Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

If not Me and You, then, Who?


This is an excerpt from a longer posting. Click here for the complete article.


(beginning of excerpt)

The unresolved issues festered throughout the summer and early fall of 2007, until in October, an exasperated Koumentakos wrote to the OCA, again, asking what, if anything, was being done with her claim of “pastoral misconduct” made almost a year earlier. Rev Velencia sent an e-mail as well, not only to the Synod and the Metropolitan Council, but to OCANews.org as well, claiming that:

It has come to my attention that I am the subject of correspondence to you from a former parishioner and employee who is in her letters to you attempting to destroy my professional and personal life.  Please find attached my response to her original complaint to Metropolitan Herman in January of this year. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Members of the Synod, the Metropolitan Council, and the editor of OCANews.org all confirm receiving Mrs Koumentakos and Rev Velencia’s e-mails. Rev Velencia’s attachment, a letter to the Metropolitan, some 10 pages long, did not specifically address Mrs Koumentakos’ allegations, but, rather contained intimate, personal, and graphic details about Mrs Koumentakos’s abuse, her subsequent treatment, details about her husband, and their marriage, in what may be described as an attempt to damage her credibility and concerns. OCANews.org will not make the contents of the email attachment received from Rev Velencia public, aside from what the Koumentakoses, in their legal brief, have themselves been forced to reveal. The OCA, through its new lawyer, Michael Genute, then asked the Koumentakoses for 60 more days to once again review her case.  An angry and humiliated Mrs Koumentakos, whose painful past had now been revealed to another 39 strangers (the members of the Synod and Metropolitan Council), not to mention given to a public website to be posted, responded:

…You have asked me to be patient.  Respectfully, I find that request to be offensive.

I reached out twice to my local Deanery for help 19 months ago and was not even given the courtesy of a response.

I reached out to the OCSM (Orthodox Church of St Matthew) parish council for help; they were impotent.

I reached out to the Metropolitan for help and received Fr Alexey (Karlgut), who was more interested in having me sign a waiver than investigate, who lied point blank to my husband, who spent more time focusing on my history… than the misconduct of Fr Ray (Velencia), and then allowed him to escalate the issue repeatedly.

Still, I waited patiently for some sort of contact or report from Fr Alexey, hoping that in the end, the national church would do the right thing, the honest thing.

What I got months later was a letter from Fr Alexey with the obvious intent to do more harm, to further humiliate and intimidate me. He wrote about my refusal to sign the waiver, he misrepresented himself as a legal professional, he stated that he found Fr Ray to be a “goal-oriented priest” who had been successful in building his church, that he had been unable to substantiate the allegations I made because “no one had come forward”… interesting choice of words given that he refused to contact my witnesses and made no reference whatsoever to the witness statements he received in writing.

Additionally, he wrote, “As to allegations of violation of ‘pastoral confidentiality’ it should be stated that in the teaching, Doctrine, and Canonical rules, regulations, and tribunal for internal discipline and government of the Orthodox Church no such concept exists”.

Imagine the reaction of the OCA community to those comments!

I then reached out to the entire Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council for help.

I received a brief letter stating that Metropolitan Herman would “need to look further into the matters at hand”.

I again reached out to the Synod and MC, indicating strongly that such a minimal response was unsatisfactory.

I insisted that appropriate action be taken and asked for the following information:

When will I be contacted?

Who will be conducting the review of information?

In what manner will this be done?

When will the review be complete and when will appropriate action take place?

These questions remain unanswered by the OCA or your representatives, yet you ask me for my patience.

I am confident that you can understand why this is unacceptable to me.

She concluded:

I have begged all involved for help, for intervention for the last time. I will not do it again.

(end of excerpt)


This is despicable, dirty, low, reprehensible, and beyond all words. It stuns one by its brazenness. “As to allegations of violation of ‘pastoral confidentiality’ it should be stated that in the teaching, Doctrine, and Canonical rules, regulations, and tribunal for internal discipline and government of the Orthodox Church no such concept exists”. In other words, the OCA believes that the seal of the confessional and pastoral confidentially in general doesn’t exist. I asked a Russian priest friend about this. His e-mail reply was, “He should be defrocked! Immediately! Without delay! Why, no one would open themselves up to a priest if that were true!” In short, my friend was scandalised badly by this.

If there’s anything that proves to all, including the slow learners, that the officialdom of the OCA has left ordinary Orthodoxy, this clinches it. If this doesn’t move you to action, may God have mercy on your soul. The fact that Mark Stokoe didn’t condemn this in the most ringing phrases possible makes me wonder about his motives. Why are you defending such an abuse, Mr Stokoe? If you stand quiet, you stand in approval. Can you not see that the apparat in Syosset is EVIL? There’s no other word for the abuse of pastoral confidentiality shown by this priest. Syosset DEFENDED him. Mr Stokoe, it’s time for you to join all the rest of us in refusing to stand by quietly. I’ve seen much come out of this crisis over the last 32 months. I thought that I’d seen the lowest reaches of corruption. I was wrong. For a priest to reveal ANYTHING spoken to him in confidence is EVIL INCARNATE. This strikes me speechless, truly.

Yes, this is the end result of the scorning of tradition taught by Alexander Schmemann. It’s led to an attitude of “the ends justify the means”, and the only good is the survival of the Syosset apparat in its present form. I now understand why the hierarchs of the MP are disgusted with the OCA. No OCA clergy were allowed to serve at the funeral of Vladyki Laurus per the explicit orders of Metropolitan Juvenaly. I understand that the same stricture applied to the 3 May service at St Nick’s in New York. The DECR’s aware of what is going on, and it appals them. I’d like to see “Hegumen Christopher” defend this noisome act.

