Decision magazine’s choice to feature Russian President Vladimir Putin as March’s cover story for the “high moral standard” he takes on homosexuality does not sit well with me. I continue to have tremendous respect for Billy Graham and the organization that bears his name, but I think holding Mr. Putin up as a moral hero is a serious misstep.
I wrote this letter to the Decision editors expressing my concern…
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11 March 2014
Dear friends at Decision,
I was disappointed and saddened by your current cover story on Russian President Putin. Even though I also value protecting children from “propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia” (not that those two things are the same), as a Christian, I cannot condone the homophobic culture Mr. Putin is creating in Russia. As Christians, we are called to love people who identify themselves as LGBT – they are imagebearers of God in whom the Holy Spirit is capable of working. Would a gay person reading this article be drawn to Christ or pushed away from Him? I suggest the latter is more likely, which makes it counterproductive for an evangelistic magazine to so prominently feature it.
Moreover, I am disturbed that a man you admittedly describe as “ruthless” and prone to “controversies” is held up as a moral example: It’s as though you are saying that he might be a murderer with a sordid personal life, but as long as he has an anti-homosexual agenda, he’s on our side. Why do you focus on a single issue at the near exclusion of profoundly non-Christian behavior?
The article cites that Mr. Putin has “vowed to protect persecuted Christians.” That’s good news, but the article sidebar perhaps sheds light on the reason – namely that more and more Russians identify themselves as Christians. Has Mr. Putin experienced a spiritual awakening, or is he simply appealing to Russian voters? Because he does not publicly quote the Bible or claim to follow Jesus, I remain skeptical of his motives.
Finally, the current events in Ukraine and the denouncement from global leaders of Russian military activity in that region create within me even greater disappointment that you portray Mr. Putin so positively.
Your cover claims that Decision is “the evangelical voice of today.” I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian, but your attempt to make a Mr. Putin a role model most certainly does not represent my perspective. Certainly there are more winsome and Godly global leaders on whom you can shine the spotlight next time.
Stanley J. Groothof
Rock Valley, IA
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To the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s credit, Amy T. Pitt, Vice President for Donor Ministries, mailed me this reply (click to enlarge)…