War & Culture War: Patriarch Kyrill & LGBT
There has been a lot of eye-rolling in the West at this section of the Sunday sermon given by Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church:
For eight years there have been attempts to destroy what exists in the Donbass. And in the Donbass there is rejection, a fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power. Today there is such a test for the loyalty of this government, a kind of pass to that “happy” world, the world of excess consumption, the world of visible “freedom”. Do you know what this test is? The test is very simple and at the same time terrible – this is a gay parade. The demands on many to hold a gay parade are a test of loyalty to that very powerful world; and we know that if people or countries reject these demands, then they do not enter into that world, they become strangers to it.
But we know what this sin is, which is promoted through the so-called marches of dignity. This is a sin that is condemned by the Word of God – both the Old and the New Testament. Moreover, the Lord, condemning sin, does not condemn the sinner. He only calls him to repentance, but not to ensure that through a sinful person and his behavior, sin becomes a life standard, a variation of human behavior – respected and acceptable.
If humanity recognizes that sin is not a violation of God’s law, if humanity agrees that sin is one of the options for human behavior, then human civilization will end there. And gay parades are designed to demonstrate that sin is one of the variations of human behavior. That is why in order to enter the club of those countries, it is necessary to hold a gay pride parade. Not to make a political statement “we are with you”, not to sign any agreements, but to hold a gay parade. And we know how people resist these demands and how this resistance is suppressed by force. This means that we are talking about imposing by force a sin condemned by God’s law, and therefore, by force to impose on people the denial of God and His truth.
Therefore, what is happening today in the sphere of international relations has not only political significance. We are talking about something different and much more important than politics. We are talking about human salvation, about where humanity will end up, on which side of God the Savior, who comes into the world as the Judge and Creator, on the right or on the left. Today, out of weakness, stupidity, ignorance, and most often out of unwillingness to resist, many go there, to the left side. And all that is connected with the justification of sin, condemned by the Bible, is today a test for our faithfulness to the Lord, for our ability to confess faith in our Savior.
Everything that I say has not just some theoretical meaning and not only a spiritual meaning. Around this topic today there is a real war. Who is attacking Ukraine today, where the suppression and extermination of people in the Donbass has been going on for eight years; eight years of suffering and the whole world is silent – what does that mean? But we know that our brothers and sisters are really suffering; moreover, they may suffer for their loyalty to the Church. And so today, on Forgiveness Sunday, on the one hand, as your shepherd, I call on everyone to forgive sins and insults, including where it is very difficult to do this, where people are at war with each other. But forgiveness without justice is capitulation and weakness. Therefore, forgiveness must be accompanied by the indispensable preservation of the right to stand on the side of the world, on the side of God’s truth, on the side of the Divine commandments, on the side of that
All of the above indicates that we have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance.
I get the eye-rolling. With Ukrainian cities under Russian bombardment, families being killed, a million people on the move to escape Russian guns, and on and on, the supreme spiritual leader of Russia uses his platform on Forgiveness Sunday, which begins Let, to characterize Putin’s war as a fight against the gays?! Seriously, he said that? On Forgiveness Sunday?! He did. I think the most charitable thing that can be said about these remarks is that they are not helpful to ending the war, or even to explaining it. What I initially said was far from charitable, even though I’m sure the Patriarch and I are more or less in the same place about homosexuality (meaning that I believe what Scripture and the Orthodox Church teach about it).
On the other hand, however cynical these remarks may (or may not) be, the Patriarch is not entirely wrong. That’s the conclusion I drew from reading this analysis by the former NSA counterespionage officer John Schindler, who writes critically of Kyrill’s sermon. This is something that is much clearer from where I sit, in Hungary, than in America. Reading it, I thought of an offhand comment a Hungarian made to me not long ago: “If we were cool with LGBT rights, a lot of the problems we have with the West would go away.” Let me explain.
Schindler has less than zero sympathy for the Russians in this fight. But he writes that the West ignores the religious aspects of the war, from the Russian perspective.
The ROC’s [Russian Orthodox Church’s] condemnation of recent Western LGBT practices, including gay pride parades, an objection which Western post-moderns have difficulty understanding, is hardly new. As Top Secret Umbra has observed, our “elites, all of whom fall on the spectrum of Western Educated Industrialized Rich and Democratic, WEIRD for short, Putin represents an atavism whose motivations they cannot understand.”Neither are prominent Putinists shy about denouncing Western LGBT practices as Satanic or connecting it to Ukraine with claims that Russia’s war against that country is fundamentally about resisting America’s “Global F*ggot Empire.”
