There is a popular idea among Orthodox Christians that the Church benefits from special recognition by the state. This follows from the assumptions that godly emperors ruled Byzantium and Russia before being overthrown by interlopers and that the Church lost its power and influence thereafter. American Orthodox Christians, who are forced to inhabit a scattered and irregular ecclesial reality, often find this narrative especially appealing. A state that recognizes a united Orthodox populace would seem to be a sign of strength and vitality. Surely, the idea goes, Greeks and Russians were holier, purer, and freer from sin before the encroachment of Muslims and Communists.
But in the Arab world, where Christians have been a minority for centuries, the Church tells different stories about itself.Read More