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TurtleBelly

Sanctioned Russians networking with fundamentalist home school groups

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AuLait

 Despite being homeschooled myself (uber-Christian version) and homeschooling my own kids now (secular version) and thus being in the homeschool world pretty much my entire life, I had no idea that these international homeschooling groups existed, held conferences, etc. That surprised me.

I also don’t really get the why here. Seems like such a small, low power group to dabble with. I need to read the article again, after I finish my first cup of coffee and wake up!,  to fully understand some of the ties and reasons.

Thanks for sharing!

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mamallama

HSLDA is huge in the homeschooling world.  I get emails from them and I'm a complete heathen who hasn't homeschooled in years.  BTW for the years I homeschooled it was Jay Sekulow's organization.  Sekulow has risen to power in the tRump administration.

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Ozlsn

Interesting. I did like the comment:

"[It] makes sense that we would find the leaders of America’s Christofascisthomeschooling movement networking with Russians with whom they share ideological affinity, even though homeschooling, like gun ownership, is uncommon in Russia,” Stroop said,"

I take it that the "ideological affinity" here is to overthrow the US government and replace it with one more amenable to them (for different reasons - none of which really have to do with homeschooling). I also wonder where the line is for treason exactly - and if this was a group of American Muslims doing similar things whether they would be left alone as much as this group is. But seriously, between this, the funding of the NRA, the funding of various politicans, the most recent Presidential election shenanigans and the Tangerine Toddler's links - well, Russia's endgame is starting to scare me a lot.

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AlwaysExcited

No idea about Russia, but here (border state to Russia and former part of USSR) homeschooling is becoming more and more popular among fundie types. Who are noticeably both pro-Kremlin and inspired by American charismatic mega-churches. I actually learned about the Duggars from the social media of one of these homeschoolers. 
I suppose things might be different in Russia with all the religious differences and stuff. 
But, yeah, not surprised about this. 

21 hours ago, Ozlsn said:

I take it that the "ideological affinity" here is to overthrow the US government and replace it with one more amenable to them (for different reasons - none of which really have to do with homeschooling).

Also, both groups are anti-LGBT to obsessive manner, anti-"genderists" to even more obsessive manner (ok, I have no idea if American fundies use that word, but here it's used constantly), anti-abortion, anti-immigrants, anti-Muslims, closeted (or not) racist and sexist, authoritative, against free press, into conspiracy theories about Soros/gay-Muslim pact and whatnot etc. etc. 

Thinking of that, maybe American fundies should pack their bags and move to Russia. They could probably make a living by giving interviews to Kremlin approved press about how hard it was to live in the West. I think the woman whose social media led to me finding FJ considered it once (moving, not serving as a propaganda story). 

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hoipolloi
33 minutes ago, AlwaysExcited said:

Also, both groups are anti-LGBT to obsessive manner, anti-"genderists" to even more obsessive manner (ok, I have no idea if American fundies use that word, but here it's used constantly), anti-abortion, anti-immigrants, anti-Muslims, closeted (or not) racist and sexist, authoritative, against free press, into conspiracy theories about Soros/gay-Muslim pact and whatnot etc. etc. 

Can't find it now, but I recall reading a chilling article a while back about recent immigrants to the US from Russia/Ukraine/former USSR states who are very fundie Christians. They have played a significant role in LGTBQ persecution & harassment in their new country, fitting right in with the homegrown fundie asshats since they all shared the same views.

ETA: Google fu is failing me today but I recall that the reporting on this phenomenon -- the growing role of fundie immigrants in anti-LGBTQ activities -- was in the US Pacific NW or maybe CA.

33 minutes ago, AlwaysExcited said:

Thinking of that, maybe American fundies should pack their bags and move to Russia.

ITA - Russia deserves them and we deserve to be free of the poison they've injected into American society.

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Waffle Time
smittykins

It would serve them right for all the times they told others “You don’t like it here?  Move to Russia!”

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AlwaysExcited
16 minutes ago, hoipolloi said:

Can't find it now, but I recall reading a chilling article a while back about recent immigrants to the US from Russia/Ukraine/former USSR states who are very fundie Christians. They have played a significant role in LGTBQ persecution & harassment in their new country, fitting right in with the homegrown fundie asshats since they all shared the same views.