If not me and you, then, WHO?

I think it’s time to saddle up the posse comitatus. Are you with us?

Vara Drezhlo

6 May 2008


What the figures tell us…

Filed under: Alaska,Christian,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

WARNING! This post is unusually long and (admittedly) dry due to the need of presenting all the figures. I shall say that any priest or church official perusing this shall not find it a boring read. Unlike the official statistics, which are straight-faced cheerleading from Cloud-Cuckoo Land, this is an accurate and impartial study using data from an objective outside source.

Some while back, I did a study of who was reading what website based on figures from Quanticast. I have expanded the study, amplified the figures, and have been able to gain a better picture of American Orthodoxy as a result. There were two websites (Fr John Whiteford and Orthodixie) that I was unable to put into the “personal site” category as a result of figures not being available to Quanticast. I encourage the authors of these sites to “quantify” them (see http://www.quanticast.com for details).

A great deal of what follows is raw statistical data. This is the raw material one needs to make a reasoned judgement on the state of the Church. There are five official (GOA, OCA, ROCOR, AOCANA, and ACROD) and four personal sites in this study. I wished to use the official website of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but, the figures were too sketchy (I encourage the webmaster of this site to quantify it, see the above URL for details) to be useful.

Two personal websites I wished to put in the personal website section, as noted above, had no figures. The personal websites in this study are Orthodox Christians for Accountability (“Stokoe”), Frederica (“Greene”), Orthodox England (“Phillips”), and Voices from Russia (“Drezhlo”). The last two sites present an ordinary Orthodox point of view whilst the first two are decidedly modernist and dodgy.

We shall present the data, and let us see where it takes us! The truth shall set you free.

A) Gross monthly uniques

Official Sites:

1.   Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA): 78,867 (100)

2.   Orthodox Church in America (OCA): 27,020 (34)

3.   Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America (AOCANA): 15,757 (20)

4.   Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR): 7,451 (9)

5.   American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD): 5,266 (7)

In a recent study of Orthodox church adherence in the US (the only reliable figures available, alas), Professor Aleksei Krindatch of Moscow estimated the membership of the GOA at 340,000. When I multiplied that figure by the indexes given above, the resulting sums were eerily similar to Professor Krindatch’s conclusions. Virtually every membership report issued by American Orthodox church bodies have been grossly inaccurate at best, downright lies at worst. However, the above figures must be adjusted to account for “addicts” (daily visitors) and “regulars” (more than once a month, but, not daily).

Personal Sites:

1.   Orthodox Christians for Accountability (Stokoe): 6,685 (100)

2.   Voices from Russia (Drezhlo): 6,166 (92)

3.   Orthodox England (Phillips): 5,346 (80)

4.   Frederica [Frederica Matthewes-Greene] (Green): 3,258 (49)

Let me give a caveat or two on the above figures. The Stokoe readership is made up disproportionately of addicts, so, the above figure is going to drop greatly in the adjustment below. Fr Andrew Phillips, in a personal e-mail communication, told me that the above figures are US only, which is some 30 percent of his total audience. If that is so, his estimated total for monthly gross uniques would be 17,820 (index of 267), not only making his the top personal site; it would also give him more uniques than three of the five official sites, except for the OCA and GOA. This fact makes Batiushka Andrew the leading Orthodox commentator on the web; he has a greater influence than some of the official websites (Modernist attackers of Fr Andrew such as Hank Leaf should keep their silence. The facts have spoken.).

B) Adjusted monthly uniques

Official Sites:

1.   GOA: 60,182 (100)

2.   OCA: 20,714 (34)

3.   AOCANA: 13,473 (22)

4.   ROCOR: 5,997 (10)

5.   ACROD: 4,728 [8]

No surprises here, for the ranking and proportions of the gross figures are virtually the same as the adjusted ones. The number of addicts is divided by three, and the number of regulars is divided by two, per the Quanticast site, to give a better view of actual individuals accessing the various addresses.

Personal Sites:

1.   Drezhlo: 5,548 (100)

2.   Phillips: 5,141 (93)

3.   Stokoe: 4,555 (82)

4.   Greene: 2,539 (46)

If we adjust Fr Andrew’s figures for his foreign following, he moves to number one at 17,136 adjusted uniques (index of 309). I do not have this in the above table for I have no independent verification of his figure. Batiushka! I love you and trust you, but, I hold you to the same standard as everyone else. I include the figures for the website of Frederica Matthewes-Green because she is a loud and strident self-advertiser. I agree with Professor Vigen Guroian’s trenchant criticism of her, and the above figures show her to be a MUCH lesser figure than some modernist sources would have you believe.

As an aside, there is an internet group known as the Orthodox Forum run (essentially) by a single individual, Harry Coin. It claims to be the most authoritative non-official source on the web. Well, it only has 1,477 registered members, so, it is only a small group of theological radicals (they advocate such things as a married episcopate and support the Osbourne schismatics), and the core of the group is only about 50 true-believer liberal radicals. If it was to have an index number as per the above list, it would be 27, and it would rank dead last. That is, it has only 27 percent of the readership of my site. Be wary of this group, they are not as important as they claim. Thankfully, their bark is FAR greater than their size. They are “all hat and no cattle” as they say in Texas.

