A fellow brother in Christ, Ryan “Silouan” Hunter, has published an open letter demanding even more public condemnation of Matthew Heimbach from the Church than he has already received.
Please afford me an opportunity to respond to Mr. Hunter’s letter.
The charge of “phyletism” against Mr. Heimbach is intellectually irresponsible, as the scope of this canon relates to relations within the Church, specifically relating to communion and jurisdiction. He has already published an explicit renunciation of phyletism in all its permutations, despite having never advocated for it in the first place. Heimbach confirms, frequently and sincerely, that all of the races and nations are equal in the eyes of God, that Orthodoxy is indeed for all the races and nations of the world, and that communion should never be denied a man on account of his identity.
Were the original or implied scope of the canon against phyletism as broad as Mr. Hunter and his cohorts insist, then Matthew Heimbach is the least of the Church’s problems, as the vast majority of Orthodox Christians the world over are proud of and supportive of their ethnic identity. In fact, the American dioceses ecumenically support specifically racial outreach projects, such as the Society of Saint Moses. Heimbach fully supports the mission of the Society of Saint Moses, but this glaring double-standard has yet to be explained or defended.
In fact, the heresy of phyletism is being committed by those who insist that Whites and Whites alone must renounce, reject, or be silent about their White identities in order to receive communion. What’s been done to Heimbach is a textbook case of phyletism, denying him communion due to a political rejection of his racial and ethnic identity, the White American identity. All he’s ever asked is for the Church to extend the same dignity and respect for his racial and ethnic identity that it has historically done an excellent job of extending to every other identity.
Being anti-white is found nowhere Holy Tradition.
Matthew Heimbach is not a White Supremacist. He can be accurately described as either a White Separatist and a White Nationalist, neither of which are incompatible with canon law or misaligned with Church History. You may find those offensive to your secular political tastes, but that’s beside the point. This is not Evangelicalism, this is Orthodoxy. There are rules here. It’s very unfashionable to be pro-white in the contemporary American society, and the epithet of choice for men who are pro-White is “White Supremacist.” I assume Ryan Hunter quite probably doesn’t know the difference between a White Advocate and a White Supremacist, and doesn’t care to make the distinction.
Politics and Catholicity
It’s imperative that the Church refrain from engaging in political matters which don’t directly intersect with Holy Tradition, lest the Orthodox Church forfeit its unifying catholicity and become what America already has enough of; intensely politicized subcultural sects which demand that parishioners pass a series of litmus tests on “hot button” issues in order to receive fellowship.
There are some issues, like abortion, which do indeed demand the Church’s voice, but it would be lacking in wisdom for the Church to stake out a firm position on America’s very fluid and rapidly changing racial politics (save for condemning those who are actually supremacist). Historically, the Church has survived on all sides of ethnic tensions, conflicting nationalist movements, and rapidly shifting political climates precisely because it retained its apolitical catholic bearing, inviting men and women on all sides to set aside their politics when they cross the Narthex.
It’s alarming that Matthew Heimbach has been cast into the outer darkness by the Church for arguably (with a bad argument, at that) being a phyletist without the usual opportunities to defend or explain himself, while Michael Dukakis has gone on for decades confirming that slaughtering the unborn is consistent with the Orthodox faith without censure, excommunication, or piles of incendiary public letters being fired off.
This double-standard has yet to be explained or defended.
Privacy and Targeting
Matthew Heimbach has never purported to be clergy, or to speak on behalf of the Church. The public and political nature of the Church’s dealing with Mr. Heimbach are misaligned with traditional practice. After all, would the Church be inclined to post a notice on its website that one of its parishioners is an adulterer? The boycotts, the scripted denunciations, the calls and demands to condemn, and the active effort to figure out where he’s at and then turn the parishioners against him has the character of a secular political witch hunt, not one of spiritual stewardship and concern for right doctrine.
The charge that Matthew Heimbach creates “division” within the parishes is particularly frustrating, as he’s effusively solemn, friendly, and apolitical while in fellowship and the only “division” ever arises when political activists threaten to bring negative publicity and public shaming on the parish if they don’t expel him. I have witnessed this multiple times now, and I’ve looked into the tortured eyes of parishioners who personally like Matthew but who’ve decided to support driving him out of the parish exclusively in order to save it from being damaged by Leftist political pressure.
Were there even a hint of incense to any of this, I would humble myself to the clergy’s position. But all I smell is sulphur.
Does Pat Buchanan, whose views are nearly identical to Matthew’s views, suffer this treatment when he attends Catholic Mass? Not at all. While the Catholic Church is certainly not, on whole, in agreement with Pat, it’s being decidedly more measured and…catholic. People understand that Catholicism is inclusive of a broad range of conservative, capitalist, socialist, nationalist, and internationalist views. Orthodoxy in America has consistently striven to emulate the major Protestant denominations rather than sticking with the political strategy of being a universal church which worked fine for a couple millennia. While I refuse to offer the Church political advice, the requirement that it be catholic (inclusive of people you don’t personally like) is right there in the Creed.
The charge that Matthew Heimbach’s secular politics are outright heretical is hysterical and theologically indefensible. I’m sensitive to the fact that Orthodoxy–both within America and globally–has an obligation to demonstrate itself inclusive of every identity, but it also has an obligation to demonstrate itself above picking sides in secular politics.
A statement confirming that Matthew Heimbach does not speak for the Church and confirming that the Church is a welcome home for every race and identity would address the concerns that Heimbach’s politics are being mistaken for Orthodox dogma without opening a theological can of worms or shutting the door in the faces of the thousands of White identitarians who are either inquiring about the Orthodox Faith or are longstanding members of the Church.
Heimbach isn’t calling for his opponents within the Church to be excommunicated. Orthodoxy is big enough to be inclusive of the full spectrum of American and global secular political ideals. It seems like an easy decision to condemn the wildly unpopular man who’s being vilified by the media and drive him out of the Church. It’s certainly the easy decision, at least for the near term. But it’s not the correct decision, and you will likely come to regret cracking open the door to picking and choosing which secular political positions require excommunication.
Please carefully reflect on whether or not to participate in or support the witch hunt against this humble Orthodox Christian parishioner, Matthew Heimbach.