February 25, 2009
Phony Paper Smears Russian Baptists
A fake newspaper circulating in Smolensk portrays Protestants as morally loose.
Someone in Smolensk, Russia published a bogus newspaper using the logo of the evangelical periodical Protestant. It appeared in mailboxes around the city. Using fake quotes attributed to real people, the paper portrays Baptists as morally loose, financially dependent on the U.S., and obsessed with taking over the world.
The paper contains a made-up interview with the president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB), Yuri Sipko:
"All Baptists pay money into our account in Zurich. But that is still much less than the amount paid by Western churches . . . The dollar was, is, and for a long time probably will remain the primary helpmate of the Russian Union of Baptists." All Baptists express gratitude for the donations of Western supporters ? "including the American government."
The paper seems to have been created to doom a political candidate by associating him with the Baptists. A smear campaign like this may be very effective in a region where many are suspicious of Protestants.
RUECB's director of external church affairs responded,
Political con-artists are trying to turn the respected, 140-year history of Baptists in Russia into a horror story in hopes of helping and hurting certain political parties. They are sowing hatred between the confessions. Do they not understand that thousands will be hurt by this pitiful rag? This is ugly and totally unacceptable.