Russia to Build Huge, Luxurious Military Church to Promote Christian Values in Armed Forces

Construction on the Main Church of the Armed Forces, which will be decorated with paintings depicting historical battles, is due to begin imminently. And the man behind the project, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, insists the new place of worship will bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces.

Kartapolov serves as deputy defence minister and the head of the armed forces’ Main Military-Political Directorate – a new organisation tasked with political education of troops, The National Interest reports.

The military church will be painted khaki green in “the colour of the standard Russian missile system and armoured vehicle”, according to Russian media.

A Russian priest blessing a missile

Meanwhile, the interior will feature texts from the Bible alongside “paintings with battle scenes from military history”.

And at 95 metres (104 feet) high, the finished building is designed to accommodate 6,000 troops.

According to Russian press reports: “Kartapolov is convinced that the modern Russian serviceman cannot be shaped without shaping lofty spirituality in him”.

“Speaking about ideology, the deputy head of the military department pointed out that this will be based on knowledge of the history of our Motherland and people and on historical and cultural traditions.”

But while a massive military church is a new concept in Russia, links between religion and the armed forces are not.

Historian Roger Reese told The National Interest: “In late imperial Russia, when they began to build garrisons, every regiment sought to build a regimental church, but not a synagogue or mosque.

“In Putin’s Russia, the Orthodox Church seeks every opportunity to represent itself as the national religion and tie itself to the state as it had under the tsars, so this act represents continuity broken temporarily by the Soviet years.

“Of course the Soviet regime did not build churches for the army, but it did build the ‘House of the Red Army,’ shaped like a star, in Moscow dedicated to the use of the Red Army and its soldiers.”

However Russia is not unique in its close relationship between the military and religion – with the likes of the United States and Israel maintaining chaplains who accompany regular troops on operations.

Russian Orthodoxy is by far the most widely practiced religion in Russia, with more than 61 million people following the faith, according to stats from 2012.

Islam is the country’s second largest group, with some nine million Muslims in the country.

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