This is interesting news from Russia. Konstantin Malofeev, a devout Orthodox Christian, tsarist, and rich guy, has ideas about media, religion, and the culture war. Slate reports:
Malofeev, whose St. Basil the Great Foundation is the country’s largest Orthodox charity, says that these cultural issues don’t stop at Russia’s borders. His mission is larger than just restoring Orthodoxy in Russia. Rather, it’s a global struggle.
“Just as Christians in the West in Ronald Reagan’s time helped us against the evil of communism, we now have to return our debt to Christians who are suffering under totalitarianism in the West,” he says. “This so-called liberalism, tolerance, and freedom, these are just words, but behind them you can see the totalitarianism.”
Asked for examples of this totalitarianism, he cites legal battles over U.S. businesses not providing flowers or cakes for gay weddings and the use of tear gas againstanti-gay-marriage protesters in France. “We saw all of this in the 1920s in the Soviet Union. We know how it starts when the protection of minorities becomes the policy of the state,” he says.
He’s also developing Tsargrad TV, a cable network—for now it’s just a YouTube channel—that will provide a conservative Orthodox perspective on the news. “We want to build up [a network based on] Orthodox principles the way Fox News was built,” he says. “We want to show the news in the way that Orthodox people, who are 70 to 80 percent of the population, see it.” (Jack Hanick, a former Fox News employee, will be a producer for the network.) I ask if Russia’s existing TV networks aren’t conservative enough. “Aren’t Orthodox enough,” he counters.
Seriously, this guy bears watching. I’m sure he’s giving Masha Gessen fits, but I’m interested to see where he’s going with this. There are a thousand ways it could go wrong, but what if it goes right?
I think one of the big culture and religion stories of the next 20 years is going to be the relationship between small-o orthodox Christians in the West, and Russian Orthodoxy — if Russia develops a robust anti-liberal response to Western secularism.