Columbus, Ohio, December 15. 2014
Ohio became the 43rd state to express its support for religious freedom for Orthodox Christianity’s Ecumenical Patriarchate on December 9th when the Ohio House of Representatives adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 in a unanimous 85-0 vote. The Ohio Senate had earlier adopted the resolution in May. SCR 21 is the 53rd such resolution to be adopted in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in these states.
The resolution condemned the past and ongoing discriminatory actions of the Turkish government in suppressing the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and practicing Orthodox Christians in that country. The resolution particularly highlighted the government’s refusal to reopen the Halki Theological Seminary, which it closed down in 1971.
The successful adoption of SCR 21 culminated a 6 year effort to secure passage of a resolution in the Ohio legislature. A copy of the resolution will be transmitted to the President of the United States, the United States Ambassador to Turkey, the Ambassador of Turkey to the United States and to the entire Ohio Congressional delegation.
Leading the successful effort were Steven Poulos, former Congressman Zack Space, Aristotle Hutras, Dr. Manual Tzagournis, Angelo Coutris, former state Senator Harry Meshel and the late Tom Zaferes. Archon John Payiavlas was instrumental in reaching out to Governor John R. Kaisich while Fathers Tom Constantine and Dean Kokanos testified in support of the resolution in hearings in Columbus.
The resolution garnered over 30 co-sponsors and was ably and passionately guided through the legislative process by Senators Schiavoni, Hughs, Gentile and Oelslager, Speaker of the House Batchelder, and Representatives Schuring, Letson, Slesnick, Dovella, Clyde, Stinziano and Gerberry.
The State Religious Freedom Resolutions Project is an initiative of the Archons of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle under the leadership of Archon Stephen Georgeson.