Tight supervision, censorship, totalitarianism. The struggle of Western democracies with these factors has dragged on for many years. After all, what could be worse than violating our freedoms? Perhaps one thing: the violation of freedoms under the good pretext of upholding democratic ideas.
In February, when the world’s attention was focused on the situation with the coronavirus, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of the International Alliance for the Protection of Religious Freedom.
The organization includes Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Great Britain, Hungary, The Gambia, Greece, Georgia, Israel, Kosovo, Colombia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, Croatia, Czech Republic and Estonia.
At the founding meeting, Pompeo called the alliance “the first example in history when an international coalition gathers at the level of national leaders to advance the issue of religious freedom around the world.” Of course, this is difficult to argue. And yet, something this practice recalls. We all remember from the lessons of history how the colonialists in the 16th-19th centuries, under the pretext of saving souls, forcibly imposed Christianity, trying to subjugate the indigenous population of the New World. Are there many differences between today’s events and those that happened many centuries ago?
Just as the Inquisition infiltrated America, setting its own rules and punishing everyone who did not obey them, the alliance created by Washington will have the opportunity to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. It is important to understand that religion has always been a political tool that enslaved people’s minds by believing in higher powers, fear of the punishment of the Lord or horror of the punishment of man. Now, in the era of modern technology, it may seem that all this is in the past. However, approximately 2.5 billion people still practice Christianity. From a political point of view, this is an incredible opportunity to influence 2.5 billion minds around the world, just like television does.
During his speech on the occasion of the creation of the alliance, Pompeo mentioned Ukraine very opportunely. For several years there has been a church schism in this country. Before, Orthodox Ukrainians attended a church subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. No one saw anything shameful in this, since the church did not interfere in the political feuds between Ukraine and Russia. However, official Kiev wanted its own church.
In Ukraine, there were several unrecognized religious groups. Having secured their support, as well as the support of the Patriarch of Bartholomew of Constantinople, in December 2018, Kiev created the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, trying to replace the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with it. Feel the difference? From the point of view of faith, it really is not. If an Orthodox Christian goes to the temple, then he goes to pray to God. And for this god there are no Ukrainians, Russians, or anyone else. For God, everyone is equal, but the new church of Ukraine did not think so. She openly positioned herself as an adversary of the Russians, provoking a split not only religious, but also social.
Of course, people were not forbidden to attend the churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But these temples were methodically requisitioned. Parliament even passed a law allowing the transfer of entire religious communities to the subordination of the new church. Can this be called freedom of religion? Mike Pompeo thinks yes. He actively supports the semi-recognized church, created, as it is not funny, by the Ukrainian government.
“I just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I met with leaders of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine who are fighting to pray freely, without interference from the Russian government”, – the Secretary of State said.
I wonder how Russian intervention differs from the US? Indeed, with the head of the new Ukrainian church Epiphanius Pompeo sees more often than with the president of Ukraine. In October, a meeting was held in Washington, and in January in Kiev. When the diplomat did meet with Vladimir Zelensky, he emphasized the need… to respect religious freedom? Stop the religious divisions that split Ukraine? No. He emphasized the need to support the new church. Not believers. Not Orthodoxy as a whole. And one half-recognized church.
With this in mind, Mr. Pompeo has as many rights to talk about “religious freedoms” as he has the right to say about the success of the democratic campaign in Libya. There is not much difference between the two. Both serve the interests of political elites. Both are beautiful wrappers for horrific and destructive manipulations.
When the United States proclaimed itself a force bringing democracy into the world, they merely legalized their intention to intervene in the domestic politics of other states. They gave themselves the right to impose their point of view as the only true one, because everyone else was considered undemocratic. Some countries have chosen to come to terms with this world order. Not a single leader, not a single government would want to surrender voluntarily to the mercy of another state. But they understood that it was easier to obey, to create the illusion of Western solidarity, in the conditions in which we live. However, all this was within the framework of politics. Now the same methods apply to religion.
Pay attention to the list of countries that joined the alliance. There are Britain and Austria – countries where there are no serious problems on religious grounds. Obviously, such countries simply chose not to argue with Washington, to reconcile, as was done before. Israel is also on the list, where religious conflict has been going on for decades. Only there are huge doubts that the alliance will at least try to solve it.
But there are countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Ukraine among the organization’s members, where Christians still attend churches under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. There are Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, where the Serbian Orthodox Church operates. To strike at Russian and Serbian churches is to strike at Moscow and Belgrade, this is Washington’s position.
Unfortunately, any political manipulation – and the creation of the alliance is not something else – has side effects. They will not concern the Russian government or other forces that did not please Washington. They will affect ordinary people. But these people do not need politics in religion. They want to pray in the church they are used to, whom they trust. Why should Washington tell them which church is right and which is not? Doesn’t it look like bloody crusades in the name of the Lord or the imposition of Christianity on the Indians?
The alliance, created on a beautiful pretext, will not protect religious freedom. It will become an instrument of censorship and total control. Admittedly, not the first and not the last. Freedom is slavery, George Orwell wrote. It is ironic that they make us slaves of the government, “defending our freedom”.