Is it Wrong for Christians to Sue Each Other?

It has come to our attention that several Orthodox laymen (and one priest) are being sued by another Orthodox priest for defamation of character. The details of the lawsuit can be found here. Our concern however is not with this specific case but whether it is moral for Christians to sue each other. The issue was addressed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! (1 Corinthians 6:1-5)

This passage is unambiguous and clearly states why it is immoral for Christians to go to secular court against each other. But it is also not a call to inaction. Christians are not to use a false sense of piety to restrain themselves from seeking justice when wronged. That is also clear from the text. In addition, St Paul’s admonition must be viewed in the proper historical context. For one thing, Christians were on the cusp of being persecuted at this time. (St James the Greater had already been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa and other Christians like St Stephen had already been subject to mob violence by Jewish communities throughout the Roman world.) Their exposure to the civil court system of the Roman Empire might have resulted in both parties being put to death. The Roman government didn’d care if one Christian wronged another; if both were found to be Christians, both were executed.

Thirdly, the various Christian communities had already established their own informal system of adjudicating torts and other wrongs perpetrated by one Christian against the other. St Paul himself had been subjected to shunning by the Apostles because of his former persecution of the Church; Ananias and Sapphira likewise suffered death because of the pronouncement against them by St Peter when they reneged on a promise. Other examples include the resolution of the plight of the Hellenists’ widows with the creation of the diaconal ministry and the question of whether gentile converts would have to undergo circumcision (Council of Jerusalem). Other examples abound, too numerous to mention here.

Clearly the early Church resolved quandaries and problems based on a wide variety of legally binging solutions. Usually this was done in a conciliar fashion but other times the word of a single Apostle was enough to render judgment against an offender, as when St Paul excommunicated an incestuous couple in the Church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:1-8). What these incidents tell us is not that the Christian Church didn’t have sinners and miscreants in it —as has always been the case—but that wronged parties could seek just restitution from within the Church and more importantly, that the Church (or its agents) ruled justly.

There is no denying the validity and righteousness of the punishments that Sts. Peter and Paul meted out to Annanias and his wife, or to the immoral couple in Corinth respectively. Likewise, the justness of the resolution of the gentile converts is apparent to all. Paul’s initial shunning may seem harsh to modern sensibilities but we cannot forget that real people were injured—and killed—because of the actions of Saul of Tarsus in his capacity as enforcer of the Temple cult.

This clearly is not the case today, when the defendants named in this lawsuit have done very real damage to real individuals (to say nothing of the Church). The mechanism of episcopal action, up to and including excommunication certainly existed but was never used. That the Bishop of Chicago finally disciplined one of these defendants is cold comfort as the damage that this same person had done over the past several years is unatoned for.

Regardless, the other defendants continue to pursue their selective crusades and/or vendettas. One in particular continues to libel many innocent men in the most toxic language imaginable without any suffering any consequences. To my knowledge, these people are Orthodox Christians and thus accountable to their diocesan bishops. Yet no discipline has been forthcoming. Of course their selective outrage cast a pall over their credibility but that is tangential to the issue at hand.

There is no other way to put this but to state outright that the systemn prescribed by the Church for dealing with such matters is broken. Perhaps irretrievably so. As we have learned from the affair concerning the former Chancellor, the ecclesiastical “court” which tried him was hopelessly corrupt and inept. All normal things we associate with due process were callously thrown out the window. It was, if anything, a buffoonish caricature of a kangaroo court. In such a context, it is difficult to fault a wronged party from seeking recourse to repair the damage done to him.

What is particularly sad is that the First Amendment to the Constitution has been unambiguous in upholding the freedom of religion. This always meant that religious intitutions could always act as they wished in internal matters. Recently, with the Tabor decision, the Supreme Court upheld this doctrine unreservedly, and more importantly, unanimously. This is a huge victory for freedom of religon and a great bludgeon to be used by religious people to beat back the forces of atheist/secularist tyranny. Regadless of its merits, it signals to our episcopate that they no longer have to fear repurcussions against them should they act in their capacity as ecclesial jurists. Nor should they restrain themselves from a false sense of modesty or a warped view of mercy. The same passage quoted above admonished the Church to not withhold judgment. Indeed, it is the other side of the same coin. As for mercy, that can only be effective where there is genuine contrition. This includes a desire to make restitution. To our knowledge, the named defendants have not shown remorse for their egregious actions.

Until that time in which the bishops decide to act like bishops, we will continue to see wronged parties seeking redress elsewhere.


  1. Carl Kraeff says

    “Regardless, the other defendants continue to pursue their selective crusades and/or vendettas. One in particular continues to libel many innocent men in the most toxic language imaginable without any suffering any consequences. To my knowledge, these people are Orthodox Christians and thus accountable to their diocesan bishops. Yet no discipline has been forthcoming. Of course their selective outrage cast a pall over their credibility but that is tangential to the issue at hand.”

    I find this statement incredibly ironic.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      why, pray tell?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        There have been many instances on this blog of folks who “libel many innocent men in the most toxic language imaginable.” Of course, “libel” is often in the eye of the beholder and truth is a perfect defense, but has it not occurred to you that going tit-for-tat (to use the most charitable explanation I can think of), would also expose Monomakhos to the same accusations?

        • Nicholas Verdi says

          No, not really. Libel has a specific connotation. If I call Robert S a pedophile, and he’s not, that’s libel. However, if he is a pedophile, then no libel/slander was perpetrated. To the best of my knowledge geo has neither libeled nor slandered anybody. Nor has he made gratuitous slurs about peoples’s physical appearance, distorted their names in hurtful ways, or otherwise defamed them as has Drezhlo.

          Criticizing Bishop X because he signed a petition but won’t let another bishop sign one is fair game.

  2. Is it wrong for Christians to use one another?
    In a word: Yes.
    But hardness of heart will lead to it happening (just a general observation, not apropos this case in particular).

  3. Ivan Vasiliev says

    This all seems “too much of a muchness”. Yes, mean people are saying mean things, but taking them to court for being mean is taking them far too seriously, and perhaps taking oneself far too seriously. When one looks at some of the names mentioned, it all seems a little silly to me.
    I’ve read, I must admit, some of the rants that must have provoked the plaintiff. I would consider myself to be a simpleton if I took it all seriously.
    Sometimes I think we Orthodox in this country need to take a good look around. We are an invisible minority for the most part. No one cares about our little tempests in the teapot–not even the vast majority of our miniscule number or active believers (in the context of the whole society). It is best sometimes to look at these things for what they are, that is, cheap entertainment. It may hurt to be the target of such behavior, but it is best to rise above it. Sarah Palin didn’t run to court when Tina Fay made fun of her. Our priests shouldn’t run to court when a bunch of meanies make fun of them. If another priest is involved–go to the bishop. Likewise, if it is a serious matter, make a complaint to the bishop about errant laity. But, for heaven’s sake (literally) don’t make a comedy of these misdeeds in a civil court.

  4. Ivan,

    On one level you make sense, we do take ourselves much too seriously. Yet, what does one do when our bishops play “fast and loose” with people’s lives, clergy and laity? A layperson can walk out the door of a Church and find another parish. But for a cleric, he is yoked to his bishop, who IMO take themselves the most too seriously. They are called “Master”, people kiss their hand and pray they live forever, they dress up like Byzantine Emperors and all too often act like despots.

    The only bishop who stood up to the outrage that is spewed on the Internet was Bp. Matthias. The rest of them coward in the face of these Internet muggers. I totally agree with you when it comes to Stan Drezlo. He is just a mean person with a very large axe to grind because of his choice to become a woman and the Church saying to him, you can’t expect Church to bless the consequences of how you use your free will. Stan is easy to figure out. Stan speaks his own mind, takes no comments. He stands or falls on his own words.

    However, the Orthodox Forum, run by Fr Regan, is nothing more than a platform for others to be just as mean as Stan provided by a priest. Why? How, as you say, Ivan, how is the invisible Orthodox Faith here in the USA being promoted by such a site? Of course, people can say, “You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to write on it,” like I do here. True, guilty. No excuse on any level. I have said so sinful things about people, true things, but nonetheless unnecessary. But if I was a bishop, a Archpastor of pastors, I would not only preach against sin, but would expect my clergy to do the same in word AND DEED.

    To coin a phrase of Ronald Reagan to Mikael Gorbachev, “Mr. Regan, tear down that website.” Bp. Benjamin, take a page out of your brother bishop’s playbook, and in a more direct and responsible manner unlike Matthias to Stokoe, instruct your priest to take down the Orthodox Forum. And, if he does not, then you as his bishop simply ask him to choose, his website or his pastoral assignment in your diocese. The Orthodox Forum is a cesspool of the most vile and hurtful bile speech. It is ugly.

    What, Bp Benjamin is stopping you from doing the right thing? Why does it appear that you find it simple to dictate how Met. Jonah should act toward his clergy yet you are so slow to deal with one of your own?

