This article is about negative attitudes towards and acts committed against Orthodox Christians because of their faith. For Anti-Orthodox theological positions and various theoretical and philosophical disputes during Christian history, see History of Christian theology.

Anti-Orthodoxy or Anti-Orthodoxism is the name for negative attitudes or hostility towards clergy and adherents of Orthodox Christianity because of their religious beliefs and practices. The term is generally used to describe hostility towards members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and sometimes it is also used to describe the same attitude towards adherents of Oriental Orthodoxy. The use of the term is not restricted to hostility towards Orthodox Christians belonging to traditional Orthodox cultures, but includes similar attitudes towards Orthodox Christians of any cultural background.

Orthodox Christians have been persecuted throughout history by other Christians, by members of some other religions and also in modern times by anti-religious political movements and regimes in some countries. Since non-Christian and non-religious opposition to Orthodoxy was often motivated by basic animosity towards Christians or religious people in general, the term Anti-Orthodoxy is mainly used to describe internal Christian opposition or hostility by some non-Orthodox Christians towards Orthodox Christianity.

Persecution of Nicene Orthodoxy by Arians

Main articles: Nicene Christianity and Arianism

Persecution during the age of Iconoclasm

Main article: Byzantine Iconoclasm

Persecution during the age of Crusades

Main articles: Crusades and Frankokratia
Sack of Constantinople in 1204. Artistic representation of Gustave Doré

The Crusades of the Middle Ages brought many challenges to relations between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Christianity in general. Major problems arose during the First Crusade with the creation of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1099 and the attempts of its Latin clergy to suppress Orthodoxy in Holy Land. At the same time, new Latin Patriarchate of Antioch was created in 1100 and its existence was marked by the attempts of Latin clergy to suppress Orthodoxy in Syria. The later events of Second Crusade and Third Crusade only worsened situation.

The point of no-return was reached during the Fourth Crusade and the infamous Sack of Constantinople (1204). Religious policy of Crusaders and Roman Catholic Church resulted in systematic suppression of Eastern Orthodox Church by take over of churches and monasteries, expulsion or persecution of Orthodox bishops, priests and monks after the creation of Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople and the forceful establishment of Catholic hierarchy throughout the Byzantine lands. Byzantine rule in Constantinople was restored in 1261 but various regions of Greece remained under local Latin rulers who continued to oppress Orthodox Christians until Turkish invasion in the 15th century.

Persecution in the Ottoman Empire

All Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire were regarded part of the Rum Millet. In tax registries, the Orthodox Christians were recorded as "infidels" (see giaour).[1] Since the time of Austro-Turkish war (1683-1699) relations between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in European provinces of Ottoman Empire were radicalized, gradually taking more extreme forms and resulting in occasional calls of Muslim religious leaders for expulsion or extermination of local Christians, and also Jews. As a result of Turkish oppression, destruction of Churches and Monasteries and violence against non-Muslim civilian population, Serbian Christians and their church leaders headed by Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III sided with Austrians in 1689 and again in 1737 under Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV. In the following punitive campaigns, Turkish forces conducted systematic atrocities against Christian population in Serbian regions, resulting in Great Migrations of the Serbs.[2]

During the Bulgarian Uprising (1876) and Russo-Turkish War (1877-78), persecution of Bulgarian Christian population was conducted by Turkish soldiers who massacred civilians, mainly in the regions of Panagurishte, Perushtitza, Bratzigovo, and Batak (see Batak massacre).[3] During the war, whole cities including (Stara Zagora) were destroyed and meny inhabitants massacred, the rest being expelled or enslaved. The atrocities included severe forms of torture. Similar atrocities were undertaken by Turkish troops against Serbian Christians during Serbian-Turkish War (1876-1878).

Persecution by Radical Catholicism

Christian denominations in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1573 (Catholics in yellow, Orthodox in green, Protestant in purple/gray)

During the 16th century, under the influence of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, rising pressures towards Orthodox Christians in White Russia and other Eastern parts of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth led to the enforcement of the Union of Brest in 1595-96. Until that time, most Belarusians and Ukrainians who lived under the rule of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were Orthodox Christians. Pressed by the state authorities, their hierarchs gathered in synod in the city of Brest and composed 33 articles of Union, which were accepted by the Roman Catholic Church.

At first, the Union appeared to be successful, but soon it lost much of its initial support,[4] mainly due to its forceful implementation on the Orthodox parishes and subsequent persecution of all who did not want to accept the Union. Enforcement of the Union stirred several massive uprisings, particularly the Khmelnytskyi Uprising, of the Zaporozhian Cossacks because of which the Commonwealth lost Left-bank Ukraine.

