Does Russian President Vladimir Putin believe in God? His Wednesday New York Times op-ed
and his ties to the Russian Orthodox Church suggest that he does.
The New York Times published a column by Putin in which he urged the U.S. not to launch an attack on Syria. He said he wrote the column to address Americans directly.
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"A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism," Putin wrote, also referencing God. "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
But a few years ago, Putin sent mixed signals about whether he believes in God.
Named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2007, Putin acknowledged in the interview that his mother was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church.
"I did as [my mother] said and then put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since," he said.
When asked whether he believes in God, he did not give a straightforward answer.
"There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption, because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease," he said at the time.
Putin was actually raised in a secular household. His father has been described as a militant, athiest communist. Putin himself served as an officer in the KGB for the Communist Party, an atheist institution, prior to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Throughout its 80-year existence, the Soviet Union's Communist Party persecuted Christians and degraded the Russian Orthodox Church, killing 200,000 clergy and destroying 41,000 churches following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Daily Beast noted.
Currently, the 60-year-old Putin is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Putin's apparent conversion reportedly began later in life, when in 1993 his wife suffered a car accident and he experienced a near-fatal house fire in 1996. These experiences made him reevaluate his atheist beliefs, the Hollowverse.com reported.
Since becoming president in May of 2000, Putin has been closely aligned with the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church, ties that have been to his political advantage.
In 2012, Patriarch Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, praised Putin for his steadfast support of the church and called the 12 years of Vladimir Putin’s rule a "miracle of God," Reuters reported.
Under Putin's watch, the Russian Orthodox Church's influence has grown in Russian society, Fox News noted, with 71 percent of Russians considering themselves members.
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