Why American Social Conservatives Fawn Over Vladimir Putin

The neoconservatives hate Putin, but social conservatives have sung his praise over his anti-gay policies.

Vladimir Putin.

Views of Russian President Vladimir Putin are split on the American right. The neoconservative wing of the party sees Putin as dictatorial strongman bent on expanding Russian territory and waging a new Cold War against the U.S.  

But some social conservatives see Putin as a leading light--the great big conservative hope battling against the gay agenda.  The latest example of this came Friday, when the American Family Association’s Brian Fischer interviewed Scott Lively, a right-wing pastor.  

“They’re reaching back to the Tsarist model when the Russian Orthodox Church was very strong and they had Christian values in their society, and I think it’s a positive thing for the whole world,” Lively told Fischer, as Right Wing Watch reported.

Fischer also crowed over Putin. “The leader of Russia now sounds more like somebody who supports and embraces Christianity than the President of the United States, which has always been a Christian country,” he said.  Lively added that Russia could be the first to build a “barrier against this global homosexual agenda.”

Lively wasn’t picked randomly to speak about Putin. In September 2013, he claimed that he influenced Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, which effectively bars any positive discussion of gay rights or any action labeled as gay around children.  Lively has visited Russia to lecture on gay rights.  Lively’s visits are part of a larger phenomenon of anti-gay Americans forging close ties with their Russian counterparts.  

The pastor isn’t the only social conservative to praise Putin. Matt Drudge has called Putin “the leader of the free world.” Patrick Buchanan wrote that “While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind...Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught in a Cold War paradigm.”

Watch Lively's conversation with Fischer:

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.