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TGC, Joe Carter Attack Tucker Carlson, Defend Ukraine’s Orthodox Persecution

Leave it to The Gospel Coalition all the answers so they might properly engage the culture, and Joe Carter is the man who can respond to all the frequently asked questions of the people. Often, we have dubbed him “Buzzfeed Joe Carter” for his FAQ-style articles. In his recent piece, “The FAQs: Americans Debate About Religious Liberty in Ukraine,” Carter, through The Gospel Coalition, responded to the viral clips circulating from Mike Pence’s disastrous interview with Tucker Carlson at the Family Leadership Summit that took place on July 14th. One of the contentions in which the impotent Mike Pence was booed in Iowa was over his denial of Zelensky’s persecution of Russian Orthodox Christians within Ukraine.

Carter begins the FAQ by summarizing the events at the Family Leadership Summit and giving a selective history on the Russian Orthodox Church’s connections to Vladimir Putin. He also provides a religious breakdown of Ukraine and Russia’s claim over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church compared with the pro-Ukraine Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Carter summarizes this connection between the ROC and Putin by stating that they see, “Ukraine is still under [Kirill’s] spiritual jurisdiction, Putin sees Ukraine as part of the Russian empire that was lost after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

There is no mention to Ukraine’s anti-Russian policies, including language laws that they have enacted in recent years, nor is their mention of the secession of certain regions of Ukraine, like Donbass or Crimea, which transpired following a CIA backed coup of a legitimate, pro-Russian government in Kiev. Any conversation that omits these pertinent details is dishonest and deceitful.

What’s the significance for Christians in the West?

There are two interrelated issues of importance for Christians in Western nations. The first is the distressing issue of an increasing number of American Christians (including Tucker Carlson) making excuses for Putin and his unjust war on Ukraine. The second is the question of how Christians should advocate for religious liberty protections when religion is being co-opted to justify invading a sovereign nation and killing Christians.

As an important note, Tucker Carlson is probably best described as a seeker and is not (yet) a believer. Provided he does not monetize his spiritual journey, like a certain famous psychologist, it should be construed as genuine.

First and foremost, Ukraine is not a sovereign nation, but has an illegitimate government established by a 2014 coup. An illegitimate government has no authority to compel submission (i.e. Romans 13), so the subsequent rebellion of certain regions is biblically justifiable. Does Vladimir Putin see the Ukraine as a lost remnant of the Russian Empire? Probably, but the reality is the Ukrainian people have large pockets of populace who view themselves as Russian, both linguistically and culturally, which gives Russia a legitimate claim over these peoples, especially as an interposing force against Kiev in a justifiable civil war. For this reason, the Zelensky Regime has sought to undermine their culture through pro-Ukrainian language laws.

Second, by what authority is Putin’s invasion unjust or unbiblical? Contrary to common belief, offensive warfare is not prohibited by Scripture, but is regulated in Deuteronomy 20. In violation of the Law of Moses, which states, “you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you,” modern warfare is seldom fought for the benefit of the nation. Objectively, Russia would benefit from annexing territories and dismantling a hostile regime at their border. What Joe Carter and neoconservatives lack is an equal weight and measure of which a war is justified. Somehow Vladimir Putin is wrong, but America had every justification under George Bush to overthrow the sovereign governments of both Afghanistan and Iraq—both of which America invaded under false pretense and failed to reap the spoils. Iraq possessing falsified nuclear weapons, which might threaten Zionist interest, is not a justified invasion, nor did America benefit. Likewise, 9/11 was not justification to overthrow the Taliban government to hunt down a “former” CIA asset named Osama bin Laden for staging an attack that has increasingly revealed Saudi involvement—which likely leads back to Langley. During the Obama years, the sovereign government in Libya was overthrown, creating a failed state, and America instigated a civil war in Syria in which it sponsored the Islamic State. Both conflicts have produced a massive invasion of the West. By what standard does America condemn Russian intervention in Ukraine? One does not have to be Pro-Putin to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate interests for their invasion or believe that noninterventionism is the best, and the most biblical, approach for America.

During the Cold War era, Americans on the political and religious right opposed the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union. But over the past decade, a growing number of those who opposed communist totalitarianism have come to embrace (or at least make excuses for) the procommunist totalitarian Vladimir Putin.

