Saturday, March 27, 2021

Episcopal Assembly expresses concern over "Equality Act"

(EA) - We, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America, affirm that all human beings should be treated with dignity and respect, as all are made in the image of God. Indeed, the principle of human equality has its origins in Christianity and is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, which rightly prescribes that every person must receive equal treatment under the law.

Consequently, we are deeply concerned about the proposed federal “Equality Act,” which would erode religious liberty for both individuals and organizations, including Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, parishes, and faithful. The supporters of this Act, in their desire to promote equality, ultimately infringe upon the religious liberty of Americans to live according to their faith – a right protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Throughout the United States, Orthodox jurisdictions and parishes have ministries, organizations, and facilities through which they provide many beneficial services to the public. All of these ministries, organizations, and facilities would be directly and negatively affected by the “Equality Act” as written.  Furthermore, the expansive nature of the Act would affect the lives and careers of many thousands of religious people in America, including Orthodox faithful. All of this is in addition to the broader impact that the Act would have on American society, moving it further away from the traditional and normative moral and ethical foundations, as well as deepening painful divisions that already exist in the country.

As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the moral teachings of the Church. We call upon all Orthodox Christians to remain firm in the Orthodox Faith. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to uphold, and not infringe upon, the religious freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and to continue to extend the protections afforded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.


  1. Nice to see more Orthodox Bishops verbally defending the 1st Amendment, not sure where this statement was during the lockdowns when we needed it.

    But sadly it seems we have to rely on the Catholic and Jewish lobbyists to lawyer up since they have the actual money to defend our rights in court. I say sadly because it’s disappointing that even when our bishops want to defend our rights they can’t afford to. But I’m grateful others have made a stand in court.

  2. They could afford it if they cut their foreign ties,,,stopped sending critical monies off shore,,,and truly became an american church and focused on becoming part of the fabric of this wonderful country. The foreigners are bleeding us dry and we get noting tangible in return except for attaboys,,which we would not need if we had the vision to cut the unneeded umbilical cords.

  3. Thoughts:

    1) I am with Dreher, the chances that the our culture (and thus legal system) will protect non-modernist anthropological beliefs/expressions (such as traditional Christianity) is at best zero, probably worse.

    2) If the "Equality Act", or something like it, does not pass this day/week/year, it will surely the next.

    3) Most Orthodox and every other kind of traditional Christian have their head in the sand. They simply don't want to believe the culture is going in this direction or be bothered. They wishfully and against the evidence continue to think that our culture is essentially Classlicly Liberal and thus "tolerant".

    4) I don't begrudge the Assembly for issuing statements like this, but they are all but worthless. The Culture is heading in another direction and is not listening, and if they do listen they simply brush such speech aside.

    5) If the Assembly and clerical/laity leadership really want to do something, they should start thinking creatively about the what/how of being counter cultural traditional Christians/Church in a hostile and non-tolerant culture.

    6) #5 is not taking place because clerical/lay leadership is still working/living yesterdays (largely immigrant) "Christ and Culture" and post Constantine synthesis. Perhaps the group most behind are the Orthodox intelligentsia in academia.

  4. Jake, agree with you 100%. Don't faint.

  5. The best barometer of having our heads in the sand is the latest study by Alexi kindratch. The 2020 census report that just came out shoes that we lost 200000 faithful in the past ten years and now theoretically have less than 700000 members in circa 2000 parishes. Of this less than 300000 are regular church goers. The study is mind-blowing. It shows that we all are completely out of touch.....time for our bishops to stop living in the byzantine past,,, sell their miters, their brocade robes, multiple panagias,and put the money into ministry, parish education, lay and clergy leadership development,,,,we are too much involved with archaic externalities,,,and not enough with ministerial internalities. Based on kindratchs study in 40 years or less,, all of our churches will be museums if we do not smarten up.

  6. Look, mates, the Phanar in particular, but almost every Old World church, sees North America as merely their overseas funding exarchate. (You know that the Georgian Church just recently set up their own diocese, to add to the mess and confusion here.) We are in trouble, as Krindach shows, but some of it is not in our control -- for example, OCMC will fund and support mission everywhere, but here. The situation is ludicrous and self-defeating.

  7. Wanted to quote Dreher's most recent blog post in reference to #5 and 6 above:

    "...If that’s true, then it is clear that the accommodationist/assimilationist Christian intellectuals — who hold the high ground in most sizable Christian institutions — are moving from strength to strength. That leaves us Christian intellectuals who uphold the authentically Christian cosmos with the grave challenge of how to keep our cosmos alive in the hearts, minds, and lives of the Christian people. The way I see it, you can be an orthodox Christian socialist, like David Bentley Hart, or you can be a Catholic Neo-Integralist, but given how immense the cultural tides, and the powers and principalities of the era are aligned against us, if you are not first a practitioner of the Benedict Option, you’re not going to make it. You will be assimilated..." ( )

    My reading of the majority of Orthodox intellectuals (lay, clerical/bishop, academic, etc.) is that they have an over confidence in the strength of the "sub" in the sub-culture that is Orthodoxy in an our current time and place. Fr. Stephen Freeman who parses modern (Christian) secularism so well has been arguing against the concept of "Bendidict Option" (and he does not mis-understand it as a "retreat" like so many do) for a couple of years now. He believes Orthodoxy is a mystical triumph of the Saints in this fallen world, and all that is needed (so he argues) is the recognition that a handful of Saints on top of 'Holy Mounts' (or in their cells, etc.) are "sustaining the world". For him any robust recognition or critique of the present secularism *within the Body* seems to be an faithless denial of the Spirit working amongst us "in weakness".

    I sense that most Orthodox intellectuals agree with this on some level (those who don't capitulate to secularism fundamentally, whether in knowledge or ignorance), even when they are being honest about the success of a "Secular Mind" within the Church and the stagnation of praxis vis-avis the culture.

    To get beyond this, Orthodoxy will need to not shy away from the hard work of creatively assessing what makes keeps a (sub)Cult-ure alive through the generations within a larger one like modern secularism.

  8. Fr. Spyridon Bailey makes a much stronger critique of modernism. Martyrs is what it will take.