A picture speaks better than words

Compare this…

Matthew Heimbach is sitting in the center with two of his supporters wearing the Nazi-style “Traditionalist Youth Network” yellow arrow armband.

With this…

Actual Nazis.

Deliberate evocation? I guess, in Heimbach’s view, imitation is really the highest form of flattery.

My Interview with Matthew Heimbach

Matthew Heimbach (far right) at a meeting of the neo-Nazi IKA (Imperial Klans of America) meeting. Note the Nazi swastikas present.

Matthew Heimbach (far right) at a meeting of the neo-Nazi IKA (Imperial Klans of America) meeting. Note the Nazi swastikas present.

Many of you have read my previous open letters to Their Eminences Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, and Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Vice Chairman of the Assembly, urging them to take specific action to reiterate that Matthew Heimbach is not a member of the canonical Orthodox Church in America. In my hour long phone interview with him this morning, Heimbach freely admitted that he does not commune in America, but that his spiritual father is an unnamed priest of an unnamed jurisdiction in Europe (he would not specify which country). A senior ROCOR priest confirmed with me that he has spoken with Heimbach numerous times and that ROCOR does not have the authority to “lift” an excommunication put out by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Here is my wide-ranging interview with Heimbach. Emphasis on my part is in bold.

Phone interview with Matthew Heimbach

June 26, 2015, 10:00-11:00am EST

1) RH: You’ve publicly said that you consider the suspected Charleston shooter Dylann Roof a “victim” of a society that supposedly hates white people. Isn’t it grossly offensive to the memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting to call the alleged killer of nine innocent people a “victim”?

MH: ABC News quoted me out of context. They showed thirty seconds, the inflammatory part, of what was a thirty minute interview.

RH: Still, you called the alleged killer a victim….

MH: The Charleston shooting is a tragedy being used for political cheap shot [by white liberals]. I actually went there [to Emanuel AME church] to lay flowers in front of the church and pray for the victims of the shooting. I met with members of the black community there and they were very respectful. They appreciated me talking with them. I didn’t see any other white people doing it. I see it as very important to condemn this tragedy. What Dylan Roof did was absolutely horrendous. I would say there is a moral equivalcy between young marginalized whites [who become radicalized] and marginalized Muslims who resort to radicalism and terrorism.

2) RH: You have publicly said you support “white power” in an ABC interview. What does this concept mean to you?

[Avoided answering the question directly]. I truly believe in local solutions to local problems. A majority black community should have a majority black police force that reflects the community, so the black community would be empowered in places like Ferguson, Missouri, so that they’re in charge of their own school systems, their own law enforcement…. that would stop racial tension. I want white people to be in charge of white communities.

3) RH: Why do you see the solution to racial tensions as dividing people, segregating them from each other?

What I’m asking for is not to force everyone to live separately, but freedom of association – to have the option of self-segregation. [Nationwide], we’re at some of the highest level of segregation ever now. When people have the opportunity, they generally choose to live among people like themselves. All I’m asking for is the right for white communities to be able to do the same. I’m just asking that whites be allowed to have homogeneous communities. There is no homogeneous white identity.

[White self-segregation is good because it enables you] to be able to not have your culture and your identity displaced. Good fences make good neighbors.

4) RH: In a public ABC interview, when asked “Are you a racist?”, you responded: “Sure? So what? It’s natural.” Are you a racist, Matt?

I asked them to specifically clarify what their definition of a racist was. The definition they gave me was if I believed that there were any differences [emphasis MH] between racial groups and if I had a special pride in my ethnic community, and for that, I said, “yes, under that definition, I consider myself a racist, it’s natural”. Every person I think should have pride in their ancestors, but not hate their neighbors.

5) RH: You were excommunicated from the Antiochian Orthodox Church in 2014. I have read Fr. Peter John Gilquist’s letter to that effect. A priest high up in the ROCOR [Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia] also confirmed that you are denied communion in ROCOR churches. Where, if anywhere, do you take communion?

