The largest non-ethnic Orthodox church body in the U.S., the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), is facing a growing traditionalist-fundamentalist element as well as an attempt to steer the communion in the direction of Russian Orthodoxy.
In his blog Religion and Other Curiosities (March 2 entry), sociologist Peter Berger reports on what he calls “the growth of a fundamentalist understanding of Orthodoxy—dogmatic, intolerant, uninterested in engaging with anybody or anything outside a confined community of faith.” He adds that much of the influence for this new traditionalism or fundamentalism comes from the converts who have entered the church.
Berger writes that the second challenge is the “campaign by the Moscow Patriarchate to return all originally Russian churches abroad to its own jurisdiction. The campaign reportedly has the support of the Russian state, which sees these churches as potential sources of its own influence abroad. I understand that there are voices within the OCA in favor of surrendering its autocephaly and returning to the welcoming embrace of the mother church.
Fundamentalists in the OCA also find this prospect appealing. While that are different voices in the Russian church, the messages coming out of the patriarchate seem more fundamentalist all the time.”