(LifeSiteNews) — Fox News host Tucker Carlson compared Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to 20th-century Russian Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin following reports of the Ukrainian government banning a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which has included the execution of military raids into churches, monasteries, and convents.
The UOC which was, until May 27, subordinate to the Patriarchate in Moscow, is not to be confused with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). According to Reuters, a 2020 survey found that 34% of Ukrainians identified as members of the larger OCU while only 14% counted themselves members of the Russian-affiliated UOC.
Between the initiation of Russia’s “special military operation” on February 24, and the UOC’s May 27 statement condemning the invasion and declaring “full autonomy and independence” from Moscow, 400 parishes had already severed ties with the UOC and many more followed, reducing it rolls significantly.
Writing for the Epoch Times, retired Australian law professor Gabriël Moens reported that as of December 5, the Security Service of Ukraine had “searched 350 buildings belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and investigated the loyalties of 850 people.”
Moens went on to propose that the Ukrainian government’s policy “reveals the inability or unwillingness … to distinguish between spiritual belief and organisational independence. This is because membership of the Church is seen as a proxy for identifying enemies of the State.”
“The repression is reminiscent of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II because their Japanese ancestry made them potential enemies of the United States,” he wrote.
Introducing this topic on his Fox News program, Tucker Carlson began by criticizing CNN and the Los Angeles Times for earlier comparisons of Zelenskyy to George Washington. Carlson proposed, “Whatever you think of the war in Ukraine, it is pretty clear that Zelenskyy has no interest in freedom and democracy. In fact, Zelenskyy is far closer to Lenin than to George Washington. He is a dictator. He is a dangerous authoritarian who has used a hundred billion in U.S. tax dollars to erect a one-party police state in Ukraine. And that’s not an overstatement.”
“Over the past two years, Zelenskyy has banned opposition parties. He’s shut down critical media by force. He’s arrested his political opponents. He has sent soldiers into churches,” Carlson continued.
“Zelenskyy’s secret police have raided monasteries across Ukraine, even a convent full of nuns, and arrested dozens of priests for no justifiable reason whatsoever and in clear violation of the Ukrainian constitution, which no longer matters.”
“And in the face of this, the Biden administration has said nothing. Not one word. Instead, they just continue to push to send Zelenskyy more tax dollars. So naturally, Zelenskyy has become much bolder. Why wouldn’t he?” the Fox News host asked.
“Last week, he announced his plan to ban an entire religion, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and to seize its property, all for being insufficiently loyal to his regime,” he said.
On December 2, Reuters reported on a decree issued by Zelenskyy indicating the Kiev government would be drawing up a law “banning churches affiliated with Russia.”
The Security Service (SBU) had already raided “at least five parishes belonging to a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which until May was subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church.”
In addition to no longer being canonically connected to ecclesial authorities in Russia, this branch had also condemned Russia for invading Ukraine despite the Russian Orthodox leaders supporting their nation’s “special military operation.”
“A free country does not ban a major religion just because it’s not fully on board with the political program of the people running the country,” Carlson said. “But Zelenskyy is doing that and his cabinet is now devising ways to punish Christians for practicing their banned ancient religion in Ukraine. Quote, ‘Personal economic and restrictive sanctions will be applied to any Christian caught worshiping in unapproved ways.’”
“Now, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is more than a thousand years old. With the full backing of the Joe Biden administration and the U.S. Congress, Zelenskyy has decided to ban it,” reported the popular television host.
He then showed a clip of an Orthodox Bishop responding to these raids, preaching, “Brothers and sisters, these people are starting to fight against God! They have started a war against God and Heaven! They are not real Ukrainians!”
Another bishop, Reuters identifies as Metropolitan Kliment, said his organization “has always acted within the framework of Ukrainian law,” and thus “the state of Ukraine does not have any legal grounds to put pressure on or repress our believers.”
In addition, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described Kiev authorities as “satanists” who “have openly become enemies of Christ and the Orthodox faith,” and advised that “this is how the whole Christian world should treat them.”
Carlson resumed his admonishment stating, “You’re not allowed to send soldiers into churches. You’re not allowed to arrest dozens of priests because they refuse to bow before you. You’re not allowed to ban whole religions.”
“There’s no justification for this whatsoever. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not Russian, it’s Ukrainian. It has no connection to the Putin government. It has, in fact, officially denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So once again, there is no justification for destroying and banning this church. And yet Zelenskyy’s many celebrity backers in the West have said nothing about it, and they should know better,” the Fox News host opined.
He also highlighted the apparent hypocrisy of most professed Christian lawmakers in the U.S. Congress who are supporting Zelenskyy with rhetoric affirming the necessity of supporting Ukrainian “freedom” “no matter how many Christians [Zelenskyy] arrests, no matter how many churches he seizes.”
“The reality is that Ukrainians cannot listen to media outlets that criticize the Zelenskyy government because they’ve been banned. They cannot play music from Russian singers. No, this is not in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. This is in the ‘democracy’ of Ukraine that we support,” he said. “They can’t vote for an opposition party because they’ve all been shut down. And now their churches are being raided and their priests arrested.”
“So the fact that our leaders are calling this ‘freedom’ tells you a lot about what they’re planning here,” Carlson concluded.
Editor’s note: The headline of this article was updated Thursday December 15 with additional text added for clarity.
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