One of the ironies here is that, per regular opinion polling, Ukrainians are less open-minded than Westerners about gay matters, indeed their views are closer those found in Russia than among WEIRDs. Moreover, we must confront the difficult truth that Moscow’s obsession with Ukraine and the LGBT issue isn’t simply a figment of Kirill’s overactive imagination. Before its recent closure due to the war, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv regularly promoted LGBT issues and gay pride events; in 2018, the State Department contingent in Kyiv’s gay pride parade was led by Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch herself; and U.S. Government outlets frequently played up the involvement of official American representatives and entities in LGBT parades and events in Ukraine. However we may feel about the Moscow Patriarchate’s immoderate take on gay pride parades, we have to concede that, unlike “Ukrainian Nazi juntas committing genocide,” they’re not simply making this one up.
We see here, then, an example of a sociopolitical phenomenon I defined not long ago like this:
If Patriarch Kyrill talked about LGBT like a Western churchman, he would be hailed in the West as a prophet, and encouraged to talk more about it. But that’s not his view, and any statement of the traditional Christian belief about homosexuality is bound to be denounced as Kyrill’s “obsession” with gays.
Let me say it again: I think it was at best imprudent, and at worst morally outrageous, for the Patriarch to use this platform, on this particular holy day, to characterize the war as a battle against homosexuality. But as John Schindler, no fan of the Russians, writes, insofar as the Russians construe the war as a battle in the Clash of Civilizations with the West, they’re not wrong to focus on this (even if they are cynical, given that Ukraine is about as anti-LGBT as Russia is).
For more context, check out Schindler’s previous Substack entry, from February 24, the day the war started. In it, he characterizes the attack as a religious war. I’m sorry I missed this astute analysis when it first appeared. Excerpt:
It’s an article of faith in the Kremlin that the creation of the OCU is an American project designed to destroy world Orthodoxy and harm Russia. It’s painful for me to state this but the Russians have good reason to think this. Unlike absurd Kremlin propaganda lines about “Ukrainian Nazis” perpetrating “genocide” against Russians, the idea that Washington wanted the split of Orthodoxy in Ukraine is a reasonable inference upon examination of recent U.S. Government conduct. What’s the evidence?
Our Kyiv embassy congratulated the OCU for its birth and the selection of its first primate, then the State Department in Washington amplified the same. Celebrating Constantinople’s grant of autocephaly, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed it as a “historic achievement for Ukraine” which represented America’s “strong support for religious freedom.” Pompeo’s statement left no doubt about America’s backing the OCU against the UOC. Pompeo’s position in the worldwide Orthodox schism was made clear by his subsequent meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch, whom the Secretary of State hailed as “a key partner as we continue to champion religious freedom around the globe.” Neither was this a partisan project, since the position of the Biden administration on this issue is identical to its predecessor’s. Four months ago, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also met with the Ecumenical Patriarch, reaffirming U.S. commitment to religious freedom, which in Moscow unsurprisingly looked like support for the OCU.
Since very few Americans, and functionally no non-Orthodox ones, noticed any of this, it’s worth asking why the State Department felt compelled to take a public position on any of this. Does Foggy Bottom side with Sunni or Shia? What about Lutheranism versus Methodism? Who in Washington thought it was a good idea to throw its weight behind the OCU, since anybody who knew anything about Putinism and its religious-civilizational mission had to be aware that such statements were guaranteed to raise Moscow’s ire.
That ire has now taken the form of air strikes, missile barrages, and advancing tank battalions. Just last month, Lavrov restated his government’s position that the United States stands behind the “current crisis in Orthodoxy.” As he explained without any word-mincing, Washington caused “the most serious dispute in the entire Orthodox world,” adding, “The United States of America had an immediate hand in the current crisis in Orthodoxy. They created a special mechanism, a special agency for the freedom of religious confession, which actually is not dealing with freedom but most actively set up and financed Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew so that he conducted a device for schism, particularly in Ukraine, in the first place, for creating there the schismatic, uncanonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
We should not indulge Muscovite conspiracy theories nor countenance Russian aggression. However, the facts are plain enough. Simply put, by recognizing the OCU and hailing its creation, Washington changed the Kremlin’s game in Ukraine, making Putin’s long-term plans for his neighbor untenable. Without a united Orthodox Church across the former lands of Rus, answering to Moscow, the “Russian World” concept falls apart. Every secular geostrategic challenge cited as a reason for Putin’s aggression – NATO expansion, Western military moves, oil and gas politics – existed in 2014, yet Putin then chose to limit his attacks on Ukraine to Crimea and the Southeast. What’s changed since then that makes his effort to subdue all Ukraine seem like a good idea in the Kremlin? The creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019, with official American backing, is the difference, and Moscow believes this was all a nefarious U.S. plot to divide world Orthodoxy at Russia’s expense. Clearly Putin has decided that reclaiming Ukraine and its capital, “the mother of Russian cities,” for Russian Orthodoxy is worth a major war. Make no mistake, this is a religious war, even if almost nobody in the West realizes it.
