As we celebrate the joy of the Nativity of our Lord, I draw your attention to this urgent petition on Religious Freedom for Christians in the Middle East.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) has launched an online White House petition urging President Obama to “Stand up for the rights of endangered Christian minorities around the world this Christmas season.” The petition can be found at www.hellenicleaders.com/freedom. According to WhiteHouse.gov rules, if the petition reaches the 25,000 signatures threshold, the White House has to issue a formal written response.
The petition (www.hellenicleaders.com/freedom) places issues that the Greek American community and the Orthodox Church have long advocated – especially the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – in a broader context. The petition language explains that:
Christians in the greater Middle East face extinction in their homelands. In Syria’s civil war, Christians who make up 10% of the population are targeted. Christians in Egypt (12% of that population) suffer social persecution and political exclusion. Christians in Iraq (1% of that population) face daily threats and violence. In Turkey, the number of Christians has plummeted to less than .1% due to systematic rights violations, including the oppression of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In occupied Cyprus, the Turkish military has essentially snuffed out Christianity to around 400 survivors. The administration should act now to protect the rights of these groups by calling on countries in the greater Middle East to protect religious freedom, especially that of their Christian minorities.
I urge all Orthodox Christians in our Metropolis to sign the petition to the White House to take active measures to support religious freedom for Christians in the greater Middle East.
I have attached a press release, with a full explanation about the petition and, most importantly, with the URL (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stand-rights-endangered-christian-minorities-around-world-christmas-season/g1Dg26RG) for signing the petition. We need to reach the 25,000 threshold by 6 January, in order to require the White House to respond.
It is is our responsibility as Orthodox Christians to support the universal human right of religious freedom. What more appropriate way to act on our responsibility than by voicing our support for our brothers and sisters in Christ during this season.
Wishing you and your family a blessed and healthy New Year, I remain,
With Archpastoral love,
Metropolitan of Boston