A church that exploits the theme of war but doesn’t name the aggressor. Here’s what we know?
There’s no doubt that a huge social media campaign is underway, and it’s probably viral too. There are dozens or even hundreds of posts, and almost each one has about 10,000 shares, hundreds of thousands of likes and comments. Such virtual “prayer sessions” take place regularly. The last one was on December 13. The next two are on December 17 and 25.
The first thing that arouses suspicion is the link that you see on your screen. If you click on the link, it’s quite likely that you’ll get infected by a virus, lose information on your hard drive or even personal data.
“You’re lucky if you can read this message. Please click on the blue link, https://m.me[...] and a priest will pray for you, guide you by the Word of God, provide a way to escape sin, and help save you through God. Amen.” - the text reads.
In fact, this link is relatively safe. This is a Facebook service, which allows you to create hyperlinks that redirect people to a conversation in a messenger service.
Text on the image: [Olha Sydorova shared the post. 6 days December 25. Tonight, the priest will pray for you; he will ask God to visit your home with healings, blessings and miracles. Please click on the blue link. https://m.me/OnlineBibleru?ref=website--?W1_48ly=3 It’s free. It will guide you by the Word of God, provide a way to escape sin, and help save you through God. Amen! Go with God! May each father, husband and son return home alive and well. World of Goodness community May God bless you!]
In this case, it’s the Bible Online chatbot. There, you will receive an automatic message with an invitation to an international online lecture (sermon), where “the priest will pray for all those present”.
Immediately afterward, a church representative will send you a friend request. In our case, it was Elena Butko, who allegedly comes from “the Kirovohrad Region of Ukraine, but has been living in Spain for the past 35 years”. The chatbot will warn you about her in poor Ukrainian and offer to add her as a friend.
Butko’s profile is suspicious, because it was registered on March 20, 2022. There is nothing there but eye-catching religious propaganda. Okay, there are also photos of flowers and profile avatar images. When we asked her whether representatives of the aggressor country would be attending the online meeting, she replied that “the church is open to the world”. She didn’t answer any more questions.
We found the church’s website. It has a Russian-language version only, and all the examples of user comments are also in Russian (even though the users have non-Slavic names and appearances).
“To satisfy the needs of people hungry for truth, we’re looking for Russian- speaking translators so that more spiritual texts can be translated into Russian and more people can enjoy God’s love and protection.” - the website reads.
Like the Facebook page, the website doesn’t mention the Russian-Ukrainian war, but offers only idealistic thoughts about peace and grace. To be more precise, the war as such is mentioned, but it doesn’t indicate who attacked whom; at most, Facebook has the phrase “God can help David defeat Goliath”. But again, the photos show scenes from the Arab-Israeli war.
In addition, the church has a page on the Vkontakte social network, which is banned in Ukraine. Recent examples of content include such clickbait topics as: “According to the Bible, the blood moon will appear in 2022: the great and terrible day of the Lord is approaching”, “Six signs from the biblical prophecies about the Lord’s second coming have already appeared”. If you click on one of them, you will be redirected to a messenger called “The Lord is knocking”.
However, unlike the Ukrainian-language version, the chatbot there is silent. Given all the fore-mentioned facts, we advise believers to steer clear of this “church”