One of the mysteries of the American religious scene is why all but one of the Eastern Orthodox church bodies in this country are members of the National Council of Churches, the mouthpiece for liberal Protestant denominations. Not only that, the NCC consistently promotes abortion, homosexuality, a leftist social gospel, and a whole array of doctrines opposed to the traditional theology the Orthodox claim to champion. And it isn’t like the Orthodox representatives are speaking up all that much against the NCC’s anti-orthodoxy. John Lomperis of the Institute for Religion and Democracy asks some pointed questions.
From Juicy Ecumenism:
What exactly is accomplished by all but one of the jurisdictions of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States being member communions of the National Council of Churches (NCC)?
First, we must ask what the effective purpose of the NCC is today. Its member communions include neither the Roman Catholic Church nor more than an increasingly narrow fraction of American Protestants. . . . The first and foremost effective purpose of the modern NCC is to promote the values of theologically liberal/heterodox Protestantism and to use the name and resources of churches as a politically convenient tool to promote partisan public-policy agendas, including ones that directly oppose clear Scriptural teachings.
Devout Eastern Orthodox prize their church’s identity as the bearer of what they see as unbroken Christian tradition. Of course, important parts of this tradition’s moral teachings are the basic Christian moral values of valuing the lives of unborn children and honoring the God-given boundaries of sex only within man-woman marriage.Yet over the years, IRD has documented numerous instances of the NCC defending abortion and/or homosexual practice while demonizing those who stand up for Christian values (at least nominally shared by Eastern Orthodox leaders) on such issues. . . .
Do Eastern Orthodox leaders really have no problem with the direction and values of a church council of which they are a part being shaped by the input of people who deny the divinity of Christ, while Protestants who actually believe in the Nicene Creed are often disproportionately excluded from such discussions in the NCC? Do Eastern Orthodox leaders really have no problem with their name, through the NCC, being associated with a radical group’s work to promote religious support for abortion and sexual immorality?
If Eastern Orthodox leaders choose to remain silent, this would tragically be consistent with their past behavior. . . .What I have observed rather consistently (and had this confirmed by other trustworthy observers) is that Eastern Orthodox leaders participating in NCC meetings have shown little to no interest in openly defending Christian values (particularly on life and sexuality) when confronted by the aggressively secular values of Liberalprotestantism, instead choosing to remain meekly passive. This includes what I have observed of those few Eastern Orthodox individuals who have obtained staff or leadership positions in the council. There have been exceptions to this bizarrely self-imposed code of silence, but these have been rather sporadic, rare, and not sustained. . . .
As any Greek readers may discern, Eastern Orthodoxy is part of my own family heritage. So I really do sympathize with how important it must have been decades ago for religious leaders of struggling new immigrant communities in an often very intolerant America to be invited to have a seat at the table with leaders of the cultural mainstream. But after a century of an established presence of Eastern Orthodoxy in America, shouldn’t such church leaders want more than merely being seen but not heard?
Orthodox readers, I respect you greatly. Can you help us understand this?