Even though I am an Orthodox Christian, my church is not Russian, and I also try to keep my distance from intra-Orthodox disputation, for the sake of not being drawn into them. I was pained over the Ukrainian schism, and quite annoyed with the Ecumenical Patriarch for getting involved (his rivalry with Patriarch Kyrill is well known), but I had no idea that the US Government played such a role. (John Schindler, by the way, teaches at the US Naval War College, so he’s not an Internet rando making this claim.) This infuriates me! Typical American meddling, only seeing religion in political terms, pushing ahead heedless of the damage this does to a thousand year old church.
On this blog the other day, a reader, can’t remember who, asked belligerently why Ukraine shouldn’t have its own church if it wants to. It’s not an unreasonable question from a modern American point of view, but to Orthodox Christians (and Catholics), it is almost impossible to explain canon law, and why these things are, if not impossible (as they would be for Catholicism), very hard to do, and require a slow process to be legal under church law. For example, the Greek Orthodox Church does not recognize the autocephaly of my own particular Orthodox jurisdiction, the Orthodox Church in America, not because the Greeks don’t like us but because they don’t believe that when the Moscow Patriarchate granted the OCA autocephaly (self-rule) decades ago, it did so in a canonically correct way. It’s nothing personal, but canon law matters. Moreover, to a Protestant mindset, a schism might seem to be merely a bureaucratic matter. But to those in the older churches — Orthodox and Catholic — it is far more like a divorce, the violent division of something spiritual and organic.
I was trying to think of an analogy to what the US did here, so I could explain its significance to American readers, but none exists. There is simply no religious phenomenon in American life and consciousness that compares to this. See, this is exactly what I mean when I keep banging on about how foolish we Americans are to close our eyes and shut our ears to the Russians, and trying to understand how they see the world, whether or not we agree with them. The fact that the US Government played a key role in this schism gives me a much better understanding of why Russia had enough of the West’s meddling. I still do not believe this justifies the war, but it is easier for me now to see why Russians believe it does.
So, thanks to Schindler’s analysis, now I better understand what Kyrill meant by bringing homosexuality into it. And this is why I bring Hungary into it too. It is hard to explain to people who live in the US — liberals and conservatives alike — and who have been macerating in the constant stream of LGBT propaganda for twenty years, how different things are on that front in Central Europe. Basically, it feels like 1998 over here — a time when homosexuals were visible, had Pride parades, and all that, but where homosexuality wasn’t thrust front and center into public life. Here in Hungary, civil partnerships for same-sex couples are permitted, and so is public discussion of homosexuality and transgenderism — unless it is aimed at children and minors. Last summer’s law passed by Hungary’s parliament restricting media and education aimed at normalizing homosexuality and transgenderism among children caused an uproar in Western Europe, prompting condemnation from EU leaders, and even the Prime Minister of the Netherlands to say that he wants to throw Hungary out of the union. Right now, the EU is withholding a massive chunk of money meant for Covid relief in Hungary, supposedly over Hungary’s violation of democratic norms. Everybody knows that this is really about the LGBT media law. For Western elites, LGBT rights are the summum bonum, the supreme good.
Now, think about this: Hungary has been a nation, and a Christian one, for over 1,000 years, and its laws about homosexuality not only reflect the will of the Hungarian people — who are largely non-observant regarding their religion, but culturally conservative — but also reflect an understanding about homosexuality and sexuality in general that most Europeans held a generation ago. But so central has LGBT liberation become in the hearts and minds of Westerners that any resistance to it is seen as HATE; we are conditioned to regard any objection at all as an expression of raw bigotry that under no circumstances can be seen as reasonable.