What I can say is that I was excommunicated from Antioch. [I personally believe] my excommunication was lifted by ROCOR. My spiritual father is a priest in Europe who has the support of his bishop, so it’s sad that I have to go overseas

I’m not a Phyletist. Fr Peter John Gilquist saw that I brought non-white co-workers to Vespers and Liturgy to his own church. I’ve literally been bringing non-whites to his church in the hopes that they convert to the Faith. I’m not a Phyletist, I’ve never been a Phyletist. My political views are about changing things politically, not the Church. I don’t put ethnicity above the Church. It really bothers me that I tried to dialogue with Bishop Anthony for months, and he refused to speak with me. I’ve condemned phyletism on several occasions.

6) RH: It’s no secret, my bishop is His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR. Who is your bishop?

I won’t name names.

7) RH: You have publicly expressed your support for Romanian fascist activist Corneliu Codreanu. I have read numerous anti-Jewish statements made by Codreanu. He referred to Jews as mosquitoes. Do you agree with his anti-Jewish views?

[MH took issue with me calling Codreanu a fascist].

I think that Codreanu and his legions were actively supported by the [Romanian] Church at the time. If I’m standing on the same level with Fr Justin Parvu, who supported the Legions, then I stand behind Codreanu and I stand behind his statements. Fr Justin Parvu, on his way to sainthood, was a member of the Legion.

I’m not asking everyone to become a nationalist, I’m not asking to transform the Orthodox Church into my vision. What I’m asking for is to simply be allowed to exist in the Orthodox Church with my vision.

8) RH: Most Orthodox Christians worldwide do not support political Zionism, but we do not hate Jewish people. We support the State of Israel’s right to exist. You seem to believe in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy of some kind. Please tell me more about that.

In regards to ethnic Jews – I am an anti-Zionist. My inspiration to be anti-Zionist came from Middle Eastern Christians. I used to be an ardent Zionist who believed the Zionist narrative. It wasn’t til I met with Arab Christians that I changed my mind.

When it comes to the “Jews”, quote unquote, I pray for their salvation, I pray for their return to Christ, we’re called to bring the Gospel to all nations. Following St John Chrysostom and St John of Kronstadt, I have to acknowledge that the Pharissees have continued to wage a war against Christianity in rebellion against God for the past 2,000 years.

I would reference the Black Hundreds, supported by St John of Kronstadt and St Tsar Nicholas II…

Regarding the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, I do believe it is a genuinely accurate portrayal of tactics used against Christian civilization. St Tsar Nicholas II is the one that backed the printing of hundreds of thousands of copies of the pamphlet throughout Orthodox Russia. The Crown was directly funding groups like the Black Hundreds to get Russians to support the monarchy against Bolshevism. The Protocols were an important document in Russian history that the Tsar thought the people should read.

9) RH: Tell me about your immigration views. Aren’t we a nation of immigrants? Your last name is German, at some point your ancestors immigrated here. Even the first Native Americans crossed the Bering land bridge thousands of years ago.

[Never directly answered the question]. America as a proposition nation is truly the first proposition nation in human history. Prior to America every nation was based around a single tribe with shared values. America is truly an aberration. By indulging in these Enlightenment era philosophies – the Enlightenment era that was anti-monarchy, anti-hierarchy, anti-nation – we see that with the spread of the French Revolution and America to a certain extent. America from the beginning as in rebellion against traditional forms of government, traditional community. America seems to be in rebellion against the civilizational basis of every other society.

What I would say first and foremost is that we [white separatists] have totally lost, the battle for immigration is already over. What I want to see – what I truly believe will bring racial reconciliation – is to allow communities and states and regions – to Balkanize and have their own nation-states on the American continent. Many regions, especially the Southwest or the Deep South – that if they were to create their own independent nation-states would have a pretty ethnically homogenous population. I’m not asking for change within the church, but a political change.

