*** In open pluralistic societies, intermarriages tend to become the rule, not the exception as growing majorities intermarry with the result that the Greek Orthodox Church is at a critical juncture in deciding how best to address the challenge that touches the heart of so many families and at the same time is so critical to the religious community’s well being and growth.
Among Greek Americans, the intermarriage rate is between 75 and 85%; with a projected attrition of adherents of greater than 60% over the next generation.
Kehayes goes as far as saying that the Greek Orthodox Church in America will be nearly extinct, unless the church acts quickly.
“As each population passes into successive generations, growing numbers of families move further from their origins, with the probability that our beloved Greek Orthodox Church in America will become moribund in the very near future.” The complete text of the article, entitled “An Important Challenge for Greek Orthodox Christianity” is below.
Indeed, religious attrition has drawn the attention of religious leaders of all faiths.
Certainly the high intermarriage trend has affected many institutional religions in a nation that increasingly embraces all religions and in the process has become more secular.
America’s unique place in history has been as a haven for many people of the world, a place where they could begin again to rebuild their lives and where they might practice their faith in peace in an ambience of tolerance, in a place of hope and rebirth, free from injustices and prejudices of the past. Changes have occurred in the cultural make up of Greek Americans since young men first arrived in America in the late 19th century to escape the chaos of their homelands and seek their fortunes.
By 1922, over 200 Greek Orthodox Churches had been built.
The Asian population is also projected to grow from 5% to 9%, from 15 to 37 million people, together with continuing growth of the national population in a change that can be expected to impact religious diversity in America.
Conversely, the Greek Orthodox population continuing in the current trend and without supporting immigration to bolster its numbers is expected to lose over half of its religious constituency over this period.
Descendants of these immigrants are in their fourth or fifth generations and are several million in number with the vast majority beyond the second generation.
However our Church in striving to preserve its cultural heritage continues to project itself as an ethnic religion and most people today view it as such with the result that Greek Orthodoxy has been decimated by attrition and faces a grave survival and identity crisis.