C) Gender ratios in percentages

a) Male readership as a percentage of the total

Official Sites:

1.   ROCOR: 42 percent (86, Internet average; 100, this study sample)

2.   GOA and OCA: 40 percent (80, 95)

3.   AOCANA: 34 percent (69, 81)

4.   ACORD: 16 percent (34, 38]

None of the official websites does a good job of attracting male readership, if we define “good” as being within 10 points of the average. If we define “fair” as being within 20 points of the average, the top three score that. The AOCANA needs to do major revamping and the ACROD figures are abysmal.

Personal Sites:

1.   Drezhlo: 55 percent (110, 100)

2.   Phillips: 47 percent (95, 85)

3.   Stokoe: 43 percent (88, 78]

4.   Greene: 32 percent (65, 58]

It would be unfair to paint Ms Greene as poor in this aspect, as her site has a feminine focus. Fr Andrew and I are doing a “good” job, whilst Mr Stokoe is only doing a “fair” performance. I should note that I do not try to attract a masculine audience and some of my most vocal and loyal readers are women. Go figure!

b) Female readership as a percentage of the total

Official Sites:

1.   ACROD: 84 percent (163, 100)

2.   AOCANA: 66 percent (129, 79)

3.   GOA and OCA: 60 percent (116, 71)

4.   ROCOR: 58 percent (113, 69)

All the official sites do an excellent job of attracting female readership. Now, they should concentrate on getting the fellows, as well. However, there appears to be a correlation between modernism and a larger female following. That is more marked in the personal site listings below.

Personal Sites:

1.   Greene: 68 percent (133, 100)

2.   Stokoe: 57 percent (110, 84)

3.   Phillips: 53 percent (103, 78]

4.   Drezhlo: 45 percent (90, 66)

Ms Greene’s showing is not surprising, given her focus. All the rest of us are doing a “good” job at attracting a female audience.

D) Educational Levels of the readership in percentages

a) Non-college graduates

Official Sites:

1.   ROCOR: 28 percent (62, 100)

2.   GOA: 26 percent (56, 93)

3.   ACROD: 24 percent (54, 86)

4.   OCA: 19 percent (44, 68]

5.   AOCANA: 16 percent (36, 57)

45 percent of the general population falls into this category, so, one cannot conclude that Orthodox are better educated than the average, as corroborating evidence from objective sources is lacking. It is true that the official sites are doing a poor job of reaching this cohort, whilst one also notices that the gap widens with the increasing level of modernism.

Personal Sites:

1.   Drezhlo: 36 percent (79, 100)

2.   Greene: 29 percent (65, 81)

3.   Phillips: 15 percent (34, 42)

4.   Stokoe: 5 percent (13, 14)

My site is the only site of the four to be near “fair”, missing it by only one point. All the others miss the mark for this social category, with the Stokoe site being abysmal in this regard. Of course, the snotty and shirty tone of so many posters on the Stokoe site (in all fairness, Mr Stokoe himself does not take such a noisome attitude) puts many people’s teeth on edge, and many see them as overeducated dweebs who wish to lead all others about by the nose.

b) College graduates

Official Sites:

1.   ACROD: 63 percent (153, 100)

2.   GOA: 45 percent (110, 71)

3.   AOCANA: 43 percent (106, 68]

4.   OCA: 39 percent (93, 62)

5.   ROCOR: 27 percent (67, 43)

Slots 2 to 4 are doing a “good” job of reaching the college-educated, whilst the very high figure for ACROD reflects its relative lack of new immigrants and the movement of many of its people from the working-class to the lower reaches of the middle-class. The lower figure for ROCOR may reflect the larger number of immigrants in its ranks, combined with a strong working-class distaste for the pseudo-intellectual antics of SVS and its minions.

Personal Sites:

1.     Phillips: 54 (131, 100)

2.     Drezhlo: 42 (102, 78]

3.     Greene: 40 (98, 74)

4.     Stokoe: 32 (78, 59)

Batiushka Andrew does a sparkling job at attracting the college crowd. Ms Greene and I do an equally “good” effort, whilst Mr Stokoe is poor, yet again. He can’t seem to connect with ordinary folk at all.

c) Post-graduate degree holders

Official Sites:

1.  ROCOR: 44 percent (308, 100)

2.  OCA: 42 percent (290, 95)

3.  AOCANA: 40 percent (278, 91)

4.  GOA: 30 percent (204, 68]

5.  ACROD: 13 percent (91, 30)

A caveat, if you please. These figures are skewed by the number of clergy accessing these sites, and these fellows all have a post-graduate education.

The big three are within 10 percent of each other, making their efforts equally effective at reaching the highly-educated. The ROCOR has always had the highest level of education in the American Orthodox diaspora, and the above figure confirms it. The GOA is still doing an excellent job, being at slightly over 200 percent of the Internet average. The coal-mine origins of ACROD are evident in the above figures, it is not a criticism, rather, it is an observation (in fact, it is within the normal statistical variance for the norm, a good sign). Their parents did not have the means to allow them to continue studies past the baccalaureate level. It may mean that this group is the most solidly-grounded of the lot, being less apt to be moved by intellectual notions and conceits, a very good thing, indeed.

Personal Sites:

1.   Stokoe: 63 percent (431, 100)

2.   Phillips: 31 percent (215, 49)

3.   Greene: 30 percent (210, 48]

4.   Drezhlo: 22 percent (156, 35)

The note concerning clergy applies here as well.

