Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Statement Concerning the Sin of Racism

The Holy Apostle Paul, in his speech on the Areopagus in Athens, unequivocally asserted that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). That “all nations of men” are “of one blood” clearly indicates that any biological differences between so-called “races” are superficial at best. “Race,” when used as a classification based on external characteristics (such as skin color, facial features, and differences in eye and hair color), is a largely artificial construct that has never been used as a legitimate ethical or theological category within the Church. When we speak of race within the Church, we speak of the fallen “race of Adam,” and the “Christian race.” There are no races, in the sense of there being an objectively definable category of "race" as we commonly use the term—only humans with any number of different phenotypical descriptors. Most emphatically there is not a “Caucasian race” or a “Negro race” or an “Asiatic race.” There are nationalities, linguistic groups, cultural associations, and so forth, but these have only an accidental relationship to phenotype.

Thus, all human beings, no matter their nationality, being of “one blood” (i.e. one nature), are all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, and thus children of God. This unity of the human race is only deepened by the oneness that we as Orthodox Christians receive in Christ, a oneness that in our Lord’s words in His high priestly prayer becomes like that of the Persons of the Holy Trinity itself (John 17:21-23). This oneness is the highest possible realization of our Lord’s commandment to love our neighbor as our self (Matthew 22:39), a love which, according to the Sermon on the Mount, means that we must love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

All of this obviously precludes any personal hatred, prejudice, or resentment of others on account of their “race” or nationality, and it must also lead Orthodox Christians to reject and oppose systemic or institutional injustice against racial or national minorities. Furthermore, it means that we must be wary of smuggling racism into the Orthodox Church under other guises.

For example, the Orthodox Church does not regard marriage and subsequent procreation between races or nationalities as either sinful or undesirable for any theological or ethical reasons whatsoever. The decision regarding whom Orthodox Christians should marry is a personal one only constrained by the Biblical injunction that one should, ideally, marry within the faith. Indeed, in one of his homilies on I Corinthians 13 (Homily XXXIV), St. John Chrysostom teaches that marriage between different families, nations, and races unites the human race in love just as does our descent from a common forefather:
“God also devised another foundation for us to have loving relationships with each other. Having forbidden the marriage of kindred, God led us to seek out strangers, again drawing strangers toward us. Since we were not designed to be connected in certain ways with our natural kindred, God connects us anew by marriage, uniting together whole families by a single person, the bride, and mingling entire peoples and races. [Επενόησε δε και ετέραν διαθέσεως υπόθεσιν˙ απαγορεύσας γαρ τούς των συγγενών γάμους, επ΄ αλλοτρίους ημάς εξήγαγε, κακείνους πάλιν προς ημάς είλκυσεν. Επειδή γαρ από της φυσικής ταύτης συγγενείας ούκ ην εκείνους ημίν συναφθήναι, από του γάμου πάλιν συνήψεν, ολοκλήρους οικίας διά της μιάς νύμφης συνάγων, και γένη γένεσιν όλα αναμιγνούς.]”
Additionally, love of or pride in one's heritage or culture may not be used to justify, in the name of "racial purity" any kind of separation along presumed racial lines in general, much less antagonism towards another race as such. Since we are all of “one blood” as St. Paul says, there is not and cannot be any “racial purity.” While a healthy appreciation of one’s country, ethnic heritage, language, culture, and family are to be encouraged, and when these are threatened by violence and oppression their defense may be warranted (see for instance, the Russian Orthodox Church’s statement, “The Basis of the Social Concept”), this love must never be allowed to foster division or resentment. As the Russian Church’s statement warns: “national sentiments can cause such sinful phenomena as aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, national exclusiveness and inter-ethnic enmity. At their extremes, these phenomena often lead to the restriction of the rights of individuals and nations, wars and other manifestations of violence.” The adoption of fascistic imagery, rhetoric, and tactics by groups that claim to represent “white nationalism” in the United States is a case in point, and constitutes a clear step in the direction of the extremes of which the Russian Church warns us.

We, as clergy of the Orthodox Church, affirm that racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia are sins. Anyone within the Orthodox Church who promotes or is sympathetic to any of these must therefore repent before God for the sake of his or her own soul, and for the good of the Church.


