Seraphim Larsen is a convert to Orthodoxy and has been a pilgrim to St. Anthony’s Monastery pretty much since its beginning. Geronda Paisios is his spiritual father and also the priest who baptized him. Thus, as a lay person, he is in a very good position to refute accusations against the monastery as he knows more than the average person due to his unique relationship with the fathers there. In December 2012, he was elected chairman for the Pinal County Republican Party (Florence, AZ is a town in and the county seat of Pinal County). He was also the representative for Presidential Candidate Ron Paul the same year. He is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.
The first issue he raises is anti-Semitism. He accuses Elder Ephraim and the Fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery of being anti-Semites. Such a claim is absolutely unfounded.It is worth mentioning that the Elder’s own personal medical doctor in Phoenix is a Jew. A lawyer that the Monastery uses is also a Jew. In addition, there are a number of Monks who are from Jewish backgrounds, and at least one of the Orthodox Priests who regularly visits St. Anthony’s Monastery is a Jewish convert to Christianity. I know two of these people quite well, and they have never complained of any anti-Semitic teaching coming from Elder Ephraim.
Smith provided some quotes from some of Elder Ephraim’s writings to try to prove that the Elder is anti-Semitic. For example:
One Sunday, a preacher delivered a sermon on “love your enemies.” On the Sunday after, he spoke against alcohol addiction – about the havoc it wrought among the Christian peoples. Incidentally, the infamous Zionists greatly boast about this in their notorious ‘Protocols.’
It is important to note, in the quotes cited by Smith, Elder Ephraim speaks against the Zionists, not Judaism or the Jewish people.
Zionism is not equivalent to Judaism — not at all. Zionism is “an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine, and later for the support of modern Israel” (Merriam-Webster). The ranks of the Zionists have included many who are not even Jewish — for example, many American Evangelicals identify themselves with the Zionist movement.
Many people of greatly varied political and religious views are opposed to Zionism for many different reasons, and it would be ridiculous to claim that all of them are anti-Semites. There are even Jewish people and organizations that oppose Zionism. Are they also anti-Semites? This is plainly ridiculous.
Thus, there is no foundation at all to the accusation that Elder Ephraim and/or the fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery are racists or anti-Semites. This accusation simply has no basis.