For its first political act, the Orthodox Church called for a national dress code, little different from that imposed in places like Saudi Arabia. The priest who led the charge was stunningly Stalin-like in his pronouncement: “You think that is a utopia? It is not. People will soon have to get used to it.” One was reminded of the stunning hubris of Kirill, the Russian pope, when he asserted Haiti got what it deserved during its horrific earthquake because it was an immoral land.
The Church is nervous. It knows its needs some totalitarian juice to stop its slide into obscurity among the Russian people. Less than two percent of Russians attended Russian Christmas church services this year, and so the Church has been aggressively moving to emulate the Putin regime with its own “power vertical” so that it can fill its pews regardless of the worshippers’ desires.
International observers have documented the increasing crackdown on religions which don’t have the Russian Orthodox seal of approval, and Kirill has openly castigated Muslims. What’s more, he tells the Kremlin that because Russia is a “special country” it doesn’t have to pay attention when convicted of human rights atrocities against Muslims in the Caucasus. A new law spurred on by the Church gives the government the power to sanction religious demonstrations that lack government approval.
What will the Holy Russian Empire be like? It will be like Stalin’s Russia, but replacing the ideology of Communism with the ideology of Orthodox religious fervor. Instead of having Western democracy as its primary enemy, the Holy Russian Empire will face off more immediately with Islam, a religion that is rapidly coming to dominate Russian society as Slavs, with an anemic birth rate, die off.
But that won’t mean Orthodox Russia will hate the West any less. There is a perfect symbiosis between the Church and the Kremlin in desiring to push all Western influence out of Russia, the better to maintain power and influence under the status quo. The Church will bless Putin’s personal palaces, and Putin will bless the Church as it rounds up the usual suspects, imposes a national dress code, and strong-arms folks in to the pews on Sunday.
And it won’t mean Orthodox Russia will last any longer than the USSR. Undermined by pandemic corruption, self-deception, and blind xenophobia, this new iteration of Russia will not reform or adapt any better than its Soviet ancestor and, just as surely, will collapse before our eyes.