||FIRST, THE NEWS:
RUSSIAN CHURCH SECRETLY FUNDS CARTOONISH ANTI-WESTERN PROPAGANDA VIDEO
from Sydney Morning Herald
(19 Mar) A slick, wildly popular Russian propaganda video that casts Russians as heroic invaders and warns the West "don't mess with me" was secretly funded by the Russian Orthodox Church, its makers have claimed. The church commissioned the video from a viral internet studio established as a kind of Russian "Funny or Die." The same group is almost certainly behind a video released late last year that features Mr Putin riding a bear firing laser beams out of its eyes, and which blames Ukraine and the West for shooting down MH17 in an attempt to provoke a war.
The video, framed as an email to Barack Obama, rejects "freedom", "democracy" and "Western values", which it portrays as a scrapbook of Pussy Riot, CIA renditions, Charlie Hebdo, Eurovision winner/drag queen Conchita Wurst and a book on gay parenting entitled Daddy, Papa and Me. The Russian hero narrator is portrayed as a computer hacker with a machine gun resting by his keyboard. "I politely warn you for the last time – don't mess with me! I build peace, I love peace, but I know how to fight better than anybody else.
Sincerely, your Russian occupier."
The video provoked outrage in the West in news outlets such as Newsweek and the New York Times (which noted that the text had been adapted from a prose poem published last year by Russian writer Alexei Ivanov). US ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow called the video "astounding" and "imperialism for dummies." [read more...]
CRIMEA: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SURVEY, MARCH 2015
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(27 Mar) One year after Russia's March 2014 annexation of Crimea, Forum 18 News Service notes that the forced imposition of Russian restrictions on religion has brought difficulties for those trying to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief. Individuals and religious communities have faced raids, fines, religious literature seizures, government surveillance, expulsions of invited foreign religious leaders, unilateral cancellation of property rental contracts and obstructions to regaining places of worship confiscated in the Soviet period.
Members of a wide range of religious communities have noted to Forum 18 that Russian law includes far more restrictions on religious activity than does Ukrainian law. Some Protestants have told the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission, a joint initiative of Russian and Ukrainian human rights defenders, that they have been forced to halt some public activities they used to undertake, including sports outreach events and preaching outside. [read more...]
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE PRIEST ASSAULTED IN WEST UKRAINE
(24 Mar) Supporters of the self-proclaimed Kievan Patriarchate have assaulted a priest of the Moscow Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in the village of Uhrinov in Ukraine's Volyn Region. The assault on archpriest Rostislav Sapozhnik was prompted by a row over the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was seized by Kievan Patriarchate representatives in September 2014, a UOC spokesperson said. "Eyewitnesses said that in the fall of 2014, the new bosses of the local Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is an architectural monument, started refurbishment without permission from the department of architecture," the spokesperson said.
The church's senior archpriest, Rostislav Sapozhnik, complained to the authorities. When officials from the department of architecture arrived in Uhrinov, Father Rostislav wanted to enter the church to inspect it from inside but was denied entry in a very rude form. "A scuffle began, during which the supporters of the Kievan Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church applied physical force and pushed the priest out of the church. After that Father Rostislav was hit in the head with a stick by someone behind his back, as a result of which he suffered a hematoma in his head," the spokesperson said. [read more...]
CRIMEA: ONLY ONE PERCENT OF RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS RE-REGISTERED
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(26 Mar) All 150 re-registration applications submitted to Crimea's Justice Department ahead of the original 31 December 2014 deadline were initially rejected as they were "very bad," Irina Demetskaya of the Justice Department in the Crimean capital Simferopol told Forum 18 News Service. Even after the extended 1 March deadline, only two centralised religious organisations (one of the Orthodox dioceses and the Muftiate) have been re-registered and only 12 local communities. This represents about one percent of the number that had Ukrainian registration, Forum 18 notes.
Two more are awaiting approval from the tax authorities, while 13 are being considered in Moscow. Her office is still considering about 150 more. Without registration under Russian law, religious communities can meet, but cannot enter into contracts to rent property, employ people or invite foreigners. Meanwhile, the Sevastopol authorities have reaffirmed their refusal to return the confiscated St Clement's Catholic Church. The parish has been seeking its return since the 1990s. But Vladimir Ryabykh of Sevastopol's Culture Department claimed to Forum 18 that it cannot be returned as the parish has not asked for it back. [read more...]
LUTHERAN PASTOR GIVES POSITIVE ASSESSMENT TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN UKRAINE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(24 Mar) The Department of Religious Studies of the Philosophy Institute of the NASU held a planned information seminar, which traditionally comprises meetings with the church leaders. Various issues of church life in Ukraine were discussed, including the nationwide difficulties. This was a meeting with Lutheran Church pastor Ralf Haska. In his speech, the pastor analyzed the role of the Church in the modern Ukrainian realities. In particular, he said that in difficult times the Church revealed itself to the most extent, having taken an active stand on the side of truth and people during the Revolution of Dignity. The pastor reminded them of St. Michael's Cathedral, which was the first refuge for the protesters and the St. Catherine Church that was at the center of revolutionary events.
