The title of this newspiece is actually tamed from what it probably should be. It probably should be “American Orthodox Jurisdictions apostasize and reject Christ, choosing comfy and meaningless ritualism over faith in God.” Video blogger Jonathan Companik has made a few extremely compelling videos since the COVID-19 events got started that point to what I have also repeatedly pointed at – that Christianity, particularly Orthodox Christianity in the United States, has become extremely soft, secularized and without real intention of following Christ, the leader and Head of the Church. The Church is manifesting a lack of faith in its Lord.
Instead, in many cases, we masquerade as Orthodox Christians, acting ways we really aren’t living, and being very prideful about it.
That came to a head when the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic began to make its presence felt in the United States. Starting with the Orthodox Church in America, but almost instantaneously and simulataneously joined by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, as well as every other jurisdiction in the country, synod after synod and bishop after bishop almost completely caved to the secular authorities, allowing their services to be disrupted, even closed, at a time when the historical move of real Christians in the past was to go to church more and pray more and serve one another more, even if it mean losing one’s own life in the process.
Now, thankfully, not all parishes or monasteries in the United States buckled to the shutdown and social distancing restrictions. However, the communities that did not shut down risk legal ramifications (in a nation where there are to be no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion!!), and indeed, we have already seen this take place, time and time again.
The crisis within Orthodox Christian churches in the US is in a way no different than the plight suffered by the Roman Catholics and Protestants there, as well as believers in other faith groups that are not Christian at all.
However, historically, it has been the Orthodox Church that stayed true to the original teachings of Christ without alteration, while other groups have “adapted” their teachings thinking that some “old ideas are no longer relevant.”
In doing so those churches have gradually themselves become irrelevant, for they lack what is needed to really help their adherents become followers of Christ.
But in American expressions of Orthodoxy, this is far more serious, given the fact that the Orthodox Church has suffered by far the most and harshest persecution of any Christian confession. That might happen to be because historically, Orthodox Christians refused to bend to the world and its whims. Just ask Russians and Serbs and Georgians who lost relatives to the pogroms of Stalin and others. Or read the stories about Fr Georges Calciu, the Romanian priest who made friends with a cockroach while held in a dungeon at the hands of merciless communists in Romania.
Orthodoxy used to uphold the practice of enduring all things for Christ’s sake. But in America, much of the Church is infected with easy comforts, convenience and luxury.
And the result of that when COVID-19 came along was a bunch of cowardly leaders making cowardly decisions.
Christianity is free to be practiced in the United States. Our Constitution clearly states that nothing can be done to prohibit the free exercise of religion. Yet this is exactly what is going on, and the Orthodox Churches are freely stepping up to give in to state recommendations. Mr. Companik’s video notes how the Orthodox Church in America made an agreement to track its own parishioners and report them to the authorities when they come to Church services, in the name of trying to “confine” the virus.
This is tantamount to having KGB agents serving as priests hearing confessions, as happened in Russia and America during the Soviet times in the Russian Orthodox Church. Those spies sent many loyal believers in Christ to their martyrdoms.
It is my hope that this little editorial and video really gets spread around. We are in trouble. Even in Russia, despite a very different set of practices regarding the virus, we still had some evidence of caving in, at least in and around Moscow (other churches in other cities are running unaffected, but Moscow closed many parishes due to coronavirus incidents and deaths).
The hierarchs are certainly in an awful position, for they have to defend the faith to the very end and be the pastors of the pastors. At least Patriarch Kirill noted that he had been telling people to come to Church for fifty one years, and so he was personally stunned that he would be asking people in Moscow not to go without a blessing from him. It at least seemed like he felt bad about it.
The Orthodox Church is not run from the top down in the sense that Rome is. The Holy Spirit speaks through the whole Church, and most of the Church is laypeople. It cannot be that everyone just simply agrees with these actions. Maybe some do, and that is okay. But those who do not may be in the right to disagree, and like our speaker in the video attached, fearless, loving and honest assessments have to be made and proclaimed. We as Christians can support our nation, and we should. But when that nation creates incursions on how we serve God, then our real allegiance needs to be proclaimed.
“We ought to obey God rather than men.” – (Acts 5:29, spoken by the Apostle Peter.)
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.