Russian Orthodox church forgives Pussy Riot

In a recent report, Associated Press said that “two top clerics in the Russian Orthodox Church said Saturday that it has forgiven the members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot who were convicted of hooliganism and sent to prison for briefly taking over a cathedral in a raucous prayer for deliverance from Vladimir Putin.”

“Both clerics supported the court’s decision to prosecute Pussy Riot, despite an international outcry that called it unfair. Governments, including those in the United States, Britain, France and Germany, denounced the sentences as disproportionate.”

Read the full article here

From the Manichaean view, this news story is really about two different issues: One is the right of free speech, the other is desecration of a House of Worship. The band and their advocates focus on the groups right to speak out against the Russian President, and negative stereotypes towards women. The devout Christian community of Russia and in the world in general, look upon the the prank preformed in a Russian Church as the desecration of a place that is considered Holy to many Russian Orthodox Christians.

A protest can be made without causing suffering to others. Desecrating a Place of Worship is deeply hurtful to people of faith. Are the people who wish to exemplify the teachings of Christ in the world, really the ones that this group and their supporters wish to alienate? Notice that Church forgave them.

This is just one of a growing number of instances where people, who care little or nothing about religion, use people of faith and their beliefs as a soapbox to air their grievances to the world. In recent history, in the US, a white supremacist, went into a Sikh Temple and began shooting individuals because of his ideological views.

The connection is that you have secularists entering the sacred places of people of Faith and causing harm for their own motives regardless of the people who attend those places of worship and how damaging their actions may be. (In the case of the Sikh Temple shooting, the actions were the worst type imaginable).

Peaceful protesting against an unjust system is honorable: look to Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and the Buddhist Monks of Myanmar for examples of peaceful civil disobedience that makes an beneficial impact. Notice, in all of these examples, that those leading such demonstrations have the highest regard for Faith.

The Punk Band in question, is obviously choosing a path of nihilism to promote their views on social change and that is obviously their choice, but even this type of demonstration does not require the offense of people of faith. They may be thinking of one or a handful of religious authorities that they take issue with, but the end result is that they hurt many people of faith who have caused them no harm at all.

Challenging an offensive government because their actions harm peaceful people, but then performing civil disobedience that also harms peaceful people, negates the entire purpose of the demonstration unless the only reason for demonstrating is to gain publicity for publicity’s sake. At that point, such demonstrators are little more than reality TV “stars” making the most of their 15 minutes of fame.

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