Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Offsite Post: ‘The Orthodox Bishops in the United States Act Culturally Illiterate’


There seems to be quite a fair amount of cultural tone-deafness and historical ignorance amidst the episcopacy of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States.  Abp. Elpidophoros of the Greek Archdiocese of America epitomizes this in his 2023 Thanksgiving Encyclical.  A mistake is made right in the opening line:

Our National Day of Thanksgiving arrives in a time when the world is in turmoil, and “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) cast a pall over the global community.

Anyone who has read more than the simplified comic book version of U.S. history (to use Dr. Clyde Wilson’s words) will understand that the United States are not ‘one nation indivisible.’  Those words, and the whole Pledge of Allegiance, were written by a socialist, Francis Bellamy, in the 1890s:

What’s so conservative about the Pledge?


Very little, as it turns out. From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit‐​pounding sermons on such topics as Jesus the Socialist. Bellamy was devoted to the ideas of his more‐​famous cousin Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking BackwardLooking Backward describes the future United States as a regimented worker’s paradise where everyone has equal incomes, and men are drafted into the country’s “industrial army” at the age of 21, serving in the jobs assigned them by the state. Bellamy’s novel was extremely popular, selling more copies than other any 19th century American novel except Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Bellamy’s book inspired a movement of “Nationalist Clubs,” whose members campaigned for a government takeover of the economy. A few years before he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy became a founding member of Boston’s first Nationalist Club.


After leaving the pulpit, Francis Bellamy decided to advance his authoritarian ideas through the public schools. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance for Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine. With the aid of the National Education Association, Bellamy and the editors of Youth’s Companion got the Pledge adopted as part of the National Public School Celebration on Columbus Day 1892.


Bellamy’s recommended ritual for honoring the flag had students all but goosestepping their way through the Pledge: “At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute–right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it… At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.” After the rise of Nazism, this form of salute was thought to be in poor taste, to say the least, and replaced with today’s hand‐​on‐​heart gesture.

Furthermore, the traditional view of the nature of the union of the States was that of a voluntary union.  Each State was equivalent to a nation of Europe or any other continent, able to come and go as she wished from the United States.  The historian Dr J. A. C. Chandler wrote a long piece on the U.S. constitution of 1787, explaining that view (we part ways with him on the purported ‘sovereignty of the people,’ however):

As an introduction to the subject, let us examine the Southern view of the nature of the constitution. To Southerners, the Union was a compact, entered into by separate and distinct political bodies. Such was the Union of the states under the Articles of Confederation, and such the South believed was the Union under the present constitution. According to this compact theory, the government of the United States was created by the states and all the powers of the Federal government are held in trust for the states themselves. Sovereignty, therefore, does not belong to the government of the United States or to any state government, but to the people who made the government of the United States and the states, that is, to the people of the several states taken individually and not to the people of the United States as one mass. These are the views expressed by Alexander H. Stephens, and, in general, were the views held at the time of the adoption of the constitution of the United States. Such were the views of Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson, and even of Mr. Hamilton himself, with reference to the question of sovereignty, though Mr. Hamilton differed from Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson as to the limitations placed upon the Federal government.

This view is verified in actual history by the fact that North Carolina existed outside the U.S. for a time, as did Texas and Vermont, before they decided to join the union.  And the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that formally ended the colonies’ war for independence with Great Britain names, in its first article, each former colony as a sovereign, independent country:

His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

Now, who was it that brought a violent end to this understanding of the union?  None other than Pres. Abraham Lincoln, the very same one of whom Abp. Elpidophoros quotes sympathetically in his encyclical:

 . . .

The rest is at https://orthodoxreflections.com/the-orthodox-bishops-in-the-united-states-act-culturally-illiterate/.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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