The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is an unfortunate victim of these Draconian new laws. In obedience to the state of New York, the OCA now provides explicit recognition and protection to people on the basis of "sexual orientation", "gender identity", and "the status of being transgender".
New York is now forcing churches to provide special protection for homosexuals, transgenders, and those of various "gender identities". Using sexual harassment policies as a legal Trojan horse, the government is pressuring churches to accept lifestyles which are explicitly prohibited by the Christian Faith.
The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) — with its headquarters in New York — is one of the recent victims to this Draconian tactic. And this is only one example among many. There are numerous other churches in New York which are facing similar pressure from the government.
So far, affected churches have not been forced to change their official doctrinal statements. Most OCA bishops and priests are faithful to the traditional teachings of the Orthodox Church, and they do not approve of either transgender or homosexual behavior. The official teachings of the OCA remain opposed to nontraditional sexual practices.
Unfortunately, that fact has not stopped the New York state government from pushing their agenda through the back door. On the official website of New York state, here are the government mandated guidelines: Model Sexual Harassment Policy
In response to this requirement, a number of congregations have adopted homosexual-friendly language in their official church policies.
One of the unfortunate victims is the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), which has its headquarters based in the state of New York. On October 24, 2018, the OCA Synod of Bishops approved an updated sexual harassment policy to be adopted in OCA churches. On the official website of the OCA, here are the newly mandated guidelines: OCA Sexual Harassment Policy
In obedience to the state of New York, the Orthodox Church in America now provides explicit recognition and protection to people on the basis of "sexual orientation", "gender identity", and "the status of being transgender".
Russian Faith contacted the OCA, requesting comments regarding their new policy, but as of this date, they have not responded.
While the OCA bishops may not be intentionally opening doors for the homosexual agenda to enter the Church, it is hard not to be nervous about this sort of language, especially when considering the laxity that was sometimes formerly seen in the OCA.
Past Cases to Consider
In prior times, there were cases where unrepentant homosexual couples were openly permitted to take holy communion in certain OCA churches. There have also been numerous questions surrounding OCA Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, who has repeatedly supported transgenderism and homosexuality.
As one priest pointed out,
Fr. John's question is a good one. Why is Puhalo merely retired, instead of being completely defrocked for repeatedly teaching heresy? Even today, why does an official diocesan website still present him as an OCA bishop in good standing?
We have already noted Lazar Puhalo's advocacy of transgenderism, homosexuality, and his hostility to the Old Testament, but now he has espoused a new heresy. In his latest video, at about the 13:00 minute mark, he states that the Bible is "a book that was written by men that was sometimes inspired by God and Sometimes not." This is an incredible statement. . . . One has to wonder how long the OCA will allow him to present himself as a retired OCA bishop, and thumb his nose at the Tradition of the Church.
— Fr. John Whiteford
Just a Formality?
Of course, some people will be dismissive. They will disregard the previous laxity towards homosexuality, and they will claim that the OCA's new sexual harassment policy is a mere legal formality.
"This is just a boilerplate policy that was written by a lawyer," they will say. They will say that the OCA merely adopted this piece of paper as a legal requirement, but that from here on out, the OCA will be free to ignore the document and its implications.
Granted, this may have been the OCA's intention. We should not assume that they had bad motives. Nevertheless, there are still some reasons why such thinking is problematic:
- The OCA Synod of Bishops personally approved this new sexual harassment policy. It doesn't matter whether it was originally written by a lawyer. Once these bishops put their own signatures on the line, they made it their own. No longer is it merely a secular law. These bishops have publicly agreed to it, thereby making it an official directive within the church.
- When the time comes for the New York government to persecute the church, they won't be concerned about anyone's secret intentions to ignore the new policy. This new document will serve as legal proof that the OCA explicitly agreed to grant special status to transgenders and homosexuals.
It bears repeating that the OCA's doctrinal statements are officially opposed to transgender and homosexual practices. That fact has not changed. So the problem is not the OCA's doctrinal teachings. Rather, the problem is this:
In the future, when the OCA is sued by some homosexual person who gets either fired or offended, and then some godless New York judge presides over the case, how will that non-Christian judge interpret the OCA's acceptance of this particular sexual harassment policy? Will he respect their religious freedom? Or will he interpret this document as evidence that the OCA had a willingness to grant special considerations to transgenders and homosexuals?
