President Obama has struck a blow for diversity by ruling that all federal buildings shall have ‘transgender’ lavatories. Yet anything the Americans can do, the Russians can do better.
To prove this unassailable truth, Ismail Berdiyev, the mufti of North Caucasus, and Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have taken diversity one step further. Berdiyev believes that “all women should be circumcised, to have less debauchery in the world, less sexuality.”
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised in some villages of the mufti’s native Dagestan, but he deplores its spread being so narrow: “The Almighty created woman to bear and raise children. And circumcision has nothing to do with that. Women won’t stop giving birth because of that. But there would be less debauchery.”
All this is par for the course – one expects that sort of thing from Muslims. While in Islam FMG is still mostly tribal rather than universal, it naturally flows out of the Muslim’s somewhat utilitarian view of women.
Yet the Christian view is different, isn’t it? Well, yes. This side of ROC.
Enter Archpriest Chaplin. Fr Vsevolod isn’t any old priest and nor is he even any old archpriest. For many years he was ROC’s official spokesman, mainly on the strength of his intimate relationship with Vladimir Gundiayev, aka Patriarch Kiril, aka (in KGB dossiers) Agent Mikhailov.
Though Chaplin has been removed from his official post for tactical reasons, he remains Gundiayev’s confidante and mouthpiece, even as Gundiayev acts in a similar capacity for the KGB junta, aka the Russian government.
Ever since Peter I brought the Church under secular control, ROC has been an extension of the state. However, under the tsars most priests refused to collaborate with the secret police, resisting, for example, all pressures to divulge secrets vouchsafed in confession.
Bolshevism changed all that. First all the recalcitrant priests, 40,000 of them on Lenin’s watch, were massacred in all sorts of creative ways (I’ll spare you the lurid details). Then, when parishioners were starving to death and therefore, according to Lenin’s astute observation, too weak to resist, ROC was robbed of its valuables.
After that it was driven underground, where it stayed until the war, when Stalin came in for a rude awakening. Soldiers just wouldn’t fight for bolshevism. Instead they surrendered and deserted en masse. Hoping the people would fight for Holy Russia, Stalin then took ROC off the mothballs and wheeled it out.
A small, truly Christian, part of it remained underground, but the ROC hierarchy effectively became a department of the secret police. This fine tradition continues to this day.
Writes Lev Ponomaryov, Russian MP and Executive Director of the Russian National Movement For Human Rights: “Specific research concerning the relationship of the Church and KGB was professionally led by a member of our commission… Gleb Yakunin… [who] found the documents proving that all (!) top functionaries of Russian Orthodox Church were recruited by the KGB…”
It’s against this background that Chaplin’s bow towards diversity must be assessed. For he came out in support of the mufti’s initiative, expressing his “sympathies for the mufti, and I hope he doesn’t retreat from his position because of the howls and hysterics which will start now”.
Fr Vsevolod shares the mufti’s view on women’s purpose in life, and he agrees that FMG is a valid way of boosting the world’s morality. Chaplin does believe, however, that Russian Orthodox women should be allowed to keep their clitorises “because they don’t fornicate anyway.”
As a celibate monk, Fr Vsevolod holds a somewhat idealised view of Russian womankind, which isn’t widely shared by those with, as it were, hands-on experience in that area. Nor is it shared, say, by the Holy Fathers of Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, who’ve turned its premises into a highly profitable bordello.
It isn’t even shared, de facto, by Chaplin’s patron and ROC’s head Gundiayev who, in spite of his celibacy, openly lives with a woman he passes for his distant cousin, a kinship for which no documentary evidence exists.
“We Orthodox Christians have different traditions – but that never stopped us respecting the traditions of neighbouring peoples,” writes Chaplin on the subject of FGM. Neither has it stopped them from bombing “neighbouring people” flat, specifically in the mufti’s region.
While commending Chaplin’s tolerance, one has to remark with some chagrin that he displays it selectively. For example, when still ROC’s official spokesman, he wrote “thank God, war is coming soon!”
His view on Stalinism is equally robust. “Some people,” explains the Holy Father, “may and must be killed,” and not just the odd criminal. “A certain proportion must be killed to educate society.” Such is “the will of God and the people, which coincides with the will of the state.”
This clarifies matters. ROC espouses not Christianity but the pagan nationalist myth of the Third Rome, which happens to be the ideology underpinning Putin’s rule.
Such sacralisation of evil secular power should give second thoughts to Western ‘useful idiots’ hailing Russia’s religious revival. There are indeed some good Christians there, if not as many as useful idiots believe. But they aren’t to be found in ROC’s hierarchy or its sponsoring organisation, Putin’s KGB junta.