All of us are above the internet average, but, there can be too much of a good thing. Mr Stokoe’s site is so disproportionately skewed to this social cohort (which is only some 14.1 percent of the internet population) that it brings into question its objectivity and balance. It appears to be a site favoured by the Orthodox equivalent of the “chattering classes” and the clerisy. That is why so much material in it is so disconnected with reality. Caveat auditor.

E) Racial composition of the audience in percentages

a) Caucasian

Official sites:

1.   ACROD: 96 percent (117, 100)

2.   ROCOR: 93 percent (114, 97)

3.   OCA: 89 percent (110, 93)

4.   AOCANA: 85 percent (103, 89)

5.   GOA: 82 percent (102, 85)

No surprises here. Everyone knows that the Orthodox demographic is disproportionately white.

Personal Sites:

1.  Stokoe: 99 percent (122, 100)

2.  Greene: 84 percent (104, 88]

3.  Drezhlo: 83 percent (102, 86)

4.  Phillips: 60 percent (74, 63)

Mr Stokoe is only reaching a lily-white audience, whereas Ms Greene and I are doing a “good job”, and Batiushka Andrew’s figure is interesting. Where are the other hits coming from? Well, we shall see.

b) Black

Official Sites:

1.   GOA: 10 percent (129, 100)

2.   OCA: 4 percent (50, 40)

3.   AOCANA: 3 percent (46, 30)

4.   ACROD: 2 percent (32, 20)

5.   ROCOR: * (8, 5)

*: less than 1 percent

The GOA figure is interesting, is it Ethiopians? One wonders. All in all, the official sites do a poor job of reaching blacks, except for the Greeks.

Personal Sites:

1.  Drezhlo: 6 percent (83, 100)

2.  Greene and Phillips: 2 percent (30, 33)

3.  Stokoe: 1 percent (17, 17)

If you want to put some “soul” into your life, log onto my site. Please, pass the sweet potato pie (Grandma Goodbee’s is reputedly some of the best, according to my friend Arnold). The other sites are not attracting blacks, with the Stokoe site doing a typically abysmal job.

c) Asian

Official Sites:

1.  AOCANA: 6 percent (151, 100)

2.  GOA: 2 percent (46, 33)

3.  OCA: 1 percent (30, 17)

4.  ACROD: * (15, 10)

5.  ROCOR: * (8, 5)

The Antiochians are doing a very good job of reaching American Asians. Everyone else needs to go to summer school to relearn the basics.

Personal Sites:

1.  Drezhlo: 4 percent (99, 100)

2.  Greene and Phillips: 1 percent (30, 25)

3.  Stokoe: * (10, 10)

If you want to find the Lucky Red Dragon, log onto my site. Everyone else needs help, especially Tail-end Charlie Stokoe.

d) Hispanic

Official Sites:

1.  AOCANA, GOA, and OCA: 3 percent (48, 100)

2.  ACROD: 2 percent (36, 75)

3.  ROCOR: 1 percent (24, 50)

No one is doing a particularly good job of reaching the Spanish-speaking.

Personal Sites:

1.  Phillips: 12 percent (192, 100)

2.  Drezhlo: 5 percent (80, 42)

3.  Greene: 3 percent (48, 25)

4.  Stokoe: * (10, 5)

Head on over to Batiushka Andrew’s for the Cinco de Mayo bash (He’s the one handing out the cold Bohemia brewskies from Mexico). I am doing a “fair” job. I should get out those Carlos Gardel CDs and brush up on my tango technique. Ms Greene needs to go back to the first form. Mr Stokoe, no soup for you!

e) Other (American Indian, Pacific Islander, Alaska Native)

Official Sites:

1.  ROCOR: 6 percent (458, 100)

2.  AOCANA and OCA: 3 percent (239, 52)

3.  GOA: 2 percent (211, 46)

4.  ACROD: * (52, 12)

“Other” in our terms usually means an Alaska native. All of the sites apparently seem to be doing well (with the exception of ACROD, which, to be honest, is not seeking out this particular demographic segment). However, the fact that the ROCOR is the champ in this category puts the lie to all the Chicken Littles on the Stokoe website who claim that the Alaska natives are going Protestant. They are certainly looking about… but, I do daresay that they are looking further EAST than Canterbury or Wittenberg.

Personal Sites:

1.  Phillips: 25 percent (1702, 100)

2.  Greene: 4 percent (320, 16)

3.  Drezhlo: 2 percent (158, 8]

4.  Stokoe: * (14, 1)

Batiushka Andrew, you had best watch out for the Tlingit, Yupik, and Aleut elders tooling down the High Street in their 4X4 ATVs. They are going to kidnap you and make you the honoured guest of an impromptu potlatch (You’d best brush up on your native dances. Moses the Tlingit shall be glad to help you). We are all doing a good job of reaching the natives except for Mr Stokoe. Mark, unfortunately, the natives have abandoned your site.

F) Income Profile of the audience in percentages

a) Under 30,000 USD per year

Official Sites:

1.  ACROD: 58 percent (375, 100)

2.  ROCOR: 29 percent (186, 50)

3.  AOCANA: 22 percent (143, 38]

4.  GOA: 18 percent (120, 31)

5.  OCA:  17 percent (114, 29)

The higher this figure is, the higher the number of old age pensioners and/or students in the sample. The OCA is less “grey” than some left-wing commentators have stated. Interesting.