There is no easy answer. If the OCA refuses to use this language in their sexual harassment policy, then they are in violation of New York law. But if they agree to use this language, then they risk compromising their legal position in the future. Either way, it's a no-win situation. Of course, the godless legislators in New York are more than happy to throw the church into just such a dilemma.
What Are Homosexual Activists Trying to Accomplish?
It's a brilliant move, really. If the policy had been titled, "Mandatory Acceptance and Protection of Sodomy", then gaining agreement from churches might have been more difficult. But every decent person is opposed to sexual harassment, and this policy was titled in such a way to appear harmless and agreeable. We all agree that it is wrong to touch coworkers in inappropriate ways, or to make unwelcome sexual advances.
So under the guise of a seemingly harmless "sexual harassment policy", New York is forcing churches to toe the line, officially mandating all the church's bishops, priests, deacons, secretaries, architects, electricians, plumbers, and nursery workers to make a special effort not to say anything that might offend those who practice sodomy.
Of course, New York is not singling out any one church. This is a widespread plan which the government is trying to force on all churches. In the descriptions provided below, we will look at the OCA version of this document — as an example — to see what this government sponsored nonsense looks like when it is actually implemented.
As we read the following descriptions, it is important to remember that we are not describing the agenda of Orthodox bishops. Rather, we are describing the agenda of godless lawmakers in the state of New York. The government is mandating revisions to sexual harassment policies, and the government is pressuring all churches to accept these revisions.
Step One — Acknowledging Sexual Deviants as a Protected Class
Sexual harassment policies have been around for many years. They regulate behavior in the workplace, prohibiting illicit touching and unwanted sexual advances. And we all know it is possible to prohibit such things, without bringing up the topic of homosexuals, transgenders, or those who are fluid in their "gender expression".
Yet in this new sexual harassment policy, instead of simply providing a blanket prohibition for sexual assault and unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, this OCA document singles out various classes of sexual deviants as being especially worthy of consideration and protection.
On page 3, a number of special interest groups are listed. This document explicitly provides protection for people on the basis of:
- "sexual orientation"
- "self-identified or perceived sex"
- "gender expression"
- "gender identity"
- "the status of being transgender"
Some readers may object, claiming that the document promises no special protection to these particular groups of people. This objection is easily answered, simply by substituting other classes of people, such as "pedophiles", "abortion providers", or "porn film directors". If these other classes of wicked people were explicitly granted protection in a sexual harassment policy, Christians would be infuriated. And rightfully so.
By singling them out and naming them — identifying them as groups which are worthy of special acknowledgement — they send the message that these groups are normal. And by trying to normalize these groups, they are thereby trying to legitimatize them.
For now, it is legal to discriminate against pedophiles. If you find out that your church nursery worker paints imaginative fantasy kiddie-porn as a hobby, it is your responsibility to prohibit that person from working in the nursery, so that innocent children are not put in danger. Likewise, if you discover that a particular Sunday school teacher films pornography on the side, it is quite appropriate to relieve that person of his duties.
On similar grounds, faithful Christians have a responsibility to discriminate against unrepentant homosexuals. St. John Chrysostom says they are worse than murderers, and that they forced hell to appear even before its time, in Sodom.
Meanwhile, the state of New York pressures Orthodox Christians into accepting documents which prohibit discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation". Forced acceptance of such labels is one of the weapons being wielded by those who wrote this NY law.
Step Two — Expanding the Definition of Sexual Harassment
Since this is a document which forbids sexual harassment, it would be reasonable to assume that the prohibitions are limited to physical assault and unwelcome sexual advances. That assumption would be reasonable, but it would also be wrong.
According to this document, "sexual harassment" also includes various forms of "unwelcome conduct", including when:
- "creating an ... offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target"
- "Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment"
- "Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment"
- "discriminatory remarks [are] made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort"
That's right — You are officially guilty of sexual harassment, if you dare to say something which a sodomite finds offensive. While at church, if you tell people that "marriage is between one man and one woman," you could risk losing your job.
Step Three — Outlawing Christian Conversation and Christian Books
According to this official OCA document, "The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:"
- "comments about a person’s sexuality"
- "Sex stereotyping" ("occurs when conduct or personality traits are considered inappropriate simply because they may not conform to other people's ideas or perceptions about how individuals of a particular sex should act or look")
- "discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace"
- "actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender"
If these requirements are taken seriously, then many Draconian consequences may result. For example:
— It could be prohibited for a priest or a Sunday school teacher to say, "Marriage is between one man and one woman," because that is a "comment about sexuality" which might cause offense or discomfort to homosexuals.
