Thursday, October 05, 2023
On September 14th, Foreign Affairs, the influential magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, published an article entitled, “Putin’s Useful Priests.” The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America hereby expresses its objection and concern with the inaccurate manner with which Orthodox Christians in the United States are stereotyped by the authors.
First, the article contains significant factual errors that are surprising for the renowned Foreign Affairs and disrespectful to a vital Christian community whose roots in America date over three centuries. Orthodox Christians in America – representing a plethora of ethnic and political backgrounds – number well in excess of one million people, vastly different from the misinformed number of 25,000 asserted by the authors.
Furthermore, the article’s vituperative and essentializing language can easily incite targeting and violence against America’s Orthodox Christians as a community. The reductionist characterization of Orthodox Christians in America as potential “fifth columns” is reminiscent of the worst episodes of nativism in the United States of America. Sadly, we have already witnessed the result of this type of fearmongering with the recent bomb threat made against Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.
The clear message conveyed by this article is that Orthodox Christian parishes and monasteries in the United States are hotbeds of support for the current government and policies of the Russian Federation, a message with no empirical data to support this claim. Notwithstanding the diversity of viewpoints in our communities – a diversity that mirrors the United States as a whole – the lax and potentially dangerous projection to all Orthodox Christians in America is untrue and unwarranted.
Therefore, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America decries the article as lacking merit and balance and call for it to be retracted.
Furthermore, we reiterate the recent words of Bishop Irenei of London, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, in his own response to the Foreign Affairs article: “We stand wholly against the war and we call for it to end. The war is an evil. It cannot be justified."
To our Orthodox Christian faithful and all people of good will, we urge you to pray for peace and harmony among all people without regard to personal or political conviction.