When President Obama joined Twitter last week under the @POTUS handle, he became the fastest person yet to reach a million followers. He also received a ton of racist messages. He should’ve seen that coming.
The Russian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Kirill followed a similar path. The Church leader joined the nation’s Facebook clone Vkontakte (“VK”) a few days ago… and as soon as his page went up, critics of the religion (and plenty of trolls) began questioning his beliefs and stances, forcing Church officials to start banning the heretics left and right:
VK does not offer a function for moderators to cull derisive posts before they appear in the comments section, and the patriarch’s page was quickly inundated with scathing comments — ranging from the reasoned to apparent praise for the Devil — much to the dismay of thousands of subscribers to the new account.
In one post, VK user Alik Bogoedov derided the Orthodox Church for enjoying opulent luxury and building lavish new offices across the country while neglecting to help the poor: “I see priests in expensive foreign cars, new churches that aren’t really needed, but I see no help for people nearby,” he wrote.
“Now I really am disillusioned with religion and the patriarch,” wrote VK user Leonid Sinyakov. “People are asking entirely normal questions even if they are provocative. If truth really is on your side, then surely it isn’t difficult to answer these questions.”
A quick scan of comments today include plenty asking how his faith makes any sense. (There’s also one letting him know he’s very inspiring during masturbation… or so the translation software tells me.)
Either way, it’s hard to believe Church officials didn’t see this coming. Whenever religious leaders step outside the bubble, they’re bound to be hit with a giant dose of reality. People outside the Church are happy to question their beliefs and criticize them publicly — something people inside the Church rarely do.
It’s unclear if Kirill has been told all of this is happening. The Church’s “Sinodal Information Department” manages the page and while they said they would update him on what people are saying, it’s unclear if the criticism would be included in that roundup.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)