Watch ‘Return of Churches’ Vote LIVE on ANCA.ORG

Return of Churches

Committee consideration to begin on tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern, 7 a.m. Pacific; Amendment vote time is unclear

WASHINGTON—Following a week of outreach to Congressional offices in support of an amendment which would calls on the Turkish Government to allow freedom of worship in Christian Churches and the return of those churches to their rightful owners, the Armenian National Committee of America is inviting activists to watch House Foreign Affairs Committee consideration of the measure live on the its website.

Beginning at 10:00am EST on July 20th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will begin consideration of the State Department Authorization bill, a comprehensive measure through which Congress outlines State Department priorities on a multitude of foreign policy issues.  An amendment similar to H.Res. 306, the Return of Churches measure, spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus coChair Ed Royce (R-CA) and Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA) will be introduced and voted upon during consideration of the larger measure.  It is unclear exactly when the amendment will be discussed during the Committee “mark up” of the larger bill.

The amendment has garnered broad support from the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian American communities, including the ANCA, American Hellenic Institute and the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association, each of whom have urged their activists to contact their legislators in support of this landmark religious freedom measure.  House Foreign Affairs Committee members report that they have been inundated with calls regarding the issue.

In the days leading up to the vote, the Turkish Government has ramped up its lobbying efforts against the measure, sending out repeated “Turkish Embassy Briefing” papers to Congressional offices.  The ANCA has issued a point by point analysis of the attack on the religious freedom resolution, which may be viewed here.

The “Return of Churches” amendment is a religious freedom measure which seeks to highlight, confront, and eventually reverse decades of official Turkish policy of destroying Christian church properties, desecrating holy sites, discriminating against Christian communities, and denying of the right of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Pontians, Arameans (Syriacs), and others to practice their faith in freedom. The measure is consistent with many other resolutions adopted by the U.S. House over the past several decades defending religious freedom and protecting sacred sites and places of worship, as well as with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and America’s longstanding leadership in supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To learn more about the measure, or to watch the hearing live, visit.


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