Christian scholars denounce Putin’s religious ideology behind Ukraine war

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More than a 1,000 global Christian scholars and researchers at several world universities, including from Russia, have signed a declaration denouncing the religious ideology that is driving Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The declaration, organised by Dr Brandon Gallaher from the University of Exeter and Dr Pantelis Kalaitzidis, from Volos Academy in Greece, has expressed horror at the suffering in Ukraine and the weaponisation of Christianity in Russia.

It is now available in over 10 languages, and has so far garnered 1,127 signatures, including from nearly 20 Russian experts.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is a historic threat to the people of Orthodox Christian tradition,” the scholars wrote.

But, the message of Christianity is exactly opposite, the scholars said, adding they have signed the declaration because they want to uphold the original teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

Their declaration affirms “that love is the core of the Christian message and that the making of war is the ultimate failure of Jesus’s law of love” and that “Christians are called to be peacemakers, not war-mongers, to stand up for justice and to condemn injustice”.

It also condemns the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the Russian Orthodox Church which continually repeats Kremlin propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” intended to protect the break-away Donbas region of Ukraine against Ukrainian aggression and Western ideas, such as gay rights.

“The ‘Russian world’ ideology pits itself against a supposedly corrupt and degenerate West, with Ukraine as the principal front line. As a result, both the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, and President Vladimir Putin routinely justify the invasion of Ukraine on the basis of bringing it back into the fold of the ‘Russian world’,” Gallaher said.

“The reality is that the ‘Russian world’ ideology reinforces Vladimir Putin’s personal and geopolitical ambitions. Putin wants to create a greater Russia by restoring the boundaries of the former Soviet Union under his dictatorship,” he added.

“We hope as many people as possible will sign the declaration to draw attention to how Putin is abusing religion to serve as his propaganda instrument. This is wrong,” Gallaher said.

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