George Demos: We Must Rebuild Orthodox Church at Ground Zero

HT: Onet Blog

Greek-American Conservative Republican Candidate for Congress in the First District of New York George Demos appeared on Fox News recently. Demos called on The Port Authority’s Executive Director Chris Ward to immediately stop his bureaucratic roadblocks and that the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero must be a top priority.

Demos stated that it was disgraceful that the Port Authority of New York/ New Jersey reniged on a deal with Church officials and for over a year has refused to meet with the leaders of the only house of worship actually destroyed on September 11, 2001. Demos noted that our government is spending billions of dollars to rebuild the infrastructure of Ground Zero, yet no plan exists for rebuilding the Church. Demos reiterated that our Judeo-Christian values are under attack in our nation and that rebuilding the Church transcends any particular denomination.

Demos also renewed his call to investigate the sources of funding for the newly proposed mosque near Ground Zero, given the serious questions about the background of the mosque proponents.

Demos concluded that we owe it to the memory of the 3,000 victims of September 11, 2001 including the 168 from Suffolk County; many of whom prayed at St. Nicholas, to rebuild the Church.

Source: Greek Reporter


  1. This is a worthy and just calling. The Greek Orthodox Church MUST be rebuilt!

    However, for what it’s worth, and this is where scope of the entire American Orthodoxy mission comes into legitimate play, it would be more effective if it wasn’t a GREEK Orthodox Church constantly in the headlines, and it wasn’t just a Greek-American politician vying for votes.

    • Spot-on comment! Why have we waited 10 years until a self-promoting (Greek-American Teabagger) politician comes along to make political hey with the issue? I was just thinking the other day that it would indeed take a self-serving politico to bring the issue of the contemplated Mosque up at all. And so we have Mr. Demos, the man of the hour.
      What have the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate been doing all this time? Why not a squeak from the GOA? This is odd. Of course, I support Mr. Demos’ position, and he is astute to pick up on this issue. It’s really too bad that someone more disinterested didn’t pick up the ball and run with it sooner. Ten years is a long time to wait until the issue of the simple rebuilding of a church on Ground Zero should arise. We had to wait until the issue of countering Muslim ambitions arose, and we had to let a political campaign provide the impetus? Another example of our hamstrung leadership letting secular issues take Church affairs by the nose. This should be felt as embarrassing to those who claim to be leaders.

      • George Michalopulos :

        Fr, I too have given this much thought recently. Perhaps the GOA hasn’t been all that interested because the ecumenical patriarchate is too dhimmified to bring it up? I dunno, what do y’all think?

        I do give Demos credit. I prefer to take him at his word. Even if he does have a political agenda, it’s still the right thing to do. I don’t think it’s all that salient that he’s Greek-American, in fact, his new-found voice on this subject may make up for the thunderous silence from the GOA. It’s a possibility I guess.

        • For what it’s worth. I too believe he has an honest interest in seeing the Greek Orthodox Church rebuilt. Quite frankly, we all do. It just works out well for him and thus is the nature of politics. Forgive my jadedness :o)

          • George Michalopulos :

            Chris, if you don’t mind, I’d like to pick up on your supposed “jadedness.” One of my beefs with Frankie’s recent lecture given at a local Orthodox church, was that many in the right wing were “strategizing” on how to win elections(!). I told him afterwards, “well, isn’t that what politics is about? One side says ‘vote for me and I’ll do x’ and the other guy says ‘vote for me and I’ll do y’.” He’s so used to pontificating to echo chambers anymore that he appeared deflated when I brought this mundane fact up.

            I agree with you. So what if Demos is using this for political reasons (assuming we can read his heart)? Isn’t that what politics in a robust, pluralistic democracy is about? One side gets more votes than the other and voila! It wins. I get so tired of the sanctimonious left crying “Hidden Agenda!” at those who have opposing viewpoints. As if they don’t have an agenda.

            More power to Demos. And shame on the rest of the NYC Greek-American community for not taking up this cause sooner.

          • Feel free to pick on me anytime 😉

            If the collateral damage to populism in this instance is the building, or rebuilding, of an Orthodox temple – well, I’ll take that sort of poupulism and political pandering any day.