Last year I lived in Budapest for three or four months, and made occasional trips to western Europe — France, Spain, Austria — on book tour business. Each time, it was a shock to me to see how ubiquitous rainbow flags and the like were. Walking down a boulevard in Valencia, one of the biggest cities of Spain, I saw banners hung by the city government proclaiming that “in Valencia, women can have penises, and men can have vaginas.” That is morally insane — but this kind of thing is everywhere. Even a conservative like me had become numb to it … until I spent time in Hungary, where things are different. Where homosexuality is seen as a fact of life, but not something ideological, and not as a weapon of culture war, as it is regarded in Western societies.
I cannot regard Putin’s war on Ukraine as having anything to do with LGBT. Yet the Russians (and the Hungarians, and the Poles) are certainly right to regard the LGBT question as a matter of civilizational war of the West on Christianity, and on countries who have the audacity to disagree with Western cultural imperialists on this fundamental civilizational issue.
People in this part of the world look at what’s happening to America, and they’re afraid. They know that fifteen years ago or so, gay marriage was sold as a minor thing, a matter of justice, something that would not affect anybody else, only make life easier for committed same-sex couples. And they see that that was a flat-out lie. As soon as gay marriage rights were secure, it was on to transgenderism, a vastly more radical project. So, people here see this kind of thing going on now:
HOLY SHIT. A slide from @ecasdsuper staff training instructs teachers that “parents are not entitled to know their kids’ (gender) identities and it must be “earned.”
They are hiding information about sexual orientation and gender and teaching students not to trust their parents. pic.twitter.com/CYEllfuFlu
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) March 7, 2022
That’s from the public school system in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Here’s a story about it. Excerpts:
A district court in 2020 issued a partial injunction against Madison Metropolitan School District’s policy allowing children of any age to transition to a different gender identity at school — without parental consent. The full case is now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit on behalf of a group of parents challenging the gender identity policy “that violates the rights of parents to make important healthcare decisions on their children’s behalf.”
The policy includes the following provisions:
- Children of any age can transition to a different gender identity at school, by changing their name and pronouns, without parental notice or consent.
- District employees are prohibited from notifying parents, without the child’s consent, that their child has or wants to change gender identity at school, or that their child may be dealing with gender dysphoria.
- District employees are even instructed to deceive parents by using the child’s legal name and pronouns with family, while using the different name and pronouns adopted by the child in the school setting.
It’s not clear whether the Eau Claire Area School District has a similar policy beyond its teacher personal development training.
The school board candidates are demanding school district administrators issue an apology to teachers for “placing them at odds with families and also to parents and guardians for breaking the trust and partnership that is critical for thriving students and a stellar school district.”
An apology doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.
ECASD Superintendent Michael Johnson issued a statement to Empower Wisconsin asserting the district is upholding its responsibility to maintain an educational environment that is “equitable, safe and inclusive for all students.”
This is their mantra: equitable, safe, inclusive, diverse. These are the words these groomer teachers and school administrators use to justify their policy of separating children from parents, and encourage children to think of themselves as of the opposite sex, or “non-binary,” or whatever. This is the language they use to anesthetize parents and others about what they’re actually doing. This is happening all over.
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 7, 2022
This thread about the same thing is more detailed:
An entire summer camp devoted to Sex Education for 10-12 year olds. Indianapolis is having an absolutely normal one. pic.twitter.com/47qAOvPbdh
— Tony Kinnett (@TheTonus) March 7, 2022
Please read it — the educator says she will talk to these little kids about trans issues, about condoms, about porn, all kinds of things. Who is part of her online groomer group?
UPDATE: Other notable members of her public “Let’s Talk About Sex Ed with Ms. Ashley” Facebook group include Indiana public school elementary teachers, a Senior engineer at PBS, and a program manager at the Indiana Arts Commission. pic.twitter.com/GLOGvIxoeE
— Tony Kinnett (@TheTonus) March 7, 2022
The United States is a country now where biological men can declare themselves to be women, and become the No. 1 women’s collegiate swimmer in America. Again, this is morally insane. And if you object to any of this, you risk cancellation. J.K. Rowling is one of the most influential writers who ever lived, but when she — a left-wing feminist — spoke out against the effects the trans rights movement was having on women’s rights, she was monstered by the media and activists. That is how utterly fanatical these people are. And I remind you of what our president said during his campaign:
No room for compromise. Shut up, you bigot parents, and get out of the way. We’ve got your kids now.
