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    How ROC, Hamas weaponize religion – media research

    Journalists have dug deep into how the Russian Orthodox Church and Hamas exploit religion to terrorize the population and justify crimes.

    In Borodianka, a small town near Kyiv, Russian invaders held captive a number of volunteers in the UOC MP church. Priest Viktor Talko is suspected of aiding the Russians and also removing local residents to Belarus, LIGA.net reports.

    In July 2023, the SBU launched an investigation against Talko to probe reports of his possible assistance to the invaders in forcibly deporting almost 100 local residents to Belarus. The SBU is also investigating the circumstances of “the operations of the Russian torture chamber on the temple’s premises.”

    Journalists could not get a comment from Talko himself about these events. Speaking with other media outlets, however, the priest rejects all accusations of aiding and abetting the enemy, claiming that the investigation is part of the attempts by the OCU to get rid of a competitor. “It’s all a lie,” he stressed.

    Nazism, communism, and racism: the Russian Orthodox Church combines various totalitarian ideologies and promotes the idea of the “Russian world”. It claims the historical heritage of Kyivan Rus and seeks to appropriate Orthodoxy altogether.

    The Russian Orthodox Church is a political and religious system that combines mutually contradictory concepts and ideologies. Emperor Nicholas II and dictator Stalin can easily coexist within its framework, says Dr. Kyrylo Hovorun, Professor at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles. In 2001-2007, he headed the external church relations department at the Russian Orthodox Church. “In historical reality, they are absolute enemies. In the opinion of modern Russians, they stand next to each other,” he explains.

    “Earlier, Nazism was perceived as the antipode of Christianity, which uses different religious practices. New research suggests that they actually created an anti-Semitic Christianity in which the Jews persecuted the ‘Arian’ Christ. Based on this ideology, the Nazis formed an elite group of ‘German Christians,’” explains Hovorun.

    Something similar is now happening in Russia, the researcher notes.

    Ernst Koch, a war criminal and Nazi Gauleiter of Ukraine, was at one time a leading hierarch in the Lutheran hierarchy. Such hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church as Putin’s confessor, Metropolitan Tikhon-Shevkunov, who was appointed by the Kremlin to lead Ukrainian parishes in annexed Crimea, are now becoming Russia’s Gauleiters.

    “Russia uses Orthodoxy for political purposes, emphasizing militarism and imperialism and mixing it with the modern foundations of nationalism and identity,” says Pavlo Smytsniuk, a researcher at Princeton University.

    The patriarch at the Kremlin’s service: the Russian Orthodox Church manipulates religion by declaring a monopoly on righteousness. It glorifies Putin as an eternal leader who is saving the world from Nazism and Satanism. It also cooperates with the Russian security and intelligence agencies and interferes in Ukraine’s affairs.

    “Regarding Putin, we can see the Soviet religious formula: “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live.” The Russian Orthodox Church contributed to the creation of the image of the eternal Putin, who is constantly dying and then resurrecting. Just like Christ. They claim he is saving the world not only from Nazism, but also from Satanism, because there is a cosmic war between God and Satan, where Russia is saving everyone,” another expert explains the logic of propaganda.

    The Russian Orthodox Church has historically been closely associated with the Soviet government and the KGB. It serves as a tool for promoting the ideology of the Russian world and legitimizing Russia’s aggression.

    As to Islam, the article cites the example of Hamas in Palestine. The organization justifies terrorist acts committed against Israelis by citing religious texts.

    Thus, various religious organizations and their leaders weaponize religion to legitimize violence and terrorism.

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