Author Topic: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?  (Read 823 times)

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Offline lovesupreme

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Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« on: September 30, 2014, 10:28:12 PM »
Being that "Coptic" doesn't immediately suggest a country of origin, I wonder how many blank faces you guys see when you mention that you're "Coptic", "Coptic Christian", or "Coptic Orthodox."

Even though I'm Antiochian, I still tell everyone I'm Greek Orthodox because most people have at least some general idea of what that means...

How do conversations usually go with people who inquire into your faith background?

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 11:03:48 PM »
My opinion is no, even though we do have a Coptic Church on the other side of the river in Council Bluffs.  However, it's a very small community and not very noticeable.

If I'm asked about my faith, I say I'm Greek Orthodox.  Some will ask if that is the same as Russian Orthodox and I say it is with the differences being language and the small "t" traditions (not counting the calendar).  I think the term "Orthodox" all by itself implies Jewish to many people, especially here in the Midwest.
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Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 11:13:09 PM »
Imagine having been an Orthodox Jew and then people who didn't know you converted ask you how the whole "Orthodox" thing is going...

Based on the few EO parishioners I've canvassed (i.e. told about my trip to an Armenian Church), none of them really knew who made up the Oriental communion. They had never even heard of Malankara Orthodox church.

Offline Nephi

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 11:20:12 PM »
General public? I think their idea is that Christians in Egypt (and the Middle East in general) are either Protestants or Catholics.

Now, educated Catholics/Protestants (especially those that have studied religion academically) are more inclined to at least know that Copts are a distinct group of some kind. Although, Catholics almost immediately go to Coptic Catholics when they talk about Egyptian Christians (including in Catholic news agencies talking about the Middle East, despite Coptic Catholics being numerically insignificant). So I wouldn't be surprised if general Catholics knew about Coptic Catholics but had no idea about Coptic Orthodox.

That said, I am interested in how Copts, and Orientals in general, describe their affiliation to the average person, so consider this entire post an elongated "-SUBSCRIBED-."

Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 11:28:02 PM »
I have met people who didn't know the difference between Armenians and Arminians. No joke.
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Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 11:28:08 PM »
Yes, all Oriental Orthodox posters should feel free to post. I only mentioned Coptic Christianity first because it's their name is the only one that I'm aware of that doesn't immediately suggest a place of origin (Malankara can go by "Indian Orthodox") and most people have at least heard of Ethiopia and Armenia (I would think).

I always bring up OO in our adult catechism classes and no one seems to know anything about them. A few know that they weren't present at Chalcedon, but know little about what divides us today, or the members of the OO communion. I wish we knew more about each other...

Offline dzheremi

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 12:00:39 AM »
I just tell anyone who asks that I'm Orthodox. I don't have to explain anything about Egypt, since I'm not Egyptian. ;)

But no, not a lot of people know about the Coptic Orthodox Church. Ditto the Syriac Orthodox Church, which is the other church in our communion which is not referencing an existing country. (And in fact they changed their official name in English a few years ago specifically to disassociate from the modern country of Syria.)

And Nephi, you are absolutely right regarding Catholics. Having been one before converting to Orthodoxy, I can say at least in my own experience that it is super-tiring to have to listen to my former co-religionists (co-confessionalists?) blather on about the Catholics in every country you might mention, even though they've asked you about your own church, not their Catholic knock-off churches. "Oh, you're Coptic Orthodox?" "Yes." "Did you know there are also Coptic Catholics?" "Yes." "So...are you like Coptic Catholics? What do you think about the Coptic Catholic patriarch (who I can't name)? What do you think about the Pope? ... What do you mean 'Roman' Pope? There's another one? Well that's wrong...quit trying to legitimize your tiny church nobody's ever heard of by saying you have the Pope. That's offensive. Only we have the Pope. [...] So, how soon do you think you'll reunite with us? I think it will be really, really soon."

Sometimes there are worse things than being relatively unknown.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 12:01:32 AM by dzheremi »

Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 12:08:10 AM »
But no, not a lot of people know about the Coptic Orthodox Church. Ditto the Syriac Orthodox Church, which is the other church in our communion which is not referencing an existing country. (And in fact they changed their official name in English a few years ago specifically to disassociate from the modern country of Syria.)

I would think that most people would assume that the Syriac Orthodox Church is based in Syria, given the cognates. However, there is no such thing as Coptland...

Other than Jersey City, of course...

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 12:15:24 AM »
I just tell anyone who asks that I'm Orthodox. I don't have to explain anything about Egypt, since I'm not Egyptian. ;)

But no, not a lot of people know about the Coptic Orthodox Church. Ditto the Syriac Orthodox Church, which is the other church in our communion which is not referencing an existing country. (And in fact they changed their official name in English a few years ago specifically to disassociate from the modern country of Syria.)