Yes, yes, yes. This country has become significantly less homophobic in last ten years (not enough, but we still have made a great progress) and I do suspect that it may be partly because a lot of people who were active in anti-LGBT groups in early 2000s were working class and quite poor and left around 2008. There was a very scary case some time ago where few guys from my country murdered someone they suspected to be gay in a very liberal European city and it caused a wave of hate towards Eastern European immigrants  living there. Many of whom are neither murderers nor bigots, I promise. 

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Tired
freethemall
2 hours ago, AlwaysExcited said:

No idea about Russia, but here (border state to Russia and former part of USSR) homeschooling is becoming more and more popular among fundie types. Who are noticeably both pro-Kremlin and inspired by American charismatic mega-churches. I actually learned about the Duggars from the social media of one of these homeschoolers. 
I suppose things might be different in Russia with all the religious differences and stuff. 
But, yeah, not surprised about this. 

Also, both groups are anti-LGBT to obsessive manner, anti-"genderists" to even more obsessive manner (ok, I have no idea if American fundies use that word, but here it's used constantly), anti-abortion, anti-immigrants, anti-Muslims, closeted (or not) racist and sexist, authoritative, against free press, into conspiracy theories about Soros/gay-Muslim pact and whatnot etc. etc. 

Thinking of that, maybe American fundies should pack their bags and move to Russia. They could probably make a living by giving interviews to Kremlin approved press about how hard it was to live in the West. I think the woman whose social media led to me finding FJ considered it once (moving, not serving as a propaganda story). 

I'm curious about this group, especially having been born in Russia myself. Are there any public blog or social media pages you'd be willing to share?

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AlwaysExcited

@freethemall I'll try to dig some up when I have a free moment. I haven't followed them since 2013, so I have no idea if they still exist. 

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AlwaysExcited

It took me a while, but I finally did some research on this. It gets long. And I didn't find any of the personal blogs I followed around 2011 - 2012. Suppose most of them are gone. 

Old, but amazing article about about fundamentalists from former Soviet Union living in West and connections between cults in both sides of the ocean. Describes the murder I mentioned in my second post (it happened in USA, not Europe, turns out). Hard to read, but very informative: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2007/latvian-anti-gay-movement-spills-over-us. It's more than 10 years old, so I added some comments and follow-ups. 

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A growing and ferocious anti-gay movement in the Sacramento Valley is centered among Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking immigrants. Many of them are members of an international extremist anti-gay movement whose adherents call themselves the Watchmen on the Walls. In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. In the Western U.S., the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking evangelicals from the former Soviet Union. Members are increasingly active in several cities long known as gay-friendly enclaves, including Sacramento, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

 

The old WotW's website is gone, but there is a wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen_on_the_Walls. (They are called "sargi uz mūriem" in Latvian, not "sargi uz sienām", though.) I can't comment about their activities in 2007. At the time I was 14, deeply closeted, and somewhat traumatized from all the homophobic bullshit going on. I did a lot of googling about LGBT+issues, and I followed NoPride blog and some other homophobic websites, but have no memory about reading anything about Watchmen on the Walls. My memories about it are blurry at the best, though and I didn't read in Russian.

Currently they present themselves as an "interconffesional prayer movement". Most of the information about their activities in Latvia is in Russian. If you know the language, they are called "Стражи на стенах". in Russian. The most important part is, they are still active and regularly perform at conferences/concerts/mass prayers hosted by Ledyaev and others. And they have branches all around the world. Judging from social media posts and pictures they are trying very hard to create a likeable and modern image. Think shiny Instagram photos, professionally planned concerts and conferences (aired live on Youtube, of course), self-improvement workshops etc. They have basically turned their religion into mass entertainment. 

Good news are, they seem to live in their own bubble although they are trying very hard to become mainstream.They are certainly nailing that "modern fundie" facade (and don't throw feces, holy water, or eggs to people anymore), but beneath that they are Gothard level crazy (but at least not quiverful).

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Lively identifies "the enemy" as not only homosexuals, but also what he terms "homosexualists," a category that includes anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, who "actively promotes homosexuality as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality as a basis for social policy."

 

Congrats, FreeJinger. Pretty sure most of us here counts as "homosexualists". 

This is definitely one of the ideas Ledyaev&Co took from Lively. And they also seem to believe that there is a difference between "homosexual" and "gay", so terminology gets complicated.

