His Eminence, Metropolitan Savas Zembillas has seen it necessary and appropriate to speak on behalf of the Church in political matters against Matthew Heimbach, rewarding the virulently anti-Christian (of all denominations) SPLC political organization with a quote for its latest smear piece on our work in general and our comrade Matthew Heimbach in particular, East of Eden.
Metropolitan Savas Zembillas, chairman of the Committee for Church and Society of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, says that they just don’t understand Orthodoxy. According to Savas, it’s not unusual to encounter “converts to Orthodoxy who came in carrying baggage from other jurisdictions, just barely Orthodox, still wet from their chrismations [the ceremony through which one becomes a member of the Orthodox Church]. But they came to Orthodoxy because they imagined it reinforced their deepest held convictions, which were on the spectrum that would lead to Nazism, although not yet there.”
Perhaps to Father’s surprise, the journalist couched his quote in an article essentially accusing the Eastern Orthodox of being guilty of facilitating Nazism, racism, sexism, and all manner of frightful -isms. Had he taken the time to more carefully research the organization before contributing to an attack on Orthodox adherents, he would have perhaps reconsidered lending his impressive title and eminent achievements to such a contemptible organization. He may have also pondered more carefully whether it’s prudent to publicly remark (especially in a presumptuous and hostile manner) about the spiritual growth of a recent Orthodox convert.
I am granting the Metropolitan every benefit of the doubt, assuming he didn’t truly know of the SPLC’s anti-Christian pedigree, that he’s not examined Matthew Heimbach’s actual beliefs, and perhaps even innocently accepted the SPLC’s claims of his beliefs at face value, and made the statement with a sincere hope that Matthew Heimbach can some day be accepted back in communion with the Only, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Having assumed these statements were made in a spirit of humility and simplicity, then he’ll surely welcome a humble and simple public response to his public remarks.
We’re Not Trying to Change the Church
Heimbach and I got away with attending Orthodox parishes for years before his Chrismation. Neither of us concealed our beliefs from the priests, though we did check our politics at the Narthex with fellow parishioners. For years, my parish was an Antiochian one with a primarily Syrian congregation. Imagine that, a seething bigot going out of his way to attend an overwhelmingly non-white Church, and gladly welcoming non-White clergy into his home and the most intimate aspects of his personal life. That would be odd for a Nazi to do, though it would already be odd for us to be Nazis, given that Nazism is a secular modern ideology.
At our last parish, we regularly spent coffee hour with a Latin American Marxist who openly espoused his Communism and eagerly explained why it’s compatible with Orthodoxy in the Church. We didn’t object to him doing this, or respond to him in kind. We are, after all, very recent converts who are there to be changed by the Church, not to change the Church. The Metropolitan is absolutely right that we’ve arrived with many habits and ideas which aren’t aligned with the Church, and we have a great deal of growth and development remaining before us. Not that we’re looking to hurry up and grow in our knowledge and time in it so that we can some day earn the respect and wisdom necessary to change it. We’re not trying to change the church.
It’s understandable that those who are only seeing the smoke instead of the fire presume that we’re trying to politicize the Church in a right-wing direction. We’re not. We believe the Church generally transcends politics, and that Orthodoxy should prove a safe haven for every nationality and political identity which isn’t outright contradictory to Church teachings (pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage, etc…). And even then, I would like to note that these issues which are far more clearly defined than our own situation don’t compel clergy to rigorously excommunicate and publicly attack and insult those members who do happen to favor abortion and gay marriage.
I don’t even think it necessarily should publicly excommunicate the liberal heretics and sinners. I believe, and many clergy agree, that these kinds of issues are best dealt with in the intimate pastoral care of the local priest rather than in the contentious and anonymous bazaar of public statements, harassment campaigns, boycotts, threats, and similar noise which I believe are beneath the dignity of the institution. The Catholic Church in the United States doesn’t excommunicate Pat Buchanan, not because it by-and-large agrees with him. They don’t. They don’t excommunicate him because they’re too catholic to pick sides on all the worldly political affairs of their parishioners.
But I digress, as I’m perhaps guilty here of sharing my opinions within the Church on a matter relating to the Church. Left-wing converts are downright encouraged to agitate and speak up within the Church, but I’m not even asking for that apparent bias to be explained or resolved. I’ve been asked not to try to change the Church, and I’ll humbly obey, with one small exception: We are not to be excommunicated because of our worldly politics.
We are not to be excommunicated because of our worldly politics.