Personal Sites:

1.  Greene: 19 percent (127, 100)

2.  Drezhlo: 17 percent (112, 89)

3.  Stokoe: 15 percent (93, 80)

4.  Phillips: 4 percent (30, 21)

Ms Greene is somewhat over the norm in this category, Mr Stokoe and I are in the normal range, and Batiushka Andrew does not seem to connect with this group at all.

b) 30,000-60,000 USD per year

Official Sites:

1.   ROCOR: 48 percent (146, 100)

2.   OCA: 47 percent (143, 98]

3.   AOCANA: 38 percent (117, 80)

4.   GOA: 35 percent (106, 73)

5.   ACROD: 15 percent (48, 37)

There is a healthy amount of the middle class in all the groups except for the ACROD, which may indicate a larger pensioner cohort.

Personal Sites:

1.   Stokoe: 80 percent (242, 100)

2.   Greene: 44 percent (134, 55)

3.   Phillips: 42 percent (128, 53)

4.   Drezhlo: 32 percent (99, 40)

All of us are doing well in this cohort. I am spot-on average, whereas most of the others are over-represented in this category, especially Mr Stokoe. This is important as this group (and the lower rungs of the next) is the most conventional and hide-bound in its behaviour. It is also infected thoroughly with positivism (although the next cohort, the upper-middles, provides most of the “therapists” and other assorted voodoo-merchants of positivism and can be considered more infested with it).

c) 60,000-100,000 USD per year

Official Sites:

1.   AOCANA and GOA: 33 percent (105, 100)

2.   OCA: 28 percent (89, 85)

3.   ACROD: 24 percent (77, 73)

4.   ROCOR: 19 percent (63, 58]

This group combined with preceding one makes up two-thirds of the faithful, except for the ACROD, where it is less than half (skewed by a larger pensioner cohort).

Personal Sites:

1.   Phillips: 41 percent (130, 100)

2.   Greene: 32 percent (101, 78]

3.   Drezhlo: 30 percent (96, 73)

4.   Stokoe: 3 percent (12, 7)

Batiushka has quite a following in this bracket, and Ms Greene and I are doing a “good” job. Mark Stokoe gets the cardboard box. His performance is wretched.

d) Over 100,000 USD per year

Official Sites:

1.   GOA: 14 percent (69, 100)

2.   OCA: 8 percent (38, 57)

3.   AOCANA: 7 percent (34, 50)

4.   ROCOR: 4 percent (20, 29)

5.   ACROD: 2 percent (10, 14)

None of the above groups has an average number of people in this cohort. The urban legends concerning “rich Greeks” are just that, and most of the wealth of the Greeks is not in liquid assets, but, rather in fixed assets (such as business fixtures and real estate) that are not easily convertible into ready cash. However, the GOA does have a larger percentage of such folks than any other Orthodox group.

Personal Sites:

1.   Drezhlo: 20 percent (96, 100)

2.   Phillips: 13 percent (69, 65)

3.   Greene: 5 percent (25, 25)

4.   Stokoe: 2 percent (11, 10)

I do a “good” job of reaching this group, Fr Andrew is “fair”, Ms Greene is poor, and Mr Stokoe does a miserable job. The people in the lower and upper income brackets do not trust him… hmm… one wonders. I hasten to add to that Mr Stokoe is most probably quite a decent fellow. Unfortunately, he has hitched himself to a corpse, which is sad.

G) Age Profile of the audience in percentages

a) 18 to 24 years-old

Official Sites:

1.   AOCANA: 13 percent (80, 100)

2.   ROCOR: 11 percent (74, 85)

3.   GOA and OCA: 9 percent (56, 69)

4.   ACROD: 7 percent (46, 54)

None of these sites are doing a “good” job (index of 90 to 110). Is it because of a lack of younger people or is it a lack of skill in reaching same?

Personal Sites:

1.   Greene: 15 percent (96, 100)

2.   Drezhlo: 14 percent (90, 93)

3.   Phillips: 3 percent (19, 20)

4.   Stokoe: * (4, 4)

Ms Greene and I do a “good” job at reaching this cohort, whereas Batiushka Andrew does not do well, and Mr Stokoe fails to connect at all with this group.

b) 25 to 34 years-old

Official Sites:

1.   ROCOR: 21 percent (99, 100)

2.   GOA and OCA: 17 percent (85, 81)

3.   AOCANA: 14 percent (72, 67)

4.   ACROD: 6 percent (30, 29)

The ROCOR does a “good” job; the OCA and GOA do a “fair” effort, whilst the ACROD figure is probably the result of a skewed age curve, not bad policy.

Personal Sites:

1.   Stokoe: 22 percent (103, 100)

2.   Phillips: 20 percent (95, 91)

3.   Drezhlo: 14 percent (69, 64)

4.   Greene: 13 percent (61, 59)

Mr Stokoe and Batiushka Andrew do a “good” job in this cohort, whilst Ms Greene and I need improvement.

c) 35 to 44 years-old

Official Sites:

1.   AOCANA: 23 percent (111, 100)

2.   GOA: 18 percent (87, 78]

3.   OCA: 17 percent (85, 74)

4.   ROCOR: 15 percent (79, 65)

5.   ACROD: 12 percent (58, 52)

Most of these sites do a “fair” job in reaching this cohort. The note on the preceding group in the ACROD applies to this category as well.

