Ukrainian evangelicals demand more Bonhoeffers, as Russian evangelicals debate whether public protest under Putin can achieve more than prayer.
Ukrainian evangelicals have had enough.
Battered by a week of war, they have heard numerous prayers for peace uttered by their Russian colleagues. But they did not hear condemnation.
“Your unions have congratulated Putin, giving thanks for freedom of belief,” said Taras Dyatlik, the Overseas Council regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “The time has come to make use of that freedom.”
As Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, and other cities have suffered missile strikes, the United Nations reports the death of more than 200 civilians. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reports more than 2,000. The military casualties are disputed, with both nations claiming thousands of fatalities among the other’s ranks.
But rather than focusing on the numbers, Dyatlik, who coordinates a regional network of dozens of Protestant seminaries, turned to the Bible.
“Remember Mordechai and Esther,” he wrote March 1 in an open letter. “Do not be like Jehoshaphat, who entered into an alliance with Ahab, and was silent when God spoke through the prophet Micaiah.”
Dyatlik accused his Russian colleagues of buying into national rhetoric—first in 2014, when Russian-backed forces invaded the eastern region of Donbas—and again today. But “begging on my knees,” he leveraged his reputation with the heads of Russia’s evangelical unions—while acknowledging their difficult reality.
“You fear prison,” he said. “[But] do not be faithful to Putin. Be faithful to the body of Christ.”
A new draft law proposes a 15-year prison sentence for “fake” claims about the violence in Ukraine, as authorities crack down on Russians who call the “military …