnic Orthodox Ukrainian and Russian Christians, particularly Orthodox Christians in Ukraine, a center of Christianity’s founding.

For Ukraine’s government to take over an ancient Orthodox cathedral and monastery, placing peaceful, non-political, monastic members in fear, is beyond the pale. America should never be in the business of assisting a government in the oppression of a religious minority, let alone a Christian community with centuries of history dedicated to caring for, protecting, and praying in a cathedral and monastery.

The fact that this is happening, with no clear statement of disapproval and conditioning of future support to Ukraine by the Biden Administration, is unconscionable. Ukraine is at war with Putin’s military, not Christians in Ukraine, especially not monastics, who serve peace and pray for it.

As Assistant Secretary of State to Colin Powell, I traveled to many countries in which a particular Christian minority was oppressed by an ethnic, hostile, indifferent foreign government. The foreign government often permitted oppression by others, taking a hands off view. Sometimes the government directly interceded. In each case, we vehemently, forcefully objected. Religious persecution is disallowed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations declarations, the US Constitution, and fundamental texts on natural law.

In Laos, my message to the Communist prime minister and attorney general – delivered in person – was that America expected Christians not to be persecuted. Speaking with Kosovar Albanian Muslim officials, my message was the same. Burning monasteries and attacking Christian churches and enclaves in 2004 was not permissible. I walked through their rubble.

When Egypt’s former government targeted Christian Copts, or when Sunni, Shite, or Kurdish leaders targeted each other’s populations in Iraq, or when any government persecutes a religious minority for its faith, including Yazidis, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Uyghurs, America has an obligation to step up, and if we can, stop it. We cannot become complicit.

While tempers run hot in Ukraine and Putin’s external threat remains ugly, heartbreaking, and without modern precedent, Ukraine cannot now turn on the Orthodox Christians within its own borders, and oppress them by seizure of age-old churches – then expect more US support.

Americans cannot allow this to happen. The Biden Administration and those in Congress who care should promptly intercede, making clear Ukraine cannot devolve into a Christian-on-Christian Civil War, cannot seize Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches, and get US support.

Oppression of a religious minority, ancient or modern, large or small, affiliated with an adversary or otherwise, is impermissible – morally and by international law. The Chinese Communist domination, misappropriation of property and reeducation of religious minorities, Christian or Uyghur, is wrong. US misappropriation of property and internment of Japanese Americans in WWII was similarly wrong – and we paid a high price for that mistake.

Equally wrong now is Ukraine’s decision, directly and through affiliates, to target, persecute, and misappropriate property from the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. If Ukraine – and President Zelensky – want continued US support, seizing the Orthodox Christian cathedral and monastery – needs to be swiftly reversed.

America cannot be party to acts which seed a Civil War, persecute a prominent religious minority, or feed Putin’s false narrative that Orthodox Christians are targeted by Ukraine. Simply put, if they are not being targeted, their property should not be seized, lease not ended.

The sooner we stand up, speak up, and reverse this act and ones like it, conditioning further assistance on fair, legal, and moral treatment of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine – including their properties – the sooner Putin will understand he cannot divide Ukrainians, or Americans from Ukraine. A civil war inside Ukraine, Christian-on-Christians, would be folly – an epic tragedy. We can stop it – so let us do that.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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rifleman7
rifleman7
1 year ago

“…a center of Christianity’s founding.”? There is only one nation that is the center of Christianity’s founding and that nation is Israel.
Facts matter. Sensationalizing does not, Robert Charles.

Rhoda
Rhoda
1 year ago

Zelensky is nothing but a thug, in my opinion.

irene
irene
1 year ago

I do not see any difference between the president of Ukraine and Putin. they are both corrupt dictators who hate and use their own people. hell the wife of Ukraine goes to Paris to shop and whose money is that witch using. remember in the end, the devil and all his demons will lose and suffer eternity in hell with satan. and these two will be there as the demons laugh at them. life here on this planet is but a drop in the ocean. and the ocean is eternity. Karma that you put out and allow others to suffer will bit you in the butt and that bite only get infected and you suffer the worse

Ron St. Martin
Ron St. Martin
1 year ago

A growing number of Americans could care less about religion or religious beliefs in our own country. As for That area of the world, l think we should be more concerned about the young children being slaughtered and having their childhoods destroyed. The rich don’t care about religion or people, the leaders of the world are rich and due the bidding of the rich, the don’t care about churches.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Send them more money that will help

jane
jane
1 year ago

The Orthodox Church in that part of the world has a long history. My ancestors were from the Austro Hungarian Empire. They were members of the Byzantine church, an off shoot of Russian Orthodox church. The Russian church was persecuted during the Socialist revolution, but it was revived by Stalin during WW2. Keep that in mind. It eventually became the church of the State. Before condemning what is happening in Ukraine, look into the history of the Russian Orthodox church in that area. Of course innocent Christians suffer for leader’s actions as usual.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

The DIMMS in our country already discriminate against certain churches. If you are woke and OBEY the CDC and other alphabet agencies, you get a pass. If your church stands on the Gospel, you may be arrested for attending church without permission or praying on the public sidewalk in from of abortuaries!