Personal Sites:

1.   Greene: 27 percent (133, 100)

2.   Phillips: 23 percent (108, 85)

3.   Stokoe: 22 percent (103, 81)

4.   Drezhlo: 19 percent (93, 70)

We all do a “good” job at reaching this age segment.

d) 45 to 54 years-old

Official Sites:

1.   ACROD: 42 percent (196, 100)

2.   GOA: 23 percent (112, 55)

3.   AOCANA: 22 percent (105, 52)

4.   OCA: 19 percent (96, 45)

5.   ROCOR: 6 percent (32, 14)

This shows that the ACROD has a disproportionately large number of “baby-boomers” amongst its congregants. Is this group heading for an implosion? Wise policies could head off such a result. The next three groups are doing a “good” job with this cohort. The abysmal ROCOR data may be the result of something that Fr Alexander Lebedeff alluded to in one of his internet posts. He said that very few of the children of the old ROCOR cohort who had passed through his Sunday School were active communicants at present. In my opinion, this is the bitter fruit of the silly church war that existed from the ’60s to the ’90s and the insane policies of the Ustinovshchyna. The OCA figures are also lower than they should be, which shows the effect of the church war as well. Taken with the depressed numbers for the preceding cohort, this is a stark warning. Concentrate on Christ and His Church or pay the consequences.

Personal Sites:

1.   Phillips: 26 percent (116, 100)

2.   Drezhlo: 21 percent (102, 81)

3.   Greene: 16 percent (82, 62)

4.   Stokoe: 11 percent (51, 42)

Batiushka Andrew and I are doing a “good” job; Ms Greene is “fair”, whilst Mr Stokoe is abysmal, yet again.

e) 55 to 64 years old

Official Sites:

1.   AOCANA: 18 percent (117, 100)

2.   OCA: 17 percent (111, 94)

3.   GOA: 16 percent (107, 89)

4.   ACROD: 9 percent (58, 50)

5.   ROCOR: 8 percent (57, 44)

The top three are fairly normal, but, there may be differing reasons for the ROCOR and ACROD results. The ROCOR figure is the result of self-inflicted wounds, whereas the ACROD number may reflect the fact that the post-World War II cohort did not marry and have children until the men finished college in the late 40s and early 50s.

Personal Sites:

1.   Greene: 19 percent (124, 100)

2.   Drezhlo: 17 percent (111, 89)

3.   Phillips: 15 percent (92, 79)

4.   Stokoe: 4 percent (27, 21)

Most of us do a “good” job of reaching this cohort except for Mr Stokoe, who does an abysmal job.

f) Over 65 years-old

Official Sites:

1.   ROCOR: 38 percent (351, 100)

2.   ACROD: 23 percent (190, 61)

3.   OCA: 19 percent (172, 50)

4.   AOCANA: 18 percent (158, 47)

5.   GOA: 15 percent (136, 39)

The ROCOR figures are abysmal. This is due to the losses from the preceding two age cohorts in the last 40 years. If it had not been for the fortuitous arrival of the New Russians, the ROCOR would have imploded in the early 2000s. Thankfully, the New Russians are holding on to their children, for there is no longer any silly church war or the insanity of the Ustinovshchyna. I believe that the ROCOR has learned from its past errors, and that they shall NOT repeat them. All other groups are overrepresented in this category, as well.

Personal Sites:

1.   Stokoe: 40 percent (337, 100)

2.   Drezhlo: 17 percent (153, 43)

3.   Phillips: 12 percent (101, 30)

4.   Greene: 9 percent (83, 23)

We all do a “good” job of reaching this cohort. In fact, my high figure for this group may be that the Orthodox Forum has linked to some of my posts, and that group is probably as “grey” as the Stokoe lot (I would say there is a considerable overlap between the Stokoe site and the Orthodox Forum). The data for the Stokoe site is troubling. It means that he is connecting primarily with those who had a living connection with Alexander Schmemann, and that this segment shares his “silly 60s” notions. NOT a good sign.

H) Percentage of the audience with children 6-17 years-old in the household

Official Sites:

1.   AOCANA: 35 percent (107, 100)

2.   GOA: 29 percent (71, 83)

3.   OCA: 24 percent (75, 69)

4.   ROCOR: 22 percent (69, 63)

5.   ACROD: 15 percent (46, 43)

The ACROD figures are troubling. It may not be keeping births at replacement level. The AOCANA is healthy; the other three have work to do.

Personal Sites:

1.   Drezhlo: 28 percent (88, 100)

2.   Phillips: 26 percent (80, 93)

3.   Greene: 21 percent (66, 75)

4.   Stokoe: 2 percent (6, 7)

OUCH! Mr Stokoe stumbles badly here. He cannot connect with parents at all. I am doing a “good” job, Batiushka Andrew is “fair”, and Ms Greene does very poorly, considering her “family” focus.

I am not giving raw figures except for one instance. That is in the case of racial composition in the “Other” category. This can give a picture of who is reading what in the volatile Alaska Church crisis. That is a RATHER valuable piece of information, nicht wahr?

