Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Mar/13

24

The Anti-Pussy Riot?

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Via Russia & India Report:

A group of Creationists staged a publicity stunt in Moscow’s Darwin Museum, unfurling a Christian banner, distributing leaflets, and singing hymns. This is the latest in a string of attention-seeking performances by self-proclaimed ‘Orthodox activists’.

At 3 pm on Saturday, a group of young people hoisted a banner over the building of the museum that read “God created the world”. A few minutes later, protesters released several hundred leaflets from the balcony in the main hall onto an unsuspecting audience of mostly children, as several sang traditional Orthodox hymns.

“Let’s protect our children from lies! The Universe was created by God 7522 years ago. The ‘Theory of Evolution’ is a pseudo-scientific myth, an inadequate and unproven theory that has been used to justify the murder of millions,” read one of the flyers.

Within minutes, the participants of what was advertised online beforehand as a “missionary flashmob” began to gather the dropped leaflets, and escaped to the nearest underground station where they burnt them.

Within hours, the organizers, who call themselves God’s Will, posted a video of the stunt, titled “Checkmate, atheists!”

The response of the Russian Orthodox Church was telling…

Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin refused to condemn the stunt, saying simply that “it was a little more aggressive than it needed to be” in a TV interview on local Dozhd channel.

In contrast, renowned biologist Aleksandr Markov, who witnessed the event first-hand, was scathing.

“They are pathetic. I think they were aiming to produce a symmetrical response to Pussy Riot, but with one difference – they are not likely to face any serious punishment from the state,” Markov wrote in his blog.

….The ideologue of the museum stunt, Dmitriy Enteo, became famous on the back of several stunts directed at Pussy Riot and their supporters, and has admitted that he consciously uses the same art performance aesthetic, but for opposite aims.

Over the past year, Enteo’s Orthodox Patrol or Inquisition, as he variously calls his band of active supporters, numbering several dozen, has accosted people on the streets wearing what they deemed to be inappropriate t-shirts, broke into an abortion clinic, interrupted a theater play sympathetic to Pussy Riot, and blockaded an art exhibition.

Like so many of such people, Enteo seems to have been on some sort of spiritual journey:

24 year-old Dmitriy Enteo’s (real name Tsorionov) path to salvation has not been straightforward. The son of a university professor, he was previously a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a devotee of trance music. The pseudonym Enteo was derived from entheogen, a member of a group of psychodelic plants, such as peyote, used by shamans.

But holy fools have their uses:

Apart from atheists, Enteo’s anger appears to be reserved for Russia’s opposition parties. On his Twitter account, he says the political program of the long-established social-democratic Yabloko Party is similar to that of Hitler. In another filmed stunt last week, God’s Will burst into the offices of the Yabloko Party shouting that it was the party of “sodomites and Satanists”, grabbed their promotional literature, and burnt it.

In interviews, Enteo often speaks about his support for the government and about the need for “a union between Church and State” to protect Russia from “Western-sponsored threats”.

In just the last year, Moscow has introduced Cossack patrols, who claim to be guardians of Orthodox values. Meanwhile, “propaganda of homosexuality” has been banned in several regions, often after campaigns by deeply religious deputies.

In the wake of Pussy Riot’s performance, the Russian parliament has also devised a law that would make it a criminal misdemeanour to “offend the feelings of religious believers,” and a final draft is expected to be passed this spring.

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4 comments

  • Mark in Spokane · March 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    First, I was unaware that the Russian Orthodox Church had an official problem with the theory of evolution. As with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox have mostly incorporated evolution into their understanding of the development of life. Not all of it (the atheistic materialism, of course, isn’t compatible with theism) but enough of it where the mechanics of evolutionary theory don’t ruffle too many feathers. Perhaps in Russia the official Church is in a different place on this, though.

    Second, there are very good historical reasons why the Russian legal system might want to take physical attacks & disruptions at churches more seriously than similar disruptions at secular public places. Russia has a very brutal and barbaric history under the Soviets of destroying places of worship and as a consequence of that history the Russians may legitimately choose to protect existing places of worship more vigorously. As in Germany where a host of Nazi paraphernalia are banned and free speech in regard to Nazi ideas are limited, the Russians it seems to me can legitimately state that because of their unique history of atheistic persecution of religion, religious places receive greater protection from trespass, vandalism and disruption than other types of public spaces. That doesn’t seem wacky to me, again, given the history.

  • Author comment by Andrew Stuttaford · March 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Mark, Yekaterina Samutsevich, one of the Pussy Riot defendants, addressed that issue during the trial, as I noted back here. She explained that the Putin regime has coopted not only the modern Russian Orthodox Church but also its historical reputation as a victim of the Soviet state. It was a subtle point, carefully made:

    “The authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.”

  • C H Ingoldby · March 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Why would they burn their own leaflets?

  • Mark in Spokane · March 25, 2013 at 5:49 am

    The fact that one of the PR defendants may have been protesting the state’s misuse of religion doesn’t on its face seem to me to invalidate the idea of punishing trespass/disruption within a church. If what she was really protesting was Putin’s subversion of the Orthodox Church, wouldn’t such a protest be better aimed at a government institution rather than a church? Picking a church seems to me to be evidence of two things: 1) they really don’t like the ROC (which is perfectly their right, I don’t much like it myself) and 2) they were doing this as a stunt that they thought would get them lots of favorable publicity in the West (which is largely did).

    At the end of the day, I just don’t have much sympathy, I guess for the PR defendants. Intruding into a house of worship is just a classless act — even if that church has a cosy relationship with the state. Would it make sense for someone upset, say, at British policy in northern Ireland to do a similar kind of stunt in an Anglican parish in London? Again, I would have sympathy for them if they were picketing the Kremlin — but to invade a church? Again, that just isn’t done. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

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