Gone are the days of the Bible being used to teach English in Moscow's schools. The Putin administration now is teaming with the Russian Orthodox Church to tighten the screws on Evangelicals:
Dozens of evangelical believers stood stunned on Tverskaya Ploshchad across from City Hall, their protest banners lying in police vans, their pastor being carted off to a holding cell.
"This time it was pretty," Yelena Purshaga said last Thursday. Her husband, Alexander Purshaga, is the pastor of the Emmanuel church.
"You should have seen the way it was yesterday," she said on June 2.
The church had sought -- and thought it received -- permission to hold a weeklong demonstration across from City Hall over the loss of land that it had hoped to use to build a house of worship.
Independent Christian groups are seen as impossible to manage and subversively Western by both a repressive government and a fearful state church. While those who seek religious liberty in Russia will suffer during these times, it is also the case that Christianity flourishes under just such circumstances.