I support the right of self-determination which I believe could lead to secession. While I support Russia in most things [such as the Crimean annexation], I support the Chechens’ right to secession. [Mentions the Scotland independence vote, the Catalans in Spain]. This isn’t a fringe idea. My people – white people—and all people should have this right [to secede]. Specifically, I identify as a Southerner from a small Southern town in Maryland.

10) RH: You identify as a “White separatist”, meaning you support white people’s self-segregation from non-whites. Doesn’t this interfere with Christ’s Great Commission to baptize and make disciples of all people? I know many Orthodox Christians who are non-white. What would you say to them?

I support a political solution to these problems which would allow for the right of self-determination. I want to see the entire world become Orthodox. What I’m asking for is a political solution. I am an Orthodox Christian, yes, but at the same time, say in Greece, Golden Dawn members can go to liturgy with PKE, the communist party in Greece, and they remember the important line of the liturgy “lay aside all earthly cares”. I want the church to be open to everyone of political persuasion and ethnic background. God-willing, all of the American continent will become Orthodox.

We couldn’t have black Orthodox churches, we are a catholic Church, a universal Church. I don’t want to bar anyone at the door,. I don’t want to stop interracial couples from coming into the Church. If I were to ever push to deny someone the mysteries of the Church, that’s putting so much judgment on my soul.

If we had separate nation-states, I believe if Orthodoxy were to grow in America, the idea of having autocephalous churches – Southerners have a very distinct culture, and to be able to dream of an autocephalous Dixie Church would be amazing. That would depend on conversion and the politics of the time. The Church is not supposed to be political.

11) RH: You have attended numerous events with Neo-Nazis present. Do you consider yourself a neo-Nazi? You say you support the fascist Codreanu. Why, if you don’t consider yourself a neo-Nazi, do you praise them?

I don’t consider myself a neo-Nazi. Codreanu is my largest inspiration and the Legions. The Legion’s mission was to save souls through the revitalization of the Orthodox Church in Romania.

I do not identify as a neo-Nazi. I consider my biggest spiritual inspiration to be the Legion of St Michael the Archangel. When I went to Romania with my wife, when I got to talk to some old timers who remember the Legion, I saw humble and loving Orthodox Christians who were willing to suffer torture for decades in prison.

12) RH: People aren’t trying to hurt you. No one is trying to force you out of the Church. We want you, we want everyone, in the Church. All we are praying for is that you abandon your racism. If you do that, the Church will show you mercy. Would you consider abandoning your racist views and conforming your mind to the Church?

First and foremost, it’s most important to be able to find a way to reconcile myself to the Church in America. I feel like the biggest problem has been miscommunication. Not a single bishop has sat down with me and discussed these issues.

13) RH: Why, if you claim you are not a phyletist, did Fr Peter John Gilquist publicly excommunicate you?

I can’t speak for Fr Gilquist, — the call for my original excommunication came from Bishop Anthony, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. He was the one who ordered my excommunication. A prayer vigil that my group was holding in Bloomington, Indiana, in which there was a slut walk walking down the street, the local anti-fascist activists attacked us….we were attacked on the street. My friend, Thomas Buhls, an Iraqi war veteran, was physically attacked. I grabbed the attacker off of my friend. He was literally punching my friend in the face, and I grabbed him in a headlock to pull him off of him. Then, after we had been attacked by these people, they took my cross, spit on it, and broke it. I have video evidence of this. We stood on the corner for the next hour and prayed the rosary for these men. We did not respond with more violence, but with prayer. I never beat him with the cross. The man was wearing a mask.

14) Will you try to be reconciled to the Church? Would you consider changing your views, which the Church has condemned as racist and unacceptable?

