Evangelical ethicist Russell Moore and Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, have slammed the ongoing restrictions on adoptions in Russia, and are calling on Christians to pray for abandoned babies and children in the country.
"Been in some of the Russian orphanages — held HIV+ babies destined to live their lives in an institution. Praying adoption ban is lifted," Warren, who often speaks out on mental health and children's rights issues, posted in a Twitter message on Sunday.
She linked to separate comments made on Twitter by Moore, who is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, slamming the Russian government for its actions against religious freedom, and for its ban on U.S. citizens adopting Russian children.
"With the discussion about Putin — the violence, the religious persecution, the criminality — also remember the orphans his regime oppresses," Moore wrote in a series of messages.
"Children languish in orphanages, with bans of who can adopt them, and almost no adoption culture in the ex-USSR," he added, referring to the restrictions placed by President Vladimir Putin back in 2012.
"These kids age out of the system, to a life most often of despair, drugs, or suicide."
Last year, Putin also signed into law measures that prohibits people from sharing their faith any place that is not a government-sanctioned house of worship.
While the Russian government claimed that the law is part of its anti-terror efforts, evangelical leaders in the world's biggest country warned that the new direction effectively bars them from evangelizing and spreading the Gospel.
"This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church," Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, said in an interview with The Christian Post in July. "Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history."
Moore added that evangelicals in Russia who try to serve children "are harassed by the government and the culture for their convictions."
The evangelical ethicist has two adopted Russian-born orphans in his family, and admitted that the issue stirs in him "deep personal ache."
"I think every day of the kids, just like my sons, left behind in those orphanages — as well as those blown apart in Aleppo," he said.
"Those two ex-orphans now usher and take up the offering in our Gospel church. Many of their peers are living in horror. Lord have mercy."
Moore has been a big critic of Putin's administration, and on a number of occasions, including a podcast in February 2014, slammed Russia's attempts to portray itself as a "champion of traditional values," given its restrictions on adopting children.
"I have heard over the past couple years, many, many times, Vladimir Putin and his regime, seeking to lecture America and the rest of the world about family values and I'm just not buying it," Moore wrote at the time.
"I'm not buying a country ... that has the sort of rampant abortion rate that Russia has. The sort of country that has orphanages filled with children, not allowing other countries to adopt," said Moore.
"[There's] nothing that I'm seeing being done in Russia to encourage [Russians to adopt.] So you have children that are languishing in orphanages, they're aging out of the orphanages, and then they're just left to fend for themselves, often in prostitution, or substance abuse or even suicide. Don't tell me that that's pro-family values."