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Riding a Wave of Converts, One Group Aims to Fuse Orthodoxy With Southern Values

“They’re worried, and they don’t know what to do,” Riccardi-Swartz said. “My first reaction is, talk to your priest.”

There is no uniform way of receiving converts into the church, and Riccardi-Swartz believes clergy, deacons and catechist teachers need to do more to educate people who are reading about Orthodoxy online, sometimes from sources like Dillingham and Whiteford, whom she considers radicalized.

“Because Orthodoxy is small (in the U.S.), they think that these Orthodox figures online are helpful because we’re getting more converts in,” she said. “They think we are building American Orthodoxy. No, we’re not. We’re creating an American Orthodoxy that’s not in line with the gospel but rather with right-wing extremism.”

These tensions — over gender, nationalism and the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war — reflect the identity battles fragmenting Orthodoxy around the world.

This article originally appeared here