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Utah Senate endorses Religious Freedom Resolution for the Ecumenical Patriarchate

States highlighted in LIGHT BLUE indicate that the resolution has been introduced. States highlighted in GOLD indicate final adoption and no further action is necessary. States highlighted in DARK BLUE indicate no resolution has been introduced at this time.

The Utah Senate approved a resolution on February 4 urging the government of Turkey to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To date, 20 such resolutions have been adopted by 17 states. The Utah resolution is the first adopted resolution of the 2009 sessions.

In 2006, the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew initiated the Religious Freedom Resolutions project. The goal of this project, which represents one component of the overall, multi-faceted Religious Freedom Initiative, is the adoption of religious freedom resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in every state legislature. The Ecumenical Patriarchate's existence is currently threatened by the persecutory policies of the government of Turkey, which if continues threatens the survival of this nearly 2000 year old institution founded by the First Called Apostle of Christ, Andrew, the brother of Peter.

The sponsor of SR1, Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said she was asked to carry the resolution by the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake City because of the "repressive actions of the Turkish government that restrict religious freedom.

Jones said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew serves as the spiritual leader to the 300 million members of the Greek Orthodox Church just as Pope Benedict does to Catholics and LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson does to Mormons.

Her resolution, which passed unanimously, will be sent to President Obama, leaders of Congress and members of Utah's Congressional delegation, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Turkey's ambassador to the United States. Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, is carrying a similar resolution in the House.

Archon Stephen Georgeson, acknowledging the Utah efforts, says, "I want to recognize and thank Father Michael Kouremetis, Chris Gamvroulas, and Nick Varanakis for their work in making this possible."

Similar resolutions are currently in effect awaiting approval from State Legislatures in Delaware, Arkansas, Indiana, and Washington State.

Through the efforts of Archons Georgeson and Nicholas Loutsion, a page on the Archon web site continues to promote this project. The web page, located under the "Issues" category on the main menu of www.archons.org, contains an interactive map, which easily identifies those states that have, or currently are reviewing the religious-freedom resolution. A listing of every state and links to those adopted resolutions are available. This page can be viewed at: archons.org/resolutions

This project is an ongoing effort of the Order of Saint Andrew and represents an important part of the governmental and public affairs strategy of the Religious Freedom Initiative.

To learn more about the Archons efforts toward the Religious Freedom Resolutions Project, visit archons.org/issues