Have people’s attitudes toward Orthodoxy changed? This article explores the numbers. Sources for this article include the U.S. Census Bureau and The Wheel, an Orthodox culture journal. In the 1950s, more Americans practiced Orthodoxy than they do today. But since 2010, how has the Church changed? And what does that mean for America’s Orthodox churches? Inga Leonova, founder of The Wheel, discusses some of the trends.
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In the 1950s
If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the orthodox church in the 1950s, then you’re probably curious about the differences between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church is the largest body of Christians, following the faith defined by the first seven ecumenical councils. Historically, the Orthodox Church had links to the Eastern Roman Empire. Its members mainly live in the Balkans, Middle East, and former Soviet countries.
Its liturgical services are based on the actions and words of Jesus, and are rooted in synagogue and Jewish Passover practices. The liturgical ritual includes hymns and readings from the New Testament and the Old Testament. Eventually, the church established a canon of scripture based on the Apostolic Constitutions and the Clementine literature. These changes led to the eventual reunification of the Church.
The question is: Has the orthodox church changed in the United States since 2010? A slew of recent studies and publications have documented a trend. But Riccardi-Swartz’s book adds detail to the trend. While the Orthodox church has a small imprint in the U.S., some Orthodox Christians have voiced alarm over the rise of a nativist element within it.
The Byzantine era was characterized by a symphonia of political and religious leadership. Because the state was subject to moral control, the religious institution had a role to play. In other words, secular leadership could serve the religious institution as well as protect and expand it. This symphonia is at the crux of the enculturation of Orthodoxy. But can the Orthodox Church embrace this new culture?
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau
The Bureau’s 2000 Census is facing challenges in the way it conducts its surveys, including more households that are not counted than ever before. The deadline for the census is a little less than a month away, giving experts less time to check data. The Bureau is considering which quality checks to jettison and which to rewrite. There’s also no shortage of problems with door-knocking. Its mobile app is clunky and poorly trained, and many citizens report unsettling encounters with people who don’t wear masks.
Despite the challenges, the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistical information about the nation’s population is invaluable. This government agency’s decennial surveys count the entire U.S. population every ten years. Several other surveys follow. This makes it the go-to source for data on the nation’s population. By combining census data from many sources, the Bureau has the ability to produce new and valuable products.
American Orthodox Christianity
Since the Russian revolution in 1917, American Orthodox Christianity has undergone many changes. Most Orthodox Christians now hold a strong religious faith, and about 71% of them believe that God is real. Only 56% of them find their religious beliefs important, however. Most Orthodox Christians go to church only a few times per year or once a month, and only 26% attend more often. They also consider Scripture to be the Word of God.
In recent years, the ROCOR has seen dramatic changes. Its adherents have shrunk by 14% while its parishes have expanded by 15%. Despite the shift, most of these new parishes are outside of traditional Orthodox lands. Instead, they are in the less populous states of the Upper Midwest and Southern states. This is not a good development for the Orthodox Church in America.
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. The Church has called for restrictions on competing religious groups, the introduction of Orthodox chaplains in the military, and the restitution of Church property. It has also called for an Orthodox component in the public school curriculum and the banning of abortion. These changes are a reflection of a changing society. Despite these changes, the Russian Orthodox Church remains one of the most powerful organizations in the country.
The first major change in the organization of the Russian Orthodox Church occurred in 1721, when Tsar Peter I abolished the patriarchate of Moscow. In its place, a governing synod was formed. This was modeled on the state-controlled synods of Prussia and Sweden. The synod’s leader, the chief procurator, was a layman who exercised effective control over the church’s administration until 1917. Until that time, the Church continued to be politically subservient. Archconservative K.P. Pobedonostsev was the first presiding bishop of the church and was a major influence in the church’s construction.