If I’m in heresy, I want to know it and repent. If I’m not, let me in communion. I had gone to Greece and Romania and visited several monasteries in both countries, to meet with different priests. My wife and I honeymooned in Greece and Romania. We stayed with a priest who put us up with his family in one of those countries. What I was told over and over again was that this would not be happening in Romania. They said you sound like you live under communists.

Response to Matt Parrott, Matthew Heimbach’s father-in-law, who responded to my Open Letter to Archbishop Demetrios

“Do you consider yourself a racist?”

“Sure! So what?”

– Matthew Heimbach to an interviewer in the video clip here.

A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.

-Titus 3:10

Matt Parrott, Matthew Heimbach‘s father-in-law and supporter, and an active blogger at their curiously named “Traditionalist Youth Network”, has responded here to my open letter to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. Orthodox Christian observers will note right away the outrageous comparison Parrott makes with an illustrated Simpsons caption, equating Heimbach’s fight for “white pride” and “white separatism” to St Athanasius’ fight against the Arian heresy of the fourth century. (Athanasius contra mundum — “Athanasius against the world”, is here altered to read “Heimbach contra mundum). This, and the deliberately fascist-like sign or logo of three yellow arrows pointing upwards, should immediately raise concern for any Orthodox Christian.

Here are my critiques of Parrott’s essay.

1) “The charge of “phyletism” against Mr. Heimbach is intellectually irresponsible, as the scope of this canon relates to relations within the Church, specifically relating to communion and jurisdiction.”

As Heimbach’s own priest enunciates, the canonical Church regards “white separatism” as a form of phyletism. Bishop Anthony of the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, who excommunicated Heimbach in 2014, also defended Heimbach’s excommunication on the grounds of phyletism.

2) “In fact, the heresy of phyletism is being committed by those who insist that Whites and Whites alone must renounce, reject, or be silent about their White identities in order to receive communion. What’s been done to Heimbach is a textbook case of phyletism, denying him communion due to a political rejection of his racial and ethnic identity, the White American identity. All he’s ever asked is for the Church to extend the same dignity and respect for his racial and ethnic identity that it has historically done an excellent job of extending to every other identity. Being anti-white is found nowhere Holy Tradition.”

This is an argument out of nothing. No one in the Church is saying you cannot be proud of your ancestry if you are white. Everyone can and should be proud of his or her ethnic history and heritage. I am not saying, nor have I ever said, that Heimbach and his followers “must renounce, reject, or be silent about their White identities”. What I have said, and will continue to say, is that Heimbach is entirely missing what being an Orthodox Christian is truly all about. I will develop this point later on below.

3) “It’s very unfashionable to be pro-white in the contemporary American society, and the epithet of choice for men who are pro-White is “White Supremacist.” I assume Ryan Hunter quite probably doesn’t know the difference between a White Advocate and a White Supremacist, and doesn’t care to make the distinction.”

I do know the distinction, but I think it’s an artificially created one. There is no real distinction between “White Separatism” and “White Supremacy” except among those who subscribe to such notions (a tiny minority of Orthodox believers). Joining the Orthodox Church, one’s first and foremost loyalty ought to be to the Church, not to the ethnic or political nation to which one belongs. My brothers and sisters in Christ, my fellow Orthodox believers, many of whom are dear friends, are of all ethnic races. There is, in Orthodoxy, ultimately only one real race, of which numerous Church prayers speak: the Orthodox Christian race. All other distinctions are decidedly secondary, but Heimbach’s activism — identifying a “White nation”– brings these ethnic differences to the forefront. This is where I disagree with him. Instead of celebrating the racial diversity of the Body of Christ, the Orthodox Church, Heimbach exults in his whiteness at the expense of his Orthodoxy. So dedicated is he to whiteness, as it were, that he remains outside of the canonical Church.

I believe Heimbach and his cohorts are wrong for espousing White Separatism, which, from all my conversations with White Separatists and my reading about them, I understand to be thinly veiled racism.

