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Contact Your U.S. Representative to Co-Sponsor Resolution Urging Turkey to Respect the Rights and Religious Freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
TO: AHI Chapter Presidents, Congressional Contact Team Leaders, Members and Friends
FROM: Nick Larigakis, AHI President
DATE: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Re: CONTACT YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TO CO-SPONSOR RESOLUTION URGING TURKEY TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS OF THE ECUMENICAL PATRICARCHATE.

 

BACKGROUND

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the spiritual home of the world’s oldest and second largest Christian church. The Turkish government continues to tolerate assaults against its Greek Orthodox Christian religious minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, among them its illegal closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology. These actions violate U.S. principles on freedom of religion and U.S. law as expressed in Section 2804 of the Omnibus Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1998 (PL 105-277).

On March 20, 2012, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2012 annual report designated Turkey as a “country of particular concern,” which reaffirmed the Turkish government’s continued tolerance of assaults upon its many minority populations including the Greek Orthodox Christian minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These are all actions that violate the founding principles and laws of the United States. The Commission’s report specifically cited Turkey’s policies that: deny non-Muslim communities the right to train clergy, including the closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology; officially do not accord the ecclesiastical title “ecumenical” to the Ecumenical Patriarch, interfere in the internal governance of the Greek Orthodox community, and retain the power to expropriate religious minority properties.

As a result, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)has introduced a resolution, H.Res.136, urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 


STATUS

  • The legislation, H.Res.136, was introduced on March 21, 2013 by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). It has 11 co-sponsors as of April 16, 2013.
  • The bill currently rests with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • The co-sponsors are:
  • Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-12] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep Frelinghuysen, Rodney P. [NJ-11] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep Grimm, Michael G. [NY-11] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-2] - 4/10/2013
  • Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 4/10/2013
  • Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-46] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] - 4/10/2013
  • Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-30] - 3/21/2013
  • Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-3] - 4/10/2013
  • Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 3/21/2013

 

ACTION

We urge you to contact your U.S. representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.Res.136.

  • If you do not see your U.S. representative as a co-sponsor above, please contact his/her office today.
  • Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant.
  • Advise them you are a constituent, calling from [city or town] and that you’d like the representative’s support by co-sponsoring H.R.136.
  • Advise the Congressional staff person to contact Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office to sign on as a co-sponsor.
  • If you do see your legislator as a co-sponsor, please contact him or her to offer your thanks.

 

TALKING POINTS

  • Turkey’s forcible closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology in 1971 is in violation of American principles and U.S. law on freedom of religion as well as international human rights law.
  • Turkey was designated a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in the commission’s 2012 annual report.
  • The closure of the Halki Theological School threatens patriarchal succession and the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America falls under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • There are approximately five million Orthodox Christians in the United States and approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world.

 

CONTACT BY TELEPHONE

Contact your members of Congress by telephone by dialing the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202.224-3121.

 

CONTACT BY EMAIL/INTERNET

To write your representative, visit https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml to find your representative

NOTE: Please send a copy of your correspondence, or provide notice of a phone call made, to Georgea Polizos at georgea@ahiworld.org.

 

QUESTIONS?

For further information or questions, please contact AHI, (202) 785-8430, or email georgea@ahiworld.org

THANK YOU!