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How US Evangelicals Fueled the Rise of Russia’s Anti-Gay Right

An alliance is born between anti-gay, anti-abortion American groups and the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Even if the health law fell far short of what the church hoped to achieve—that is, ending federal support of all abortion services, requiring that women receive the approval of their spouses before having an abortion, and requiring prescriptions for the morning-after pill—it marked a decisive shift in Russia’s evolving battle over reproductive rights. Just after the bill was introduced in the Duma, Patriarch Kirill met with Tatyana Golikova, head of the Ministry of Health, and signed an agreement of cooperation on future initiatives that included combating abortion and promoting motherhood and the traditional family. “This is not just joint projects,” Golikova said, “but also the solution to the problems at the legislative level.” 

New legislation will be high on the agenda at the WCF’s 2014 congress in Moscow in September. The event, titled “Every Child a Gift: Large Families—the Future of Humanity,” will include a special parliamentary forum organized by Mizulina, who is known as “the Inquisitor” and drafted both the anti-abortion and anti-gay bills. “Pro-family” MPs from Europe and around the world are expected to attend.

The Moscow summit will be held at the Congress Hall of the Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, where the punk band Pussy Riot staged its mock prayer denouncing Vladimir Putin in February 2012. Putin, whose close ties to the church hierarchy are well-known, said shortly after he was re-elected that conflict over “cultural identity, spiritual and moral values, and moral codes” will come to define Russia’s relations with other countries.

Oddly, the Orthodox-evangelical alliance marks one of the few bright spots in an otherwise strained relationship between the United States and Russia. As one American banker in Moscow with close ties to Hilarion Alfeyev told me, “It is surely one of the most positive things taking place right now regarding US-Russian relations.”

Adam Federman, recipient of a Polk Grant for Investigative Reporting, is a contributing writer to Earth Island Journal. His work has appeared in Salon, among other outlets.

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