Living as an Orthodox Christian in EU

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
For those of you who are in Europe,

What is it like being an Orthodox Christian in Europe?  Do most people not care what faith you are?  Do you feel as if people will react violently/sarcastically if you approach them and start talking about your faith? 

We hear so many things over here about the EU that it is so liberal and completely God-less.  Is this true?

What do you feel more threatened by - secularism or Islam?  Combination of both?  Neither?  Something else?


  • hey, we love being orthodox Christians here!
    people see it as a bit of a novelty and ask more questions than if you are protestant or catholic.
    they assume Christianity is boring, so it is interesting to them to find someone who loves it.

    we feel threatened by our own weakness and tendency to sin, not by external forces
    ('official' orthodox reply!)
    and so we have to be sure to go to confession regularly. (especially if we actually worry too much about external forces!)
  • Oh, cool.  I'd say it's pretty similar here.  People usually think we're talking about Orthodox Judaism when we say we're Eastern Orthodox  ???

    Most people here think we believe the same things as Roman Catholics, so if they are trying to argue with us, they'll usually use arguments meant for RC's, which for the most part don't apply.

    So is the UK, generally speaking, pretty atheistic?  I was at a choir practice the other week and someone brought up the fact that one of our local clergy here in Denver was leaving his parish to go study at Oxford.  One of the ladies in the choir spoke and said, "Gee, good luck with that.  That's one of the most atheistic cultures around!" Or something to that effect.  I'm usually not one to believe the hype without first looking a little deeper when someone makes claims like that.  After all, the US isn't exactly a Christian nation anymore (not sure if it ever was tbh).  So do you feel that England (since you live there) is overall atheistic?

    And by the way I agree with your comments about external forces not being the source of our fears, but our own sinfulness/shortcomings.
  • Atheism is more common among the white British I believe. Most ethnic minorities follow the religions of their parents. Actually many of the new generations of the ethnic minorities consider themselves as members of these religions even though they are not really practising.

    When people ask me and find out that I am Egyptian and Christian, they can't believe that there are Christians in Egypt and they ask whether I used to be Muslim and converted or something.

    Stereotypes, stereotypes, stereotypes. People assume almost everything they "know" instead of looking it up
  • this is true. older people tend to be more religious, but most british born hindus i know under age 30 wear leather shoes and most british muslims i know drink beer (but not during the fast). interest in non organised religion, such as pantheism, crystal healing and very dilute forms of hinduism such as yoga exercise or meditation is considered 'cool', while the main world faiths are laughed at.

    most white, african and east asian (chinese etc.) british people i have met are agnostic (young and old) and i suppose about half of anglicans and methodist Christians i met were agnostic/pantheist) too (all ways lead to god if he/she exists). unfortunately (considering their rich spiritual heritage) nearly half of catholics are not very Christian too, excluding recent irish, polish, african and asian immigrants.
    (the biggest difference i have seen in my 2 visits to the republic or ireland, is that it feels normal to be a Christian there. you can make the sign of the cross without anyone staring.)

    pentecostals are more religious (including africans not born in britain) and Caribbean black british people tend to be more spiritual (Christian or pantheist/pagan). some people here think that africans and caribbeans have a similar culture. a year living in south london showed me that all they share is some genes of their great grandparents; the cultures have developed very differently since then. i never use the common british 'ethnic group' of 'afro-caribbean' because it does not exist. there is much more asian, white and native american ancestry in caribbeans and much more european cultural influence in europeans of african origin. of course, both groups have mixed extensively with the white population here (less with asians, but it happens) and so i imagine about half of 'black' people born in the uk are mixed race.

    actually, from what i have seen in big cities, recent immigration has resulted in many more Christians in britain who are active in their faith. one very large organisation i worked in when i lived in south london in had (i guess) about half Christian employees, mostly african or asian and this made the work environment very pleasant. there were very active members of other faiths too, but very little of the discomfort in talking about religion that white british people usually have. these people seemed genuinely interested in finding a 'native' british person who was a Christian and did not mind us exchanging ideas about religion. the chapel at work always had a few people stopping for a few minutes at a time to pray before the start of their working day.