    I don’t know if Fr Ray pleaded his case to his bishop before taking this action, however it does appear to me that our bishops did precious little avoid this action. Yes, Met. Jonah was correct in suspending Fr. Ray, but that is like popping a pimple without doing anything about the underlying infection. Wake up OCA, the issues run so much deeper than suspending Fr. Ray. You are failing us as our spiritual leaders. As a Synod you have abdicated your responsibilities to others while you expect us to just kiss your hand and keep calling you despots. And we wonder why Orthodoxy is so little known here in the USA?

    • Harry Coin says

      Amos loves the idea of squelching formus, yup it’s those forums not the gonzo things the leadership does the forums discuss (among lots of other things) that’s the problem causing loss. The thought of 1500+ mostly OCA types (including many clergy, and even a bishop from time to time) discussing among themselves, makes Amos crazy.

      The same bible that speaks of not using civil recourse features St. Paul doing so. The same bible that is quoted above as being plain and clear about the subject is also plain and clear that bishops are to be the husband of but one wife ‘chosen from among you’ and not ‘never married chosen defacto from afar’. I’m pretty sure the bible also has three different (similar) accounts of what was written on the top of the Cross as well.

      Orthodoxy is little known in the USA because the leadership insisted to enforce ethnic enclaves and be led by folk who haven’t been part of family life mostly since before Carter was president… to the point a rally of 1000 people seems totally enormous. In 1963 it was 13,000 people.

      Oh well, let’s get back to complaining about forums that don’t allow anonymous spin-miesters.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        You know what Harry the so-called “Ethnic Ghetto” thing only goes so far. I do believe that there is alot of pent up energy in the GOA and the like, but what about the OCA? Is the OCA an “Ethnic Ghetto?” What has the OCA been doing since 1970?

        I mean since 1970 its been independent and filled with convert clergy and laity. Why hasn’t the OCA let America know about the Glories of Orthodoxy. How about the Antiochians and the large influx of Evangelicals back in the 80’s? So please stop pushing because it only goes so far. Further, mixed marriages are up in the GOA, AOA and cross the “Ethnic” board in Orthodoxy.

        “Ethnic Ghettos” are NOT the sole problem. Let’s move on shall we, and realize that the problem is muti-facited? Thanks.


        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Excellent point, Peter. Even the the OCA became autocephalous and is indigenous to North America, outside fo the South for all intents and purposes, it was still very much an ethnic ghetto. Every bit as much as the GOA . The lack of vision was stunning.

        • An observation: A noncritical, enthusiastic elevation of “things American” along with a corresponding disdain for “things European and/or Middle Eastern” also results in “ethnic ghetto” parishes.

          • Antonia,

            You have hit the “nail on the head” with your comment. The untapped, or maybe the beginning to tap the diverse expressions of the Orthodox Faith that have been planted here is the future of a unique “American” expression of the Faith. We are blessed to have the chance to take that which is good and true and beautiful, that points beyond any one ethic expression of Orthodoxy, and bring them together into a “new” expression. Maybe that is what Fr. Alexander Schmemann.meant when he said that “Orthodoxy must change to remain the same.”

            I don’t see this happening on a grand scale until such time that there is a local Church here that embraces all Orthodox legacies in America. Sadly, we still hide behind our respective ethnic walls, including the OCA, which is, for the most part, nothing more than Russian Orthodoxy in English (with respect to the OCA ethnic diocese, which do the same thing.) The OCA, the great gift is still in many ways stuck in a “preferred” Russian expression.

            Until there is a unique liturgical expression of Orthodoxy in this land, like there is in Greece, Romania, Russia, etc. we will be what we are now, at worse liturgical ghettos, and at best unfocused hybrids.

            So how do we get there? A step, in humility by all, for the greater good of the all, would be for the Episcopal Assembly to take up this vision and begin to incarnate it in a American Typicon taking the best from each tradition. If we believe that the “rule of prayer is the rule of faith” – what we pray is what we believe, then what we currently present to America all over the place – from 3 hour Russian Vigils to 30 minutes Great Vespers is choice between “high church and low church.”

            We have all the pieces of the puzzle in front of us, but until we give ourselves permission to put that puzzle together and to say to the world, “this is how we worship the Triune God in the Orthodox manner in America” we will stumble along and continue to have what we have now. But if we can take up this task then and only then can we stand up and offer a united witness to each other and to those looking for the true Faith in this land. Such an effort will also challenge us to not be satisfied with transplanted Orthodoxy but work for a unique American plant that can finally take root and grow because it belongs to all of us.

      • The Bible does not speak against civil recourse. It speaks against those in the Church suing one another. St. Paul never sued anyone in the Church. He did make use of his rights as a Roman citizen, and no where does the Bible say anything against that.

    • Jane Rachel says

      I believe that nothing will change in the leadership. If they don’t have to do anything, they won’t. What’s really disturbing is how immoral the bishops are. But it doesn’t matter. The leaders do what they want, and the people don’t care. This is the truth, but it does not do any good to say it. 🙁 I did have some hope when Monomakhos began to speak out against corruption in the leadership, but now I realize that it simply isn’t doing any good. It’s been like taking down the mid-level drug dealers while helpless to do anything to take down the big shots. The power is too strong. You can sue and shut down Drezhlo and Stokoe and Orthodox Forum, but you can’t call Bishop Melchizedek to account, get that truth out and fix that situation, remove Bishop Benjamin, or tell the truth about Archbishop Job so the people listen and change and realize the damage he did and how immoral he was (oops! did I just say that?!?). You can’t reinstate Father Kondratick or clear Bishop Nikolai’s name and reinstate him where he can do some good. You can’t say that it was lies the people believed, not truth, that they were led astray, that they participated in the destruction of innocent lives, the degradation of the OCA’s integrity. The people don’t care and the leaders are not going to do anything. I hope they do, but pigs only fly in the imagination.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        George–Here is an example of what you are talking about: “What’s really disturbing is how immoral the bishops are.”

        • Jane Rachel says

          Oops! Did I say that? I would have said it with my name, but I don’t use my name because the immoral bishops in question had something to do with why I post as Jane Rachel. See how it works, Carl? I’m innocent of those wrongs that hurt the Church, but you say I’m at fault, not the bishops. No one should speak negatively about the bishops. No one should speak the truth. Shall we look at the truth about Bishop Benjamin, Bishop Melchizedek, for starters? No, best let things be and not name names.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            JR–I was trying to make a point about George’s article, not about you. I do not agree with your views but I certainly support your right to make them and I do not think that another Orthodox person should sue you in court for having made them.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Carl, I don’t remember saying that but being that bishops are fallen men, we can certainly expect some of them to be immoral. Let us not forget the case of Bp Mark Maymon, who admitted that he hacked into Fr Joe Fester’s private e-mail. That is an immoral act. Please remember, morality encompasses more than mere prurient activities.

      • Don’t forget about aeiral pigs fly in Cincinnati!

        As to Harry’s vision of things, I really don’t see where Orthodoxy has been advanced by the websites under the current litigation. Is the OCA better of now than it was before Wheeler and Stokoe started their assault, unless you buy the reshuffled deck chairs on the USS OCA Titanic and the promise of another Strategic Plan? Jane Rachel is sadly correct. Orthodoxy in the USA is rudderless and appears it will remain that way. Harry, you make your best point about the ethnic enclaves. But the OF won’t change that either. Yes, it provides a venue for people who like to complain and act sometimes in callous and mean-spirited ways, but I suppose they are like that in real life too. And, yes, Harry, it has provided you with a wonderful forum to make your case (among other places) for having married bishops, but in truth, I really don’t think we are in better shape because of such sites. It is a sad commentary when a priest has to go to court because he feels that is his only option.

        I would also suggest that when a person goes to court it is not just for his or her own search for justice but for those after him who may benefit by the ruling of the court.

        I find it ironic that as we speak about the CEYOLA gathering in Pittsburgh in 1963, that venue, the Civic Arena, or better known as The Igloo, is being torn down. That moment in 1963 might have been the highpoint of Orthodoxy in the USA, long before the Internet, Forums, Best Practices, Episcopal Assemblies, the OCA, etc. etc. etc.

        Is it too harsh to say about Orthodoxy in the USA, “Right Church, Wrong Country?”

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        JR, much of what you say is true but I for one don’t despair. Some miscreants are going to escape justice. This happens all the time. We gotta keep our mind on the bigger picture, and in this respect, you and a lot of others did a whole lotta good. Especially the good people that showed up in Seattle. Taking down the Stokovites was no mean feat.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      And which Bishop will take down Monomakhos, for example? If you are going to preclude controversial, inflammatory and even false remarks from being uttered in public, I do not think that the Bishops should shut down only those sites that are ruin by priests. Heck, you should also excommunicate all lay persons who dare to have an opinion, and if possible, reinforce this with the auto de fe. At the very least, you could employ Heracleides to make public examples of the miscreants. Yes, cowardly bishops are indeed the only obstacle we have to good order.

