Among the flurry of misinformed and misguided attacks we’ve received over the few days, a rather thoughtful, heartfelt, and humble response from Sister Maria Gwyn McDowell caught my attention, “To My White Nationalist Brothers“. While I have several disagreements with her, those are all secondary to my appreciation for her warmth and refusal to jump on the bandwagon aiming to have us immediately punished, denied the sacrament, and even excommunicated. Even if those things were necessary, I’m humiliated that our attempt to participate in communion is being used as a convenient stick to whip and prod the historical, global, and present Church.
The Orthodox Christian Church is global and timeless. As such, it necessarily encompasses a broad range of political opinions, including every political position which isn’t heretical. I do not wish to see the Leftists, Multiculturalists, or even Marxists disciplined or excommunicated from the Church, even as they demand my scalp. Part of why we “got away with it” for so long before controversy erupted is that we’ve been very careful not to bring politics or controversy into the church. We’ve worshiped alongside men and women of diverse racial and political beliefs for years, with none of them knowing about our identitarian politics because they didn’t ask and we didn’t tell.
Only a few days ago, via the ubiquitous internet, a number of Orthodox Christians discovered that a new brother, Matthew Heimbach was welcomed into our midst, a member of an openly pro-White organization, the Traditionalist Youth Network.
TradYouth, according to its position statement, is pro-identity. This is inclusive of “pro-White”. I and others within the group are “White Advocates”. The group’s mission is to support a broad range of Identitarians and Traditionalists, and it includes members of several different races and religions.
At least four of you are recent additions to Orthodoxy, “adding an element of Christian fellowship to its activities and a stronger unity to [your] cause.” Good Night Anti WhiteOn Bright Monday, you attended a counter-protest, which resulted in the beating of a man while holding, perhaps even using, an Orthodox cross.
In hindsight, Heimbach regrets using the Orthodox cross as a weapon. He didn’t arrive at what we had organized as a peaceful counter-demonstration with the intention of instigating or participating in violence, and certainly didn’t intend to cause controversy within or against the church. Our group was vastly outnumbered by the Slut Walk demonstrators and when Thomas Buhls was viciously sucker-punched, Matthew Heimbach nobly jumped in to defend his close friend and comrade. While we’re eager about Orthodoxy, we’ll be mindful to avoid dragging the Church into further scandal by so directly involving the Faith in our future events.
Frankly, it is difficult to know where to start, how to even begin addressing the distortions of Christianity which you present as its core tenets, or to believe that given your ideological convictions that anything I say will be persuasive.
We don’t believe the core tenets of Christianity have anything to do with ethnic, national, or immigration policy. We do believe our politics are aligned with and inspired by Christianity, but Christ’s message is as much for interracial families, blended ethnicity communities, and even for practicing homosexuals as it is for us.
Many in the Eastern Orthodox blogosphere have openly wondered how one of you could have been welcomed into Orthodoxy, if your priest knew of your beliefs before your Chrismation, and whether you should be permitted to continue as a communicant in the Orthodox church. The irony is, we have canons forbidding many things. Racism is not one of them.
Our priest knew of our actual stated beliefs, from our own mouths, after having seen us respectfully and humbly enjoying fellowship with an especially diverse congregation. Had he bothered to Google us, he may have raised some additional concerns or even ran us off altogether. But please don’t fault the clergy on this one. Father does not in any way, shape, form, or fashion, endorse our project. While we didn’t actually conceal our beliefs from him, our beliefs are grossly divergent from what you and others have been led to believe. There’s a fine line between concealment and controversy, and we tried to walk that fine line.
So, let me start by welcoming you into the home I love. As untenable as I find your beliefs about “Faith, Family and Folk,” this is not a reason to reject your presence in my community. The truth is, I simply don’t believe that we can revoke a baptism which is God’s, and I have yet to see excommunication be an effective tool for healing and restoration.
God bless you, from the bottom of my heart.
It is, of course, meant to recall the fruit of putting on Christ, that in Christ “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
This verse is frequently taken out of context to oppose the preservation of ethnic identity and culture. Does the verse likewise entail that we must not acknowledge, celebrate, or tolerate differences between males and females? As I understand the verse, we’re all equal in communion and in the eyes of God. I fully and wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
My prayer is that you can experience the healing offered by God by eating at our shared table.
We have, actually. And our increased exposure to the Faith has led to our renouncing “supremacism”, which we agree to be antithetical to Christ, the Gospels, and Church Tradition.
Perhaps your voice will allow our leaders both here and abroad far more seriously the consequences of their divided witness and constant flirtations with phyletism, or what you repeatedly affirm as “racism.”
We also renounce ethnophyletism. The Church can and should be a safe harbor for any man or any woman of any race to join in communion. That’s an entirely separate issue from national immigration policy debates, lest you insist (as do some radicals) that absolutely all enforcement of borders and boundaries between our nations is integrally incompatible with Christianity.
While you seem to conflate monarchical movements with racial purity, there is no doubt that historically, Russian Orthodoxy offers you abundant confirmation of your beliefs.
If you acknowledge that our positions are at home in the historical church, then shouldn’t you stand down until we’re actually advancing our ideals within the church? This is something we have categorically not done, yet. There should definitely be a fruitful debate about the future of Orthodoxy, though it seems a bit hysterical to begin that debate with the punishment, denial of communion, and even excommunication of the side of the debate which by all accounts is historically “normal”.
Your homophobia mirrors the rhetoric found all to easily among Orthodox clergy and laity (unfortunately echoed in the complicit silence of those who privately disagree).