— Various Orthodox Christian books and publications could be banned from churches, whenever they contain teachings that are "discriminatory" toward homosexuals. For example, St. John Chrysostom's homilies on the first chapter of Romans could be prohibited.
— The Bible itself may eventually be banned from churches, because it too is a "publication" which causes offense and discomfort to transgenders and homosexuals. Various passages in Romans, Jude, and Leviticus clearly state that sodomy is a vile sin, and that is a message which homosexuals are not willing to tolerate.
— It may soon reach the point where bishops and priests will be not be allowed to fire sexual deviants who are discovered in within the church. Find out that your priest practices sodomy? Find out that the Sunday school teacher is a practicing lesbian? Find out that your church's nursery worker is an effeminate man who "transitioned" to become "female"? There may be nothing you can do about it. If you fire any of those people from their jobs, you would be in violation of this OCA document, because these would be "actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender".
Do the OCA bishops believe this will actually happen? Of course not. Is this their intention? Of course not. Their intentions are not the issue. No doubt, the OCA was simply trying to comply with New York state law.
The issue is the invasive law itself. Little by little, step by step, the state of New York is trying to outlaw Christianity. If you hold to traditional Christian ethics and morals regarding human sexuality, then New York wants you silenced.
Step Four — Extend the Document to Include Everyone, Even "Non-Employees"
This OCA document explicitly applies to "employees, paid or unpaid interns, and non-employees, including independent contractors, and those employed by companies contracting to provide services in the workplace."
That's right — Even if the priest and the parish council are all traditional Orthodox Christians, you still aren't safe. Whenever you hire a plumber to fix the church toilet, or hire a contractor to mow the church lawn, you are in danger of hiring — and potentially offending — some homosexual or tranny that comes to work at your church. If they see a book that offends them, or if they hear you saying something about marriage being between one man and one woman, then you risk disciplinary activity, including fines and the possible loss of your job.
Step Five — Broaden the Document to Include All Locations, Even Your Own Home
Here is a direct quotation from the OCA document itself:
Where can sexual harassment occur?
Unlawful sexual harassment is not limited to the physical workplace itself. It can occur while employees are traveling for business or at employer sponsored events or parties. Calls, texts, emails, and social media usage by employees can constitute unlawful workplace harassment, even if they occur away from the workplace premises, on personal devices or during non-work hours.
That's right — This OCA document does not only regulate your life at church. It also controls your speech at home, on trips, and in your personal emails.
If you work for any company that accepts New York's mandated sexual harassment policies, and you dare to say or do anything that would cause discomfort to homosexuals and other sexual deviants, then your job may be in danger.
Step Six — Demonize Anyone Who Disagrees
In the section on "retaliation", the OCA makes it clear that you are in violation of this document, even if you merely disagree with the document and encourage someone not to follow it:
"Unlawful retaliation can be any action that could discourage a worker from coming forward to make or support a sexual harassment claim. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur in the workplace to constitute unlawful retaliation"
That's right — If you stand up for your traditional Christian convictions, and you encourage a homosexual person not to file a "sexual harassment" claim over some trumped up offense, then you yourself are guilty of "unlawful retaliation".
You are not only prohibited from offending homosexuals and causing them any discomfort — you are also not allowed to have a heart to heart talk with them, encouraging them to do the right thing. If they want to ruin someone's career and livelihood by accusing them of so-called "sexual harassment", you are required to keep your mouth shut, and to let them do it. At least, that's what this OCA document says.
The Christian Response
Again, we should not assume that the OCA bishops have evil intentions. The above list does not describe the agenda of Orthodox bishops. Rather, it describes the agenda of New York lawmakers. The government is mandating revisions to sexual harassment policies, and the government is pressuring churches to accept these revisions.
Nevertheless, it still seems very questionable whether it is wise or prudent for a church to accept this sort of language in any official church document. When the government passes laws that directly attack the Christian Faith, the Church's responsibility is to stand strong and fight, not to capitulate and take the easy path.
Homosexual activists are only able to make such progress in their social engineering goals, because Christians do not speak up and fight back. And why don't Christians fight back? They invent all sorts of excuses.