    • The Internet is an interesting quandry for Orthodox Christians. Instant communication is such a powerful tool. Every Orthodox Christian will have to make up their mind about how to use the internet and frankly, the bishops are clueless about how to handle it. That’s no excuse, and their recent attempt at creating Social Media Guidelines for Clergy was clear evidence of their inability to grasp the problem. Their answer was to create draconian guidelines which are both unrealistic and impractical to enforce. Will priests be suspended if they don’t unfriend a parishioner who moves away to another city? Will they be called to account for political postings? It’s all ridiculous nonsense. Let the priests be given broad reminders of appropriate behavior and warnings about inappropriate behavior. Although the current OCA Synod is not populated with technological luddites as it was previously, it is populated with men who are socially and interpersonally challenged on an unprecedented level. A bishop may have 5,000 Facebook friends, but it doesn’t mean he knows how to deal with even one of them on a personal level. In fact, for the majority of the bishops, we know they can’t.

      As far as the Orthodox-Forum is concerned, we have to call it what it is: A side-show of 10 or 15 very demented and angry people who chew the same cud over and over as the other 1,500 people sit on the sidelines and satisfy their prurient interests, watching Orthodoxy’s version of freely available porn. Harry Coin, one of the favorite cud-chewers and hero of internet take-downs, is a known quantity. He’s not said anything original in 20 years. Nick Skovran sadly sits in his retirement community and has nothing better to do but create encyclicals that reveal his lonely, myopic FROC view of church life. Melanie Sakoda is the hammer that sees every priest as a nail. Nina Dimas pulls out her imaginary anonymous correspondents to make back handed comments. Fr Michael Regan is the faciliator that makes sure the crafted guidelines are enforced to his advantage. If you’ve not read the Orthodox-Forum, I just summed up the daily activity for you. The truth is, yes the Orthodox-Forum ‘can’ do a lot of damage, if we allow it. But the reality is it’s the 600 pound gorilla that’s actually a 7 pound chihuahua. Anyone can set up a website and look like a Fortune 500 corporation, but actually be some 32 year old loser that lives in his mother’s basement. I do really think that most people don’t care about the Orthodox-Forum, and we give it way too much credibility. It’s a virtual sandbox for a few choice losers and we get to watch them play and throw tantrums.

      As I said, the internet is powerful. Orthodox Christians have to decide whether they will use the internet to tear down (cf Orthodox-Forum, Voices from Russia, OCANews, etc) or build up (AFR, OCN,,,, et al) the body of Christ.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        You know, these “us v. them” approaches are not terribly helpful. For Mark, OCA News was a righteous instrument to build up the Church, as I am sure Monomakohos is for George. However, once you start making such a division, you may end up with logically inconsistent and myopic calls for the shutting down of this and that site. I personally despise only one site, Voices from Russia, but it is not because of the viewpoints espoused by Drezhlo but for the ugly way that they are made. BTW, in your list of Orthodox sites, you missed Orthodox Christianity Net, which is well moderated.

        • “There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways.” (Didache)

          Sorry, but the issue of the use of the internet by Orthodox Christians is indeed an “us vs them” issue. One of the problematic issues is that the Internet is it’s flatness. All of the information is essentially presented as being equal. But guess what? All of the information on the internet is NOT equal in value. Orthodox Christians need to learn how to be discerning in understanding what is of value on the inernet that is labeled as Orthodox, and what is invaluable. It doesn’t really matter to me if Mark thought that OCANews was building up the church. If we “know them by their fruits,” then history will judge OCANews to be the force that gave a hard shove to the OCA off the edge of existence.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            I think it would be fair to say that discerning Orthodox Christians may arrive at different conclusions. Without going into specifics, my conclusions seem at odds with most of the posters here. Does that make me wrong and the majority right? Look, all I am trying to point out here is that reasonable folks may disagree. As for prognostications, it may well be that historians of he 22nd Century will laud OCA News and Mark Stokoe for having saved the OCA. I just do not know and I do not think that you can definitively say anything today on what the historians will say tomorrow. I will say this though, IMHO what we have gone through will strengthen and not weaken the OCA. I also think that OCA was and still remains in a unique situation to lead the way in the so-called diaspora, especially in the Anglophone world.

            • Please feel free to pass along whatever it is you’re smoking. I’ll take a hit with you. And feel free to pass along those ‘specifics’ about how you conclude that the OCA is stronger for having gone through this meat-grinder (to borrow a current political phrase). What data are you looking at? Financial? Membership? Production? Morale? Seminaries? Missions? Relations with other Orthodox Churches? Our place among American jurisdictions? Please, let me know if you find one figure in any of these categories that’s up from five years ago. Anything. I’d love to hear about it.

              No, the trend in the OCA is a deep, downward spiral. A death spiral. And, like all death spirals, as it nears the end, the downward trend becomes steeper, and it happens at a faster rate. This is why you have a frenetic discussion about funding (head tax vs proportional giving). This is why you have a lot of forward looking statements about “getting ministries back on track.” This is why you have a steady stream of propaganda flowing out of the OCA website recently, complete with inspiring articles about the ‘vision’ of the chancellor, and “frank discussions” by ministry chairmen sitting at tables, and about the plans to ‘implement’ the all important “strategic plan.”

              Of course you will have historians who will say that Stokoe ‘saved’ the OCA. It’s just like when you go to the funeral home and someone says of the deceased, “he never looked better!”

              All aboard!

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Carl, Stokoe “saved” the OCA in the same way that the Air Cav bombed Vietnamese villages in order to “save” them.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Carl, how about the citations that we should have parish councils? Or pews? Or organs? (I’ll leave the clear proscriptions against homosexuals and drunkards alone for the time being.)

              • Carl Kraeff says

                The bottom line is that y’all seem determined to win your argument no matter the cost, whereas if you were a wee bit less adamant and less self-righteous, you could contribute to the solution. Reminds me of the old Soviet era joke. Spasi is unhappy that his neighbor has a pig and he himself does not. Poof! A genie appears and asks Spasi how he can make him happy. Spasi says “kill my neighbor’s pig.”

                • I would be happy to contribute to the solution: Here’s my strategic plan:

                  *Allow Met Jonah to be a real first hierarch with real authority, modeled after the Church of Russia.
                  *Depose several choice bishops currently on the Synod who conspired (and continue to conspire) to weaken and ultimately oust Jonah.
                  *Publicly discipline Fr Thomas Hopko for his unchristian and untimely remarks.
                  *Disband the Metropolitan Council completely. Replace it with a council of presbyters who would administer the programs of the church, with lay persons as advisors.
                  *Hire an outside firm to administer the finances of the OCA.
                  *Sell Syosset and move the administrative offices to Washington DC.
                  *Restore the priesthood of the former Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick and make a public apology to him on behalf of the entire church.
                  *Depose Bp Mark and hand him over to the FBI for wire fraud and theft. Make a public apology to Fr Joseph Fester.

                  These minimal actions would be a good start.

                  Carl, you have no idea what you’re talking about when you imply that I delight in the death of the OCA. None. You should be pointing that accusation squarely at Mark Stokoe and Dn Eric Wheeler. They started this sh*tstorm and have destroyed numerous lives, families, friendships, ministries, parishes, and yes, it has all but destroyed the OCA. Their reckless actions have had their consequences. You reap what you sow.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Ah. Amen.

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    That would be nice. Will this actually happen? Only God knows.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Spasi–Your solution is not worthy of that name. First of all, the OCA governance structure is what the ROC would have had if the pre-Revolution reforms had gone into effect. As it is right now, ROC is stuck with an ecclesiology that is heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic influence that affected her in the 18th and 19th centuries–the reason for Father Alexander’s life work. In my opinion, “first hierarch with real authority” is nothing but heresy, an attempt to create a super bishop a la the Bishop of Rome. As for the rest of your “solutions,” they seem like a list that the Mafia would have written to exact vendetta. Shame!

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Actuially Carl, the Petrine reforms that decapitated the ROC by abolishing the patriarchate are to be viewed in nothing but a regrettable light. Even though the Romanovs were Orthodox Christian, the secular-dominated ROC lost its moral witness and became an appendage of the state. This happened to all of the Reformed Churches of Western Europe who likewise lost their moral bearing by becoming departments of state. (Notice that the Roman Catholic Church escaped this tragedy.) I often wonder how much better it would have been for the Russian Empire to have an independent episcopate, one that could have spoken truth to power.

                      The irony of course is that the “work” of Schmemann that you laud became distorted with corrupt laymen and married archpriest who had an inflated opinion of themselves (think Hopko, Garklavs, Kishkovsky). Because they knew the late Fr Alexander and because they were hyper-educated themselves, they viewed themselves as superior to the episcopate. Morally, they might have been given the decrepit nature of some of the previous bishops but that is neither here nor there. They very nearly succeeded in destroying the OCA.

