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(Photo credit: Monk James Stevens)

by Nathaniel Torrey (@nathanieltorrey)

In a conference on poverty and free markets hosted by St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and the Acton Institute, Dr. Antonios Kieropolous, the Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace at the National Council of Churches (NCC), claimed that the NCC is not “a left-oriented organization.”  Kieropolous, himself an Orthodox Christian, continues:

“I will say some people, and even some leaders in the NCC, some churches as churches may be considered progressive, but when you have a mix of Orthodox to African-American to mainline American Protestant groups, it is not altogether a left-of-center organization. The organization has never taken a position on anything that is contrary to Orthodox theology or to the Orthodox churches.”

Kieropolous added that this accusation of leftism stems from the NCC historically involvement with opposition to the Vietnam War, Iraq War and “sensible” immigration reform. Additionally, He claims the NCC is maligned for its “insistence on a fair shake for the Palestinians even as we support Israel.”

Also on the panel was John Couretas of Acton Institute, who responded to Kieropolous’ comments about the NCC with bewilderment. “I’m flabbergasted by your statement that the NCC is not a center-left organization, because in my mind it clearly is,” he said. “What I don’t understand about our involvement there is why do we [the Orthodox churches] need to hitch our wagon to this decades-old project that got its real genesis from liberal Protestantism?”

Couretas went on to say that the NCC always advocates for the same left-leaning policies of wealth redistribution and a perpetually growing welfare state and that the kind of dialogue happening at the panel would never happen. He urged that Orthodox Christians must be very careful in their participation in groups like the NCC, where many groups, though ostensibly Christian, have very radical and differing theological views:

“[K]eep in mind that there has been very clear call from places like Moscow that we can no longer work with churches that have so deluded their theological beliefs that they cease to look almost Christian…In fact, I believe the Patriarchate of Moscow has cut off relations with the Episcopal Church of the United States. They’re not going to work with them on ecumenical programs. We need to be cautious about these relationships.”

Already the Orthodox churches under the Antiochian Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) do not participate in the NCC, and there are rumblings about the departure of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

In closing, Couretas recommended the Institute on Religion & Democracy and our coverage of the NCC especially our Strange Yokefellows report. Thanks for the endorsement!

A full transcript of the panel can be at Ancient Faith Radio.