- The head of the Russian Orthodox Church told state TV that the internet is run by the Antichrist, and using smartphones “forebodes” its coming.
- Patriarch Kirill insisted his church wasn’t against technological advance, but was against “the development of a system that is aimed at controlling a person’s identity.”
- Many Russians didn’t take his warning seriously.
- His statement came two days after Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted independence from the Russian Orthodox Church – the biggest split in Orthodox Christianity since 1054.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church claimed that using smartphones “forebodes the coming of the Antichrist,” and that the “Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web.”
Patriarch Kirill told the state-run Rossiya-1 TV channel on Russian Orthodox Christmas on Monday: “Every time you use your gadget, whether you like it or not, whether you turn on your location or not, somebody can find out exactly where you are, exactly what your interests are and exactly what you are scared of,” according to a BBC translation.
He appeared to refer to the use of smartphones, location services, and the internet of things.
“If not today, then tomorrow, methods and technology could appear that will not just provide access to all information, but will also allow the use of this information,” Kirill added. “Do you imagine what power will be concentrated in the hands of those who gain knowledge about what is going on in the world? Such control from one place forebodes the coming of the Antichrist.”
The bishop clarified that the Russian Orthodox Church was not against “technological progress,” but “the development of a system that is aimed at controlling a person’s identity,” the BBC reported.
“The Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web, controlling all of humankind,” he said.
Although Kirill wields great influence within Russia’s religious community, and is a close ally to President Vladimir Putin, his statement didn’t appear to convince many Russians online.
Many Russians mocked Kirill’s statement online.
Michael Avrisnky, a man in the southwestern city of Magnitogorsk, posted a photo of the bishop posing in front of selfie stick with the caption: “Smile, the Antichrist is about to fly out.”
— Улыбнитесь, сейчас вылетит Антихрист pic.twitter.com/VYsk0AQCj3
— Michael Avrinsky (@gsl2k10) January 8, 2019
Kirill’s TV appearance on Monday came two days after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted independence from the Russian Orthodox Church – a split that has been described as the largest in the Orthodox Christianity since the Orthodox church became independent from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054.
The new religious order effectively undermines Russia’s religious power in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday, after celebrating the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s first Christmas independent from Russia: “We broke the last fetters tying us to Moscow.”
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