We censure, condemn, and declare contrary to the teachings of the Gospel and the sacred canons of the holy Fathers the doctrine of phyletism, or the difference of races and national diversity in the bosom of the Church of Christ.
– Article I of the Decree of the 1872 Council of Constantinople
“Do you consider yourself a racist?”
“Sure! So what?”
– Matthew Heimbach to an interviewer in the video clip here.
To: His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Primate of The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Archbishop of New York, and Vice-Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.
Your Eminence, bless!
I consider it the greatest blessing to be part of the Orthodox Church, the Body of Christ which has produced so many holy men and women and Saints over the centuries. In particular, it is a great source of inspiration to me and so many of my Millennial generation that we have the prophetic words of the 1872 Council of Constantinople which, possessed of a divine vision for the inherent dignity of all humanity, condemned phyletism and other forms of racism decades before the national Civil Rights movement arose.
My conscience obliges me to report to Your Eminence that a white supremacist named Matthew Heimbach, who claims to be a practicing Orthodox Christian in good standing, has unfortunately been receiving major media coverage from ABC News in the wake of the recent Charleston shootings. Only yesterday, an article appeared in ABC News in which Heimbach was interviewed while wearing an Orthodox cross. Mr. Heimbach has publicly claimed that the suspected shooter in the Charleston attach is a “victim” of a culture which, supposedly, hates and oppresses white people. Mr. Heimbach has claimed, and continues to claim –falsely– that his racist views somehow are in line with those of Orthodox Christianity.
He further claims, despite having been excommunicated for his views by Bishop Anthony of the Antiochian Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, to be an active Orthodox Christian in good standing. While his constitutional rights to free speech allow him to do this, I and a number of my friends from across Orthodox jurisdictions are greatly concerned that Mr. Heimbach’s views will cause non-Orthodox members of the public to associate the Holy Church with his radical, un-Orthodox views. He is furthermore presenting a false narrative, claiming himself to be an active member of the Church when in fact he is excommunicated.
I and so many of my generation appreciate Your Eminence’s loving and strong message of support for and solidarity with the victims of the Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting. I particularly appreciate your boldness in condemning the attack for the racist hate crime that it was. It is a joy to have such a conscientious hierarch as yourself to express such sentiments which reflect the timeless Orthodox teaching on the inherent dignity of all human life. I am writing now to Your Eminence in your capacity as the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and a member of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, with the fervent hope and prayer that, in your wisdom and charity, you will urge your brother bishops in the Assembly to 1) reiterate that Matthew Heimbach is an excommunicated person outside the Orthodox Church and 2) to issue a statement from the Assembly bishops condemning the Charleston shootings for what they were: a racist, hate-motivated terrorist attack.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
-Ryan Hunter (Christian name “Silouan”)
P.S. I have also written here to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops and Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.