Though I don’t understand why, aside from cynicism, he invoked this to characterize Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Patriarch Kyrill is, nevertheless, exactly right that the LGBT struggle is a civilizational war. This is a war within the West; people like Joe Biden, as well as the educational profession, the media, and nearly all the institutions in Western society, are making war on families and children, and on traditional Christianity (and any religion that doesn’t affirm homosexuality and gender ideology). In the West, those who hold to an anthropology that directly contradicts what Christianity and natural law teach about the meaning of sexuality, are winning. A recent poll found that 21 percent of Generation Z considers itself to be LGBT or Q. Some on the Right try to cope with this by saying that most of them probably just think of themselves as bisexual. Yeah, good luck with that. We have an entire generation that American popular culture and institutions have convinced that their sexual identity is fluid, and should be infinitely explored. They are psychologically crippling these people — and in many cases, maiming them for life.
If you haven’t yet, you should read this incredible story by Helena, a detransitioner who writes about how she was convinced that she was trans, but later changed her mind. Excerpts:
My name is Helena, and as of this writing I’m a 23-year-old woman who, as a teenager, believed I was transgender. In the years since detransitioning (stopping testosterone treatment and no longer seeing myself as transgender), I’ve become interested in exploring why, in the last decade, nearly every English-speaking country has seen a meteoric rise in adolescents believing they are transgender and pursuing cosmetic medical and surgical interventions. Here, I’d like to go over how and why I came to see myself as transgender, the process of transitioning, and the events leading up to and following my detransition.
The short version of my detransition story for those who want the bare details is that when I was fifteen, I was introduced to gender ideology on Tumblr and began to call myself nonbinary. Over the next few years, I would continue to go deeper and deeper down the trans identity rabbit hole, and by the time I was eighteen, I saw myself as a “trans man”, otherwise known as “FtM”. Shortly after my eighteenth birthday, I made an appointment at a Planned Parenthood to begin a testosterone regimen. At my first appointment, I was prescribed testosterone, and I would remain on this regimen for a year and a half. It had an extremely negative effect on my mental health, and I finally admitted what a disaster it had been when I was 19, sometime around February or March 2018. When the disillusionment fully set in, I stopped the testosterone treatment and began the process of getting my life back on track. It has not been easy, and the whole experience seriously derailed my life in ways I could never have foreseen when I was that fifteen-year-old kid playing with pronouns on Tumblr.
But what leads a girl with no history of discomfort with stereotypical “girl” toys and clothes, or even the slightest desire to be a boy in childhood, to want to be a “man” through hormonal injections as she approached adulthood? In a vacuum, such a profound confusion leading to such drastic measures sounds like it should be rare and a sign of some sort of severe mental disturbance. Was I a fluke? Was I some kind of idiot who mistakenly believed I was trans because I’m crazy or just downright irresponsible?
The truth is that there has been an extreme rise in adolescents, especially girls, believing they are transgender. UK NHS referral data shows a 4000% increase in pediatric gender service referrals (not a typo). So-called “gender dysphoria”, which was once a very rare diagnosis that described mostly prepubescent boys and adult men, is now most commonly diagnosed in teenage girls. Activists will argue that these explosive numbers are a result of increased societal acceptance, and that at long last trans people are coming out of hiding and living as their authentic selves. If this were true, one might expect to see comparable rates of transgender identity across all age groups and between both sexes, but its disproportionately adolescent females feeling that warm and fuzzy inclusive acceptance. Considering “acceptance” now implies supraphysiological doses of cross sex hormones and having healthy body organs surgically rearranged, it’s worth a deeper look into what kinds of factors are driving this population clamoring to go under the knife.
Seriously, read it all. You get to the end, and you may well conclude that the old Russian Orthodox patriarch in Moscow understands what’s happening in the West today better than 99 percent of the media commentators. I deeply regret that he tied this analysis to Putin’s war on Ukraine … but that does not make him wrong about the clash of civilizations in general. The United States, as the leading Western power, routinely flies the rainbow flag over its embassies abroad, most infamously over the Kabul embassy only a couple of months before the whole thing had to be abandoned before the Taliban triumphed. Last year, for the first time, the British spy agency MI6 proudly flew the transgender flag over its headquarters.
And lest you think that the LGBT phenomenon was inserted into the Ukraine war by Patriarch Kyrill, I refer you to this story from CBS News, broadcast one week after the war started, which could be headlined, “Russia Invades Ukraine: Transgendered People Hardest Hit.” This is how the Western media class think. Far more significantly, I give you the earlier tweet by the head of MI6:
Do you see that? The top British spy, on the day after the war started, said that the most important distinction between the West and Putin’s Russia is their opposing stances on LGBT rights.