    when i was at school (longer ago than mnc_hnn!) it was really uncool to believe in God, and no one else in my class admitted to believing in God. i actually got persecuted for my faith (fairly pentecostal protestant Christian at the time). i was in a very small, conservative town; which means, very few non white people, free 'love' (but everyone laughs/gossips if you get 'caught') and true religion is 'being nice to everyone and letting them do what they want as long as no one gets killed (definitely no guns, this is not usa!)'
    what was your school experience, mnc_hnn?
  • [quote author=mnc_hnn link=topic=14568.msg165582#msg165582 date=1375905305]
    When people ask me and find out that I am Egyptian and Christian, they can't believe that there are Christians in Egypt and they ask whether I used to be Muslim and converted or something.

    I think that's similar to how it is here in the States as well.  I'm not Egyptian, but whenever I mention Coptic Orthodoxy, most people, even Eastern Orthodox converts, don't know anything about it.  As a matter of fact, I'm sure most people in the US don't have any idea that there are Christians in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other such places.

    So that's interesting, it sounds similar to the States. :o
  • mabsoota,

    I am surprised you were persecuted in a small town.  I assumed there would have been more acceptance of Christians in small towns in England, much like in the States.  I think the smaller the town is in the States, the more likely you are to run into practicing, mostly Protestant, Christians.

    For some reason I thought everybody knew about Eastern Orthodoxy in Europe and knew  arguments against it.
  • I Went to a catholic school. As by law, catholic schools have to accept applications from non Christians too, most students mocked religion at my school.

    I was too young and too scared so felt I had to hide my faith. During religious education lessons, people made fun of me for having an opinion, so I became less and less social to the point where no one had any idea who I am or what I want to do. Looking back, I think they mostly assumed I was an old fashioned Muslim Egyptian who is destined for an arranged marriage or something lol.

    I have one regret: I was ashamed of who I am and felt that being an odd coptic orthodox Christian was something that I better left unspoken about. I felt that I was not as important as the "white people" and I should just keep my mouth shut. I was racist against myself I guess!

    Even in religious education at the catholic school where they teach about all the different sects of Christianity, there was no mention of "orthodox".

    I hated school because of the students. The only good thing was the occasional prayer or mass that was run and I actually enjoyed them. While most of the other students sat down bored and restless, waiting for it to end.

    Many parents of non Christian students insisted that they go to a catholic school because they are "better". Nd yes, I attended a normal school for a few weeks which had an extremely bad performance before I transferred. And I'm glad I went to a catholic school.

    Most teachers were nothing special, but I will never forget the few teachers who saw me for who I am and treated me like an adult (very challenging when all the other students are just crazy teenagers looking for trouble). These good teachers, I am not sure whether they are Christian..but they definitely made an impact on my life and some went out of their way to help me! Thank God for showing me that there is some goodness in people in what has been the most stressful time in my life to date.
  • hi, you liked school about as much as i did!
    it looks like you did share your faith, though, through your actions and through working hard at school and listening during the liturgy.
    i wore unfashionable sandals in the summer (we were poor and i have wide feet, which looks weird as the rest of me is a bit skinny so i usually had ugly shoes) and other children started calling me 'Jesus' because at the time the old fashioned sandals with 2 straps were called 'Jesus sandals'.
    i hated that, because i didn't feel worthy to be compared to Jesus, even though they were joking! of course i didn't tell them why i hated it, that would have been really crazy!

    i'm glad u had a few good teachers. i had one good teacher for one term, who was protestant Christian and treated the kids really fairly.
    in the last 2 years of school, i met some other Christian students in the years above and we had Christian meetings sometimes. it was good.
    i left school after doing my age 16 exams  :) and did my age 18 exams in a college which had an adult environment (some students over 18) and where there was not a culture of bullying.

    after that, life got much better.
    adult days are better than school days!

    main point to remember: whatever you go through, God is with you and will take care of you as you build your relationship with Him.
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