4) Parrott here is portraying Heimbach as a victim:

“It’s alarming that Matthew Heimbach has been cast into the outer darkness by the Church for arguably (with a bad argument, at that) being a phyletist without the usual opportunities to defend or explain himself, whileMichael Dukakis has gone on for decades confirming that slaughtering the unborn is consistent with the Orthodox faith without censure, excommunication, or piles of incendiary public letters being fired off. This double-standard has yet to be explained or defended.”

Parrott should take this up with the Orthodox Church hierarchs. I have spoken out repeatedly on the subject of abortion, which the Church rightfully condemns as murder of unborn innocents. If I were a priest or bishop, I would never give Dukakis communion, as his public pro-abortion position puts him outside the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Dukakis should not be communed as an Orthodox Christian, just as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden should not be communed as Roman Catholics due to their pro-abortion public political positions.

5) “The charge that Matthew Heimbach’s secular politics are outright heretical is hysterical and theologically indefensible. I’m sensitive to the fact that Orthodoxy–both within America and globally–has an obligation to demonstrate itself inclusive of every identity, but it also has an obligation to demonstrate itself above picking sides in secular politics.”

This is a clever bit of diversion. The only person “picking sides in secular politics” is Heimbach. While his positions are taken relative to secular politics (he’s on the far right), Matthew Heimbach’s politics are not secular by any means. He always appears in public wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, deliberately and consciously associating himself and his public image with Orthodox Christianity. At a public event he physically assaulted a man while carrying a three-bar Orthodox wooden cross. Note that this evidence of Heimbach assaulting the man while carrying the cross comes from a far-right neo-Nazi site, the Daily Stormer (as in SS Storm Troopers). The same article on the Daily Stormer, from April 29, 2015, asserts that “Matthew Heimbach will be now be producing a new podcast each week for Radio Stormer.” So he’s writing for a neo-Nazi website that deliberately uses fascist imagery, but we are supposed to believe he is not a racist, only a “white separatist”? Right…

This image, showing Matthew Heimbach physically assaulting a man while carrying an Orthodox wooden three-bar cross, appears on the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website.

This image, showing Matthew Heimbach physically assaulting a man while carrying an Orthodox wooden three-bar cross, appears on the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website.

6) “Please carefully reflect on whether or not to participate in or support the witch hunt against this humble Orthodox Christian parishioner, Matthew Heimbach.”

Again, Parrott seeks, amusingly, to portray Heimbach as a victim of a “witch hunt against this humble Orthodox Christian parishioner”. Heimbach is no innocent victim, but a deliberate provocateur and member of the far right who openly sympathizers with Romanian fascist politician and anti-Semitic activist Corneliu Codreanu. As the same article in the Daily Stormer notes, Heimbach “sees Corneliu Codreanu as his main influence and takes much inspiration from him.” Codreanu publicly advocated for Romania’s alliance with Nazi Germany.

7) You can see the anti-Jewish comments below the article for yourself. Here is one particular one that stood out to me for its nauseating content:

An anonymous coward, “Eric”, wrote the following:

Pressure to excommunicate Heimbach was completely political, and done under duress from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center whose leadership believe in a “religion” that states the Virgin Mary was a prostitute and Jesus Christ was her illegitimate child. The goal here is to silence his political dissent by holding his religious beliefs hostage, can’t think of anything more insidious than that.

The fact that “Ryan Hunter” would side with Jews over another Orthodox Christian in pretty much every context shows that he’s in the wrong religion, he either doesn’t take it seriously or doesn’t understand what Orthodoxy is. He needs to go back to being an Evangelical or whatever he was before.

