Religious Right Backs Ukraine As Europe's 'Bible Belt'

Pres. Joe Biden yesterday threw his support behind House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) bill to re-arm Ukraine, signaling to House Democrats to pass it, and probably causing a few House Republicans to oppose it now that they know Satan loves it.

Johnson (R-LA) yesterday said he’s going to allow a vote on re-arming and re-supplying Ukraine because it’s the right thing to do, even if it costs him the speakership. Johnson also released the text of the Ukraine legislation and other bills, including new military aid for Israel, and yet another border bill, which will likely pass unless D4FRFP Donald Trump remembers that he opposes more-militarizing the border because he thinks it will help Biden.

The Ukraine vote is expected Saturday. Trump had insisted that the Ukraine aid not be a “gift,” and in Johnson’s plan nearly $10 billion, most of it to help Kyiv keep functioning, is structured as a loan. Hilariously — and possibly without Trump’s knowledge, since he may have slept through this part — in Johnson’s legislation, Ukraine’s debt can be canceled by the U.S. president. Who is Biden.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said yesterday that he’s convening House Democrats this morning to discuss all the new bills. Johnson will likely need Democratic votes to approve a set of rules under which the House will handle these bills, before they can be approved.

Like the Ukraine bill that already passed the Senate, the House version allocates about $61 billion to give to U.S. weapons makers in return for them sending ammo and other materiel to Ukraine. The Israel bill, meanwhile, includes the $9 billion for humanitarian aid in Gaza that progressives have pushed for, but it’s not clear whether they’ll sign on to a bill that helps Israel continue to make humanitarian aid necessary.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, “If they condition the offensive portion of the [Israel] aid, that would be a conversation, but I can’t vote for more aid to go into Gaza and continue to kill people.”

Asked yesterday why it’s taken months to allow a vote on Ukraine aid, Johnson said it takes “a long time to socialize and build consensus when you have the smallest majority in U.S. history.” Now, you may be wondering what the shit he’s talking about…socializing…?!?

But remember, Johnson himself used to insist Ukraine aid could only pass if it came with money to more-militarize the U.S.-Mexico border. So what happened?

As I reported last week, Johnson met with evangelical Ukrainian leaders in January, and conservative Christian Americans and Ukrainians have been working to push the same narrative they told Johnson — a true narrative, I should note: that Russia is engaged in religious persecution. And that if Christians help Ukraine today, they’ll get to shape a right-wing, evangelical Ukraine tomorrow.

As I predicted (hey, I cop when I get it wrong, let me take the victory lap!) the evangelical chorus for arming Ukraine has grown fundamentally since my story came out. And the anti-LGBTQ+, anti-reproductive-rights voices are being elevated.

The video above shows former Member of Parliament Pavlo Unguryan being interviewed yesterday by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, one of America’s most influential right-wing Christians. (h/t)

Perkins starts off by shooting down claims by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) that Russia is defending Christianity. Russia, Perkins says, is “creating this propaganda that Ukrainians are persecuting Christians when in fact reports show that they [the Russians] are.”

In fact, they both are. Ukraine has gone after orthodox church leaders affiliated with Russia — for working to help Russia. But Russia has done far, far worse. And Perkins explains, with Unguryan’s confirmation, why Russia targets evangelicals, both at home and in captured Ukrainian territory.

“They tend to see evangelicals as agents for the west?” Perkins asks. “Yes,” Unguryan says. “They call evangelicals American CIA agents.” Which is my cue to remind people that Unguryan is a covert agent — for years he’s been working with the leaders of the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast to decide who from Ukraine gets to go to the event, and get access to U.S. politicians.

The breakfast folks, known popularly as The Family, have a history of working with the State Department, and it’s by no means a stretch to question whether there have been CIA ties there, as well. (Doug Burleigh, The Family’s Russian point man, has spoken publicly about the CIA’s attempt to recruit him when he was a young man.)

But it’s not just defending Ukraine’s evangelicals they’re arguing for. In yesterday’s discussion, Unguryan and Perkins floated a new rationale for American Christians to support arming Ukraine.

“It’s to be the Bible Belt for the European continent, such a liberal continent,” Unguryan explains, touting “pro-family, pro-life issues,” euphemisms for anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-reproductive rights policies. (In fact, Ukraine is only 2% evangelical, and Unguryan’s efforts at anti-LGBTQ+ legislation largely failed.)

Nevertheless, Unguryan said, preserving Ukraine’s status as a counterweight to “liberal” Europe, is “one more spiritual reason” to support Ukraine. Please note that these are not the arguments evangelicals use when discussing these issues before a general audience.

Perkins asked Unguryan how his viewers — all of them but me right-wing Christians — can help. “Ask your congressmen to help us,” Unguryan said.

“Let’s create strategic partnership between Christians, evangelicals, conservatives in U.S. and Christians and conservatives in Ukraine to do our missionary ministry, global missionary ministry, and to protect our values.” Of course, neither Unguryan nor Perkins mentioned that they already have that partnership. (Perkins has his own ties to The Family and said he’s known Unguryan for “years.”)

Nevertheless, Perkins assured Unguryan, “We will stand with you.”

And Unguryan’s not the only player out there pushing the message.

One past prayer breakfast guest, Ruslan Kukharchuk, wrote in the Christian Post this week that Ukraine is a bastion of “religious freedom.” But he also signaled to his readers — all of them but me right-wing Christians — that defending Ukraine means defending far-right Christian “values.”

Kukharchuk notes, approvingly, that “Ukraine is one of the few countries in Europe where same-sex partnerships or ‘marriages’ are not legal.”

Touting his conservative bona fides, Kukharchuk says, “I lead a large movement ‘United Together for Family’ in Ukraine. For more than 20 years, our team has systematically worked to maintain and promote the natural order of things, to protect faith, family, and freedom.”

What Kukharchuk doesn’t mention, but I did in my report, is that Kukharchuk also led “Love Against Homosexuality.” His past remarks include “Homosexuality is a parasite of the society” and calls to “defeat the virus of homo-dictatorship.”

Unguryan has used similar language, calling homosexuality “a treatable disease,” and gay people pedophiles. He’s also one of the Ukrainians who met with Johnson in January.

And just yesterday, more than a dozen Christian leaders wrote to Johnson urging him to support religious freedom in Ukraine. Which he will, and there’s no evidence as of yet that Democrats are aware that Russia isn’t alone in wanting to shape Ukraine’s future.

Republished with permission from The Fucking News.

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