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13 Feb, 2024 18:04

UK Christians told not to ‘dehumanize’ Russians

Officials within the Church of England have called on worshipers to remember that “everyone is human,” even in times of war
UK Christians told not to ‘dehumanize’ Russians

Christians in the UK have been urged to avoid language that dehumanizes Russia and its people, with officials within the Church of England calling on worshipers to remember their humanity even in times of conflict.

In a letter written to the General Synod last week ahead of an upcoming debate within the church’s legislative body, Mark Sheard, a member of the Archbishop’s Council, submitted several topics for discussion pertaining to how the church should frame its response to the Ukraine conflict.

Recalling the reflections of the then Archbishop of Cantebury during WWII, Sheard called on the church to avoid “jingoism and exhilaration” and challenge any attempts by religious leaders from either Russia or Ukraine to “fan the flames of war” using religious fervor.

Sheard also insisted that Christians must “labor under the constant demands of love” and must avoid “actions or words that dehumanize Russia or Russians” as well as “dehumanizing caricatures.”

He pointed out that despite relations at the highest level between the Church of England and the Russian Orthodox Church being “inevitably difficult,” there are still many friendships with Russian Christians, both in Russia and in the Russian diaspora, that are “to be treasured, especially with a view of rebuilding relationships after the war.”

Sheard also suggested that the West must be mindful of its support for Ukraine and its opposition to Russia. He recalled that the West’s reneging on promises made to Russia had contributed to Moscow’s decision to launch an offensive in Ukraine, and stressed that the West must now make sure it “does not seek the wider humiliation of Russia and the further re-ordering of a European security architecture that disadvantages Russia.”

Commenting on Sheard’s proposal to encourage Christians not to dehumanize Russians, the secretary general of the Archbishop’s Council, William Nye, suggested in a statement to the Telegraph on Thursday that it was not something the church could actually enforce. However, he stated that church leaders could lead by example in this regard in the way they carry themselves while commenting on public affairs.

”We can remember that everyone is human, is made in the image of Christ, and that even in times of war, we must remember their humanity, the way in which we can show that we while support Ukrainian refugees, we also need to recognize that all people on all sides of conflicts are our brothers and sisters,” Nye said.

Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Western nations have been subjected to decades of anti-Russian rhetoric and suggested that Russophobia is currently “at its peak.” However, he claimed that it will “go down” with time as “common sense will gradually prevail.”

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