The latter category welcomed the evangelist Franklin Graham to its ranks this month.
Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, praised Putin for signing a law that bars “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors."
“In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Graham wrote in the latest issue of Decision magazine, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.
As Graham sees it, Putin compares favorably to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and many members of Congress, all of whom he says "have turned their backs on God and His standards."
Graham echoes conservative commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, who commended Putin's "moral clarity" in December.
"President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire 'the focus of evil in the modern world.' President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century," Buchanan wrote. "Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America's embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values."
The American Conservative's Rod Dreher followed that column by saying he didn't necessarily agree with all of Buchanan's argument, but agreed that Putin was "on to something."
A few days before Buchanan's piece was published, Matt Barber at WND, a bastion of fringe right-wing thought, wrote that Putin "feels emboldened to claim for Russia the mantle of world moral leader."
But the evangelist Bryan Fischer was saluting Putin before all of them. In October, Fischer called Putin a "lion of Christianity."
“The contrast between [Putin] and our president could not possibly be more striking,” Fischer lamented. “Just a bizarre day. To ever think we would get to the day that Russia would be more advanced spiritually than the United States. I mean, it’s just staggering to see what is happening to this country.”