Saturday, August 9, 2008

On The Midnight Train to Georgia: Religious Tension As Thick As The Tanks!

Typical Orthodox Church in South Ossetia

As A Religious Stew, It May Be TOO Spicy!

Oh boy, the Christian Right has a conundrum on its hands: evil, secularist Russia is fighting for the separatist South Ossetians of Georgia. Why? Because 90% of South Ossetians are Russian (i.e. citizens with Russian passports) Got that? O.K. Now, the religious mix of Georgians is so pluralistic as to border on the bizarre: besides Georgian Orthodox there are Armenian Christians, Jews, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims (!!) And in the recent past, some of the violence in Georgia has been religion-based.


According to the Constitution of Georgia, religious institutions are separate from government and every citizen has the right of religion. However, most of the population of Georgia (82%) practices Orthodox Christianity and Georgian Orthodox Church is an influential institution in the country.

Religious minorities of Georgia include Russian Orthodox (2%), Armenian Christians (3.9%), Muslims (9.9%), Roman Catholics (0.8%), as well as sizeable Jewish Communities and various Protestant minorities.

Despite the long history of religious harmony in Georgia, there have been several instances of religious discrimination in the past decade, such as the Vasil Mkalavishvili Case.*

So, here we have a break-away country - South Ossetia - being supported by traditionally areligious Russia (the religious majority of which is Russian Orthodox), against Georgia which has 10% Muslims, and an amalgam of Christian communities which, of late, have been discriminated against.

Oh my! What's a Right Wing Christofascist to do?


John McCain wants to scream at Russia and Obama cautions restraint.

Ben Smith of pegged it right:

This conflict is an echo of the Cold War, and the two are in postures familiar from that era: McCain thinks the Russians will respond only to strength and threats; Obama puts more stock in diplomacy and nuance.

"Duh, what's a 'nuance'? Sounds kinda foreign to me!" says your friendly local Right Wingnut. I have prayed that Obama would have an opportunity to show us that he is more of a diplomat than McCain and here it is, kids. The difference is clear: McCain believes in "cowboy diplomacy" and Obama puts stock in real diplomacy. The approach to foreign policy: McCain will take an aggressive posture and in the case of Iraq, will want us to stay in Iraq, even if the Iraqi government doesn't want us there.

*Human Rights Watch Memorandum to the U.S. Government on Religious Violence in the Republic of Georgia August 29, 2001

The victims are primarily Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentacostalists, Baptists, and members of the Assembly of God, also known in Georgia as "non-traditional" worshippers. The evidence indicates that many of the attacks have been led or organized by Vasili Mkalavishvili, a priest from Tbilisi who has been deposed by the Georgian Orthodox Church, and his followers. Religious violence is now also perpetrated by people who have no apparent connection with Mkalavishvili, including members of nationalist organizations, church clergy, and those who are simply neighbors of so-called non-traditional congregants.

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