Steve Greenwell
Steve Greenwell
1 year ago

The Scripture does not give instructions about the relationship of church and state to each other. The idea of church separate from state is a very recent development in history. Until the birth of the United States of America, the norm was that the church be in bed with state. The only disagreement was over who took the top; in Eastern Orthodoxy, it was always the state. Since during the tsarist and the communist empires, the government-inspected patriarch of Moscow was the head, under the state, of all Orthodox churches in the empire, it’s easy to understand why the Zelensky regime would be paranoid about the Orthodox Church in his country.

Granny26
Granny26
1 year ago

Biden just gave Billions to Ukraine….I say don’t give them anything. Everybody has their hands out and the US keeps putting $$$$ in them. And then of course our taxes keep going UP AND UP. Screw Ukraine and all the rest of the ones who won’t help themselves.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
1 year ago

EVERYTHING……..not some, not most……..everything our corporate-government controlled media…….and a huge majority of our politicians have been telling us about the Ukraine conflict are lies……blatant lies. This conflict didnt start last February, most believe it started waaay back in 1991 when the US Government CODIFIED that there would be no further NATO expansion when the old Soviet Union dissolved their equivalent, the Warsaw Pact. Well, “they” dissolved the NATO Pact but since then NATO has expanded massively with the last straw being when promises were floated for NATO membership in Ukraine. The Russians back in 2008 had stated that Ukraine was a red line where NATO expansion was concerned and again in 2014 when our “wonderful” CIA helped in overthrowing of the democratically elected President of Ukraine and then installed a hand picked puppet again Russia through Putin initially began conflicts with Ukraine, ceasing when the Minsk Accords were drafted and guaranteed by NATO members……a guarantee the former German President Merkel has recently stated was a ruse to allow for the military build up of Ukraine.
Would the US stand by and allow say….China to over arm and train militias next door to us in say…..Mexico? Nope, and neither could Russia be expected to stand by while NATO established bases in Ukraine with which Russia shares a VERY long border and which could blockade Russia from their sole winter commercial ports on the Black Sea.
Russia gave a LOT of warnings, signed broken agreements and then when the NATO built and equipped Ukraine military again started advancing on their own eastern provinces that had voted to break away from the Russain heritage hating leaders in Kiev (bought and sold by NATO)………well enter Russia.
Now we are funding the most corrupt country in Europe that bans free speech, bans an open press, bans opposition political parties, bans the speaking of peoples native language and whose prime military groups are “Banderites”. neo Nazi followers of Stepan Bandera, a WW2 Nazi collaberator who slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews and ethnic Poles.
So…….why the hell have we given coming on 120 BILLION dollars to Ukraine? Wonder if Bidens business dealings have something to do with that?

lala
lala
1 year ago

This mess is too big for mortal men to repair. We pray Psalm 37 almost daily begging
The ALMIGHTY to forgive our sins and spank the “swampers”. The first 3 verses are
for GOD rebuking the enemy & last 2 verses are Praising The LORD/easy peasy.
We could use a little help here @ the oars unless you’re too proud to get on
your knees. We’re Amac members ’til 2029 & we’ll re-subscribe b4 then.

Mari Lin
Mari Lin
1 year ago

AMAC: include petitions that we can share and get back to you so you can get our input to the right people.

ELIZABETH A MURPHY
ELIZABETH A MURPHY
1 year ago

This is an area of the world that has a history of hatred toward certain religions. This is a government that ran multiple Pogroms against the Jews throughout their national history. Between 1917-1921 were the largest and bloodiest massacres against the Jews in Ukraine. Pogrom is a Russian word meaning “to destroy with violence”. Why are we surprised that the national government has decided to pick on another religion?

This war is a travesty, and Putin is intent on taking over the entire area. No shock there. The United States sending weapons and tanks and billions of dollars will not change the hearts of the people in the area. The Orthodox Church will need to take a stand. One they never took during the Pogroms of the Jews. As Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote in his poem “First They Came” concerning the Nazis,
“Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me,
And there was none left
To speak for me”

John
John
1 year ago

the funny thing is the US Administration did do this under Bush, seizing Russian Orthodox Churches that were unwilling to submit to Moscow and placing them in the hands of the current KGB run Moscow church.

Luke
Luke
9 months ago

As an American Christian (Orthodox), I cannot tolerate my people’s money being showered on some two-bit atheist dictator in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Stop it now!

About time
About time
1 year ago

Christian’s just mad because someone is throwing stones at them for once lol

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