The messenger logo

National Christian Movement battles Church’s ‘enemies’

By Shorena Labadze
Thursday, February 14
On February 11 Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II blessed the newly-formed National Christian Movement, which has pledged to defend the Georgian church against any “enemies” trying to undermine its influence on Georgian society.

The move comes just says after former TV anchor Giorgi Targamadze announced the formation of a Christian Democratic party on February 6, with the stated political aim of making Orthodox Christianity the state religion. His party’s emblems also received the Patriarch’s blessing.

However, National Christian Movement leader Giorgi Andriadze said his movement is strictly cultural, rather than political.

Both that movement and Targamadze’s Christian Democratic Party have underlined the importance of defending Georgia’s national identity and the values of the Church.

“Recently, undesirable pressure has been exerted on the Orthodox Church as well as the Patriarch. The Patriarchate still remains a vital target for our enemies,” Arveladze told the newspaper, identifying these enemies simply as “everyone who is against the Church.”

He added these “enemies” are trying to discredit the church by drawing it into politics. "They are hoping to deprive the Patriarchate of its main function—uniting the whole nation—to take away the influence it has acquired over its long history,” he said.

Andriadze says he brings experience to the table from his role as head of the NGO National Lobby.

“I’ve been fighting [the church’s enemies] since working for the National Lobby and I'm simply going to continue my attempts in various ways,” he said.

He added that the movement’s main tactic will be waging an information war by responding to any attacks on the Church in the media.

Andriadze also emphasized that the movement counts Georgian cultural luminaries amongst its ranks.

“We have no program of how to develop our intentions, but our representatives are from different fields of culture and they’ll try to implement our ideas and principles in different directions,” he said.

Well-known Georgian director Rezo Chkheidze said the movement will support Georgian culture.

“[We] will defend the spiritual wealth of Georgian people. We aim to take care of Georgian culture including education, our deep-rooted traditions, spirituality and Christianity at the same time,” he said.

The National Christian Movement may develop a political bent, political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told the Messenger, but added that it does not appear to have been set up with political purposes.

He pointed to other organizations that have been established to defend particular interests, such as the environment, saying, “[their claim to be] apolitical doesn’t arouse any doubts.”

Commenting on Andriadze’s use of the term “enemies,” the analyst says he may not be talking about a specific political party or person. “Andriadze often uses this term, as does the Patriarch himself. They may just mean supporters of various religious sects who are in different political parties,” Sakvarelidze said.