Several months ago, I received word from a priest in Russia who has worked there for a long time that he was not able to return for the foreseeable future. This priest, whose location is in Siberia (location withheld), alluded to it being changes in Russia’s foreign policy, specifically with religions other than the Russian Orthodox Church since it is for all purposes an extension of state power.
In an interesting move from Russia, she has now suspended the seminary activities of Baptists and Pentecostals according to a report:
The main theological training centres of the Pentecostal Union and the Baptist Union in Russia have been forced to stop their activities.
According to a Forum 18 report, Russian evangelical Christians see the increase of control oveer these kind of institutions as “a means by which the authorities are attempting to curtail their activities and place them under even greater official scrutiny”.
The Russian Pentecostal Union’s Eurasian Theological Seminary was obliged to stop offering certificated courses when its licence was annulled in November 2018 after a series of court cases brought against it by the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science Rosobrnadzor over the administration of its undergraduate theology degree.
The seminary had to stop offering all its degree and diploma courses. It is currently in the process of applying for a new licence, Pentecostal Union lawyer Vladimir Ozolin told Forum 18. This is the only way it will be able to resume operating fully.
“Inspections of Evangelical universities in 2018-2019 have shown the inconsistency of legislation on education and freedom of conscience, which has created a lot of problems for our educational institutions”, Eurasian Theological Seminary Rector Aleksei Gorbachev commented. “I believe these actions have a systemic, intentional character, under the pretext of supervision of educational activities”,
Pentecostal Union lawyer Vladimir Ozolin also added. “In this way, pressure is being exerted on the non-traditional confessions; this is perhaps another act of intimidation”.
The Baptist Union’s Moscow Theological Seminary came to the end of a 60-day suspension of all its activities, which began on 25 January 2019. A Moscow court imposed the suspension after Rosobrnadzor also found fault with the organisation of its theology bachelor’s degree and the qualifications of its staff.
In February, the Seminary was also banned from admitting new students. None of the institution’s 138 students on licensed courses, or the approximately 1,500 other students, including on distance-learning courses, is able to attend classes.
“Unfortunately, none of the documents of the commission presented specific claims about the deficiencies identified in the work of the seminary”, the Baptist Union’s seminary complained. “They are all given in the form of reiterations of articles of the Education Law, or rather as alleged lack of compliance with the requirements of some articles of this law”.
“The news of the suspension of the Seminary’s activities was a surprise”, Rector Pyotr Mitskevich told Forum 18. “The Seminary students are spiritual people, and during the entire period of punishment, they have prayed and supported the staff”. The Seminary is challenging Rosobrnadzor’s actions through the Moscow City Arbitration Court.
RELIGION LAW ALLOWS NON-CERTIFIED EDUCATION
The Religion Law distinguishes between “educational” activity – for which a religious organisation might require a state licence – and “teaching”, for which it does not require a licence. The law says religious associations may offer non-certificated religious instruction to their own members and under their own internal rules. Such teaching is not considered to be educational activity and therefore does not require a licence.
Therefore, religious educational institutions which have chosen not to offer state-accredited courses need conform only to its own internal requirements for how it organises its courses. This is the case of both the Eurasian Theological Seminary and the Moscow Theological Seminary. But according to the layer of the Pentecostal Union, the federal education supervision body was treating the Pentecostal Seminary’s non-state-accredited theology bachelor’s degree as if it corresponded to the degree of theology on the Education Ministry’s formal “List of Areas of Higher Education Preparation – Undergraduate”. This was “incorrect”, because the Eurasian Theological Seminary’s “educational programme complies with the requirements of the Pentecostal Union”, and “therefore, in its development and approval there is no violation of the legislation of the Russian Federation. In addition, the programme contains all sections required by the Education Law”. (source, source)
There have been many issues with Baptists and Pentecostals in Russia. This is not a secret, and it is also not a secret that the two have been connected at times to American geopolitical objectives in the nation.
But the fact that Russia is pushing against all religions other than the ROC is indicative of a future conflict.
Something that is interesting about Russia is that historically speaking, and likely due to her size, when problems arise she tend to turn “inwards.” This contrasts with most nations, who begin to focus their effort against other nations or attempt to spread out, such as the US, Germany, France, England, and Italy. The Russians tend to close in on themselves, and this is also reflected in Russian Orthodoxy, which while it does operate foreign missions, tend to concentrate strictly on her own people (even in spite of the noted rise in atheism and Islam in Russia), and it can go to such a point that Christianity in Russia does not bring her out of herself, but will have her fold into herself.
There is a major war coming, likely in the next decade, and has been in the making for some time now. The Russians know that it will involve them, as they are a main target. They are also preparing for the conflict, and one of the ways which they have been doing this is to expel all “foreign influence” from the nation as well as to attribute various problems they have which are not related to foreign influence on foreign influence. This must be carefully distinguished, because many problems Russia has does come from political games conducted from the Americans and her allies. However, there are also a great many problems which were not caused by foreigners or foreign influence yet which are being attributed in some way to them, which include the divorce rates, broken families, negative birth rates, massive migration from Central Asia, and the general physical decline of the nation’s infrastructure.
The Russians are gradually “closing in” on themselves for the purposes of protection, a strategy which has worked many times in the past. However, will it work again? Certainly in some way it will be successful, but given the information released from World Wars I and II, especially concerning oil deposits in the Caucasus, as well as the systemic problems she is suffering from in her society right now, it may only hold off but not be enough to stop her from being overrun and perhaps, even defeated in a war.
The Baptist and Pentecostal expulsions from Russia, while significant, do not really mean much in terms of geopolitical significance, although they are meaningful when it comes to describing the philosophy behind them. If one wants to see what the future of Russia and an impending conflict may hold, one needs to watch the status of the oil transportation lines, specifically those going through and around the Caucasus and Caspian Seas, as well as those coming from West Africa to Europe. As we have discussed extensively, Germany and her allies, which includes the US, appear to be forming a “spider’s web” type of network of oil transportation routes and lines, building into old oil fields and exploiting new ones. This is to ensure that no matter what conflict happens, there will always be a steady flow of oil into Europe so to keep the industrial war machine rolling and to prevent pyrrhic conflicts over oil in the future during a war. Germany came very close to defeating Russia, and was stopped primarily due to a lack of oil to drive her war machine, as she had to focus on Stalingrad, which she eventually lost after a horrific fight.
It will be interesting to see how Russia will response in terms of nationalistic impulses to the same nationalism being promoted by the US, as it may give an indication of plans for the future.