                  • Thomas Mathes says

                    In ROC the synod deposes bishops and has done so in recent years. But I don’t see how such a small synod as the OCA would depose several bishops from its ranks. Perhaps you could explain more how you imagine that happening.

                    Your first proposal to allow the Metropolitan to be a “first hierarch with real authority” also perplexes me. Since he is the “Metropolitan”, doesn’t he already have the authority? In that case, he just needs the intestinal fortitude to exercise it. If he doesn’t have “real authority”, who can give it to him? The OCA synod? Could you specify “the real authority”? Certainly, not to depose bishops because the ROC synod does that, not the MP. Nor to interfere in the affairs of another diocese because that would be against the canons. To hear appeals from clergy or laity in other dioceses? To issues statements on issues of the day such as “homosexual” marriages? This last I believe he can do already and has done, both as bishop of his own diocese and as OCA metropolitan. Of course, statements done in the name of the OCA are best done in consultation with the rest of the synod since conciliarity trumps primacy.

                    • Are the technicalities of having enough bishops to depose other bishops an issue that we really need to discuss? Is that the problem here? No. I’m speculating, giving an opinion of what I’d like to see happen. I sadly admit that few, if any of my proposed actions, are really going to happen. I was asked what my plan of action would be, and that’s what you’re reading.

                      As far as “real authority” is concerned, let’s use the Russian Orthodox Church as an example. The Russian Orthodox Church has a newly formed Supreme Council, which is akin to the OCA’s Metropolitan Council (except with no authority, unlike the MC, which has an inordinate amount of authority and oversight). in this case, the real authority would be in the dynamics between the first heirarch as the president of the respective Councils. In the case of the ROC’s Supreme Council, they essentially do the bidding of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill. If you’re at all familiar with the Russian Orthodox Church, if you’ve ever been in the presence of the Patriarch, as I have, he has the authority over the entire Church, parallel say, to that of the President of the United States has, as well as the honor bestowed on him which comes with that office. Not to be trite, but when the Patriarch says “Jump,” the answer is only “How high?” I’m quite certain that the same dynamics play out on the Holy Synod of the ROC. Pat. Kirill runs that show, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.

                      Contrast that with the overt diminution of the office and person of Met Jonah. The Metropolitan Council berates him, votes him down, openly chastises him with the leadership of their “chaplain” (???), they contradict virtually his every wish and vision for this church at every turn, his administrators openly mock him, and MJ has been told that the central administration doesn’t even report to him. Met Jonah has essentially been forbidden from traveling to other countries, and certain bishops on the HS have refused him to come into their diocese.

                      If you’re not aware that Met. Jonah has been stripped of the vast majority of the prerogatives that a normal first heirarch of an Autocephalous church has, then I suggest you read the archives of this blog for the background information. They don’t let the man go to the bathroom without a hall pass.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Anyone can set up a website and look like a Fortune 500 corporation, but actually be some 32 year old loser that lives in his mother’s basement. I do really think that most people don’t care about the Orthodox-Forum, and we give it way too much credibility. It’s a virtual sandbox for a few choice losers and we get to watch them play and throw tantrums.

        Or their retirment home, or their local starbucks with a wi-fi connection, or…you ge the hint.

        We are so busy tearing each other down that we never lift each other up. The EP is the Patriarch of Constandinople, the Partiarch of Moscow is a secret communist, the OCA is the purest form of Orthodoxy and the rest can go pound sand, etc, etc, etc. So while we bloody ourselves our country and our world is becoming more and more atheistic and we are no better than all those many and various Protestant and Free-Church movements out there.

        This is why I hate schisims and separations.


  5. Drezhlo? Stokoe?

    I’d sue them myself.

  6. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    What’s the ethical difference between suing and “calling the cops?” May the Orthodox Christian who observes or is subject to criminal attack allowed by the Gospel to dial 911 and report the attack to the police? if so, does this mean that the Police and the District Attorney are “righteous?”

    What is the purpose of publicizing accusations and arrests of our neighbors, as Pokrov (Protection) does, before any such neighbor has been found guilty of anything at all? These publications are not just to “the unrighteous” but to the whole World.

    In other words, why is not calling the cops “going to the law?” Those who are dismayed by the spectacle of this or that Priest, possibly with a family to support, suing someone who is directly responsible for his loss of livelihood, seem to find nothing untoward in going to the “unrighteous” immediately, before going to the suspected perpetrator of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policies, before going to a third party, before even telling it to the Church?

    It seems to me rather thought-provoking how threats against corporate treasuries are met with knee-jerk, Bible-quoting responses against lawsuits by the clergy, while almost death-dealing allegations of suspected sexual “misconduct” are to be taken immediately “to the law” in the person of the courts of the “unrighteous” non-Orthodox!

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      One sues for recompense — payback for an injury. One calls the cops to stop someone who has done wrong from continuing to do wrong. The interest in the first case is equity; the interest in the second is public safety. That’s the difference between civil and criminal law. In a civil suit, it’s Smith v. Jones; in a criminal case, it’s the People v. Jones. When one files a civil suit, one is seeking one’s own good, but when one calls the cops one is seeking the greater good of society.

      Does that work, your Grace?

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Dn Mitchell, that’s a very good point but seeking recompense is not necessarily a bad thing IMHO. If we were talking about monk-priests who are abused/defamed/whatever, that’s one thing, but what about a priest who has a family to support? What recourse should he have if he is defamed or slandered and then loses his pastoral assignment?

        I realize of course that there could be an ecclesiastical court of arbitration which could adjudicate these matters “in-house” but as of yet, there’s been no indication that any of the jurisdictions have the moxie to establish such venues. That’s why I brought up the case of Kondratick. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know the facts which led to his expulsion, but what I do know about the court proceedings themselves were that it was a joke-cum-atrocity of the first order. He wasn’t allowed counsel, no minutes were kept, some of the judges were antagonists of his, etc.

        • Monk James says

          Geo Michalopulos says:
          January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

          ‘Dn Mitchell, that’s a very good point but seeking recompense is not necessarily a bad thing IMHO. If we were talking about monk-priests who are abused/defamed/whatever, that’s one thing, but what about a priest who has a family to support? What recourse should he have if he is defamed or slandered and then loses his pastoral assignment?

          (Monk James, writing my responses boldly): In terms of absolute justice, there is no difference between monastic priests and married priests or between married priests and unmarried priests who are not monks.

          I realize of course that there could be an ecclesiastical court of arbitration which could adjudicate these matters “in-house” but as of yet, there’s been no indication that any of the jurisdictions have the moxie to establish such venues. That’s why I brought up the case of Kondratick. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know the facts which led to his expulsion, but what I do know about the court proceedings themselves were that it was a joke-cum-atrocity of the first order. He wasn’t allowed counsel, no minutes were kept, some of the judges were antagonists of his, etc.

          FrRK was allowed counsel. It’s just that he and his counsel and I weren’t allowed to see the charges brought against him, or to present our case.

          Yet people still believe The Big Lie because they’re so uncomfortable about admitting that they were wrong. God willing, this miscarriage of justice will be corrected soon.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Lemme get this straight: the Chancellor was allowed counsel but the “counsel wasn’t allowed to see the charges brought against him”? Then for all intents and purposes, he had no counsel.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              P.S., if that’s not the definition of Mickey Mouse, nothing is.

              • Not having legal counsel is not as bad as not knowing the charges – that’s a basic denial of natural justice. “Mickey mouse”? I believe another apt term is “Kangaroo Court”.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Doesn’t really work for me. You’ve got the difference between civil and criminal court/offenses down just about right, but the Scriptures do not make such a distinction, which some mght consider casuistic. The Scriptures don’t say, ‘If your brother offends against you, and not anybody else, and is not a threat, then you must not go to the law.” I see your point, Fr. Deacon, but it is your point, one not find in the Scriptures or Tradition.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I would like some citations to support the position that Christians may sue other Christians. The Holy Scriptures, Canons or Church Fathers would do just fine.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            I’ll look them up when you find me the Scriptural and canonical citations for parish councils, pews, and organs (to say nothing about ordaining thieves and sodomites to the episcopate).

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Or elected compromised laymen to executive bodies who then use their power to conspire against duly-elected bishops. Find me that one, please.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Can’t you even try to stay on topic?

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Because of the egregious non-canonicity of the American Orthodox experience in its totality, it’s impossible to stay “on topic.” Nothing makes sense therefore the gratuitous non-application of the canons in regard to situation “A” makes it impossible to draw up a bill of particulars against situation “B.”

