by Jennifer Davis –
Why would anyone invite Nik Jovcic-Sas to any academic conferences or ask for his opinion on any Orthodox Church issues? Have these clergy and academics lost their minds?
Nik Jovcic-Sas (Nik Jovčić-Sas), describes himself as “Violinist, LGBTQ+ Activist, Drag Queen, Eastern Orthodox Theologian & Vampire.” Nik also calls himself the “Orthodox Provocateur” and runs a Facebook page by the same name where he regularly posts blasphemous, offensive, and scandalous material.
None of that bothered the “consortium of scholars from the University of Exeter and the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University” who organized an Oxford Conference (Aug. 16-17) with the help of Deacon Brandon Gallaher and Gregory Tucker (man “married” to another man) where “contemporary issues of sex, gender, and sexuality were discussed in relation to the Orthodox Church.” Nik Jovcic-Sas was one of the invited speakers (I assume in the “LGBTQ+ activists” category) who presented at the conference. You can view Nik’s presentation here: “Violence & Love” by Nik Jovčić-Sas – Bridging Voices Conference, University of Oxford 2019.”
At this “Bridging Voices” conference: “Some fifty scholars gathered from across the globe. They brought a diversity of professional expertise and experience, and represented a range of academic disciplines including theology, philosophy, church history, and canon law, and fields within the natural and social sciences. Orthodox clergy from multiple jurisdictions, LGBTQ+ activists, and clinicians were in attendance. A small number of ecumenical observers from the Church of England and the Catholic Church also took part,” as reported by Jivko Panev.
Among the Orthodox academics and clergy who attended the conference are some familiar names in the Orthodox world: Deacon Brandon Gallaher (event organizer), Prof. George Demacopoulos, Prof. Aristotle Papanikolaou, Father John Behr, Dr Patricia Fann Bouteneff, Prof. Peter Bouteneff, Father Cyril Hovorun, Sister Vassa Larin, Presbytera Mari Iakovou Mars, Prof. Ashley Purpura, and Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia.
The scandalous nature of this conference, attended by many Orthodox clergy and academics, prompted the creation of an online petition to ask the Orthodox bishops in America to take meaningful action to respond to this open rebellion. Titled “Request To All Orthodox Bishops In America To Take Action Against False Teachings” the petition urges the bishops to act: “We beseech you to hearten us and to illumine your people, by doing everything within your power to publically correct those who are under your authority who reject or question Church teaching on these matters, and to encourage your brothers to do the same.”
I had never heard of Nik Jovcic-Sas or his Facebook page before. Prompted by the online petition and the concerns of so many Orthodox priests and laypeople, I went to view his public page. It’s shocking and appalling. It’s deeply disturbing. There’s nothing “Orthodox” or scholarly about what he concerns himself with, just radical and indecent activism.
On his “Orthodox Provocateur” Facebook page Nick proudly displays who he is and what he stands for:
- Desecrating an icon of the Theotokos with the LGBT flag.
- Marching in Gay Pride parades holding the desecrated icon of the Virgin Mary.
- Blaspheming saints and making fun of an Orthodox bishop serving with a holy relic: “I forgot about the verse in the Bible which states that drinking water touched by a mummified foot will get you into heaven.”
- Criticizing Romanian Orthodox bishops for suspending Father Maxim Melinti for “standing against homophobia in Moldova.”
- Referring to Saint Boris and Saint George (Gleb), Russian canonized saints, as “these queer Russian saints.”
- Calling St. Walatta Petrosto nun of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church “an inspiration queer black anti-colonialist Orthodox Christian saint from Ethiopia.”
- Promoting “New Approaches in History and Theology to Same-Sex Love and Desire.”
- Embracing Metropolitan Kallistos Ware who “has written an incredible piece in this edition of The Wheel Journal on ‘homosexuality’ and Orthodox Christianity.”
- Presenting a seminar “on taking queer theory from universities, and sharing it within local communities.”
- Promoting Nadia Bolz-Weber, the “tattooed, foul-mouthed Evangelical Lutheran pastor who will blow you away with her honesty, hilarity, and plenty of “holy sh*t” enlightenment.”
- Celebrating the acceptance of same-sex unions in other churches: “This is brilliant – now it’s time for the Church of England to accept same-sex marriages.”
- Promoting gay calendars with “homoerotic soft porn with Orthodox icons, clerical vestments, liturgical objects, the interior of churches.”
- Advertising Drag Queen shows.
At the bottom of this post you can see multiple screen captures of posts from the “Orthodox Provocateur” public Facebook page. You can see with your own eyes what Nik concerns himself with on a regular basis.
Why would anyone invite Nik Jovcic-Sas to any academic conferences or ask for his opinion on any Orthodox Church issues? Have these clergy and academics lost their minds? Or do they really think a troubled man like Nik has something to offer in this “dialogue”? It looks to me like one more underhanded attempt to push the envelope and bring LGBTQ activism into the Orthodox Church.
The offensive behavior of Nik Jovcic-Sas (Orthodox Provocateur) proved to be too much even for Giacomo SanFilippo who runs the controversial “Orthodoxy in Dialogue” website. SanFilippo himself apologized:
On February 10 we published Nik Jovcic-Sas’ “Orthodox Provocateur: I Will Not Be Silenced” in good faith. Mr. Jovcic-Sas is a young Serbian Orthodox man living in the UK who devotes considerable time, effort, and resources to LGBTQ activism in some of the historically Orthodox countries of Eastern Europe. He often partners in this endeavour with Moldovan seminarian Ion Andronache, a husband and father of three small children.
In an editorial note at the end of his article we explained our decision to publish in this way: “With the publication of this article Orthodoxy in Dialogue recognizes the need for a complementary two-pronged approach to questions of sexual and gender diversity in human life: the theological effort to understand its place in the divine image and likeness, and the activist effort to ensure that all of God’s children enjoy the safety to thrive in private and public life.”
Today we were dismayed to find the author’s Facebook page, Orthodox Provocateur, promoting the so-called “Orthodox Calendar.” This annual production combines homoerotic soft porn with Orthodox icons, clerical vestments, liturgical objects, the interior of churches, etc.
In no way does Orthodoxy in Dialogue wish to be associated, directly or indirectly, with the perpetuation of this sort of blasphemy. Our position is to explore possibilities for the sanctification of same-sex love, not to promote the carnality of same-sex desire or to conflate sexual desire in its fallenness with sacred images.
Let’s hope the Orthodox bishops have finally had enough. I hear that the petition has drawn their attention and there may be behind-the-scenes actions by some bishops. There needs to be clear and direct public action by these bishops, especially the ones who have clergy and academics who attended that Oxford conference and continue to publish material and opinions that attack and distort the Orthodox Church teaching (Warning to Orthodox Church: False Teachers and Deceitful Venues That Contradict and Distort Church Teaching).