            Don’t forget. Government is always a two-headed beast. It is supposed to promote the common good, yet its main method is promotion through violence – legal plunder etc. As Orthodox Christians we need to be careful how much Government/political help we accept. For instance, a donation of land is one thing, political pandering is one thing, but utilizing government loans for Christian missions is another. There are string attached there that could later bite us in the rears. And perhaps someone should tell Geroge Demos to say something to the effect, “I don’t expect your vote because of this. I am doing it because I’m a practicing Orthodxo Christian, and will attend the Church weekly (or as much as I can) when it is rebuilt.”

            But, being that the US is historically a Christian nation, and historically, our founders assisted and even donated government land to build Christian Churches, a politician promoting a Church is most certainly not outside the Constitutional spheres and is a darn, good thing.

      • If he is a true “Teabagger” then that is a positive attribute ;o) We need more Teabaggers, not less.

  2. Truth is, regarding this project and the Archons – money talks.

    Regarding the Mosque, money is talking.

    Regarding St. Nicholas Church, I don’t think money has been talking. If it were, St. Nicholas would already be rebuilt, and then some.

    • George Michalopulos :

      Then John, where does that leave the GOA? If it’s best and brightest (the Archons) don’t gave a flip, then what hope is there for an American Orthodoxy led by laymen such as these?

      • I’m guessing few people lived near to that church to actually fill it up or it would have been rebuilt. Was it an inner-city relic where people moved to the suburbs over the years that now only got used for baptisms, weddings and funerals?

    • And on the mosque, that’s the issue: whose money is talking?

      Is there a petition or something bringing up the issue of St. Nicholas? I would think that we would get a LOT of support outside of the Orthodox on this matter, now that the mosque is such a hot topic.

  3. By all means, build the church! Build a huge, glorious temple to rival the idols of consumption and relativism that have formed modernity! Build it as a witness in the midst of the Babel that is modern society. Better yet, a monastery.

    As for motives, it would be great if he had “pure” motives. . . . it would also make him really unusual. If we demanded pure motives, our churches would be empty. We aren’t pure even in our dealings with God. Pure motives belong to the saints. (May we all get there!) Fortunately, God receives us as we are and loves us until we become more of what He meant us to be.

    Regarding the term “teabagger” – that is a crass pejorative. As someone who strongly supports what the tea party is doing, I hope the reference was ironic.

    As an aside, I have often felt that those who strongly support centralized government are either not paying attention to their own experience (anything heavily centralized is ultimately non-responsive – hence the need for subsidiarity) or have a very limited view of sin. A more acute (dare I say Augustinian) view of sin wants power as dispersed as possible, since concentrated power simply gives sin more leverage. (Or, as Lord Acton put it: it corrupts absolutely.)

    • Chrys, thank you!

      If my wife ever lets me get a dog, I think I’ll name him Lord Acton 😉

      • George Michalopulos :

        P.S. I’ve attended a Tea Party and was impressed by the rectitude and normality of the people there. Just because the Insane Clown Posse over at MSNBC is frightened means that they’ve lost all perspective. Being scared of Tea Partiers is like being scared of Ward and June Cleaver.

    • George Michalopulos :


      you hit upon an interesting point. Catholicism has the principle of “subsidiarity,” which means that things should be undertaken by the closest possible authority. In other words, children should be raised by parents, schools built by the city, churches by congregations, roads by the county, licenses by the state, and armies maintained by the national government. It gets all caterwampuss when higher levels of authority reach into and overtake those endeavors best left to more local authorities.

      This is what troubles me about much of what I hear in Orthodox thought, that the state or culture legitimizes us. Hence the nostalgia for Byzantium, Holy Russia, etc. This is manifested at present in the foreign overlordship of the ethnic eparchies, nothing is done except at the overseas level. Also, the insistence on our bishops of kow-towing to the popular culture and transnational entities. By popular culture I mean yoking the GOA to AGW and other Soros-funded boondoggles and by transnational entities by craving the acceptance of the WCC/NCC.

      • Around these parts, Ward and June are hard to find. More like Clevis and Rev.Dr. Billy-Bob.
        I hope we do not have to bag our tea in order to achieve a functional autocephaly here.
        The thing is, I see no logical link between TEA and the Cordoba & St Nicholas issues. It would be impossible to make the argument that their ideology has any connection with core Catholic sensibilities, only that right-leaning Catholics are now on that same TEA wagon, the political-right flavor of the month.