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Your Grace, you asked for the “ethical difference” between suing another Christian and calling the cops on another Christian, strongly implying that you don’t see any. But it seems to me a very reasonable and even obvious inference from the relevant Scripture (1 Cor. 6:1-8) that the ethical difference is the effect of our actions on unbelievers. Suing other Christians in a secular court demonstrates to unbelievers that Christ does not unite us in love, and refusing to call the cops on other Christians demonstrates that Christians put the good of their group before the good of all. So for the Gospel’s sake, we should not sue each other in secular court but should call the cops on each other for crimes against the commonwealth. That at least is the general rule — the better way, you might say — and I only point it out because you seemed to deny any difference between suing and calling the cops. On the specific cases at issue, I have nothing to say.

          • Prospective Nomad No Longer says

            The civil-criminal distinction would seem to be a problematic basis on which to found our application of St. Paul’s admonition, for a couple of reasons:

            1) The statutes governing quite a number of torts permit plaintiffs to sue for punitive (i.e. non-compensatory) damages. The purported public-policy rationale for such damages is general and specific deterrence. In at least some instances, therefore, the results of civil litigation include a prospective, as well as a retrospective aspect, for the protection of the broader public–the very justification that Fr. Dn. Mitchell offers for filing a criminal complaint against another Christian. I assume that no one would argue that a Christian may sue another Christian for punitive but not for compensatory damages, if such a suit were possible.

            2) Most people don’t call the cops out of a dispassionate interest in the future protection of the commonwealth. They call because they want Caesar’s sword to fall upon the perpetrator of a past wrong that they have suffered or witnessed. The inclusion of “victim impact statements” in the sentencing phase of criminal trials constitutes a rather prominent retributive aspect of that process. The purpose of criminal sanctions is thus not exclusively the incapacitation of the criminal vis-a-vis future bad acts, but also to exact some sort of compensation, albeit for the commonwealth. The colloquial expression about ex-cons having “paid their debt to society” illustrates the prevalence of this sentiment.

            His Grace introduced a further complication by invoking the example of sexual misconduct. In some cases, (e.g., if the alleged victim is a minor or if the alleged sexual misconduct was non-consensual), reporting to the civil authorities might well be mandatory. If a Christian “calling the cops” on another Christian in a mandatory-reporting case were to constitute a violation of St. Paul’s prohibition on Christians going to law before the unrighteous, the prohibition itself would be in tension with the Scriptural command to obey the civil authorities. Resolving that tension is way above my pay grade.

            On the other hand, a “general rule” that Christians “should call the cops on each other for crimes against the commonwealth” strikes me as quite broad. Suppose that a parishioner who is not an officer or trustee of his parish corporation becomes aware that his parish is engaged in some form of tax evasion. (Failure to pay sales taxes on the proceeds from church fundraisers is not exactly unheard of. Neither is paying the “cleaning lady” or the “lawn guy” without a W-2 or even a 1099, especially in smaller parishes.) Asserting that this hypothetical parishioner is morally obliged to contact the IRS or the state revenue department strikes me as a recipe for a great deal of acrimony. More realistically, it is an obligation that would almost always be shirked anyway.

            His Grace’s provocative question seems to require something more than the civil-criminal distinction.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              The civil/criminal distinction is very real and exists for the reasons stated. Impact statements and punitive damages notwithstanding, civil suits are still principally about compensation and criminal prosecutions are still principally about punishment.

              I’ve already provided more than just the civil/criminal distinction, and I don’t see the more that I’ve provided addressed in the post above. But let me rephrase things yet again:

              (1) The reason it’s a good idea for Christians not to sue other Christians is that it makes Christians look no better than anyone else, which makes a mockery of the Gospel.

              (2) The reason it’s a good idea for Christians to call the cops when real crimes have been committed by other Christians is that it shows that Christians support the common good and the laws of the land and therefore do not harbor criminals just because they’re Christian.

              In both cases, the main concern is public perception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  7. Jane Rachel says

    Any ideas as to the reasoning behind Fr. Ray Valencia bringing these lawsuits? Defamation of character. Is that the only reason?

    As to what St. Paul wrote. I believe the “unrighteous” are all too often those “within” the Church who are in reality “without” the Church. They attend, they participate, cross themselves, pass out Eucharist, but it is false participation. They are not believers. They confess, but it is a false confession. You cannot serve two masters. The “saints” are those who are motivated to act rightly. They may be “outside” the formal “Church” but they are inside God’s heart. If an unjust person steals something that belongs to a just person and that person’s life has been hurt by what was done to him or her, the just person is justified in taking legal action to get it back, if they want to. Clearly the unjust thief is not going to give it back voluntarily.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      very well put, Jane. Very well put.

      • Jane Rachel,
        Paul is speaking in terms of an objective righteousness/holiness/state of sanctity that being a baptised member of the body of Christ bestows upon a person. He is not referring to subjective sanctity here, although of course that should follow. It’s an important teaching from the OT (cf. Leviticus) that flows into the NT. It’s why Paul can talk in the next chapter of 1 Corinthians about the offspring of a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever being “holy” because the unbelieiving partner is “sanctified” by the believer. So, according to Paul’s way of thinking it makes no sense for saints to take other saints before the unsanctified in a civil court setting to obtain a judgment against them. It is basically a disruption of the order which should exist among the saints now and which will exist in the world to come, when “the saints will judge the world”. As the eschatological community (i.e. the community which is called to embody the principles and order and holiness of the world to come already in the present time), the saints are called to abstain from such disordered, worldly ways.

    • I don’t know if Fr. Ray tried to resolve this through proper ecclesiastical channels or not. The passage by St. Paul does assume that those in the Church are all subject to discipline by the Church, and I am not sure that all of those subject to the suit would have paid any attention to any ecclesiastical authority that might have tried to correct them.

  8. Monk James says

    On 29 January 2012, George Michalopulos writes:

    ‘Until that time in which the bishops decide to act like bishops, we will continue to see wronged parties seeking redress elsewhere.’

    This is pretty much true.

    The Scriptures and the larger Tradition assume that we Christians — especially our bishops — will be fair, unbiased, and just in our judgements of grieveances brought before us.

    Yet even the canons acknowledge that this might not always happen in actual fact.

    In that case, Christians — clergy or laity — are allowed by the canons to bring their cases to the emperor.

    Clearly, the emperor is out of business these last six hundred years or so, but the meaning of the canons is clear: Being stymied by the sort of justice wrongly applied by church officials, we may seek redress from civil government.

    It’s just a shame that we sometimes find ourselves with no other option.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself doesn’t forbid us to take each other to civil court. He merely discourages us from doing that and recommends that we work out our differences ‘on the way’ to civil court, since it’s entirely possible that some judge will rule against us, even if our cause is just.

    But if the bishops are corrupt and design false verdicts, as they did in the case of Fr Robert Kondratick, and as they even now conspire against Metropolitan Jonah, then parties with legal standing may indeed challenge their persecutors in civil court.

    But may the Lord bring us back to His heart and heal our souls, that we might not find civil law our only recourse.

  9. Heracleides says

    Over Nativity I ‘officially’ left the OCA for ROCOR (western rite). I did this for a host of reasons, one of which was due to an ongoing state-of-affairs that persists with no redress in sight. I have embodied my thoughts on the matter in the following image – entitled “Invite” – which may be viewed here:

    • Jane Rachel says

      That. Is. Brilliant.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      That. Is. To be expected.

      OTH, does this mean that you as a ROCORite will now become a bit more reticent about taking potshots at the OCA?

      • Heracleides says

        Don’t you wish Carl. It’s all the Orthodox Church – at least until the OCA is drummed out of the ranks – and as such remains fair game (which as an avowed Stokovite should gladden you).

        As for the preceding image, I felt the most ironic part was “Christ the Savior Cathedral” – savior from what??? Obviously not the passions, as they have quite clearly been capitulated too and habitually embraced at that so-called OCA Cathedral.

        • Jane Rachel says

          The most ironic part to me is the little bits of tape on the corners of the photos. The unbearably poignant part is the image of the two crowns right below them. By their lives they mock the crowns and everything the crowns represent. A bishop and a deacon. Married.

  10. Heracleides says
  11. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I sometimes feel as if discussions like these are similar to those between people who are watching their house burn down while arguing over whether the oven got turned off! Or, perhaps even more analogous to our situation, we are still inside the burning house arguing about the stove!
    I want to believe in an “American Orthodox Church” (OCA or some newer, better, model), but I’m finding it ever more impossible. The Church in this country is too small, too immature, and too venal for that kind of independence. Perhaps I am guilty of “ethnicism” myself, but I see no other real hope outside the Moscow Patriarchate (since we ought to have one jurisdiction, not many, and it is impossible for me to imagine that a “patriarchate” centered in what amounts to a tiny village in Turkey can provide what we need).
    Perhaps the guidance of a great and tested Orthodox Church will help us reorganize in such a fashion that we will one day (soon, I hope) be capable of ruling ourselves in a spiritually mature and godly manner. We simply aren’t there yet and the antics being played out all across the American Orthodox cyber-blogosphere (not to mention the nasty smelling backrooms of our various chanceries) are proof positive that this is true.
    Soon we’ll be standing in the ashes of the OCA, and the smiles on the wolfish faces of our “Orthodox” antagonists in this country will be (are being) wiped out by the scandals even now overtaking them. I suspect that the grownups are just waiting until the sand stops flying. If there were more MP parishes around, I’d have taken myself out of the sandbox long ago.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ivan, we are certainly small and have a lot of problems, but IMO, it is largely because we continue to be stuffed into the basement of our parents homes. We are forced to support our parents out of that basement while never, and I mean never, being allowed to get our own place and start to build our own life without constant parental interference. As long as we are tied to the apron strings of the dhimmi old world patriarchs, we will never grow up.