I don’t really think we’re that homophobic. The early accounts of the Slut Walk confrontation imagined that Heimbach had identified a homosexual in the crowd and started assaulting him. This is the kind of madness and falsehood that’s being floated around right now before clergy who are (quite understandably) panicking about having vicious people in the church. I don’t blame them. If I thought for a moment that Heimbach had attacked a homosexual, I would have denounced him, myself.
While I firmly consider homosexual activity a sin and vigorously oppose its promotion in the public square as an accepted and moral lifestyle, I harbor no hatred or ill-will in my heart for men or women struggling with their sexuality.
Perhaps the perceived “masculinity” of Orthodoxy appeals to your particular take on traditional “family values.”
The Church is indeed the most masculine of the denominations, and also happens to be the most feminine. Both our male and female natures are precious, God-given, and necessary.
The goal of your movement is to create racially separated regions of the United States governed by a fascist system, the achievement of which will inaugurate a final war in which the races fight until the last man standing. Racism is “natural” and must be defended by an Orthodox militant Christianity.
You keep saying “racially”. Humans exist in tribes (which happen to have racial characteristics), not necessarily “races”. Our goal is to “allow'” ethnic (which entails race, but is not exclusive to it) communities to flourish without interference. Our goal is not to prohibit or condemn interracial or inter-ethnic marriages, but merely to opt out. The thing about some grand race war is a gross exaggeration, which we expressly reject. The world always has been and will continue to be racially diverse, and our White American communities would hope to be good neighbors with the other communities.
Perhaps your parish home in Bloomington, Indiana is entirely white, providing you the comfort of a racially monotone worship experience. But you are a member of an Arab jurisdiction (the AOA), whose racial group is consistently profiled.
Our parish home is (was?) racially diverse. We were aware of its membership in an Arab jurisdiction. In fact, before moving to Bloomington, I attended a parish which was primarily Arab. You’ve once again mistaken our message for the hostile stereotype of our message. How on Earth could a hateful bigot peacefully mingle with a vast congregation of Arabs? How could he welcome Arabs into his home? How could he tolerate them as his moral and theological teachers?
I don’t know, you’ll need to go ask a hateful bigot.
The first Orthodox churches in North America were planted by Russians among the Aleut, Alutiiq, Tlingit and Yup’ik peoples, and their languages are actively used in Orthodox services today. Tell me, in your vision for the future, do you just want them all to go “home”, wherever that now is? Will you implement your plan of one-to-one killing, to “just do it and get it over with”?
North America is a gigantic Continent, and I’ve already gone on record stating that Amerindian/First Nation reservations should not only be preserved, but expanded and relied on as a model for more extensive protection and promotion of distinct ethnic communities. In my vision of the future, they’re welcome to remain right here in America. The question is whether White American communities will continue to be welcome?
As an aside, those mainstream media chop jobs clearly twisted our message around in loops to fit their framing. Though, as I’ve already suggested, our opinions have evolved over time.
There are of course, saints who belie your beliefs, The Aleut St. Jacob Netsvetov who is remembered for his service to the many “folk” of Alaska, the Tlingit, Yup’ik, learning languages new languages and planting churches.
The Orthodox missionaries accepted the Inuit as they were, unlike the Protestant missionaries who insisted on their wearing pants, abandoning their culture and identity, and integrating into Modernity. The Orthodox relationship with the First Nations peoples is a model we attempt to emulate in which Orthodoxy is shared globally, while respecting the customs and traditions of all the tribes and communities embracing it.
The Arab St. Rapheal Hawaweeney of Brooklyn, who served churches of all ethnic stripes all across North America in an effort to ensure that Orthodox immigrants could worship within their tradition at least occasionally.
This is exactly what we’re trying to do! Why the double-standard where White American attempts to preserve their culture are anathema while other ethnic groups doing the exact same thing is inspiring? Do I possess some sort of anti-identity?
St. Maria Skobtsova, who lost her freedom and eventually life protecting Jews from the very fascism you advocate.
Once again, you’re arguing against our reputations instead of against us. We do not wish to harm Jews or the Jewish community.
You celebrated Bright Monday with a protest, as is your right as an American citizen. But this protest resulted in a beating. Tell me, will you beat an Orthodox Christian who objects to your racism? Will you beat any Christian who objects to your racism?
We did not instigate the beating. We have been repeatedly and relentlessly attacked by Leftists, and we did no more than what was necessary to defend ourselves against an unprovoked attack by anti-Christian extremists. We are not a violent group, and would certainly not instigate violence in the name of the Church. If you would grant one thing, please desist from the false proposition that we attacked anybody. We did not.
Perhaps your ecclesial participation must be monitored to ensure the safety of your sisters and brothers, some of whom may be of color, who may be gay, who may be the descendants of Jews. Perhaps you must never be left alone with those who do not share your views, in the same way a convicted child molester can participate in a community but should always be accompanied by an adult and should never be allowed to directly interact with children in any capacity, supervised or otherwise.
Had we been what you imagine we are, we would have been identified and expelled years ago. Those who actually know us and interact with us could only laugh at the prospect of us randomly attacking people…in Church or otherwise.
Will you use a cross to beat someone different than you, or will you allow yourself to be hung on it by offering your body as a substitute for the least, perhaps at the hands of the very fascists with whom you now identify?
In light of the revelation that we don’t beat people for being different from us, and don’t believe we’re more worthy in God’s eyes than any other sinner, would you reconsider your condemnation of us?