“The church is where the people are who believe in Christ. And in any case it can not exist without people. The role of the Church is to unite people, to remain always open to them. The Church has no right to stay away from developments, it must maintain law and justice,” said the pastor. According to him, many Ukrainian churches provided that support for Independence, serving joint prayers in the prayer tent. They demonstrated the unity of the churches irrespective of denominations. The church should closely follow everything that happens in society. [read more...]
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SUSPENDS PRIEST WHO BLESSED UKRAINE-BOUND FIGHTERS
(27 Mar) The Russian Orthodox Church has suspended a priest who publicly blessed a group of fighters heading to eastern Ukraine, encouraging them to battle government troops he called "fascist scum." Vladimir Zaytsev, from the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, was filmed on March 12 sending off some 50 camouflaged fighters, some wearing balaclavas and waving the flags of two pro-Russian regions that want to break away from Ukraine. "Fight against the fascist scum if needed, and I think it will be necessary," said Zaytsev, referring to Ukrainian government forces. "Don't be afraid of anything."
More than 6,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict, which broke out last April. Moscow denies sending arms and troops to back the pro-Russian rebels, and says any Russians fighting there are volunteers. Local diocese authorities said in a statement that Zaytsev had been suspended until Easter because his actions "contradicted the position of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding what is happening in Ukraine." It said his remarks should not be considered as a "blessing for carrying out a fratricidal war." Local church officials would decide after Easter whether or not to reinstate him. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
POLL: UKRAINIANS TRUST KYIV CHURCH THE MOST
from Kyiv Post
ANOTHER MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE CHURCH SEIZED IN UKRAINE
EURASIAN ECONOMIC WOES PUT PRESSURE ON THE CHURCH
from Mission Network News
A CHAPEL WAS BURNED DOWN IN A VILLAGE NEAR ODESA
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
RUSSIAN EVANGELICAL LEADER DISILLUSIONED WITH PRESIDENT PUTIN
MISSION EURASIA RESTORES LIVES IN UKRAINE TORN APART BY HATRED AND VIOLENCE
from Mission Eurasia
PERSECUTION GROWS IN REBEL-HELD REGIONS OF UKRAINE
from World Magazine
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Our first news article RUSSIAN CHURCH SECRETLY FUNDS CARTOONISH ANTI-WESTERN PROPAGANDA VIDEO seems too crude and absurd to be true, but I have first-hand experience of being on the receiving end of a similar incident: while we were evangelical protestant missionaries in Russia, our church invited a Russian-speaking evangelist to hold a series meetings in our town. When time for the meetings arrived, a crowd of Orthodox laypeople were outside the meeting place chanting, holding icons and blocking the entrance. Inside, a gang of right-wing paramilitary thugs complete with swastikas on their uniforms continually interrupted the speaker with shouting and fascist salutes. It was obviously planned, but we couldn't prove who prompted those paramilitary thugs to protest. Only several weeks later did we learn from one of them who repented that the thugs had been hired and paid by the local Orthodox church.
We attempt to present each side of the problems in Ukraine by providing news articles from both Moscow and Kyiv sources. We leave it to you to make your own conclusions: it should be obvious to experienced readers that each side reports the news from its own point of view and interjects its interpretation of events in their description of events. All reporting contains some editorializing, just as all writing of history is selective and interpretive, not merely a listing of dry, "objective" facts. But the above article illustrates the use of disinformation, going beyond mere interpretation of events to gross distortion of the facts. Another example is our first "Other News" headline POLL: UKRAINIANS TRUST KYIV CHURCH THE MOST: the text of the article mentions that Ukrainians trust the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate the most, so I added the word "Kyiv" to the headline. Later, while researching for this issue of Hosken-News, I found the same headline - POLL: UKRAINIANS TRUST CHURCH THE MOST - on Russia's Interfax website, but the text of their article conveniently deleted the words "Kyiv Patriarchate," leaving their readers to likely conclude that Ukrainians trust the UOC(MP) most.
Sadly, the first casualty in most conflicts is the truth. But Saint Paul wrote: "Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.... Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Eph. 4:25 & 29). My wife and I have witnessed gross distortions of the truth on the evangelical protestant side as well, showing us that human nature is deeply flawed and sinful on the whole spectrum of Christian groupings. Rather than tearing down each other, we ought to forgive one another and find ways to build each other up.
On another note: our next six-week online course, Vocational Rehabilitation, is coming up soon: you must enroll by 16 April at Social Ministry of the Church! The course begins on 20 April and runs to 31 May.
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Live your life so that the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral.