25 Things Wrong With The American Eastern Orthodox Church

[Update: 11/28/18. It’s been almost five years since I wrote this one angry night after driving 30 miles round trip to a church event that didn’t happen after confirming the time over email. I posted the article to one of those Facebook groups for about an hour as a kind of prank to watch people get angry. Five years, five thousand views, and 352 Facebook shares later, this post still regularly attracts readers and angry commenters for reasons I can’t understand, as it’s not really that great of an article and I don’t understand why people would share information on the basis that they disagree with it. I still agree with most of what’s in it, but I don’t think it’s anything particularly brilliant or insightful.

Perhaps the draw is just that it’s something different, because most things written about the Orthodox Church by Orthodox Christians are positive, or at least lovingly critical with lots of hope for the future, and this article was just cynical resignation. Perhaps also people enjoy being angry, and this article seems to give them something to be angry at without feeling like they are sinning.

My prediction that this article would repel people was obviously wrong.

You are free to leave all the angry comments you want, but it just kind of proves my point about the weird kind of political correctness and lack of humility I see endemic in Orthodox Christianity. We aren’t so different from American secularism as we would like to believe.

Since you all seem interested in what I think, better religious articles of mine can be found here, here, here, here, and here.]


I generally try to avoid posting things beyond the scope of my readers, but this really needs to be said, and nobody on the internet will do it. Here are 25 things wrong with the American Eastern Orthodox Church. Offensive and likely to repel people away, yes, but I’d rather tell the truth on the front end than lie to people to bolster our numbers.

  1. Parish websites are often poorly designed and do not provide adequate information about service times.
  2. Bible reading and active evangelism are often explicitly discouraged because they appear too protestant. When debating with someone, quoting saints has a strong effect but quoting the Bible will do little to convince someone. However, only the latter of the two is infallible in doctrine and morals.
  3. There is a great shortage of priests because there is not sufficient incentive to join the priesthood. The priesthood is so overloaded with politicking and work hours that men who would otherwise make good candidates run from it.
  4. Bishops found tiny missions in storefronts that have no substantial growth after 20 years. The priests complain or get a victim complex about not being able to draw a paycheck from the church, but often these priests will not get off their lazy asses and do some evangelism (see point 2) (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 1 Timothy 5:18).
  5. Bishops ordain new converts or people with little formal Orthodox study. These priests often have cult leader complexes. Notable offenders are Archbishop Demitri (OCA) and Metropolitan Philip (Antioch).
  6. Seminaries do not adequately prepare priests because of weak curricula and incompetent professors. This is broader than Holy Cross.
  7. Converts accuse cradle of playing ethnic politics, but they the converts do it even more.
  8. Lay people have strong opinions but have no desire to explore Orthodoxy beyond their diocese and the internet. They want an echo chamber.
  9. Priests shame the Church for its lack of pan-Orthodoxy while taking strong pride in their own jurisdictions.
  10. Sermons can usually be boiled down to “be good” and do not focus on doctrine, often even among otherwise admirable speakers like Fr Andrew Damick. If a priest is bad at preaching, he can conveniently look up what a Church Father has written about it and regurgitate it. However, many priests are too lazy to do so and therefore should not be priests (1 Timothy 3:2, “able to teach”).
  11. There are many celebrity priests like Fr Stephan Freeman who preach a lot of sensationalism and historicity but have little to say about doctrine, discipline, or spirituality. These priests generally quote few Church Fathers and very little Scripture. The information they share is often inaccurate. Nobody calls them out on it, and the priests likely get angry if someone does, whether that person is clergy or lay. The celebrity priests have a rock star complex.
  12. Organizations like Ancient Faith Radio believe that people will not convert if Orthodoxy says something offensive, when in actuality it is this warmness that is causing people to flee from Western Christianity to Orthodoxy. People want a religion that is an anchor, not something that will give them social credit. Praying for reunification with the Catholics is like praying for it to rain chocolate.
  13. Catechumens are told half-truths, and later people wonder why converts are so strange. For example, “The bishops are accountable to each other and to the people,” instead of, “This is a medieval plutocracy, and your opinion really doesn’t matter to the organization you should donate money to.”
  14. People believe their strong opinions are absolute Holy Tradition. This is bad even if that opinion is a good one. For example, “Churches should do services in the vernacular.” That’s probably a good idea, but you can’t call it absolute Holy Tradition.
  15. People claim they want pan-Orthodoxy, but they want all the other jurisdictions to conform to their standard. The reality is that nobody wants pan-Orthodoxy. What they actually want is pan-OCA, pan-Antioch, etc (see points 7, 9).
  16. There are several different translations of the Liturgy, but we’ve yet to come up with a single complete translation of the Scriptures.
  17. There is no menaion in a format where small parishes can legally afford to hold services as often as they would like.
  18. There is a subtle but draconian insistence that everybody get along at any cost (see points 12, 13). Criticizing individuals by name is taboo, even if that individual chose to publish things.
  19. Monasteries spiritually abuse their guests and followers, both lay and clergy. This is a problem far beyond the Ephraimites. It is a systemic issue. (The monastery I wrote about at the end of my book was not Ephraimite.)
  20. There is a tightly controlled narrative (see point 13) about the history of the Church that is often inaccurate. For example, “Augustine of Hippo isn’t a saint,” “The Church Fathers only used the Septuagint,” “The Church has never done much evangelism. It’s outside our Tradition.”
  21. The Church put on a bad face to the world by having an Orthodox SciFi Convention. Ancient Faith Radio had no problem advertising our man-child syndrome to the world. The OCA is a magnet for these people, but they are not the only ones.
  22. Nearly all of the media influence is controlled by the Antiochian Church, which in turn is not controlled by a synod but an individual Metropolitan who is basically pope.
  23. People do not come to church on Christmas. They do not keep the “mass” in Christ-mas.
  24. People deny that the Church is anti-semitic. They do not realize that to be ethnically Jewish is to be religiously Jewish. Should a Jew leave Judaism, he is cut-off from the Jewish people. This ignorance of the American Orthodox Christians is a product of the modernism that the priests are unwilling to confront.
  25. Converts hate the Greeks and slander them constantly. They criticize them for holding bake sales, having the sign say “Greek Orthodox,” and teaching language classes which convert adherents can easily ignore with no detriment or inconvenience to them. These converts are also indignant if 5% of the service is sung in Greek, even though every one of those words are repeated in English. This mentality is often explicitly encouraged by non-GOA priests.

That should cover the basics, although there are plenty others I’m sure I missed.

Read More: Some Things Hurt Worse Than Women

36 thoughts on “25 Things Wrong With The American Eastern Orthodox Church

  1. Kind sir. You obviously have not met our priest and bishop, been in our parish, or associated with our jurisdiction. While there must be some truth to what you say, because you otherwise would not have taken the time to make such a statement, the broad sweep of your indictments are way off the mark. Have you ever read Fr Damick or Fr Stephen? To be sure NAEO is not perfect, but you seem to have a bone to pick.


  2. 25 Things Wrong With the American Eastern Orthodox Church:
    #26- People who like to make sweeping generalizations about the church based on limited experience.


  3. #27 – People who expected the church to change for them, and when it didn’t, they were seriously butt hurt and wrote a blog about it to discredit people they are jealous of.


  4. There is an incredible amount of misinformation, generalization, and simple venom expressed here. You make sweeping statements and attack the uprightness and motivation of the clergy and expect that you are being courageous and telling the simple truth. There is very little truth to what you say….lots of opinion and exaggeration, but very little truth.


  5. No, this doesn’t cover the basics. The basic point is that the OCA is not Orthodox. It belongs to the pan-heretical organization, the World Council of Churches, follows the new calendar, which is under anathema, and is an uncanonical schism from its mother, the True Russian Church. Every kind of modernism reigns in it. Just look at Lev Puhalo.


  6. “Wrong” is too strong a word and has anger, resentment, etc. couched in it. There is no problem in saying there are places where the Church falls short. We all fall short. We all miss the mark.


  7. I’m not sure why the hate for Doxacon, if you don’t like the same genres as we do there’s no need for name calling.


  8. Time for a re-edit. Met Phillip is of blessed memory.
    As a former Roman Catholic Cleric, I am forever grateful for his role in my being able to become Orthodox.

    The complaints are no different than those I often heard in the RCC. If you were to go there you’d feel right at home.


  9. First, I would like to point out that there is no American Orthodox Church. There are many Orthodox jurisdiction in America of which the Orthodox Church in America is one. Sadly, this is where the problems with Orthodoxy in America begin, for we, together, have no unified witness to the Americans and the American scene. Until Jesus Christ and His teachings become the focal point of our reflection of Truth to the Americans, as oppose to Greek, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Ukrainian etc. we will have little to show for our witness at Judgement.
    As a cradle Orthodox of 67 years, I am disappointed by both the Ethnic Orthodox as well as the Super Orthodox of today. Both are following understandings and concepts that were never preached or commanded by Jesus in the Gospels.
    Bearing the Truth and Traditions of 2000 years, Orthodoxy in America needs to be unified under one (1) American Patriciate to become an effective witness on and in the American scene. Short of this happening, Americans will see only allegiances aligned to ethnic foreign powers and not the Truth in the Gospels that we are called to bear.
    Perhaps it is just me and the way I was trained to see and view problems, but as a pilot with over 41,000 hrs. of safe flight time, I had to identify and address the emergency issue at hand first, then take the necessary actions to solve the problem or problems. Self-deception was not an option when looking for a positive outcome. America’s pluralistic society is facing many unique issues and problems, I pray the Orthodox Leadership and clergy see America as the ship they are the pilots in command of.


  10. Until ALL Orthodox are willing to put Our Lord & Savior before ethnic & cultural
    differences, we will remain…………nothing!


  11. People are reading this again?! I wrote that half a year ago one night angry because a local parish advertised service times on their website, and when I drove 15 miles to attend, nobody was there. And then I quit writing this blog two months ago, and suddenly I see that the stats and comments are blowing up.

    Seriously, you should all get off the internet and live life. Go meet girls. Take your kids to the park. Plant a tree. If you don’t like something you read about the Church on the internet, IGNORE IT instead of wasting energy getting angry at a stranger or trying to censor what criticism is allowed to be said. You Internet Orthodox argue about the dumbest crap with the worst smugness and drag it on for days. If my parish looked like monachos.net or any of those awful Facebook groups (and yes, they are ALL awful), I think I’d just become an agnostic. This post probably has more commenters on it than all of my other ones combined, and it only got just short of 2500 views total.

    At the least, if you’re going to comment, tell me why the article is inaccurate instead of only why it offends you. Retards everywhere…


    • Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, hope you’ve had better experiences since then. It can be hard to find a good parish here in America.

      The main inaccuracy I saw was your characterization of the Doxacon convention as a “man-child syndrome” issue, if you don’t like certain genres that’s cool. No need for name calling.


    • Why would you presume that someone has “no life” simply because they respond to a blog post? If you attack something that someone holds dear, naturally they are going stand up and respond. To a devout Orthodox Christian, attacking the Church is the same as attacking one’s parents or friends or spouse! It’s clear you missed the boat as to what Orthodox Christianity is all about. It’s not about the politics you allude to. It’s about when you go into that church and participate in Divine Liturgy about leaving behind all earthly care to be close to God. I’m sorry that seems to be lost on you. No church is perfect. Nothing this side of Heaven is perfect. Instead of writing attack post, why don’t you get involved in your parish and DO something to make a difference?


    • Thank you for writing this and for your reply here. As a cradle Orthodox who just moved to east TN, I’ve had a bit of a church/identity crisis esp as I’ve attended the OCA here (it’s a mess). Very interesting to know that others are noticing issues. I’ve spoken out about some of these issues, too, only to get attacked…very sad. Glad I found your blog.


      • Oh dude, the OCA in the diocese of the south is horrible. I would NEVER join one of those parishes again. I’d rather drive two hours. I joined the cult in Clinton, Mississippi and almost left the Church altogether.

        The OCA demands respect but refuse to act respectable. They spit on the Greeks for being ethnocentric and then exclude anyone who doens’t think like them.

        Fr Stephen Freeman is an absolute cult leader. And most of the OCA DOS adores him. It’s a circle jerk. I’m pretty sure I know the Daniel guy above, though I doubt he realizes it. That guy’s a fag.

        I’m from Chattanooga. That’s all I’ll say on my location.


        • I mean, The OCA Diocese of the South people spit on the Greeks for being ethnocentric and then those same OCA DOS people exclude anyone who doesn’t think like them. If you aren’t a fat scifi geek second wave feminist who hates Trump, you aren’t welcome in the OCA DOS.


      • Look, don’t slander that parish, okay? You don’t know what you’re talking about. Heimbach isn’t even there anymore because they told him he couldn’t spread his rhetoric.


    • Is this thing going viral again? You guys are losers.

      If you don’t like something, then don’t read it. Or debate its individual points. But just leaving a hateful comment with no substance only vindicates everything atheists say about Christians.


  12. The orthodox church is a lie
    First off you have 14 or 15 jurisdictions so which church of the so called eastern
    Orthodox are you joining each one believes it has the whole truth and how many times
    Has each of these bishops cut relations off with each like when moscow cut off relations with constantinople when the estonia. And lativa church went under greek protection and moscow said that they were always part of the patriarch of moscow
    And what about the fact the eastern orthodox church prays to saints instead of trusting
    Christ alone for all the needs also you deny original sin and believe man was made neutral you need to confess your sins to a man to be forgiven instead of asking god to forgive you directly you believe you are saved by both good works and faith that man somehow cooperates with god to be saved not by faith alone
    You deny that you can have assurance of faith and you believe a church organization membership and following its man made traditions and riruals can save you


  13. Or if you got sick or died they would not visit you or perform a furneral if you died
    Come on or a russian orthodox parish deciding that if someone joined their congrgation
    You would have to pay a 500 dollar building fund fee and 300 dollars for i forget what the other fee was plus 125 dollars yearly dues all within. 5 year period


    • Oh so you mean you were a missionary in an Orthodox country? Funny how you left out that detail.

      Even if everything you said is true (and it’s not), Lutherans have no room to talk. They are comparable to Anglicans in just how much they can whore themselves out to the world. In the Dutch national protestant church, one out of six clergy are open atheists!

      If I were having a spiritual crisis in a Germanic country, and my choices were Bonhoeffer Lutheranism or taking a chance on hell, I’d roll the dice. It’s no wonder those countries are demographically suicide. The Christianity they’ve been offered is a crude, vulgar distortion. Of course the people have no hope. Who is there to possibly give it to them?


    • There have been many times I’ve come close to leaving. My friends are impressed I’ve held on. Ultimately you have to decide what’s true and if you’ll hold to that truth despite the difficulty.

      90% of Greek Americans are no longer affiliated with the Orthodox Church.


    • And it’s not like the hysteria in the comments above make Orthodox Christianity seem more appealing.

      Notice they only had problems with a few of the complaints. They didn’t say anything about how I criticized needless ethnic tension or that people skip church on Christmas or how people place more value on the saints than the Bible.


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