by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – In what has been described as an extraordinarily courageous step, hundreds of evangelical Christians in Russia have signed an open petition calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop his invasion of Ukraine, Christianity Today (CT) reports.
Although the signatories to the letter have placed themselves in danger of lethal punishment by Putin, the petition received 400 signatures in two days (after which it was closed).
Published in Russian on the website of the evangelical Mirt Publishing House in St. Petersburg, the letter is signed primarily by Russian Baptists and Pentecostals from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and over 40 other cities, CT said.
“The time has come when each of us must call things by their real names, while we still have a chance to escape punishment from above, and prevent the collapse of our country,” the open letter reads. “We call on the authorities of our country to stop this senseless bloodshed!”
Speaking to CT, Mark Elliott, editor emeritus of East-West Church Report, noted that Russian evangelicals have been notably “timid” under Vladimir Putin.
“This is an extraordinarily courageous step compared to evangelical timidity previously under Putin,” Elliott said. “I am amazed and heartened that these brave people are defending Ukraine. They will suffer for this unless Putin is dethroned. Lord have mercy.”
Andrey Shirin, a Russia-born Baptist seminary professor in Virginia added in a statement to CT: “The letter is not a typical reaction by Russian Protestants. Staying away from politics has been their primary stance for decades. They have been routinely accused by Soviet authorities of being anti-government. In response, they said they were believers, not politicians.”
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