Danish conservative journalist and broadcaster Iben Thranholm tells us more….
The reason why I started to get interested in Russia three years ago was because I saw that there was a huge revival of Christianity, of Orthodox faith in Russia after the Cold War when the Soviet Union collapsed. I was really unaware of this before the Pussy Riot case, where I saw that Russians absolutely would not tolerate when somebody walks into a church, into a sacred place, and acts like the girls from Pussy Riot did.
Even though most of the people here in the West were very angry with Russia because they think that Russia violated the freedom of speech, I saw the situation in different way. I thought that nobody can go into a church and act like they did. I am a Catholic and I have Christian conservative values. Therefore, of course, from my perspective it was offensive.
At that time I suddenly understood that Russia is a country that is promoting and preserving Christian values. And I started to do some research.
Also, I saw that President Putin was talking about Christianity and how important it is for Russian society to be built on orthodox values. And then I stared to read the speeches of Patriarch Kirill and so forth.
Then I decided to go to Russia to do some research by myself, because everybody in the West was getting more and more aggressive and negative towards Russia.
I was reading all these Christian articles coming from Russia and how the Russian people wanted to go back to the Orthodox faith after communism. I found it extremely fascinating.
As for a Catholic writer and a Christian conservative, things has become more and more difficult for me. It has been harder to get published. Christians in the West, we are psychologically persecuted. It means that if you are very open about your faith, if you don’t have a weak secular-raised faith that is just adapting to political correctness, you will be socially marginalized, people will tell you that you are not very intelligent. And this could happen even among friends. There are jobs now that you can’t get if you are against abortion or gay marriage.
The biggest problem for Christians in the West is fear. Christians are very fearful because of political correctness and because they know that people don’t like real Christians.
Being in this situation, I decided to go to Russia because I thought it could be extremely interesting. I knew that in the Soviet Union being a Christian was very dangerous. It’s funny how time has changed the situation.
The time I decided to visit Russia was the same time when the Ukrainian crisis was peaking. Everybody was telling me not to go, but I did. I was extremely excited and overwhelmed to see a culture that was very Christian in many ways and people that were so open to me.
What I like about the Orthodox church is that there is a very strong sense of holiness and tradition. And as a conservative Christian, I felt very familiar. It was really great.
When I came back to Denmark, I wrote a column saying that Moscow is a new Manhattan. I suddenly understood that I can speak more openly about my faith in Russia, where people won’t look at me like I was a nutcase. It was a totally new experience.
Coming back to my documentary film, it’s all about that experience because I see myself as a sort of Christian dissident. Christians from the West need to come to Russia to freely speak about their faith. Of course, we can practice our religion, and nobody will put us to jail, but there is psychological pressure. And there are more and more laws that could make Christian beliefs a criminal act. If you say something against same sex marriage, there will be an implementation of law that would forbid you from doing this. And it could get worse. Our religious freedoms are actually threatened because we have this totalitarian, secularistic militant idea of what it means to be secular. These people are making our life more and more totalitarian in the name of democracy. It’s absurd, but this is the way it is.
Therefore, first of all I wanted to make a film to tell my story and to share my experience of visiting Russia and seeing that it is not at all like what the mainstream media in the West is trying to tell people. Actually, the Russian people are a Christian people and this is very important. Right now, when tensions between the West and Russia are so high, Christianity is our common ground. Western culture used to be Christian but it is not anymore, because there is a group of people called Cultural Marxists.
I think it’s very important right now to open up the door and to tell at least the Christians in the US and in Europe a different story about Russia. And that is that the Russian people are becoming Christians.
I don’t think there are a lot of political solutions because the climate between the West and Russia is so poisoned. So, we could start with Christianity.
There are a lot of Americans who started to write to me after reading my articles. They were saying: “You’re right, the Russians are not our enemies. They are Christians and we must be allies.”
If we want to become closer, we should start with Christianity. Of course, we are not Orthodox, but still the roots of our faith are the same. To make peace it is very important for the Western people to be told the story about Russia as a Christian nation. I think this is extremely important.