Putin’s Olympic Controversy
Cover story of the March issue of Decision magazine, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
According to a recent article from Politico, Americans hold the lowest view of Russians and their president that they’ve had in more than two decades. Citing a Gallup Poll survey, Politico said that 60 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Russia and 63 percent have a negative opinion of President Vladimir Putin.
American distaste for Putin and his policies, however, hasn’t diminished his global standing. Last October, Forbes magazine declared Putin to be the most powerful man in the world. Anyone who watched the recent Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, could see why. More than any of the gold medal winners, Putin was the commanding presence.
The Olympics were a $51 billion spectacle, but the days leading up to the Games were overshadowed by a controversial issue—a law Putin signed in 2013 to protect minors (children) in Russia from homosexuals promoting their lifestyle. Specifically, the law bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
American media and liberal activists were outraged that the Olympics would be allowed in such an “intolerant” culture. Even though Putin said that gays and lesbians would be allowed at the Olympics, the fact that he took a stand—simply to protect children—ignited a worldwide cultural firestorm. He further explained the law by saying, “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia.”
In some ways, the Winter Olympics has become like the Cold War.
Lest we forget, it has not yet been 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of godless communism. Just a few generations ago, America held the high moral ground.
How the times have changed!
America’s response to Putin’s law was sadly predictable. President Obama intentionally included homosexuals in his official U.S. delegation to Sochi. Then his attorney general stole headlines from the opening weekend with an announcement to the Human Rights Campaign (a major gay-rights group): As far as the federal government is concerned, there is no longer any difference between traditional and same-sex marriage—even in the 33 states that outlaw those marriages.
It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching.
So how are Americans to understand Putin, who has come to dominate the world stage even more than our own president? Is Putin right on this issue?
Putin’s father has been described as a militant atheist, his mother was a devout Orthodox, and his grandfather was a personal cook for the Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
Putin himself was an officer in the Soviet Union’s notorious KGB security agency from 1976 to 1991. In fact, he was in charge of monitoring foreigners in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) when my father preached there in 1984. If he was eavesdropping on our meeting, which I hope he was, he heard the Gospel!
When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Putin moved into politics, and in 2000 he replaced Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia. Term limits forced him to step aside in 2008, but he was re-elected in 2012 for a six-year term.
I have never heard Putin quote the Bible, but during his 2012 election campaign, he met with church leaders in Moscow and vowed to protect persecuted Christians around the world. That is one justification for his support of the Assad regime in Syria.
Syria, for all its problems, at least has a constitution that guarantees equal protection of citizens. Around the world, we have seen that this is essential where Christians are a minority and are not protected. The radicals in Syria want an Islamic constitution based on sharia law.
Christians have lived in Syria since the time of Christ. The Apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus when he met Christ. Christians in Syria know that if the radicals overthrow Assad, there will be widespread persecution and wholesale slaughter of Christians.
To be clear, I am not endorsing President Putin. To survive in the KGB and rise to power in Russia, you have to be tough. His enemies say he is ruthless. To some, he is a modern version of a czar. His personal life has its own controversies.
Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own?
Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.
The world used to look to America for moral leadership. But those days are long gone.
Today, we’ve abdicated our moral leadership. We defeated communism, only to relax and see secularism and progressives take over our country. Secularism is as godless as communism. Secularists and progressives have taken over our schools, media, and local and federal government. And it has all happened in the twinkling of an eye.
But the Bible makes it clear that one day, “all nations will be gathered before [God]” (Matthew 25:34) for judgment, and that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:10). Now is the time to repent of sin and place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. ©2014 BGEA
Source: Billy Graham,