I) Other (American Indian, Pacific Islander, Alaska Native) in raw figures

Official Sites:

1.   GOA: 1,204 (100)

2.   OCA: 722 (60)

3.   AOCANA: 508 (42)

4.   ROCOR: 401 (33)

5.   ACROD: 36 (3)

Not all of the above are Alaska natives, but, it is a good guess that most of them are. It is noteworthy that the OCA, which has jurisdiction over virtually all parishes in that state, does not do better. The natives appear to be looking at all the options. Antioch, in the end, shall not be an option, because of its modernism, positivism, and its thorough infestation with Protestantism. The Greeks shall fail too, because of their well-known corruption, greater than that of the moribund OCA. Note well the ROCOR figures. The ROCOR has no parish in the state at present. It is also the only jurisdiction of the top four to be on the traditional church calendar. Also, its inner church life is the closest to that found in Alaska. Shall the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska go ROCOR? If I were to bet…

Personal Sites:

1.         Phillips: 1,278 (100)

2.         Drezhlo: 120 (9)

3.         Greene: 118 (9)

4.         Stokoe: 9 (0.7)

Imagine yourself in the old Garden at the fights… (In that special sing-song voice of the ring announcer): “Da winnah, and still champeen, by an unchallenged knock-out, in the white, blue, and red trunks, FATHER ANDREW, from Felixstowe England”. (Batiushka Andrew raises both gloved hands in “da winnah” gesture)

Batiushka Andrew not only rolls over all of us, he also decks all the official websites handily. As far as the natives are concerned, he is GODZILLA. This Godzilla is not stomping on Tokyo; he is flattening Syosset and Englewood Cliffs into the bargain as well. Father Andrew! You’d best check the hedges. Moses the Tlingit and his associates may be waiting to make you the next honorary chief of their tribe.

Mark Stokoe is abysmal. The native have abandoned his site. I must say that my native Alaskan readers are the ones I cherish the most. My heart goes out to you, and you are always in my prayers.

J) Conclusions to be drawn from the raw data

Official Sites:

1. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

Firstly, the Greeks are not as affluent as most believe. They do have a higher proportion of such people than any other Orthodox group, but, it is lower than the national average. Also, as I pointed out earlier, much of this wealth is tied up in fixed assets, and the liquidity level is low. In fact, in all other income brackets, the GOA is somewhat above average, so, the urban legends of Greek wealth are false. It appears to have fairly normal age, education, and racial curves. This is a solid and substantial body, marred only by corruption in its highest reaches and the notional policies of the EP (which mainly do not affect local parish life).

2. Orthodox Church in America

This body is so troubled that it may no longer be in existence next year. Its educational and racial curves appear to be in the normal range. In income, it can be typified as a middle-class body, for the largest cohort is in the 30-60K USD range. In terms of the highest income bracket, its proportion here is about 50 percent of the GOA figure.

It has more old age pensioners than it ought, and there is a hole in the demographics in the 25-44 years-old cohort that is probably the result of the church tensions brought on by Schmemann’s “silly 60s” policies of the 70s and 80s. This group is the Orthodox body most in thrall to positivism and all of its works because of its social composition. It has a touching faith in psychologists that is greater than its faith in Christ and Church tradition.

3. Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Some think this body to be “the Great White Hope” of Orthodoxy in America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Statistically, it is an average body. The racial and educational curves are normal, and 71 percent of the sample falls in the 30-100K income range. The part of the sample in the 35-54 years-old range is larger than average, which is sign of probably both immigrants and adult converts.

This group has more “convert” parishes than most, which is troubling. Most of the convert priests were ordained without sufficient time in Orthodoxy (ten years would be best, and five years is a bare minimum), therefore, this body is infested with Protestantism, modernism, and positivism. It is indistinguishable from a conservative Evangelical Protestant body except for its Orthodox ritual. This is the least “Orthodox” of the bodies studied, and it becomes less so with each year. It is a heterogeneous construct held together only by the political skills and ambitions of Philip Saliba. This combination may not survive his demise.

4. Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

This is a body that has rebuilt itself over the last 15 years, and the statistics reflect this. If it had not been for the influx of New Russians after the fall of the USSR, this group would have imploded in the 2000s. It reached its nadir in the years of the Ustinovshchyna, and was revitalised by the election of Laurus Škurla as its Primate.

The ROCOR has the highest percentage of post-graduate degree holders in its ranks, probably due to two factors. The émigré cohort was drawn from the middle classes and above, and the current group of New Russians tends to be professionals. In income, the ROCOR tends to be concentrated in the brackets up to 60K per year. This is a combination of old age pensioners amongst the DP cohort and New Russians being at relatively low rungs of their professions due to their short time in this country. The ROCOR has an interesting age curve. The largest segments are in the 25-34 years-old and over 65 years-old categories. This illustrates the age disparity between the DPs and the New Russians. This is also a result of the losses of the children of the DPs who were driven out by the extreme policies of Count Grabbe and Vitaly Ustinov. The ROCOR has the highest proportion of Alaskan natives amongst the readers of its website, which may indicate the future home of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.

With its reconciliation with Moscow last year, this is the healthiest church body in the US at present. It has overcome most of its internal problems and it may receive most of the healthy elements of the OCA after that body implodes. To my mind, there shall only be three major Orthodox bodies left after the demise of the OCA (of course, the smaller bodies shall still exist). The GOA shall represent “Greek Orthodoxy” and the ROCOR shall be the standard-bearer of “Russian Orthodoxy”, both legitimate traditions in the Church. Both shall get on well with one another. The AOCANA is on course for departure from the Church tradition. It is already thoroughly Protestantised, and the chances of it doing something dodgy such as ordaining a married bishop are high. It shall ensconce American phyletism as its driving ethos, and its resemblance to ordinary Orthodoxy shall be slight.

5. American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

I have a special place in my heart for these people. They are a solid, well-grounded, and good-sense lot with no pretensions. Bishop Nicholas does not put on airs, and he has no grandiose illusions à la Herman Swaiko or Philip Saliba. I believe that this group shall survive its coming demographic problems. They shall simply close unthrifty parishes, and that shall be that.

