The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States and Assimilation

The article "The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States and Assimilation" by Theodore Saloutos was published in The International Migration Review, 1973 Winter 7(4): 395-407

This is an interesting read about our ancestor's assimilation in the United States.

"The Greek Orthodox Church, or that branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the United States that ministers primarily to the spiritual needs of those of Greek birth or ancestry, for the greatest part of her existence resisted assimilation and emphasized the preservation of the Greek national identity. But this turned out to be a more formidable undertaking in a nation of many nationalities and religious denominations such as the United States than in Greece where the population was overwhelmingly Greek, the Church was a state church, and proselytism forbidden.  Owing to the unmanageable nature of the assignment, the irresistible pull of the American environment, the slenderness of her resources, differences from within and pressures from without, the Church within recent years has more or less conceded the futility of her earlier efforts. 

In coping with this problem the Church has gone through some painful transitional stages: first, that of an uncompromising commitment to the preservation of the Greek national identity; second, that of recognizing that the young were being brought up in the United States and were Greek-Americans; and finally that of acknowledging that as a Church it was difficult to serve two masters at the same time, acknowledging that the Church had become an indigenous one, and admitting that the identity to be preserved was an American rather than a Greek one. 

The commitment to the preservation of the Greek national identity was strongest during the years before and immediately after World War I, when immigration was at its peak and thoughts of returning to Greece were still in the minds of many. But the Church had allies in this endeavor, allies whose labors in some cases antedated her own. And these allies included the Greek colonies that emerged in the larger cities, the myriads of local and provincial societies, as well as the Greek American Progressive Association [GAPA] who waged tireless campaigns in behalf of. the Greek language, Greek schools, and the Greek faith; the Greek language press whose very existence depended on having enough Greeks in the country who could read the Greek newspaper; and the 'irrepressible Greek nationalists who orated long and vociferously on the need for preserving the Greek heritage."