A small delegation of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America

Late this afternoon, Orthodoxy in Dialogue received a form letter from one Michael Sisco via change.org, asking us to sign his petition entitled We demand the right to attend Divine Liturgy & Vigil without restriction. The text begins, “We Orthodox Christian lay people desire the right to attend all Orthodox services regardless of the local & State restrictions imposed upon the Church” (italics ours).

For a preview of where this comes from, note that a recent episode of Mr. Sisco’s eponymous YouTube show has a title referring to the deadliest global pandemic in a century as “the hysteria-inducing virus.” Conspiracy theories much?

With a risible goal of one hundred plucky signatories [addendum: the goal seems to go up in tandem with the number of signatures], Mr. Sisco threatens to organize a financial boycott of parishes in compliance with the directives of their bishops, synods, and civil authorities on Covid-preventive protocols. He suggests that he might compile a list of parishes that comply with his “demands” (his word)—in other words, parishes that disobey their bishops—to benefit from a targeted fundraising initiative.

He ends by “kindly” asking that bishops and synods sue the very civil authorities tasked with ensuring public health and saving our lives, and finally, with a touch of anti-vaxxer insanity.

We at Orthodoxy in Dialogue have noted with justifiable pride that all canonical Orthodox bishops in the US and Canada—from those under the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia—have consistently mandated their clergy’s, parishes’, and institutions’ compliance with civil directives based on the best scientific, medical, and epidemiological information. We support all of our bishops 100% for their position on this issue, and trust that most of our readers do, as well. When our Church seems to create bad press for itself all too easily at every turn, our ecclesial and ecclesiastical response to Covid-19 has earned us the respect and admiration of very many outside of Orthodox Christianity.

Of course, before now almost no one has ever heard of Michael Sisco. His impact on Orthodox church life has been and will remain nonexistent. Perhaps we have done the Church a disservice by drawing attention to him. Yet we thought it useful to highlight—once again—the bizarre types who somehow feel validated by the Orthodox faith.

A Michael Sisco could, in fact, do grave harm to his local parish and its priest.

See the Assembly of Bishops’ Coronavirus Resource Center.
See the Coronavirus / Faith in a Time of Pandemic section in our Archives 2020, and especially Metropolitan Alexander of Nigeria’s Why Are We Sitting Here? and Father Seraphim of Mull’s Who Is to Blame for this Crisis?
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A blessed Nativity Fast to all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world!