      Good parents work to to build independence and confidence in their children while being available for support and counsel if asked. Bad parents foster the continued dependence of their children in order to meet their (the parents) own emotional needs.

      We have bad parents, thus a plethora of incompetent bishops.

      Clearly we have bought into the co-dependency, dhimminutude mind-set, but that does not excuse the child abuse of our parents nor does it excuse us from having the intestinal fortutude to break the co-dependency ties and start on the road to maturity.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        Alas, I wish I fully understood what you are saying! I sometimes think I am forgetting my English as fast as I forgot my Russian over the years. The ROC is certainly not a “dhimmi” church, if I understand you correctly. Yes, the EC and others may be, but not the MP. If we want to see how a grown up church acts, then I think we can look to them–imperfect, but having stood the test of time, having survived the humiliations of the post-Patriarchal imperial period and the even worse assault by the godless regime. The behaviors of the American church are not even those of teenagers in the basement–more like ill behaved children on the playground. It would be a graduation of sorts if we were ready to move into the basement.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Ivan, the Soviet era legacy still dominates here in the US among those from Communist dominated lands such as Romania, Bulgaria and the Serbs. While not, strictly speaking, dhimmi the impact of the oppression and persecution is still deeply felt. Perhaps longer lasting because of the distance from the actual persecution. But at least the American saints from the Russian tradition are living guides and intercessors for us.

          The EP and Anitoch are clearly Dhimmi. If things continue on the downard spiral in Syria that we are seeing, the Anitochians may well be gifted with a large continget of new immigrants that will make it difficult to maintain an American orientation of any type.

          The MP does not seem to be any more interested in helping we Americans toward maturity than anyone else.

          Whatever stage of maturity we are, we will not grow-up as long as we are tied to the parents apron strings. The regression we have been seeing lately, is proof of that in my mind. We can’t quite bring ouselves to make the break so we subjugate ourselves even more throughly espeically with the dysfunction in the OCA causing us to believe we are incapable.

          Perhaps the candlestick will be removed from all of us.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Michael and Ivan I respect what you are saying, but from a purelu practical point of view the Greeks and Arabs have the Money and the organizational skills. Both the GOA and the AOA are structurally strong, well financed and highly organized. Stop looking at geography and look at who has the money.

            Archons and Leadership 100 has the man power, money and polticial influence, especailly in the Phanar through not only Greece but the U.S. as well. Trust me on this one. The U.S., Canada, Astralia, etc., are the branches that support the EP. Even Greece that is Jurisdictionally separate supports the EP. So let’s put things in perspective.

            The same with Antioch and the Syrians and other Arabs. They have the money, the ambition and the organizational background to get things done and have gotten things done for a very long time. Call them what you like, but they are structurally strong and organizationally sound. Now this does not mean we cannot criticize them for their lack of evangalisim and allowing an indigeouness American Church to arise, but let’s not underestimate their power, wealth and stregths as well.

            As for the MP its still in a stage of reconstruction and reorganization from over 70 years of communisim, and is just as “Ethnic” or Pro-Russia as any ethnic Orthodox Church so its not the answer either.

            Even if we get an American Orthodox Church look at the Catholics! They are still ethnic, still stuck in a rut, and still trying to engage the American public at large. Or the Evangelicals. These guys are just as “Ethnic” as us. Living among the “Southern” Evangelicals a good deal of my life I can tell you being southern and being a Born-Again Filled with the Spirit card carrying Republican Evangelican Christian is just as “Ethnically Ghetto” as the rest of us.

            Our Answers are not in Greece, Russia, Serbia or the South, but in ALL of America and ALL of us a Americans. Untill our visions is that and our desire is for that all we do is continue to fall back into old comfortable arguments that get us nowhere.


    • Carl Kraeff says

      It is quite true that ROC is much older, has many saints, and lots of experience in dealing with adversity and persecution. However, if I may analogize to a victim of a heart attack, the ROC, having survived the attack under Godless Communism, is in a recovery phase. She is still not up to par, even though the progress made is astounding. The OCA, as small, poor and damaged as she is, still outperforms the ROC in some indicators of church health. I am thinking of the rate of regular church attendance, which is 10 times better in the OCA than in the ROC (40% to 4%). I am thinking about rate of participation in the local parish life: 1% in the ROC, and at least 20% in the OCA. So, please tell me the ROC is such a shining beacon; I have a bridge I would like to sell to you.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        You should tell us how you define “participation.’ That would be very informative indeed.

      • Carl,

        What are your numerical sources to reach a conclusion 40% of OCA folk are regular attendees? What is “regular” and 20% “participation?” Yes, how do you define “participation?”


        • Carl Kraeff says

          The OCA attendance rate comes from The Orthodox Church Today by Alexei D. Krindatch of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, Berkeley, CA 2008), where the following figures may be found:

          Tab. 2 Regularity of attendance: Approximately, how frequently do you typically go to the church? (%)

          Several times a week: OCA-41, GOA-27
          About once a week: OCA-55, GOA- 57
          2-3 times a month: OCA-13, GOA-3
          Once a month or less: OCA-3, GOA-1

          Kindratch concludes that the above figures also reflect involvement based on the following reasoniong;

          “The “Orthodox Church Today” survey provided comprehensive information on personal backgrounds of the
          laity in two largest American Orthodox Churches – the “Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” (GOA) and
          the “Orthodox Church in America” (OCA). More precisely, the survey tells us who are the active and regularly
          involved members in the GOA and OCA parishes. Indeed, in each participating parish, the survey participants
          were chosen by the parish clergy who, in turn, were given instructions on the selection of respondents.
          Therefore, the chances are great that most of our respondents were persons participating in church life regularly
          and actively, thus, being more likely available to the clergy to complete the questionnaires.
          Indeed, Tab. 2 shows that 90% of respondents said that they go to the church either once a week (56%) or even
          several times a week (34%).”

          I, on the other hand, used the common ratio of 20% of the people doing 80% of the work to establish a baseline for involvement in parish life in the OCA (or GOA for that matter). Thus a realistic range would be 20% to 41%.

          The figures for the ROC have come from recent surveys that have been published on Monomakhos and I will not go over them again unless t’all cannot find them.

      • Carl’s numbers are probably taken from this report:

        It needs to be said that comparing the OCA’s health to the church of Russia’s health by measuring percent attendance is a stretch. For instance, the statistics for Russia that Carl is quoting may or may not be accurate. Since the ROC is, for all intents and purposes, the state church (if you will), there is a concerted effort in the press to diminish the stature of the church.

        We need to understand that a Russian’s approach to church life is much different than the typical OCAer, and church attendance may or may not be high on their list. All of us agree that church attendance is essential to Christian life, however, anyone who knows a Russian (or a Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, etc) can tell you that things are much more Laissez-faire when it comes to Church attendance. They might go on Christmas and/or Easter, but they still identify themselves as Orthodox, and they will remain Orthodox.

        Interestingly, a simple review of the typical older OCA parish in this country will clearly show around a 75% decrease in both membership and overall Orthodox affiliation over the past 67 years. That means that 75% of the families who were members of the OCA in 1950 are not only not OCA, they’re not Orthodox. You will not find that level of attrition in the Russian Orthodox Church, regardless of their Church attendance. The vast majority of Orthodox Christians in Russia will remain Orthodox Christians.

        And then of course there’s total affiliation. Around 90% of the Russian population identify themselves as Orthodox Christian. In the United States, the number of Orthodox Christians as a percent of the total US population is 0.3% (that is TOTAL Orthodox, not just the OCA).

        Therefore, it’s logical that the relatively few people who identify themselves as Orthodox (1.3 million in the US) will be more apt to be church goers, due both to the relatively minuscule numbers and the American experience of religion (a place I go to worship) vs the enormous numbers of Russians who experience Orthodoxy differently (a part of my cultural identity).