The large number of old age pensioners is illustrated by the fact that over half of the sample is in the under 30K income bracket. The fact that there is a large number in the 60-100K bracket indicates that many of this group’s parishioners are older, and are nearing the end of their careers. It is the “whitest” of all the official groups, and it has a high level of education, with over two-thirds of its people with college degrees. The relative paucity in the younger cohorts indicates that this group may be only 50 to 60 percent of its present size in a generation. However, this group is noted for its pragmatism, and it shall not become a crisis. They shall simply close dead parishes, and that shall be the end of it. Shall they join a larger “Russian Orthodox Church in the Americas”? Only time shall show us, and if they do, it shall be for solid and good-sense reasons. Again, this is one of my favourite groups of people. I wish them well.

Personal Sites:

1. Orthodox England, Fr Andrew Phillips

Here is the pick of the litter. I DO believe Fr Andrew’s figures that show that this data only reflects his US readership, which is only some 30 percent of the total, but, I could not put it into the tables because of a lack of outside corroboration. I have the same standards for everyone, Batiushka! It is interesting to note the depth of this audience, which is larger than that of the dodgy AOCANA. For a personal website, this is an achievement. The theology is solid and clear, and there is no trace of modernism. I would recommend this site to anyone. Read it now!

Fr Andrew has a diverse following, with an especially heavy cohort coming from Alaska natives. His readers tend to be college-educated or above, with the highest concentrations in the 25 to 64 year-old brackets. In income, his readers tend to 30-100K bracket, but, he does better in the 100K+ category than all official sites except for the GOA, and better than all personal sites except for mine.  Fr Andrew is reaching the people that the official sites and the Stokoe site wish to reach, but, often do not. The premier Orthodox commentator on the web, I say.

2. Voices from Russia, Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

I am loath to state much concerning my own site, except to say that my intent is to provide a well-rounded view of Russia: its culture, its religion, its sport, and its society. I appear to be succeeding.

In education level, I do a “good” job of reaching those with college, an excellent job of reaching those with grad school, and I hold my own with the non-college educated. In income, I appeal equally to all brackets, and score the highest of all personal sites in the study in reaching the 100K+ cohort. Equally, I do a “good” job in all age brackets, with the exception of the 25-34 year-old cohort. Sometime back, Hank Leaf made a nasty comment concerning me on the Orthodox Forum. Eat those words, Hank. Do you want fries with that order of crow supreme, sir?

3. Frederica, Frederica Matthewes-Greene

Ms Greene considers herself an authoritative spokesman for Orthodoxy. Instead, she is a living example of all that is wrong with the AOCANA. Firstly, note the relative unpopularity of her site, it is at the bottom of the heap of this study in both gross and adjusted uniques. She was fastened upon by Philip Saliba because she works for NPR (National Public Radio), and shares all of its reliably secularist liberal opinions. In one of her books, she states that one of her mentors in the faith was a Uniate. A UNIATE. That is, someone outside the Church and foreign to it. She is the typical ignorant Anglo-Saxon convert spouting off on Orthodoxy before learning the ABCs of the Faith.

If I were to call her anything, it is a barely-converted Anglican with only vestigial traces of Orthodoxy. I should note that Professor Vigen Guroian, the noted Armenian theologian and scholar, has issued a similar condemnation of Ms Greene. Her site and books are not recommended, as they are nothing but evangelical Anglicanism with a few Orthodox terms tossed into the pot.

The education level of her readers is skewed, being “good” amongst the college-educated, and excellent amongst those with a graduate degree, and poor in the non-college crowd, which appears normal for the left-of-centre crowd. She appeals well in all income brackets, save the highest, where she is poor. The racial curve I find fairly normal. She appeals well to all age groups, except for the 25 to 34 year-old cohort, which is a weakness my site shares as well.

4. Orthodox Christians for Accountability, Mark Stokoe

Mr Stokoe is a former Syosset insider, which is the main Achilles heel of his site. He refuses to see anything other than a continuation of the present status quo, and many of his contributors are autocephalist true-believers. To give two examples, one could name Fr Vladimir Berzonsky and Fr Theodore Bobosh. They are contemptuous of any view other than one worshipful of Alexander Schmemann and his fancies, and both are dupes who refuse to see the fact that the “autocephaly” of the so-called OCA was a temporary dodge of the MP in its struggle to survive in communist times. This unreality has driven many away from this site.

A full 40 percent of Mr Stokoe’s readership is pensioners, and 63 percent have graduate degrees. In short, it is a much skewed sample. In fact, his is the “whitest” of all the sites in the study, and his Alaska Native readership is only 9 individuals, not even 1 percent!

Why is Mr Stokoe doing such a poor job? Firstly, it is obvious to many that his website and the actions around it were a “palace coup” gone badly. After some 32 months, the crisis has only deepened, and the recent 6-million USD suit against the OCA in Maryland may signal the beginning of the end. One of the things that came out is that an OCA priest talked openly of what he heard in confession and counselling to smear a laywoman, and he was not disciplined by Syosset when it became known. Mr Stokoe did not condemn this action when he posted about it. That, I think, is the main fault in his site, and it is the reason why many do not trust him. As Fr Vsevolod Chaplin said recently, “truth is truth, and sin is sin”. Indeed. Mr Stokoe should emblazon this on his heart.


Firstly, let us all let out a long sigh of relief! Studies such as this are useful and valuable, but… OOO-WEE! They take such time, don’t they?

This gives an accurate picture, to the best extent that the data available can, of a good part of Orthodoxy. Let’s stop lying to one anther and let’s walk honestly in the light. God shall bless us for it.

Vara Drezhlo

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.