Interesting Study

10 June, 2009

From the Orthodoxy Today Survey, some interesting nuggets.

90% of Orthodox parishioners are American born, not first generation immigrants.

29% of GOA respondents are converts; 51% of OCA respondents are converts.

41% of respondents described themselves as “traditional,” while 28% called themselves “conservative,” and 31%, “moderate-liberal.”

However, only 30% support female altar servers, and not even 10% support the ordination of women, so “moderate-liberal” is shifted less to the left than it would be for Western Christians. Further support for this is shown in the fact that over half of those self-identified moderate-liberals believe that when there is a conflict between the priest and the congregation, the priest should have the final word.

The survey asked some of the same questions asked in a Roman Catholic survey in 2005. In response to the question, “One cannot be a good Orthodox Christian/Roman Catholic . . .” Orthodox and Catholics responded in the following ways.

  1. without believing that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Orthodox: 98%
    Catholic: 77%

  2. without believing that in the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.

    Orthodox: 97%
    Catholic: 64%

  3. without going to Church every Sunday.

    Orthodox: 40%
    Catholic: 24%

  4. without donating time or money to help the poor.

    Orthodox: 72%
    Catholic: 56%

The first two are theological, and unsurprising. The third, however, is somewhat unexpected, given that the Roman Catholics have a tradition of “social activism,” and the “social gospel” heresy has never established itself in Orthodoxy. The fourth is also intersting, since Catholicism has a weekly obligation to attend, but Orthodoxy does not.

Anyway, it’s an interesting study. I’m still perusing it. In general, the study bears out to some extent that converts are more conservative than cradle Orthodox, and while on many (but not all) questions, OCA priests are more conservative than GOA priests, laity in both jurisdictions seem mostly the same.