"Russian Communists are turning to Christ," Newsweek trumpets, as if the magazine has discovered the wheel. It's almost old enough to deserve one of our "Got News?" logos.
Almost. The article does have a few things going for it -- starting with the first three strong paragraphs:
What do Vladimir Lenin, founder of the officially atheist Soviet Union, and Jesus Christ have in common? Not much, one would think. Yet according to Gennady Zyuganov, the veteran leader of Russia's modern-day Communist Party, both men sought to "save humanity" with a message of "love, friendship, and brotherhood".
Speaking in Moscow in front of a crowd of red-flag-waving supporters on the 145th anniversary of Lenin's birth late last month, Zyuganov also declared that the Soviet Union was an attempt to establish "God's Kingdom on Earth".
Had he heard that speech, Lenin would likely have turned over in the Red Square mausoleum, where his embalmed corpse has been on public display for the past 91 years. After all, some 200,000 members of the clergy were murdered during the first two decades of the Soviet era, according to a 1995 Kremlin committee report, while millions of other Christians were persecuted for their faith.
The story then traces reactions to Zyuganov's recent speech in Red Square. Some critics "pointed out the apparent contradictions inherent in his mingling of communist and Christian beliefs." Other critics regard Zyuganov's talk a "cynical ploy" to gain support from party members and Eastern Orthodox Christians alike. And Newsweek itself says he is a "former Soviet 'agitation and propaganda' official."
Newsweek then reports some intriguing cross-fertilization between church and state. It says Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to portray himself as a defender of "Orthodox Christian values." It notes that a priest singing a "popular Soviet-era song" went viral. And it says church motifs have often served the state, such as religious icons of Josef Stalin -- and the decision to embalm Lenin's body for a mausoleum in Red Square.
Adds the article: