A View from the Pew: Lay Orthodox Christian Perspectives on American Religious Diversity*

In: Russian History

This study offers an analysis of how Orthodox Christians in America today grapple on a daily basis with the pluralism of the American religious landscape. Based on interviews conducted with converts and “cradle Orthodox” in the Greek, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Russian, and American (Orthodox Church in America) Churches, Slagle constructs an image of the imagined and actual worldviews of Orthodox practitioners in Southwest Pennsylvania and Northern Ohio—a region of the US with dense and well-establish Orthodox communities. Slagle finds a range of exclusivist and inclusivist attitudes among the Orthodox she interviewed—some practitioners seeing in Orthodoxy the lone true faith, while others situating the church in a larger, pluralistic environment. This study offers a close-up view of how Orthodox Americans view themselves and their larger religious contexts, and how the Church’s teachings, culture, liturgical life, and history inform and shape these widely varying views.

  • 2)

    Martin E. Marty“Revising the Map of American Religion,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 558 (July 1998): 27 quoted in Robert Wuthnow America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2005) 159.

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  • 6)

    Elizabeth H. Prodromou“Orthodox Christianity and Pluralism: Moving Beyond Ambivalence?” in The Orthodox Churches in a Pluralistic Context: An Ecumenical Conversationed. by Emmanuel Clapsis (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press2004) 32 and Alexei D. Krindatch “Orthodox (Eastern Christian) Churches in the United States at the Beginning of the New Millennium: Questions of Nature Identity and Mission” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 41 no. 3 (2002): 543.

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  • 15)

    Zygmunt BaumanPostmodernity and Its Discontents (NY: New York University Press1997) 186.

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