Excuse #1 — "It's just a formality to appease the State of New York."
When a state passes anti-Christian laws, there is no excuse for accepting those laws. As Christians, are we going to obey God, or are we going to obey godless men? Every Orthodox Christian should tell the State of New York to take its sodomite laws, and to stick them up the same place where New York legislators apparently keep their brains.
Excuse #2 — "It's just a general statement by the bishops. It doesn't affect local churches."
Not true. An OCA priest recently contacted the Russian Faith website, providing information about things that are happening internally within the OCA. This priest said the OCA is forcing this new policy upon local congregations. According to this priest, the OCA is currently pushing for this document be accepted by all the Parish councils in the diocese of New York and New Jersey.
Excuse #3 — "It's just for churches in New York and New Jersey."
The OCA synod of bishops is not just a collection of New York bishops. It is a collection of all OCA bishops in the United States of America, and it has authority over every OCA parish in the entire country. The synod which approved this sexual harassment policy, is the same synod which has authority over the OCA churches near you.
Excuse #4 — "This new policy merely protects certain groups of people from sexual harassment. But the OCA already protected EVERY person from sexual harassment. So this new document really doesn't change anything."
This excuse fails to recognize the power of language and of labels. It is true that the word "anyone" represents a universal group which happens to include "homosexuals". But we would be in error if we assumed that the following three statements were equivalent:
- "We forbid the sexual harassment of anyone."
- "We forbid the sexual harassment of anyone, specifically including those of various sexual orientations."
- "We forbid the sexual harassment of anyone, specifically including those who write stories about child pornography."
These three groups may include all of the same people. But these three statements do not emphasize the same groups of people. Thus, the three statements are not equivalent.
If a company's sexual harassment policy included the third statement, many people would be very upset, and rightfully so. It is true that we should not sexually harass anyone. We should not even sexually harass people who write filthy stories. But everyone intuitively recognizes that the third statement illicitly highlights pornographers as a specially protected class of people. That's why we would be horrified by such a statement.
And if the third statement is appalling, then the second statement is likewise appalling. We should not be representing sodomites as a special class that uniquely deserves to be defended.
After all, there are many other classes of people not mentioned here. Why not specifically protect "farmers" or "tailors" from sexual harassment? Why not protect "teachers" or "singers"? What is it about "sexual orientation" that warrants special acknowledgement and protection?
This does not mean that the bishops are intending to cause any harm. What it does mean, is that the godless lawmakers in New York have found a way to endanger parishes across the entire country. The OCA has modified official church documents in order to appease New York legislators.
Make no mistake, this new sexual harassment policy is a Trojan horse. On the surface, it seems to be a mundane document, instructing people to avoid sexual harassment. But beneath the covers, the state government is using this document to further the Transgender and Homosexual agenda, causing it to become a policy mandated for people within the Orthodox Church itself.
This is the State's attempt to control the Church. The government wants us to betray Christ, and ultimately to deny the Faith.
In recent news, New York officially legalized the murder of unborn infants, even up until the day of birth. New York also recently passed a new law which makes it a crime to discriminate against transgender persons. In other words, New York is the last place the church should be looking for spiritual guidance. There comes a point where the Church must stand firm, and make public opposition to the Draconian laws of a godless government.
What is the proper Christian response to government-sponsored degeneracy? There are a number of good responses to take. For example:
- Call the bishops, and write letters to them, helping them to understand the dangers of this new document.
- Raise awareness, by telling your Christian friends about this new document. Ask them to read the document itself, so they will know what new policies are being mandated.
- If you are a member of a church that is affected by New York's new law, then talk with your priest. Inform your bishop that your local parish will NOT adopt this sort of document, under any circumstances whatsoever.
- Call New York legislators, and write letters to them, telling them that this new law is unacceptable, and that it needs to be repealed.
What will happen if Christians grow a spine, and they stand in direct opposition to New York law? Perhaps they will be fined, and dragged into court. Perhaps churches will lose land, buildings, and tax exemptions. At some point, perhaps faithful Christians will even spend time behind prison bars. Is there any price too high to pay, in defense of the Faith? Many Christians have gone before us, who have endured far greater persecutions. How can we call ourselves faithful, if we are not willing to suffer as they did?
Whatever you do, do not remain silent. As it has been said many times before, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."