When Orthodoxy in Dialogue published my “Orthodoxy, Sissies, and the Performance of Masculinity: Part One” on March 3, 2018, the present article was not the Part Two that I envisioned. Yet an unexpected exchange of emails last night and this morning, and the disturbing facts to which they led, have not only prompted, but imposed, the following report. Here we see more clearly the line that runs straight from insecure masculinity—among its symptoms misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc.—to white nationalism, neo-Nazism, and the alt-right.
People who contact Orthodoxy in Dialogue can normally expect complete confidentiality on our part. Yet this is too important not to make public.
Yesterday we received an email from “Michael” (last name not provided), assuring us that he belongs to “the canonical Greek Orthodox Church” and asking us to list his newly released book in The Marketplace. It seemed initially like a good idea to promote the book—an Orthodox exposé of Freemasonry by a former member.
At the same time, his email raised a few red flags:
First, not only did he not sign his full name (unusual when writing to the editor of a publication), but the name that appeared in our inbox was “Deus Vult Radio.” The email address was “christianmgtow1@….”
Second, not only did he fail to provide a link to his book so that we could have a look for ourselves, but a Google search for the title turned up absolutely nothing.
Third, Deus vult! is well known to history buffs as the battle cry of the First Crusade, attributed in some sources to Pope Urban II. The avatar for both Michael’s email account and Deus Vult Radio’s podcast is the same one used on the Twitter account of the Knights Templar International.
Fourth, I wondered what was the meaning of “mgtow” in his email address.
I wrote back asking for Michael’s full name and an explanation of why his book could not be found online. In the meantime I continued to do my own research….
Deus Vult Radio describes itself as follows:
Deus Vult Radio is a Christian, Conservative, Nationalist podcast for men. Welcome to the war!
It has produced only four podcasts, from October 8 to October 29, 2017:
001–Why Christ Is The Ultimate Red Pill
The war is no longer between Left and Right, but between Secular Right (Alt-Right) and Christian Right. In this Podcast’s very first episode, I go over the ins and outs of why this is so–and how to achieve ultimate victory for God and His glory. Deus Vult!
Christendom is at the precipice of complete political disaster in the United States. We have a choice to make, right here and now, which will determine the future of our society and whether our children grow up bearing the image of God…or stained with the mark of Satan. Deus Vult!
003–Jesus And The JQ
In this episode, we will cover the infamous “JQ”–including what Christ Himself said on the topic, and how it manifests in both the ancient and modern world. We will cover the Who?, the Why?, and the What? of this incredibly important question, as it’s one of the most pressing issues in the world of politics today. Deus Vult!
004–A Word To The PUAs
PUA’s…I understand where you’re coming from. More importantly, God understands why you got involved in it, and the hidden wounds and motivations which led you to pursue women in the way you have been doing. But Scripture teaches us that living for the flesh is the path of spiritual death, and many PUAs can agree that the lifestyle does not lead to long-lasting peace and internal harmony. If you are stuck in that mindset and way of perceiving gender relations, then today’s podcast is for you. God Bless….and Deus Vult!
Glossary of Terms:
- MGTOW (‘mɪɡtaʊ) – Men Going Their Own Way, described by Wikipedia as “a mostly pseudonymous online community of men supported by websites and social media presences cautioning men against serious romantic relationships with women, especially marriage. The community is part of what is more broadly termed the manosphere. MGTOW have ‘…vowed to stay away from women, stop dating and not have children.’ MGTOW focus on men’s self-ownership rather than changing the status quo through activism and protest, making MGTOW distinct from the men’s rights movement.” The Wikipedia article goes on to say that “MGTOW see feminists, ‘white knights,’ ‘social justice warriors,’ the LGBT rights movement and support for safe spaces as obstacles to male self-ownership.” See the MGTOW website’s About page for their own definition as well as links for The History of MGTOW and The Manosphere.
- The Red Pill – Men who belong to MGTOW are said to be “red-pilled,” while those men who do not belong are said to be “blue-pilled.” Thus Christ as “the ultimate red pill” makes Him the unifier of the MGTOW movement.
- The JQ – The Jewish Question.
- PUAs – Pick-Up Artists.
In the five hours that it took Michael to reply to my request for clarification, he somehow managed to get his book listed on Amazon. This, however, raised yet more red flags, so I did a Google search of his name and found that he has a publishing history with the Return of Kings website, where the About page states in part:
Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.
ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed. If you are new, check out our top 35 posts of all time.
Women and homosexuals are strongly discouraged from commenting here.
Among the articles that our Michael has written for ROK, the one of greatest interest to us is “3 Reasons to Join the Eastern Orthodox Church” (December 28, 2017).
(See also ROK’s “The Orthodox Church is the Answer to Reviving Christianity in Europe and Saving the West” by a different author on March 28, 2017. This author describes himself as “a Man, capital M, period. Love. Truth. Justice. Liberty. Respect. These are the lodestones pointing true to magnetic masculinity in a polarized feminist west.”)
A Facebook search shows that, on May 20, Michael joined the public Monastic Inquiries group and stated his interest in “considering the path of an oblate”—a term not used, to the best of my knowledge, in Orthodox monasticism anyway. Individuals whom I know to be honest and decent people responded to him in good faith.
(Incidentally, a hierodeacon who follows Orthodoxy in Dialogue wrote to say that, in his experience, the various incarnations of Western Rite Orthodoxy in the canonical Church—where the word “oblate” is used in a monastic context—seem to attract a disproportionate share of alt-right types.)
Addendum: On June 6 Michael wrote asking us to publish the link to his account on an alt-right social media platform for people banned from Twitter for their hate speech. This platform has been used by the likes of Parrott, Heimbach, and company.
As we saw with our extensive reporting on white supremacy, racism, and neo-Nazism in the American Orthodox Church, here too we find a group of “conservative,” homophobic, misogynist men—with their own avowedly nationalist connections—looking to the Orthodox faith for validation of a predetermined ideological agenda, rather than for transfiguration of their persons into the greater likeness of God through repentance and the renunciation of the ego. What makes their pitch all the more dangerous, even confusing, is the skill with which they admix legitimate theological and spiritual insights with unrepentant ideologies of the fallen world.
Less than a week ago we published Annie Holmquist’s “Boys Are Growing Frustrated by Living in a Feminized Society.” Most of the comments where her article was discussed on Facebook, including those by men, ranged from dismissive to mocking. Yet I believe that a positive theological account of the transfiguration of masculinity by grace is no less critical an endeavour for our Church than that of the transfiguration of femininity by grace.
Without it, we get priests playing Let’s-All-Make-Believe-We’re-John-Wayne with the men and boys in their parish, and male inquirers and catechumens duped into thinking that the Orthodox Church provides a space for their troubled sense of masculinity to be validated rather than transformed.
Giacomo Sanfilippo is a PhD student in Theological Studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and an editor at Orthodoxy in Dialogue.