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Texas legislators adopt resolutions supporting religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Two religious freedom resolutions have recently been adopted in the Texas legislature calling for Turkey to uphold and safeguard the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These resolutions specifically call for the Turkish government to recognize the ecumenical status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to respect its rights to property and to ecclesiastic succession, and to grant it the right to train its clergy--including by opening the Theological Seminary at Halki.

The Texas House of Representatives adopted HR 1670 on May 5. The primary sponsor of the resolution was Rep. Dennis Bonnen, who was determined in pursuit of the result, in the face of strong opposition.

Archon Stephen Georgeson, National Coordinator for the State Resolutions Project, said, "Only because of the determination and persistence of Archons Chris Pappas, John Zavitsanos and Frank Mihalopoulos did the issue not die. They coordinated a true grassroots effort that produced almost 1,000 letters from Orthodox Christians from Dallas, Houston and Austin to their state representatives, urging support for the resolution.

"Special thanks and recognition also are extended to Metropolitan Isaiah for his unwavering support and to Archon Mike Manatos, Thomas Suehs and Bill Miller for their critical roles in helping secure the adoption of the resolution."

A second resolution, SR 1006, was given final adoption by the Texas Senate, on May 16.

Senator John Whitmire agreed to lead the effort after the original Senate sponsor abandoned the effort several months ago in response to objections raised by the Turkish-American community.

In response to this most recent adoption of SR 1006, National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, stated, "What a tremendous blessing during this Paschal season when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior! This has been an extraordinary accomplishment and endorsement of religious freedom and human rights. We are all very grateful to Senator John Whitmire and congratulate Metropolitan Isaiah, Archons Chris Pappas, John Zavitsanos, Frank Mihalopoulos, Mr. Thomas Suehs, Mr. Bill Miller and all the clergy and laity who worked so diligently to achieve this resounding statement in support of human rights and religious freedom."

To date, 44 such resolutions have been adopted by 37 states, representing 85 percent of Americans!

For more information about the Order of Saint Andrew's state legislative religious freedom project, visit www.archons.org/resolutions.