The priest and TV presenter wears bulletproof vests and army helmets in the war-ravaged village of Volnovacha in Donbass. They are for the program War and the Bible He went to the occupied territories of Ukraine with a camera crew to talk about “God’s intentions” in this war.
“Is God able to test faith and call to war?” The presenter asks the Bible in his hand. As explosions resound in the background, the priest replies, “If God’s creatures do not show love for Him, have no more faith, and neglect God, He will take action and wipe out entire nations from the face of the earth.”
They also talk about the role of commanders in wartime. “Every nation, every country, every city has a protective angel sent by God.”
Putin’s name is not mentioned. But the photos say enough: We see the Russian president walking the long corridors and huge halls of the Kremlin. This isn’t the first time he’s been portrayed as the nation’s guardian angel.
Introduction to the War and Bible Program:
Religious TV channel SPAS — or redemption — earns the most popular propaganda shield of the month with this episode, Russian independent media outlet SOTA wrote in a message on Telegram.
SPAS is the main channel of the Russian Orthodox Church. The channel is part of the National Channel package and can count on a loyal audience of Russian Orthodox viewers. But with the documentary series War and the Bible The channel suddenly became the center of attention.
“In recent years, SPAS has taken the form and content of state propaganda channels and mixed them with a thick religious sauce,” says journalist and theologian Anna by phone from Moscow. For security reasons, she does not want to be called by her last name.
In this way, SPAS is undoubtedly trying to reach a wider audience beyond the orthodox circle. On noisy talk shows, but also on more reflective programs and documentaries, they have been aligning their message with their message. Louder and louder on the transmitter.
A message of condolence and anointing
Anna wrote an analysis of the propaganda on various Russian Orthodox channels for the SOTA website. Where other religious channels attempt to convey a calming and reassuring message, SPAS shows itself overtly militaristic.
What is new is the frenzied tone of the channel. For example, the priest and TV presenter talks about “God’s command to the Jewish people in the Old Testament to cleanse the land of evil nations.” This is followed by the most famous quote from the episode. “An interesting way to test faith,” says the TV presenter. “Go into battle and destroy the people.”
On social media, this statement is widely seen as an attempt to justify genocide against the Ukrainian people. For example, journalist Sergei Tsgapnin, an expert on the affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, wrote on his Facebook page: “Hiding behind the Bible and justifying genocide is nothing but pessimism.”
“I don’t know if they are acting on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate, or if they think they are trying to attract the public,” says Anna. “In any case, it shows that this kind of language is common in Russia today.”
Because this is what Anna finds so disturbing: no one in Russia is surprised anymore when a religious channel shamelessly preaches war. “Of course there are pastors who do not support this message and distance themselves from the rhetoric of war. But a large and also educated part of the population thinks: It’s war, you have to support your country.”
The SPAS telegram channel also shows pictures of Russian soldiers with icons. Close up we see how the moisture from the icon flows over the hands of a soldier. It is said, “The juice of myrrh is a wonder of God.” The images are intended to emphasize the “divine mission of the Russian army.”
The message here, too, is clear: Russia is waging a “holy war.” The enemy is a West that denies religion and traditional values and acknowledges all kinds of gender differences, as it is said over and over again.
An expert wrote on Facebook: “He looks pious and sublime in terms of the priest and the presenter.” “They pretend to bear witness to spirituality and lofty moral values. But in reality they only serve power. It is nothing but a public denial of Christ.”
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”