Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the United States by saying Americans have chosen a "path of degradation." In addition, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, echoed Putin's perception of Western countries, accusing them of engaging in the "spiritual disarmament" of their people.
Patriarch Kirill is specific in criticizing a few European countries that prevent believers from displaying religious symbols, including banning people from wearing crucifixes at work.
Russian state-controlled television aired comments of Patriarch Kirill's view of the Western world.
"The general political direction of the [Western political] elite bears, without doubt, an anti-Christian and anti-religious character. We have been through an epoch of atheism, and we know what it is to live without God. We want to shout to the whole world, 'Stop!' "In addition, Kremlin television claims "some Americans" funded a "demonic" protest by a female punk rock group, Pussy Riot, against the Russian Orthodox Church's support of President Vladimir Putin, according to a report in Washington Times.
In a recent speech, Putin said the following.
"Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation."In mid-December 2014, Russian President Putin gave his state of the nation address, portraying Russia as a staunch defender of "traditional values" in comparison to the "morally bankrupt" West.
The former KGB officer stated that the only way to prevent to world from sliding into "chaotic darkness" is to embrace social and religious conservatism.
In support of Putin's philosophy, the Russians are attempting to defend "Christian values" by adopting laws that ban "homosexual propaganda."
They are also enacting laws to make it a criminal offense to "insult" the religious sensibilities of believers, according to Washington Times' coverage.
As the Kremlin continues to encourage traditional values, Orthodox vigilantism is on the rise. Groups like the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers and The Banner Bearers are growing in numbers. For his services to the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill has honored the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers group's leader, an openly anti-Semitic monarchist, Leonid Simonovich, whose group's slogan is "Orthodoxy or Death."
In addition, members of the Banner Bearers dress in black paramilitary uniforms decorated with skulls, and regularly confront liberal and gay activists on the streets of Moscow.
In addition to Putin's views, other figures within the Orthodox Church are criticizing the West, as well. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a church spokesperson, suggested that the modern-day West is no better for a Christian believer than the Soviet Union.
Chaplin says, "The separation of the secular and the religious is a fatal mistake by the West. It is a monstrous phenomenon that has occurred only in Western civilization and will kill the West, both politically and morally."
According to a 1995 presidential committee report, Soviet authorities executed some 200,000 clergy and believers from 1917 to 1937. Moreover, thousands of churches were destroyed, and those that survived were turned into garages, warehouses, museums of atheism.
[Featured image via Sean Gallup / Getty Images]