UK Christian Music Festival Defends Inviting Protest Group Pussy Riot to Perform Despite It Being Branded ‘Sacrilegious’

The organizer of a Christian music festival has defended the decision to invite protest group Pussy Riot to perform, despite it being branded “sacrilegious” by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Paul Northup, who runs the August Greenbelt festival in the U.K., argued in an interview with Premier on Thursday that the group should not be considered offensive by Christians despite their disputes with the Russian church.

Pussy Riot is primarily known for its feminist and anti-authoritarian protests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, both in their music videos and also at various events, which have led to the arrests and imprisonment of some of the band members.

Members, who usually wear balaclava masks, were also arrested after breaking into Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February 2012 and staging an illegal performance.

The group explained that it was targeting Orthodox clergy for their close ties with Putin, The Guardian noted at the time. The church, however, branded their actions as “sacrilegious,” while thousands of Russians rallied in prayer and support for the church.

Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, said at the time that the punk performance is part of a broader attack against the church from “enemy forces.”

Greenbelt, which began in 1914 as a Christian music event, explains on its website that it is “energized by a progressive Christian worldview.”

Northup says that he believes Pussy Riot’s explanation for why they staged the controversial performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

“It’s an easy thing to say — to just go along with the government’s line that they were arrested for inciting religious hatred,” he argued.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov