The communist ideology responsible for the slaughter of more than 100 million people and the enslavement of billions over the last century is “very similar” to Christianity, claimed Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. The bizarre remarks, first reported by Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT, also suggested that the ideology of communism could be found throughout the Bible — an idea ridiculed by mainstream Christian theologians who view the murderous “ideology” as practically the antithesis of biblical morality. Finally, Putin likened mass-murdering dictator Vladimir Lenin's dead body lying in Moscow's Red Square to the veneration of Christian saints.
“Communist ideology is very similar to Christianity, in fact: freedom, equality, brotherhood, justice — everything is laid out in the Holy Scripture, it’s all there,” Putin claimed in an interview for the Russian documentary Valaam, parts of which were broadcast on Kremlin-owned television station Russia 1. “And the code of the builder of communism? This is sublimation, it’s just such a primitive excerpt from the Bible, nothing new was invented.” While acknowledging that during “those years of militant atheism,” “priests were eradicated” and “churches destroyed,” Putin claimed a “new religion was being created.”
Acknowledging that some people “might dislike” his remarks, the former KGB chief said “faith has always accompanied us, becoming stronger every time our country, our people, have been through hard times.” The “new religion” Putin referred to being created during those times was presumably whatever perverted form of “Christianity” and “communism” the Russian leader claims to believe resemble each other. There is some truth to his remarks, though — at least in Russia. After attempting to eradicate Christianity and the Russian Orthodox Church with barbarism, murder, and torture — and failing — the mass-murdering Soviet KGB that Putin served decided, instead, to try to hijack and neutralize the church.
That hijacking extends all the way to the Russian Orthodox Church's present-day leadership. In 2009, Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev, known today as Metropolitan Kirill, was chosen to serve as the “Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,” the highest position of authority in the Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Kirill took over after the death of Patriarch Alexy II, who led the ROC from 1990. Prior to his post at the head of the ROC, he was a longtime KGB agent code-named Drozdov, or “Blackbird.” All three of the candidates to replace Alexy II were also reliably identified as agents of the KGB/FSB, including Metropolitan Kirill, who ultimately got the job.
“According to material from the Soviet archives, Kirill was a KGB agent (as was Alexei),” explained Russia expert David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, in a 2009 article for Forbes. “This means he was more than just an informer, of whom there were millions in the Soviet Union. He was an active officer of the organization. Neither Kirill nor Alexei ever acknowledged or apologized for their ties with the security agencies.” With Putin and Kirill both tracing their careers back to the murderous KGB, their public affinity for each other should hardly be considered surprising.
While the ROC is officially celebrated in Putin's Russia today, other Christian denominations have not fared so well. Under the guise of targeting “extremism,” the Kremlin has been cracking down on protestants, evangelicals, and more. In 2016, Moscow even adopted a law purporting to ban Christian evangelism anywhere outside of church buildings registered with the state. The law also purports to ban house churches and requires that missionaries seek and obtain government permits. A wide range of other draconian restrictions have also been imposed. And they have been widely condemned by Christians across Russia and around the world.
In an open letter, Russia’s Baptist Council of Churches, for example, wrote that the new religion regime would “create conditions for the repression of all Christians.” “Any person who mentions their religious view or reflections out loud or puts them in writing, without the relevant documents, could be accused of illegal missionary activity,” the Baptist Council warned. In an open letter to Putin, Sergei Ryakhovsky, head of the Protestant Churches of Russia, warned of even more terrifying implications. “Soviet history shows us how many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God,” he said. “This law brings us back to that shameful past.”
If a communist-inspired, counterfeit Christianity is what the Kremlin wants, it even comes complete with its own “saint.” And in his comments, Putin literally equated putting the dead body of savage mass murderer Lenin on display in the heart of Moscow with certain Christian churches venerating their saints and martyrs. “Look, Lenin was put in a mausoleum. How is this different from the relics of saints for Orthodox Christians and just for Christians?” Putin asked, neglecting to mention that Christian saints served God and their fellow men while the bloodthirsty tyrant slaughtered his victims by the millions. “When they say that there's no such tradition in Christianity, well, go to Athos and take a look, there are relics of the saints there, and we have holy relics here.”