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But he's most famous as the co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party.

Published in 1995, the book is a breathtaking work of Holocaust revisionism. It asserts that Hitler was gay — a claim no serious historian supports — and that Hitler and other evil gay fascists were central in forming the Nazi Party, operating the Third Reich and orchestrating the Holocaust.

 

I had happily forgotten about the existence of that book. The fragments were translated (or summarized?) in NoPride blog around 2007. Basically it was a very gay Nazi fanfiction, and even some of their followers called it a total bullshit. 

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(Lively's most recent book, The Poisoned Stream, similarly details "a dark and powerful homosexual presence" through "the Spanish Inquisition, the French 'Reign of Terror,' the era of South African apartheid, and the two centuries of American Slavery.")

 

Yeah. The gays have been busy. 

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The New Generation theology Ledyaev preaches borrows heavily from R.J. Rushdoony, the late founding thinker of Christian Reconstruction. Pastor Ledyaev's 2002 book, New World Order, calls for evangelical Christians around the world to influence the wealthy and powerful in their home countries to implement biblical law in order to stave off a supposed alliance of gays and Muslims hell-bent on destroying Christianity.

 

And he does just that. In Latvia, his church is/has been linked to various political parties and figures. Right now he seems to be in bed with "Harmony" party, supposed social democrats (in name only) with ties to Putin. Fun fact: during 2018 elections Harmony hired Christian Ferry, former aid of Lindsay Graham and John McCain, to run their campaign. A very good article in English: https://en.rebaltica.lv/2018/05/former-aide-to-senators-now-pushing-pro-russia-party-abroad/

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At 56, Ledyaev is still youth-oriented enough to promote his vision of global theocracy through elaborate, large-scale Christian rock operas that Ledyaev writes, directs and stars in, and which are replete with lasers, smoke machines, and spandex-clad actors in ghoulish makeup. 

 

Seems that he left them in 2007. Has moved on to conferences and workshops. 

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One of the rock operas, which young Russian-speaking anti-gay activists promote on video-sharing websites, features a hero character wearing a tuxedo battling men in black tights armed with tiki torches. Over heavy-metal guitar riffs, a military-like chorus sings of "victory over the gays."

 

Just leaving it here for your amusement. 

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In addition to Lively and Robertson, Ledyaev has cultivated the support of Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the African-American founder of Antioch Bible Church, a Seattle-area megachurch. "Hutch," as the ex-NFL player is known, played a key role in persuading Microsoft to temporarily withdraw its support for a Washington bill that would have made it illegal to fire an employee for their sexual orientation. In 2004, his "Mayday for Marriage" rally drew 20,000 people to the Seattle Mariner's Safeco Field to oppose legalizing same-sex marriage.

 

 Anyone knows if Hutcherson has any ties to fundies we talk about here? 
 

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During the past year, the Watchmen have met twice in the United States, first in Sacramento, then in Bellevue, Wash. They gathered to strategize against same-sex marriage and build a political organization to fight "gay-straight alliances" in public schools and push for the boycott of textbooks that mention homosexuality in any context other than total condemnation.

 

This inspired me to google "WotWs and Mike Pence" and look what showed up: http://nrb.org/news-room/articles/nrbt/vice-president-mike-pence-makes-surprise-appearance-frcs-watchmen-wall-conference/. Pence spoke at Watchmen conference in May 2018, telling them to keep doing what they're doing and calling Trump "most pro-life president USA has ever seen".  Another article is here:  https://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20180525/standing-wall-gap

Their website: http://www.watchmenpastors.org/. Take cuddly cats with you if you go there, you'll need them. 

Back to my home country. 

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The group has also convened outside America. In the summer of 2006, the Watchmen and their supporters gathered in Riga, Latvia, to "protect the city from a homosexual invasion." Gay rights activists in Europe counter that it's gays who need protection from the Latvian capital, not the other way around.

 

Didn't work out well.
This was actually one of the first big media stories I was old enough to follow and understand, and also one of the most traumatic. Not as traumatic as it was for people who actually were there, of course. But I had recently figured out I liked girls, and seeing that shit on tv was scary. And hurtful. I am 100% sure it was one of the main reasons I spent the next decade being very anxious about myself and my sexuality, and my worth in general. I didn't believe them intellectually, but their ideology still impacted me.