And Nephi, you are absolutely right regarding Catholics. Having been one before converting to Orthodoxy, I can say at least in my own experience that it is super-tiring to have to listen to my former co-religionists (co-confessionalists?) blather on about the Catholics in every country you might mention, even though they've asked you about your own church, not their Catholic knock-off churches. "Oh, you're Coptic Orthodox?" "Yes." "Did you know there are also Coptic Catholics?" "Yes." "So...are you like Coptic Catholics? What do you think about the Coptic Catholic patriarch (who I can't name)? What do you think about the Pope? ... What do you mean 'Roman' Pope? There's another one? Well that's wrong...quit trying to legitimize your tiny church nobody's ever heard of by saying you have the Pope. That's offensive. Only we have the Pope. [...] So, how soon do you think you'll reunite with us? I think it will be really, really soon."

Sometimes there are worse things than being relatively unknown.

I usually say I'm Eastern Orthodox because otherwise people assume I am Jewish. Antiochian Orthodox just makes people have really confused looks on their faces.

You are totally right about the whole RC thing.  Every RC aquaintance I have is convinced that there will be a reunion within their lifetime, and some of them are in their 60's. I just smile and shrug.
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Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 12:26:37 AM »
When I brought up that I talked to Coptic people online, an EO woman told me not "go to the other side" ...

I then had to explain that sheep-stealing from the EOs is probably the last thing on a Coptic person's minamind.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 12:30:38 AM by lovesupreme »

Offline dzheremi

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 12:29:16 AM »
But no, not a lot of people know about the Coptic Orthodox Church. Ditto the Syriac Orthodox Church, which is the other church in our communion which is not referencing an existing country. (And in fact they changed their official name in English a few years ago specifically to disassociate from the modern country of Syria.)

I would think that most people would assume that the Syriac Orthodox Church is based in Syria, given the cognates. However, there is no such thing as Coptland...

Other than Jersey City, of course...

I think they do. That's why the SOC changed their name in English already.

Coptland sounds like a terrible theme park. Who wants to wait in line for hours to clean a church, or spend $12 at a snack stand for a plate of ful medames?

Offline Nephi

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2014, 12:48:42 AM »
When I brought up that I talked to Coptic people online, an EO woman told me not "go to the other side" ...

If just talking to Copts gets that kind of reaction from her, I can only imagine what she'd say to me. ;)

Offline Agabus

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 09:40:16 AM »
Yes, all Oriental Orthodox posters should feel free to post. I only mentioned Coptic Christianity first because it's their name is the only one that I'm aware of that doesn't immediately suggest a place of origin (Malankara can go by "Indian Orthodox") and most people have at least heard of Ethiopia and Armenia (I would think).
I've always been under the impression Copt is an ethnographic designation. Just not one people from the U.S. would recognize.

But to answer the OP: No. If they've seen pictures of Coptic churches, they assume it's just Egyptian Catholicism -- which RC lay apologists sometimes inadvertently encourage since they have the Catholic Coptic Church.
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Offline jewish voice

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 11:09:20 AM »
My opinion is no, even though we do have a Coptic Church on the other side of the river in Council Bluffs.  However, it's a very small community and not very noticeable.

If I'm asked about my faith, I say I'm Greek Orthodox.  Some will ask if that is the same as Russian Orthodox and I say it is with the differences being language and the small "t" traditions (not counting the calendar).  I think the term "Orthodox" all by itself implies Jewish to many people, especially here in the Midwest.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 04:08:35 PM »
Other than Jersey City, of course...

LOL!!!

I call Jersey City, "the Motherland"  ;D

My grandfather was a priest in one of the parishes there, so my childhood was in Jersey City.

When someone asks me, I say "Egyptian Orthodox Christian", and I make sure I say very clearly the word "Christian" so that "Jew" does not pop up in their head.  And then it sparks a convo, and that's when I hit em with "Coptic".
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Offline Paisius

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2014, 08:58:02 PM »
No they don't and I wouldn't expect them too. All of the Orthodox, both Eastern and Oriental have a very small footprint in the US. I mean I live in Jacksonville FL and there are more people at First Baptist Church on any given Sunday than there are Orthodox Christians in the entire county.

Offline WPM

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2014, 09:11:28 PM »
Coptic is Egyptian flavor of Christian

Offline Father Peter

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Re: Does the general public even know what Coptic Christianity is?
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2014, 03:21:39 AM »
I say I am Orthodox. Then I say I am British Orthodox. Then I say I am part of the ancient Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt.
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