Cursing the Rainbow: Russian Orthodox Head Patriarch Names Gays as Cause of Ukraine War

Excerpts from “How the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Putin enabler, spins the war.”
by CATHY YOUNG, at the Bulwark, MARCH 9, 2022
Blaming the Ukraine Invasion on … the Gays?

In the past ten days, plenty of rational-izations have been offered for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine—everything from “Russia needs a buffer state to keep NATO at a distance” (just about every Kremlin apologist) to “Russia is trying to ‘denazify’ Ukraine” (just about no one except Putin and his minions).

But in a Sunday sermon, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, offered a startling new explanation that is sure to resonate with the Sohrab Ahmari wing of the modern American right: It was to save Eastern Ukraine from the gays.

The patriarch—who, it should be noted, began his clerical career in the Soviet era when the church was a loyal handmaiden to the atheistic state and who was reportedly a KGB agent, like the rest of church hierarchy—summed up the situation as follows:

For eight years, there have been efforts to destroy what exists in the Donbas [a region of Ukraine where armed conflict has been ongoing between Russian occupation forces and Ukrainian defenders since 2014.] What exists in the [Russian-occupied parts of] Donbas is a rejection, a principled rejection of the so-called [pro-gay] values that are now being offered by those who lay claim to global domination. Today, there is a certain test for loyalty to that power, a certain pass into that “happy” world, the world of excessive consumption, the world of illusory freedom.

Patriarch Kirill-Moscow

Do you know what that test is? It’s very simple but also horrific: it’s a gay parade. The demand to hold a gay parade is in fact a test for loyalty to that powerful world, and we know that if people or countries resist this demand, they are excluded from that world and treated as alien.”

Alternatively, one could say that “what exists in the Donbas” is an enclave ruled by armed gangs of separatists controlled by shadowy people with likely ties to the FSB, the Russian state security service. Freedom is nonexistent even by the standards of Putin’s Russia (Freedom House gives Eastern Donbas a “freedom rating” of 4 out of 100, ahead of only North Korea, Syria, Tibet, Turkmenistan, and South Sudan.

Human Rights Watch has reported that the Moscow-backed “armed groups” that rule the region frequently detain people on bogus charges of espionage or treason and that detainees, including pregnant women, have been “held incommunicado, in appalling conditions,” denied medical care, and in some cases tortured. Surely even religious believers who frown on gay pride parades should agree that kidnapping and torturing people is worse.

During his fifteen-minute sermon on the Eastern Orthodox holiday known as Forgiveness Sunday (the last day before Lent), the patriarch did not say a word about fellow Christians under fire in Ukraine outside Eastern Donbas. He did, however, returnmore than once to the evil of gay parades:

[Quote from Kirill’s sermon, by digital translation]:

There is a rejection in [Russian-occupied] Donbass, a fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power. Today there is such a test of loyalty to this power, a kind of pass to that “happy” world, the world of excessive consumption, the world of visible “freedom”.

Do you know what this test is? The test is very simple and at the same time terrible — it’s a gay pride parade. The requirements for many to hold a gay pride parade are a test of loyalty to that
to the most powerful world; and we know that if people or countries reject these demands, they do not enter that world, they become strangers to it.”

The Patriarch recalled that homosexuality is condemned by the teachings of the Orthodox Church, thus it turns out that the special military operation that the Russian Federation has been conducting in Ukraine for the tenth day meets the interests of the ROC [Russian Orthodox Church]. “If humanity recognizes that sin is not a violation according to God’s law, if humanity agrees that sin is [merely] one of the variants of human behavior, then human civilization will end there. And gay pride parades . . . are called to demonstrate that [this gay] sin is [merely] one of the variations of human behavior. That’s why in order to enter the club of those countries, it is necessary to hold a gay parade.

Not to make a political statement “we are with you”, not to sign any agreements, but to hold a gay pride parade. And we know how [when] people resist these demands and how this resistance [is] suppressed by force. It means that we are talking about forcibly imposing a sin condemned by God’s law, which means forcibly imposing on people the denial of God and His truth” – that is, those with weapons in the hands of the opposing forces of the Russian Federation . . . .”

