Fr. Symeon on the Manhattan Declaration

(HT: ONet)

On the one hand there are those who find it [the Manhattan Declaration] “shocking” and part of the culture war, etc. These are frightened that the document will be perceived as harsh and unloving, etc.. God forbid that anyone Christian ever stand in public for Truth. And on the other hand those that are relieved to see an Orthodox Pastor with backbone to stand with others and speak truth to error, truth to power, and truth to the politically correct stricture in our society that is choking free speech and seeking to criminalize Truth. – If this much sets you off, don’t bother to read further.

My Bishop, fifth generation Orthodox priest, survived the Holodomor, the systematic starvation of between 10 and 20 million people mostly Christians in Ukraine by the communist in 1932 and 33. His father was forbidden to celebrate divine liturgy – all Christian worship was forbidden. He celebrated liturgy anyway and at the end of the service the local commissar showed up and told the congregation to return at 3pm that he had a wonderful surprise for them. He asked the priest to remain behind to help him prepare it. At 3pm the people returned and the priest was hanging upside down on the church doors. They held the crowd at gunpoint and slit the priest’s throat. My bishop at age 14 watched his father bled like a pig on the church doors.

Read Fr. Symeon: Danger of Christian Persecution in America on the blog.

Sign the Declaration here.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    Well-spoken! I know that there is a danger that many will look at the Manhattan Declaration and say that it aligns itself with the conservative movement/Republican Party/etc. This is sad. At one time, the words of the Manhattan Declaration were uncontroversial and any right-thinking politician could and would subscribe to them. Think of FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ. Sure, some of these men may not have been paragons of virtue personally but they inhabited the same moral universe that men on the political Right did. The same moral universe that even the Communist Party espoused (the Soviets were notorious puritans).

    It is a sad commentary on our society that the Republican Parry has become the default totem around which traditionalists congregate. But so it is and political conservatives the world over do not have to apologize for it. The work of traditionalists cannot be thrown away because only one party is hospitable to it or because both parties are not of one mind on this most basic aspect of human existence.

    As a conservative/traditionalist of libertarian impulses, I would welcome the Democratic Party taking up the banner of traditionalism again but unfortunately I do not hold my breath. Until then, I will pitch my tent in lands where I am welcomed or at least not disdained.

  2. Well, I heard that George Nash wrote a new book on the conservatve movement. The old one I had read years ago and it was great-Rusell Kirk on one hand and Robert Taft and Milton Friedman on another . Anyway, one party makes it skewed. There are also Republicans that follower Ayd Rand. The Democratics started to lose the social conseratvies after Jimmy Carter and the dems like the late 1960’s crowd. This makes them liberal on the social issues. Its interesting to see the old social conservatives like the Democratics use to have that were economic liberals. I would like the Republicans to able to get back some of the Rand types and the Democratics the old social conservatives. Then the parties would be more interesting and social conservatives would not belong to one party.

  3. The Manhattan Declaration is fine, and I signed it. Gotta draw a line and warn them that we’re drawing it.

    On the politics of social conservatism, I pretty much agree with George. But I’m inclined toward localism and Distributism, not libertarianism, for reasons that would be way off track to go into here — except to say:

    (1) that leviathan government and too-big-to-fail corporations live in symbiosis with each other while being parasitical of human-scaled institutions; and
    (2) our economy, which probably is past the point of no return, was wrecked by bipartisan consensus, largely since 1972 when the Democrats sold out “the working man” for 60s radicals and intellectualoids.

    I resist my 60s-bred impulse to bomb-throwing mostly because I know that unintended consequences would follow the sudden imposition of my sort of localist vision. So we’ll get economic collapse instead and then see what happens.

  4. cynthia curran :

    Well, the Orthodox don’t want to be overly assoicated with the social conservative, I can understand that. But a lot of liberal Orthodox love to quote church fathers when they are talking about the rich supporting or helping the poor as their responsabilty. However, they were so critical of the chariot races in the Hippodrome and the lewed Theater as well. The chariot races led sometimes to gang factions like the blue and greens fighting each other, and sometimes major riots like the famous Nika riot. Also, chariot racing was a dangerious sport where drivers and horses were killed going around th track. Also, the theater was lewed because women were barred from attending such performaces. The women like the Empress Theodora in her earlier life acted in them but they were their to satisfied men’s lust.

  5. cynthia curran :

    Well, I was reading National Review online and there was an article on Cameron, the top person in the Tory party in England. Cameron seems to have done the faith based help better than Bush did in the United States, its entitled the Cameron Way. So, this address the povety situation by a different method than what is offered by the Left or the Right. Another issue that is related to the life issues. And this might be a salsmen ship to the Orthodox and Roman Catholics that are social conservatives and economic liberals.

  6. George Michalopulos :

    Roger, I couldn’t agree with you more about the Democratic Party selling out the working man back in 1972. I have problems with Distributism (although I like it in theory). I would push back the gradual loss of the Republic to the New Deal, esp. Social Security. True, Woodrow Wilson did much damaage with the passage of the income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve but much of his other buffooneries (League of Nations, nationalizing of all industry during WWI, etc.) were undone by Harding and Coolidge.

    What could have prevented the growth of the federal gov’t (as opposed to the supremacy of the many states?): subsidiarity. This is where I wish we Orthodox had more consciousness of Catholic social teaching.

  7. Roger Bennett :


    I suffer a curse of the autodidact: I can become pretty smitten with newly-encountered old ideas – especially when I realize that a hero like Chesterton (and Belloc) held them. Perhaps my fascination with Distributism will wane with familiarity. I’ve already started getting suspicious that Mondragon Corp. in Spain seems to be the only healthy specimen.

    There seems to be a congruence between localism and subsidiarity – and Distributism for that matter. I don’t know the full history, but I know (from the narrative commonly told) that Mondragon was the result of attempts to apply Catholic social teaching to the workplace. So if it has problems in practice, our appreciation of Catholic social thought needs to be critical – not surprising since the social encyclicals come long after the Great Schism and centuries of Catholic drift.

    Were subsidiarity and Distributism, in effect, efforts to Christianize an Industrial world that was supplanting the agrarian world of earlier centuries? What level of government is the appropriate one, in subidiarist thought, to keep the corporate powers manageably small? Do we need a trust-busting power at the national level? Huge corporate powers in a world of widely-diffused political power seems a mismatch.

  8. cynthia curran :

    Well, I’m not certain about either Roman Catholics or Orthodox helping ecnomonic situations as well. Spain economy is probaby one of the poorest countries of Western Europe and unemployment at 18 percent. Until the ecnomonic downturn, Ireland is the best of Catholic Countries. Latin America heavy culture Roman Catholic and minority protestant has poverty problems. In fact secular Czech Republc has a much higher per capita income than Orthodox Russia. And the Czech Republic now probably has a better ecnomony than places like Spain

  9. cynthia curran :

    economy- instead of ecnonomy,

  10. Roger Bennett :


    Mondragon in Spain is based on a Distributist model, but it not typical of the Spanish economy or any national economy of which I’m aware.

    Anyway, I’m not talking about short-term measures like per capita income. I’m thinking of things that make for a good quality of life, not a high (and ephemeral) lifestyle.

  11. George Michalopulos :

    Roger, you’re in good company. I’m pretty much an autodictat myself thanks to the public schools system. sigh.

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