        While, admittedly, there may be some OCA parishes that show vitality and health, the OCA institutional health is greatly lacking and sickly.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        Carl, when the Tikhvin icon returned to Russia in 2004 about 400,000 people in Moscow and an additional 300,000 people in St. Petersburg venerated it. Almost a quarter million people gathered for the procession when it came into Moscow. A similar thing happened recently when the Iveron belt came to Russia. (I know, most of these people were ignorant about the faith and had no idea of what it was all about, etc….that’s the current Party line, isn’t it? But one wonders if they would have turned out in droves for a shaman’s purse.) My point is that even with a 4% participation rate out of approximately 100,000,000 people, the ROC has a vastly greater “presence” in the world than perhaps any other Orthodox body anywhere. Even 1% out of 100,000,000 is a million active people.
        That’s not counting all those other millions who feel some (real) sense of connection to the Church. When it comes to wealth and organization (as Peter mentioned above) there is an exponential growth in “presence”. Even Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Russian Communist Party recognizes this. He makes a point of honoring the Nativity and Pascha and the positive impact of the Church on Russia throughout the ages. The ROC is well beyond the convalescent phase.

        I understand and respect the fact that very few, if any, here are willing to consider the possibility of returning to a “mother church” while we enter a very much needed period of rehab. I happen to think that Moscow is the only Patriarchate big enough and secure enough to provide us with the helping hand we need and then let us go when we get better. I don’t think I’m naive.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Ivan’s arguments are well made and are the reason why I am hopeful for ROC’s future if she does not entangle herself with the state again. I do not agree with him that she is past the convalescence phase and certainly reject his call for the OCA to somehow be folded under the ROC.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I agree with Carl. Its quickly going to be time, if not already, that American Orthodox will come into their own. Because of our convert levels, Americanization and rate of inter-marriage its going to happen, and its going to happen sooner rather than later. As much as I am devoted to my Hellenic culture I’ve never fooled myself, and my culture, for me anyway, has always given way to our faith. ALWAYS! Why? Because I am much more devoted to the Gospel than to Hellenism.


            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Peter, let’s not forget, that you and I don’t have to give up “Hellenism” to embrace the Gospel. It was a Hellenistic stream which universalized the Gospel and took it out of the confines of Judaea. I like to think that we are still faithful to Hellenism whereas others are devoted to a vulgar form of xenophobic ethnocentrism.

  12. Thank you Spasi. I think your summary makes a much stronger case of reality than Carl tries to spin. As you said no doubt that there are pockets of spiritual health in the OCA but its long term prognosis based on its current episcopal leadership is grim, at best.

  13. cynthia curraWen says

    I agree with Peter that Evangelicals in the soutth come with that culture mindset and some of them in other places too, not just Orthodox or Catholics. States like Ms are just the cradle evangelcial when most of everyone goes to a certain protestant church like other people not like a state like Co or Ca or Or where you come from a non-religous population, evangelical churches in the west have aimed at the non-church for years to built up their numbers.

  14. Heracleides says

    My oh my – my last image struck quite the nerve with the Gay OCA folks. The image was yanked by photobucket due to numerous complaints. I’ve reposted it and it may be viewed here:

    I’ll also be posting it on flicker and other hosting stis later in the day.

  15. Jane Rachel says

    Maybe it’s too pink?

    • Heracleides says

      That and, well – it’s true – which is why the OCA laverder-mafia apparently have their panties in a twist. I wouldn’t doubt it if they enlisted Leonova’s Coven to complain enmasse. Anyway, I’ll start posting on multiple sites. Here is the Flikr URL for Invite:

      • The good news is they’re paying attention and you’ve hit a nerve. “The medium is the message” and you’ve found a very powerful and effective medium in your insightful and incisive pictorial commenataries. We’ve learned a lot from the work of the Stokoevites and now you’re doing them one better. Good job!

      • That and, well – it’s true

        Wait, what? You’re saying that there is an event planned for later this month?

        • Heracleides says

          Ah, but that’s the point – if those two degenerate clerics are going to embrace their passions and live in habitual sin, then they might as well receive implicit OCA approval (rather than the tacit approval they already enjoy). Nod, nod… wink, wink.

          • Heracleides says

            Heh… be interesting to see how many of Leonova’s Coven show up in Miami at the start of Lent for this gay… er, joyous event. 😛

          • Time out – Heracleides, you’re not saying that there’s an actual wedding, you’re implying that since they’ve turned a blind eye to this relationship, they might as well just bless it formally and have a wedding, right?

            I’m just really trying to understand what you’re saying here.

        • In plain English, no. Herc’s point seems to be that permitting the status quo and officially sanctioning a homosexual relationship (by permitting a church ‘wedding’) are essentially the same thing.

          I have noticed that Deacon Gregory Burke has vanished from the OCA clergy directory, typical for someone under suspension. Neither Fr. Ray Velencia nor Fr. Zacchaeus Wood are listed there, either. Bishop Mark (Forsberg) is still listed, however.

          • Helga,

            That is interesting that Burke is no longer listed. In the OCA, that would mean that Burke has been banished to the murky world of “non-person.” It is a shame to think that the Synod finally acted on this because of Monomahkos and didn’t see the outrage when Forsberg and Reese ambushed the late Archbishop Dmitri and twisted his arm to lift Burke’s suspension. I hear that Reese wants to leave the OCA. I wonder why? Another sad chapter in the impotent OCA. But fear not, the OCA has a $500K surplus. All is well.

            • Who is Reese?

              I don’t know who the bishops think they’re fooling. Seriously. Do they think they won’t have to account for this on Judgment Day?

          • permitting the status quo and officially sanctioning…are essentially the same thing.

            I disagree, but only that it is tantamount to the difference between slowly turning up the heat on the proverbial frog and dropping it into a pot of boiling water, which is a fine line but it is a line, nonetheless.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            I believe Burke’s name vanished LONG ago and was never restored to the clergy list. The evidence that he was alive and serving was in the parish bulletin of that Floridian parish. Now, if his name has vanished from THERE, that might mean that he had been, at last, subjected to church discipline of some kind or other. Burke has never spoken against the hierarchy, any hierarch, or their actions. Those are, as far as I know, the sine qua non of being subject to church discipline. Doesn’t Zacchaeus have a residence provided him by the sorts of people for whom he might have provided the award of St. Innocent’s medal amongst the retired leadership of the old “organs.”
            I know, it’s like playing “Where’s Waldo” as far as he’s concerned.

  16. You really don’t want to go down this road, Carl, do you? We could discuss the revolutionary atmosphere of Russia at that time and how the vast majority of Russian Orthodox priests believed in the ‘ideals’ of Communism and were supporters of the movement? And we could discuss how the 1917-18 Council was a reflection of the revolutionary ideals that many of the priests held? And we could discuss how today’s Russian Church is free to implement all of the ‘reforms’ of the council, but essentially have eschewed them all?

    So spare me idolization of that council, Carl. The party line doesn’t work anymore. The dream was buried along with the dream weavers. The current leaders of the OCA is trying to pump hot air into that dream again, but it’s going to go nowhere, especially with the advent of the Episcopal Assembly, which will kill that off once and for all.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Spoken like a reactionary par excellence. Eyes closed, ears stopped up, hearts hardened. Too bad.

      • Odd choice of words, Carl. Is the reactionary the one who wants to maintain the Orthodox tradition that is found in every land at every time, or the one who wants to reinvent 1,900 years of traditional Orthodox governance? When you hear supporters of the OCA/Moscow Council governance model openly reject the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch, then you’re dealing with something novel and innovative. Yes, I prefer tradition. Call me closed, deaf, and hardened. I’ll take my chances on that one.

        • George Michalopulos says

          me too. I’m too old and not clever enough to re-invent the Christian wheel. In the words of the treasured hymn: “Gimme that ole’ time religion…it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it’s good enough for me.”

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I am so glad you cited Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who said that The Church is ontologically complete/sufficient whenever a bishop is surrounded by his priests, deacons and laity–that is the definition of an entity no bigger than a diocese. The Ignatian model reigned for centuries and is embodied in Canon 34, which upholds the authority if the diocesan bishop, and curtails the power of the metropolitan bishop (he cannot do ANYTHING without the consent of his fellow bishops). The Ignatian model was dumped by Church of Rome when she subordinated all ofher bishops to the Pope and made the Pope sort of a super bishop. The next assault on the Ignatian model came when Constantinople flirted with supremacy notions, to include investing thePatriarch with authority that surpassed that of Canon 34. Moscow followed, but not to the same degree. Sobornost or conciliarity is the only current model that conforms to both the Ignatian model and Canon 34. Incidentally, IMHO it was an attempt to overstep the OCA Statute, sobornost and Canon 34 that caused +Jonah so much grief.

          The problem with reactionaries is simply their refusal to use their God-given gifts of discernment and their use of circular reasoning. To take the latter point first, the reasoning goes like this:

          – The Holy Spirit guides the Church
          – No change can be made without the guidance of the Holy Spirit
          – Therefore, whatever is received as part of the deposit of faith carries the approval of the Holy Spirit. .

          The fallacy here lies in the premise where there is no consideration of the possibility that some man-made changes are merely tolerated by the Holy Spirit for God’s own reasons.