Young: [this sermon] made me think, too, of fairly common claims by pro-Kremlin conservatives in the United States that the real reason the libs hate Putin and Putin’s Russia is the [regime’s] homophobia. . . .

Were some Western progressives more incensed by Russia’s “gay propaganda” law than by the brutal suppression of peaceful protests, the crushing of the independent media, the election-rigging, and the rest of the Putin regime’s systematic assault on civil liberties? No doubt. But the Putin-loving “trads,” in Russia or in America—be it Patriarch Kirill, Pat Buchanan, Steve Bannon (who recently praised Putin on his podcast for not being “woke” and pointed out that “they don’t have the Pride flags” in Russia), . . . are at least as obsessed with the idea of the Putin regime as [their favored]  nemesis of LGBT rights.

The real irony, perhaps, is that [recent] Ukraine was not exactly San Francisco. The country still bans same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, and only about one in five people (similar to the numbers in Russia) believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society.

However, for all its problems, Ukraine is sufficiently hospitable to free expression that thousands of people have been able to march under rainbow flags year to year—in contrast to Russia, where attempts to hold such events have ended in violence from both police and anti-gay vigilantes.

One can debate whether the American liberals and progressives who have decisively won the culture war on gay rights are too intolerant toward people who still subscribe to traditional sexual morality, such as Christian bakers and florists who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. But the willingness of quite a few traditionalists to see brutal anti-gay repression as the silver lining of an authoritarian regime rather dramatically illustrates the ugliness at the heart of the “trad” mindset.

And Patriarch Kirill’s obscene wartime sermon shows us one place where this path leads: the place where the dreaded “gay parade” is a greater evil than a war of aggression.

4 thoughts on “Cursing the Rainbow: Russian Orthodox Head Patriarch Names Gays as Cause of Ukraine War”

  1. You can’t make this “stuff” up. As a movie it would be a sendup like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil combined with 1984.

  2. Good reporting. I wonder Chuck if you have noticed in your own reporting over the years, certainly in Without Apology and then on to many(way to many) of your reports on Quaker decision making process where gay issues seem to be so goddamn important? It really drives me crazy, who the fuck cares about this gay stuff so much that they will tear the world down because of it. I always think of the line ” just don’t flaunt it”. Believe me —I’m gay and I don’t even give much of a crap about gay stuff. For me political gay stuff ended when the right to marry was established these years ago now. I don’t much get het up about the littler details, they will work themselves out in time now that the big battle is won. Why do all these “straight religion” folks worry themselves into a lather about it, and hurt people about it and exploit people about it and on and on. Aren’t you astonished looking at your own reporting over the years how this is such an issue. Are all these people just closet cases?For who gay stuff just makes so crazy that they act crazy. I wonder if you know how much the “closet” worked for the the kind of person who wanted to sexually exploit young people? It was never that obvious to me untill I came out how well the closet worked for priests who wanted everyone to a lid on things while there particular brand of ugly —– perversion? —–was actually part of the Middle Management Compensation for the job—- if you so chose. Gaaah. Makes me crazy. Love Ben Schultz

    1. Hi Ben, You’re right — I never set out to be a reporter on LGBT issues among Friends. I’m just one more straight guy, never claimed to be an expert. But the issues horned in on the first big conference I went to, 45 years ago, and then again and again and again, they kept popping up, both among Friends and outside (sometimes overlapping); and here we are today, when I read a post by a guy who doesn’t write about this stuff much, but there it is, once more. And in a group I’m with often, there’s a trans woman, and she doesn’t talk about this much, doesn’t push an agenda, but I keep seeing and reading stuff that shows she’s being targeted just for being her, and I can’t stand it but can’t pass it by. And the stuff in religion — among Friends it’s not so bad (comparatively); but I was raised Catholic, and whole nobody bothered me personally, the depth of that horror makes it impossible to let slide even tho I left the Catholic church behind long ago. But we don’t get to pick the times we live in, do we??

      1. In Spirit, we find common experience: Spirit unites.

        Out of Spirit, we find differences that at a primal level could be dangerous.

        Any differences will do.

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