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Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Sunday Sacrilige: Now, Nashi Goes After the Churches

ASSIST News reports:

Members of a youth movement are taking credit for vandalizing two Protestant churches in the Russian city of Kaluga, in what appeared to be a planned attack.

Russian Ministries, based in Wheaton, Illinois, says that according to the press service of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice (SCLJ), on December 27, 2007, rocks and bottles containing threatening notes were aimed at a Baptist church and a Pentecostal church. Windows were broken and glass littered the grounds of both churches.

According to Vladislav Yudanov, pastor of the local evangelical Pentecostal church "Grace," teenagers entered the church around 10:00 p.m. the night of the attack. They looked around the building and at the church billboard; then were asked to leave, as the woman on duty was about to close the building. An hour later, the woman heard the sound of breaking glass as bottles crashed through the windows or landed on the roof.

The next morning it became evident that this was nothing short of a political action with extremist flavor, emphasized Pastor Yudanov.

As a presbyter of the Kaluga-based Baptist congregation Valery Pashkovets told the SCLJ press service that his church (which is a part of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists) was shot at by air guns.

Pashkovets pointed out that was not the first time bottles had been thrown at the church, but this was the first time the bottles contained threats.

Both churches received identical threats that said: "Disrespected sectarians, you are not welcome here and we suggest that you get out of our town. If you refuse, we'll help you leave. We are insulted and humiliated by your attitude towards the Orthodox faith. The Cross should not serve as a garland or billboard for your false religion. Get out of here you wretched American servants of Satan! Go pray to money -- your imperialistic god. This will be done to everyone like you."

On the second floor of Grace Church, one bottle had the simple message, "Merry Christmas!" and was signed, "Civil Initiative of the 'Nashi.'"

The Nashi youth movement is a strong nationalistic/anti-Western movement that has gained momentum under Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin also encourages the Nashi movement, which is reminiscent of the youth leagues during Communism.

Russian Ministries has a strong "School Without Walls" program and evangelistic summer camp ministry in the Kaluga region.

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