THE 2020 CENSUS OF AMERICAN RELIGION: WE HAVE WORK TO DO

This pie chart was published on the website of the Public Religion Research Institute. PRRI describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.” It goes on to say:

PRRI’s research explores and illuminates America’s changing cultural, religious, and political landscape. PRRI’s mission is to help journalists, scholars, pundits, thought leaders, clergy, and the general public better understand debates on public policy issues, and the important cultural and religious dynamics shaping American society and politics.

The chart shows that Orthodox Christians account for a mere half of 1% of the US population; in other words, about 1.66 million Americans out of a total population of 331,449,281. This gives an average of 33,200 Orthodox Christians per state. The actual numbers are likely lower: if similar surveys are any indication, this figure includes those not in communion with the Orthodox Church who nevertheless call themselves Orthodox. (See Sotiris Mitralexis’ Questions à Propos Pew Research Center’s Report on Orthodoxy.) The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America counts 1.5 million Orthodox Americans under its collective omophoria, distributed among multiple overlapping, unnamed “jurisdictions.” (The Bylaws define the Assembly’s membership as comprised of “all active Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America who are in canonical communion with all the local Autocephalous Orthodox Christian Churches.”) All but one—the Orthodox Church in America—have ethnic qualifiers before the word Orthodox in their names: Albanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian (aka Rusyn), Georgian, Greek, Romanian, Russian (in principle, since their departure from the Assembly to protest the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine), Serbian, Ukrainian, etc.

Over 76,000,000 Americans are “unaffiliated.” How is the Orthodox Church reaching out to them?

While most of the American Orthodox Church is busy teaching ancestral languages and dancing, refusing to worship wholly (or at all) in English, “preserving” languages which their respective homelands do a fine enough job of preserving, and drawing people in to spend money on ethnic food, our celebrity priests with their toxic, soul-destroying online presence are busy driving countless seekers, inquirers, and already Orthodox away in droves (we know of what we speak; in despair, they contact Orthodoxy in Dialogue in growing numbers for spiritual and pastoral support) with their misogyny, their LGBTQI-phobia, their naked white supremacism, their Trumpism; and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary—that erstwhile shining beacon of Orthodoxy in the West—can find no better than the Church’s most infamous lay homophobe, xenophobe, and white supremacist for its most prestigious lecture of the year, named for one of the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th century.

Meanwhile, the majority of Orthodox bishops in America reject their own Assembly’s most fundamental stated purpose of unifying in an autocephalous American Church with its own properly elected primate. The ex officio head of the Assembly, appointed by the Phanar, supports a shockingly Romish ecclesiology which posits the Ecumenical Patriarch as “the first without equals.” The one American jurisdiction with autocephalous pretensions is busy doing and saying nothing that could be perceived as disloyal to its de facto overlords in the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate—even when the Russian state-church apparatus repeatedly shows itself to be the enemy of just about everyone (including the United States) on the geopolitical stage. (See here and here.)

Orthodoxy in Canada is in even worse shape.

Would that we only hid the light of Orthodoxy under a bushel! That would be so much better than the stinking, fly-covered dung heap under which we do hide it.

With thanks to Mr. Timofiy Hawrish of Canada for bringing PRRI’s survey to Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s attention.
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