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And, indeed, the city is a hotbed of violent homophobia. In 2005, for example, a group of 100 gay activists, most of them from Western Europe and Scandinavia, traveled to Riga to hold a gay rights march that was widely viewed as the first real test of Latvia's official commitment to freedom of assembly, a requirement for its tentative admission to the European Union in 2004. Under heavy police escort, the gay rights demonstrators walked a few blocks through a gauntlet of ultranationalists, neo-Nazi skinheads, elderly women and youths wearing "I Love New Generation" T-shirts. They were pelted with eggs, rotten tomatoes and plastic bags full of feces.

During a parliamentary debate in Riga on whether sexual orientation should be covered under a national ban on discrimination, an activist named Janis Smits, a prominent defender of Pastor Ledyaev's New Generation Church, quoted the Old Testament: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." Last year, Smits was elevated to chair the Latvian Parliament's Human Rights Commission.

 

Yeah, he did so much for human rights. 😕 I don't remember him being active on anything that didn't involve LGBT+ issues apart from one time when he said that cafe called "Witch's kitchen" is anti-Christian and should be re-named "Angels' place". There were jokes that you know the pride month is coming if Smits creeps out of wedlock. He hasn't crept out for about five years now. 

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When gay rights activists in Europe announced plans to hold a second Riga Pride march in the summer of 2006, the City Council voted to ban it. The gay rights protesters showed up anyway. Once again, they were pelted with eggs, rotten produce and feces as they attempted to attend services at an Anglican church that welcomed them. Swedish gay rights activists said that a carload of violent anti-gay protesters tried to force their taxi off the road.

 

May I add that pastor of Anglican church was excommunicated by Lutheran Church of Latvia a year before for allowing pride goers in the church and letting them hold a service there? 
And in 2015 Lutheran Church of Latvia became first to ban ordination of women after it was allowed. We don't have just some crazy new cults, we also have a crazy traditional church. 

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Roving black jeeps with dark-tinted windows that carried anti-gay activists were a new element at the 2006 march. Decals on the jeeps bore the logo "No Pride" with a red line slashing through a circled picture of two male stick figures having sex. No Pride is a group organized and funded by New Generation Church member Igors Maslakovs.

 

NoPride is long gone, dead, and forgotten, as it should be. Maslakovs still has public social media accounts, but isn't an activist anymore and posts mostly boring everyday stuff. Last spring a guy named Valentins Jeremejevs (Yeremeyev in English) tried to organize protests against Baltic pride in Riga, but failed hilariously. I have no idea if Maslakovs and Yermeyev are linked somehow, but they both give the same vibe to me. 
Anyway, it's pretty clear that NoPride-style protests don't work anymore. Which is probably why Ledyaev and New Generation moved to more modern, more civil, Instagram-y public image. 

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High on the Watchmen agenda during their March Latvia visit was expressing their anger over a $7,179 donation the U.S. embassy in Latvia made to Mozaika, a Latvian gay rights organization. The four-figure sum is pocket lint in terms of U.S. foreign aid. (According to tax records, nonprofit organizations run by Lively donated a similar amount to anti-gay groups over the last two years.) But the Watchmen didn't just protest the small donation. They did so in the name of the Bush Administration. Hutcherson claimed that the White House had appointed him a "special envoy" for "family values." (..)

In a written statement, White House spokesperson Alyssa J. McLenning refuted Hutcherson's claim: "The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives did not give Hutcherson the title, 'Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.' The White House did not give Hutcherson any other titles and did not coordinate with Hutcherson on his recent trip to Latvia." 

 

Yeah. That happened. Any ideas why he didn't end up in jail? 


For more details, there is a wonderful documentary [email protected] Made in 2010, it looks on events of 2005 - 2007 with some distance. Here with English subtitles: 

Spoiler

 

 

 

