Henry Idema: Why all religious people must condemn Putin

·4 min read

On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague condemned Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvona-Belova (the commissioner for children's rights in the office of the President of the Russian Federation) as war criminals and put out warrants for their arrests for war crimes and crimes against humanity — here specifically the forced deportation of over 16,000 children from Ukraine to Russia.

The children probably will never see their parents again, if they are still alive. These children are being raised by force to be Russians, speak Russian, learn only Russian history, and they are being adopted by Russian families.  Putin believes Ukraine is not an independent country but part of Russia, which is why he started his war.

Henry Idema
Henry Idema

We in the religious community, both lay people and clergy, must also condemn these people as war criminals. Putin, if he leaves Russia, does so at his peril, and any leader who shakes his hand is shaking the hand of a war criminal, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and the destruction of cities and the rape and murder of women and children. He is EVIL incarnate.

All religions condemn evil and must do so here. Yet we have political leaders running for president of the United States who are siding with Putin and condemning America's support for Ukraine. Donald Trump said if he were president, he would have let Putin take all or parts of Ukraine. Ron DeSantis agrees with the words of Putin that this war is a territory dispute! Didn't these men learn from history when Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, appeased Hitler and let him swallow up parts of Czechoslovakia. This appeasement in 1939 led Hitler to believe the Western allies were weak, so he then swallowed up the whole country. Nothing happened. So then Hitler attacked Poland, which was the spark that started World War II.

Don't Trump and DeSantis have any appreciation or knowledge of the history of what appeasement and compromise with evil men leads to? And yet some Republican members of Congress agree with these men and want to withdraw our support for Ukraine or weaken it. Appeasers all!

Putin can laugh off these warrants for his arrest, but The Hague in time caught up with war criminals from the war in Bosnia when President Clinton was in office. It took years to round up some of these men, but it did happen. So Putin should not feel confident he won't face justice as a war criminal. The warrant for Putin's arrest makes it very clear to nations like India, China and South Africa that if they do business with Putin they are doing business with a condemned war criminal. They are supporting evil, and the rest of the world will take notice. In fact, I wish all American industry in China would move their operations back to America and build new factories in cities hollowed out by NAFTA, because it is clear that China is helping Russia right now economically and perhaps is already secretly giving weapons to Putin.

Will the Church and other religious bodies take a stand on Putin and condemn him and his war as evil? Will they side with the people of an invaded country? It is the task of religion to combat evil, not to appease it like Trump and DeSantis are doing it. These two men are modern Neville Chamberlains. Do these two appeasers think Putin will stop at the borders of Ukraine? Putin has said in public that he wants the borders of Russia to be those of the old Soviet Empire. Poland has just announced that it is sending jets to Ukraine. The Poles know what it feels like to be invaded by Russia.

About 80 percent of white Christian evangelicals supported Trump in 2016, the margin of victory, in spite of Trump being caught on tape bragging about sexually abusing women Trump did not lose their support in 2022, in spite of the fact he committed adultery while being married to each of his three wives. What will these Christians do in this election cycle? Will they support one of these two appeasers? Will another Republican dare take on both Trump and DeSantis and run against them for president, and then condemn them as appeasers?

I have the flag of Ukraine on my front lawn (get one yourself, they are cheap on Amazon) and I support our aid to Ukraine. In fact, I support giving Ukraine F-16 jets. Where do you stand? Where do your religious leaders stand? Are you silent or vocal in your views? The war in Ukraine is a war of evil against good, and God help us if we or our elected leaders side with evil and forget the lessons of history. The ghost of Neville Chamberlain is haunting us today.

— Henry Idema lives in Grand Haven. He can be reached at henryidema3@yahoo.com.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Henry Idema: Why all religious people must condemn Putin