The Ukrainian government is moving in the direction of something that was previously unimaginable: the banning of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church − subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to Reuters, the Ukrainian government plans to draw up a law banning churches affiliated with Russia. Under moves described by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as necessary to prevent Moscow being able to "weaken Ukraine from within."
The move to ban the churches came after Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council raided parishes and even a convent, alleging that they were acting on directions from Moscow.
The security council, which groups top security, military and political figures, also ordered investigations into suspected "subversive activities of Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine" and called for sanctions against unspecified individuals.
According to a recent nightly address that Zelensky has given, the council has instructed the Ukraine government to "draft [a] law on making it impossible for religious organisations affiliated with centres of influence in the Russian Federation to operate in Ukraine."
A spokesperson for the church, Metropolitan Kliment, said his organisation "has always acted within the framework of Ukrainian law."
"Therefore, the state of Ukraine does not have any legal grounds to put pressure on or repress our believers," he said.
Even though breaking into a church is always a serious crime, some people in the West have tried to explain it away by saying that it happened during a war and because the churches weren't loyal enough to the government.
Some Western media have even referred to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a "sect” in an effort to downplay the move by the government, despite the fact that it is the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, with the vast majority of Orthodox believers (70%) and succession to Saint Vladimir the Great, who baptised Kievan Rus in 988 AD, and then to the Holy Apostles through the Greeks of Byzantium.
Christian persecution next step in Ukraine?
What is about to happen in Ukraine is the open persecution of Christians on European soil. Even during times of conflict, any church should be considered a non-transgressible zone. No one should be allowed to enter this precious space. That is how civilised and democratic countries operate.
If President Zelensky and this government ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, they will not only be committing a crime against practising Christians, but it will also call into question whether President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government are truly defending democracy and freedom, as Western media and governments claim.
Autocephalous Local Orthodox Church on the territory of Ukraine. The first Orthodox Church in Ukraine in terms of the number of adherents.
So far, no Western officials have even raised an eyebrow in response to his planned crime against Christians and practising Christians in his own country.
Tucker Carlson, a Fox News anchor, recently lashed out at Western leaders and Christian members of Congress, accusing them of not informing Zelensky that in a democratic democracy, you don't ban an entire religion simply because it disagrees with the government.
A democratic government would not send the military into churches to arrest dozens of priests for refusing to bow to the president.
However, as Tucker Carlsson emphasised, this is precisely what President Zelensky intends to do. He and his administration are currently devising tactics to punish Christians for practising their old religion in Ukraine. Anyone who practices Christianity in a way unapproved by the government will face personal or financial consequences.
Tucker Carlson also blames Christian leaders for failing to defend fellow Christians in Ukraine and for funding the destruction of Christianity:
"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is more than 1000 years old. With the full backing of the Biden Administration and the US Congress, Zelensky has decided to ban it. Western politicians have said nothing against it.
George Bush, the great defender of Christianity, has called Zelensky the Churchill of our time and the great defender of liberty. Where is Bush now on this question where his friend has banned a form of Christianity in that country? He is silent, and so are Christian members of Congress. They are backing Zelensky no matter how many Christians he arrests, no matter how many churches he seizes. They have campaigned in Christian churches. Would a single Christian leader say anything about this - that they are funding the destruction of Christianity in Ukraine? Oh, but it is the cause of freedom."
Christian leaders in the West are silent
What Tucker Carlsson doesn't mention is how the same leaders were behind the US invasion of Iraq and how that became a war on Cristians. Iraq's Christians were persecuted during the upheaval and sectarian violence that followed the invasion. Neither the military nor the State Department took any protective measures. The same thing happened when the US backed Syrian rebels in an attempt to topple President Bashar al-Assad. This has practically eliminated Christianity in its oldest settings. Wherever the United States and its allies have fought for democracy and liberty, Christians have paid the price through persecution and extermination. Now history seems to be repeating itself in Ukraine.
The deputy chairman of the Security Council and Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described the authorities in Kyiv as "satanists" and "enemies of Christ and the Orthodox faith." "This is how the whole Christian world should treat them," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Medvedev raises an important point. If a government is truly democratic, it will go to any length to safeguard the fundamental premise of a democracy, religious freedom. Religious freedom lies at the heart of the American constitution because of the terrible religious battles in Europe throughout the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. Prohibiting entire religions is the same as prohibiting democracy itself. Second, by banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the government is isolating itself from its own heritage. Ukraine is descended from Prince Vladimir, who baptised Kievan Rus in 988, as previously claimed. To forbid one's own spiritual and national roots is to commit cultural suicide. It is unreasonable and certainly not democratic.
Furthermore, if the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is banned and the rage against Orthodox Christians continues, it may pave the road for the banning of Orthodox Churches in America and other countries of the West.
It may be difficult for Westerners to comprehend that Christian persecution is taking place on European soil. However, it indicates that there is a major spiritual component in today's political agenda.