But at least one major group celebrated Putin's eerie comments claiming Communism and Christianity were practically one and the same, with RT reporting that the remarks were “music to their ears.” “I think these words of the president very effectively and reasonably smooth out the acute angles around the theme of the mausoleum,” said Deputy Chairman of the Duma Ivan Melnikov, who also serves as vice-chairman of the Communist Party. “Communists and all the leftist patriotic forces [in Russia] understand that communism is close to Christianity as much as the form of capitalism that exists in our country and our economy today is far from Christianity.”
Of course, it is not the first time Putin has made similar comments. In early 2016, the Russian leader claimed the “Moral Code of the Builder of Communism,” a dozen rules for Communist Party members that includes “intolerance to the enemies of communism,” were “wonderful ideas” that resemble the Bible in many ways. While he acknowledged that the actual implementation of the “wonderful ideas” was not exactly what had been promised, he expressed nostalgia for the Soviet days, revealing that he still kept his Communist Party membership card at home. Putin also described the apparent collapse of communism as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He even admitted that he continues to like communist and socialist ideas “very much.”
While the strongman's latest comments were widely ridiculed, there is an extreme danger inherent in equating Christianity with communism. On the one hand, depending on who hears it, the statement could normalize and legitimize the murderous “ideology” of communism by equating it with something good, Christianity. On the flip side, it could discredit Christianity in the hearts and minds of some people by associating faith in Christ and His moral teachings with a barbarous “ideology” responsible for over a hundred million murders, savage torture, concentration camps, the destruction of civilization, genocide, hatred, the brutal suppression of freedom, and myriad other evils. In Isaiah 5:20, the Bible warns of precisely such an error: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.”
In reality, communism as defined by Karl Marx and as implemented by tyrants worldwide is practically the opposite of Christianity. In the Bible, God says “thou shalt not steal.” Under communism, there is no recognition of the right to private property at all. The ruling class is not only permitted to steal, but is in fact mandated to take by force (steal) everything from everyone — “for the common good,” of course. Marx also advocated the abolition of the family, an institution ordained by God. God's Word commands people not to kill, too, while communists have always and everywhere slaughtered the “enemies of the people” like flies. Meanwhile, Christ commands His followers to love their enemies. Communist ideologists and even Marx, by contrast, sought the ruthless extermination of their enemies. And that is just the beginning.
In “mainstream” history books, Marx is often portrayed as an atheist, and his “ideology” is often described as atheistic. However, a great deal of evidence suggests that Marx may have in fact been a deliberate and conscious enemy of God. Indeed, his own writings suggest as much. “I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above,” Marx wrote in one of his poems, echoing the boasts of Lucifer recorded in the Bible. “I shall build my throne high overhead, Cold, tremendous shall its summit be. For its bulwark — superstitious dread. For its marshal — blackest agony.” In another poem, Marx wrote: “My breast is equal to that of the Creator.”
The late Romanian minister Richard Wurmbrand, who was ruthlessly tortured by communists for some 14 years for pointing out that communism and Christianity were incompatible, wrote a book on the subject called Marx and Satan. “The Devil disguises himself as an angel of light,” wrote Wurmbrand, quoting the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:14, after debunking various pseudo-theological “arguments” purporting to make communism and Christianity compatible. “Christian communism is a utopian impossibility, a nightmare of exploitation. The theology of revolution is a patent absurdity, a contradiction in terms.”
The Catholic Church has always understood that as well. As far back as 1949, the Catholic Church vowed to excommunicate any self-styled Catholics who joined the Communist Party, voted for its candidates, joined communist organizations, defended communism, or supported “the materialistic and anti-Christian teaching of atheist Communism.” In his Encyclical On Atheistic Communism, Pope Pius XI explained that Communism “aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization.” And that is putting it mildly.
The notion that communism and socialism are somehow compatible with “Christianity” has become increasingly widespread among younger Americans indoctrinated into a phony version of history and offered only a cheap caricature of Christianity. Unfortunately, though, a world leader — one whose fan club is growing in the United States, even among conservatives — is now spreading that same dangerous lie. Christian leaders from around the world should speak out clearly to ensure that their flocks do not fall into such grave error. Communism remains an extreme threat to this day.
Communism and socialism are evil and produce evil fruit always and everywhere: Mass murder, hatred, torture, starvation, persecution, terror, and institutionalized slavery. True Christianity and the Holy Spirit that Christians believe inhabits their hearts, on the other hand, produce fruit that includes compassion, love, gentleness, help for the poor, joy, and peace. The two could not be more different. Anyone who pretends otherwise should be rebuked and lovingly corrected by all Christians.
Photo of Vladimir Putin: AP Images