Ask Your Congressman to Defend the Church in Turkey

Dear Dimitrios Hatgistavrou,

The Turkish government claims to be a secular government where people are free to practice their faith legally. However, for years Turkey has refused to grant churches legal status. Churches that do operate in Turkey must register as "foundations," which come under strict supervision by the government.

One of the most significant churches that the Turkish government has refused to recognize is called the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This church is the home church for the leader of all the Eastern Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriach Bartholomew.

The Turkish government has made it illegal for the next leader of this church to be from outside Turkey, which will make it nearly impossible for the church to find a new pastor because Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim. In addition, Turkey has reneged on its agreement to reopen an Orthodox seminary and has confiscated 75% of the church's property.

Last month, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney introduced a resolution in the US Congress calling on the Turkish government to respect religious freedom and end its discriminatory regulations on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. You can view the resolution by clicking here.

Would you call your Representative in Congress and ask them to co-sponsor this resolution?

You can find your representative by going to and entering your zip code in the upper left corner of the page. When you call, please be sure to tell them the resolution number, H.Res.236, and the title: "Urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate."

Would you also be willing to forward this email to your friends and ask them to do the same?

Let us stand together in speaking up for our brothers and sisters in Turkey.

Sincerely in Christ,

Jeremy Sewall
Advocacy Director, ICC

International Christian Concern
P.O. Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: (800) ICC-5441
Fax: (301) 585-5918

(Posting date 6 April 2009)

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