The emergence of Eastern Europe from its communist past and the orthodox background of several prominent American political figures such as Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas, make this examination of the public moral witness of the Orthodox churches especially timely. The study reveals the depths of politicization of this ancient, vast, but unfamiliar religious community, particularly the 60-million-member Russian Orthodox church, and the much smaller but vocal Orthodox groups in the United States, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America. The author mines the primary sources - bishops' encyclicals, resolutions of clergy-laity conventions, and other official documents - to discover what they say about relations between the Orthodox churches and the communist and democratic states in which they operate, and about issues of freedom and human rights, war and peace, and national security.
The result is a disturbing portrait of Orthodox religious leaders: many have resorted to moral compromise with hostile political authorities, or with alien ideologies such as Marxist-Lenninism and romantic nationalism; others are preoccupied with simple parochial or tribal interests. The relatively few genuine voices of Orthodox moral tradition stand in sharp contrast to the many who have shown they are unwilling to pay the price of prophecy by confrontong injustice at home or abroad.