We were not excommunicated for ethnophyletism. We were not excommunicated for anything related to Church Teachings. We were excommunicated for the singular reason that we’re White Advocates in America, in a country where there’s a very strong taboo against being pro-White. I understand why you and others would perhaps prefer that we just go away and bother a different church. Our mere presence brings controversy on the Church, even when we’re sincerely doing everything we can to keep our political beliefs in their proper place. I really am sorry about the grief the whole situation brings on the Church, but I categorically can’t renounce and denounce my very identity (the condition for rejoining) and you categorically shouldn’t deny me the Mysteries without just cause.
We’ve been sloppily accused of “ethnophyletism” because it’s the nearest canonical heresy relating to ethnic or racial prejudice. The problem is that the heresy of ethnophyletism is a specific thing, and not just a synonym for “being a racist”. Ethnophyletism is the specific act of denying entry and communion to somebody on account of their identity. We’ve never promoted that, and we’ve publicly renounced that just to be clear on the matter. The irony here is that’s exactly what’s being done to us. If I were a Black American, would you have the audacity to demand that I renounce my Black Pride or cease advocating for my people? Of course not! You would be vividly in violation of both the spirit and the letter of Orthodoxy if you did such a thing.
The only difference between that situation and this one is that there’s a firestorm of worldly political pressure on the Church to condemn us to Hell for being politically incorrect. All around the world, Orthodoxy welcomes people from across the political spectrum, including millions who are more stridentl traditional and identitarian than ourselves. Outside of America, it’s understood that the Church is big enough for neo-Marxists and Radical Traditionalists alike. All around the world, Orthodoxy is a safe harbor for people belonging to a whole rainbow of identities, including people who don’t belong to a traditional ethnic identity at all; with one glaring and convenient exception: Matthew Heimbach.
Our hope is that somebody somewhere in the Church with sufficient authority will closely investigate this matter in detail and perhaps, after careful review, and interviews, and potentially even modification of our beliefs and behaviors, welcome us back into the Church. Ideally, the man who would do this would be free and clear of accusations of bigotry or political motives, a man who strongly disagrees with our worldly politics but is willing to accept us into communion despite those differences. Perhaps that man could be you, Your Eminence?
Statement of Obedience
The following is the obedience statement we delivered to our priest in order to clearly state what our beliefs are on the matters relevant to our excommunication. It’s subject to revision and supplementation as necessary to align our beliefs with the Church…
I reject the heresy of phyletism. Nobody is to be denied entry into the Church, warm fellowship, or communion on the basis of their racial, national, or ethnic identity. The Orthodox Christian Church is Universal, transcending racial, national, and ethnic identities, and each parish must remain a safe harbor for any and all Orthodox Christians.
I reject the sinful notion of supremacism. Humility is a cornerstone of Church Tradition and an attitude of superiority over our fellow man is incompatible with the Faith. I reject racial supremacism, sexual chauvinism, class elitism, and all other worldly attempts to glorify myself at the expense of others. Regardless of our strengths and virtues, which are themselves but gifts from God, we are all equally sinners and penitents unworthy of God’s grace.
I reject the sinful notion of homophobia. A subtle but vital distinction is to be made here between a rejection of the sinner’s behavior and hateful bigotry toward that sinner. We are all sinners, and imagining that this particular sin renders a man or woman uniquely wicked is a prideful and uncharitable approach to the problem. While homosexual behavior must not be tolerated or accepted as anything other than a sin, homosexuals themselves are also God’s children and are not to be persecuted, attacked, or denied their basic human dignity.
I reject the attitude of violence. Defending one’s family, folk, and faith with force may be necessary from time to time, but only after all peaceful means of conflict resolution have been exhausted and a precedent of preferring peace and harmony over strife and injury has been clearly established.
I will abstain from controversy within the Church. Even the smallest and most outwardly homogenous parish contains a wealth of political opinions, personality types, and backstories. It’s vital for the defense of the sacrality and unity of the Church, its Divine Liturgy, its Holy Icons, and its parishioners that undue controversy not be stoked within its walls. I will seek at all times to bring the congregation together in a shared love of Christ rather than pulling it apart along inevitable differences.
I will also be mindful of how my words and deeds outside the Church may bring unwelcome controversy into it. I will avoid appearing to speak on behalf of the Church, making controversial statements about the Church, or intermingling symbolic elements associated with the Church with any controversy I may be involved in outside the Church.
I will respect the authority of the Church, humbly accepting penitence and guidance as it is generously provided. If I have issues, conflicts, and concerns relating to the Church which are too burdensome to silently bear, I will discreetly and respectfully raise them through the proper channels. I will strive to set an example of obedience and will refrain from idle gossip, controversy, factionalism, and squabbling either among fellow parishioners or with clergy.