Philip Jenkins on Why He Won’t Be Donating for Pussy Riot

Over at Real Clear Religion, Baylor historian Philip Jenkins has a powerful essay on the Pussy Riot trial and the Western media’s failure to take seriously the religious provocation the stunt represented:

Putin may be a thug, and Pussy Riot might be feminist warriors for human rights, but the particular act for which they faced trial is much more controversial than is commonly reported in the West. A good case can be made that it was a grievous act of religious hate crime, of a kind that would be roundly condemned if it happened in a country that the West happened to like.

Jenkins recounts the long history of Christian persecution under the Soviets, which involved intimidation and murder on a massive scale, often accompanied by anti-Christian agitprop in sacred places. Jenkins writes:

Russia’s new religious freedom is a very tender shoot, and the prospect of future turmoil has to agonize those believers who recall bygone horrors. These fears are all the more pressing when modern-day activists seem to reproduce exactly the blasphemous deeds of the past, and even in the precise places. When modern-day Orthodox look at Pussy Riot, they see the ghosts of Alexandra Kollontai and her militiamen, or the old Soviet League of Militant Godless. Are they wrong to do so? . . .

So no, I won’t be giving to any Pussy Riot support groups.

I’ve written before that Pussy Riot has been in prison for long enough; a two-year sentence for what they did seems very disproportionate.  I’d have fined them for trespassing and let them go. But it is striking that so few in the West see the other side of the story.

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