Why no support for Ground Zero church from Giannoulias?

Alexi Giannoulias

Alexi Giannoulias

Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias made waves earlier this week when he announced his support for the Ground Zero Mosque. Giannoulias’s support for the mosque isn’t particularly surprising; he’s far behind his Republican opponent, Mark Kirk, in the money race and can’t afford to alienate the White House, or risk no more presidential fundraising trips. 

The people who should be surprised are Giannoulias’s Greek supporters, particularly those who call New York City home. You see, as Fox News reported today, the only house of worship that was actually destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks was a Greek Orthodox church, Saint Nicholas. And while the mosque cleared city red tape earlier this month, Port Authority officials have been dragging their feet for years on rebuilding Saint Nicholas.

“We have people that are saying, why isn’t our church being rebuilt and why is there … such concern for people of the mosque?” Father Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the archbishop, told FoxNews.com. He said religious freedom would allow a place of worship for any denomination to be built, but accused officials with the Port Authority of making no effort to help move his congregation’s project along.

Unfortunately, they have just been silent — dead silent, actually, said Karloutsos, whose father was ordained at Saint Nicholas. They just simply forgot about the church.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    For the longest time, I’ve thought that the reason we haven’t heard anything coming from the Phanar on this issue is because of the centuries-long dysfunctional attitudes of a dhimmi church. In other words, blame the EP. I now think that I’ve been wrong. Though the EP is the nominal head of the GOA, there are I believe other forces at play here, things that do not speak well for a united, autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

    What do I mean? I’ve come to the unfortunate (and hopefully wrong) conclusion that the reason 79th St has been so resolutely silent on this is because the higher echelons of the GOA are simply beholden to the Democrat Party. Whatever Imam Obama wants is fine and dandy with them. The demographic center of the GOA is east of the Hudson River and the majority of them are joined to the political hip with the left wing of the Democrat Party.

    In reading the tepid remarks of the Revs Karloutsos and Arey, I very much think that this brouhaha is the last thing that the GOA wants to deal with.
    This is obvious as well from the demeanor of Obama, Bloomberg, and their stenographers of the MSM, who are openly beggin the Republicans to not make an issue of this. (Some are even begging Bush to pull Obama’s chestnuts out fo the fire.)

    As was the case with the Unia of Ferrara-Florence, it has been the people which rose up and dealt a death-blow to this abomination.

    • Come on George! It’s not called the Democrat Party, it’s the Democratic Party, and you know it. Don’t stoop to rabble-rousing rhetoric, tickling the Obama-is-a-Muslim meme either, because you know it’s a lie.
      You are also aware that the Bush admin, and the ones before it made the bed of our official relations with Islam and did an awful lot to promulgate this good-Islam/bad-Islam false dichotomy. Think historically, not emotionally.
      Of course, dissatisfaction with the official attitude begs a response from the people. It’s our job to steer it reasonably. I’m a priest so I have to remain nonpartisan, a stricture you yourself are not subject to as a layman. But we need to keep the dialogue decent. Perhaps I am the only person reading and writing in this forum who has not drunk deeply of the TEA. But I will henceforth refrain, for the sake of setting a tone amenable to things relating to Christ’s church in the world, from mention of Lipton’s or other popular methods of tea infusion which some here deem derogatory. Let us keep it clean amongst brothers!

      • You folks appear to be way too close to one another, especially as you micro-parse one another’s words.

        With all due respect Fr., George’s comment is hardly indecent dialogue or “rabble-rousing rhetoric.”

        One need not be an emotionally-detached Ph.d in the history of the GOA to conclude beyond any doubt that 79th Street, like the Phanar, frequently ignores, contorts, subverts and even perverts Orthodox Tradition and teaching on a whole host of issues important to Orthodox Americans — and Americans collectively — from abortion to homosexuality to the gamut of ecclesiological subjects visitors to this site address every day.

        As with many of Old World Patriarchates, on 79th Street, momentary political expediency rules the roost. Sometimes its expression and manifestation is ham-fisted, at others, it is subtle and savvy. You all know that much better than most, and in far greater detail.

        And one need not be a Ph.d in contemporary American politics to conclude beyond any doubt that President Obama is someone far different than what he and others told us he was or many in the electorate believed him to be. But, 79th Street conveniently ignores all of this so long as the invites to rubber chicken dinners and other photo ops keep coming and “Somebody-o-polous, – otropolus, – opolis, Agnew, Sarbanes, or Snowe” get elected.

        That said, I disagree in the strongest possible way with the proposition that an Orthodox priest must appear “non-partisan.” “Partisanship” is a label ascribed by others. By that measure, the Lives of the Saints are full of “partisans,” before and after, John the Forerunner — perhaps the greatest and boldest “partisans” of all.

        Truth has no political affiliation or membership dues.

        Maybe I’m just not an experienced enough “blogger” — or whatever this hour to hour, minute by minute, commentary is called — to understand the nuances here.

        Perhaps I should read more and write less.

      • George Michalopulos :

        Fr John, what’s wrong with “Democrat Party”? Should I have said “Dhimmicrat Party”? As for the mistakes of the Bush Administration, I admit them as well. Bush’s first mistake was to call Islam “a religion of peace, that had been hijacked.”

        Having said that, I find it amusing that the seditious bastards of the Left who called Bush “Chimpy McHitler” want him to come out now and soothe the roiling waters stirred up by the Ground Zero Mosque. Irony is wonderful, isn’t it?

