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Christian beliefs


Eastern Orthodox Churches: The mostly
Eastern liturgical family of Christianity

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bullet "The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn't non-denominational - it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago." Steven Robinson

The Eastern Orthodox Church consists of a communion of autocephalous, (ecclesiastically independent) Christian faith groups which:

bullet Recognize the four Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.

bullet Recognize the the Patriarch of Constantinople as first among four equals.

bullet Accept the validity of the first seven Ecumenical Councils.

bullet Regard Orthodoxy as the true Church of Christ on Earth.

It consists of churches in:

bullet Ten countries where Eastern Orthodoxy is the dominant religious body: Bulgaria, Belarus, Cyprus,  Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

bullet A dozen countries where Orthodoxy plays a smaller role: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Latvia, Lihuania, Poland and the U.S.

bullet Scattered presence in other countries.

Various estimates of the total number of adherents in Orthodox churches run from 214 million 1 to as high as 300 million. 2

In the U.S., membership estimates range from 1.2 million 3 to over 3 million. 4 In the U.S. and Canada, there are three administrative structures for Orthodox jurisdictions:

bullet Several North American Orthodox dioceses which report directly to the headquarters of an Orthodox faith group in another country.

bullet Several North American Orthodox dioceses which respond to a North American headquarters which reports directly to the headquarters of an Orthodox faith group in another country.

bullet Several individual parishes coordinated by a diocesan center in another country. 5

The Orthodox Church has an episcopal organizational structure. Consecrated bishops are the chief ecclesiastical officers in each diocese. They, in turn, ordain priests. The church believes in the Apostolic Succession -- that the consecration of its bishops can be traced continuously back to Jesus' apostles.

We do not yet have significant coverage of Orthodox beliefs and practices in this web site. For Orthodox liturgy, prayers, icons, beliefs, news, etc., we refer you to The Orthodox Page in America, 6 the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 7 and other web sites.

The term "Orthodox," when capitalized, usually refers to the group of Orthodox Christian faith groups mentioned above. Other times, particularly when not capitalized, the word "orthodox" can mean normal, authoritative, mainline, or correct. For example, religious essays often refer to "orthodox Christian beliefs" to refer to beliefs held in common by a broad range of Christian faith groups in past centuries.

Orthodox Church is often referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is not strictly true, because not all Orthodox churches are eastern. They refer to their organization as the "Holy Orthodox Church", or the "Orthodox Church of the East", of by the name of the specific church, such as "Greek Orthodox", or "Russian Orthodox."

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet History:
bullet Brief overview of early Orthodox Church history
bullet Beliefs & practices:
bullet Religious calendars
bullet Many more to come.
bullet Ecumenical activities:
bullet Talks on healing the split between the Roman Catholic & Orthodox churches
bullet Civil rights:
bullet Women's ordination in Orthodox and Protestant Christianity

bullet Homosexuality and the World Council of Churches

bullet Homosexuality and the Coptic Orthodox church

bullet Debate in Greece over religious information on ID cards
bullet Religious intolerance and violence:
bullet In Greece

bullet In the Republic of Georgia
bullet In Russia

bullet Exorcism / crucifixion / ritual murder in an isolated Romanian Orthodox convent
bullet Religious conflict
bullet Religious aspects of the Yugoslavai - Kosovo conflict
bullet Information:
bullet Links to Orthodox web sites, books, radio, etc.

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  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year, 1990.
  2. "Who are the Eastern Christians," Arimathea, at:
  3. Alexei D. Krindatch, "Research on Orthodox Religious Groups in the United States," at:
  4. "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches," National Council of Churches, (2000).
  5. Alexei Krindatch, "Orthodox Churches in the USA at a glance," Hartford Institute for Religion Research, at:
  6. Michael Vezie, "The Orthodox Page in America," at:
  7. "Our Faith,"  Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, at:

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Copyright 2000 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-AUG-30
Latest update: 2011-DEC-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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