July 8 in Russia is celebrated as “Day of Family, Love and Fidelity.” The holiday dates back to 2008 with the purpose of promoting heterosexual families as the only legitimate traditional family in the nation. In 2013, Russia passed a law banning all promotion of LGBT media and culture as an acceptable lifestyle for Russian families. The Russian Orthodox Church in recent years has enjoyed greater power with the current right-wing conservative government in power in the Kremlin. Many changes have happened in Russia with the combined work of church and state.
The climate for Conservative Christians is so favorable in Russia that American fundamentalist Christian groups such as the World Congress of Families regularly attend conferences in Russia for preserving the traditional family of one man and one woman. WCF is the same organization that promoted the Ugandan government to enact the death penalty for people convicted for being gay.
Day of Family, Love and Fidelity had a new symbol to demonstrate pride in preserving traditional families, a flag with one man, one woman, and three children. The hashtag beneath the image on the flag -#НастоящаяCемья – is Russian for “real family”.
Russian officials felt it was important in the wake of the United States legalizing same sex marriage on June 26 to have their own flag to promote traditional marriage. They could be seen everywhere being carried by couples and decorating venues where the people celebrated one man and one woman-only families. Conservative Christian elected officials in the United States such as Todd Courser and Gary Glenn consider Russia to be one of the few countries left on earth where traditional Christian values are upheld.
This same Conservative Christian agenda is also behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before Euromaidan, when Ukraine was invited by the European Union to enter into an association agreement, Russia attempted to counter the offer with one promising oil and gas at reduced prices and money to help Ukraine’s economy. Before former president Yanukovych ordered the murder of Ukrainian citizens on the streets of Kyiv, the Russian military had already begun the invasion of Crimea. In occupied regions of Ukraine, only Orthodox churches are allowed to function. Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim houses of worship are shut down, or drastically sanctioned from performing the usual services they once enjoyed before Russian terrorists invaded their country.
There are those in the United States who would like to transform this country from a democracy based on rule of law into a fundamentalist theocracy based on a very narrow interpretation of the bible, hate and ignorance. Russia gives us a good idea of what such a society would look like.