        But this is beside the point.

        What matters is that justice is done in regard to the rebuilding of our church and that people in the West begin to understand how Muslims think, and quit this habit of seeing the world through Fukuyama’s coke-bottle-bottom lenses. We are not living in the end of history. Nor will the Rovererarian peyote hallucination that we are post-rational supermen no longer hampered by mere reality equip middle America to handle a shifting theological/political landscape in the XXI c. We must listen to intelligent voices who are honest about the significance of Islam and have no agenda to deceive. I suggest checking our Wally Shoebat and Ibn Warraq for instance.

        • George Michalopulos :

          Fr John, one of the silver linings of 9-11, was that it is waking up many conservatives from their neo-con, Fukuyamaist, secularist. libertarian, and rationalist fantasies. (And this goes for some of the Buchananites and Ron Paul types who don’t understand the visceral hatred of Islam for the West.)

          • Islam is about the only disagreement I have with Ron Paul. But he isn’t a Libertarian by any means. The good thing is, however, that he also isn’t a contemporary liberal or neo-conservative.

            A major point that I have with about half of the “Campaign for Liberty” folk is that they believe free market/captialism and Liberty means anarchy and godlessness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A close study of Hayek and our Founders will show you that they weren’t against planning, they were against the planning that went against competition. They also believed that the only way Captialism could survive would be with a high level of morality, compassion, and mercy.

            Something that we all lack more and more.

  4. In November, 2009 Swiss voters adopted a referendum banning the construction of minarets. Switzerland voted against minarets as symbols of Islamic power. Minarets have the purpose to ensure that the mosque is the tallest structure in the immediate area.
    During the campaign mosques were attacked, which never happened in 40 years in Switzerland. The debate was not about restricting the sizes or style of minarets, it was about banning minarets outright. The famous “Swiss Neutrality” becomes a myth in an age of Islamic fundamentalism and Muslim immigration.

    • Or that the threat of Islamic fundamentalism can frighten even the Swiss.

    • We ought to study how the Swiss rallied an effective resistance to Islam in this last year. How was the reality of the threat of Islamic supremacism conveyed in such a way that the Swiss, who have no cultural memories of a direct threat, could respond effectively?

      • We can start here

        In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques, in a referendum drawn up by the far right and opposed by the government.

        The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.

        The Swiss Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the rightist Swiss People’s Party, or S.V.P., and a small religious party had proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets, leading to the referendum.

        The Swiss government said it would respect the vote and sought to reassure the Muslim population — mostly immigrants from other parts of Europe, like Kosovo and Turkey — that the minaret ban was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.”

        * Read All Comments (403)

  5. cynthia curran :

    Well, Roman Catholics had an advantage, the empire ended in the west around 473 I believe. The next century, the roman empire of Constantinople reconquered Italy and lost most of it to the Lombards and control some parts of Italy around 700. So, the west had a lot of kingdoms, no central empire like the East but after the Islamic conquest of the 7th century, the east was a smaller empire. A lot of the problem about the welfare state lies with christians not giving enough of their money or time whether their Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant. Actually, I think Basil the Great developed one of the first hospitals without state or emperor money. Granted, the middle ages there wasn’t a strong tax base to built aqueducts like the old Roman Empire but the horse collar was developed that made farming more abundance than Roman times. I think that the government should only do things that are on a large scale like roads, waterways, dams, defense, courts, police and not being involved in developing things such as green technology.

  6. But do we really want to “ban” faith and/or faith structures in the US? I do not think this is the answer for once we get government involvement in such a way, they will inevitably ban everything else.

    As far I see it. This issue is about location.

  7. Wouldn’t it be nice if St Nicholas were rebuilt not as a Greek Orthodox Church, but as an AMERICAN Orthodox Church? Maybe if the GOA and OCA and Antiochian Dioceses all got together on this ONE point we could work a miracle of unity where all Orthodox could feel welcome.

  8. Well since there seems to be another “leadership” vaccuum in the Orthdox Church here in the States, perhaps it’s time for His Beatitude to step in and take his rightful position. Let’s get Jonah+ on Fox.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by George Demos, Golmer Flagellate. Golmer Flagellate said: @JoeTheMailman this rep is openly calling for us funds to rebuild a church at ground zero […]

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