Metropolitan Savas (Zembillas), Diocese of Pittsburgh, GOA

Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar), Monastery of St Dionysios the Areopagite, East Setauket, NY, ROCOR

Archimandrite Christopher (Calin), Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, New York, NY, OCA

Archimandrite Jeremy (Davis), Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Norman, OK, AOCNA

Archimandrite Juvenal (Repass), Missionary with OCMC in Aguacate, Guatemala, OCA

Abbot Tryphon, All-Merciful Saviour Monastery, Vashon Island, WA, ROCOR

Protopresbyter John Tsaras, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Oklahoma City, OK, GOA

Archpriest Gregory Joyce, St. Vladimir Orthodox Church, Ann Arbor, MI, ROCOR

Archpriest John Whiteford, St. Jonah Orthodox Church, Spring, TX, ROCOR

Archpriest Stephen Freeman, St. Anne Orthodox Church, Oak Ridge, TN, OCA

Archpriest John A. Peck, All Saints of North America Orthodox Church, Sun City, AZ, EP (Palestinian Vicariate)

Archpriest Jonathan Tobias, Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown PA, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

Archpriest Mark Mancuso, St Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Church, Columbia, SC, ROCOR

Archpriest Jonathan Ivanoff, St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church, Shirley, NY, OCA

Archpriest Timothy Cremeens, Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA, OCA

Archpriest Joseph Butts, US Navy Chaplain, AOCNA

Archpriest David Straut, St Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Church, Rocky Hill, NJ, ROCOR

Archpriest John Breck, Wadmalaw Is. & SC, Bussy-en-Othe, France, OCA

Archpriest John Tomasi, Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church, Culver City, CA, OCA

Archpriest David G. Subu, Protection of the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA, OCA-ROEA

Archpriest Paul Schellbach, Holy Cross Orthodox Church in High Point, NC, OCA

Archpriest Victor Potapov, St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Washington, DC, ROCOR

Archpriest Gregory Mathewes-Green, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church, Linthicum, MD, AOCNA

Archpriest John W. Morris, St. George's Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, Mississippi,  AOCNA

Archpriest Athanasius Dresdow, St. Barnabas the Apostle Orthodox Church, Sunbury, OH, AOCNA

Archpriest Isaac Skidmore, Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church, Ashland, OR, OCA

Archpriest Stephen Soot, St. Anne Orthodox Church, Corvallis, OR, OCA

Archpriest Moses Berry, Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Orthodox Church, Ash Grove, MO, OCA

Archpriest Antonio Perdomo, St. George the Great Martyr, Pharr,TX, OCA

Economos Joseph Coleman, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Florence SC, GOA

Economos Apostolos Panos, Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, Jersey City, NJ, GOA

Economos Peter J. Pappas, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, Omaha, NE, GOA

Economos Apostolos Hill, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix, AZ, GOA

Hieromonk Alexii (Altschul), Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete, Weatherby, MO, Serbian OC

Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis), Monastery of St Dionysios the Areopagite, Long Island, NY, ROCOR

Hieromonk Timothy (Tadros), St. George Orthodox Church, Michigan City, IN, ROCOR

Priest Cassian Sibley, Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring Orthodox Church, Bryan, TX, ROCOR

Priest Richard Reed, St Joseph of Optina Orthodox Church, Virginia Beach, VA, ROCOR

Priest Turbo Qualls, St. Mary of Egypt, Kansas City MO, Serbian OC

Priest Steven Clark, St. Innocent Orthodox Church, Silverdale WA, ROCOR

Priest Joseph Lucas, Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral,  Miami, FL, OCA

Priest David Wooten, St. John of the Ladder Parish, Greenville, SC, OCA

Priest David Starr, St. Juliana of Lazarevo Russian Orthodox Church, Santa Fe, NM, ROCOR

Priest John Cox, Dormition of the Theotokos Orthodox Church, Norfolk, VA, OCA

Priest Raphael Barberg, St. Elijah Orthodox Church, Oklahoma City, OK, AOCNA

Priest Photius Zelinski, St. John the Russian, Ipswich, MA, ROCOR

Priest Michael J. Ellis, Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Mansfield, OH, GOA

Priest Photius Avant, St. Sava Orthodox Church, Allen, TX, OCA

Priest Justin Mathews, St. Mary of Egypt, Kansas City MO, Serbian OC

Priest Achilles Karathanos, Sts. Constantine and Helen, Swansea IL, GOA

Priest James Blomeley, St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission, Murphy, NC, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

Priest Aristibule Adams, Saint Brendan Orthodox Church, Lynn Haven, Florida, ROCOR

