Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, has joined the American religious right in blaming gays for the world's problems, in an interview posted to the church's website. Homophobic American pastors have blamed the LGBT community for hurricanes, earthquakes, mass shootings, and Liberia's ebola outbreak, among other things.
Kirill claims that "many honest people" are joining the terrorist group ISIS to go fight in Syria because they are upset with the rise of LGBT rights. He says they are joining for "truly religious reasons," according to an English translation posted online by a Russian LGBT organization.
“You become a fighter for the Caliphate. So what’s a Caliphate?" he said in the interview. “It is a society centered around faith and God where people follow religious laws. You are creating a civilization that is new by comparison to the established one that is godless, secular and even radical in its secularism.”
Kirill, a longtime supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, added:
“What we are seeing now is this godless civilization is reaching maturity, in as much by through the will of the people, who proclaim it the highest of virtues but then wearing a cross is banned. We can have parades for the sexual minorities – that is supported, but a million French Christian protestors defending family values are broken up by police. If you call non-traditional relationships a sin, as the Bible teaches and you are a priest or pastor, then you risk not only your ability to serve but you may be sent to prison.”
“I could offer more simply frightening examples of how the godless civilization is growing yet here they are drawing attention to young people being converted by extremists. Look how they build the world – an unholy world, but we invite you to build God’s world. And they respond to that; it is for this they give their lives.”
The Russian Orthodox Church has supported the country's 2013 law to ban "gay propaganda" and other draconian measures that haven't passed. Even after international outcry over the law, lawmakers and police cracked down on LGBT activists. The country has a history of ignoring or even condoning violence against LGBT people with the blessing of the church.