First off, “Eric”, I was a Roman Catholic before becoming Orthodox; I have never been an Evangelical in my life. Furthermore, as he is currently excommunicated from the Orthodox Church, Heimbach is not an Orthodox Christian. He remains outside the life and fellowship of the Church. After his excommunication from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in 2014, Heimbach approached clergy in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). The ROCOR clergy agreed to accept him only if he promised to stop his political activities and cease all talk of white separatism, etc. Heimbach initially promised this, but, according to a senior ROCOR priest I interviewed today, he immediately went back on his promise. This ROCOR priest told me that Heimbach lied to several ROCOR priests about his intentions, a grave offense in the Orthodox Church. Thus, Heimbach, by his own choice, remains outside the Church.

8) A series of concrete, specific actions taken by Orthodox hierarchs oppose Heimbach’s message. His Eminence Archibshop Iakovos, then Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, chose in 1965 to march alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at Selma. Earlier this year, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, current Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, commemorated the event alongside US President Barack Obama. As the Archdiocese’s news letter reads:

The Greek Orthodox Church has always been an advocate for equality and continues to fight against racism, prejudice, discrimination and xenophobia with fervent love for God and all people. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma, and to highlight the efforts of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory to advance the Civil Rights Movement, the Holy Archdiocese has launched a website with a plethora of historical resources and announcements for upcoming events around this most important time in our nation’s history. Please visit:civilrights.goarch.org

In closing, Heimbach an Parrott’s self-asserted allegiance to “white separatism” obscures the very real theological and religious unity that exists between people of all races who share the same religion. Heimbach’s true brothers and sisters are not white people, but, when and if he repents, his true brothers and sisters will be his fellow Orthodox believers across the world, including many non-white people. His loyalty to “white separatism” constitutes a denigration of his real non-white brothers and sisters in Christ. By identifying first and foremost as white, and saying he advocates for “white separatism” (voluntary segregation from the non-white community) Heimbach is saying to all non-white Orthodox Christians (many of whom are friends of mine), “You’re not one of my people. You’re not my brother or sister.” Matt Parrott and Matthew Heimbach should read my friend Nathan Lawrence’s open letter to Heimbach. Nathan is biracial Orthodox Christian. He is a personal friend of mine, and he has been personally hurt by Heimbach’s white separatist and nationalist views.

There is nothing wrong with having pride in your heritage. I am proud to be of English, Scottish, and Irish descent. But what matters far more than your biological descent is your adopted sonship in Christ as a member of the Orthodox Church. Heimbach’s error comes in valuing his ethnic identity above his sonship in Christ, a sonship he shares with my friend Nathan and many other people who are not white. I would humbly invite Heimbach to do as Nathan has asked, and meet with him. Share beer, break bread together. Heimbach, insofar as he is Orthodox, is a brother in Christ. Insofar as he remains excommunicated, until he repents, he remains outside the Church. Heimbach has been admonished by clergy of two canonical Orthodox jurisdictions, and persists in his anathematized beliefs. His ongoing public actions — most recently calling suspected Charleston shooter Dylann Roof a “victim” — and the posts of his organization speak to his lack of repentance. Unless he repents, anathema sit.

Open Letter to Metropolitan Joseph on Matthew Heimbach

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.

CC: archdiocese@antiochian.org

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.

Open Letter to Archbishop Demetrios of America on Matthew Heimbach

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 Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Chairman of the Holy Eparchial Synod of Bishops, and Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

CC: Ms. Marissa P. Costidis, Department of Communications, Coordinator, Managing Director of GOTelecom, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese 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. I consider it a great honor and blessing that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in particular was blessed with so courageous a hierarch and Primate as the late and ever-blessed Archbishop Iakovos, who marched at Selma with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in 1965. I am aware of Your Eminence’s own recent commemoration of this momentous event in the life and history of our nation.

My conscience obliges me to report to Your Eminence that a white supremacist named Matthew Heimbach, who claims to be a practicing Orthodox Christian, 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 am especially anxious that the memory of your illustrious predecessor Archbishop Iakovos not be profaned by the shameful association of such an ignoble man with Holy Orthodoxy.

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. 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 Chairman 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, both in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and in the Assembly itself, 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 to His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese here.