          Refusal to discern may come from humility, laziness, intellectual shortcoming,personal predilections, and even from a twisted concept of discipleship. The point is that it is otter folly to blindly follow any past practice or to apply a previous rule or concept without regard to context and original intent. To so so would be to reject the advice of Apostle Paul to be on watch for Church leaders in wolf’s clothing and for false teachers. I have no problem with lemmings because I think myself more as a dog. But, be my guest and follow that old time religion off the cliff. Lord have mercy!

          • So, in your reasoning, the key to understanding the correct model of governance for our time is discernment, and that a refusal to discern is borne from everything from lazieness to intellectual shortcomings to twisted spirituality.

            You, Carl, are a best a Protestant and at worst a Gnostic. There’s no other way to say that. How many heretics have begged us to understand their new way of thinking, if we would only discern their gnostic revelations and reasonings? Indeed, watch out for false teachers. Indeed.

            But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-12)

            …especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. (2 Peter 2:10-11)

            For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,”[e] and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:21-22)

            • Carl Kraeff says

              I sure hit a raw nerve there! I take your “Protestant” and throw back “Heretic”; take your “Gnostic” and throw back “Papist” and and “Troglodyte”! Did this make you feel better? Frankly, I did not feel anything but mild amusement at the irony of you projecting back to me what I accused you of in much milder terms. BTW, very slick of you to avoid Saint Ignatius or Canon 34.

              • The only raw nerve you hit is my impatience button. In my professional work, I have no time for people that ignore the data, but simply want to massage it for their own purposes. The history of the church is what it is, you can’t change it.

                Feel free to point out my heresy. Good luck with that.

                Your Protestantism, however, is plain for everyone to see. You want to take the tradition of the church, throw it out, and refashion it so that it’s acceptable for ‘sophisticated’ 21st century minds and palatable to believers in post-monarchical societies. Your rejection of Ignatius is a rejection of monarchy as a Christian model of authority – very short sited, IMO. As soon as I find the laughable OCA AAC study papers from a few councils back that refuted the Ignatian model, and openly said that Ignatius was wrong, I’ll post it. I’m sure you’ll think it’s wonderfully ‘discerning.’

                I enjoy an intelligent conversation as much as anyone, but since that’s not happening with you, I can find better things to do with my time.

              • As a preparation for encoutering the blasphemous opinions from the AAC study papers, I’m posting a few choice quotes from the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch regarding the clergy as being the governance of the church:

                (To the Smyrnaeans)
                See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

                Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for ye are worthy. Ye have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. Ye have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while ye endure all things, ye shall attain unto Him.

                (To the Trallians)
                For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, ye may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire.

                In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church. Concerning all this, I am persuaded that ye are of the same opinion. For I have received the manifestations of your love, and still have it with me, in your bishop, whose very appearance is highly instructive, and his meekness of itself a power; whom I imagine even the ungodly must reverence, seeing they are also pleased that I do not spare myself. But shall I, when permitted to write on this point, reach such a height of self-esteem, that though being a condemned man, I should issue commands to you as if I were an apostle?

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  You have found some time after all!

                  You are barking up the wrong tree; I have not said one thing about the role of the bishop vis-a-vis anybody else but the metropolitan bishop or the head of the local church. You sure are full of sound of fury that signify nothing. However, by raising this issue, you are either willfully trying to evade my rather serious charges of papist pretensions against you and others of same mind, or you are being dense.

                  • Carl,

                    What religious affiliation did you profess before you became an Orthodox Christian?

                  • If you accuse us of papist pretese, then you accuse the Church of Russia of it. That’s where we part ways, and that’s what makes you a heretic.

                    In the statute of the ROC, under the section dealing with the Patriarch it clearly says:

                    5. The relations between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod shall be determined by Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles and Canon 9 of the Council of Antioch in accordance with accepted Orthodox tradition.

                    No one has ever refuted that. But later it says:

                    7. In exercising his canonical authority, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall:

                    d) exercise authoritative supervision over all Synodal departments;

                    g) exercise the executive and instructive authority in governing the Moscow Patriarchate;

                    The point being, the first heirarch is the executive of the entire Church. Yes, he is responsible to the others for his decisions, but is the one and only supervisor for the work of the entire church, the one and only executive. No other bishop on the Synod has the authority of the first heirarch in matters that deal with the entire church, and he should be acknowledged as such. He is not simply “one vote on the Synod,” he is THE acknoweldged leader of the entire church, even if he does not have episcopal oversight for each diocese.

                    That is NOT the model of the OCA, and that is certainly not the practice in today’s OCA, which treats the current Metropolitan as if he’s the hired help.

                    Anyone who approves of the diminution of both the office of the Metropolitan in the OCA, and the disrespectful treatment specifically of His Beatitude Met Jonah is acting as a thief who has come to kill and destroy the church of Christ.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Well, in my reading of what you have presented here, it looks like only lip service is given to Canon 34/Canon 9. The Popes did that sort of thing to.

                  • Oh, and look at these two beauties which also describe the duties of the Patriarch:

                    p) supervise the exercising by the bishops of their archpastoral duty in taking care for the dioceses;

                    q) have the right to visit in necessary cases all dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church (canon 34 of the Holy Apostles; canon 9 of the Council of Antioch, Council of Carthage 52 (63);

                    I could see these points going over like a led baloon in the OCA Holy Synod.

                    • Actually, Metropolitan Jonah does have the right to intervene in other dioceses when necessary. It’s in the Statute and everything.

                    • Yes, I understand that. But let’s face it, he should have tacit carte blanche to go wherever and whenever he wants, as does the Patriarch of Moscow. The ROC statute is a bit more vague and speaks about “when the need arises” which could be interpreted as “when he feels like it.”

                      And honestly, can you imagine Met Jonah intervening in any diocese at this point? They’d send him back to St Luke’s for a nothing psych workup.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      These two points are against the Canons, even though they say that they are. And, you are not using your God-given brain to look at the actual wording of the canons. You are proving my theory about your lemming-like tendency to follow blindly.

                    • “Hello, is the the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church? Yes, this is Carl Kraeff from the Monomakhos blog. Yes, yes, in the United States. Yes, sir, everything is going very well here. Don’t believe all that stuff that you hear about people leaving the church and intrigue and such. Everything is wonderful here. We are the example that the rest of the world should be following.

                      So, anyway, the reason I’m calling is to let you know that your statute regarding the privileges of the Patriarch is against the canons. Yes, that’s correct. It’s wrong. I’m sorry to inform you of that. It was probably just an oversight on your part.

                      And so anyway i was going to advise you to reform that so that the Russian Orthodox Church could be canonical again, OK? Maybe pattern something after our Metropolitan Council. You’ll love it. Well, yes, it’s a fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit. You see, we use our discernment to read the…

                      Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      RE_ Spasi’s wonderful scenario, pretty good, made me laugh out loud. Now, what makes you think that you are making a point that is relevant to our discussion? It is true that on one corner is the the powerful and mighty ROC and on the other corner is one insignificant American. So what? Is this your idea of a cogent argument? You brought up canon 34and you have not used it to bolster your argument. I keep saying the ROC is not abiding by the canon, and you keep pointing out that they say they are. Indeed, you are doing your cause even more harm by printing out for all the see those provisions that gainsay your argument. You remind me of a CPSU person with whom I got into an argument circa 1966 regarding Vietnam. All he did was to repeat the Party line.

                    • I think Spasi’s senario revealed a great deal of real life, relevant, discernment.

  17. cynthia curraWen says

    I agree with you on the Voice of Russia, didn’t know Orthodox could be so stupid. Anyway, they were quoting a study on stupidly and social conservatisim. Now, they would have to consider both the Byzantine empire and the Russian Empire stupid since both empires had anti-sodomy laws. Also, a very interesting article on child abuse during the Byzantine Empire by an Athenian doctor who studied the ancient and medieval sources stated even a medieval religous society like Byzantium which had tough laws. Sex with a minor boy in the Byzantine Empire you could be without a head. I guess the Byzantines were stupid since they were social conservatives to the right of the religious right in the USA.

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      OK, I’ll jump on the late off topic thread only because I can’t stand the silliness. I’m no fan of VoR (zip), but to suggest somehow because the Byzantines didn’t have sex with boys, they were more right than the religious right of the US is just pure comedy to me. Let’s start off by saying prostitution was legal in Byzantium and the church was against contraception. So, this complex logic drove men to prostitution and it became more than commonplace. And it created all sorts of wierd and twisted social behaviors including male infanticide, the explanation for which I will spare all.

      So, let me get this right. Are you suggesting today’s religious right in the US is for prostitution?

      Sorry for adding to the silliness, I couldn’t resist. How does one enforce an anti-sodomy law anyhow? I guess in Iran, they just decide your …popping and hang you, but seriously and pardon the pun.

      Don’t you have something better to do? I’ll go away for a few months again as I pretend I have important stuff to do at least.