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Russia Is Torturing and Targeting Ukrainian Christians, Leaders Tell Speaker Johnson

Michael Foust | Crosswalk Headlines Contributor | Published: Apr 10, 2024
Russia Is Torturing and Targeting Ukrainian Christians, Leaders Tell Speaker Johnson

Russia Is Torturing and Targeting Ukrainian Christians, Leaders Tell Speaker Johnson

Christian leaders in Ukraine have co-signed a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson asking him to “consider the plight” of believers in the nation who are being persecuted and targeted by Russian soldiers.

The letter to Johnson was co-signed by Valerii Antoniu, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine, and Yaroslav Pyzh, president of Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary. It was also signed by Dan Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Richard Land, former president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“The Russian government’s decision to invade Ukraine and to target Baptists and other evangelical Christians in Ukraine has been a tragic hallmark of the war,” the letter says, according to Baptist Press.

Russia has tortured “faithful Christians in occupied areas of Ukraine” and has destroyed churches and removed pastors who are not “pro-Russian,” the letter says.

Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, according to religious liberty advocates.

“Despite Russian efforts to paint Ukraine as intolerant of Christians, it is the Russian government that has aggressively harmed peaceful law-abiding faithful Christians in the occupied areas of Ukraine,” the letter says.

It asks of Johnson, “As you consider efforts to support Ukraine, we humbly ask that you consider the plight of Christians.”

Baptist Press recently spotlighted a Ukrainian Baptist pastor who suffered at the hands of Russian soldiers. The pastor, “Azat,” said the soldiers beat him so badly that he lost teeth and had internal organ damage.

Russian soldiers captured him as he was delivering humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“I had a bag on my head and my hands were handcuffed to my legs. Electric wires were connected to my genitals. They beat me with batons, an iron pipe, a wooden stick,” Azat said. “They mocked me and asked me how I became a traitor to the faith of my fathers and grandfathers by becoming Baptist. I am a Baptist and for Russians, Baptists are American spies. They call us ‘foreign agents.’”

The soldiers asked Azat who he served.

“I told them, ‘I serve God,’ and then they tortured me more, asking which God do I serve. To this, I responded, ‘The Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Well, at this they laughed and beat me so badly that they thought that I was dead.”

Image credit: ©Getty Images/Alexey Furman/Stringer


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



Russia Is Torturing and Targeting Ukrainian Christians, Leaders Tell Speaker Johnson