Prayers at Political Events

(edited from an original post "Why Last Night’s Prayer at RNC by a Greek Orthodox Bishop Didn’t Give Me “Warm Fuzzies” to reflect current events)

I have read dozens of comments in the past few days about the recent prayer of His Eminence Archbishop ELPIDOPHOROS of America at the Democrat National Convention recently, and I was left with a simple reaction….too bad. I won’t comment here on the content of the prayer since I am in no position to question the words of a senior hierarch of our Church.  My feeling of “too bad” was not about his character nor were they about the prayer. My reaction was because I see so little fruit from decades of so-called national spotlight. What do I mean?

  • National divorce rate…
  • National poverty level…
  • National domestic abuse rate…
  • National abortion rate…
  • National crime rate…
  • National debt…
  • National homelessness rate…
  • National “you fill in the blank” rate…and these are just the National statistics.

How about Orthodoxy?

Recent studies of Orthodox Christianity have revealed a MUCH smaller presence in America than we had been “taking credit for” in recent decades. Our Churches remain ¾’s empty on most Sundays. On average only ¼ of all known Orthodox Christians are in Church on any given Sunday. At least in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese we have experienced an actual decline in membership and attendance in the past 25 years when you consider birth rate as compared to attendance.

So why the “too bad” you may ask? How can we have so much pride that a senior hierarch of our Church, and therefore our entire National Church, is honored to offer the benediction during a live televised national program when we as a Church have so little affect on the moral standing of our nation?

I’m not suggesting that the Church is to blame for society, but we haven’t made things better by participating in these events as the late Archbishop IAKOVOS of blessed memory suggested we would unless you use the excuse, “well it could have been worse." Actions speak louder than words, and I’m afraid our American Government and society at large have given us a lot of words without turning their hearts to Christ.

How many decades more will we as Orthodox Christians be lulled to sleep thinking we are having an impact “just because” we have a bishop on TV? The time has come for us as Orthodox Christians to REALLY make a difference and LIVE Orthodox Christian lives.

  • National divorce rate? It’s time for US as individuals to reach out to our friends and family in struggling marriages and offer assistance and counseling.
  • National poverty rate? It’s time for US as individuals to reach out to our neighbors with food and clothing and assistance to help get people back on their own two feet.
  • National domestic Abuse rate? It’s time for US as individuals to reach out to our neighbors and family and friends and support struggling families to deal with the stresses that lead to violence.
  • National abortion rate? It’s time for US as individuals to teach and rededicate ourselves to a life of sexual purity where we no longer are forced to consider “unwanted pregnancies” and their impact on young lives.
  • National crime rate? It’s time for US as individuals to reach out to all people with a message of love and humility where people are not forced to consider crime as “the easy way out” but will consider the advice of Saint Paul “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3.10)
  • National debt? It’s time for US as individuals to live within our means and realize that we just can’t have everything we want.
  • National homelessness rate? It’s time for US as individuals to love our neighbor as ourselves and established more places where the poor can rest without fear of become themselves victims of crime.

You get the point….none of these requires a bishop on live television. Each of these requires that we live as faithful Orthodox Christians – dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.

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