Priest Paul Abernathy, St. Moses the Black, Pittsburgh, PA, AOCNA

Priest Barnabas Powell, Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church, Cumming, GA GOA

Priest Gabriel Monforte, St. George Orthodox Church, Cincinnati, OH, ROCOR

Priest Dragan Filipovic, All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Canonsburg, PA, GOA

Priest Robert Lawrence, St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, Mooresville, NC, GOA

Priest Ignatius Ryan Lozano, St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Lockhart, TX, ROCOR

Priest Matthew Harrington, St. John Orthodox Church​, Kennewick WA, ROCOR

Priest Christopher Foley, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, High Point, NC, OCA

Priest Stephen Mathewes, Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church, Bluff City, TN, GOA

Priest Jeffrey Frate, St. George Greek Orthodox Church,Prescott, AZ, GOA

Priest Matthew Moore, St. John Greek Orthodox Church, Charleston, WV, GOA

Priest John Cook, Saint Tikhon Orthodox Church, Richmond VA, ROCOR

Priest Samuel Seamans, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Mountain Home, AR, ROCOR

Priest Richard J. Stoecker, St. Sergius Mission, Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, New York, NY, ROCOR

Priest Serge Ledkovsky, St. Vladimir Memorial Church, Jackson, NJ, ROCOR

Priest Benigno Pardo, St. Jonah Orthodox Church, Spring, TX, ROCOR

Priest Stephen Karcher, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Reno, NV, GOA

Priest Cyprian Craig, Holy Wisdom Orthodox Church, Gastonia NC. ROCOR

Priest James Rosselli, St. Joseph of Arimathea Orthodox Church, La Porte, IN, ROCOR

Priest Matthew Floyd, St. Benedict Orthodox Church, Oklahoma City, OK, ROCOR

Priest Constantine Valantasis, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Warren, OH, GOA

Priest Constantine Shepherd, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Winston-Salem, NC, GOA

Priest Joel Weir, St. Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Church, Crawfordsville, IN, OCA

Priest Maximos McIntyre, Holy Protection Orthodox Church, West Brookfield, MA, ROCOR

Priest Theodore Paraskevopoulos, Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Toronto, Canada, EP

Priest George L Livanos, All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Canonsburg, PA, GOA

Priest Martin Watt, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission, Ames, Iowa, OCA

Priest Kevin Greenwood, Holy Cross Orthodox Mission, Columbus, OH, ACROD

Priest Daniel P. Payne, unassigned, GOA

Priest Conan Gill, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Albuquerque, NM (GOA)

Priest Emmanuel N. Lillios, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Ambridge PA, GOA

Priest Benjamin Johnson, Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church, Byesville, OH, OCA

Priest Demetrius Nicoloudakis, St Matthew's Orthodox Church, Blandon, PA GOA

Priest John McCuen, Holy Archangels Orthodox Church, Phoenix, AZ, ROCOR

Protodeacon Michael Myers, St. Nicholas Church, Fort Wayne, IN, OCA

Protodeacon Sergei Kapral, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA, OCA

Hierodeacon Makarios (Robinett), Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete, Weatherby, MO, Serbian OC

Deacon Aaron Taylor, St. Benedict Orthodox Church, Oklahoma City, OK, ROCOR

Deacon Samuel Davis, St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission, New Brunswick, NJ, OCA

Deacon Joseph Brousseau, St. David of Wales Mission, Las Vegas, NV, ROCOR

Deacon David Bibeau, St. Andrews Orthodox Church, Lexington, KY, AOCNA

Deacon Nicholas Park, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, TX, ROCOR

Deacon Andrew Doubleday, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, ROCOR

Deacon Gregory Finlon, St. Innocent of Moscow, Carol Stream, IL ROCOR

Deacon Paul Bartlett, St. Aidan Orthodox Church, Cranbrook, BC, OCA

Deacon Peter Maris, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church, Linthicum, MD, AOCNA

Deacon Stephen Hayes, Communities at Mamelodui and Atteridgeville, Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Patriarchate of Alexandria

Deacon Theophan Frazier, Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete, Weatherby, MO, Serbian Orthodox Church

If you are an Orthodox Clergyman, and would like to add your name to this statement, please e-mail your name, title, parish name and location, and jurisdiction, to orthodoxclergy@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Cassian Sibley explains what we mean when we say that race (as we commonly use the term) does not exist:


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