Sunday, 24 August 2008

Disturbing trends in Eastern Orthodoxy?

A member of my Free Evangelical Church here in Germany was sent to Kosovo on some kind of mission with the military. He held high level talks with members of the Cathlolic and Muslim communities, and though he noted that the Catholics and Muslims get along admirably, the Catholics and Orthodox live in deep enmity with eath other. There is no communication amongst these two groups, he told us, and the Serbian Orthodox Church has offically banned contact. Christian witness to God's reconcilation is thereby deeply hindered.

A NYT article documenting Russian Orthodox persecution of Protestant denominations ("At Expense of all Others, Putin Picks a Church", if you prefer video go here) cites the following from a sermon, held on Televesion by Rev. Aleksei D. Zorin, a chief priest, and repeated every few hours:

“We deplore those who are led astray — those Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, evangelicals, Pentecostals and many others who cut Christ’s robes like bandits, who are like the soldiers who crucified Christ, who ripped apart Christ’s holy coat."
My father-in-law grew up in Russia and has maintained contact with the villiage his family were sent to by Stalin. Though he hasn't talked of offical oppression in post-Communist Russia, the local priest in his village apparently encourages youngsters to vandalize Protestant property. A new Bapist church is being set up, but they were advised against doing it in the intended spot as it is next to a kindergarten and locals would complain.

What's going on?

No doubt one has to distinguish between politics and religion, against minority groups within the church and corrupt leaders, and against fear of things culturally foreign, but I have to say I come across these kind of statements more than I would hope to in connection with Orthodoxy.

Update 1: I should add that I have come accross an interesting looking blog called Eirenikon - Towards Catholic-Orthodox Reconciliation.
Update 2: Jim West links to a news article from Forum 16 detailing the latest persecution.

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