See, if Patriarch Kyrill says it, it’s bad, and he’s an obsessed homophobe, but if MI6 chief Richard Moore says it, it’s an awesome display of commitment to social justice. The Law of Inverse Pathological Enthusiasm at work. Seriously, Vladimir Putin launches a war on Ukraine, and on the very next day, the head of MI6 characterizes the war as a contrast between the pro-LGBT West, and bigoted Russia.
The point is, Patriarch Kyrill was wrong (in my view) to invoke this in a sermon addressing the war in Ukraine, a nation that is every bit as culturally conservative on LGBT matters as Russia. But in terms of contrasting the West and Russia, he’s got it right — and the head of MI6 agrees on the centrality of the issue, at least. The post-Christian West is increasingly godless and the enemy of the natural family. Russia, for all its sins and failings, including its unjust warmongering against Ukraine, is not. This is why I warn that everything being done to Russia now in terms of bounce-the-rubble (ruble?) economic punishment is eventually going to be turned against traditional Christians and other social conservatives in our country. This is the logic of the Western elites’ culture war. Patriarch Kyrill gets that, even if very many American Christian leaders are trying very, very hard not to understand it, just like the 1940s Slovak Catholic bishops I write about in Live Not By Lies.
Once more, a reminder: Kyrill said on Sunday:
The demands on many to hold a gay parade are a test of loyalty to that very powerful world; and we know that if people or countries reject these demands, then they do not enter into that world, they become strangers to it.
He’s right about that. You cannot be part of the West, or a real friend to the West, if you don’t accept this ideology. Unless of course you are China, and you are too rich and powerful for the West to push around. If you consider yourself pro-LGBT, I urge you to do the non-WEIRD thing, just as a thought experiment, and step outside of your head to try to see how the West’s behavior and priorities look to people who don’t believe that sexual autonomy and expression is the most important measure of human freedom in the world. I don’t expect that most of you will, seeing as how you refuse to do that when considering your own countrymen. But then, you are not at risk of finding yourselves in a shooting war with your own countrymen if you fail to understand what motivates them. Russia is another story.
Since the Russian invasion, Ukraine has petitioned to join the European Union. This is understandable, but Ukraine should also understand this: if it succeeds, then the EU will treat it as the EU treats Hungary and Poland: as a bigoted country that must be punished economically and isolated until and unless it fully accepts LGBT ideology. On this, Kyrill as right too.
UPDATE: It’s incredible (but not really) to read the comments, and see so many people completely gloss over my repeated criticism of Kyrill’s ugly cynicism for invoking the LGBT issue to defend Putin’s immoral war. But that’s how it goes around here. If you don’t give certain people pure, uncut narrative, they read what they want into your words.
For what it’s worth, a reader writes:
LGBT issues and the formation of the OCU are perhaps not unconnected. Consider the time, in 2018, that a Russian called Epiphany, pretending to be an EU parliament member, and pressed him to change Orthodox teachings on LGBT. Said the caller, as reported by OrthoChristian:“I know that the Church has a conservative position, and if the new church will soften its position regarding the LGBT community, the gays of Ukraine, and it will take liberal values, it will be a great stimulus to develop European values. We spoke with Secretary Pompeo and he agrees that you should the increase your LGBT and gay values in the future,” the callers responded.The new Ukrainian primate replied that the church needs to work on the Ukrainian people to adopt European values: “This is a difficult issue that we should not raise at the beginning of our journey, because, you know how Ukrainian society perceives this question. Now we need to work on it, so Ukrainian society would accept it. It’s a long path. Of course we will discuss and seek for answers to these complex questions.”The OCU acknowledged that the call took place but claimed he said nothing untoward. Rather (per Google Translate), “Metropolitan Epiphanius expressed the same views as in all public speeches…. The Church adheres to the biblical position, defining same-sex relationships as a sin, and this view is shared by the majority of Ukrainian society.” Interestingly, the statement adds, “It is known from experience that without receiving any favorable answers during the conversation, the provocateurs edit the record, composing individual words and phrases. Therefore, in the event that quality fragments of the conversation appear in the media, the audience should take into account the above and do not trust them.”Protesting too much? Regrettably, the audio evidence linked to in the article has been removed from YouTube, and perhaps the recording itself was faked.But, I mean—would this be surprising? And in any event, of course, it shows what Russians—who, I think, fund OrthoChristian—are supposing about all this.