EQUALITY AND EQUITY ARE MATTERS OF FAITH AND PRACTICE

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it

I Corinthians 12:12-26

 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

 

The Oriental Orthodox Solidarity Project (OOSP) is committed to the advancement of an Oriental Orthodox understanding of social justice, particularly within the context of American society and the greater Oriental Orthodox diaspora.

The Oriental Orthodox family of churches, to varying degrees, have experienced both persecution and/or colonialism in their home countries in a way that has shaped their transnational communities and ways of life. In diaspora, we can collectively articulate our Oriental Orthodox ethos, based on shared theology, historical conditions, and migrant marginalization. We affirm that as Orthodox Christians, we are called to bear witness to the Truth, to acknowledge the realities and shortcomings of a fallen world, and to disrupt the patterns of injustice perpetrated by the corrupted nature of humankind. Thus, as Orthodox Christians living in the United States, we maintain an essential responsibility to strive for justice for marginalized communities, lest we fall short in our calling to be ”the light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13-14).

We aim to articulate what anti-racism and social justice mean for Oriental Orthodox Christians, while also advancing and amplifying our Black sisters and brothers and other marginalized voices in the Oriental Orthodox Church that experience discrimination within American society and within our churches. American society presents barriers for marginalized communities to achieve their desired social, economic, and professional pursuits. For Black Americans, we describe the existence of these barriers in our social, economic, and political spheres as systemic racism, as it functions in such a way that inhibits racial equality in these varying facets of life.

This is a problem of equality, in which individuals are precluded from equal opportunities on the basis of race. A consequence of this lack of equality is a vast discrepancy in outcome—Black Americans have historically been underrepresented in positions of power in both private and public spheres. How do we address these systemic inequalities that inhibit the existence of a fair and just society?

The solution relies on the notion of equity, the idea that such a society should provide the necessary resources and opportunities to each individual with respect to their socioeconomic conditions and needs. Said differently, equity demands a nuanced understanding of marginalized groups’ needs so that society meets those groups where they are, rather than providing the same resources to all groups.

It is therefore only through equity that we can attain equality, ultimately arriving at a society in which the barriers to social, economic, and professional progress for marginalized peoples can be overcome.

It is this society, one in which we recognize and address the unique plights of each marginalized group, that we may finally reflect the sentiments expressed by St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28). In Christ, we find true equality—that our diverse identities are intentionally created and do not preclude us from experiencing the heavenly kingdom on earth and the fulfillment of a life lived in Christ. Nevertheless, so long as individuals continue to  practice an alternate, distorted reality from what Christ intended, then the injustice of marginalization, primarily that of systemic racism in the United States, must be acknowledged, condemned, and finally, dismantled. In doing so, we might fulfill our Christian mandate to both our society and the Body of Christ, for “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (I Corinthians 12:12-26).