Part of the reason for the unlikely alliance is that the Russian president has publicly spoken out against homosexuality and divorce and expressed support for the “traditional family.” But Christians in the West are often unaware Russia is not a haven of social conservatism. The country has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, and its authoritarian leader is “pro-choice.” In 2017, Putin said, “In the modern world, the decision is up to the woman herself,” and added that making abortion illegal would only push the practice underground, causing immense damage to women’s health.

Much of the appeal of Putin comes from his confrontation of the “global homo” agenda of the West, and frankly, Christians wish their politicians would stand firm against homosexuality like Russia or Uganda, which they cannot even get out of Ted Cruz. Carter disingenuously goes to a quote from 2017 to suggest that Putin is pro-abortion to argue that it is hypocritical to view him as a bastion of social conservatism. In recent years, Putin’s government has moved to reduce abortions by 30% in what was one of the most pro-abortion cultures in the world. Contrary to Carter’s assertion, Putin likely sees population collapse as a threat to Russia, so he is enacting policies to reduce abortion as part of a natalist agenda. If anything, he is functionally pro-life in a fashion like Donald Trump or Viktor Orbán.

Joe Carter then proceeds to contend that Russia is hardly a bastion of religious liberty.

Similarly, Moscow Patriarch Kirill isn’t a champion of Christian values such as religious liberty. He has little tolerance for Russian Christians who don’t want to be under his spiritual leadership. Kirill has said “there can be no place in Russia for a free market in religious life” and called foreign missionary activity “a sinister threat to the nation’s security.” But it’s his failure to oppose an unjust war that makes him a threat to Christians in the West and to those in Ukraine. Whether out of fear or deference, he’s allowing Putin to use the authority of the Russian church to discredit the Christian faith.

Religious liberty to commit idolatry is not a Christian value, as religious freedom sends people to hell. The problem of the ROC refusing to condemn a war is a longstanding issue throughout Church history, as local churches rallied support for various wars, for better and worse. Again, too many in the American church exhibited the exact same behaviors Carter critiques in the ROC in how they aligned with Ukraine in their war against Russia.

Moreover, it must be mentioned that the issue Tucker Carlson inquired about was Ukraine’s persecution of Orthodox Christians, not Russia’s behaviors. Rather than confront the issue, or offer a more convincing rebuttal than Mike Pence, Carter obfuscates and downplays the issue, contending that Russia is spiritualizing the war.

The problem is that Putin and Kirill have weaponized religion and made it a tool for their geopolitical interests, including the oppression of the Ukrainian people.

During this time of war, the Ukrainian government will probably err on the side of caution in implementing internal security measures. This is likely to lead to genuine persecution of innocent religious believers. The response to such action is to restore religious liberty by allowing freedom-supporting Western observers to gauge the internal threat and put pressure on the Ukrainian government.

The wrong approach is to be like Pence and rely on internal self-reporting or, like Carlson, to use religious liberty as a cudgel to beat your political enemies. The religious liberty of Ukrainians is too important to be treated so trivially by Americans.

The persecution of Orthodox believers is reduced to collateral damage for the purpose of national security, but Carter’s solution is for westerners to be more diplomatic and cooperative with Ukraine rather than combative.

Overall, Carter ignores that Carlson is not using “religious liberty as a cudgel” but is scrutinizing American support for Zelensky’s regime. The increased escalation of the Ukraine War by America’s blank check policies has garnered widespread conservative scrutiny which goes ignored by Congress. Like many Americans, Carlson sees Zelensky as an immoral leader and the involvement in Ukraine as contrary to American interests. They grow weary of their politicians caring more about Ukrainian sovereignty when American sovereignty is being routinely violated at the southern border. If Joe Carter was truly a proponent of peace in Ukraine, he would join Tucker Carlson in standing against America’s continued involvement and perpetuation of the conflict.

The second biggest story of the Church in 2022 was the shameful warmongering by the evangelical church in America for the Ukrainian government. Blue and Yellow pride flags were displayed throughout America becoming more commonplace than state flags. What Joe Carter critiques in the Russian Orthodox Church is surpassed by the log in his eye regarding the saber-rattling of American churches against Vladimir Putin.

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2 Responses

  1. Communists employ the scissors strategy by using a two-pronged approach. They infiltrate both sides of an issue enabling a cut or division in the host country… the USA. We see the left hates Russia and the right hates China. Thus we are a divided nation on foreign policy. This is the plan.

    1. I think the initial problem is turning war into an industry. Then selecting which war to fight became political warfare.

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