The Setos

On the border of Estonia and Russia, the Setos struggle to create a modern identity from ancient beliefs

CHR Comment: The photo essay shows that the Setos, a culturally and linguistically distinct group, hold Christian Orthodox beliefs but also retain elements of their earlier beliefs. Their traditional deity is said to reside under an Orthodox monastery.

Source: A Fairytale Kingdom Faces Real-Life Troubles

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Russian Terrorism Law Restricts Evangelism

The law will prohibit evangelism anywhere outside a church or religious site – including private homes and online – and those in breach of it will be fined.

CHR Comment: Russian Protestants are opposing the new restrictions of religious liberties that are part of an effort to curb terrorist activities. They believe the laws will prevent them from sharing their faith outside of specifically defined religious contexts. The bill has already passed through the Russian Duma and Federation Council (their congress) and could be signed into law. Church historian Lloyd Harsch notes that after the initial openness following the collapse of Communism, Russian policies have become more and more restrictive on Protestant church activities.

I’ve added a second story to this topic below.

Source: Russia: Evangelicals pray, fast and lobby Putin as severe restrictions placed on evangelism | Christian News on Christian Today

http://www.christianpost.com/news/russia-seeks-to-ban-evangelism-outside-of-churches-no-religious-gatherings-at-home-165964/

Putin Visits Mt. Athos Monastic Community

On his first trip to a European Union country this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sharply criticized western policy toward Moscow, describing a newly expanded U.S. missile defense system as a threat to his country’s security — and vowing to retaliate.

CHR Comment: The end of the article briefly mentions Putin’s visit to the monastery along with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, illustrating the church-state diplomacy current in Russia.

The second link below is to a BBC article/video, “No Women Allowed: Sacred sites where even Female Animals Are Banned,” which describes the restrictions of various religious sites such as Mt. Athos.

Source: Putin blasts West on first trip to EU country this year – The Washington Post

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-36405038

Russians celebrate Epiphany by Diving into Freezing Waters

Thousands of Russians have taken a dip in the icy waters to celebrate Epiphany, a major holiday in Orthodox Christianity marking the birth and baptism of Jesus.

CHR Comment: Here’s another example of this Eastern Orthodox practice, which was described in an earlier Epiphany post. Somehow I don’t think this will catch on in the West.

Source: Russians celebrate Epiphany by diving into freezing waters – The Washington Post

Islamic State Describes Western and Eastern Nations as “Crusaders”

The information was released in Dabiq, the Islamic State’s online magazine.

CHR Comment: When ISIS took responsibility for bombing a Russian Metrojet that crashed in Sinai, they referred to western states and Russia as “divided Crusaders of the East and West.” This shows how they view the secularized nations as if they were Christian nations.

Source: Islamic State claims to kill 2 hostages; reveals photo of Russian bomb

Orthodox Priest Ordained for Service in China

A sign of warming ties: Russian Orthodox Church ordains first Chinese priest in 60 years.

CHR Comment: The ordination took place at a seminary in St. Petersburg. The priest will serve in Hardin, China. The article describes the history of Orthodoxy in China, where follows are numbered in the thousands, including reference to  Albazinians. It also comments on Christianity in China more broadly. Enjoyed the video.

Source: Russia, China grow closer as tensions with USA increase