      • George Michalopulos :

        Fr John, please forgive my flippancy earlier. Seriously now: I can’t say that I know for sure that Obama is not a Muslim. I believed he was a Christian even though it was of the UCC/Blame-America congregation of Rev Jeremiah Wright. But considering how little we know about his earlier life, none of us can now be sure. Consider: he still hasn’t chosen a church in DC, he didn’t attend church on Christmas day, etc.

        Personally, I think he’s an atheist/cultural Muslim. Both his father and step-father were Muslims. It seems that Muslims the world over accept him as one. I’m not an expert (Scott?) but I believe that if a Muslim man sires a child and gives him an Islamic name then that child is considered to be Muslim. Much like if a Jewish woman gives birth to a child that baby is halakhically Jewish.

        Think of what we don’t know about him personally: what is his academic record? What colleges did he attend? Where is his passport? How many did he have? An Indonesian one? etc.

        We were told more about Sarah Palin’s ob/gyn records within one week of her nomination to the Vice Presidency than we ever learned about Obama. And no, I do believe he was born in Hawaii. However why the reticence to see his birth certificate?

  2. George, I think you are absolutely correct. The wizards of smart at 79th street do not want to deal with this issue because it means having to take a stand and go against their political masters. The folks at 79th street do not row upstream they much prefer floating downstream and jumping on political issues that require little thinking. This entire issue shows you just how neutered 79th street is. How can you lead the Church in America and not support Americans?

    I also wonder whether or not some people believe electing Giannoulias is more important than rebuilding St. Nicholas.

  3. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, if what I fear is true, the answer to your question is “yes.” That is that electing Giannoulis is more important than rebuilding an Orthodox house of worship.

  4. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, there’s another reason for this recalcitrance. If you go to The National Herald website, you can read several articles from about 6 months ago about fundraising “irregularities” involved in the rebuilding project. It’s quite possible that the discrepancies may rise to the level of criminality. Hence 79th St has another good reason to sweep this whole thing under the rug.

    Ironic, isn’t it? The America people are rising up and screaming bloody murder about the Ground Zero Mosque and secular commentators are amplifying their righteous anger. Wouldn’t it be tragic if at the end of the day actual criminality on the part of elements of the GOA is exposed?

  5. Regardless of the speculation, I do not envision a scenario in which this works out well for the folks at 79th Street. There may not be a happy ending. Think about it, given everything we have seen politically from the EP and the GOA, how does 79th handle these events without a major recalibration in its political and social outlook? 79th Street is boxed in. Everybody from the Archbishop to the Archons is missing in action or hiding behind vague statements.

    Heck, Rush Limbaugh is defending St. Nicholas with more vigor and conviction than the Archons and Eparchial Synod. Ironic is it not?

  6. Why not ask the financiers of the ground zero mosque instead to forget that and instead to rebuild the flattened church?

    Now that would generate actual goodwill and it would be a token of making good for the well financed terror imposed by Islamic extremists.

    I’m certain the church would allow a permanent plaque explaining the history for all to see.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      This is a great idea. It would be an act of contrition, and also show if moderate Muslims actually have any influence in their religion.

      • I remain terribly confused about many aspects of this discussion, but one momentarily bubbles to the surface:

        Is there such a thing as “moderate Orthodox Christianity”? If so, please tell me the characteristics of such a layman, cleric, parish or diocese, or grouping of dioceses.

        Perhaps I know neither Orthodoxy nor Islam, but it seems as non-sensical to identify someone a “moderate Muslim” as it is to call someone a “moderate Orthodox Christian.”

        (This notion of “moderate” Islam does not seem to be tied to the competing “schools”(?) of Islam, e.g. Shiite v. Sunni. I may be mistaken. If relative “moderation” is governed by that distinction, then the discussion should proceed using those terms.)

        This is a slippery slope that appears to takes you right to selective, “buffet, define it as I or a group of us like it, “faith.”

        I suppose that the same could be said for “extremist” Islam. Is there “extremist” Orthodoxy?

        From an Orthodox perspective, I’m not so sure that “moderation” as used in this context is what Christ and the Desert Fathers had in mind.

  7. The way I look at it is that for someone to be viewed as a “moderate” Muslim, he or she would have to actually reject aspects of their religion since for them being “Orthodox Muslim” would mean death, destruction, tyranny, not only for others but for themselves.

    On the other hand, maintaining to Orthodox Christianity in the truest sense, has the exact opposite meaning and result.

    The difference between Truth and a false teaching, between Freedom in Christ, and tyranny and man made ideology.

    Perhaps it’s a bit oversimplified, but I’m just learning.

  8. President Obama is the epitome of the “new world” religion that calls itself, Chrstianity, but really doesn’t follow Christian precepts rather the “social jutice” calling of the likes of the Rev. Jim Wallis. But, the main sticking point I have with Obama’s faith is not so much this worldly view, rather his highest disregard for the sanctity of life. I don’t think even Wallis is so pro-abortion (if at all), and I don’t think Muslims are pro-abortion as well, albeit their view of life after conception really defeats their pro-life stance.

    So in essence, Obama is in many ways worse than being a Muslim who has rejected the anti-life aspects of their faith.

  9. cynthia curran :

    Well, Obama is not a moslem. I really don’t think he is that religious. His religion is in the liberal protestant social gospel variety. His ex-pastor Rev Wright is not that good in history since he sees the Romans against the black jews. Jews were not black in the African sense even if there ancestors were in Egypt around 1,400 to 1,200 years before Christ. Two, the Romans are compared to modern America in the thinking of Rev Wright as both white imperialists. Personality, I kind of agree with Thomas Sowell is that Obama isn’t stopped we could weaken ourselves in the long term military. I don’t care if I agree with conservative protestants and catholics on this issue or conservative jews.

Care to Comment?