Spoiler

In early 2006 Latvia's constitution was changed to define marriage as an union between man and woman. The influence of Ladyaev and traditional churches (who team up with New Generation when it suits them) was a huge part of why it happened. We still don't have any legal recognition for same-sex couples. 
Lively went on tour around Russia and other former Soviet Union countries around 2007. He himself claims to be one of the influences behind Russia's 2013 anti-gay bill, but I'm not sure if Russia agrees with that. He campaigned in Uganda in 2009, and we know how that ended. (He claims that death penalty for gays wasn't his goal. Ugandian LGBT organization still sued him.) He recently traveled to one of the WotWs conferences in Latvia. 
New Generation mostly attract Russian-speaking people (partly because Ledyaev still hasn't learned any Latvian) living in cities. They have a sister church now, though, it's called "Kristus Pasaulei" or "Christ for the world". Run by Marcis Jencitis (English pronunciation is impossible for this one), former drug addict and inmate whose testimony is filled with descriptions of hallucinations (granted, he doesn't believe it's hallucinations. No, he was under the control of demons). He established his church 11 years ago. It seems to have very similar theology as New Generation, but is more attractive to Latvian-speaking auditory and doesn't have the same reputation. Jencitis organized a large mass prayer in November (I watched it and ranted about it on FJ) to honor Latvia's 100 years of independence. The main topic was LGBT+ people and need for (right kind of) Christians to take over the government. Main activity was giving money to Jencitis so he can fight "genderists" (new "homosexualists", I suppose). There are bunch of other American mega church inspired groups as well, but these two seem to be most important. They have female pastors (hear that, Lutherans?), they don't have modesty code (or they do "modern modest", hard to tell these days), I've never heard about a quiverful family here, but I've heard of couples saving their first kiss to marriage. Homeschooling is becoming a thing. It wasn't really an option in Soviet Union, so it's still a new idea for most of the society, but is attractive to people who don't like or trust public education for whatever reason.
Latvia is still behind on other Europe in terms of LGBT+ rights, but we have made some progress. Pride parades have been peaceful (but are not hosted every year - we rotate between three capitals of Baltic states), we have more public acceptance, we have openly gay politicians in Parliament, we have openly gay celebrities. We might get equal benefits to same sex couples next couple of years if we are lucky (marriage is off the table right now. Thanks to 2006.)  

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Ozlsn
24 minutes ago, AlwaysExcited said:

a supposed alliance of gays and Muslims hell-bent on destroying Christianity.

Thank you @AlwaysExcited, that was really interesting (and scary - there are echoes of some things happening here as well, but to a lesser extent.) 

The above quote though - I laughed out loud. How much do you have to have smoked to believe that there is an alliance between those two groups?

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Waffle Time
Beermeet
On 1/19/2019 at 9:50 AM, hoipolloi said:

Can't find it now, but I recall reading a chilling article a while back about recent immigrants to the US from Russia/Ukraine/former USSR states who are very fundie Christians. They have played a significant role in LGTBQ persecution & harassment in their new country, fitting right in with the homegrown fundie asshats since they all shared the same views.

ETA: Google fu is failing me today but I recall that the reporting on this phenomenon -- the growing role of fundie immigrants in anti-LGBTQ activities -- was in the US Pacific NW or maybe CA.

ITA - Russia deserves them and we deserve to be free of the poison they've injected into American society.

If there is something to learn from the Current world political climate,  it is that too many wish to go back to the 1950's for all the wrong reasons. It's not just America. As an American,  it seemed that way but if one simply reads about world news, this backwards hateful movement is happening globally.  Why are we so afraid to embrace equality and clean energy ( for example)?  Well, the powers that be won't be secure in their power and crazy rich, I guess.  We gave up freedom for security and lost both. Yet, we stay complacent.  I used to wonder why we did that. I get it, sort of. We have needs and are squeezing by in life ( most of "us"). It's scary but, if we all revolt, can we gain anything? Why are these fringe ppl having such a large impact? 

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AlwaysExcited

Want to rant about this and couldn't find a better place. I already posted about Watchmen in this thread so I guess their new bullshit is somewhat appropriate. 

https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/politics/alternative-fr-deutschland-politician-seeking-election-to-brussels-via-latvia.a313222/

German AfD member runs for EP from Latvian "Center Party".
"Center Party" is just nicer way to say "Watchmen on the Walls" - the party is led and/or endorsed by New Generation and Christ for the World members, openly supports "Biblical values" and everything that implies. They received about 900 votes in last parliament election. Party needs 500 members to exist, so that tells you who voted for them. 

German FJs, if any of you reads this, please tell me if you have any idea why AfD member needs these baboons? As I understand, AfD is relatively large and somewhat successful. What on Earth have they found in unpopular, small extremist party from unknown, small Eastern Europe country? 

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