In 1656, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Macarios III Zaim lamented over the atrocities committed by the Polish Catholics against followers of Eastern Orthodoxy in various parts of Ukraine. Macarios was quoted as stating that seventy or eighty thousand followers of Eastern Orthodoxy were killed under hands of the Catholics, and that he desired Ottoman sovereignty over Catholic subjugation, stating:

God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and ever! For they take their impost, and enter no account of religion, be their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritians; whereas these accursed Poles were not content with taxes and tithes from the brethren of Christ...[5]

Persecution of Orthodox Greeks in Turkey

Main articles: Greek genocide and Istanbul pogrom

Persecution during World War II

Persecution of Orthodox Serbs

Occupation and partition of Yugoslavia after the Axis invasion in 1941
Ustaše sawing off the head of an Orthodox Serb civilian Branko Jungić

In April 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by the Nazi Germany and other Axis powers. In the western parts of Yugoslavia new Nazi puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was created. Besides Croatia, Slavonia and parts of Dalmatia, NDH also controlled Bosnia and Herzegovina and Syrmia. NDH was placed under the rule of the Croatian Nazis, called Ustaše who implemented genocidal policies against Serbs, Jews and Romanis.[6] The NDH utilized the Ustaše movement to persecute Serbs by killing thousands of them and forcing large numbers of people to convert to the Roman Catholic faith.[7]

The Anti-Serbian and Anti-Orthodox sentiments of Croatian Nazis Ustaše were implemented in their policy towards Orthodox Serbs who constituted around one third of the population of NDH. The Ustaše recognized both Roman Catholicism and Islam as the national religions of Croatia, but held the position that Eastern Orthodoxy, as a symbol of Serbian identity, was a dangerous foe.[8] They never wanted to recognize the existence of the Orthodox Serbs on the territories of Croatia and referred to them only as "Croats of the Eastern rite", also referring to Bosnian-Muslims (or Bosniaks) as "Croats of the Islamic faith". The Ustaše banned the use of the expression "Serbian Orthodox faith" and mandated the use of the expression "Greek-Eastern faith" in its place.[9]

In the spring and summer of 1941 the rage of terror against Orthodox Serbs was unleashed and the concentration camps like Jasenovac were created. Campaign of extermination resulted in Genocide over Serbian people. Serbian Orthodox bishops and priests were persecuted, arrested and tortured or killed and hundreds of Serbian Orthodox churches were closed, destroyed, or plundered by Ustaše.[9] Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb Dositej Vasić was imprisoned and tortured. In the same time, Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Upper Karlovac Sava Trlajić and Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Banja Luka Platon Jovanović were arrested, tortured and executed by Ustaše. Just in a six-month-period in 1941, some 250,000 Serbs were forced to convert into Catholicism.[10] Hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Serbs in NDH were forced to flee from the territories controlled by Ustaše, finding refuge in Serbia. On 2 July 1942, the Croatian Orthodox Church was founded to replace the institutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church.[11] It was not until the end of the war (1945) that the Serbian Orthodox Church in western parts of Yugoslavia would function again.

Persecution of Orthodox Czechs

Czech Orthodox Bishop Gorazd (Pavlík) executed by Nazis in 1942

After the occupation of Czech lands by the Nazi Germany in 1939, the Czech Orthodox Church came under strict surveillance of the Nazi regime. On May 27, 1942, a group of Czech resistance fighters attacked and killed Reinhard Heydrich, high ranking Nazi who was appointed as ruler of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In making their escape, the group found refuge in the crypt of the Orthodox Cathedral in Prague. on June 18, the Nazis found out the hiding places and all the members of the group were killed. Reprisals came quickly. The two priests and the senior lay church officials were arrested. On June 27, Czech Orthodox Bishop Gorazd (Pavlík) was arrested and tortured. On September 4, Bpishop Gorazd, the Cathedral priests and the lay officials were executed by firing squad at Kobylisy Shooting Range. Their bodies were disposed of at Strašnice Crematorium.[12] The reprisals went much further as the Nazis conducted widespread roundups of Czechs, including the whole village of Lidice, then summarily killed the men and children, while they placed the women in concentration camps. The Orthodox churches in Czech lands were closed and the Church forbidden to operate. It was not until the end of the war (1945) that the Czech Orthodox Church would function again.

See also


  1. Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. 13 June 2013. p. 44. ISBN 978-90-04-25076-5. In the Ottoman defters, Orthodox Christians are as a rule recorded as kâfir or gâvur (infidels) or (u)rum.
  2. Stevan K. Pavlowitch, Serbia: the history behind the name, p. 19-20
  3.  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bulgaria/History". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  4. Dvornik, Francis (1962). The Slavs in European history and civilization (3rd. pbk. ed.). New Brunswick [u.a.]: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813507996.
  5. The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pp. 134–135
  6. Hoare 2007, pp. 20–24.
  7. Yahil 1987, pp. 349.
  8. Ramet 2006, p. 118.
  9. 1 2 Ramet 2006, p. 119.
  10. Cohen 1996, p. 90.
  11. Tomasevich 2001, p. 546.
  12. Riskoval život, tajně zapisoval jména obětí nacistů. Teď o tom promluvil


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