Orthodox Right vs Neo-Pentecostalism in Ukraine

Orthodox Christian organisations in the Ukraine are unhappy with the new mayor of Kiev. Interfax-Religion reports:

Yuri Yegorov of the Orthodox Choice association…believes the victory of Leonid Chernovetsky, leader of the Liberal Christian Democratic Party who is involved in the God’s Embassy, in the mayoral elections in Kiev is ‘a natural outcome of the values that have begun to prevail in Ukraine’.

“God’s Embassy” is a large neo-Pentecostal church that I profiled last year. The pastor, Nigerian Sunday Adelaja, claims to have baptised a million Ukrainians. He is also a close ally of Ted Haggard, the influential Colorado-based neo-Pentecostal leader I have blogged about on several occasions. Adelaja’s Orthodox critics, however, have a dramatic accusation:

The activity of sects in Ukraine, especially in Kiev, jeopardizes national security, stated Valentin Lukiyanik, Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods leader.

‘We can see (in the activity of sects – IF) a threat to national security’, he said at a press-conference.

According to him, in Kiev ‘adepts of a new world order with an extremist, or more precisely, fascist ideology realized a planned scenario for taking over’.

He also urged to look into the activity of the religious organization called Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God to All Nations led by a Nigerian preacher by name of Sandey Adelaja [sic].

These days Ukraine is indeed quite a centre for new religious movements – a year ago I heard a Ukrainian sociologist of religion describe the Crimea as “Ukraine’s California”, and note the role of religious groups in the “Orange Revolution”. For the likes of Lukiyanik, the failure of the Orthodox right to call the shots must be the result of some awful conspiracy. Radio Liberty noted back in 2004:

In demonstrations in Kyiv in November, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine warned of “the expansion of Catholics and sects in Ukraine” should the West-leaning Yushchenko win the presidency. Leaflets distributed in Orthodox parishes called Yushchenko a “partisan of the schismatics and an enemy of Orthodoxy,” according to media reports. And opposition leaders and human rights groups allege that some clergy in heavily Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine told parishioners to vote for “God’s candidate,” the pro-Moscow Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, or be denied the sacraments.

…Prior to the election, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine…warned that if the opposition leader won, it could spell the beginnings of “persecutions against Orthodoxy.” The group also harshly criticized pro-Yushchenko demonstrators after the disputed second round of the election.

After the election, Lukivanik complained that

“Forces working against Orthodox civilization have united around Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. You could see this on (Kyiv’s Independence) Square during the Orange Revolution when a cardinal, a Baptist, a rabbi, (Patriarch) Filaret (head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate [a rival to the pro-Moscow Orthodox branch]), all the members of sects, were there,” said Lukianyk.

The Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods is a lay movement dating from the post-Soviet period; its targets also include Roman Catholicism.

Interfax-Religion also cites a third commentator, in similar vein:

As Valery Chabanenko, a Dialogue center researcher of neo-cults, noted in his turn, the God’s Embassy is engaged in the propaganda of the ‘extremist religious’ doctrine of the ‘New World Order’ (its author is preacher Alexey Ledyaev, Latvia – IF). He also said that nearly 500 adepts of the New World Order ran for deputies of all levels in March.

‘We believe Ukraine is on the doorstep to an extremist ideology which begins to be introduced on the highest level’, the expert remarked.

Ledyaev founded the New Generation Church in Riga in 1989; he now has a branch in Springfield, Massachusetts. He also indeed talks in NWO terms:

The fulfillment of the Great Commission is nothing else but foundation for Christian Geopolitical Space, in which God will establish the New World Order.

In a 2005 sermon included on Adelaja’s website, Ledyaev explains that

…The Gospel is the governmental book that has a direct approach to the building of statehood…Today the church takes back its positions in the government and so we prevent it from destruction and degradation. We are the salt of the earth. We want to live in a country with a Christian government…Our interests will not be protected either by communists or socialists, by Muslims, or Buddhists. They have their own interests. We should present our people into the highest legislative level. The time is coming when the Saints will take positions in the kingdom of Earth. Any power is from God and must know Him.

A postscript adds:

After the sermon of Aleksey Ledyaev, Pastor Sunday added: “This word is now coming true. It is a very precise word so that we could know where to go. God has already found Christians from different denominations and joined them in one political party – Just Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, it’s currently unclear just how long the new mayor of Kiev will be in the job. The Ukraine Government Portal carries a brief news report:

On April 3 the Kyiv Prosecutor Office instituted criminal proceedings against Chernovetsky in “suppressing realization of the election right” during the Kyiv Mayor elections. The story is about grafting voters with food rations. Chernovetsky denied any accusations.

(Name variation: Valentyn Lukianyk)